Wednesday, August 24, 2011

September Writing Workshops



I hope you'll forgive the delay in my posting the workshops for this month.  I'm still without internet access after the house move.  I'm also without a washer and TV.  It's expensive to have all your electronics break at once.  Luckily, I started this post yesterday because right now there is a guy talking loudly to himself (well, to someone I can't see) right behind me.  Ah, the joys of internet cafes...


Please note that all course descriptions are in blurb form. There’s often more information at the official websites. The September writing workshops in order of start date and length are:


Instructor: Carol Hughes
Dates: September 2011
Course Description: Interested in learning the secret techniques that mega stars have in common? It's not as hard as you think – not if you know the simple-to-master writing secrets that they know and haven't shared with you.

Instructor: Diana Rowe
Dates: September 1-22 2011
Cost: $25
Course Description: Whether he’s in a contemporary or historical novel, readers thrive on getting a closer glimpse of a sexy cowboy. Conversely, who doesn’t like a bad boy, and no one oozes bad and sexy more than a biker. This workshop will take you behind the rodeo and ranching scenes, including a greenhorn’s guide to the rodeo and its organizations; what is a real cowboy; cowboy jargon; rodeo’s specialized equipment; cowboy superstitions and omens; livestock; rodeo cowboys and their various occupations; and, if time permits, a brief overview of ranching.

Instructor: CJ Lyons
Dates: September 1-28 2011
Cost: $30 for Non-members
Course Description: Thrillers are hot! And romance thrillers, Thrillers with Heart, are sizzling! What is the difference between mysteries and thrillers? How to add romance without slowing the pace? Explore the fascinating world of thriller fiction with award winning author CJ Lyons.

Instructor: Linnea Sinclair
Dates: September 1-30 2011
Cost: $30
Course Description: Writing Guru Dwight Swain said that it‘s the author‘s job to manipulate the emotions of the reader. There‘s no better way to do this than for the author to put his characters through one roller coaster episode after another, taking the reader along for the ride. But how much conflict, how much character angst is too much? How can an author keep the action from becoming cartoonish? Bantam Spectra author Linnea Sinclair answers those questions and more in this fun and fast-paced (because torturing students is good, too!) workshop that explores the importance of conflict in today‘s commercial fiction novels.

Instructor: Cindy Carroll
Dates: September 1-30 2011
Cost: $30
Course Description: Writing scripts and writing novels are two completely different things. Just because we can write books doesn’t mean we can write screenplays. Is That Hollywood Calling? is a quick and dirty month long course on the differences between writing books and writing scripts. If you want to unleash your inner screenwriter this is a great place to start as a primer. For novelists it covers how writing a screenplay can cause light bulb moments for some of those often quoted snippets of writing advice like show don’t tell and keep it active. It also covers how thinking like a screenwriter can help improve your novel writing.

Instructor: Mary Pollard
Dates: September 1-30 2011
Cost: $30
Course Description: This 4-week online workshop covers four topics: nominalizations, passive voice, vague -ing words, and weak verbs. These four problem areas spell rejection with editors. MM the Queen of English will show you how to fix these fatal flaws BEFORE you send your manuscript to an agent or editor.

Instructor: Paty Jager
Dates: September 5 - 16 2011
Cost: $16
Course Description: Using lines from Brad Paisley’s song “I’m Still a Guy” we’ll explore the male line of thought and how to use the information in your work to make your hero stand out in the reader’s mind. We’ll use interactive activities to help you get into your hero’s head and have his actions and dialog ring true.

Instructor: Beth Henderson
Dates: September 5-18 2011
Cost: $20 for Non-members
Course Description: Some writers settle into one niche and stay there, comfy, and content to write only one type of story. Others do the opposite and write in more than one genre, or niche within a genre. They tend to be more prolific. And prolific equals one very golden result: success. If you have been tempted to write in a different category or genre or niche lately, this is your chance to see which one – or more – is a good fit for you.

