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Every year I attend the NJ Romance Writers’ Conference. It’s my very favorite. And, as usual, I just can’t wait!
Writing conference are wonderful and this one–which I anticipate each year–is the best. It’s not just that we get stellar speakers (and this year one of the keynote speakers is Heather Graham, one of my favorite authors). And it’s not just the terrific workshops which feature presentations on the writing craft and the business of writing. There is so much more.
NJRW was one of the first conferences to feature roundtables just for published authors. We can sit back and frankly discuss everything from agents to writing frustrations to time management issues.
NJRW gets almost as many editors and agents as the national conference, so there’s always the chance to meet with an editor and/or agent and pitch your newest manuscript.
There’s also the chance to be involved and give back to an organization that has set so many on the path to success–including me! I enjoy volunteering a lot. This year I’m going to be moderating the “First Timers'” workshop being given by Christine Bush.
Another highlight of the conference is networking. You never know who you will meet. You might be seated next to a big name agent at one of the meals–or help an editor find their way around the hotel. You might hear about a new line of books that a publishing house is opening up.
Most of all, there’s the chance to connect with old friends and make new ones. There are some writing friends I only get to see once a year, since they live far away; but we try to get together at the conference even if it’s just for a few minutes over coffee. There have been times I started chatting with someone, we found out we had a lot in common, and then we’ve stayed in touch and become good friends.
This year, Kate Davison and Christina Lynn Whited will be unable to attend the conference; but I will be spending time with Elizabeth John, and I am looking forward to that!
The conference is officially Oct. 12-13, but I will be there on the 11th to help. I can’t wait!
With eager anticipation,
Roni

Not So Guilty Pleasures

Yes, I’ll admit it, I’m addicted to television.  Not all television, mind you, mostly just reality shows, crime dramas, true crime shows, and a sprinkle of others.  In fact, I’m a big fan of several reality TV shows, including Survivor, the Bachelor/Bachelorette, and Jerseylicious.  I’m particularly obsessed with the Real Housewives shows.  Which one, you ask?  All of them.  Now I imagine many people are rolling their eyes at me.

First, you say, reality? Puh-lease!  Then, you say, why, when there are so many other great shows out there?

True, there are, and yes, I do watch some of them like Once Upon A Time and Downton Abbey.  I’m also known to be a movie junkie.  I write romantic suspense, so crime shows draw me in for obvious reasons.

But it’s the “reality shows” I find fascinating.  It amazes me how people allow cameras to follow them in their daily lives and reveal intimate details.  Back in college, sociology was one of my favorite courses.  How groups of people react and live together always fascinated me.  So when I watch reality shows, it’s not to see who wins the prize, if there is one, but how they plan, manipulate, lie, befriend, and make alliances to get their goals.

All this television watching helps me with my writing.  Similar to people-watching in restaurants or at the park, studying how people behave in certain situations, whether it’s true reality or a manufactured set-up, still makes for interesting conflict.  And let’s not forget all the various characters!  It’s a candy store for writers!  My creative juices flow and I jot down my own ideas in a journal.  We writers all get our ideas from somewhere, and something about these shows keeps my mind sharp on remembering motivation, goal, and conflict.

I don’t believe in writer’s block.  I feel if I’m stuck, it’s because something’s not working, and my TV obsession sometimes helps.  Not only can it trigger ideas for a new novel, it can help with current projects.  The other day I was watching one of the true crime shows and the situation described was similar to a situation in the latest book I’m working on.  I was questioning my character’s motivation and back story, and there it was on one of those ID shows—a woman had experienced a comparable circumstance.  It validated my storyline and increased my confidence in pursuing the direction my character was heading.

The new fall line up has begun.  I have to be diligent in my selection because television watching can be a major time suck.  And it can cause one to become a couch potato.  So the DVR is my friend.  I pick, choose, and limit my time in front of the screen.

I had a stressful day at work yesterday, and on the drive home a little burst of excitement brightened my otherwise miserable day.  I had not one, but two Real Housewives shows to watch that evening.  I had the NJ Housewives taped on my DVR and a new NYC episode was airing that night.  From the teaser clips I knew I was in for a treat!

