February Meeting Roundup + Good News

If you didn’t attend last Saturday’s meeting with special guest speaker, Darynda Jones, you missed out on an energizing and inspirational day!

In the morning, Darynda shared with us the story of her personal journey to publication and literary superstardom. For anyone feeling the pain of rejection or the disappointment of failing to place in contests, Darynda’s experiences showed us anything is possible: after placing last or second to last in every single contest she entered, her first manuscript, First Grave on the Right, went onto win the Golden Heart, secure eight offers of representation in one week, sell as part of a six-figure, three-book hardcover deal, and eventually win the RITA in paranormal romance. Her story demonstrates the subjectivity of the industry, and should encourage all of us to never give up hope!Darynda speaking to RWA San Diego.

She shared her ten keys to success for aspiring authors:

  1. Write the best book you can. And do it again and again.
  2. Learn from rejection, and do better.
  3. Don’t rest on your laurels. When you finish one book, get started on the next one.
  4. Never stop learning. Read books on craft. Take classes. But don’t let it hinder your writing. The more you write, she says, the more creative you become.
  5. Know the rules… then break them.
  6. Own it! You’re a writer; it’s not just a hobby. Don’t compare yourself to others, either, because with every goal met, there’s another one waiting in the wings. It never ends.
  7. Read, write, and share. Thinking about writing is not the same as actually writing.
  8. Don’t ever take it personally. This is a business. When an agent or editor looks at your work, the question in the forefront of their mind is, “Can I sell this?”
  9. Finish the damn book. A debut author, especially, cannot sell an incomplete book, so get it done!
  10. Study the masters. Read books you love to find out why you loved them. Analyze why you dislike other books.

Most importantly, Darynda said to “do it with passion, or not at all. Go forth, write, and change the world!”

As if that wasn’t educational and inspirational enough, she also generously shared with us her “Four Essential Elements of an Opening.” They are:

  1. Draw the reader in. Use detail and description, particularly powerful verbs. Set a scene and show your character in their everyday life.
  2. Create empathy for the main character. This can be done using at least two of the following five ways.
    1. Making the character sympathetic.
    2. Putting the character in jeopardy.
    3. Making the character likeable.
    4. Giving the character power.
    5. Making the character funny.
  3. Set the tone. Let the reader know what your attitude is toward the story you’re telling.
  4. Elicit emotion. This is your primary objective. If you’ve done the first three correctly, this should come naturally.

Your opening pages are designed to seduce the reader, tempt them into reading the next sentence and then the next page. Overall, her biggest piece of advice was to use crisp, sharp writing that’s easy and pleasurable to read.

Aside from Darynda’s wonderful talks, we also handed out our Attagirl Award to Shirley Wilder, for overcoming her battle with surgery and being pronounced free of colon cancer!

As always, our members had a lot of good news to share:

  • Tessa McFionn’s debut novel, Spirit Fall, is a finalist in the Chanticleer Book Review’s Paranormal Awards.
  • Marie Andreas made PAN.
  • Demi Hungerford released book four in the Bowman’s Inn Anthology, Winter.
  • Toni Noel’s light romantic suspense, Lying Eyes, was released by Desert Breeze on February 21st. This is her tenth published book!
  • Shirley Wilder is one of three authors invited to speak and sign at the Brandeis University Reader and Author’s Luncheon on March 8th. She also made PAN.
  • Donnamaie White released her regency, Close Escape.
  • Cynthia Diamond entered Siren’s Song into the PRISM awards, and also made PAN.
  • Linda Seed published her second book in February.
  • Jeanne Dickson finaled in the Great Expectations contest.
  • Linda Thomas-Sundstrom’s Immortal Redeemed was one of April’s “Top Picks” in RT Magazine.

Please join us for a very special treat on March 19th: an all-day craft and branding workshop with USA Today Bestselling Author, Mary Buckham. Don’t miss it!

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