Instructor: Kathy Bennett
Dates: September 5-30 2011
Cost: $25 for Non-members
Course Description: Kathy Bennett offers a class that is different every time she gives it. She brings twenty-one years as a Los Angeles police officer to her four week, twenty-six lessons course, A Cop's Life A - Z. No two classes are ever the same because each is individualized to give the students want they want to know. There are no written assignments. From 'A' for Arrest and 'B' for Burglary to Z, Kathy answers all the writer’s questions about the details of a cop’s life. If you want to know what it’s like to ride in a patrol car, this is the class for you.

Instructor: Amy Atwell
Dates: September 5 - 30 2011
Cost: $16
Course Description: Wishes. Dreams. They sound so much more exciting than the drudgery of actions and plans. But writing a novel doesn’t just happen. And selling a book proposal isn’t an accident. Achievements like these require planning and work. Dedication over time. Writers without a plan often lose track of their goals. In this class, attendees start with their wishes and dreams—no matter how big or improbable—and use a systematic approach to uncover the necessary actions to make those dreams a reality. Join us, and move beyond wishing to achieve!

Instructor: Catherine Chant
Dates: September 5 - 30 2011
Cost: $16
Course Description: “Microsoft Word for Writers” will focus on teaching you the aspects of the Word program that are most useful for writers. Lessons included in this workshop are: Proper manuscript formatting, creating a manuscript template, customizing toolbars and much more!

Instructor: Dee Lloyd
Dates: September 5 - 30 2011
Cost: $16
Course Description: To keep the reader eagerly turning pages from the first word to the last, a Romantic Suspense novel needs engaging characters, a believable and complicated plot and fast-moving pace. This workshop will give you some of the tools necessary to achieve this goal. It will also point out some of the pitfalls to avoid. It will conclude with some do’s and don’t’s from an acquisition editor’s point of view.

Instructor: Nicki Salcedo
Dates: September 5 - 30 2011
Cost: $16
Course Description: This workshop will give you a new perspective on the old admonishment “Show, don’t tell”. Learn that “showing” and “telling” are partners in creating vivid stories with good pacing. Bring out emotion, conflict, and sensory details, while blending exposition and dialogue to create a balanced narrative. Try exercises to improve narrative and examples of when to “tell” and when to “show”. The goal is to end storytelling and bring back the lost art of creative writing.

Instructor: Susan Palmquist
Dates: September 5-30 2011
Cost: $25 for Non-members
Course Description: One thing that can label you as an amateur writer is head hopping. In this class you’ll learn all about point of view, what it is and how using it correctly can make your manuscript stand out from the crowd.

Instructor: The Grammar Divas
Dates: September 6-20 2011
Cost: $20 for Non-members
Course Description: In today’s buyer’s market, anything you can do to enhance your manuscript’s appeal puts you one step ahead of everyone else trying to sell. By taking a look at your writing with a fresh eye, you’ll discover ways to make the most of your writing’s appearance, readability, and impact. The Grammar Divas share episodes of popular writing improvement shows such as Dream Words, This Old Sentence, Extreme Makeover: Paragraph Edition, Trading Spaces, Fun Shui, and Designed to Sell. You leave the workshop with decorating ideas, remodeling projects, and prose improvements that can make your manuscript appealing to a potential buyer… an editor!

Instructor: Jacqui Jacoby
Dates: September 12-18 2011
Cost: $25 for Non-members
Course Description: This workshop will teach writers how to portray tough chick heroines. It will discuss how to build a tough chick heroine from the inside out, how there is more mental to the physical and how we can make these heroines jump off the page. What kind of women make up the tough chicks and what are they like in their everyday lives? What drives them to become tough? What kind of hero must stand beside her and who are the villains will she face?

Instructor: Shannon Donnelly
Dates: September 12- October 9 2011
Cost: $30 for Non-members
Course Description: Both showing and telling are valuable tools for any writer--writers need both narrative passages as well as dramatic scenes, so each has its own place within any writer's skill set. In this workshop, we'll use writing examples to figure out the truth hidden in the advice to "show, don't tell." Learn how "show, don't tell" really means "show more with dramatic scenes, and tell only when you need to move the story along."

