Monday, November 23, 2015

The Sweet Sixteens and Gratitude

This week is Thanksgiving (if you're American!) and I'm happily jumping in on gratitude-themed blogging for the month. And, I get to announce I'm now part of the Sweet Sixteens Debut Author Collective!
The Sweet Sixteens is a group of Young Adult and Middle Grade authors debuting in 2016.  We have come together to  share this publishing journey and promote one another’s books. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Only a week into the group, and I'm already so appreciative of the support from other debut authors. Thinking back over the year, and I can point to many moments where I've experienced the support of other writers. This whole journey to publication can be lonely and anxious. While my family is totally behind me in my creative pursuits, they don't always know the details of the struggle. Having writer friends is by far the best thing to come out of my publishing journey so far.

Here are a few highlights:

Romance Writers conference in New York!

Brenda Drake and myself RWA 2015
I officially met contest queen Brenda Drake (and we shared a bathroom early mornings!). Her dedication to helping writers through Pitch Madness, Pitch Wars, #PitMad is constant and ongoing. She brainstormed new ideas and organized meet-ups with two different groups of writers while we were there. AND she thought up the Pitch Wars Roadshow pitch workshop for the RT Convention in Las Vegas next year and asked me to be a part of it. 

Speaking of Pitch Wars, the writer I had the privilege to help received five requests from the agent round. I'm so proud of her and her wonderful story!

My critique group put together our second retreat weekend on the (cold, fall) shores of Lake Michigan. Each of these ladies is either on the board or running a committee through my local Romance Writers Chapter. We talk through plot issues, brainstorm character tragedies, and help each other toward our goals.

2015 critique group retreat

This next one is a little bit of a throwback (2 years ago--note the hair!). On the left is Summer Heacock who I met at Midwest Writers Workshop (standing with our shared agent at the time). This month, the collective online writing community came together to support Summer and her family through a tough time. The #FriendsofFizzy fundraiser raised almost $10,000 (!) to go toward medical bills, and a separate auction was set up with agent and author items up for bid. I am so incredibly touched by seeing so many people pull together to help Summer, who consistently cheers everyone else on.  

I'm thankful for all these wonderful women who make this business easier to manage. 

What are you thankful for? What stories inspire you?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Guest Post: YABuccaneers on Conferences PLUS RT Booklovers panel listing!

Today I'm blogging over on the YABuccaneers about my experience at Romance Writers National Conference in NYC. Plus tips about attending any writers conference! They prettied it up with cool graphics and everything. Hope you stop by!

Ten Lessons Learned From Attending RWA National Conference

Also, the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention (RT for short) just announced their schedule for the 2016 Las Vegas conference. Guess what--I'm on it!

The Pitch Wars Road Show is a session I'm cohosting with Brenda Drake and other experienced Pitch Wars mentors. The goal is to use the workshop to prep writers for RT's Pitchapalooza later that week. Bring a query and pitch, and the mentors will provide hands-on practice prior to the pitch round. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Insecure Writers Support Group IWSG November

It's the first Wednesday of the month which means: it's Insecure Writers Support Group day! 
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Make sure to visit a handful of blogs in the IWSG blog hop. Pick a number in the list and visit five or ten up or down the list. That's my pro tip!

November is a special month. Yes, it's my birthday. And my wedding anniversary. More important to you,  it's National Novel Writing Month!

Motivation: I want this badge every year!
I'm sure we'll see a lot of NaNoWriMo posts in the blog hop this month. That's because Nano is the great equalizer. It doesn't matter if you're published and have sold thousands of books, published and sold a handful of books, or unpublished, uniformed, and a total N00B. You can join in the frenzy and work your way toward a first draft.

 Five years ago, I was that newbie. I always liked writing (editor of high school newspaper, I wrote web articles for various small time sites and blogs for years). I'd always wanted to write a book and even started a couple times. The starting part is SO hard. I knew nothing of plot structure, turning points, character arcs. I barely knew point-of-view. But I read a lot. And I had a few writer friends who urged me on. I found out about NaNoWriMo a few weeks prior to November and thought, let me give this a go.

Five years later, I have a literary agent, a signed contract with a publisher for an upcoming book, and I'm on the board of the young adult chapter of romance writers. I've been to writing conferences across the country, I've met writers from around the world through pitch contests and writing forums. I read infinitely more than I did before. I attribute so much of this to Nano giving me the courage to go for it. I had the desire, but no direction.
Not everyone benefits from fast drafting. Lots of people don't finish 50,000 words in November. The best part of NaNoWriMo is none of that really matters. What matters is you are writing, and you're part of a collective of other writers encouraging you along.

Even if you aren't participating, I hope you find inspiration this month to reach your writing goals. If you don't have any writing goals, make some! Why wait until January for New Years resolutions? Start now! Resolve to finish your work in progress or brainstorm a new project. November is full of writers willing to cheer you on.

Thanks for stopping by! What's your favorite part of NaNoWriMo? What's a writing goal you've set for yourself?