Wednesday’s #notRWA17 Schedule

Here we go! And if I got anything wrong, please let me know. ♥

Not RWA Wednesday Schedule

AM prompt: Best tips for new authors
PM prompt: Pics of current character inspirations


Twitter threads:

Noon EST: Sandra Schwab (@ScribblingSandy)‏ No Dukes Allowed: Writing Unusual Historical Romances

1 p.m.: Suleikha Snyder‏ (@suleikhasnyder) Writing Tips From Soaps & Bollywood

2 p.m.: Ana Coqui (@anacoqui) Demystifying Reviews

3 p.m.: Racheline Maltese (@racheline_m) Are Two Heads Better Than One? Tips on Working Collaboratively

5 p.m.: Michelle Boule (@wanderingeyre) Super Series Planning: How to Plan a Series and When to Let the Plan Go

6 p.m.: Abby Ryan‏ (@AbbyRyanWrites) Beyond Big Bang Theory: Writing Realistic STEM Characters


sprint graphic

Sprinting and accountability partners:

1. Karen Booth (@karenbbooth)
2. Lynn Painter (@LAPainter)
3. K.T. Gilbert (@ktgilbert76)
4. Evelyn Isaacks (@evelynisaacks)
5. CC Bridges (@ccbridgeswriter)
6. Susan Scott Shelley (@Susan_S_Shelley)
7. Amie DontshushMe (@chronic_mom)
8. Adriana Anders (@AdrianasBoudoir)
9. Amy Quinton (@AmyQuinton)
10. Shannyn Schroeder (@SSchroeder_)
11. Nicole McLaughlin (@nicolemauthor)

 

Before You Quit

Hand holding headphones, folders and resignation letter on the desk

This is the expression of a woman who only now realized the word “just” appears 347 times in her manuscript.

Somewhere around April 2014, the grayness of my life began to lift. At the time, I was being dragged underwater by the riptide of a depression I’d only just begun to address with a therapist, drowned by anxiety I didn’t even recognize as a problem until two years later.

Nevertheless, I began writing fiction for the first time that month. I sat at my keyboard, desperate for relief from all my troublesome thoughts. For a blissful moment when my mind could occupy itself with someone else’s life, rather than my own.

I wrote with no expectation of publication. No knowledge of how or how well I’d write. No sense of what kinds of stories suited my unknown talents (or lack thereof). And holy shit, I wrote quickly. In the space of a month or two, I completed a 90,000-word rom-com set in modern-day Colonial Williamsburg, one which featured plenty of sex and banter, but lacked—sadly—a plot. Shortly thereafter, two novellas (later published as Broken Resolutions and Ready to Fall) were sitting on my hard drive. Together, those novellas took me two and a half weeks to write.

It was easy. It was all so damn easy and joyful. I had no clue about the flaws in my writing (many and varied, as it turned out), and no expectation of a writing career. No pressure, internal or external, other than the drive to dismiss the worries crowding my head.

Because it seemed like the thing to do, though, I started querying and submitting. Then came a contract, which felt like a blessing at the time. (And I should add that I remain grateful to the publishers and agents who wanted those two novellas. I appreciate their faith in a complete newbie.) Someone wanted to buy my books! Six of my books, in fact, four of them still unwritten! How marvelous!

I signed my contracts. I dropped all those other weird stories I’d been plotting without any thought as to my career trajectory or the opinions of potential readers. And I buckled down to write the books in my contract, the next books in what became the Lovestruck Librarians series.

That’s when things started going wonky. Not at first, not when I had months and months in reserve before my first deadlines. Not when I could write books set in a different world, a different time period, between my contracted books.

But once I started running up against my deadlines, once I could no longer write “palate cleanser” books between books I had to write, once my working life became an endless series of Lovestruck Librarians books, Lovestruck Librarians blog posts, Lovestruck Librarians developmental edits and copy edits and page proofs, and—of course—Lovestruck Librarians promo and marketing, that swift writing pace so praised by my then-agent and then-editor began to falter.

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Mad (Love) Libs: A Fill-in-the-Blanks Romance!

