Announcing the 25 Days of Romance Contest on A Slice of Orange Blog
Just in time for Valentineâ€™s Day, OCCâ€™s blog, A Slice of Orange will feature 25 romantic stories for 25 days, beginning on February 1st. A committee will select a winner of the 25 stories, and that selection will be read into a pod cast and featured on the OCC Website.
Pretty cool, right? So how do you enter? Send a romantic story of 250 to 1000 words to our Blog Editor, Jennifer Apodaca at Jenapodaca@aol.com . It can be a true story or a work of fiction. Hurry, slots are filling up!
The winning entry will be announced on the OCC/RWA website and on here the blog on Monday, March 6th.
We encourage you all to read the entries and tell us your favorite story! Feel free to leave positive comments or email Jennifer with your comments.
In addition, Jennifer is always looking for blog articles. If you have an idea for a blog, what are you waiting for? Write it up and send it to Jenapodaca@aol.com !
This time last year, I was heading back from the holidays fully resolved to meet all of my writing goals: Finish my book, send it out, get published, and earn a fabulous advance.
It didn’t happen. A year later, I’m still working on that work-in-progress. I haven’t sent out a query in more than two years. And that fabulous advance check is just as far from my reach now as then.
I could list all kinds of reasons for my lack of achievement in 2005. I could say, legitimately, that my full-time job as a magazine editor and PR pro left me scant creative energy at the end of the day. I could say that my two-hour commute drained me physically and ate up precious writing time. Let’s not forget that I was pregnant, and my first trimester was a blur of puking and sleeping. Oh, and there was that cross-country move in the middle of the year that was just too stressful for me to be able to focus on writing.
Yes, my dear fellow writers, on any given day in 2005, I could have listed any number of obstacles blocking me from my writing dreams.
But let’s face it. Those aren’t REASONS for my lack of success. They’re EXCUSES. Nothing more than whiny, pathetic attempts to justify my own lack of discipline. The fact is, nearly all of my published friends landed their first book deals while juggling full-time jobs and, in most cases, parenthood. They managed to finish their books, find agents, and get published with just as many other responsibilities as me. Did they whine about lack of time? No. They did whatever they could to FIND the time.
So, as we enter 2006, I have just one resolution. NO MORE EXCUSES.
I am just as busy now as I was a year ago. (Busier, actually. I have learned that being a full-time mother is far more draining than being a magazine editor with a two-hour commute.) But no matter how busy I am, the fact remains that I will never see my dreams come true if I don’t crack the whip against my own back. There will be no book deal if I don’t finish the darn thing first. And I will never finish it if I continue to make excuses.
Happy New Year! Happy Writing!
By Dana Diamond
What do Tupperware consultants, Olympic hopefuls, entrepreneurs and unpublished writers all have in common?
They all sacrifice inordinate amounts of time, energy and (often) money on careers that may or may not reap any financial benefitsâ€¦even though they know the odds of are stacked against them.
My question isnâ€™t why they are insane enough to do this, but rather, why is it that three out of the four are considered careers, but the fourth is often mistaken for a hobby?
Now I know there are writers who donâ€™t care to be published. They are known as hobbyists. And I know there are entrepreneurs out there that are dabbling just for the fun of it; also hobbyists. And therein lies the key; â€œfor the fun of itâ€.
But if an unpublished writer is consistently writing and working toward their goal of a career as a published author, why would someone take the time to try and convince them it is a hobby?
Just because we love what we do and canâ€™t imagine doing anything else (even if it pays bubkis) doesnâ€™t mean it isnâ€™t work.
Of course, I recently debated this double standard, which is why itâ€™s on my mind. I bring it up to you because I know I canâ€™t be the only writer whoâ€™s had this conversation.
Hopefully, revealing the double standard for what it is will help other writers and their loved ones gain perspective.
Or maybe the dictionary, my all-time favorite book, can settle it:
n. pl. hobÂ·bies
An activity or interest pursued outside one’s regular occupation and engaged in
primarily for pleasure.
a) A chosen pursuit; a profession or occupation.
b) The general course or progression of one’s working life or one’s professional
achievements: an officer with a distinguished career; a teacher in the midst of
a long career.
2) A path or course, as of the sun
through the heavens.
3) Speed: â€œMy hasting days fly on with full careerâ€
1) Doing what one does as a permanent occupation or lifework: career diplomats; a
God, I love a good lexicon.
So, I ask you:
Do you consider the pursuit of a career as a published writer a hobby or a career?
What is with the double standard?
And most importantly, why would anyone go out of their way to inflict their â€œhobbyistâ€ opinions on a poor unsuspecting, unassuming, under-the-weather, unpublished writer?
