We’ve recently redesigned our chapter website to be even more fabulous, so our blog is now located at:
See you there!
We’ve recently redesigned our chapter website to be even more fabulous, so our blog is now located at:
See you there!
The holidays are fast approaching, which means it’s time to start thinking of great ideas to give that special romance novelist in your life. Instead of gifting them yet another mug printed with a clever writing-related quip, or a stack of blank notebooks (although, frankly, we can never get enough blank notebooks), try thinking outside the box this year. Here are a few fun, novel ideas to get you started.
These are just a few creative ideas to help inspire your favorite romance novelists to write more and write better in 2017. Any ideas I left off? Feel free to leave them in the comments!
Our chapter has grown quite a bit over the past couple of years. We love seeing new faces at our monthly meetings and getting to know new romance writers. And as our membership increases, the board wants to make sure that everyone is aware of the different levels of membership available, how to qualify for different communities of practice, and how you can benefit from the different networks offered by RWA.
First, it’s important to understand that there are two levels of membership within RWA at the national level. General membership is open to all people who are involved in the serious pursuit of a career in romance writing. (We’ll get to the definition of “serious pursuit” in a minute.) General members reap all the benefits of an RWA membership, including the right to vote in our elections, and the ability to run for a position on the board.
Everyone else falls into the Associate membership category. This includes writers who cannot prove the serious pursuit of a romance writing career, as well as other industry professionals, such as acquiring editors, publishers, or agents. Associate members enjoy most of the benefits that General members do, but they aren’t allowed to vote or run for office.
So what does this “serious pursuit” thing mean, anyway? In simple terms, it means you have to show RWA that you’ve got some finished projects. After applying for membership, you will have to submit to the national office either:
A few short stories or a novella should suffice. When you’re ready, you can upload your manuscript at the Proof of Serious Pursuit page on National’s website. This will be enough to qualify you for General membership. It will probably also be enough to qualify you for PRO, or maybe even PAN.
PRO and PAN are communities of practice within the organization who “come together with a common interest to share ideas, find solutions, and build innovations.”
By uploading your finished manuscript to the RWA national office, you’ve qualified for PRO. PRO is for “almost published” members – those who have a finished manuscript and are ready to take the next step toward pursuing publication, be that indie or traditional. There is an active online community at the national website for members of PRO to discuss queries, edits, and other pre-publication topics. We also have a PRO community within our local RWA San Diego chapter. Historically, we’ve hosted the PRO Breakfast prior to our monthly meetings, where members get together to discuss relevant issues and listen to speakers discuss their experiences on the path toward publication. Starting in 2017, the PRO Breakfast will no longer be taking place, because we no longer have a PRO Liaison. (If you’re a PRO member and are interested in taking over this position to keep the PRO Breakfast alive, please let us know!)
For those members who are already published, the Published Authors Network, or PAN, is right for you. PAN functions as a way for published authors to protect their common interests, to keep communication open between writers and publishing professionals, and to help build relationships and spread knowledge as we navigate our romance writing careers. There are also two levels of PAN Membership:
The only difference between these two levels is that Provisional PAN members may not participate in the RWA trade-show booth, vote in the PAN elections, or run for PAN office.
RWA San Diego has a vibrant published authors community called PALS. Our current PALS Liaison is Jillian Stone, and she organizes fun and informative get-togethers for our published authors.
So if you’re an Associate RWA member who qualifies for PAN or PRO, what are you waiting for? Get those applications going and take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities available to you through RWA – both on the national and local levels.
It’s that time again! RWA San Diego will be hosting its annual Literacy Bash on Saturday, November 19th. For those who’ve never attended, it’s a fabulous, fun-filled day filled with big names in the romance industry and a number of opportunity drawings. The proceeds from the event go to supporting some important local literacy nonprofits, such as READ San Diego and the CCA Writers Conference, supporting high school students across the county in their efforts to learn more about creative writing.
This year, we’re proud to announce our very special guests for the Literacy Bash: New York Times bestselling author, Julie Kagawa, and her agent, Laurie McLean, founder of Fuse Literary. They’ll be talking about the making of a million-dollar deal, specifically, how they worked together to craft their own million-dollar deal! The big bucks are still out there, and they’re going to give you some insight on how you and your agent can work together to get your own!
Laurie represents RWA San Diego’s own Lisa Kessler and Linda Wisdom. In the afternoon, while Julie discusses the ins and outs of writing YA romance, Laurie will be taking pitches. If you’re interested in showing her what you’ve got, be sure to perfect your pitch and sign up for some of the limited spots right away. Laurie is currently closed to unsolicited queries, so this is a fantastic opportunity to get your work in front of her.
This is always a popular event, and every year it reliably sells out. Don’t miss out – register today! The first fifty registrants receive a free Julie Kagawa book.
See you then!
The October meeting was all about how to stay healthy as a writer – both physically and spiritually.