Instructor: Eliza Knight
Dates: September 12-30 2011
Cost: $25 for Non-members
Course Description: There is a plethora of information available online for anybody who wants to look. As a writer of historical fiction, you will often find yourself needing this information. But how do you go about getting it? This class will teach you the ins and outs of conducting research online. Do you need to find just one little nitty gritty detail or a vast amount of information that directly correlates to your plot? Do you need to know what street Carlton House was on? Or how many guns were on the HMS Impregnable?

By the end of this class, you should have a grasp on how to get this information. I will also discuss how to mesh your research into your story so it flows and doesn’t feel “textbook.” Have you ever read a book, where it feels like the author is just regurgitating fact to you, instead of seamlessly mixing it into narrative or dialogue?

Instructor: Joanie White & Dara Edmonson
Dates: September 13-16 2011
Cost: $20 for Non-members
Course Description: Many romance novels feature a main or secondary character with a disease, an injury or a chronic illness. Others use the backdrop of a medical facility or conveyance or have a character who works in the medical field. In order to get the details straight—a critical necessity for today’s savvy reader—an author must be able to access credible medical information. Why is it so imperative to be accurate? How much detail is too much? What are the best and most credible plain speak websites to find the information you need to create plausible medical situations?

Instructor: Beth Daniels, Aka Beth Henderson aka J.B. Dane
Dates: September 5-30 2011
Cost: $25 for Non-members
Course Description: The skies are filled with airships, the ground crowded with ladies in corsets with parasols and men in top hats or derbies leaning on walking sticks. Everyone owns a pair of brass goggles and is up on all the latest in steam powered clockwork technology, the discovery of new lands, and possibly conversant with the paranormal as well. Or considering ways they can take over the world, or at least get it eating complacently out of their hand.

Is this the Age of Victoria? Not exactly. It's definitely the World of Steampunk. And if you are interested in writing for this subgenre, born of the Romeo and Juliet like liaison of the Historical and the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genres, then researching and writing your story will be a melding of the ways as well.  The key is knowing what you can use that actually was and what you can warp, morph, twist, tweak, alter, reconfigure, and dream up in connection with it.

Instructor: Kit Frazier
Dates: September 5-30 2011
Cost: $25 for Non-members
Course Description: The use of body language adds a rich, colorful layer to fiction, and invites the reader to participate in the story. Your hero may shield his feelings, your heroine may try to soften an emotional blow. Your villain will often happily gallop into a bold-faced lie. But the body always tells the truth. Body language builds reader anticipation - it’s the up-climb on the fiction roller coaster.

Instructor: Angela James
Dates: September 21 - October 16 2011
Cost: $49
Course Description: Ideas, tips and tricks for polishing and self-editing your manuscript. Tips are delivered in daily individual lessons along with examples and assignments to help you get the post out of your workshop experience Discuss things such as: Dialogue tags, whether all forms of “to be” are really evil, just what you’re doing to your life expectancy with your use of that exclamation point, how to avoid overwriting, basic punctuation and formalizing and finalizing your manuscript before you hit send.
 
Are you taking any courses this September or is it all about the competitions?

Happy writing!


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Wendy S. Marcus: The End


I'm thrilled to have a guest author today.  Please welcome, the talented, Wendy S. Marcus!


Hi Lacey! Thank you for hosting me on the 31st and final stop on my blog tour to promote my debut Harlequin Mills and Boon Medical Romance, When One Night Isn’t Enough.

Today I’ve chosen to write about ‘The End’ or more specifically, getting to ‘The End.’

The anticipation of starting to write a new book, a new series of books, or even a thirty-one stop blog tour is an exciting time chock-full of possibilities. You have an unending supply of wonderful ideas! Boundless energy! It’s going to be great!

Then comes the tough part. Execution. Meeting the commitments you’ve made and achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself without letting exhaustion and self-doubt take over. Actually writing a book from start to finish. Then writing the second and third books in the series. Planning a blog tour to promote your first book while you’re writing your second, and creating thirty-one unique blog posts and visiting each blog on your hectic schedule while you’re writing your third.