So when people scoff at my choice of television shows, I just smile and skim through my journal full of ideas and character sketches.  Hmm, I think it’s time to buy another journal.

 

Fondly,

Elizabeth

Ghostly Fun

I usually start out these blog posts admitting something about myself that my readers might not know. Here I go again…I love ghost stories. I do. It’s true. Unrepentantly and absolutely. They are windows into the possibilities of what happens after we leave this plane of existence. Does some part of us stay behind, shackled to those places and people we love, or do we move on to some separate place where we can view and guide our loved ones until they join us? I don’t know. I have no answers here. I have my religious views and will keep those to myself since this discussion is not about religion, organized or otherwise.

It is about ghosts…that fun topic that I love to think about as the days grow shorter and the air cooler. As the leaves change from green to gold and red and the hint of warm apple cider sends a hit of cinnamon through the air.

Over the years I’ve written several stories about ghosts and apparitions, some of them I’ve published, others I’ve given out for free. However, there is one theme that runs through all of them: love survives the grave.

I know, it sounds morbid when you first read that. I’ll go along with anyone who thinks that…but let’s look at this from a romance author’s POV- we believe in the power of love, hope for the future, the undying nature of a heart-to-heart connection and HEAs. With all those lovely things going for a story, why not have a little ghostly romance as well?

Ghosts can be downright sad when you think of it. Did their love one die tragically and they wonder the Earth searching for them? Are they haunted by regrets they ran out of time to make right? Or is it something more serious, like the fear of crossing over?

For me, I’ll take the love aspect every time. I’m such a hopeless romantic that my heart goes all soft and my brain mushy when I read a story or watch a movie where a spirit tries desperately to connect with the corporeal world.

From a psychological standpoint I think we’d all like to believe that love endures even beyond the veil of earthly cares. That once we cast off our mortal coil our feelings for those we love do not change- but perhaps they grow stronger, endure longer.

Now, I’m not here to debate whether ghosts are real, fake or the product of vivid imaginations. Either you believe in them or you don’t. Either you love ghost stories or you don’t. I’ve had enough run-ins with the ethereal that I happen to believe in them wholeheartedly. You’ll never get me to change my mind on that subject. From a physics standpoint, we all know and understand that energy does not die, it merely takes on another form. Our bodies are composed of electrical impulses and energy stored and released through chemical reactions – in short we are ourselves energy generators – therefore, if we use that framework, ghosts are not only possible, but probable as our energy is released as the time of death. (And that’s all I’m going to say on the subject because I really don’t want to get too technical here.) –

However, I will ask you this much…share with me your best most beloved ghost stories either real, ones you’ve read, or those you’ve made up yourself and I’ll enter your name in a drawing to win and prize and an appearance as a character in my next ghost story.

– Kate

 

Time to Just Be

Making unscheduled, non-productive time for myself is SO HARD!  I need time to just be, time not to have an agenda, time to think, to muse, to dream.  I realize as I have moved through my life that I have fallen prey to the Work Ethic Syndrome — I tend to think that I must be busy all the time.  And I am.  My plate is overflowing , and I suppose I like it that way.

Perhaps it is that way for many of us creative types.  If we are not doing our 9 to 5, in whatever format that may be, we are writing, plotting, doing research, creating.  Lately, I have taken up sewing once more: I really missed the tactile aspect of creation with fabric.  I used to say that I closed my business of many years, CoCo:Chenille, but now I say I put her in hibernation.  About two months ago I decided to bring her out and breathe new life into her.  I now have a studio in my home dedicated to CoCo and the creation of new items from recycled materials, and I love it, but obviously I have taken on even more, filled my plate higher.  There is absolutely no escape now!  Wherever I turn there are piles of work to be cut, to be sewn, repairs to be made, or products to be photographed.  How can I take time for myself with all those piles facing me?

And yet, within the work itself there are moments when I can dream.  If I am making a batch of guest towels, my hands move by rote, guiding the fabric through the machine in familiar pathways, so I have time to dream, to be.  I suppose I have to think about my musing time a bit differently than before; I have to think outside of whatever box I have created for myself.  Perhaps I can only dream and be a few minutes at a time, but I do have those moments — I am not as deprived as I thought I was.

