Creativity Lacking?

by Linda Carroll-Bradd

Creativity lacking? Here’s a hint…

Many of you heard me complain about the writing slump I’d been in for the past year or so (I’m being nice to myself here…work with me). I vowed that when I moved to California and had no day job to distract me, I would start producing new pages again. I’m proud to say I have. I wish I could say that I’d been bubbling with so many ideas that now I finally could get them down on paper.

I love to rely on calls for submissions issued by publishers. And this is for three main reasons.  First, is that a deadline is established and I have a concrete date to work toward. This lets me plan out my writing time and set daily or weekly goals to meet the word count by that last date.  Second, the calls always have a little hint at what they’re looking for—a theme, a circumstance, a time period, sensuality level.  Third, the relatively low word count. I look at a call that is asking for 5,000 word stories and I think, sure, I can write a 20-page story. I’m not intimidated by a story that size. By the time the pages are written, the story has been fleshed out to twice that length.

Here’s a sampling of the calls I found for themed anthologies:

Cerridwyn Publishing is looking for rodeo cowboy stories (15-360K)—due 8/15/12

Still Moments Publishing is looking for stories (5-15K) with the following themes: Christmas Magic due 8/18/12; Winter’s Kiss due 10/1/12; Frost Bite due 10/15/12; A Twist of Tales due 10/31/12; Unexpected Bump due 11/30/12

Ravenous Romance is looking for Alice in Wonderland-related erotic stories (2,500-5K)—due 9/1/12

Avon Impulse is looking for New Year’s Eve stories (15-20K)—due 9/15/12
Pink Petal Books wants stories for an End of Days-Apocalyptic anthology (7-15K)—due 9/15/12

Total e-bound (erotica only, 10/15K)) wants stories with domestic staff due 11/1/12; BDSM due 3/1/13; Wanton Witches (Halloween) due 4/1/13; Frost Bite (vampires) due 6/1/13

Wild Rose Press (Scarlet) is looking for m/m summer themed stories (query first)—due 12/31/12

Paying It Forward

by Patricia Walters-Fischer

Mother Theresa is quoted as saying “Life is a promise, fulfill it.”
When that comes to being an artist, a writer, paying it forward is essential. In the grand scheme of things, artists must stick together and help each other advance in their prospective fields because so few others truly understand what we’re trying to do.

Case in point: when I attended the very first writer’s event, it happened to be a Merritt Conference. The Keynote Speaker was Sharon Sala, a well-known romance writer and agent Paige Wheeler would take pitches.
 I planned to get there early, sit front and center so the agent would see me, recognize me from the crowd, because I’d written the best work of fiction since Austen. 
 Of course, I didn’t get there early and ended up at a table in the back. Discouraged, I started talking to the woman next to me about writing and general topics. She asked me if I would pitch that day and told me to practice on her. So I did. 
 The agent spoke and I knew she wouldn’t know my face from anyone else there that day.

It so happens, the agent sat at my table, directly across from me. And next to me? The Keynote Speaker. 
 Sharon Sala extended a hand to a novice writer when she didn’t have to. She gave me a quick coaching session on how to pitch, what to say, how to say it, and how to breathe and not pass out from anxiety. 
 I’ll never forget that.

And my pitch? Paige Wheeler asked for my first few chapters, but my writing was raw and needed a lot of work. Still, an act of random kindness encouraged me to keep trying, to keep hoping, to keep believing I could make it. 
 After many critique sessions and SARA meetings, I decided to go to the National Conference in Dallas. I didn’t have anything, but non-fiction published. Still, I knew I had more knowledge than when I’d started a few years before. I wanted to learn more, to see what possibilities were out there and what else I could achieve.

At the Wednesday luncheon, I sat with Joni Hahn and these two girls walked up to our table and asked if they could sit. Of course, we said yes. We learned they were sisters and could hardly contain their excitement at attending their first Nationals conference. They asked us how long we’d been writing. We all talked shop and saw each other several other times during the days to follow. 
 I stayed in touch. Asked them about their writing, encouraged them to continue, even if it sucked.

Last weekend, I saw one of the sisters. She’s now one of the editors of Romantic Times Magazine. She walked up to me and said, “Do you know, you were the first person I talked to at a National conference?” 
 We talked about that day, our successes both on the pages and in our personal lives. She adopted out of the foster care system like we’re trying to do. She offered encouragement and support. I told her I’d keep her posted and that I’d planned to write about it.  She told me she wanted to see it when I did.

Not only did it all come full circle, I got to see Sharon Sala again and tell her thank you. I’d named a character in my book after her and she said that had never happened before.

Helping another artist at their craft may seem like an obvious thing to do, but there are many who don’t make the time to be gracious or grateful. A simple act of listening, encouraging, offering advice or simply asking about their works can make or break someone’s spirit.