If last year at this time someone would have told me, “In one year you’ll sell your first book to Mills and Boon (and get a contract for four more), complete and have accepted for publication a three-book series, and complete a thirty-one stop blog tour to promote yourself and the Medical Romance line, (among dozens of other writerly things) I wouldn’t have believed them.

Yet here I am, one year later, in this fourth week of August, writing ‘The End’ on my third book, my first series, and my first blog tour.

And I’m here to tell you, next year or the year after, this can be you! If…

1) You are committed to writing and write for a set amount of time. Every. Single. Day.
2) You work hard and ignore anyone who tells you you can’t do it – including that niggling voice in your head.
3) You read articles and attend workshops to learn and improve your craft.
4) You set goals for yourself and don’t stop working until you achieve them.
5) You push through plot problems and uncooperative characters that try to stall your progress.
6) You plow forward on your manuscript despite every obstacle life throws at you.
7) You find critique partners who will give their honest opinion of your work.
8) You take every opportunity available to get your manuscript in front of agents and editors.
9) You make your own luck by putting yourself in the right place at the right time.
10) You are flexible in which publishers you target.
11) You are willing to revise your manuscript…and possibly transform it into something you hadn’t originally considered.
12) You are determined to do whatever you have to do to get published.


My suggestions:

1) Set small, reasonable and achievable short-term goals to start.

a. Daily: Write a certain number of words or blog posts per day. After you meet that goal, spend a pre-determined amount of time visiting a certain number of agent/editor/publisher blogs and websites to learn from their suggestions and find out about any upcoming submission opportunities. And last, after you’ve done everything else, spend some time on social networking to interact with your peers and future fans.

b. Weekly: Send a certain number of pages to your critique partner each week. Visit and actively participate in writers’ groups/loops for ongoing support and encouragement. Share your goals with others or post them somewhere people can see them so you’re more likely to hold yourself accountable.

c. Monthly: Enter a certain number of writing contests per month. Send out a certain number of submissions per month – each individualized and unique.

2) Cut yourself some slack. If you don’t meet a goal, don’t give up. Double up the next day/week. (Anyone who follows my posts knows I am easily distracted and a notorious procrastinator. If I can meet my goals, you can, too!)

3) Take one day, one goal, one project, one task at a time. Try making lists. Crossing items off a list gives me a wonderful sense of accomplishment!

4) Do. Not. Ever. Give. Up. Keep working, keep improving and keep doing all of the above until you have achieved your ultimate goal – getting published.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check out the end result of all my hard work by reading an excerpt from my debut Harlequin Medical Romance, When One Night Isn’t Enough, at: http://wendysmarcus.com/books/. Or by visiting my website to learn more about me and the other books I have coming soon. If you’d like to purchase a copy of When One Night Isn’t Enough, they are available in stores in the UK and Aus/NZ. Links for online purchase are available on my website Books page.

If you’re a writer, I hope you’ll set a goal to finish and polish up a first chapter of one of your stories for entry in Mills and Boon’s New Voices competition, coming in September. You can find more information here.

Now that I’ve achieved my goal of publication, my new goals are:
1) To purchase a book I wrote in a store in the U.S.
2) To make a bestseller list somewhere.

So come September it is back to work for me!

But before you go, please share some of the goals you’ve set for yourself for today, this week, this month, and for 2011 as a whole. One lucky commenter will win a copy of the UK 2in1 edition of my book, which includes a complete novel by author Janice Lynn.

And, when you comment, please be sure to congratulate Ju Dimello, the winner of the $50.00 (U.S. currency) Amazon gift card for visiting me at the most stops on my blog tour. Ju visited me at 25 stops! Thank you for your dedication to my blog tour, Ju! It has been great getting to know you, and everyone else who has visited me so many times. I hope you all will continue to visit me at my personal blog: http://wendysmarcus.com/blog/

And/Or:
Visit me on Facebook
Visit me on Twitter
Visit me on Goodreads


Wendy S. Marcus lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley region of New York with her husband, two of their three children, and a much loved Bichon Frise named Buddy. A nurse by trade, Wendy has her master’s degree in health care administration. After years of working in the medical profession, Wendy has taken a radical turn to writing hot contemporary romance with strong heroes, feisty heroines, and lots of laughs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and blogging/e-mailing/tweeting with her online friends. To learn more about Wendy visit her website, http://www.WendySMarcus.com.


