The Circle of Support

I have my first solo book signing coming up.

Solo as in all by my lonesome.

In the past I’ve always piggybacked with others at various  at conventions or big meet and greet events. But nope, this one is a real event. With real tables, books, pens, and especially readers.

Needless to say I’ve been a flailing wreck for the last few weeks as this date creeps closer and closer.  But as I bury my anxiety in two gallons of mudslide ice cream (With the chocolate chunks. I spare no expense with my therapy), I am comforted not only by the chocolate, but knowing my that RWASD friends are only a text or phone call away during this.

Just last week as I scrambled to pull together swag I had the horrifying revelation of “I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.” All my productivity came to a screeching halt as I stared at my scattered piles of buttons and postcards. “I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.” It just kept echoing in my head like a Gregorian chant.

“I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.”

Maybe I should have just stuck with receptionist work.

After the paralysis passed, I posted on Facebook in a tizzy. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even use punctuation as I blubbered out how I had no clue what to do, that the sky was falling, and OH MY GOD WHY AM I DOING THIS SIGNING I’M A FRAUD! AAAHHH!

Alright so maybe isn’t wasn’t that bad.

After I vented, I already had a ton of comments from my fellow writers in RWASD. Good comments. Encouraging comments. Writers telling me that I had this, that they were going through the exact same crisis, or tips on what to do. Writers telling me to email them and they’ll give me a check list, telling me what to expect, or to take a deep breath because it was all going to be alright.

Writers telling me that yes, you are a writer and yes, you were going to succeed.

I had found my tribe. And they want me to succeed.

I started to breathe again.

That support is what I love about RWASD. Yes, my dues pay for great classes, meetings, and other perks but its the support that overwhelms me. I always thought I’d be an outsider when I joined, but right out the gate these wonderful writers have been cheering me on. Having that circle of support has kept me pushing forward. Not just pushing forward, it makes me want to pay it forward too. Nothing feels more awesome then seeing someone in our group succeed. RWASD has become a bit of a secondary family; a group of like minded writers who I can go to for help or to help. Knowing they are there for me has made my venture into writing a lot less terrifying and a lot more hopeful.

RWASD is my circle of support  and I am extremely grateful to have every single one of them.

March Meeting Roundup + Good News

I don’t know about you, but it’s been four days since our monthly meeting wrapped up, and my head is still overflowing from all the valuable, thought-provoking information shared by USA Today bestselling author, Mary Buckham. She hosted a very special all-day, four-part, interactive workshop, full of ideas for taking your career to the next level.

The morning was spent focusing on building strong characters. In what was perhaps my favorite activity of the day, Mary had us strengthen the characters in our current works-in-progress by forcing us to see their personality traits from a different point of view. Every character attribute, she said, can be seen in both a positive and a negative light. For instance, a stubborn character could also be described as determined; an analytical character could be described as nitpicky. By viewing the positive sides of what are generally considered negative traits (and vice versa), we can avoid bland, stereotypical characters and give them depth. (Also? We came up with the idea of an exhibitionist Sunday school teacher. If that’s not a plot bunny, I don’t know what is.)

Mary also covered body language and how to incorporate it effectively into our writing. Body language is a method of non-verbal communication, including:

  • posture
  • gestures
  • eye movement
  • touch
  • facial expressions, and
  • proxemics.

By incorporating our characters’ movements into our scenes, we can communicate subtext, and evaluating whether the body language messages are congruent with what our characters are saying allows our readers to gain an understanding of our characters’ feelings and motivation without us having to say it outright – it’s the difference between showing and telling. We reviewed many different kinds of body language and what they might possibly mean.

In the afternoon, Mary moved onto the concept of active hooks, and described how to use these to draw readers into our stories and keep them turning pages. The strongest hooks, she said, raise questions or reactions in the reader. She identified ten different kinds of hooks, and walked us through examples – then gave us the opportunity to design our own hooks and see how many different ways we could elicit a reaction in the reader. (It turned into a friendly little competition — and I sat at the winning table!)

Finally, Mary walked us through the concept of “primal branding” for authors. Building your brand, she said, is an important way to make yourself stand out in a crowded market. Writers must overcome the resistance by readers to spend their time and money on a book by an unknown author. If you’re new, you must establish a “promise to your readers,” describing the heart of what you’re writing and giving them a sense of what they will be getting when they purchase and read one of your books. On a fundamental level, people swear allegiance to brands because of the basic human need to belong, and to establish human connection. People don’t buy what you do, she said, they buy why you do it. If you can establish your brand early and remain consistent in your platform, you may naturally attract the people who believe what you believe – and therein lies your core readership.

