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A Slice of Orange


Unconventional Wisdom

September 18, 2005 by in category Blogs tagged as ,

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the advice “give yourself permission to write crap.” I always thought it was good advice until tonight when I really thought about it. I realized I don’t want to write crap. Ever. So, why should I need permission to write it? How easy for that permission become a self-fulfilling prophecy, eh?

So, how ’bout I never do that because I want to write brilliant stories that edify the human condition and make people laugh and cry. What if I gave myself permission to write those instead? Would I be more likely to live up to that?

I bet I would. For one thing, there’s power in positive thinking. For another, it becomes an affirmation. Who would want an affirmation about writing crap? Exactly!

I know the advice-givers don’t really think they’re being negative, they think their advice is freeing. That after the crap comes out, the good stuff will follow. And perhaps that’s true. But why is it that we feel freed up by the negative? Why can’t we sit down at our keyboards and plan on writing something so excellent our computer breaks out in a smile? Is it somehow easier to write crap?

I think not.

It is, however, easier to see our writing as not measuring up than to see it as fabulous. Writers–especially new ones–often compare their work to that of other writers, even trying to emulate them on occasion. That will never do. Just as we have our own fingerprints and underwear, we have our very own voices. It’s finding that voice by writing and writing and writing some more that our prose becomes brilliant, and it becomes brilliant because it is ours, with our very own vision, issues, and spin on things.

So I challenge you…next time you sit down at the computer to write…oh you’re there now?…in that case, close your browser, boot up your writing program and decide you’re going to write some of the best stuff you’ve ever written. And then do it.

Gina Black

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Message from the Presidents

September 1, 2005 by in category Blogs tagged as

Suite Sweet Success… I know it’s been over a month since the National RWA conference in Reno, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to write about it and share with those of you who couldn’t attend.

Our OCC hospitality suite was indeed a sweet success. A place where first timers could gather and catch their breath when the sheer volume of conference attendees became overwhelming. A place where we could practice pitch sessions with those who were anxiously awaiting their editor or agent appointments. A place where we could celebrate our OCC RITA winner, Barbara McCauley, our OCC Golden Heart winner, Lorelle Marinello, and our Golden Heart finalist, Debra Holland. A place where we could announce the finalists in our published author’s contest; interview agents and editors for future newsletter articles; eat, drink and network with friends, industry professionals, and long distance acquaintances; and a place where we could honor Mary Teresa Hussy with our chapter’s first ever Helping Hands Industry award.

I’d like to thank Michelle Thorne, Lana Kreivis, Patty Taylor and Julie Nelson for doing such a fabulous job of hosting the suite and making sure that we all had a soft place to land when we needed one–and a party place when we wanted one!

As Jennifer told you last month, we unveiled our new OCC slogan:
Opportunity, Creativity, Community.

And believe me, Bobbie Cimo and Michelle Thorne highlighted this “brand” in a stunningly innovative way. Using a room service cart, they wheeled around a microwave gathering author signatures! What could be more fun that having a unique microwave in your office, signed by all of your favorite authors?
Our ways and means people will be raffling off this gem at our October birthday bash. Don’t miss the OPPORTUNITY to get in on this raffle. Tickets will be on sale at the meeting.

If you missed the Reno conference, then please don’t miss OCC’s one day Autumn Affaire with Harlequin’s Executive Editor, and author of Writing A Romance Novel for Dummies, Leslie Wainger. Ms. Wainger will be speaking on both craft and career. I’ll certainly be there. Even after 26 published books, I still don’t miss an OPPORTUNITY to learn from CREATIVITY masters in our writing COMMUNITY such as Leslie Wainger.


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A Visit with Emma Holly and Susan Elizabeth Phillips

August 20, 2005 by in category Blogs tagged as

OCC just celebrated “Awesome August!” Here are the details of the day from a Program Director’s POV…

We had Emma Holly visit us in the morning, and this five foot dynamo gave a workshop that made several women start fanning themselves from the sheer HOTNESS of the content. That was a first for me in my time as Program Director and I really enjoyed her tips on sexy writing. She gave us many tips to spice up our scenes and first piece of advice was to “get in touch with our kinks,” so Ladies and Gentlemen…GET BUSY!