To help feed and care for our muses, creativity coach, Jill Badonsky, author of The Muse Is In, spoke to us about how to knock down creative blocks and maintain a healthy dose of inspiration at all times. Creative blocks are called antagonists, and the first step to overcoming them, Jill says, is to accept them. Some common antagonists are:
Ultimately, the goal is to rewire your brain to think positively. Instead of saying, “I have to write X words,” or “I should write this next chapter,” tell yourself, “I get to write today!” By viewing it as a privilege as opposed to an obligation, you change the story you tell yourself about your writing. You make it fun again.
Another way to change the story in your head is to keep a “Reminder Journal.” According to Jill, it’s an informal collection of thoughts, ideas, and quotes that remind you of why you like to write, and why you started writing in the first place. You can include compliments you’ve received on your writing, positive memories and emotions associated with your writing, tips and tricks that work for your creativity, and good reviews. Every once in a while, take it out and look it over. By doing so, you’ll replace the negative voices in your head with positive ones.
The creative process, Jill says, is a romance. When you first fall in love with writing, you become infatuated, just like you do when you fall in love with a person. And like any romance, enthusiasm can wane over time. You need to find a way to remember the initial sparks of excitement in order to stoke the fires of creativity and maintain your enthusiasm over the course of your career.
In the afternoon, our own Linda Thomas-Sundstrom spoke to us about caring for our bodies. While we know Linda as a prolific author of twenty-eight romance novels, she’s also a fitness professional who teaches on the faculty of two colleges in the Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Science departments.
Without our physical health, we wouldn’t be able to write at all, so one of the most important things we can do for our writing careers is to ensure we’re finding ways to include fitness in our daily lives. Linda provided us with some tips and tricks for incorporating movement into our normally sedentary schedules.
At a minimum, you should be getting at least twenty minutes of exercise every single day, at your optimal training heart rate. Which means more than a leisurely stroll. If your heartbeat isn’t speeding up, then you’re not getting a good workout. A brisk, steady walk would suffice, though anything that gets your heart rate up would work – jogging, running, or even just dancing around the room.
To avoid long-term damage to your health caused by extended periods of sitting, Linda says it’s crucial to get up from your chair every thirty minutes. Sitting down slows your metabolism and encourages a stooped posture. To combat the effects of slouching over your keyboard, Linda suggests keeping a resistance band next to your computer (I’ve got mine next to me now!). Set a timer for thirty minutes; when it goes off, stand up, walk around, and perform a few arm and shoulder stretches using the band. Just this simple movement, performed consistently, will make a world of difference in your health and posture.
Challenge your body to make a change, Linda says, and make conscious decisions to get fit. And if you feel your creativity lagging, go for a walk. You’ll feel more energized and creative after you get some exercise – a flexible body equals a flexible mind.
As always, our group shared their Good News for the month:
Next month is our fantabulous annual Literacy Event! Registration opens on November 1st. Sign up early, because this event usually sells out quickly. This year, we’re featuring New York Times bestselling author Julie Kagawa and her agent, Laurie McLean. There’ll be giveaways, pitches, and free books to the first fifty registrants. See you then!
The query process is often a long, draining one. While you’re busy sending out letters, refining your pitch, and collecting rejections, it can sometimes seem like you’ll never get an offer of representation. But then, after weeks, months, even years in the trenches, it happens: you get “the call.”
Well… now what? As much as you might want to jump on their offer with a resounding “YES!” it would behoove you to ask some questions to make sure the agent is a good fit for you and your writing career. We’ve all heard that saying, “A bad agent is worse than no agent.” This is your chance to figure out if this agent is the right choice for you. So, what should you ask them?
Recently, this same question came up in a small group of RWA-SD writers, and some of the suggestions were so good, they deserved to be shared with a wider audience. So here are some questions you can – and probably should – ask a potential agent during that exciting offer of rep call:
What about you? What are some things you asked your agent before signing with him/her – or what are some things you wish you’d asked?
Today’s blog post is brought to you by RWASD’s own Tessa McFionn!
Wow! What an amazing meeting! Our guest speaker, Callie Hutton, gave some wonderful insight about writing historical characters that appeal to today’s readers.
She got down to the nitty gritty about character traits readers are looking for:
And what readers are not looking for:
She reminded everyone that historical romance reads are not just for “old people” any longer, but market trends show that most historical readers prefer physical copies to digital media.
Next up, Callie was joined by our own Georgie Lee, Regan Walker, and Sorcha Mowbray in an engaging panel discussion about the changes and trends in historical romances. Lisa Kessler did a great job as moderator, keeping things lively and highly entertaining.
A couple important takeaways:
For September, the Member of the month was Mary Galusha for her wonderful work on “Write for the Money.”
And the Atta Girl went to Lisa Kessler, who persevered through a difficult family trauma and met her writing deadlines.
So much Good News!
Our next meeting will be Saturday, October 15 to hear Jill Badonsky talk on Six Ways to Keep Inspiration Flowing and our own Linda Thomas-Sundstrom will give us Tips and Tricks to Keep your Body Healthy as a Writer. We will also be holding our Annual General Meeting where the new board will be announced.