Aside from the fantastic workshops, we also handed out our Member of the Month award to Patrizia Hayashi, for all the wonderful work she does behind the scenes to help our online classes run smoothly. We were fortunate enough to have Patrizia join us in person this month, a rarity seeing as she lives in Japan!

Patrizia Hayashi and Tami Vahalik

Member of the Month Patrizia Hayashi (l.) with President-Elect Tami Vahalik.

Additionally, our readers shared the following Good News:

  • Kimberly Field entered Cherry Adair’s Finish the Damn Book contest.
  • Donnamaie White created an author page on Facebook and self-published Close Escape.
  • Susan Burns finished edits on Fly Like an Eagle.
  • Megan Westfield signed with agent Melissa Edwards of Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency, and also signed a two-book contract with Entangled Embrace. Her debut new adult, Lessons in Gravity, will be released in Fall of 2016.
  • Judy Duarte will be writing Book 4 in the 2017 Fortunes of Texas series.
  • Pamela Moran made PAN, and released Sexy to Go anthologies, Volumes 11-12, as well as the Christmas and Valentine’s Day editions.
  • M.A. Taylor will be on a panel at RWA National, as well as teaching a class for Writer’s University in May.
  • Kristin Rockaway sold her debut novel to Center Street, an imprint of Hachette. The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World will be released in Summer of 2017.

Please remember to join us next month when we’ll be hosting acclaimed literary agent Kevan Lyon. She’ll be taking pitches and telling us why we shouldn’t sign away all our subsidiary rights. Please note, this meeting will take place on the fourth Saturday of the month – April 23rd – to accommodate all the members who’ll be going to RT the weekend before. Hope you can join us!

Meet the Chapter Mates: Sorcha Mowbray

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This month we feature the always sassy, Sorcha Mowbray! Sorcha loves all types of romance genres and dables in many of them, always with steamy heat that burns the covers. You can find her works at www.sorchamowbray.com

 

Tell us a little about yourself! Who are you? What do you write?
I’m Sorcha Mowbray. I write romance that tends to singe the sheets…of paper. I focus mainly on Contemporary, Modern Westerns, and Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian romance. I use the term focus in the most generous sense of the word. I have also been known to write the odd historical romance. I once thought that was what I wanted to write.

 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always been a writer, I put words on paper. But I didn’t start actually thinking about it in the sense of I should publish something until the mid 2000’s. I played with the idea, submitted to some people, and even got an official rejection letter from an agent. So Maybe that was the moment I was officially a writer? But around 2009 I started to really focus on the idea of publishing books, like seriously working on craft and understanding the business.

 

What does RWASD mean to you?
RWASD = Support. I love having this circle of people I can reach out to and know that they not only share my dream but believe that we all can achieve it. That together we are stronger than we are alone. And of course, we have some of THE most awesome people in our chapter.

 

What is the biggest challenge you have faced on your journey to becoming a writer?
Time. I work a full time job and have a husband (I have no idea how you all with kids can juggle it all), so time is always my biggest challenge. Its never enough and never in the right spot.

 

What attracted you to the genre you write? Why does it speak to you?
Wait. Were only supposed to write in one genre? So does that make me Cybil? Ha! I love each genre I write in for different reasons. But the common denominator is that I write spicy/erotic romance. And I do it for a reason. Sex is part of every healthy relationship (and some less healthy ones, but you know what I mean). And I am a believer that the intimacy shared in the bedroom is an important part of the foundation of a relationship. That is why I write books with sex. Because you aren’t truly seeing the full development of the relationship if you aren’t seeing those moments where the characters are literally naked and vulnerable.

 

Where is the weirdest place or what is the weirdest thing that inspired an idea?
Maybe my historical romance series, The Market. I just had this idea about what would happen if two people had sex but didn’t know they knew each other and then what would happen when they discovered they did know each other. That presented some challenges, like how could two people have sex and not know each other? And in Victorian England? Oh, well duh! Clearly they must be in a brothel. Oh and well of course they are wearing masks. Needless to say it turned into a three book series from there.

 

Who’s a writer you would do backflips to meet and why?
Cherise Sinclaire. That woman writes some amazingly powerful and super hot books. The depth of emotion she pulls out of her characters makes me want to be her when I grow up one day.

 

If you could go back 20 years ago, What advice would you give yourself?
Don’t worry about that failed dance career. It all works out.

