Posts Tagged ‘GH’
I remember plowing through the stacks of Harlequin and Silhouette books Mom would bring home from the library, secured with a rubber band. (Apparently, the library thought bundles were more appealing.) My couch potato self spent many a lazy Saturday devouring two or three category-length titles in one sitting.
As I got older, the romance reading continued. With each book I finished, so did the conviction that I needed to be writing romance. I’d close a book and think, “I could write that. I could write something better than that.”
Ah, the overconfidence of the uneducated. Turns out that writing one — a good one, at least — is much harder than it looked.
But once I started trying, I never looked back. I moved from Indiana to Arizona in 1999, and in 2001 won a radio station’s “dinner with a romance writer” contest. That’s when I met Rita Rainville, then a member of NARWA. I started attending the group’s meetings, joined RWA and discovered just how much I had to learn about writing romance.
Finally, in 2011, I snagged the coveted title of Golden Heart finalist … a sure sign I was mastering the craft. I was on the verge of the big payoff — publication. Still, it eluded me until this year.
Nowadays, it seems that I spend most of my free time writing romance instead of reading it. Whenever I get a few minutes not consumed by the dreaded day job, I feel the need to devote it to writing.
But August is National Read-A-Romance Month, not Write-A-Romance Month. That begs the question: “Why do I read romance?”
When I started reading them in middle school, I most likely read as a way to pass time. There’s not much to do in rural Indiana. I’m sure I also read for the sex ed. So much more fun — and informative — than health class. (Am I the only one who wondered what the guys were learning when they were sent to another room while we girls watched the same damn menstruation movie three years running?)
Of course, I could have passed time reading any kind of book. And did. I read a lot of Stephen King as a high school freshman. Then, my sophomore year, I discovered Anne Rice and devoured everything of hers I could get my hands on.
Still, I kept going back to romance. Those are the stories that draw me in and leave me satisfied. I’m not happy unless the characters get the ending they deserve. That’s one thing that drove me crazy when I read Gone Girl. The book was a real page-turner, but no one got what was coming to them in that book. (Link takes you to my weight-loss blog.)
Romance offers that happy ending. It allows the characters the happily-ever-after ending they need. I’d much rather see folks I’ve come to know and love get what they deserve.
Kristan Higgins, one of my favorite writers, put it much more succinctly in her post Monday. We read romance for the hope.
Most people in life don’t transform, don’t have a clearly delineated character arc that blossoms in the space of a few weeks or months as the outer goal is accomplished. That’s what makes a romance novel so gratifying, and uplifting…and hopeful. They did it. They’re our role models, and it doesn’t matter if they’re fictional, so long as they walk the walk of someone who was stuck, and afraid to try something different, and risked it all for love…and triumphed.
Do yourself a favor and read her entire post. It’s excellent — and just another reason to love Kristan.
I still remember the few minutes we chatted in the elevator at RWA Nationals in NYC in 2011. Me, a nervous first-time conference attendee, wearing my GH finalist ribbon and completely overwhelmed by the whole experience. Her, lovely and gracious and …
Okay, I mostly remember that we were staying on the same floor. I told her I loved her books. We commiserated over how the experts said rom-com is dead and declared we actually wrote funny contemporary romance … or something like that.
Long live the funny contemporary! And long live romance. May it continue to offer everything readers need.
It’s over now, and I just settled into my favorite spot at the Starbucks in Camp Verde (near the outlet, naturally). The plan is to sneak in a little writing time before I crash.
Am I nuts? Why not skip the attempt to work and crash right away? How much will I really get done?
Of course I’m nuts. Aren’t all writers a little off-kilter? The thing is, even though I’m physically exhausted, my mind is racing. I have thoughts I need to get down before I forget every last one of them. Plus, I have a synopsis I need to rewrite — and fast — so I can ship requested material.
Every day of the conference was jam-packed with learning, laughter and inspiration.
Here are a few of the gems I walked away with from the weekend:
— Never talk badly about yourself. There are enough other people willing to do that for you. (Bob Mayer, Friday afternoon workshop)
— All writers wrestle with self-doubt. To reach your goals, you have to slay the doubt demons. (Allison Brennan, Saturday keynote speech)
— The way you structure your writing space can help your subconscious mind — and your muse — realize it’s time to work. (Tawny Weber, Saturday workshop)
— Not every sex scene needs to be mind-blowingly perfect. In real life, first times are often awkward. (Elizabeth Hoyt, Saturday workshop)
— In both dialogue and description, word choices set the mood and will vary depending on the character doing the speaking/observing. (Laurie Schnebly Campbell, Saturday workshop)
— Don’t give away all the details about a character’s backstory at once. Curiosity about why a character is doing what he’s doing pulls the reader into the story. (Martha Alderson, Sunday workshop)
There was so much fantastic information to be gleaned from the presentations that I’ll never remember it all. The conference center hotel was great, with a gorgeous courtyard and two pools. (Next time, I’ll remember to pack a bathing suit.) Late April is the perfect time to be in Phoenix, because it’s not yet hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk.
