Emotion in Writing

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I attended Donald Maas‘s workshop and I’m just now writing about it. I almost didn’t sign up for it. The workshop was being hosted by the Richmond branch of the Romance Writers of America (VRW) and held in Richmond, Virginia–an almost two hour drive from my house. Driving far from home and to places I’ve never been to stresses me out to panic levels and I normally avoid it like the plague. But I really wanted to go to this one, so I signed up. Luckily one of my local writer friends signed up too and I was able to drive with her. I’m a much better copilot than a pilot in situations like this.

This workshop was everything I expected it to be and so much more. A huge kudos for the Virginia Romance Writers  who set up an amazing event in a great venue and for providing us all with a magical supply of food (especially the donuts which seemed to be forever reproducing themselves in the kitchen) and the awesome speaker.

DMaas and me

I’ve been to many workshops. Some were writing-related and others not. Some were excellent, others left me regretting the money and time invested. This one was inspirational. I came out of the full-day event revitalized, inspired, and motivated to write more and better. I also left vindicated somehow.  I’m an emotional writer. I have a tendency to neglect certain details (which in my mind seem superfluous) and focus on feelings. I thought that maybe I was writing romance the wrong way, but after this workshop I feel I’ve been doing the right thing. But I need to get better at it.

During the session I wrote a couple of the best scenes in my current project, not to mention I came up with the missing pieces of my plot. Pretty wonderful, don’t you agree?

Mr. Maas was a pleasure to listen and talk to. Nothing like being able to immediately apply what you’re learning to give you a sense of accomplishment. He took us on a journey through his last writing book, The Emotional Craft of Fiction, and had us apply it directly to our current projects. It was truly magical.

I don’t normally recommend writing books, no matter how great they are, because we all write differently and what I’ve found is that one “technique” may be amazing for some and absolutely not work for others. However, this one is different. This one works with what you already have and helps you–through some pretty simple exercises–to make it better, to make it resonate in readers’ s minds and hearts. So I am totally recommending it. Further more I am suggesting that you buy it and read it as you edit your work. You’ll be amazed with the results.

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My only regret after such a great workshop is not having anything to send to Mr. Maas’ agency after he so kindly extended an invitation to all of the attendees to query him. Maybe one day, Mr.Maas, maybe one day…

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Color of Love Blog Hop

 

****UPDATE****

A winner has been picked and contacted. Congrats Mary and thank you all who participated 🙂

Welcome to the 2017 edition of the COLOR OF LOVE Blog Hop co-hosted by Empi BaryehKiru TayeNana Prah, and Love Bites and Silk.This year’s hop is on from today 23 November to December, 2017.

We’re celebrating People of Color in romance and offering you a chance to discover new books and new authors, as well as giving you a chance to win prizes. We have 30 blogs participating this year, each featuring an interracial or multicultural romance book!

Color Of Love

This year, we’re doing things a little differently. We’ve separated the cash and book prizes so more people can win.
Here’s what’s up for grabs:

BOOK PRIZES

We’re introducing daily book prizes. Be sure to comment on blog posts and join the conversation on our FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE for a chance to win one of our 24 book prizes.

COL2017_BookCoversIG (1)

CASH PRIZES

Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win:

  • 1st prize $50 GC
  • 2nd prize $25 GC
  • 3rd prize $15 GC
  • 4th prize $10 GC

For Rafflecopter  click here

MY BLOG PRIZE

To enter to win my blog prize please follow me on BookBub  and Amazon and leave a comment 🙂 A winner will be picked up at random at the end of the Hop. Good luck!

Color of Love Giveaway

Autographed Copy of Desert Jewel, Dragon Pen and Desert Jewel earrings.

FEATURED BOOK

 

She’s a princess. He’s an ex-slave. To survive, they must fight the all-powerful Elders, and Jaali’s demons.

