A Slice of Orange


OCCRWA May Online Class – “Writing the Synopsis” w Camy Tang

April 26, 2009 by in category Archives

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Hi everyone!

Check out the exciting online classes offered by the Orange County Chapter of RWA!

”Writing the Synopsis”

With Camy Tang

May 11, 2009 – June 6, 2009

Enrollment Information at http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclassMay09.html

COST: $20 for OCC members, $30 for non-members

Enrollment deadline: May 10, 2009

If you have specific questions, email occrwaonlineclass@yahoo.com


Whether you’ve got a complete manuscript or you’ve just started one, this class will help you write a complete synopsis for your story. I will take you step by step so that by the end of the class you will have written a one-page synopsis, a 4-6 page synopsis, and also a more organic “character” synopsis.

I will give you tips and tricks to ensure you have all the structural and character elements an editor is looking for: Inciting Incident, external goal, internal conflict, romantic conflict, major obstacles, epiphany, climax, and resolution. Never fear synopsis writing again–this class will make you synopsis savvy!


Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her chick lit Sushi series is out now, and next year she’ll release Deadly Intent with Love Inspired Suspense. Originally from Hawaii, she worked as a biologist for 9 years, but now she is a staff worker for her San Jose church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service, which specializes in book doctoring. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels twice a week and ponders frivolous things.

Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/and sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveaways!

Enrollment Information at http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclassMay09.html

COST: $20 for OCC members, $30 for non-members

Enrollment deadline: May 10, 2009

Coming in June – “Is That Hollywood Calling?” with Cindy Carroll

Just because we can write books doesn’t mean we can write screenplays. “Is That Hollywood Calling?” is a quick and direct month long course on the differences between writing books and writing scripts. We will also look at how writing a screenplay can help improve your novel writing.

For a full class roster, go to

Check out our full 2009 list of workshops.

Want to be notified personally two weeks before each class? Be sure you’re signed up for our Online Class Notices Yahoo Group! Sign up at the bottom of http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclasses.html or send a blank email to OCCRWAOnlineClassNotices-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

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Freedom of the Press

April 25, 2009 by in category Archives tagged as ,

By: Lori Pyne

As I read the news that yet another newspaper is going out of business, I worry. How many newspapers will survive the changes in economy and in technology? Will the remaining newspapers be enough to provide the information needed to have a dynamic democracy? Will the remaining newspapers, with their reduced staff and income, still have the resources to investigate individuals, corporations and governments? Will there be enough newspapers to offer a variety of points of view and viewpoints? Will the new media news appearing on my yahoo, google, blogs, websites be able to offer the depth of coverage currently offered in the newspaper?

Unfortunately I only have concerns and questions but no answers. I would love to hear anyone else’s opinion about this issue.

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Presenting…Mary-Theresa Hussey, Harlequin Executive Editor

April 24, 2009 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , ,
MTH Presenting…Mary-Theresa Hussey

Did you know that when Harlequin Presents launched, it was intended to simply be a verb, that is Harlequin was “presenting” the author to the readers? Well, here I am to present Mary-Theresa Hussey, Executive Editor of the Silhouette imprint.

What does she do? She is responsible for overseeing the overall direction for all Silhouette lines: Desire, Special Edition and Romantic Suspense at the moment, as well as working with her own individual author base.

She is a remarkable reader with an amazing memory and is the unofficial “go to” person for all queries received that start: “I read a book about a guy with a girl and an escaped bear and a car race, but I can’t remember…” But let me let her speak in her own words! Tell us, how did it all begin?

“I began as an Editorial Assistant for Silhouette Romance, working for Tara Gavin in ’89. She said she knew she wanted to hire me when I sat down, saw Diana Palmer and Ann Major covers on her wall and knew the characters names!

From that point on I moved from Silhouette Romance, Special Edition and Intimate Moments, back to Silhouette Romance to be Senior Editor and then Executive Editor for Silhouette. I was also lucky enough to be in on the start of LUNA Books, and still work with many of those authors.”

My list is fairly eclectic. I’d love some Romantic Suspense or Desire writers, and currently work with Red Dress Ink and MIRA authors as well as a lot of paranormal/fantasy writers for Romantic Suspense and Nocturne as well as LUNA. While I’m not as active in acquiring as some other editors–I have a lot of management responsibilities as well–I do keep an eye out for strong projects to bring forward for the company.

“I first started reading series romance when I was 11. We were in Ireland and I ran out of my Nancy Drew titles and my aunt (also Mary Theresa), gave me a batch of Mills & Boon titles. The first one was a Janet Dailey title called THE MASTER FIDDLER and I was hooked by Cholla (yes, that was the hero’s name!). After that, I discovered the stash in the library and used book stores and I’ve never looked back!

“Even in college I used a friend’s local address to get access to the library so I could feed my addiction throughout the year. (I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out on that crime. 🙂 ) I still love the books we publish, and my only frustration is that I’ll never get to read them all!

