Two Fantastic Classes from RWASD!

Feburary is fast approaching and so are some new classes to help you stretch your writing muscles. Be sure take advantage of your RWASD membership and get that discounted rate. Classes are open to non-members as well so even if you’re not a member yet, you can still participate.

Take a look at what we have to offer!

To register for any of our classes, head on over to


Self-Publishing 101 for the Confused and Terrified

Date: February 128th, 2016

Instructor: Kitty Bucholtz

Cost: RWA San Diego Chapter members: $20 Non-members: $25

Interested in self-publishing but terrified you won’t be able to learn all the steps? Willing to learn new things but confused about where to begin? If your answer is a resounding “Yes!” then Self-Publishing 101 for the Confused and Terrified is the class for you.

Kitty will walk you through the process, from how to start your business to how to get your book up for sale to how to promote yourself and your work. You’ll learn about the business side including tax issues, how to find a cover designer or how to create a cover yourself, how to double- and triple-check your work for errors before publishing, and the least complicated way to create an ebook and upload it to the most retailers. By the end of the class, you will know if this is the path you want to take and, if so, how to make it happen in 2016!

Bio: Kitty Bucholtz writes superhero urban fantasy and romantic comedy, often with an inspirational element woven in. After she earned her MA in Creative Writing, she decided to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher, forming Daydreamer Entertainment and self-publishing her first novel in late 2011. She loves to teach writing workshops online and in person, and she’s the founder of Writer Entrepreneur Guides and the WRITE NOW! Workshop.


Developing Stronger Characters through Journaling

Date: February 821st, 2016

Instructor: Catherine Chant

Cost: RWA San Diego Chapter members: $15 Non-members: $20

While exciting events in a book may entertain you, it’s really the characters that grab the your attention and hold it on the page. Strong characters pull you in and keep you invested in the story, turning those pages. Creating a strong character comes from understanding who this imaginary person is inside and out, not just on the surface, and conveying that to the reader. Journaling is a fun way to dig deep enough below the surface to unlock your character’s hidden secrets and bring that character alive on the page.

At the end of this workshop, you will have a better understanding of what makes your main character tick, what drives your character through the story, and how conflict affects character growth and change. You’ll get inside your character’s deepest thoughts and fears to discover what’s missing from his/her life and how to use this to drive your story’s plot to a satisfying conclusion.

The workshop includes exercises with every lesson designed to strengthen the concepts discussed, including several short writing exercises.


Bio: Catherine Chant is an active member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and a Golden Heart® finalist. She worked for fifteen years at Boston College as a computing & communications consultant before becoming a full-time writer and online educator. She is the author of a rock ‘n’ roll time travel series, available at Amazon and other online retailers. She has also written two Vampire Diaries novellas for Amazon’s Kindle Worlds program, and is working on the next young adult novel in her Soul Mates series. She teaches several online workshops for writers throughout the year. You can learn more at



January Meeting Roundup + Good News!

Our first meeting of 2016 was an exciting one — featuring Patience Bloom, a senior editor at Harlequin, and author of the memoir, Romance Is My Day Job. Patience has spent the past eighteen years at Harlequin, currently works with over thirty authors, and edits between two and six books per month. With such extensive experience in the world of romance, she had plenty of words of wisdom to share with our chapter members, such as tips to keep our stories moving (managing pacing, balancing action with dialogue, avoiding contrivances), as well as Craft Do’s and Don’ts (do know where you fit in the genre, but don’t go chasing popular themes).

Patience Bloom, Senior Editor at Harlequin

Patience Bloom, Senior Editor at Harlequin

She also shared ideas for setting an action plan in 2016. Struggles are universal, she said, but if you have a plan you can help yourself stay on track to achieve your goals. Before you can do anything, though, it’s important to gather four critical pieces of information:

  1. Know exactly what you want.
  2. Know who you are.
  3. Know your limits.
  4. Know what excites you.

After you have this knowledge, “close the door and get to work.”