I spent the holiday weekend at my mom’s house. She gave my daughter an Easter-themed Mad Libs book, so we spent a good chunk of Sunday naming various adjectives and adverbs. Heroically, I attempted to keep it clean for the family audience. (So I suggested “butts” for one answer. Sue me.)

But that gave me an idea. What if I didn’t have to keep my answers clean? What if, in fact, I were encouraged to go dirty?

And thus, out of stifled salaciousness and a fervent desire to procrastinate, an idea was born. (I find that particular combination generates many of my ideas, TBH.)

Below, you’ll find a romance-themed Mad Libs! First, you should fill out the answer sheet, where you can list all your nouns and verbs and naughty adjectives. After that, add your answers to the story itself and find out what [noun] is throbbing so [adverb]!

I hope you enjoy it. I thought it might brighten someone’s Tuesday. ♥

Romance Mad Libs answer sheet

Romance Mad Libs

Walking on Empty

Trigger warning: This blog post includes discussion of disordered eating and depression.

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If they chose to look, the workers fixing my broken deck could see me through the family room windows. And that was a problem, since they weren’t likely to understand what they’d witness.

I wasn’t entirely certain I understood, either. Not anymore.

But I joked with them, trying to explain away what might seem like aberrant, borderline-disturbed behavior. “I’m just trying to get in my steps, and I can’t go to the gym today!” I said. “So don’t be alarmed when you see me circling my coffee table.”

They nodded and offered a confused smile, then got to work.

When you’re fat and discussing an attempt to exercise, people don’t tend to question the whys or hows. They simply approve. This was true of the workers (who left my deck in excellent condition), my doctor, and pretty much everyone else who’d noticed my rapid weight loss. Dropping one hundred pounds in about ten months had earned me praise from all quarters, declarations of how good I now looked, and questions as to how I’d done it.

The same had been true seven years before, when I’d lost 110 pounds. The admiration and questions had ceased when I regained all that weight, plus fifty pounds extra.

So everyone approved of my most recent weight loss attempt except my husband, whose gentle hints had become plainer over the last month or two. “You’re exercising for longer chunks of time than I did when I trained for the Iron Man,” he told me. “Be careful.” Continue reading

Sarah Mayhew: Larger Than Life, Ready for Love

For Manic Readers, I wrote a blog post about women with big personalities—including myself and the heroine of Ready to Fall, Sarah Mayhew.


Superhero woman silhouette

Some people naturally have quiet, placid personalities. I am not one of them. Instead, I laugh loudly enough to be heard several city blocks away. I enjoy swearing. I adore dirty jokes. I cry often, at the first sound of a sad violin in a TV commercial or the sight of someone else’s grief. Worst of all, I’m a perfectionist. I’m hard on myself and sometimes hard on the people around me too.

In my past, I spent a lot of years with my head down, trying to avoid trouble and attention. Trying not to make waves, speak too loudly, or bother anyone with my desires. Trying to make myself smaller, in personality if not in body, so as not to inconvenience others. Continue reading

Not-So-Easy Rider

For Fresh Fiction, I wrote a post about the, um, ambivalence toward bikes shared by me and my heroine, Sarah.


“I need to learn to ride a bike.” Sarah didn’t try to hide her grimace. “By the middle of next week. Even though riding one of those things is basically daring God to smite me.”

That’s the opening of Ready to Fall, my fourth Lovestruck Librarians book. Now, I will freely admit that my heroine, Sarah Mayhew, has a flair for hyperbole. She’s earned her nickname DQ (for Drama Queen) among her friends honestly. But in this instance…well…

I can’t help but agree with her.

unhappy woman with defect bike

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The Call of the Wild: Rejected

To celebrate the release of Ready to Fall, I wrote a few blog posts about my inspirations for the story and what I love about it. Novels Alive featured this post, in which I discuss my heroine’s hostility toward nature and why I sympathize with her. (Hint: I WANT INDOOR PLUMBING.)

Portrait of young reflective woman

I wanted to find a picture of a woman glaring at trees. This was as close as I could get. (I like to imagine there’s an infuriating oak just out of frame.)

Continue reading