 

Tell us about your latest novel!
Love & Punishment (Tales From Epsilon, Book 1) is part of Decadent Publishing’s Love and Punishment-highresBeyond Fairytales line. It is a post-apocalyptic, MC romance set in what was San Diego, CA. It is a MMF menage story that is a twisted retelling of Beauty and the Beast…but with multiple beasts. 😀 Oh and beauty is an assassin. No, no you probably don’t want to understand the inner workings of my mind. Here’s the blurb:

Once upon a time…

Bel was a happy girl with loving parents. Now she lives for revenge. At her father’s urging a plan is set in motion which quickly spins out of control. Expecting to be used and abused by The Beasts MC, who are known for their orgiastic ways, she is prepared to accept her fate in order to execute her mission.

The time has come to even the score with the men responsible for her mother’s death.

Nate and Liam, leaders of The Beasts, have their hands full ensuring the survival of their people as they sell Beast Brew to survive in a city crumbling around them. When a Rose MC member is plucked from their care the laws of Epsilon demand the perpetrator forfeit his life. But then the leader of The Devil’s Disciples’ daughter offers herself in exchange for his life, and they can’t refuse the beauty’s plea.

Once she’s pressed between them they know they’re keeping her for their own, but first they must figure out why she’s there.

 

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Harlon stood outside in the darkness and listened to the music seeping out of the building. It had been a good night already, and he was sure there was more pleasure ahead. The new girl, Teal, sported a hot little body on her. And since he’d seen her pure hedonistic side the last few months, he couldn’t help but want a sample of that for himself. Jimmy was fun to fuck, but there was something about a woman that made his blood sing.
He reached down and adjusted his growing erection. Hard to believe he was up for more fun. But, then, why not? No wife. No significant other. No responsibilities except making beer for The Beasts and fucking. Lots and lots of fucking. It was the life he’d strived for since he’d been thrown out of his house at age 15.
Beer. Yeah, the party needed more beer.
He opened the outer door of the warehouse, but stopped at the inner set of swinging doors. He caught a flash of movement, and there wasn’t anyone who was authorized to be in his inner sanctum. All of the Beasts knew to stay out of his space. Angry at the violation of his warehouse he slammed the door open letting it slap against the wall with a deafening bang.
A woman–holy shit, more like a girl–spun around to face him. Her dark eyes sat huge in her face as she turned pale at being caught. Her sweetly bowed lips opened in surprise as he screeched to a halt. Unfortunately, the grain she held in her hand was now trickling all over the floor and her bare feet instead of back into the bin where she had obviously been sifting her hand through it. What the fuck?
“Who the hell are you?” His anger was dissipating even as he realized how young she was. But he still needed to know who she was and why she was in his warehouse.
“I-I-I’m, Alex…” Her name faded into the quiet of the cavernous space and made it hard to hear the rest of what she said.
No matter. He heard enough. “Alex, whoever you are, why are you in my warehouse–molesting my grain?”
“Oh, crap.” She turned about five shades of red and dumped the small mound of ingredients back in the bin he stored it in. She faced him with both hands behind her back and rocked on her heels like a kid caught with their hand in the cookie jar. “Sorry. I wandered away from the party and the door was unlocked.”
Christ, she had been at The Beast’s party? Wasn’t she too young and innocent to hang at something like that? “The door was unlocked because everyone knows to stay the fuck out of my space.”
She glanced around uncertain, almost as though she hoped someone might come in and rescue her. And damn it, something weirdly protective surged inside him. Made him want to be the one to protect her. Fuck that. “Get out, and don’t come back.”
For some reason she didn’t scurry out of the building like she should have. Instead she started walking out very slowly, as if she didn’t want to leave. As she neared him, her shoes hanging from the fingers of one hand, she stopped and looked up at him. “What do you do with the grain? Is this the food storage area?”
“Get out of here, little girl.” He tacked that last bit on to remind himself she was too young and innocent to garner his interest.
She chewed her lower lip, dropped her gaze to the floor and scooted to the door. There, she stopped again to slip the sky high heels back on her feet. The shoes added inches to her height and completed the innocently sexy outfit she wore. The skirt barely covered her ass and the ruffles all over it made a man want to touch it. Touch her.
He took a step toward her, damn near losing his battle for control, but she squealed and darted out the door. Fuck, his brain was so addled with lust at the moment he somehow had managed to see the little girl wandering in his building as an object of lust. Maybe his dad had been right? Maybe he was an abomination? No. He refused to allow that man’s insidious voice back in his head. Crap talk turned into crap thought. He figured that out after he was on his own for a while.
He sighed and headed back to the store room. Grab the case of beer then go find Teal. She was a woman a man could slake his lusts on.

 

Before you go, any advice to give to the new writers out there?
BICHOK – Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard
If you aren’t writing you aren’t going to get there from here. Also, start a newsletter now. Even if you haven’t published a thing. Build your reader base. Social media is great, but your newsletter isn’t subjected to the latest social media fad.

