A Marvelous Mash-Up

Welcome to this week’s Margarita Moment! If you enjoy this post and are a newcomer to my little island life inspired blog, sign up for your free, weekly escape (Look along the right sidebar.). It will sail to your inbox on Mondays, more or less, depending on life’s currents and my novel writing schedule. Thanks for visiting.

Hey, all! You’re in for a treat today. Rylie snuck away from writing her secondary applications for medical schools to share a photo montage about Venice, Italy. She studied abroad her last semester of undergrad this past spring. If you missed her earlier posts, you’re invited to check out Off to Brunnenburg, Eating Northern Italy Style, Hiking the Italian Alps, Meran, Italy, and Dorf Tirol, Italy. I promise her photos are worth the click.

Venice

Hi! Rylie here. Like Mom said, I’ve been swamped with essays for medical school, but I want to show you the most incredible pictures and memories from this beautiful city. *drum roll* And the highlights are:

  • Traveling by waterbus down the Grand Canal
  • Seeing someone buy a freshly killed shark at the Rialto market
  • Getting gelato from every store near San Marco plaza
  • Waving to gondoliers
  • Finding as many paintings with Jesus in them as we could at the Gallerie dell’Accademia
  • Having – and hating – my first cappuccino
  • Getting lost on the way back from San Marco and unsuccessfully asking the police for directions
  • Almost knocking over a statue at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection
  • Going to over 40 stores to find the perfect Murano glass earrings
  • Watching two kittens play-fight in the garden outside our restaurant during dinner
  • Getting a beer glass for free at a pub after asking the bartender if I could buy one
  • Sitting on the Arsenale pier at night to watch the waterbuses finish their route
  • Getting lost in the back alleyways in San Marco
  • Learning that a dead-end in Venice is an alleyway that ends in water

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Fiction Fest

Five writer lessons I learned at Connecticut Romance Writers’ recent Fiction Fest:

1. Secondary character subplots must match the story’s main plot theme. (Kristan Higgins)

2. When ridding of that pile of papers on your writer desk, turn it over and start from the bottom. Quickly choose which items can be thrown and which need to be kept. Then file time-sensitive papers by the month, with files for the current month in files from 1-31. Check the following day’s file folder at the end of each workday to prioritize the next day’s to-do list. (Lisa Lelas)

3. Hybrid authors are fast becoming the trend in publishing. (Roxanne St. Claire)

4. Smashwords provides free books on its website for those authors going the indie route. (Jim Azevedo)

5.  Attending writing conferences are worth the time, money, and effort invested. (Jolyse Barnett)

Farewell to Summer

Are you silently mourning the passing of summer, pretending to be Turning Fall Into Spring? Are you nostalgic for the sunny days, reliving Summer Highlights to keep warm on chilly nights?

If you answered yes to these two questions (and even if you didn’t), this photo is for you:

2012-07-20 16.10.23

How have you welcomed the new season?

 

 

My Favorite Ten Quotes from RWA13

Downtown Atlanta

Downtown Atlanta

I hadn’t planned on attending the Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta this year. My husband had been undergoing medical treatments, my son encountered difficulties through much of eighth grade, and my day job had been overly demanding in the past months. In spite of these obstacles, my husband insisted I go.

I’m so glad I did.

The national conference is about workshops, pitching, and networking. Writers at all different stages of their careers attend and each can tailor her experience to meet specific goals. My first year, I focused on learning all about the craft, attending every possible workshop and pitching my first novel. I socialized very little, still a shy newbie. This year, I balanced the workshops with both pitching, networking, and socializing. Even more, I had fun hanging out with friends, making new friends, and visiting the Georgia Aquarium a few blocks away from where we stayed at the Peachtree Center’s Marriott Marquis.

