Category Archives: writing

Reaping the Benefits of RWA National Conference

photoRomance Writers of America National Conference ended last night in San Antonio, TX. I did not get to go this year, but I was able to grab nuggets from some of the workshops via Twitter live Feeds.

Twitter?

Thanks to many generous and social media savvy authors attending the conference, I was able to pick up notes from several workshops on promo, conflict, and world building.  Of course, it meant watching the feed for an hour but looking at what I gathered! It was worth it.

I favorited those really choice tweets that I wanted to review time and time again, but for the most part, I just jotted down notes by topic, date and time. Once the recordings are available, I’ll purchase those recordings to complete the topics and catch what I miss.

Here are some of the  notes I gathered from Rita Award Winning Author Sarah MacLean’s workshop on conflict:

  • Conflict drives the romance by keeping the hero and heroine together, but also apart.
  • Take out any conflict that doesn’t bring the H/H together.
  • Insurmountable odds  are those moments that make your reader breathless.
  • Every resolution of the conflict (in the middle) creates further complications.

Here are some of the notes from the Promo workshop by Catherine Bybee:

  • Keep yourself visible without being spam. You can talk about reviews, cross promote with other authors.
  • Don’t let a week go by without being online some way, some how.
  • Sell yourself and your voice
  • Think outside the box and use your writing talent.

Here’s some notes from the world building workshop by Louisa Edwards:

  • Be judicious in seeding details for future books/characters in the series.
  • Start a series bible with the first book.
  • Plot points in earlier books become world rules in later books. Be aware of this
  • If you must info dump, have the most humorous characters convey the information.

Those are just a few examples.  The beauty of twitter is you can go back and look things up by hashtags and users for the most part. Sarah’s workshop had the hashtags #conflict #rwa14. Catharine’s had #promo #rwa14.  I also added Catharine’s name to the search to screen out actual promo.

It doesn’t replace being there. It brings out my inner geekness, but at least for one hour on a Saturday I was able to get a good jolt of craft information to fuel my writing.

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The Call – Finally!

Every writer dreams of getting the call. That one-in-a-million call from a 212 area code (aka NYC). After about seven years of trying, my day came last month, quite unexpectedly. But isn’t that always the way?

The cell rang at 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon. It was a boring day at work. No afternoon meetings. Lots of people out. I glanced at the cell. Saw the 212 area code and thought, “Wonder who from my old job is calling me?”

My friends at my previous job sometimes called asking for references, checking in. Though rare, it wasn’t surprising. That it was an editor at Kensington was surprising.

Shock. Total and complete shock. Numb, I took the call outside, in the summer heat, where I could pace away the nerves.  They didn’t just want one book, they wanted the series. My response: “Seriously? You read it, right?”

My next thought was “Holy crap I have to write two more books and they are Regency historicals!”

I had switched genres. I set this project aside and started a contemporary series. I dropped out of the regency RWA chapter thinking writing Regency historicals wasn’t working for me. My voice was too contemporary. I am a walking, talking testament to Murphy’s Law.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s so exciting. I have a book coming out next year. It’s an ebook, but I don’t care. It’s a foot in the door. Once your foot is in, the rest of you follows.

Now I’m plotting. I don’t want to be a one-book-wonder. My next one has to be better than the first. Of course that’s not saying much. It needs some serious work. Not to mention all the mistakes I found while researching to prepare for Book Two.  Be careful what you wish for…. no seriously that’s the by-line I’m thinking of using.

The best part? The best part about the whole thing was sharing it with my writing friends. I love being part of such a group where we celebrate our successes.

I couldn’t get this far on the journey without them. I hope they feel the same.

The numbness has worn off. The work is beginning. Deadlines have a whole new meaning and I have a whole new name.

Let me introduce you to Eileen Richards, Romance Writer. Two words that are easy to pronounce. (Not like Pfaff).  I have a new look to the website, a facebook page, and updated twitter.