The conference couldn’t have come at a better time, either. My Golden Heart score sheets came back on Friday and one of my two entries earned not one but two 3s. Ouch.
Luckily, I had plenty of positive support from my chaptermates who were also at the conference. Even better, I was too busy to dwell on those sucky scores. Until now, that is. Maybe I’ll get lucky and crash before I start to think too much about ’em.
Desert Dreams only happens every two years, but it’s definitely worth the short drive from Flagstaff. I’m already making plans to save up for the next one … or I will be as soon as I come back from RWA Nationals in Anaheim this summer.
My cell phone doesn’t get that many calls. Aside from calls from the Boyfriend, and occasional calls from the roommate, it mostly remains silent.
That’s fine 364 days of the year. But there’s one day that I want the phone to ring: Golden Heart finalist call day.
In 2011, my call came bright and early, waking me at 8 a.m. So when I woke up 0f my own volition at 8:20 this morning, I was kind of already resigned to not finaling this year.
Add this to the fact neither of my entries has managed to final in any other contests this year, and I was even more convinced it wasn’t going to happen for me in 2012.
Then I checked the RWA website and saw there were only four finalists in my category. Knowing contemporary series had to have more than 40 entries, hope ticked up a notch.
I jumped in the shower and then drove from the Boyfriend’s to Flagstaff in time for the massage I booked to keep my mind off waiting for the phone to ring. Best idea ever. For a blissful hour, I enjoyed being pampered and didn’t think about the GH (much anyway). Really. Hardly at all.
After the massage ended and I’d paid, I glided bonelessly to my car, relishing a few more moments of not stressing out. Only then did I allow myself to check my phone.
Imagine how shocked I was to see a missed call from “blocked.”
My hopes immediately skyrocketed. I started driving myself crazy, wondering if I could be wrong … if I would be joining the 2012 GH class after all. I tweeted my frustration at missing the call. I text-messaged my chapter president. I e-mailed my critique partner.
Then I tried to go back to my routine. Yeah, right. Like anything captured my attention besides willing the phone to ring again.
It happened as I was walking into the bank. My ringtone was sweet, sweet music. I snatched up the phone and checked the display. Yes, “Blocked” was calling again. I answered with a smile on my face and hope threatening to choke me.
Silence on the other end of the line.
“Hello,” I repeated, increasingly desperate to hear those magic words.
Still nothing but silence.
An edge of anger crept into my third “hello” before I disconnected the call, disgusted with whoever decided today would be a great day to phone me from a blocked number for no reason at all.
My CP says it was probably just a telemarketer. The Boyfriend assured me he gets blocked calls all the time.
Tell me I’m not the only one who thinks telemarketers should be banned from calling between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on March 25 (or 26 if the 25th falls on a Sunday).
Anyone know any lawmakers who can make that happen?
Had you asked me last week whether I was going to win NaNoWriMo this year, I’d have laughed — most likely right in your face.
With two entries for the 2012 Golden Heart competition to polish, I’d pretty much written off finishing NaNo. When I popped my last GH entry in the mail on Monday, I had 15,000 words left to write and three days in which to do it.
And here’s where that old power of persistence kicked in. I didn’t want to fail. I had Monday off, so I spent most of it at Starbucks, writing away — and then did some late-night word sprints with the Power Writing Hour Facebook group I belong to. On Tuesday, I did as much writing as I could until it was time to go to work … And on Wednesday, after working until 11:30 p.m. Tuesday and then sprinting until 12:30 a.m. or so, I hauled myself out of bed at 8 a.m. so I could put in a full day at Starbucks before heading to work.
The persistence paid off. At about 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, I crossed the finish line with 50,094 words. (Yeah, I was supposed to be at work by 3 p.m. — but I was too close to give up. Lucky for me, my hours are somewhat flexible.) The NaNo validator came in slightly lower, at 50,016 … but still enough to declare me a winner.
Finishing something I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do felt great. I have to give shout-outs to Jamie Raintree and Anne Marie Becker, my writing buddies who wouldn’t let me give up. (They both hit 50K, too.) My new Power Writing Hour friends helped, too.
Another shout-out to the new CPs who helped me whip those GH entries into shape. I received confirmation just this morning that the second of two was received — so all that’s left is to wait …
And to keep writing, of course. I already have a new challenge in my sights: Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest. Its mid-December deadline is creeping up fast.