Why The World Needs Writer’s Groups

by Patricia Walters-Fischer

My daughter is an amazing kid. Really, she’s one of those kids who seem to be aware of the world around her. Not just in a “oh look there’s a butterfly” sort of way. More like, “there’s a butterfly, let me make sure no one hurts it because it might be endangered” sort of way.

Now, she’s come up with a book idea to interview kids who are animal rescue and rehab volunteers. I think it’s a great idea, but what my sweet girl doesn’t quite understand is the work involved in writing said book.

So far, we’ve interviewed one person and have another eight to go. I keep asking her what questions she wants to ask the kids and she rattles off about three questions. Then she asks to go play. I explain to her you can ask those three questions, but chapters aren’t written on only a few questions. She’s got to get in there and come up with more things to ask as the interview goes on, get the person to talk more, give you more information because each person is different.

Looking at me, she said, “Write, Edit, Publish, right?”

I nod, then add, “Well, it’s more like write, edit, write, edit, edit, edit, edit, write, edit, edit, edit, then publish.”

Her eyes grew wide. “Really? That much?”

I ask her again about what she wants to say.

Her shoulders fall and she sighs, “I already told you the questions.”

That’s kind of like us, when we’re writing a new book. We have this great idea, this grandiose plan, but the details tend to make our mind wander or make us feel overwhelmed.

I want to write a story about mermaids—then it’ll start in 1700’s Ireland and end in modern day Southern California. Oh, and I’ll have a covered wagon and a train and a great looking guy, and a hurricane and they’ll live happily ever after. 
Now how in the world do I get them from Ireland to California?

Ugh! I need coffee…and chocolate.

Or you can approach it from another way, from what I call the Dug Way. (Dug is the dog from Pixar’s Up!)

Okay, I want to write about mermaids—you know my great-grandparents came from Danmark and that’s where Hans Christian Anderson is from and he wrote The Little Mermaid—wait, I want to write a book—focus. Okay, mermaids, mermaids…if mermaids came on land, do you think they need sunblock? What kind of sunblock would they use?

Wait, back to the book…SPF 30 or 50?

Ugh! I need coffee…and chocolate.

So how do you get from point A to Point B, C, D and all the way down to Z?

This is the beauty of having writer friends who can help you brainstorm, critique, or simply tell you to get back to writing your book instead of posting on Facebook about what happened at the grocery store last week.

Having other writers in your corner, especially great writers, can only make you stronger. They are there when you get that crappy rejection letter, that “thanks but no thanks” rejection letter that doesn’t help you at all, and they are some of your biggest supporters when you succeed.

Because of my writer’s group, I can not only brag that I’ll have a book published this year, but I have the knowledge to help my daughter’s dream a reality.
Thank you SARA’s for making all these dreams come true.

Confessions of a Contest Winner

by Willa Blair

Have you ever entered a contest? No? For heaven’s sake, why not?  Where else can you get anonymous feedback on your work?

There are lots of contests available to you. It doesn’t matter if you’re pre-published or have dozens of books on the shelves; there are contests for you, all the way up to the RWA Golden Heart for pre-published authors and RWA Rita for published works.  Many RWA chapters run contests, and the contest coordinator in your category is the only one who sees your name–the judges don’t.  Check RWA’s website for lists of chapter contests and dates. Most run between June and August.

Feedback is honest (some might say blunt) but remember that it’s not coming from friends telling you what they think you want to hear or even what they think will help you. The feedback comes from strangers reacting solely to what they read on the page (or on the screen).  And being individuals, the different judges who review your work may have very different, even conflicting, opinions of it. You can learn a lot from that.

But if the judges do their job as they should, whether you win, place or barely get out of the gate, you’ll be a winner. You’ll come away with ideas, suggestions, and critique that point out the weaknesses in your story or in your writing, as well as suggestions for improvement.  You’ll also find out what works, what turns of phrase they really like, and what your strengths are.

Becoming a finalist in a contest is a professional high point, no doubt about it. I rank the phone call telling me I was a finalist in the 2011 Marlene Paranormal category right up there with the call that an actor gets who has been nominated for an Academy Award.  And the win was even better. This year, I won the SARA Merritt Paranormal category for a different book, and that process was just as thrilling. But in both cases, besides the certificates and mementos, the value that I took from the contests was the feedback from the judges and from the publishing house editors who picked the winners from among the finalists.

Some tips:

Read and understand the rules of the contest. If you don’t follow those, you can’t win. Your entry might even be refused and returned to you.

Clean up your entry.  Contest judges want clean, grammatical submissions just like editors do. And if you final, a publishing house editor will be reading your submission, so give the contest entry the same scrutiny you would give a partial- or full-manuscript submission to a publisher you hope will buy your book.

Tighten, tighten, tighten that synopsis. And then polish, polish, polish.  Most contests only allow five pages.  That’s not a lot and it’s tough to tell the story of your entire book in five pages: the romance, the stakes for the hero and heroine, and how they grow together. But you can do it if you’re ruthless in your editing.

Good luck and remember, you have to enter to win!

Visit me on www.willablair.com

SARA Author Sasha Summers to Have Local Booksigning

Overview

It’s said love can change a person. Medusa wasn’t always a monster…

Medusa is ruled by duty, to her Titan father and the Goddess Athena. She’s no room for the tenderness her warrior guard, Ariston, stirs. When Olympus frees her from service, her heart leads her into the arms of the guard she loves… and curses her as the creature with serpent locks.

Ariston goes to war with a full heart… and dreadful foreboding. He learns too late of the danger Medusa faces, alone, and a Persian blade sends him into the Underworld. But death, curses, nor the wrath of the Gods will keep him from returning to her.

Poseidon will use Greece’s war to get what he wants: Medusa. He does not care that she belongs to another. He does not care that she will be damned. He is a God, an Olympian, and she will be his.

Sasha will be one of eight different authors on hand at Barnes & Noble with their brand-new books.  Please stop by to show your support for local author Sasha Summers!

Saturday July 14, 2012 2:00 PM

The Shops at La Cantera, 15900 La Cantera Parkway Bldg 27, San Antonio, TX 78256, 210-558-2078

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Romance Writers Support Healthy Hearts

american heart association, san antonio romance authorsThe 2012 San Antonio Heart Walk, benefiting the American Heart Association (AHA), will be on Saturday, November 3rd.  Happy hearts are healthy hearts, so why not show our support for healthy hearts by helping the AHA?

If any SARA members or other area writers would like to join a San Antonio Romance Authors team to walk and raise funds for the 2012 Heart Walk, please leave a comment and we’ll keep you posted.

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New Board Elected for 2012/2013

The following were elected to the SARA board for the 2012-2014 term at today’s meeting:

President: Patricia Walters-Fischer

Treasurer/PRO Liason: Gail Reinhart

VP Programs: Sasha Best

VP Communications: Lisa Pietsch

Secretary: Mary Elizabeth Brand (serving second year to 2013)

Parliamentarian/Librarian: Jolene Navarro

Ways & Means: Terri Wilson

Membership: Marilyn Tucker

Newsletter: Lupe Gonzales

PAN Liason: Cindy Breeding

Additional positions are available for monthly book reviewers, newsletter writers, and hospitality.