Friday, July 25, 2008

Music City Romance Writers at B & N

I participated in a panel discussion with three fellow members of the Music City Romance Writers at our local Barnes & Noble this week. It was a great experience, even though it was a bit nerve-wracking at first. Seeing so many members of our chapter there to support the group went a long way towards settling my jitters.

The topic was How A Professional Writing Organization Can Benefit Your Career (Or Not). We talked about the advantages of writers’ groups, conferences, and critique groups.

(photo: Ramona Richards, Jody Wallace, Annie Solomon, and me)

Here’s a short summary from part of my talk. My writing has improved with each of these steps, joining RWA & SCBWI, attending national conferences, and joining a critique group. Finding my current critique group has been a big plus in my writing this year.

I first met my critique partners in an unusual way. I attended the SCBWI-Midsouth regional conference last fall in Nashville. I knew no one at the conference when I arrived. On our nametags, our hometown was listed, so I spent a lot of time staring a people’s nametags, looking for people who lived in my area. While I was in line for the ladies’ restroom (a line that can be Very long at writers’ conferences), I met my critique partner, Jennifer. She introduced me to another member of our current group (after we exited the ladies’ room).

The moral of this part of the story is: Take advantage of time spent in line. You never know who you’ll meet. This advice should come in handy next week. I’ll be attending the RWA national conference in San Francisco. I am looking forward to networking, workshops, and catching up with friends. And Yes! My manuscript is ready to pitch.

Next week: Reporting from RWA 2008 in San Francisco.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Countdown to Conference

The annual Romance Writers of America conference starts in nineteen days. During the month of July, I am usually writing fast and furious trying to finish a manuscript to pitch at the conference. This year is no exception.

I have a short women’s fiction manuscript I wrote last year that has received one rejection and has been on my hard drive collecting imaginary dust. This is a definite no-no in the aspiring writer’s world of trying to get published. No one will buy your manuscript if it sits in your desk drawer, computer, etc.

I wrote a few chapters of a second story set in the same fictional town, then set it aside to focus on my children’s stories. I had no problem with this for a few months. Then I started thinking about the main characters in the second book. I wondered what happened to them, but I didn’t know because I never finished the story. They wouldn’t leave me alone. So I printed out the first story again and asked one of my critique partners to read it. She did and gave me lots of wonderful comments. I talked to another writer friend about the manuscript and decided to expand the story, make it longer, so I can pitch it to someone else at the upcoming conference.

I have quite a few pages left to write. Here’s hoping I make it. I’ll just have to do it one page at the time.