MILENDA
She’s a princess in a world of lush jungles and hellish deserts where the modern mixes with centuries-old traditions and superstitions. Taking a husband at the age of eighteen goes against every fiber of her being, but as a future monarch, she must follow the rules, even if her heart already belongs to someone.

JAALI
He’s an ex-slave who wishes to be invisible in a world where he can’t hide. Loving the headstrong princess may prove to be his demise. To win her hand he must survive a grueling trek through the desert. Will her love make him strong enough?

Desert Jewel is the first book in The Jewel Chronicles. A unique interracial romance set against a breathtaking fantasy world with complex characters and twists at every turn. Let Desert Jeweltake you to another world.

“It had the perfect mix of adventure, love, hate and mystery to keep you hooked.”- Amazon Reviewer

“Desert Jewel by Natalina Reis is a great read full of love, hate, hope, joy, devastation, fantasy and magic all rolled into one wonderful story.” – Amazon Reviewer

“I am so happy I had an opportunity to read this book. It really is a hidden gem!” – Amazon Reviewer

COLOR OF LOVE 2017 FEATURED BOOKS

Now hop on to the next blog:

1. Author Kiru Taye (INT) 11. Georgia Lyn Hunter 21. Tasha L. Harrison
2. Author Nana Prah (INT) 12. Sharon C. Cooper 22. Kay Blake
3. Author Empi Baryeh (INT) 13. Reana Malori 23. J.L. Campbell
4. LBAS Book Blogs (INT) 14. Elle Wright 24. Sheena Binkley
5. RWOWA (INT) 15. Candace Shaw 25. Bex n Books (INT)
6. Sexy Romance Novels (INT) 16. Author/Blogger Shonda Brock 26. Natalina Reis
7. Felicia Denise, Author 17. L. Loren (INT) 27. Dahlia Donovan (Int)
8. Sharita Lira, Author 18. Koko Brown 28. Debra Elise
9. Freddy MacKay 19. Siren Allen 29. Kim Golden
10. Platypire Reviews 20. Amaka Azie 30. Kai Tyler (INT)

My Social Links

Twitter             Instagram             Facebook            Amazon        BookBub

 

Random Thoughts

The complete title for this post is actually Random Thoughts of a Romance Writer at a Book Festival and I collected them during my latest stint at a local Indie Book Festival. Not my first rodeo but same outcome, lol. The only thing that has changed is my attitude. I no longer feel depressed after an event, deciding to laugh about it instead.

Note to self: bring a fan next time. This is fall in the South. Holy crap, it’s hot!

Did I bring enough books? Did I bring too many books? OMG, am I going to sell ANY books?

My banner is crooked. I am not going to look at it. I am not going to look at it.

My table display looks too cheesy. My table display doesn’t look cheesy enough.

FIBF DisplayLone

The porta-potties smell like crap. Can’t wait to see how they smell after a couple hours in the sun.

This dragon pen I’m writing with is so freaking cool. OMG, I’m such a geek!

Forgot the sunscreen. Where in heaven’s name if fall weather?

Coffee! Yes, yes, yes. God is good, there is a coffee stand.

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No, it was not this big! Just a table with thermos.

Please, stop by my table, please, please…shit! Walked right on by.

One hour in, zero interaction… Do I smell bad?

Will I get to use my new Square? I want to play with it.

Look at it from the bright side: I’m getting a lot of vitamin d today.

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No, it’snot me!

OMG, I’m so hot. And not in a good way.

Yes, someone has actually signed up for my newsletter. Score!

Great informal romance panel. Made me feel better.

Awesome meeting other authors. Lots of romance writers. Represent!

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Yes, they were all there!

What a cute little guy. I wonder if he would like one of my books when he grows up? Oh,no, he’s trying to eat my book.

I sold two books. I sold two books.

I was told my display looks very professional. Proud little moment.

FIBF Display

Yes, it’s me.

Why are my book earrings always a lot more popular than my books?

I have no moisture left in my body. I think I may be slowly mummifying.

Aahhh…air conditioning. Another rodeo done!

