Saturday, July 23, 2016

Get to the Con: It Might Charge You

The title is a bit misleading. I'm not going to teach you how to con people. There are plenty of movies and books out there if you wanted to learn this. Instead, I'm encouraging you to go to a writer's con (conference). I recently returned from one and it’s a writer’s life altering experience.

Going to a writer's conference was at the top of my list wish for the last ten years. Something always seemed to come up; I didn't have the money, the time or distracted with falling in love. In July 2015 I decided I was going to go to one. I picked a conference, paid to register and booked my hotel room.

I picked the Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS) in Washington DC. I learned about the GCLS through a fellow author's blog. GCLS is a 501(c)3 non-profit, volunteer organization whose mission is education and the promotion and recognition of lesbian literature.

I wasn't sure what to expect. All I knew was there'd be other LBGT writer's, it ran from a Wednesday to Saturday night and consisted of workshops, panels and author readings. I arrived to the hotel where the conference was being held and witnessed other conference goers greeting each other with hugs, screeches and laughter.

I thought, "Okay, I'm going to be an outsider here, keep to myself, learn and hop back on the plane."

That was further from the truth. The Board and conference goers were very welcoming. (I mean stumbling over each other to ask you to eat lunch with them, inquiring daily how things were going, etc) The workshops and panels were full of useful information and quaint and family atmosphere, despite the 350 participants.

The second day of the conference I woke excited to face the day. I can't remember the last time I woke up that energized for a day that wasn’t a weekend or vacation day. That's when I knew that I was doing something consequential for myself.

It wasn't only the teachings and witty banter of the presenters. It was amazing being in an LGBT friendly environment and being surrounded by fellow writers and authors.These two factors together made the whole experience surreal.

The people there were living in a world similar to me, a writers world. I found myself nodding along and smiling at them talk about where they write, how they find inspiration in the smallest detail and how they deal with family members, friends and spouses who don't seem to understand their writing process.

List of Some Things I Gained from the Conference:
1. Sense of Belonging.
2. Validation.
3. Meeting two author/ idols of mine- Rita Mae Brown and Katherine V. Forrest.
4. Networking.
5. Learning writing, marketing, editing, and research skills.
6. Ideas for new books.
7. Energy and motivation to write more.
8. Courage to write what I don't know. (Using research to expand my writing.)
9. The knowledge that writing lesbian literature is important LGBT youth and adults.
10. Stronger appreciation for my fiancée's support in my writing journey.

Being at the conference to me was like Harry Potter going to Hogwarts... okay not as dramatic as that but pretty darn close.
Look for more posts from me about conferences. Have you thought about going to a conference? What's your favorite writer's conference? What did  you get out of it?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

I'm absolutely in love with the cover of my latest book "Her Feet on Fire." The book's in the polishing stages and should be published late summer or early fall.
It's about a woman trail runner Maisie whose job is to run outside the boundaries of town in order to protect the town from outsiders. She runs miles and days away from the town with her trustee dog Mali at her side. One trail running trip, Maisie runs into a problem putting herself and perhaps the town at risk. She meets a mysterious woman named Edison who helps Maisie and seems to change Maisie's perspective in life. Still, living in a post-apocalypse has it's trouble that nobody is immune. Maisie finds herself in center stage of her town's latest danger.
I've written romance, general fiction, Young Adult and now this is my first attempt at a post-apocalyptic novel. In this novel, I try to stay away from focusing on the apocalypse and more on the lives now of the townspeople.
In "Her Feet on Fire" the townspeople struggle to find some normalcy yet are reminded every day that they need to focus on issues of basic survival. Food is scarce, strangers are a real danger and protecting the town is a number one priority.
Maisie is a small town girl with amazing running and navigating ability who unlike her neighbors, enjoys leaving town. She's the product of a post-apocalypse tragedy. She's surrounded by elders, peers and friends who look up to her. The town leader Jeffery watches her every step for a chance to reprimand her. Somewhere in this busy, dangerous world, Maisie stumbles upon a budding romance.
This book has a lot to offer my readers. It has adventure, action, strong lead characters, romance and a dog.

When People Ask: "How do you write all that?"

I've often been asked by families, friends, fans and people sharing my jail cell, "how do you write so much?" Then the person goes into how they struggle to write a paragraph, a letter, a note in a card or their papers in high school and college. They don't 'get me' and I don't 'get them' because we view writing in a different way. They see it as difficult or chore; it give me freedom, enjoyment and it comes natural to me. If a non-reader has to find just the right book, I wonder if someone who doesn't enjoy writing has to find the right muse.
I've always written. I filled my unlined journals with stories until my aunt gave me more, I wrote long letters to a pen pal in California for over a decade, I wrote long love notes to my best friend in junior high (until an evil music teacher snatched, read it all the while shaking her head). I've written 40 page research papers, although it wasn't as fun as fiction or social writing.
So far, I've managed to tell you that I love writing but haven't explained how I write so many words, pages and books. I guess loving what I do explains a lot. Once I sit down to write, my fingers move across the keyboard as my thoughts come to me. Rarely, I use an outline. Although having an outline has helped me to stay organized in my writing.
I just write. I'm transported to that setting, in the characters' heads and I just write. Most of the time, I don't know what's going to happen next. That keeps me hooked to keep writing until I don't know what my characters are going to do next or until someone or something in my world stops me from writing. (Usually my dog wants attention or my boss would like me to show up for work.)
I love writing without having to worry about a number of pages or words. It's when I'm limited in the amount of words I can use that slows me down. I get hung up on giving brief descriptions of my book to be put on Amazon or a few paragraphs for the dedication page of my book.
It's the difference between hiking with plenty of food and water with no time constraints versus hiking with little provisions with a place to be at a certain time.
Some people like that kind of writing. One of my kids had the hardest time writing an essay about "What he did this weekend". If you told him to write about his winning goal in soccer,  or about how his dog almost caught a rabbit, that was specific enough that he could be successful.
Now that you and I have come to the end of this post, I'm not sure we have learned anything. I JUST write, I just do it. I have a lot of technique to learn but it comes natural and I'm absolutely in love with it. It's the one thing in my life that has stayed constant.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