Some of you may remember from a previous post of mine that recently an editor, who will always have my heartfelt thanks, had sent me a revision letter for my historical manuscript, TO REIGN EDEN. Although the changes were hardly complicated, it took me awhile to figure out how to take apart my story like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and put it back together to form a different, but definitely more beautiful, picture.
Now I can step back and study the new picture with all the pieces intact. And you know what? Iâ€™m even more in love with the story and the characters than ever before.
I scrutinized each piece, each scene, each character, and forced myself to focus on how to make it all behave differently, how to make it all ring truer, how to put together a more complete picture. And you know what I found? My characters and their motivations are stronger, each scene serves its purpose in expressing the need and wants of the characters, and sparks fly between my hero and heroine.
It wasnâ€™t easy for me to do that. No way. Writing is never â€œeasyâ€ for me, but thatâ€™s probably because I expect my stories and characters to convey so much to the reader. I know what I want to experience when I pick up a book and those standards apply to my writing, as well, which can very well lead to a massive headache, but I wouldnâ€™t have it any other way. Oh, and those of you brilliant published authors out there who have no problem creating beautiful stories so quicklyâ€”I bow to your genius and talent!
And even though those standards of mine are high, there are always ways to raise the level of the story. Such was the case when the editor read my story. Yes, I had definitely written the story to my best ability before Iâ€™d sent the manuscript to the publishing house, but with a little guidance and a few suggestions, I managed to learn more about how to write a compelling novel. Boy, I hope Iâ€™ll never stop learning.
No, Iâ€™m not telling you that the story is perfect and will never be revised again (donâ€™t I wish!). Rather, Iâ€™m saying that I am open to becoming a better writer each time I sit down to the computer and visit my stories.
Okay, now itâ€™s time for me to polish my proposal againâ€¦
By Sandy Brown
Weâ€™ve all received at least one. Many of us can line our offices with them. Rejections! Iâ€™m one of those who have gotten more of the dreaded things than I want to admit. Usually I feel badly for a few minutes and, then, suck it up and move forward. Recently, however, I received a rejection that threw me for a loop. I mean this â€œpity partyâ€ would not end!
Second Chances is so close to my heart. I poured my blood into this manuscript, spent more time than I should have perfecting it, and pitched it at National Conference. When I was told that I had pitched a good outline and would I please submit a written synopsis and the first three chapters, I fairly floated out of the room. This was it! So it was with supreme confidence that I put the requested material lovingly in an envelope and mailed it off to Harlequin Superromance. I just knew it was exactly what they wanted. Surely they would beg me to let them purchase it!
Three months later the thick manila envelope showed up in my mailbox. My heart sank. I felt sick to my stomach. I knew what the letter lurking inside would say.
I have talked to Lara Hyde, Editorial Assistant for Superromance, on the phone. She is a lovely young lady who obviously has a kind heart. I think the rejection letter she sent to me went beyond any obligation she may have felt to let me down easy. She described the writing in the beginning of Second Chances as â€œsolid.â€ She stated that the reader is â€œgiven a good sense of how my heroine is feeling in the situation and the reasons for her anger.â€ Then, she told me what was wrong with the plot and why it didnâ€™t work for Superromance.
To say I was devastated is putting it mildly. I called my critique partner, Tina Ralph, to cry on her shoulder. Being the positive person she is she immediately took steps to pull me out of my â€œfunk.â€ A real pity party would do the trick! Here she came to my front door with a CrÃ¨me Cheese Pastry. I made hot chocolate, and we settled in for an afternoon of commiseration. Soon, we had moved beyond the realm of rejection letters and were laughing over events taking place in our lives. Our pity party had turned into a party. We ended the day with a plan for how I should proceed with my book.
Reflecting back on that rejection, Iâ€™ve come to realize why it affected me so dramatically. The recent death of my mother was part of the problem, leaving me vulnerable to depression. Blind confidence that I had written the very best book I could left no room for rejection. After all, if they didnâ€™t want my best, where did that leave me? Where could I go from here? And finally, when you writeâ€”no matter how looselyâ€”on an event that has happened to a loved one, you have a vested interest in the success of the story. The rejection discounts the event!
Iâ€™m back at work now at my computer, pounding out another heartfelt romance. Putting my blood, sweat and tears into my new characters. I just know this will be the bestâ€¦
My advice is to write the best book you can, but donâ€™t let yourself believe itâ€™s the best you can ever do. We all have room for improvement each day. Keep writing, keep submitting, and donâ€™t lose your belief in yourself and your abilities. Above all, donâ€™t let a rejection letter take away your confidence.
And finally, if you do get broadsided by a rejection, I hope you have someone like Tina to help you pick yourself up. Thank you, Lara Hyde, for taking the time to write such a lengthy rejection letter, which helps me to see where my story went wrong. Thank you, Tina, for being there for me.
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