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Also not me.

Panel Etiquette or What Not To Do In A Panel

During my very short writing career I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of two authors’s panels. Obviously I’m not an expert and this blog is merely a reflection of my limited experience and pure observation of many other panels I attended in the past.

My first time as part of a panel was at a major book event and I was so lucky to share it with two amazing writers. It was a great experience. The questions were smart and thought provoking (and hard), everybody had an equal chance to talk, and the audience was engaged throughout the whole thing.

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At that same event I was part of the audience for another panel with four great YA writers and I was astounded by the lack of courtesy one of the members showed the others by monopolizing the conversation. The other authors were frustrated and I was equally upset because the one author I was there to hear talk never got the chance to open her mouth. I felt cheated as a fan and I’m sure she felt cheated of her chance to interact with her readers.

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My second time was at a smaller event and things didn’t quite go as smoothly for me this time. The subject of the panel was something I’m very passionate about and I prepared for hours so that the audience wouldn’t get bored. Unfortunately a couple of the other panel members seemed to be totally oblivious to time constraints or be respectful of the other members. It took them over thirty minutes to answer a question which had a time limit of five minutes. On top of it all, they read from the handout going home with the audience (which was supposed to be an extension of what was discussed during the panel). Needless to say I was frustrated, bored, and the teacher in me really wanted to explain to them the concept of sticking to the schedule.

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Here are some pointers (which I totally made up for this blog) on what NOT to do in a panel discussion.

  • Do NOT go over the time allotted to you for each discussion point or question.
  • Do NOT insult your audience by reading directly from your notes. Your audience knows how to read and can read the notes on their own and on their own time.
  • Do NOT hog the discussion. Allow the other authors in the panel to participate no matter how fascinating you believe your speech is. Others may not be as passionate about it.
  • Do NOT take the lack of hands up in the air as evidence that the audience is fascinated by your words. They may very well be taking an open-eyed nap or visiting their zen place while you speak.
  • Do NOT explain the whole plot of your book to explain something generic to the genre.

In summary, and to put it quite simply, respect the other members’s right to discuss the content matter and try to make it interesting enough for the audience to feel they haven’t wasted their time.

Note: the panels pictured in this article are not in any way related to the ones I attended. In fact, judging by the smiles, I would say these particular panels were probably quite awesome 🙂

An RT Memoir of Sorts

It’s been crazy since I came back from RT Atlanta. I haven’t quite got my bearings back and I have sat a million times–forgive the literary liberty–to write this blog without much success. But I am here now and this post WILL be written.

In case you don’t know RT stands for Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention, a huge affair for both writers and their readers–not to mention the oh-so-lovely male models.

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This was my first time at the convention and, even though I was only able to attend for one day, I loved it. I was there Wednesday only, so I missed most of the fun, but I did manage to attend a few panels that day and meet my Hot Tree clan (awesome bunch).

I focused on panels dedicated to marketing, branding, and advertising because–well, I would like to sell my books. So far, and after three published novels, my author’s income wouldn’t feed my feral cat much less my family.

Some of the panels were very good and helpful, others not so much. I will be writing a series of blogs to share the information I gathered from the ones that were indeed great and useful. As you know I’m a pantser so the following might not pan out quite as I planned 🙂

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  1. Finding balance. Or how not to go bonkers trying to make it as a writer.
  2. The next best thing. Or is being a hybrid author better than it sounds?
  3. Marketing versus selling. The very non-identical twins.
  4. New markets. Or how to reach readers who feel left out.
  5. Successful scripts for ads. Or how to make those few words work for you.

Well, that’s the plan. I can’t promise I’ll stick to it. Come back for the next few weeks to find out if I do (wink, wink) and to get some useful information about the business of writing (romance edition). It’s going to be epic(ish).

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#ChickLitMay Book Boyfriend Blog Hop

VOTE FOR JEM–YOU KNOW YOU WANNA!