Emma kept making me laugh because she’d get the steam level to rising, then she’d pause, glance at us, take a lo-o-o-ng sip of her water…and pick up where she left off. Her comedic timing was dead-on funny. She gave two of her ARCs (advanced release copies) away as door prizes and I don’t know who won them but I certainly hope that one of those people will loan their book to me when they’re done – I don’t know if I can wait until October 4th to find out who did what to who.

The Board of Directors changed tactics and strategies all day…almost as fast as America West changed Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ flight schedule! (Herein, she’ll be referred to as SEP to save typing.) We started lunch thinking we’d see SEP at about 12:30 and by the end of lunchtime, this Program Director was wondering if SEP would EVER get to California. We updated the membership over the next hour – plane is delayed, plane left, etc – until finally the plane arrived and I heaved a sigh of relief. It was the first time I’d ever been happy to have my phone ring in the middle of a meeting.

I spoke with SEP and she told me that “I didn’t even need to introduce her…she’d have her notes in her hand when she stepped out of the car and she’d just run in and start talking” and darned if that isn’t exactly what she did…another first for me in Programs. God she gave the best talk! Diane Pershing told me afterward that she rarely takes notes and SEP had her scribbling away.

We found out that Susan is a “set of the pants” writer, that she has a tremendous fear of the blank page and that it takes her about a year to write each book. She doesn’t take a break in between books. She gave us tips on writing subplots, flashbacks, how to fix scenes and many, many more “million dollar” tips.

If anyone missed getting a handout and would like one, just send a note to us on the Craft Loop or email me privately and I’ll forward it to you. Susan gave me more in 40 minutes of talking that I ever knew was possible. And she told me four times that we were the most organized group that she’d ever seen.

Thanks to everyone on the Board who zigged and zagged with each change to the schedule and to all the OCC members that stayed on site and waited for SEP so we could give her a tremendous welcome!

The last tidbit I wanted to add about August….Susan Elizabeth Phillips told me that OCC members have the best collection of shoes that she’s ever seen. I thought that was pretty amusing and wanted to encourage you all to bring that fancy footwear to Conference next year so you could have a built in conversation opener .

So, August was awesome and I am on to planning the September meeting with Michele Scott and Leanne Banks. Michele’s talk is on “Getting Your Foot in the Door” and Leanne will be talking about “Developing the Relationship Between the Hero and Heroine.” I especially can’t wait for the brainstorming session that Leanne is conducting later in the evening during the guest reception….I hope to see you all volunteering at the September meeting so you can be part of that.

See you next month!

~ Jen Crooks

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A Message from the Presidents

August 4, 2005 by in category Blogs tagged as

By the time you all read this, we will be back from the RWA National Conference. In our OCC Suite, we unveiled the new slogan for OCC:

Opportunity, Creativity, Community.

Opportunity—The chance to learn and grow in the craft of writing and publishing.
Creativity—A place for ideas to spark and grow.
Community—A group of writers pursuing the same dream in a supportive environment.

Several of us formed a committee to work on this (myself, Louise Ahern, Sandy Chvostal, Marianne Donley, and Bobbie Cimo with Mindy Neff monitoring us to make sure we behaved). But it was Bobbie Cimo who took all our ideas about what OCC means and put them into this fantastic slogan. Thank you, Bobbie! In three words, you captured the spirit of OCC.

I’d like to tell you a little about why we formed a slogan. A caveat here, I am borrowing heavily from what Louise Ahern, a Public Relations Professional, taught us on the committee and very possibly making a mess of it. As we continue to grow OCC, we need to be clear on what OCC is about. For instance, when you think of Disneyland, you may think of family, fun, entertainment. We want to “brand” OCC in a similar way. So we came up with opportunity, creativity, community. Now what do we do with that?

First we put it everywhere to establish our “brand.” But it’s much more than that. Just like RWA has the slogan, “Have we got a story for you!” OCC will have the slogan that we are about “Opportunity, Creativity, Community.”

Second, as the board and other volunteers look at new programs, ideas, etc. we need to make sure we are staying with our “brand.” Are we implementing a new program that provides opportunity? Sparks creativity? Grows a sense of community?

Third, as we deal with publishing professionals (authors, editors, agents, etc.) our brand tells them that we take ourselves seriously, and that they will be treated as a serious professional as well.

There are many more uses, but you get the idea. We must be true to our brand. While working with this, we tossed out and discarded many ideas that were too narrow in scope, or too vague of a concept. We really wanted to zero in on the heart of OCC.

So that’s our slogan. OCC — Opportunity, Creativity, Community.


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