With author Juliette Sobanet

With author Juliette Sobanet

But very much like my friend, Patty Blount, discovered and shared quite eloquently in her recent blog post for our local writing chapter, I found RWA’s national conference to be much more than all of these wonderful things. Nationals is a place where people of common interests and big dreams come together to support each other and be inspired. We writers all suffer at times from the Doubt Monster. We all go through periods where we believe our writing sucks, that our aspirations are unrealistic, and we wonder if we shouldn’t just quit.

RWA13 reinforced my desire to make my passion a career. To keep working until I succeed. To know I’m not alone. And that I can always, always turn to my RWA colleagues for guidance and a shoulder to lean on.

For those of you who didn’t have the opportunity to attend this year’s conference, and perhaps as a refresher for those of you who did, here are ten of the most memorable bits of advice I took away with me about writing from some of the greatest in the romance writing profession:

1.  Writing is a process of controlled chaos.

2.  Your goal is to complete one book every nine months. Don’t lollygag.

3.  Write through the fear.

4. Be disciplined.

5. Query the NY publishers while building your writer platform. If they don’t buy your story, self-publish, but only after you’ve written and edited a very clean, polished book.

6. If agents or editors like your writing but not your book, focus on creating emotional depth of characters, pacing, and a compelling plot.

7. Regarding plot, be outrageous. Readers don’t read fiction to escape to real life.

8. Outrageous plots must be tied to well-motivated reasons to allow your reader to suspend disbelief.

9. Don’t undervalue yourself or your work.

10. Determine how many pages you can complete in a day, make a reasonable goal each week, and be responsible for achieving that goal, no matter what.

And here’s a bonus, the quote I scribbled on a sticky note and placed on my laptop, courtesy of the inimitable Cherry Adair:  Finish the damn book!

What are your favorite quotes from RWA13 or about writing that guide or inspire you?

Nora told me, "It gets easier. Keep writing."

Nora told me, “It gets easier. Keep writing.”

The Romance Writer’s Handbook

Happy Romance Writer’s Wednesday. Today’s post is about the first book I ever read about crafting a romance story, Rebecca Vinyard’s THE ROMANCE WRITER’S HANDBOOK. This how-to book took my vague dream of becoming a serious writer to a set of achievable skills and goals.

Here are my Top Ten Nuggets of Writing Gold mined from Ms. Vinyard’s book:

10. Study the market as you consider which premise holds the most promise. But write with love in mind, not dollar signs.

9. Formatting matters.

8. Use strong verbs to make your writing active.

6. There are sixteen master archetypes to use when creating characters.

5. Using POV correctly, you can keep characters guessing about the other characters’ feelings–increasing tension and conflict.

4. Romance plots have a difficult-to-solve problem keeping our hero and heroine apart. The internal conflict heightens emotion.

3. Create a colorful, rich sense of place using descriptive language–short and sweet–and show it through a character’s POV.

2. Write what you know you are ready to write. Research is the backbone to every story.

1. Write, write, write…to find your voice. Be confident–only you sound like you. Then keep writing for those who love your voice.

Romance Writers:   What nugget of writing gold you have mined from writing experts? Romance Readers: What do you feel makes a good romance?

The Angst before the HEA

Happily married to my best friend many years now, I have to dig deep to remember the uncertainty of new love or unrequited love or betrayed love. Music helps me to reconnect to these various types of angts my hero or heroine may experience at the crisis point in the story–where all seems lost.

Adele’s award-winning song, SOMEONE LIKE YOU, draws me in. I feel her pain, and it becomes my own.

Listening to this song, I begin to imagine “What if.” What if my husband weren’t mine? What if he fell out of love with me and we parted ways? What if he then found someone new, someone to share a new beginning, leaving me behind to start over–alone? That’s when I sit down at my laptop and click away, the tears streaming down my face, feeling my character’s pain as my own. Exhausting? Yes, but I believe it makes a difference in the quality of my writing. The emotions are authentic, the character’s actions and dialogue match the depth of his/her despair.

Writers, what resources do you use to create authentic character responses at the crisis point in your story? 

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