Hiya! I’m JEREMY PETER but please call me Jem. I’ve always hated my name. That is until my best friend–and love of my life–began calling me that to annoy me, lol. I don’t mind so much now because every time I hear it I’m reminded of her. I get this funny fluttering in my stomach and I’m lost. Love that woman!

But I digress. Why should you vote for me for CLC HQ’s Book Boyfriend 2017? Let me count the ways:

  • I’m good looking–in a boy-next-door, not-really-aware kind of way. Emily Rose claims that her favorite hobby is to run her fingers through my curls and stare into my ocean-blue eyes. You be the judge 😉
Jems Bubble

JEREMY PETER

  • I’m not perfect, not even close. I messed up big with Em but I fessed up to it and will do anything to be forgiven. Even put my life on the line–or go to yoga with my love.
Ems Bubble

Emily Rose (Em)

  • I will eat just about anything, so my sweet Em will never have to worry about cooking for me. I’ll be just as happy going through the drive-through at McDonald’s as eating a gourmet meal. I love food. Period!
Celias Bubble

Celia (Em’s sister)

  • I always support my love to the best of my abilities, even if it means looking like Confucius in drag.
  • I have a great sense of humor. I can make light of any situation. Ask Emily Rose if you don’t believe me. I laughed my way to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Marcys Bubble

Marcy, the witch

  • I’m so the best choice for CLC HQ’s Book Boyfriend 2017! Even magic couldn’t keep me from loving and fighting for my Em.

Vote for me, JEREMY PETER!

You know it’s the right choice.

Print

To buy click here

Send your vote to:  traciebanister@gmail.com

To enter for the Grand Prize

Hop to all the blog stops, collect the candidate’s name at each stop, then submit all 30 names to the address above  in order to be entered in our Grand Prize giveaway. This giveaway includes a Kindle Paperwhite + 30 e-books, one from each of the authors participating in the hop. I will be giving away an e-copy of Loved You Always . Entries for the hop will be accepted until Sunday, May 21st at midnight E.D.T. A winner will be chosen on Monday, May 22nd. This Grand Prize giveaway is open internationally.

BookBoyfriendHopGrandPrizeGiveawy

Photo credits:

Picture of Parker Gregory by Mario Testino

Jessica Lu (photographer unknown)

“Celia”‘s picture by Pupulandia

Miss Pandora by Gardrop Kedisi

BLOG STOPS

Tracie Banister 

Becky Monson 

Hilary Grossman 

Glynis Astie  

Jayne Denker  

Jennie Marts  

Barbara Valentin  

Beth Labonte  

Victoria Cooke  

Holly Kerr  

Meredith Schorr 

Stacey Wiedower  

Laurie Baxter 

Jennifer Farwell  

Natalina Reis  

Celia Kennedy  

Beth Carter 

Ellyn Oaksmith 

BJ Knapp  

Lizzie Lamb  

Sylvia Ashby  

Karen M. Cox 

Lindsay Detwiler  

Kirsty McManus  

Melissa Baldwin 

Geralyn Corcillo 

Cassandra O’Leary 

Cat Lavoie 

Kate O’Keeffe  

Monique McDonell  

 

A Constellation of Stars

I hung out with a constellation of stars this past weekend. Okay, maybe not exactly real stars (like in the heavenly bodies) but certainly with stars in their eyes. I speak of the fellow romance writers and all around amazing women I met during my stint at pretending to be a famous author at the Virginia Festival of the Book.

Last year I came across (can’t even remember how) information about this yearly festival and that there was a chance–however slim–my books may be picked to be represented there. Nobody can blame me of being unenthusiastic. In fact I am at times stupidly optimistic. At the time I had one book published and one under contract and nobody knew who the hell I was (that part still holds true today, I’m afraid). But I had to try. I have missed so many good things in my life for being overly-cautious or just plain not confident enough, that I have decided in recent years to be brave even when it seems I’m just being impulsive. I went for it. The worst thing that could happen was none of my books would be picked and I would be out of four softcovers.

