Thursday, April 18, 2013

Welcome SYTYCW Contestant - Me, Myself and I

Hey, welcome Maria. It’s good to have you here today.

Overall, how would you rate your experience with So You think You Can Write Global 2012?

On a scale of 1 to 10 I would rate it a 7 because I like the beat, and I can dance to it. Okay, more like a 5 and I will elaborate later.

We were required to upload the first chapter as our entry in SYTYCW. Is that chapter still in its original form or has it gone through more revisions?

Geez Maria, I knew you were going to ask me that question. Call me psychic, but I think we’re on the same wavelength.

Okay well, so here it is. The ugly truth: I can’t say that chapter is in it’s original form, no. Not anymore.

How about the rest of the book? Is it finished? Going through more revisions?

Here we go. You don’t quit, do you? All right, it’s time for the whole truth. So here’s what happened:

In my defense, we were told that the manuscript did not have to be completed. As long as it was completed by the time of voting. I had a manuscript, but it needed tweaking to meet some of the rigid guidelines for this particular category line. So I set about to make these changes.

And then in one horrible moment, I lost most of the changes that I had made and could not recover them. The file was corrupt. Bill Gates wasn’t taking my calls and I felt as though I were running out of time to put it all together.

It’s a terrible sinking feeling that I think every author has experienced at least once. Save your work under multiple file names. Don’t be like me. You don’t want to be like me.

How long have you been writing?

Once my dreams of rocknroll stardom and induction into that hall of fame did not pan out, I thought I’d try writing. Like most writers, I’ve been a hard core reader from grade school. But then I had children. So other than having some fun writing articles for my children’s preschool coop newsletter, my words were mostly silent for about a decade.

In 2004 I remember sitting in a room with a bunch of other people who were all going to build their real estate empire (a story for another time) when suddenly a still voice inside of me (and actually the guy behind the podium, but he meant it in another way) said, “Just do it.”

I had the bright idea that I would write a novel – and so I came home and had no idea how to do that. So I wrote short stories instead – one of them won Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest 2010 Awards – I loved writing again,but I couldn’t seem to get through an entire novel.

The prospect was overwhelming. I would get to about 18,000 words and fizzle out. Then I’d start something else. Some of my friends and I started a little writer’s group and they challenged me to just finish something. So in 2010 I started my first novel and though it took me fourteen months to finish I did it. Just like Nike says. I would say I learned more in that single process than I did from all the writing courses I’ve taken over the years.

Have you ever entered a contest like this one before?

Not like this – I’ve entered other contests before. Warning: this is a contest on steroids.

What are your thoughts about the promotional aspect of the contest?

I didn’t much care for it – I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to bombard my friends with emails and beg for their votes. But as luck would have it, I stopped doing that once I lost my entry.

If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently, if anything?

I would not lose my entry!

What are you working on now?

I’ve just submitted my first single title romance to Carina Press, and I’m very excited about my WIP, another single title contemporary. I’m in that delicious “first love” stage.

Where can we find you on the Web?

Facebook: Maria Font Buscher

Twitter:@mariabuscher

Writers Writing Out Loud

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Welcome SYTYCW Finalist Author Lisa Medley

Today I'm happy to visit with newly published author Lisa Medley. Yes, you read that right. Yet another author published from exposure with the So You Think You Can Write Global 2012 Contest. Squeeeee!

Welcome, Lisa. Overall, how would you rate your experience with So You think You Can Write Global 2012?

I thought it was great. I really had no idea what to expect. The camaraderie and cheerleading was awesome. The WAITING…not so awesome. But that’s just me. I’m not the patient sort. I loved the interactive aspect of the contest. It made it so fun.

We were required to upload the first chapter as our entry in SYTYCW. Is that chapter still in its original form or has it gone through more revisions?

It’s still mostly intact. I took a hard look at my LY words throughout the book and cut them down from 1395 to 800. That definitely helped with the showing and not telling aspect of my writing. Still picking and poking at the book however.