Patience also stressed that, as you are working, it’s important to forget about the outcome. As you craft your story, don’t worry about what an agent, publisher, or audience might think. Writers have no control over the endgame, and it’s not worth wasting your time doing something you don’t love. So concentrate on what you can control, while you can control it.

It’s also helpful to narrow down your list of goals to three major ones. After Patience shared her own goals for the year, our chapter members did the same. Many of us had similar goals, such as finishing our books, building our platforms, writing blog posts, committing to our craft and generally putting ourselves out there, pushing ourselves to be better writers. As Patience said, there is “no fear, no guilt, and no limits.”

Patience’s inspirational speech was followed by a stellar panel from RWASD’s own Harlequin authors.

(l. to r.) HelenKay Dimon, Judy Duarte, Melissa Cutler, Georgie Lee, Linda Thomas-Sundstrom, Christy Jeffries

(l. to r.) HelenKay Dimon, Judy Duarte, Melissa Cutler, Georgie Lee, Linda Thomas-Sundstrom, Christy Jeffries

With representation from six of the Harlequin lines, they discussed everything from their favorite parts of writing for the publisher, the challenges they face under such tight deadlines, and shared advice for those of us who are interested in writing for one of the lines. The one suggestion that kept coming up time and again: if you want to write for Harlequin, do your research. Pick up the most recent releases in the line you want to target in order to get a feel for it before you submit.

As always, we handed out some awards. Our Member of the Month was awarded to Janet Tait, for all the hard work she’s been doing for our successful online class program.

Tami Vahalik (l.) and Janet Tait

Tami Vahalik (l.) and Janet Tait

In addition, we handed out the Marian Award for 2015 to HelenKay Dimon.

HelenKay Dimon (l.) and Christine Locksy

HelenKay Dimon (l.) and Christine Locksy

The Marian is a lifetime achievement award given in recognition of significant contributions to the romance genre. As a current national board member, past chapter president, and multi-published author who’s always willing to share her knowledge and expertise with other writers, this was a well-deserved award.

We were also fortunate enough to have three past Marian Award winners with us during Saturday’s meeting: Jill Limber, Judy Duarte, and Teresa Carpenter.

(l. to r.) Jill Limber, HelenKay Dimon, Judy Duarte, Teresa Carpenter

(l. to r.) Jill Limber, HelenKay Dimon, Judy Duarte, Teresa Carpenter

Here’s all the Good News our chapter members had to share this month:

  • Lotchie Burton hit USA Today’s Must Read Romances of 2015 list with her novel, Nothing’s Sweeter Than Candy.
  • Greg Godek will be publishing his first erotic romance, A Hard Day’s Night, on February 1st.
  • Julieta Querol self-published her debut contemporary romance, Intercepted, under the pen name, J.Q. Anderson.
  • Bob Richard published 101 Tips, primarily writing male characters and Wings By Christmas & Other Shorts.
  • Susan Burns, writing as S.B.K. Burns, self-published Love Me, Bite Me in paperback. She also was a winner in the Savvy Authors pitch contest, and still has a manuscript out with Samhain.
  • Regan Walker entered three contests this month, self-published The Road to Winterhill with Kindle Books, and released We’d Rather Be Writing, a romance authors’ cookbook.
  • Ava Blackstone published the first book in the Voretti Family series, Marriage: Impossible.
  • Marie Andreas entered the FF&P Prism Awards.
  • Georgie Lee entered four contests, and will be releasing A Too Convenient Marriage on February 1st.
  • Linda Thomas-Sundstrom was an RT Reviewers 2015 Finalist in Best Paranormal for Wolf Born.
  • Sarah Richmond will be interviewed by Sandra Beck’s radio show, Motherhood Talk Radio, on March 3rd.

Join us for our next meeting on February 20th, when we’ll be talking goals and characters with New York Times bestselling author Darynda Jones.

A Letter from our President, Tameri Etherton

This week, our blog features an open letter to the board and our members from our new chapter president, Tameri Etherton.

