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National Writing Month

November 5, 2013 by in category Writing tagged as , , , , , , , ,
Many congratulations to writers who finished the OCC/RWA’s very first Book in a Year. Beth Yarnall put together some amazing-looking certificates and pins. So, who’s going to sign up this go-round?
If you want a kick-start, November kicks off National Writing Month, AKA NaNoWriMo.  While I’ve participated for at least the last five years, this year I’m forgoing. 
The pressure has been pretty high. I’m even getting emails from “Your Novel” with the subject heading, “Please write me this November.”
Every year, I dutifully register, donate funds, go to write-ins and I get a lot done. But I never “win.”  Most often, I tend to write short. A full-length novel comes in at 50K. I’ve turned in 52K and had a copy editor suggest cuts in order to get it down to the required length. While writing, I usually “finish” at 45K and then edit, smoothing out transitions, flushing out descriptions and adding in those last 5K.
I’ve met some local (non-RWA) writers through the process and had a blast hanging out with Kara Lennox, Rob Preece, and Tari Lynn Jewett at IHOP and a local grocery store with our laptops. There’s nothing like 10 writers, clustered together working, without talking, garnering attention. Can you imagine? People stared.
Why not this year? I fully support writers signing up, and working hard to complete their novel. I’m taking a realistic approach, and know I have three projects I’d like to finish in the next month:
  1. The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf: A Wolfe in the City – The manuscript is about 47K right now, and it needs to be completed.
  2. Second For Men for Ellora’s Cave: The Quickie is more than halfway done, and could be finished up within a week.
  3. R&R for Decadent Publishing: Need to polish a few areas, and get it back in. It’s been on the burner for when the other two items were finished.
Plus, I have another 1Night Stand rattling around in my brain. With the recent release of A Dance with Death, this character is clamoring for a HEA.
So officially-no NaNo for me. I’ll be cheering on my chapter-mates, friends, and you can send me some good thoughts for wrapping up my projects! What do you have on slate to finish your goals before the end of the year?
— Louisa Bacio
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February Online Class: Plot Fixer

January 26, 2013 by in category Archives tagged as , , ,

OCCRWA Proudly Presents: header

February 11 – March 10, 2013

Plot Fixer: Fixing Your Story Problems

with Kara Lennox
About the Class:
Do you create wonderful, three-dimensional characters who then stumble around blindly in your book, trying to find a story?  As a frequent critiquer, contest judge, and the recipient of many, many rejection and revision letters over the years, Kara Lennox has witnessed and personally experienced just about every way your plot can veer into a ditch. 
In this workshop she’ll cover the fifteen most common problems, how to spot them and how to fix them.  Some common problems covered include :
  • A premise that isn’t compelling enough (includes discussion of “high concept”)
  • the cute meet that goes nowhere
  • starting in the wrong place
  • lack of clear-cut goals for your characters
  • weak conflict
  • too many conflicts
  • stakes are too low
  • the plot moves too slowly
  • the dreaded saggy middle
  • plot moves too fast;
  • plot is too predictable
  • episodic plots
  • plots that rely on convenience, coincidence and contrivance
  • the drama doesn’t build
  • loss of focus
  • weak black moment
  • unsatisfying ending
The workshop includes illustrative examples from well-known movies, books, the author’s own supply of failed plots, and samples made up just for this workshop.  If time permits, the author will take questions and make suggestions for solving plot problems on the spot.

About the Instructor:
Kara LennoxKara Lennox, a.k.a. Karen Leabo, is the award- winning, bestselling author of more than sixty novels of romance and romantic suspense for Harlequin and Bantam/ Random House. Currently she is working on the next installment of her romantic suspense series, Project Justice, published by Harlequin Superromance. Also, several of her classic Bantam Loveswept novels (writing as Karen Leabo) have been re-released in e-book form by Random House, with more scheduled for next year.
Enrollment Information
This is a 4-week online course that uses email and Yahoo Groups. The class is open to anyone wishing to participate. The cost is $30.00 per person or, if you are a member of OCCRWA, $20.00 per person.
For more information on enrollment, please follow the link.
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Between the Lines with Kara Lennox

March 12, 2011 by in category Archives tagged as , ,

 Kara Lennox is the bestselling author of more than fifty published novels of romance and romantic suspense. She has been published by Silhouette and Bantam Books as Karen Leabo, and currently writes for the Harlequin American Romance, Silhouette Desire and Signature Select lines as Kara Lennox. Some of her more popular series for the American Romance line are How to Marry a Hardison and Blond Justice.