VABokFestHeroines

I entered both the book I had out and the one that would be published before the deadline of November. As it turned out I sent copies of Desert Jewel after the deadline already. Imagine my surprise when not only was D.J. picked for the Festival but I was picked to be a speaker. A speaker! You know, talking in front of people I don’t know.

Needless to say I didn’t get much sleep the week leading to my panel. Especially after I received the questions the moderator, Her Awesomeness herself, Madeline Iva, who gave me an awful lot more credit than I probably deserved. Those questions were hard!

Paranormal Romance Panel 3 authors

I relaxed significantly after talking to my co-panelist, the fabulous Pintip Dunn and equally amazing Margaret Locke. Knowing that they had both dubbed it the Torture Panel because of the difficulty of the questions made me feel a whole lot better about it, strangely enough.

I could not have asked for a better moderator or co-panelists. What a fantastic group of women writers. I hope I didn’t sound too stupid because I definitely had a lot of fun.

Even though I didn’t sell one single copy of my book (kind of used to it) I had a proud moment when the winner of  a raffle picked the poster of the cover of my book over these other great books and told me she was going to try and convince her book club to read it. Score!

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All in all it was a great weekend. The other authors, the city of Charlottesville, the panels (who would have thought that listening to the male voices of audio romance books would be this exciting?), having two of my friends there to cheer me on…it was out of this world.

Note: If you’d like to hear (because you won’t be able to see us since it was recorded from a distance) our panel, Heroines of Destiny hop on to my Facebook page where I have posted it and some other pictures from the event.

Challenging My Introvert-Self

If you follow me you probably know by now that I’m an introvert. I love people, but I need my quiet and alone time. I love meeting with my friends but if I meet with more than a couple at time, I need a day or two to recuperate. It physically drains me.

I don’t go to concerts (unless it’s a classical music one and  I can sit in the dark while listening to it) even though I love music because I can’t handle the crowds, the noise, the constant movement…I hate being like that sometimes!

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Now that I am a bona fide published writer I discovered that I must try and do what does not come naturally to me if I want to make an impact with potential readers and/or potential publishers. It’s not the first time that I’m called to challenge my introvert-self. My first career, a tour guide in Portugal, required me to speak to a bus full of people (in different languages) on a regular basis. So, my new year’s resolution for 2017 was to put myself out there.

My first chance is coming up this Saturday as I will speak in public to a room full of people (hopefully it won’t be empty) as part of  a three-author panel at the Virginia Festival of the Book. My partners in crime have a lot more experience than I do.One is a New York Times bestselling author of YA fiction and winner of a RITA award (not to mention she’s a Harvard graduate) and the other is a full PAN member of the Romance Writers of America which requires the author to have sold quite a few books. I am neither.

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I am a second language learner who has always loved to read and write. I have a couple degrees in two countries and I have sold very few books in spite of having three out. Needless to say I’m a freaking nervous wreck.

In May I will be travelling to Atlanta for the great RT Book Lovers Convention where I will meet my amazing publisher and a bunch of other authors. I’m so excited to meet them all but very nervous as well.

And to further challenge myself I just applied to be a speaker at another big writers’event in September (not sure my proposal will be accepted but…hey!). Apparently I’m a sucker for punishment, lol.

Moral of the story? Not sure there is one but, if you’re an introvert like me, know that you can do it. It’s not easy and you may not sleep the week preceding the event (yeah, I’m pretty exhausted) but you CAN do it! Introverts of the world unite…even if in a different place and by yourselves (paraphrased from a FB post I saw a while back. Sorry I can’t remember the author’s name).

FotB_2017_Natalina

From the Ashes of Hate

Caution: venting ahead.