“I read a lot of Presents, Desire, Romantic Suspense, Special Edition, Intrigue and Blaze and a smattering from the other lines. I’ll also read a bunch of the MIRA and HQN titles as well. And of course all the LUNA titles I didn’t work on! So when I graduated and discovered I could actually get a job working for this company and get these books for free…Well, my fate was sealed!

“I was a series addict from a young age! Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Rick Brant, Cherry Ames, Vicki Barr, Trixie Belden, The Happy Hollisters, The Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift, Tom Corbett and more were followed by Tolkien, Heinlein, Norton and others. Characterization, dialogue and fast-paced plotting are and were key. Along with romance, I still love fantasy, romantic suspense, mystery, thriller and larger than life stories.

“The best part of this job is access to the wonderful people—authors and colleagues and readers. Even when I’m reading a manuscript that won’t be publishable, I feel that there’s a sense of hope and positivism in romance that I don’t always find when reading other genres.

“For me, the most difficult part of the job is rejecting manuscripts and dashing hopes. It’s especially hard when it comes to projects that aren’t really very bad, but there’s nothing special about them. As we say, we can often work with a storyteller who needs structure, but someone who has structure but no voice, well, that just isn’t something that an editor can easily fix.

“On the positive side, one of my purchases has been for debut author Rachel Vincent’s werecat series. STRAY came out in ’07 and ROGUE in ’08. [Isabel interjects that Rachel made her debut on the April 13th 2008 New York Times Bestseller list at #32, whoo hoo!] and PRIDE is out now. I’ve already read the proposal for PREY. She’s got a wonderful voice and energy and enthusiasm and I really look forward to everyone else reading these projects.

“I have always felt that series novels have a ‘formula’ in the same way that other genre fiction or certain types of poetry does. There’s a structure, a rhyme scheme, an expected conclusion and a theme, but the writer’s voice and subject matter make it sing…or falter.

“And at the heart of genre fiction is the characters. The reason readers can return to a familiar story idea is the characters are believable, relatable and filled with emotion. The ability to have a reader live vicariously through the character is what makes a real storyteller.

“It’s not an easy thing to do either—I’ve tried maybe twice to write something and never got beyond two pages. The commitment needed to finish a book is intense, and the work is hard! I have total respect and admiration for those who make it look easy and who can face the screen or empty page day after day.

“As for what it takes to make a good editor, most editors I know are intensely curious about a lot of things, but always about people. They watch movies, read magazines, obsess about TV and pop culture. They respond to the zeitgeist, but what interests them is the individual in the situation. They also have to have great memories and incredible patience, as they read a manuscript multiple times!

“They must be willing to invest themselves by striving to help the author say what she wants to say as clearly and cleanly as possible, walking a delicate balance between being a “first reader,” a representative of the publisher and an advocate for the author. Communication is key, and making sure that the end goal—of a “good story, well told”—is achieved.

“If I wasn’t going to be an editor—and money, skill and talent were no object!—I’d probably like to be a photographer for children, landscape or even weddings. But it makes a nice hobby at least!”

Their loss is our gain—though Matrice is also our unofficial photographer and in between the numerous piles of books, her office has many beautiful photographs of children and landscapes and family events. Truly, a renaissance woman.

Isabel Swift

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Missing Muse Report

April 23, 2009 by in category Archives tagged as

Do you guys ever have one of those days where your muse isn’t cooperating? This blog is a parody I wrote about that frustrating feeling a while back for another blog. It’s from a police detective’s POV.

Missing Muse Report
12, May 2008
Description: Slippery and Sneaky
Status: No Freaking Idea

Monday morning, at eight oh four a.m., a woman came into the precinct. She wore jeans and a t-shirt with the words, “I Kill for Chocolate,” written across her chest. In a clearly agitated state, she reported that her Muse is missing.

“When was the last time you saw her?” I inquired.

“Never. I’ve never seen that hussy. She’s like…smoke. Well not smoke because that would suggest fire. And trust me, I have not been on fire. So she’s like fog, except not fog. Fog is not the right word to describe her. Dry ice? Still not the right word to describe her. Okay, uh, let me think. Do you have a thesaurus?”

Feeling a headache coming on, I said, “Let’s skip the description. What is your relationship to Muse?”

“Hot and cold. No, too bland. Fire and ice? Friend and foe? No! No more clichés! My relationship to Muse is complicated. Like a cat! Yes, she’s sort of like a cat, friendly and sweet sometimes, then aloof and bitchy other times. Like a cat.

I realized I was bobbing my head back and forth like I was watching a tennis match. I tried to recap what the woman had said, “Muse is a cat? Ma’am, this is a police station. We don’t look for missing cats.”

“My Muse is not a cat! Where would you get such an idea? I said she’s like a cat. That’s a metaphor. Well I said like, so it’s actually a simile. But not a cat.”