When lies turn to attempted murder, they must hunt down the truth together…to prove her innocence, protect an honest man and save both their lives.

Q) You have an amazing backlist of books that spans two decades. How do you continue to generate new and fresh ideas?

A) Actually, sometimes I’ll be brainstorming a book, and I’ll say to myself, “This is good. This is really … oh, wait, I already wrote that book.” And certain themes appear over and over in my books. (For instance, my heroines are often struggling with independence vs. commitment–because it’s a struggle I find to be endlessly rich.) But I never seem to run out of ways to spin a story. I like to be inspired by nonfiction stories, I eavesdrop everywhere I go, and everything I read or see has the potential to inspire a story. I keep notebooks full of snippets of dialogue or interesting characters, pictures, ideas for settings, interesting jobs. I don’t organize it, just leave through them sometimes to see what strikes me.

Q) Your work has been primarily geared towards series romance. In your opinion, what advantages does publishing as part of a series have over single title publication?

Series romance offers lots of advantages. It’s a great place for a new author because there is a built-in audience. By writing shorter books, you have the opportunity to publish more titles, which gets and keeps your name out in front of the readers. And although I wouldn’t say royalties are ever “predictable,” the payouts are perhaps a little less erratic and you can make some estimates as to what you’ll earn on a given book. The specific requirements and guidelines for each line give the author a framework to build on, so you don’t have to reinvent the whole wheel each time you write a book. Harlequin does a great job publishing foreign editions (and selling sub rights) so your book lives on in many different editions for years to come. And if you are very prolific, or you have more than one kind of books you like to write, Harlequin can accommodate you.

Q) What is your process for self-editing your manuscript before you submit it?

It varies from book to book. Some books just write cleanly from beginning to end, so I might only do one edit plus one polish. Others are just disastrous from the start and I end up ripping them up, rearranging parts, throwing out whole chapters. I usually make one pass through the rough draft and make notes on what has to be done, then work up a game plan so I can schedule my time and not miss any deadlines. My husband will read the manuscript when I’m done, and I will go through one last time to address his comments.

Q) Are you a planner or a pantser?

I’m definitely a planner. I outline everything ad nauseum. I love structure, I love pulling apart stories to see how they work (or why they don’t work).

Q) What does your writing work day/schedule look like?

I write Monday through Friday, usually in the mornings. I try to get my page count done before lunch and leave the afternoons for other writing-related activities (research, judging contests, online classes, proofreading galleys. It doesn’t always work that way; sometimes it takes me all day to get those pages written. As a deadline approaches I’ll put in more hours, evenings and weekends, but I try to keep a sane work schedule. I’m not one who thrives on deadline pressure.

Q) What advice would you give a new writer who is looking for a career in publication?

Just keep showing up. Selling that fist book involves hitting the right editor with the right material at the right time. So your chances are increased the more you write and the more you send out. Keep trying to get better. Try different things; write in different genres to keep yourself motivated and challenged. Read writing books and take classes. Network and attend conferences. Immerse yourself in it. Just in the past couple of years I’ve had a lot of friends make that first sale after working at it for many years, so don’t give up or think it won’t happen for you. I have a stack of rejections that could choke a horse, collected both before and after I sold my first book. Keep improving your craft and keep sending stuff out.

Brenda Parrish is a member of OCC/RWA and is currently hard at work at her own fiction. She recently finaled in the Jane Austen Made Me Do It Contest! You can follow her on Twitter @itsBren

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