Archive | November, 2011

All hail Romance Writers of America!

29 Nov

Well, it’s November 29 and NaNoWriMo is winding down (as is my self-imposed NaNoEdMo). I remember being here two years ago. Ha! However, I think I can safely say while I won’t have all my i’s dotted and t’s crossed by November 30 (in other words novel will NOT be ready to send out), I have made some SERIOUS headway. I totally rewrote my opening two chapters (now just one chapter) and am much, much, happier with it. I’m still losing parts of my soul as I throw out some great chapters but keeping in mind my superb critique partner’s words about “needing to get to Maine” (where most of my novel is set) faster. Bummer. That means Las Vegas and Fat Lennie need to be whittled down and I LOVE Fat Lennie. I’m also still grappling with how to make the disappearance of my reclusive artist a super-duper important news media story. Oh, and making my hero far more troubled. He clearly needs to be more screwed up than he currently is.

However, to this end, I’m excited to say I have joined the Romance Writers of America. Wow! After attending a panel session last week with various romance writers, I was convinced that this had to be my next step. Thanks to the Independent Writers of Southern California Group (IWOSC), I got to attend this panel. Until I did so, I never really thought that my book was a “romance.” I always thought of Romance Novels (note the capital letters) as those Mills and Boon (Harlequin in the U.S. I believe) style books that are very formulaic. I have no bodice ripping or heaving bosoms. I have a mystical blue dog and a missing artist that my heroine is trying to track down. Neither of these appear to fit the “romance novel” model. At least I didn’t think so. But I ALSO have a real romance and my heroine does indeed meet the man of her dreams – but it’s all very, very complicated and she has to do a whole lot of truth-hiding (note I didn’t say lying) to make sure he doesn’t discover what she’s up to. AND she will have to sell her soul and sell out her hero if she wants to get the biggest scoop of her career.

Well, thanks to that panel discussion,  I realised I do indeed have a romance novel and apparently anything goes these days. Your book doesn’t have to have a conventional path. So now I’m excited to have joined and signed up to the local Los Angeles chapter  – Los Angeles Romance Authors (LARA) where everyone on the message boards is incredibly supportive and there’s fun stuff to read all the time.

I loved how everyone on that panel was so “normal.” There wasn’t a feather boa or a satin pillow in sight. They all seem like great, down to earth women and they’re all on the local chapter yahoo group. I can’t wait to attend my first LARA meeting and get to know everyone. I feel like being a member now spurs me on to put in the time every day (while juggling my day job) to get my novel up to scratch.



Prime drivel! (aka bestill my beating heart attack)

7 Nov










Okay, so I’m a lousy blog updater. But ever since I decided to focus this blog on my novel and fiction writing –  as opposed to my other writing, editing, job that pays the rent and random observations on the world – I’ve been pretty lax on updating.

Yes. I know ‘Real life’ gets in the way. And real life for me not only includes a ton of work (the rent-paying journalism kind, which is also work I happen to love), but it’s been hampered by my slow recuperation from foot surgery almost four months ago. But enough excuses!

Because November is NaNoWriMo month (where I completed my novel in 2009 – and I use the term “completed” loosely because it was a total mess) – I’ve decided that November 2011 is NaNoEdMo month for me – when I finally complete my edits on my novel. My aim (lofty as it is) is to hopefully have my edits done and ready to send out agent queries before 2012 rolls around. Sigh.

Anyway, as part of my November project, I downloaded a book on my Kindle yesterday. As a member of Amazon Prime, I was excited to discover I can now borrow certain books for free for 30 days. So I started wading through the available books and came across one that appeared to be in a similar vein to my novel: set in a small town, with a cast of quirky characters. However, this book was under the “romance” category. (I’m not naming names to protect what I’m about to write…). Now my novel is also a romance of sorts, but it also has a magical/mystical element thrown in. Still, the fictional, small town vibe is what drew me in, plus a quick check on Amazon noted that this writer is prolific and has published a series of books in this fictional town (and no, it’ not about vampires!)

And so, I began reading.

Thirty days to read this book for free. Thirty days? I couldn’t even last 30 minutes, let alone 30 pages! I could NOT believe how appalling this book was. And I don’t just mean boring, formulaic and trite. I mean SERIOUS writing flaws. Totally switching from characters’ points of view mid-paragraph – sometimes mid-sentence. Stupid statements by the two main characters (I think there are only two – everyone else is window dressing) – that if you say them out loud (a good litmus test) make you cringe because real people just don’t talk like that!

I kept reading, hoping it would get better – but it only got worse. In the end I had to give up. I didn’t really care what happened to these two idiots – although obviously they are going to end up together. I didn’t even want to think what “obstacle” the author was going to put in their way. I’m sure it’s something as tragic as a souffle falling incident or a horse going lame or a long lost letter from a distant relative who just happened to be the town’s pie baking champion until someone ruined her reputation by using salt instead of sugar in the recipe. Blech.

My initial reaction was how did this woman even get published? Then my devious mind thought: Wow, if someone published this drivel then maybe they’ll publish my non-drivel?  So, naturally I went in search of her publisher. And what did I discover? Her plethora of novels (I think there’s at least half a dozen) are all published by the same company that basically publishes authors whose novels are set in the region she writes – in other words throw in the words “Malarkey, New Pumpkin” (or whatever small region of the world she lives in) and you get published. Alas, I don’t live in Malarkey, New Pumpkin and know bugger all about that region. So much for my get published quick scheme.

I started Googling this woman and discovered she’s won all kinds of awards for writing in her region (makes me wonder what her competition is like) and she speaks at writing conferences. I’d die if I had to hand over my money to hear this woman speak. Luckily some of the reviews of her stuff on Amazon reflect how crap she is – but the majority rave about her work. Clearly these people don’t venture far out of Malarkey….

The only good news about attempting to read this and seeing this woman’s success is that it has reinstated my faith that I’m not a totally crap writer and just might get published someday. Onwards and upwards…