By Sandy Chvostal writing as Sandra Paul
Awhile back, there was a story going around about a woman who desperately wanted to win the lottery. Every day, sheâ€™d climb to the top of a hill and pray to The Powers That Be, â€œPlease, let me win the lottery. Just once. Please, let me win.â€ But day after day, lottery after lottery would go by and the poor woman would never win.
Finally the woman decided it just wasnâ€™t fair. She marched to the top of the hill. She shook her fist at The Powers That Be and yelled, â€œWhat is wrong with you? Time after time, day after day, you never let me win the lottery. Why? Why canâ€™t I win?â€
And The Powers That Be responded, â€œBecause you never buy a ticket!â€
Buy a ticket
Our OCCBoard is an diverse group, and to an outsider, our Board meetings might appear . . . well, a bit chaotic. At the last meeting held on a stormy Sunday, everyone crammed into my small living room and (since my heater is broken) huddled in their coats and scarves around the long wooden table Iâ€™d set up.
Only an hour later than planned, Mindy opened the meeting and started in on our very long agenda. Bobbie kept disappearing into the kitchen to warm up at my stove, and Geralyn snatched a quilt off a chair to wrap up in when she arrived late. We ate piles of cinnamon rolls and potato chips. We drank a lot of coffee. We made several trips to the bathroom.
If we didnâ€™t talk and laugh so much, these meetings might go faster. If we didnâ€™t get diverted by subjects such as Mindyâ€™s latest manicure, we might be more efficient. If we didnâ€™t argue so much, we wouldnâ€™t get all the sides of each issue. And if we all didnâ€™t care so much–about writing, about OCC, about our members, their careers, and our careers–we wouldnâ€™t bother being on the Board at all.
This Board doesnâ€™t always agree, but we all agree about one thing: Our ongoing goal is to provide opportunities for our members. And we want you to take advantage of these opportunities–to â€œbuy a ticketâ€ so to speak, so you donâ€™t get left out.
So how do you do that? Here are a few suggestions:
Be Ready for Success
Technology is moving faster than Superman on speed. Keeping up with promotional needs often feels overwhelming. Yet, sometimes all it takes to stay in the game–to have your picture featured in a newspaper or on the cover of a newsletter instead of someone elseâ€™s–isnâ€™t as difficult, or as expensive, as you might think.
Check out Michele Cweirtnyâ€™s article on page , to see if your headshot is â€œpicture perfectâ€ for success–or not. And learn how to get high quality pictures on a low quality budget.
To blog or not to blog–is that your question?
If so, check out the article on page by Louise Ahern. Also, check out OCCâ€™s blogs up on the website.
I especially hope you read the 25 Days of Romance Blogs put up in February. I hope even more that you wrote a story or anecdote for the project. Because this project–originally conceived to introduce our members to blogging–provided more personal and promotional benefits for the participants than we had anticipated.
The personal benefits included the opportunity to exercise craft by writing a quick, short piece under a deadline. A secondary benefit was the pleased reaction of the people mentioned in the stories (my husband included).
But it was the promotional aspects that pleased the Board. We had originally agreed to choose a winner from amongst the entries to be our first, featured podcast but we hadnâ€™t agreed on who would judge the contest.
Then Silhouette Executive Editor Mary-Theresa Hussey came into town.
She kindly stopped by the OCC February general meeting and the volunteer/guest reception for speaker Editor Selina McLemore following. Mary-Theresa also kindly agreed to choose a blog winner and two runners up. (See who she chose in Look at Our Members.) Thus all the bloggers participating had the chance to have their piece looked at by an editor–and an Executive Editor at that! Thank you so much, Mary-Theresa!
Press Release Bonanza
But our blogging bonanza didnâ€™t end there. Serendipity, in the guise of Podcast Producer Jina Bacaar, blessed us once more. Jina entered a press release about the blog contest and OCC podcasting to a PRWeb www.prweb.com special promotion–and won a $200 placement on the site! The result? Over 36,000 hits on the release by the end of the first day. Cost to the chapter? Nothing–except Jinaâ€™s valuable time, of course. Thank you, Jina!
So donâ€™t miss the opportunity to feature your writing in a blog for OCCâ€™s A Slice of Orange. You never know what might happen.
Yes, having sold my first book via a contest, Iâ€™m a firm supporter in their value. And, according to Chairman Jennifer Crooks, thereâ€™s still room and time to enter OCCâ€™s Orange Rose Contest for unpublished authors.
Now in its 23rd year, the Orange Rose is an excellent opportunity for writers who are either unpublished, or havenâ€™t published in five years or more, to get feedback on their work. Not only will each entry will be judged by three published writers, but the top ten finalists will also be judged by editors. (Find more information on page 16, or www.occrwa.com.)
Buy Your Tickets Now!
Going to new places, meeting new people are wonderful ways to give your writing more depth. National Conference is coming up in July, and Michelle Thorne, OCC Conference Chairman, is making plans to ensure this one is the best yet for all OCC members attending. Weâ€™ve reserved a suite, are preparing invitations for our industry interviews and party, so get your plane tickets and conference reservations now.
And, of course, OCCâ€™s Autumn Affaire is well underway. The opportunity to learn about plotting using The Heroâ€™s Journey by Chris Vogler himself, is something no fiction writer should miss. Hurry and get your money in by the April meeting or through paypal to get the Early Bird Special rate of only $75 for OCC members.
Write. Write. Write.
Thatâ€™s right–write. It always comes first–even though Iâ€™ve listed it last here. After all, itâ€™s your vision, your dream, your book written clear to The End, that is your ultimate ticket to success.
Sandy Chvostal w/a Sandra Paul
When a romantic rival opens a competing restaurant in small-town Wheaton, Alabama, Sarah Blair discovers murder is the specialty of the house . . .More info →
When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there's either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills...More info →
For Gracie McIntyre opening a new-and-used book shop gives her more than she bargains for.More info →
Passion flares between a mysterious woman and a covert investigator who knows her secret…More info →