In Etherton_Tameri Bio PicNovember I had the honor to attend a board meeting for the Romance Writers of America’s national Board of Directors. Now, I understand that some people might think this would be a day filled with drawn out discussions and jargon best suited to a court room. Not so. Well, maybe a little bit, but instead of being bored by the proceedings, or overwhelmed, I was fascinated.


Not only were the board members polite to each other, they were a group of educated men and women who cared greatly for the whole of this organization. Some of the members kept binders full of notes, others had laptops, and all of them were attentive to the proceedings.


Several times the discussions became lively, but never did they devolve into raucous behavior. The person speaking was given time to share what they intended, and then the next person on the list was able to contribute. Every so often, the discussion would veer off, but was quickly brought back to the agenda.


I’ll admit, some of the topics were confusing for me to follow since they were carried over from past board meetings. But even these I thought were intriguing in how the board handled each situation. Thoughtful questions were asked, and if there was an easy answer, it was given. If, as happened a few times, the answer needed further investigation, that was noted and the board moved on to the next topic.


Recapping the board meeting distills the day into a few sentences that come off rather dry at the end of the page, but believe me, it was anything but. There even came a time during the day when I had to make a decision to leave early to miss traffic, or stay. I chose to stay until the meeting concluded somewhere around the six o’clock hour, which put me directly into the path of traffic heading north.


It was well worth it! And trust me, I hate traffic, so for me to say that means something.


The reasons I chose to attend the national board meeting were two-fold—I wanted to meet the board of an organization I have come to cherish, and as incoming President, I felt it was important for me to see how the board operated. Another, more personal reason for sitting in on the meeting was that I wished to introduce myself to some folks I’ve only ever interacted with in email. Since the RWA National Conference will be in San Diego this year, I also wanted to avail myself to the board should they require anything from the San Diego Chapter.


A bonus to attending the meeting? I was able to chat with publishing rockstars like Courtney Milan, Carolyn Jewel, Tessa Dare, and Kristan Higgins. How often can you say you spent the day with those ladies?


As board members, we have a fiduciary duty to our members. Which means, each board member is ‘expected to conduct himself or herself without the conflict to the interests of Romance Writers of America (RWA). When acting within his or her capacity as a Chapter board member, he or she must subordinate personal, business, third-party, and other interests to the welfare and best interests of RWA and the Chapter.’


I took that quote from a Conflict of Interest form every board member has to sign at the beginning of their term. We, as board members, are to put our egos aside and make decisions for the greater good of the whole. That’s a tall order when you’re dealing with any group of people! Yet the men and women I saw in the hotel meeting room that day did exactly this. They acted on the betterment of the entire RWA organization. I never felt like anyone there had an agenda, or that they believed their voice held more weight than anyone else’s. Each member conducted themselves as equals. I respect that.


I left the meeting with a sense of purpose. Enlightened to not only the process, but in the fact that people who are just as passionate as I am about the business of writing are working hard to ensure that I’m protected as I pursue my career.


While I only attended one day, the board meetings took three days. Three long days of discussion on a myriad of topics, dealing with plagiarism, committee reports, conference details, and so many more I would bore you if I listed them all. Add in travel time and these professional writers gave up almost a week of their precious writing time to devote to us. You and me.


How often do we get twitchy about our writing time? We’re protective of it, to say the least. The fact that every single one of those board members willingly give up their sacred time for me makes me strive to be a better member.


I can’t promise that RWA San Diego’s board meetings will be as fulfilling for you, but every member is invited each month to come as a guest. This year, the meetings will be the second Monday of the month, starting at 6:30pm at Corner Bakery Cafe in UTC. Reminders will go out on the RWA SD Yahoo loop, be sure to spot it and mark it on your calendar. We’d love to see you there!