I’m Sandy Bruney reunion picstill little old me, just with a different name. If I don’t answer please be patient. I’m still trying to get used to someone calling my mother’s name.

Speaking of fabulous writing friends, thank you to Sandy Bruney for allowing me to participate in her blog tour.  She is a special lady and a gifted writer. Check out her website and her books.

Amy… oops! I mean Eileen

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Cooking Up Trouble – an excerpt

I’ve been hiding deep in the writing cave only coming out to prepare my latest work in progress for a contest and take an online workshop.  I thought I’d come up for air to give you a preview of this latest novel, Cooking up Trouble.

It’s a contemporary romance set in Milton Lake, North Carolina. The painting you see in the header of this page was my inspiration. It’s an old poster of Fest of Fun in Fort Mill, South Carolina.  I thought I’d post an excerpt.

Cooking Up Trouble/Chapter 1

Alice Buchanan pounded the steering wheel of her decrepit Toyota with tightly clinched fists as she crept down the narrow winding road into the town of Milton Lake, North Carolina at the lightning speed of twenty-five miles an hour. She hate slow. Spring could last only weeks this far south, but the drivers were slower than molasses in January.

“Lady, could you at least do the speed limit?” Alice grumbled.

It wasn’t New York. After three years working in the restaurant business in the Big Apple, Alice had to come home, broke and unemployed. She f*ing hated it.

The bright morning sun only made her lack-of-caffeine induced headache worse. Without her typical skinny double-shot vanilla latte, it was all just too damned redneck. She needed coffee, real coffee, not that cheap decaf crap Aunt Mae bought.

She stared longingly at Bad Dawg Coffee as she drove slowly by, her hands itching to turn in and stop. Her friend, Stephanie worked there, but Alice fought the urge to stop. It was a five dollar cup of coffee but ate into the little bit of money Alice had for gas. God, she needed a job. She hated being broke almost as much as she hated being idle.

Alice didn’t do idle well. It forced her to reevaluate her decisions. It made her dwell on the spectacular fit she’d thrown in the kitchen of the last job she’d had. It made her remember the looks on the diner’s faces when she’d stomped out of Rosemary’s, knives in hand. Michael Trent, the owner, had fired her for threatening the head chef with said knives.

The bastard deserved it after smacking her ass in front of the rest of the staff. In the six months she’d been there, he’d bullied her about her cooking and took any opportunity to grab her boobs or her butt.

It was damned illegal, but if she turned him in, she’d be blackballed from the industry. Shit like that happened in restaurant kitchens. Of course going postal was just as career limiting. At least Rosemary’s Restaurant was pressing charges.

Alice pulled the car into Bea’s Bridal Boutique. Lord, help her. The large window touted fluffy white dresses and bright colored bridesmaid dresses looking like prom queen rejects. The place was old, but well known. Any bride within a thirty-mile radius of Milton got their bridal gowns at Bea’s. The place was an institution. It was the last place in Milton she wanted to be.

Her older brother, Adam, was engaged to Cynthia Wright, the one person in high school Alice had most hated. The one who had made her life hell within the halls of Milton High School. The very same person who nicknamed her Alice in Blubber land.

She was being punished.

 Let me know what you think.

— Amy

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Change – It’s inevitable

need-a-changeJust a brief post today as I’m in the middle of one of the best craft books I’ve read in a long time. It’s filled me with AHA! moments. Don’t worry, more to come later.

I’ll be reworking my website over the next few months. Why? I’ve decided to write a contemporary romance series. It’s growing by leaps and bounds as new characters move into my fictional southern town.

I’m not giving up on the regency historicals by no means. I love writing historicals, but I needed a break. With national novel writing next month, I thought I’d get this story out of my head to make more room for Sophia’s story, the second book in the Townsend Family series.