Thanks so much for joining me today, Wendy!

Happy writing!
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Monday, August 22, 2011

New Voices Competition Update 1



There are 22 days left to the launch of the Harlequin Mills & Boon New Voices Competition for 2011.    I know a lot of you are writing like mad and will soon be moving on to polishing your first chapter entry.  Carina Press Executive Editor, Angela James, will be running her editing workshop, Before You Hit Send, from September 21.  This was one of my favorite workshops of the year and I highly recommend it.  It's a great opportunity to get a little extra polish on that entry before you hit the submit button.  For more information click here.
 
 
Also, the Minxes of Romance have an exclusive New Voices interview with Mills & Boon editor, Anna Boatman, and you can read all about it here.

Happy writing!

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Pottermore Effect


   


For those who haven’t heard Pottermore is the latest addition to JK Rowling’s empire. It’s a website she’s dedicating to the fans as a thank you and it’s entirely free. It is also the only location where you can purchase the Harry Potter series as ebooks. To watch J.K. Rowling’s introduction to Pottermore video click here.

Pottermore will essentially allow it’s users to participate in the Harry Potter world from the start of the first book, including activities like being sorted into a Hogwarts house.


Publicly Available Screen Shot:  The unlocking of the Hogwarts Express


Recently, over a seven day period, the website launched a contest for early access to the site. One million people were able to answer questions relating to the seven books of the Harry Potter series. One question was made available each day at a random time and only as long as it took to fulfill the quota of registrants for that day. The answers to the questions were entered into a web address that redirected the user to a Pottermore related site (e.g. Sony a sponsor of Pottermore) where the user can find a magic quill. The magic quill then took them to the registration page for beta users.

I was lucky enough secure a spot as a Pottermore beta user. I’m more than a little excited and not just because I’m a Harry Potter fan and will be helping shape the Pottermore experience but because of what Pottermore means to the publishing industry.

So, what does it mean? Starlight CEO, Jeff Gomez, identifies in an interview to Forbes that Pottermore will be playing a vital role in the development of “transmedia story telling”.

What is transmedia story telling? Gomez explains:

“In today’s interconnected world, our attention flows from our computer screens to our mobile screens to our TV screens without our giving such activity a second thought. The problem has been that the stories we enjoy don’t do that; they don’t behave the way we’ve come to need them to behave. So what we get is repeated and repurposed content: Avatar on our iPhones, High School Musical on Ice. Transmedia storytelling is a technique rising into prominence in Hollywood and on Madison Avenue that allows for the development of robust “story worlds” that play out across multiple media platforms."

Gomez identifies that the producers of Pottermore are creating "a communal storytelling engine".  Pottermore is expected to succeed where most movie studios have failed, by creating an official, singular location where a large fan base can be galvanized to enter, and then have their widlest dreams fulfilled. 

He concludes:
“It’s this unique and multi-tiered approach—one that can be accessed through any screen large or small—that makes Pottermore the most significant development in transmedia (and in storytelling in general) this year, and perhaps ever.”

So, what does this mean for other books and products?  Pottermore is paving the way for any product to be launched with fanfare and for any aspect of massive continuity to be explored.  If it delivers on its promise, Pottermore, will change the way entertainment content is produced, shared and sold.

Is it any wonder I'm such a fan of J.K. Rowling's work?

The rest of that fascinating interview with Starlight CEO, Jeff Gomez can be found here.  
  
Happy writing!

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Writer's Tools: The Egg Timer


I’m doing another writing workshop. I know what you’re thinking. Another one? Really?

Yes. Another one. I have a problem.

Anyway, with the Mills & Boon New Voices Competition coming up I know a lot of writers have discovered the joy of writing under pressure. It’s. Not. Easy. All of a sudden it’s tough to get those words down. It’s tough to get your butt in the chair to write at all and the toilet has never been cleaner.