In Sickness, Health & Superpowers

Yes, I've taken that scary step into the supernatural. I don't think it's half-bad. Readers/fans have reviewed it as "supernatural writing that keeps the characters realistic." I'll take that as a compliment. Fun trivia fact for when I'm more famous. . . the working title of the book was Liv & Dalton. This now means nothing to you because I changed the character's names too. Although I've veered from my contemporary lesbian fictions, at the heart of this book is a lesbian love story. It also has sequel potential, depending how well it sells and its reviews.
Please check-it out and email me your thoughts.

Writer's Conference

I'd be lying if I said that I don't have a list of things I'm bringing and what I'm wearing at my first writer's conference this summer of 2016. I haven't been this excited to be surrounded by so many people with "like" interests since I went to sleepover, basketball camp in high school. I have visions of multiple writers pulling up with I'd Rather be Writing or Reading is Sexy bumper stickers.

The reality is that I need to realize that all my visions in the past has gotten me into trouble. In high school I lived, slept, ate and breathed basketball. I was hoping to meet all girls who's love matched mine. I found girls who half-assed drills and who's highlight was hanging-out in the dorm or the café at the end of the day. So, as I write this blog, I'm trying to put a leash on my expectations. I won't go as far as to say I won't have any expectations for this conference.

Here's my current expectations:

1. Learn Some Writing Techniques.
2. Network and make connections with authors.
3. Meet publishers, agents and editors.
4. Come out of the Conference with a list of writing goals.
5. Trade Books with authors.
6. Gain a better understanding of the writing industry and how to become full-time writer/author.

As the weeks and months pass this list might grow but I'll continue to try to color my expectations realistically. That way I won't be disappointed when I'm at the court alone and the rest of the girls are hanging at the café.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hey Kids, Here's a Book Dedicated to You

My writing has reached into new areas. I published "A Dozen East". It's my first attempt at YA and my first non-lesbian book. Thus the first book my three kids could read. The three of them are bigger readers than the average American 11 & 13 year old.
My 13 year old Emily is a feverish reader. She devours three, lengthy books at a time. My two 11  year old boys are a few steps behind Emily. Ty reads more than Eli and nips at Emily's heels in amount of books written on our family book chart. Eli reads when the fancy strikes.

Since Emily was such an avid reader and has no aversion to being blunt, I was most worried about her assessment of my book. To my delight, she stated that she loved it. Ty brought the book to school and bragged to all his friends that his step-mother wrote it. He opened up the dedication page to prove it. Eli on the other hand... probably lost it somewhere next to his baseball glove and iPhone (that for the record, I did not buy him or pay the bill).

Either way, it's mighty nice to be able to share my writing with my kids. I left the book on a cliff-hanger and set it up for a sequel. They are begging me for more... but the list of my other ideas for books are calling me. Someday, I'll write a sequel. Until then, Eli look for the book and answer my texts.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Thawing Hearts: On the Virtual Bookshelves

I'm not sure if it is one book shelf or many book shelves... either way... Thawing Hearts is now available to buy from Amazon Buy It Here.

This book has more danger than my first book Trail Swap, has a witty sister-in-law, an annoying brother and adorable twin nieces. There is also a scene where lesbians compete for a date that is nothing like that show on TV where they give the roses. It's much better.

Here is the summary: (Jae helped put this together.)

After being left by her girlfriend, Libby Hollis was prepared to spend a lonely Christmas Eve with Chinese food and apple pie. She didn’t count on getting stuck in an ATM booth with Keva McKie, a special-forces soldier trying to make it home from leave.

Once freed, Libby decides to take Keva to Boston, where she meets Keva's family. As they spend the holiday together, romantic sparks start to fly until Keva abruptly has to return to duty.

Keva knows she should focus on her dangerous missions, but she can’t get Libby out of her mind. Libby can’t deny the bond between them either, even though she has been badly hurt by her ex.

Will careers and past heartaches keep them apart, or will love thaw their hearts?

A comment was recently left by one of my readers that said that the story sounded familiar and then she realized that she had read the short story ("Cashing in on Christmas") from which it derived. So many fans, hundreds I think, or was it five? Anyway, so many fans suggested that I turn it into a book, so here it is.

So I should sell at least five of these suckers. I feel extremely lucky that I already have sold more than five and currently Thawing Hearts is #5 on Amazon's Top Seller List in the category of lesbian, romance fiction. That's not too shabby.

Check it out!