I turned to look at the woman fidgeting on the chair facing my desk. “Have you been drinking?”

“Sure. Absolutely. I’ve tried it all. Wine, gin tonics, coffee and Kaluha, I still can’t find Muse! This morning, I woke up at 3. AM!!! I meditated. I did Yoga. I lit candles. I asked my Higher Self for guidance. I downed two pots of coffee! And I still can’t find that sneaky, double-crossing, word-tease, idea-slut, anywhere!”

I had had enough. “Let me get this straight. You are reporting Muse missing, but you can’t describe her, have never seen her and you look for her by doing Yoga, lighting candles and drinking coffee?”

“Yes! Exactly!”

“Ma’am you do realize this is a police station? That it’s a crime to make a false report?”

Her blue eyes lit up, she sat forward and put her arm on my desk. “Do you get a lot of false reports? I mean what kind of person makes a false report?”

He opened his mouth, “Well—”

“A desperate person, maybe a woman who can’t tell the truth, but…” she stood up. “Thank you!”

“Uh, for what?”

She frowned, her blue eyes studying him as if he were a little dim. “Haven’t you been listening? I lost my Muse. Now I found her. You people do good work. Later.”

I watched her bounce out as if she were twenty pounds lighter. “What just happened?”

Jennifer Lyon always wanted to be a witch. When her witch-powers didn’t materialize, she turned to creating magic in her books. BLOOD MAGIC is the first book in an enchanting, passionate and supernatural series. Visit Jennifer Lyon at www.jenniferlyonbooks.com

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Advice to Myself as a Newbie Author

April 22, 2009 by in category Advice to Myself as a Newbie Author by Shauna Roberts tagged as , ,

by Shauna Roberts

Today’s Guest: Trish Milburn

Trish Milburn is an eight-time Golden Heart finalist and two-time winner—once for Romantic Suspense and once for Young Adult. She writes YA as Tricia Mills for Razorbill (Heartbreak River, April 2009) and contemporary romance under her real name for Harlequin American (Her Very Own Family, May 2009). She is a former magazine editor and still puts those editorial skills to use as a freelance copy editor and writer. She has her own blog and is a regular contributor to the Wet Noodle Posse, Romance Bandits, Supernatural, and Harlequin American group blogs.

In what little spare time she has, she enjoys reading, traveling, watching TV and movies, and hiking.

Trish, if you could travel back in time to before you were first published, what advice would you give yourself?

1. Do not take rejections personally. There were so many times, particularly early on, where they felt personal when they weren’t. I could have saved myself a lot of tears and hurt feelings if I’d had a tougher skin from the beginning.

2. Related to No. 1: Remember, this is a business. Sure, we deal with creative works and we get emotionally invested in our books, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that those books are, in fact, products that we want the publishing companies to take a chance on selling. All our decisions should at some level be made through the prism of good business sense.

3. I live this one, but I think it’s important for all new writers to remember that old saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Publishing might seem like a big world, but it really isn’t. Editors become agents; agents change agencies; other writers cross your path. Trust me, if you say something negative about an agent, editor, publishing house, or fellow writer, it’ll come back and bite you. I’ve unfortunately seen it happen to people.

4. Constantly learn. Read writing how-to books (but don’t necessarily absorb them as gospel), other books in the subgenre you want to write, novels in other genres (I like mysteries), nonfiction books, and magazine articles. You never know where inspiration will strike, and all this varied reading opens up your mind to so many possibilities about plots, characters, and writing styles.

5. Try lots of different subgenres or styles of writing to see which one fits you best. You may discover you like and are good at more than one. I like the freedom of going back and forth between writing my Harlequin American romances and my teen novels.

6. Support fellow writers, whether by buying their books, attending their book signings, giving them publicity on your blog, talking their work up to friends and family, or other means. I believe when you help others, good karma comes your way. Everyone benefits.

7. Jealousy has no place in your life. Don’t compare yourself with another writer, particularly one who started out about the same time you did and seems to be having more success. That way lies madness. Each writer’s journey is different. It took me eleven years to sell, and though it was hard to keep going at times, I believe I learned so much more and now appreciate the wonder of selling books more because it took me so long.

8. Even after you sell, don’t stop appreciating every single positive—each new book sale, each fan letter, each positive review. I just saw an interview with John Grisham on BookTV, and he said that he didn’t ever want to take any of his success for granted. I feel the same way.


To learn more about Trish, please visit her Web page at http://www.trishmilburn.com or her blog at http://www.trishmilburn.com/blog/. You can purchase her April young adult release, Heartbreak River by Tricia Mills (Razorbill), and her May release, Her Very Own Family (Harlequin American), at your local bookstore as well as online. Click on your favorite online bookstore below to go directly to the purchase page.

Heartbreak River by Tricia Mills: Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders

Her Very Own Family by Trish Milburn: Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders

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