In closing, I’d like to say it’s an honor to serve as your President this year. RWA is an organization that has embraced me and helped me tremendously in my path to become a published author. I feel strongly that it’s important to give back to any organization that’s helped you become who you are today. Volunteering and giving up my precious writing time isn’t a chore, nor is it something I regret. It’s my way of saying ‘Thank you’. Thank you to those on the national board who strive to make this a better, safer, more educated community, thank you to the members of San Diego who have helped me, and thank you to those who I’ll in turn be grateful to help. It’s a never-ending circle that benefits everyone.


I look forward to seeing you at our board meetings or chapter meetings. If you haven’t already, please consider volunteering. There is always a position to fill, or a place to help out and you’d be helping the chapter as well as yourself!


With deepest gratitude,

Tameri Etherton

RWA SD President

Sticking to Your Writing Resolutions

Ah, the first week of a brand new year. When the landscape before you seems ripe with potential and promise. Tacking a new calendar onto the wall can make you feel like you can conquer anything, can’t it? Like, for example, those writing-related resolutions you made. Perhaps you’ve set a minimum daily word count for yourself, or a deadline by which to finish your revisions. Whatever it may be, you’re energized by this new goal, committed to setting aside the time you need every single day. You’re gonna make 2016 your most productive writerly year ever. Am I right?

Except once week two rolls around, that little annoyance called “real life” starts to get in the way of your dreams. Suddenly, the nice hour of uninterrupted writing time you’ve carved out for yourself every evening after the sun goes down is getting harder and harder to keep up with. Especially when your boss asks you to stay late for the rest of the month, right before your toddler comes down with a cold, at the same time your hot water heater explodes all over your garage floor, and oh good the cat just puked on the carpet again… it’s enough to make you want to throw in the towel.

But you won’t, because you love this too much.

So how do you keep making progress and moving forward?

Traditional advice tells you that your writing time is sacred, and you should protect it at all costs. So for crying out loud, STOP MAKING EXCUSES! GO IN YOUR OFFICE AND SHUT THE DOOR! But what if you don’t have an office? What if all you have is a corner of your cluttered coffee table, right next to the puddle of cat puke? How do you protect your writing time then?

I don’t have a definitive answer, but I do have some ideas that have worked for me.

  • Stealing moments. Think about all those short bits of unoccupied time you experience in the course of any given day: standing on line at the pharmacy; sitting in the lobby of the dentist’s office; leaning against the kitchen counter, waiting for the kettle to whistle. If you always keep your story at the forefront of your mind, you can easily snatch these minutes for your writing. Some examples of five-minute tasks: developing a plot point; determining a character motivation; smoothing out a clunky piece of dialogue that’s been bugging you for a while. Make a habit of keeping a notebook and pen on you at all times so you can capture the words as they come to mind. (If you’re a techier person, like me, you might use a note-taking app on your phone instead. My personal favorite? Google Keep.)
  • Getting organized. When you’re writing in five-minute increments at various locations, it can sometimes be hard to keep all your snippets of literary genius straight. So come up with a system of organizing your story that works for you. Personally, I like using Scrivener; whenever I get a chance to sit down at my laptop, I’ll copy my handwritten and/or phone-dictated notes into the binder for my project. A caveat: don’t allow your organizational system to become so complex and time-consuming that it usurps the moments you should be devoting to your words. Keep it simple and make sure it supports your writing goals.
  • Reevaluating priorities. Sure, you might have a good time knitting that king-size afghan or binge-watching Sherlock (for the third time this month…) but do these things really matter to you more than your writing? As the credits roll on the final episode of the final season, will it bring you as much joy as typing “The End” on the last page of your finished novel? If not, then maybe you should cancel your Netflix subscription.
  • Adopting a mantra. Silly as it may sound, motivational mottos tend to ground me when I’m flailing around. I’ve got a couple pasted up on the wall next to my desk, and I’ll look over at them when I’m in most need of inspiration to keep moving. My favorite is a Chinese proverb: “Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” Progress is progress, even if it’s an inch at a time. Put one word after another after another, and you’ll eventually have a whole story.

What about you? What are some strategies you employ to protect your writing time when the pesky needs of real life get in the way?