by Barbara DeLong
Hey, are you new to OCC meetings? If not new, are you so used to the lonely life of a writer that youâ€™ve lost what social skills you might have known in a prior life? Maybe youâ€™re just shy, or intimidated by the many stars of romance who attend our meetings. You walk in, find a chair and sit. Youâ€™d love to be included in the many conversations going on around you, work the room, network. But you donâ€™t. You just sit.
Let me tell you about my first experiences with OCC. It was Jann Audiss who told me about the chapter when we met at Maralys Wills novel writing class many years ago. She persuaded me to try out a meeting and join the organization. I met her at the Days Inn the following month. For many months we attended every meeting and for some reason we felt we were still on the fringes of the group, outsiders, kind of like two kids pressing their noses to the candy store window.
Then one meeting, Jann said, â€œYou know what? Weâ€™re going to turn around and introduce ourselves to the next person who sits behind us.â€
We did. Thatâ€™s how we met Cathy Oliver. The three of us quickly became fast friends and formed a critique group. Ok. Now there were three of us pressing our noses to the candy store window. What to do. What to do.
Wham! It hit us like that great story idea that makes our hearts race at three in the morning and has us scrambling in the dark for a pen and pencil. Volunteer! How many times had we heard that volunteering is a great way to meet people, make friends and help the organization? Since that great epiphany, weâ€™ve been everything from co-president, to secretary to ways and means, audio, Write for the Money, Orange Blossom Contest co-ordinator and assistants, first OCC conference co-ordinator, newsletter distributors – you get the picture. Now we have no problem working the room. Weâ€™re in the candy store.
So, when the call for volunteers goes out, step up. Grab some candy. Oh, and say hello to the person behind you. They just might become your next BFF!
Hot August Nights…..and Romance Writers
by Johna Machak
Theis what some people call them. Those long, hot sultry days of summer when all you can manage is resting on the patio with a tall glass of sweet iced tea. It’s too hot to do anything else, even sleep. But maybe these lazy, hazy dog days are a good thing for romance writers. Gets you thinking about stuff. Sitting on the porch during a hot August night, doing nothing but letting your mind wander back to other hot summer evenings. Long days of heat and sunshine, with even longer sweltering nights. The air so thick it’s an effort just to breathe. There’s a restlessness about, a dissatisfaction with everything, a palpable tension.
Use that memory or feeling to help write that first kiss, first love scene, or ratchet up the sexual tension between your hero and heroine. That restlessness may cause your heroine to do something she wouldn’t normally do, or the hero to reveal his true feelings for the heroine. They act or react out of character, and when that happens it starts to get interesting.
As romance writers we know the act of writing is part mechanical, writing or typing words onto that blank white page; part intellectual, creating and plotting our story; and part emotional, making that love story between our hero and heroine come alive and be believable to readers. To write that emotion we need to feel it, or remember it. So, instead of staring at the blank page and stressing out, sit and relax, and let your mind drift during these hot August nights. You may be surprised what comes to mind. And, it’s really too warm to do anything else, or is it?
Hmmm……there’s something about memories of a long hot summer night in a small town, where it’s so quiet you can hear crickets down by the creek, that gets me thinking about a teenage girl sneaking out to meet……
That’s a fact: The Dog Days of August is a phrase coined by the ancient Romans, and referred to the time of year when Sirius, the dog star, rose just before or at sunrise.
Johna Machak is a member of the “Writers Rock” critique group, along with Barb DeLong, Jann Audiss and Cathy Oliver. She has served on the OCC board as Co-President (1999, 2000), Vice-President (1998), Membership Director (1996, 1997) and Webmaster (2002, 2003)