Don’t forget to vote and see you in October!
Do you have a business plan? If not, you aren’t alone. Many authors don’t have one, for any number of reasons. It can be scary to actually put your dreams into words. It can be intimidating to look at how much work you need to do to get to where you want to go. And it can be embarrassing to admit you haven’t a clue as to what you even want to achieve. But, according to Stephanie Bond, an MBA-holding author of over seventy mystery and romance titles, a business plan is a necessity. In her 2016 RWA Nationals workshop, “Plan for Success: Create a Motivational Business Plan for Your Writing Career,” she discussed the benefits of creating a business plan, and shared a rough outline for how to write one for yourself.
Perhaps writing a business plan came naturally to Stephanie, since she holds an MBA and spent many years climbing the ranks of the corporate world before quitting to write full-time. But it doesn’t have to be a formal process. According to Stephanie, we can start out by asking ourselves questions. Questions like: What do you want to do with your writing? What do you want to achieve? How do you want to affect your readers? Just forcing yourself to think about the big picture like this is an excellent tool for establishing focus and figuring out what you really want to accomplish as a writer. This is the foundation of your business plan, and allows you to lay the groundwork for the future of your writing career.
An important component of your business plan should be setting your goals and objectives, which Stephanie described as two separate things. Goals, she said, are under your control, while objectives are not. Objectives tend to be lofty and long-term – Earn enough money to live off my writing! Hit the New York Times bestseller list! – while goals are short-term and achievable – Enter that contest! Query that agent! Focus on what you can control, she said, and figure out what kinds of short-term goals you can set that might help you to achieve those lofty, long-term objectives.
She also stressed the importance of adopting a business mindset in your everyday life, and recommended paying attention to business blogs, such as Seth Godin’s, keeping CNBC on in the background as you work, and reading Entrepreneur magazine.
In my opinion, the most important takeaway from the workshop was the following sentiment:
Think of yourself as a “content generator,” creating novels, blog posts, audiobooks, novellas, short stories, nonfiction articles, and more.
There was so much to this wonderful workshop, including discussion of branding strategies and instructions on how to maintain a body of work document. I came away from it inspired to create my own business plan, which has left me more motivated and inspired than ever before. If you’re an RWA member, you can purchase the audio recording at rwa.org to get all the details. The return on investment could be huge.
Last Saturday, RWA San Diego hosted its annual Post-Nationals Potluck, where we shared our experiences and stories from the July conference. We discussed our favorite workshops, including memorable quotes from instructors, tips and tidbits we learned along the way, and the lowdown on what editors are looking for. Additionally, we were briefed by local chapter member and national Director-at-Large, HelenKay Dimon, on some of the big changes that have occurred and are on the horizon for RWA.
The board met on July 10th and 11th in San Diego, during which several important decisions were made that affect the membership. Among others:
For details on any of these highlights, please see the news posted on the RWA website.
If anyone attended the board meeting, or even just heard HelenKay talk about it at last week’s potluck, you know how hard our board works to make sure RWA respects and values the opinions and feedback of all of its members. Each board member receives hundreds of emails everyday – each of which is read and considered. They spend hours debating the details of amendments to ensure they best meet the needs of all our members, and they take their jobs very seriously, committing a significant amount of their time and effort to making RWA the best it can possibly be. We’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the members of our national board for all the work you do for us!
For voting members: Elections are coming up in a few weeks! The voting period is from September 1st through the 15th, and there are a whopping six spaces up for grabs for Director-at-Large. With three times as many candidates as there are positions to fill, we as members need to do our best to research their platforms and make sure our elected board reflects our values. Please take some time to review their bios and put some thought into who you’re voting for.
There are also some proposed changes to the bylaws being put up to a vote. These changes would affect general membership and move certain items from the bylaws to the Policies and Procedures. Details of these proposals can be seen here; please review them so you know how you’re going to vote in September!
If you have specific questions, you can always reach out to the board members. Their contact information is available on the RWA website. This organization is only as strong as its members – do your part to participate in our election as an informed voter!
Confession time: participating in social media does not come easily to me. For one thing, I’m sort of a private person, and uncomfortable with the idea of someone knowing my every move, or worse yet, my every feeling. I’m also not much of a photographer – I mean, have you seen my Instagram lately? The artistry of the snapshots leaves much to be desired. And when it comes to turning the camera on myself, I’d rather get a deep cleaning in the dentist’s chair than take a selfie.
But there’s one social media platform that I’ve become comfortable with, maybe even grown to love, and that’s Twitter. Designed for brevity, Twitter limits your updates to 140-character posts, or “tweets.” These bite-sized morsels of information allow you to compose quickly, peruse at a glance, and connect with everyone from Harlequin to the President.
It took me some time to figure out how best to use Twitter as an author. But with a few years of experience under my belt, I’ve come up with some tips and tricks worth sharing that can help you to use Twitter most effectively.
What about you? When using Twitter, what’s worked for you and what has been a total failure? Share your experiences in the comments!
* As always, YMMV.