It’s always the little things that help pay it forward.

So how will you pay it forward today?

Patricia Walters-Fischer : “Worth the Weight” 2009 Fab Five Women’s Fiction Winner,  and Founder of Smart Cookie Parents–(–Launch June 2012)

Midnight Musings: Paying It Forward

by Willa Blair

We’ve come from different walks of life. Different cities and states. Different schools. Different experiences. But somehow, we’ve all wound up here together, with one important thing in common.

We’re writers.

Pre-published, published, multi-published, fiction of all varieties, non-fiction, too. We’ve had one goal in mind, some of us for most of our lives: to become a published author.

Along the way, there may have been parents who read to us, teachers who helped us perfect language skills, and librarians who guided us to the stack of books we read under the covers with a flashlight long after lights-out. We found authors whose books we loved, even a few books we wished we’d written, and we thought, I want to do that, to be that.  An author.

More recently, there have been writers groups like this one, critique partners, online organizations and chapters, workshops, classes, hundreds of ways to hone our craft and learn from each other.

We’re writers. We’re a society of writers. And like any society, there are those who are further along on the path we tread. They’re the ones we emulated and learned from. Then there are those who follow behind, still gaining experience. We may still feel like wet-behind-the-ears beginners, but to those following us, we’re the sages, the wise ones who’ve been there, done that, and have stories to tell.

The society of writers, or in modern parlance, the network, sustains us in ways we take for granted. Few of us get here alone. And once here, none of us remain alone. Even as we sit solitary in front of our computer screens, we connect with each other through social networking sites, blogs, emails, even phone calls. When we meet face-to-face, we overstay the allotted time because we have so much to share and to learn.

And like the ones who taught us, we pay it forward. We write, we meet, we teach each other. We share our hard-won wisdom, great and small, about how to write, to be a writer, and to prosper in this business.

“Pay it forward” has become a cliché, but it’s a good one. It’s what we do. What others have done for us.  It’s a large part of how we got here and how we stay here.  Supporting each other with our wisdom.

So what can we do to pay it forward?

Here are a few questions for you to answer – either here in comments or just to yourself.

How do you pay it forward?

What would you recommend for others who want to be more active in our society of writers?

What’s the next thing you’re going to DO?

Find me a

August 18 Meeting for San Antonio Romance Authors

Ever wonder about Nationals and what’s new in publishing? August’s
meeting will cover that and more. SARAs fresh from 2012 Nationals in
California will be at Parnam Library, 20735 Wilderness Oak from
10am-12:30. August 18th
they’ll give you their impression of the
conference and what they’ve discovered.


After their presentation we’ll
have time for discussion plus an opportunity to work on our latest
writing projects. So bring those works in progress! Need to pick
someone’s brain? We can do that too!

Hope to see you there!


My Fingers Are in My Ears for a Reason

by Marilyn Hudson Tucker

I like writers’ groups. Perhaps I should say I love them, since I am a member of three critique groups. They are all invaluable, but in different ways.

The first time I had my work read at a writers’ critique group, I assumed that everyone would say my chapter was fine just as it was. Perhaps even perfect. “Go, thou, and seek publication immediately.” That sort of thing.

Not so. They told me exactly what was wrong with it and what I could do to improve it.  I won’t say I left with my tail between my legs, but I definitely no longer had my nose in the air. At least they laughed in the right places. Since humor is my passion, I knew I was on the right track.

I persevered, and my writing slowly improved with each new session. Even when my work did not make it into the queue to be presented during that session, I learned by listening to the critiques of others’ works.

Over the years, I have learned that some suggestions must be ignored.

Sometimes, the advice given is simply wrong. One person said I should make my dialogue tags “consistent,” with all of them either at the beginning or in the middle or even at the end of (after) the quotations. The person wrote that advice but did not say it aloud, so I didn’t even have a chance to discuss the comment.

Often, a person will read something on the Internet and decide it is always true. One person in my group insists that every agent or publisher will throw the prologue away and refuse to read it. Not so. I heard a famous agent say he loves prologues. I have witnesses. He even named and explained all the various uses for prologues. In fact, on my iPad I have several bestselling novels that begin with prologues. One even has a “prelude.” Be careful about following suggestions willy-nilly.

Recently, a friend suggested that I have my main character do something that would be quite hilarious. I seriously considered including it until I realized that she would never do what was suggested. Basically, the scene involved my main character wearing borrowed stripper clothes to go to her sister’s law firm after being locked out of her own apartment.

I love to make people laugh, and I truly wanted to use the scene, but deep down I could not make my character do it. She simply refused. I asked a good friend about whether I should follow that suggestion, and he gave me excellent advice.

“Trust yourself,” he said.

It is perhaps the best advice I’ve ever listened to.

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