How about the rest of the book? Is it finished? Going through more revisions?

It was finished when I entered the contest. In fact, I finished book two in the series mid January. Book three has been trying to start, but I keep pushing it off because I know I’ll have a million revisions to make soon. I’ve had a half dozen readers on both books and gotten back some good suggestions.

Any thoughts on submitting your entry to another publisher or agent?

I planned to do just that. I registered for the RT CON in Kansas City back in October. My plan was to pitch, pitch, pitch! I had pitched it to two agents back in July but that was it so far. I’d written it with Harlequin in mind because I think they are the most new author friendly publisher.

How long have you been writing?

I wrote a newspaper column through high school and off and on through the years at other local newspapers but no fiction. My first attempt at mainstream fiction fizzled at 13,000 words. My second attempt at a vampire romance sputtered out around 30K. When my paranormal-loving BFF read it, she asked the question which got me on the right track: What makes this different? Uh, nothing. Same old thing. That’s when I got serious about finding a different world and beastie to write about and the Reaper Series was born.

Have you ever entered a contest like this one before?

I had entered a couple of regional contests but with no luck. I saw the SYTYCW contest last year. But this is my first novel and it wasn’t finished then. I tucked it away in the back of my mind for 2012. When I saw it was happening, I took the plunge.

What are your thoughts about the promotional aspect of the contest?

Personally, I loved the social media aspect. I like helping/promoting others. I already had a family blog, a fairly new author blog, about 300 Facebook friends on my main page and a new Facebook author page with only about 20 fans. My Twitter account was pitiful. I had a whopping 45 followers when the contest started. By the end, I had more than 300 and today more than 500. I keep working to reach out and build my tribe by building up others. I have a strong support system of friends which really came out of the woodwork. I still don’t know if I made the Top 28 by votes or wildcard. It would be interesting to find out!

If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently, if anything?

I would try to stress out a little less about it all. I had no idea how stressful it would be. It was work! But I definitely recommend it to anyone trying to break through the slush pile. My writer friends thought I was brave for entering but really…what did I have to lose? Absolutely nothing! Look at how many cool friends I made and what happened next!

What are you working on now?

Well, as fate would have it, I got THE CALL from Harlequin Digital First on January 30. You can read the long version here if you’d like here. I didn’t know it but Editor, Mary-Theresa Hussey from the SYTYCW contest forwarded my entry after I was officially rejected by Harlequin Nocturne. Mary-Theresa thought it was better suited for urban fantasy and perhaps the new Harlequin Digital First series. I’m glad I didn’t know it was under consideration, or I would have continued to fret!

I got the call, a contract and an option on book two. I was assigned a fantastic editor two weeks ago and will be receiving my first round of edits THIS WEEK! It’s very exciting! I’m so blessed to have had Mary-Theresa working behind the scenes for me. You never know who your angels are so treat everyone like they might be yours!

Where can we find you on the Web?

Dear Lord, I’m everywhere, ha!

Author blog: http://lisamedley.wordpress.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lisamedleyauthor Twitter: @lisamedley Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/medley3/ Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/7100819-lisa-medley

Thank you for being here today, Lisa! I can't wait to read your book.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Beautiful Mess

It seems that some people are given much more trouble and struggle, while others seem to skate by unscathed. The world is such a difficult place; it’s hard to believe, though, that one person could be hit with so much at one time. If you’re looking for fairness, don’t ask Life.

The question comes to mind: isn’t life just a series of small triumphs? Most of us are used to examining an entire life, like that of someone hugely successful in both their private and professional life, and the huge obstacles/challenges they somehow overcame. These are the people that we celebrate, emulate, give awards to, write books and make movies about – the “beautiful people”. Not always physically beautiful, but certainly larger than life.

These are the people we reward. Most often, they are goal-oriented people, who are good at motivating others. They want you to circle your wagon around them and desire to be just like them. They want you to buy their book and find out “how they did it” so you can do it, too. And when you still can’t figure out how to be just like them, they’ll want you to buy the sequel to their book and try again.