This is where the humble egg timer comes in.

On the days where writing feels like each word is being torn out of you it’s easy to throw in the towel, but that’s not how novels are written. Five minutes of writing are better than no minutes. And enough five minute sessions add up to a novel, eventually. By setting a timer you have no excuse by to focus on your writing (instead of the clock!) for every second of those five minutes.

Now, I didn’t want to use my kitchen egg timer for the simple reason that it scares the hell out of me if I’m too close to it when it goes off. So I started looking at the different electronic egg timer programs available, which means that you won’t have to.

Some timers require you to be on the internet to use them, and while they’re cute, that’s really counterproductive. Hello, social media land and a 0 word count. Go me. So it’s the downloadable timers that I’ve been trying and they have the added benefit of traveling along with my computer wherever I go. Quick and painless, and hey, with this type of timer I can turn the noise down and not fall out of the chair when it goes off.

Did I mention the programs are free?

I downloaded a few programs. I’m fussy like that. Here’s my top two:


Cool Timer 

Image from pctips3000.com
It’s not great for anyone who hates color but on the up side you’re not going to lose it on your desktop in a hurry. If you’re horrified by the pink, never fear, you can select the color of the background, buttons and numbers. This one is my favorite because I don’t have to go through the menu bar to set the time and I can have my pick of noises (buzzer is my choice). 


Egg Timer Plus v3

Image from download.cnet.com
This is the second favorite and I’m taking pity on the people who are deathly allergic to anything bright. In this timer you have to go through the menu options to set it and a lot of its functions are disabled unless you want to pay for access. So there’s no picking your noises, however, it’s less likely that a business colleague will spot it.


Both timers let you open multiple versions of the program at once, so you can set different times before you start writing. This is great if you’re switching between activities e.g. 20 minutes of writing and 20 minutes of email.  I hope you find them handy and helpful with those competition entries and submissions.

Happy writing!

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mills and Boon New Voices Competition 2011


In a little over a month Mills & Boon will be launching the New Voices Competition for 2011.  The winner receives an editor for one year, an opportunity to enter into a publishing contract, an iPad and a Mills & Boon book hamper.

It really doesn't suck, does it?

We were lucky enough to have the winner from last year, lovely Leah Ashton, right here with us pre-published folk on The Wall of Fame.  I'd love it if another one of us could take the title out again this year.

The Wall of Fame will be back for 2011 and this year it will be bigger and better because as we speak I'm setting up the Lacey Devlin Twitter account and when you submit  you'll not just be posted on the blog wall but on Twitter too.  This is a public domain X-Factor competition and it can scare the pants off you but it really is a lot of fun and a little exposure never hurt anyone.  So make sure you let me know if you're entering, and when you do send me a link to your entry so I can post it .  A little moral support can go a long way.

The New Voices blog badges will also be back for 2011, so you'll be able to link your entry to your blog in style.

So what else do I know about the competition that you might have missed?

Mills & Boon authors are mighty generous with their time and the lovely Liz Fielding and Jessica Hart have already written posts to help us out.

Check out Liz Fielding's NV post here.

Find Jessica Hart's NV post here.

Keep up-to-date with information right from the source at the NV facebook page (you can ask questions too) here.

M&B and Leah Ashton strongly recommend that you start writing before the competition launches because the rounds are close together.  If you are shortlisted you will only have a few days to write the second chapter.  Trying to do that could result in nervous breakdown.

Last but not least, Lynn Raye Harris has a blog post about the good, the bad, and the ugly of reviews and comments on your work that I highly recommend for first time NV's.  I particularly like one comment by Darcy who suggests replacing each verb ("or heck as many words as possible") with smurf.  Suddenly that one nasty comment is great entertainment.

I think this might also work when listening to your boss...

You can find more information on the competition at the official website.  Entry details can be found in the terms and conditions here.

Happy writing!

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Get a Giggle


There are things in life that we don't want to do, but have to.

Exhibit A:


Can you blame him?

And now you can understand this:


Happy writing!

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