Upcoming Classes from RWA San Diego

No matter where you are in your writing career, RWA San Diego has an online class to fit your needs. This month, we’re offering a craft workshop to help those in the query trenches to polish their manuscripts for submission, as well as a business workshop to help published authors market their books.

The Sweet 16 First Lines of Your Manuscript

While it’s obviously important for a manuscript to be polished and presentable from start to finish, it’s crucial that the first page be flawlessly executed. These first sixteen lines of your book are responsible for hooking your readers, and introducing you as a writer. They could mean the difference between a full request and a pass from an agent; they could influence a potential Woman writing in her notebookcustomer to One Click purchase your book or scroll to the next one in the list. Experienced instructor Chris Mandeville will share guidelines, strategies, and advice for tightening up your opening lines, as well as provide individualized critiques of your own first pages. The lecture takes place on Wednesday, March 16th, so sign up today!

 

Social Media Basics: Twitter and Facebook Page 101

Like, Share, FollowNowadays, social media is a required method of marketing your books, and all authors need to get on board. If you’ve yet to create your Facebook author page or your Twitter feed has been languishing for months, this is the course for you. Taught by author and book blogger, Denise Alicea, you’ll acquire the knowledge to get your own Facebook and Twitter accounts up and running by the end of this two week course. The first class starts Monday, March 14th, so reserve your space while there’s still availability!

 

If these classes don’t do it for you, don’t forget to check back in next month, when we’ve got even more exciting offerings for writers of all experience levels.

Share Your Story: One of THOSE days.

Sometimes you just have one of those days.

When you’re on you’re on your 165th draft and it still isn’t feeling right.

When you are so tired from your day job, raising your kids, or having yet another sleepless night that the idea of putting fingers to a keyboard is a nightmare.

When you rather have a double root canal than wrestle with typing a blog post… I may have revealed too much.

Times like these are only intensified when the guilt pours on. I’m a writer! Why am I not writing? That’s what my brain screamed at me every day while I fought through the flu last month. It’s what it screams at me when I come home from the day job after a killer commute and only want a glass of wine and my bed. Eventually this spirals into a world of hurt where the guilt turns into resentment and no writing gets done purely out of spite.

There’s always been a romantic notion that writers write because it’s what they love to do . That is totally legit. I wouldn’t bother with this path if telling stories wasn’t a passion of mine. But so many folks have this fantasy about how authors work. That they sequester themselves into homey dens, put their fingers to the keys, and pure beauty flows right out of them.  If they had any idea how many times I slammed by face against my laptop they would take me to the ER for cranial trauma. Yes, we do love to write and it is our passion but just like any job, there are times when you just want to throw your hands up and scream… and possibly consider a career in animal husbandry.

“Story Stuck”. It is a problem, folks.

So our question today is: How do you deal with one of THOSE days?

Luckily I’ve learned ways to pull myself out of this loop of despair. Granted, it took me a while to learn these methods but I’m grateful for them. Here are a few:

  • Walk away– Alright, so that sounds counter intuitive but it does work. I close up my laptop, get up, and distract myself with something else. I sketch, I sew, or watch an episode of Agent Carter. Anything to reboot. After a while my mind fixes on exactly what the problem is and I can dive right in.
  • Talk to a buddy – My critique partner is in another state. We chat via text often and I talk to her whenever I’m “Story stuck”. When either of us is having a rotten day or is agonizing over the flow of a story, we talk it out a while and eventually, after bouncing ideas off each other, we’re back on track.
  • Don’t worry about the words – When I’m on a tight turnaround and I need to write, regardless of inspiration, my rotten day, or exhaustion, I just write. I get my ideas out even if it’s sloppy and raw. After a break I go back and I clean it up. If I can clear my brain of the ideas clogging it up it really puts me in the zone.
  • Write just a little bit a day – Long writing sessions are awesome, but when you’re sick or wiped out from the day, focusing for an hour or two can be almost impossible. When I was down and out with the flu I did short sprints on my laptop when I was feeling halfway decent. A sentence here, a paragraph there. I ended up completing a chapter that way.
  • Be nice to yourself – Sometimes a bad day is just a bad day. Sometimes it’s just not going to happen. If you have the luxury to do so, be nice to yourself and take a day off. Give your mind a chance to settle and don’t feel guilty about it. This isn’t something you can do everyday but every once in a while its good allow yourself a break. We’re only human, after all.

So these are my methods and, like with everything, should be taken with a grain of salt. What works for me may or may not work for you. Everyone has their own way of dealing with “story stuck” just be sure to keep writing!

So how do you deal with one of those days? Please share in the comments!