But most people live ordinary lives. We have some triumphs, more than likely outweighed by our failures, however small. We’ve had our moments in the sun, mostly when we were young. We’ve had little triumphs a long the way – if we’re lucky, we’ve loved deeply, married well and given birth to healthy babies.

Which brings me to another thing. Once you have children, they tend to be viewed as an extension of your own accomplishments. I do not believe it should be so, but unfortunately it is. If you have trouble with your children you’ve done something wrong, apparently. If your children are wonderful, you’ve done something right. Of course, we’ve been a huge influence on our children. But unless we’ve home schooled them and lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere with no other human contact, we haven’t been the only one. Is it fair to judge a life by someone else’s choices?

Yes, life is messy. We pick ourselves up and we go on. We work, we play, we laugh and we make love. We go on vacation, and we come back to a pile of bills to pay; we look for work and we don’t find it. We rail against the elected officials, but when election time comes around we are too busy to vote. We make decisions and live to regret them. We ask for second chances, and sometimes we get them.

You have to admit, though, it’s a beautiful mess.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Welcome SYTYCW Contestant Amber Autry

Help me welcome Harlequin Community Board regular and SYTYCW contestant Amber Autry. Thanks for being here today, Amber. Overall, how would you rate your experience with So You think You Can Write Global 2012?

Overall, it was a great experience. I loved finding a lot of new writers on twitter, and the learning process is priceless. I didn’t like the fact that no comments could be made on chapters. In 2011, I entered the New Voices contest, and the comments left by others helped my chapter grow to new lengths.

We were required to upload the first chapter as our entry in SYTYCW. Is that chapter still in its original form or has it gone through more revisions?

At this time, the chapter is still in the same form, but I intend to give it another look over (I’ve already revised it 20 million times) to see if I can extend it and make a bigger novel out of it. I realized I was trying to fit a Women’s Fiction into a romance and it was causing the novel to lack. Because of this, I have a lot of rethinking to do. I know nothing about the Women’s Fiction market. Good thing this was what I considered my “learning novel”. It makes the sting a lot less hurtful.

How about the rest of the book? Is it finished? Going through more revisions?

The book is finished, but the second half is in very first draft mode. Again, as my learning novel, I made many, many newbie mistakes, and it seems the revisions are a never ending process with this novel.

Any thoughts on submitting your entry to another publisher or agent?

Since I discovered it’s a Women’s Fiction, I have less options with Harlequin for this novel. They do have a Women’s Fiction line, but the word length is 100k. That means I will have to double the word count to fit there. I’m looking into an Agent who I may want to represent me during the rest of my writing ventures.

How long have you been writing?

Depends on where you want me to start. I first wrote stuff for my churches drama club when I was 12 years old. Plays, songs, and whatever else I could come up with, but all that was lost in my later teenage years and I didn’t start writing seriously until I was 20 years old. Almost 7 years later, I’m getting even more serious. I procrastinated way too much, and it’s time for me to take the next step in my writing career. I hope to get a call story this year.

Have you ever entered a contest like this one before?

The only other time I entered a contest like this was in 2011 when Harlequin had their New Voices and SYTYCW contests separate. I did like New Voices better.

What are your thoughts about the promotional aspect of the contest?

I stink at this part. I felt as if I were bugging everyone. I’m sure many people turned the option to see me in their newsfeed on Facebook off. I shared, at the very least, once an hour for days. GRR… I’m sure there’s a better way to do things, and if I do this contest again, I’ll find those better ways.

And then tell me about them, LOL! I had the same problem. If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently, if anything?

First would be the way I marketed my chapter. I think I turned more people off than on by how often I shared my chapter. I will also listen to others advice (I was told a couple times that my story sounded more like a women’s fiction) before moving on with something. I don’t know why I resisted (maybe because I love Romance so much), but it took me a bit to realize I was trying to mold my manuscript into something it wasn’t.