For me, the creative process is renewing, invigorating, and endlessly challenging.  In the words of Anne LaMott, I am “filling my vessel” even though I am working hard.  That is a reviving thought!  I do get a great deal of joy from making hats and accessories from recycled sweaters, from using old chenille bedspreads to make darling bed jackets, and from stretching my faculties to the creation point.  And that joy fills me and spills over to other aspects of my life.

Perhaps I already have time to be, I simply didn’t recognize it.  I hope you find your vessel as full as it can be!

Christina

Contests

When I was not yet a published romance writer, I didn’t enter many contests. I felt I had to spend my limited time on writing and submitting books to editors.
But that changed once I became published. I started sending my novels to contests sponsored by different Romance Writers of America chapters. I had several reasons: to see how my books did; to garner some new readers, who, if they liked the book they judged, might purchase some of my others; and to hopefully win a few contests.
In the eleven years since my first romance novel (“Lights of Love”) was published, I have entered each book in several contests–usually 3 or 4.
I have been fortunate to have finalled in both the National Readers’ Choice Awards and the New Jersey Romance Writers’ Golden Leaf awards several times. And I won the Golden Leaf in 2007 for Best Regency (for “Marquis in a Minute”).
Last week, I was rushing around doing some housework when I got a call saying my newest romance, “Borrowing the Bride” was a finalist for the NJ Golden Leaf contest!  My thoughts hadn’t been on the contest and I was astonished to get the call.
I was really  thrilled!  Not only because this is such a prestigious contest; but because, having been chairman of the contest years ago, I know how much competition there is.
The winners will be announced on Oct. 12 at the N J Romance Writers’ conference.
But whether I win or not I feel like a winner already. Because to final in this contest is truly very special!

Happily,

Roni Denholtz

Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  My family and I recently went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  The Egyptian section was one of my favorites.  I also loved the Old Masters.  My husband wanted to see the American exhibit and my brother wished to visit the Greek section.  After awhile my daughter and I broke away from our group and raced to the Prada fashion exhibit.  While my daughter and I looked at the gorgeous shoes and clothes with other fashionistas, the rest of our party found other artwork that held their interest.  At times we all enjoyed the same exhibits and at times we each had different favorite artwork.  There was so much to see!

 

After the museum, we visited Central Park where we discovered more beautiful scenery.  Besides the usual park activities, I saw lots of people reading, writing, and painting. I’m sure each one had a different perspective of what they saw that day and incorporated it into their experiences as well.

 

While we watched toy motorized boats cruising on the lake I started thinking about what I like to read and write.  My friends and I always share our latest book reads and what we are writing.  Sometimes we read the same book, but usually we don’t.  Some of my writer friends write in the same genre, but others don’t.  This sounds simplistic; of course we all have different tastes.  However, the visit to the museum reminded me that what one person thinks is art, another might not.  And that’s what so exciting.

 

There are infinite possibilities of what artists can create, and there’s plenty of room for various opinions.   As I write my stories I know not everyone who reads them will think they’re as fabulous as I do, but that’s okay.  I have to believe in my work as I’m sure the Old Masters believed in theirs.

 

Fondly,

Elizabeth

Yesterday I had lunch with four of my blog/writing critique/brainstorming partners–and friends!
We try to get to gether once a month although, because of work schedules, not all of us are able to. Some of us also critique by mail with another critique partner, who has also become a friend. But the fours of us who blog together–Elizabeth John, Kate Davison, Chrsitina Lynn Whited and myself–do make an effort to get together for lunch. We brainstorm and discuss the business of writing. Actual critiques are done by email; the precious time we have together is used for conversation about writing, plus other topics.
Our lunches are so stimulating. I come home raring to write and usually with some insight into this sometimes-crazy writing business.
But what has happened in addition, in the many years we’ve been getting togther, is that we have become good friends!
Yesterday’s conversation revolved around helping one of us with a workshop title; discussion of conferences; psychic healing; and chit chat about books. We also discuss our children, parents, and pets.
I value our friendships! We have grown to be much more than fellow bloggers. I look forward to all our lunches.
Do you have writing partners who have become good friends as well?  I’d enjoy hearing about them!

Roni Denholtz