I’ve been so disappointed with humanity lately. I woke up today feeling exhausted and felt even worse after listening to the news. Those of you who know me or follow me here and/or on Facebook know that I very rarely talk about politics, religion or sports (you may laugh about the last one but being married into a sports-fanatic family this is a no-no subject in our house). Being a woman of a certain age means I have been through many things the younger crowd can’t even imagine (now I really sound like my grandma).

political-signs

When I was ten my country went through a revolution. The fascist government that had been in power pretty much since royalty became a thing of the past was deposed after a military coup. For the next decade we lived and breathed politics—and what people who had been repressed for far too long thought meant freedom. The music we heard, the movies we watched, the shows on TV, the conversation at the coffee shop were all around politics.  It took a long time to go back to the regularly scheduled program of life in the global stage. I don’t want to go back to that.

I am tired of all the arguing and finger-pointing that has been going on for the past year. Worse, my heart breaks every time I watch news of violence in the name of ideologies that profess tolerance and peace. What the hell are we doing?

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I hear from friends who have “unfriended” friends and family members because they were on the “other side” (whatever the side may be), husbands and wives fighting over politics, hate spewing from people’s mouths no matter where you turn to. I’m tired. I feel cranky all the time. I go to yoga, find my peace but as soon as I leave the studio it hits me again, that anger that permeates the air of lately.

I thought we, humans, had evolved but it seems like we take one step forward only to take many more backwards. Freedom is our right, but let’s not forget what the definition of freedom is. I had to take a class on economy and politics when I was in college. I don’t remember much about it but there is one thing I will never forget; the way individual freedoms were defined. It goes like this: you’re free to do whatever up to the point when it begins infringing on somebody else’s freedom. That’s where it stops. I have lived by that tenet ever since. There’s been a lot of people stepping over that line these past few months.

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I have friends in both sides of the debate and it’s been painful to watch as one side attacks the other. And you want to know what the irony (and scariest) part of it all is? As someone who has never supported one side or the other exclusively and is an expert at observing (a major perk of being an introvert) I hear the almost exact complaints from either side. The left blames those on the right for the same things the right blames those on the left. It’s insane. It’s exhausting and serves absolutely no other purpose than creating an environment of anger and negative energy.

Yesterday, for the first time in a long while, I felt a glint of hope that we may yet be peaceful and rational people. From the ashes of what has been a troubling wave of hate and violence, something beautiful emerged. I’m so proud of what women across the country (and some males) managed to do yesterday (Jan 21). Crowds of thousands across the country marched in solidarity and peace to demand the respect we deserve as human beings. Ladies, I’m so proud of being a woman in the US today. Thanks you for protesting in peace. You give me hope.

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Note:  I didn’t make it to the March because of my fear of crowds (anxiety issues) but together with a few other women I celebrated the occasion at yoga by focusing on the fifth chakra (voice) and in solidarity with all my friends who were marching in a super crowded Washington D.C.

 

The Heart of Christmas

It’s Christmas again. At one point—for most of my life really—Christmas was my favorite holiday. My father was a true Santa Claus who just adored the holiday and was able to turn it into pure magic to us kids. I wanted to do the same for my boys but I think I have failed miserably. But that’s a story for another day.

This year Christmas sneaked up on me and found me totally and utterly unprepared. Never in my long-ish life have I ever got to December 21 without a single gift bought or a grocery run done. No cookies baked, no treats arranged artistically in bags for my students and colleagues, no Christmas music playing continually on the radio. If it wasn’t for my oldest son, his girlfriend and my husband we probably wouldn’t even have a tree up this year.

Depression brought on by total exhaustion of mind and body has left me without any energy or motivation to do any of the things I so loved to do. I did “adopt” a couple kids for Christmas, I donated some of my books for a good cause, and I was the secret Santa for someone at work. But other than that I have been a total humbug.

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So when my new team surprised me with a truly Christmas-y breakfast this morning I was floored and grateful. For the first time this season I felt the spirit take me to that place where magic and wonder still live. It was heartwarming and uplifting.

This is my feeble way of thanking them and gift them with the one thing I do best. You did my soul good this morning. Thank you.