Those of you who have heard about Miss Townsend’s Unexpected Wish, it is finished and off to an editor who requested the full. I have my fingers crossed and am on my knees hoping this editor will love Anne as much as I do.

Stay tuned. More to come.

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Letter Writing: A Lost Art

writing letter0001While my son is in basic training with the Air Force, we can only communicate via mail. Remember the mail? Where you wrote out the envelope and applied a stamp?  In this world of emails, text messaging and skype, old fashioned letter writing is a lost art.

The Saturday before Mother’s Day, I received flowers from my oldest and his wife.  I also received a letter from my son in basic.  I had hoped he’d be able to call, but not until the 4th week.  This letter is most precious. It’s short. He wished me a happy mother’s day. He’s fine and wanted more football news.  So mundane, but I find myself reading it over and over. I’ve saved them all.

I now understand the importance of letters to Regency women. This was their only lifeline to news and to each other. I imagine that waiting for the post could be the highlight of the day. Writing letters was their only form of communication when they were apart.

Distance was another factor. Today we think nothing of driving thirty miles to visit someone.  We track distance in the number of minutes we can get there in. Not so with my Regency characters.  Even five miles was a great distance if one had to walk. In an Unexpected Wish, Anne and her family can’t afford a horse, so she walked everywhere.  Letters were precious.

sealedletterIn his last letter, my son asked that we write more. I’d like to think he’ll save these letters from home, treasure them as we treasure his. I’m probably wrong, but it has been a good experience for us both.  Hearing from a loved one in written form, where you can hold it in your hand, fold it and re-read it again and again, is an amazing experience.

When was the last time you physically wrote a letter to someone you cared about?

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Tag! You’re It! The Next Big Thing

I’ve been tagged by Suzi Love, fellow Beau Monder, to participate in the Next Big Thing, sort of a blog chain. Suzi, from your lips to God’s ears!

So here are ten questions and my answers on my current work in progress.

What is your working title of your book?

An Unexpected Wish

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I stumbled upon a site belonging to this elderly couple in the UK who walk the downs and take pictures. They had a picture of the Fairy Steps. I did a bit of research and found there is a legend that if you climb the steps without touching the sides of the rocks, a fairy will grant you a wish. Well, I got to thinking: what if a spinster got her wish for a husband and what if it was granted by a mischievous fairy?

What genre does your book fall under?

This is a Regency Historical with a touch of fairy paranormal.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I had fun with this. Alex O’Loughlin is our hero, Nash Matthews. He’s a wealthy gentleman determined to protect his younger brother from an unfortunate marriage. I love Alex O’Loughlin. He is so gorgeous. I needed someone special to be Anne Townsend, older sister and spinster, so I selected Laura Pyper from the 2009 BBC version of Emma. She played Jane Fairfax.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Spinster Anne Townsend is granted a wish for a husband that causes the single men in the area to be besotted with her leaving her unable to trust that the man who has her heart really does care for her.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m hoping for representation. Still waiting to find a home with an agency.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About five months. I try to write at least two hours a day on weekdays and much more on the weekends. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

There’s humor, family conflicts, and a crazy fairy. I’m not sure what to compare this one too!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Besides the fairy steps, this story is about family relationships. Anne, my main character, is dealing with a brother and two sisters and the craziness that comes from so many different personalities under one roof.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I want to portray a small town feel with a touch of fairy tale magic. I grew up in a rather small town where everyone knows you and your parents. Makes it a challenge to get away with anything. And the gossip? Always exciting.

I want to thank Suzi Love who tagged me.

And check out these authors who could just be The Next Big Thing.

Ann Bartle Stewart

Adrienne Trent

Elizabeth Michaels

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Moonlight and Magnolias 2012

Just a few days from leaving for Georgia Romance writers Moonlight and Magnolias conference. This year the fabulous Julia Quinn will be our keynote speaker.

There are workshops to attend. And pitches to do.

I’ll have a full report next week. Stay tuned.

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