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).
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:
- Know exactly what you want.
- Know who you are.
- Know your limits.
- 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.
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.
In addition, we handed out the Marian Award for 2015 to HelenKay Dimon.
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.
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.