It sounds like you have grown as a writer by leaps and bounds. What are you working on now?

In January, Harlequin had a pitch contest for Intrigue. The manuscript didn’t need to be started or finished. I had an idea that bloomed from a dream and decided to pull it out and give it a shot. “The Baby Heist” is about a woman trying to protect her unborn child from a stalker. The hero is a suspect at first. She requested a full. I was ecstatic. So, I wrote about half of it and she emailed me asking me to send whatever I had. Ultimately, it was rejected. I gave myself the day of the rejection to sulk, then I jumped back on the pitching horse and got 2 agent requests and 1 publisher request during #pitmad. I also went to a writers conference and met with an agent who also wants to see more. I’ll be sending those partials out, and hopefully good news comes from them. Moral of this story, keep on writing. Go for that dream. You will make it.

Where can we find you on the Web?

I have a website under construction so please excuse the content. www.amberautry.com My blog, twitter, and Facebook page are all on my website if you want to find me in those social media outlets. My personal Facebook is: https://www.facebook.com/ambernautry

Thanks for being here today Amber, and I look forward to your "call story" sometime this year!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

2013 Golden Heart Finalists Announced

I judged in the Golden Heart but did not enter this year. My category, inspirational romance, was eliminated due to lack of entries and I decided against placing it in another alternate category. Below are this year's finalists. I'm happy and excited for them. Take a look at the list: anyone you know? Be sure to congratulate them on their achievement.

Contemporary Series Romance Finalists

"Baby on Board—Help!" by Miranda Liasson

"The Billionaire's Hypnotized Mistress" by Greta MacEachern

"Confessions of the World's Oldest Shotgun Bride" by Gail Hart

"Her Soldier Returns" by Kristin Noel Fischer

"Jayhawk Down" by Sharon Calvin

"Southern Comforts" by Nan Dixon

Contemporary Single Title Romance Finalists

"The Bollywood Bad Boy" by Sonali Dev

"Clean Sweep" by Nan Dixon

"Climb to Freedom" by Sheila Athens

"Everybody Knows..." by Jacqueline Floyd

"Hijacked" by Leslie Lynch

"Objection Overruled" by Jane O'Hanlon

"Place Your Betts" by Katie Graykowski

"What's Yours Is Mine" by Tamar Bihari writing as Talia Quinn Daniels

Historical Romance Finalists

"Between Love and Lies" by Jacqui Nelson

"A Champion's Heart" by Piper Huguley

"Come to Me" by Oberon Wonch

"Drawn to the Earl" by Joanna Shupe

"The Last Light of Dusk" by Joanne Lockyer

“The Promise of Dawn” by Eliss Baker

"The Rake's Handbook" by Sally Orr

"Sense and Seduction" by Thomasine Rappold

Paranormal Romance Finalists

"Dark Secret" by Mariah Ankenman

"Demon's Bane" by India Powers

"Guardian" by Tara Sheets

"Jinn & Tonic" by Kay Hudson

"Mind Sweeper" by Amy Jones writing as AE Jones

"Sea Panther" by Dawn Wolzein

"Shadows in the Deep" by Lark Howard

"Unbroken" by Ella Sheridan

Romantic Suspense Finalists

"Broken Places" by Krista Hall Reynolds

"Crazy for Her" by Sandra Owens

"Juliet's Rogue" by Sharon Wray

"The Predator" by Chris Taylor

“Rampant Perfection” by Laurie Cooper

"Rogue's Redemption" by Sharon Wray

"The Shadow Hour" by Jacqui Nelson

"Spies, Lies, and Debutantes" by Miranda Liasson

Young Adult Romance Finalists

"Camp Awakening" by Bonnie Staring

"Hidden Deep" by Amy DeLuca

"Leath'Dhia/Birthright" by Kari Miller

"Miranda Perry's Imported Prom Date" by Sheri Adkins

"Sticks and Stones" by Kimberly MacCarron

"Summer of Supernova" by Darcy Woods

"Ten" by Holly Bodger