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Thursday, November 28, 2013

I'm Thankful for FF&P--My Last Day as Co-Blog Mistress by Rebecca Zanetti

Hi all!  Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the USA, and Happy end of November to members living elsewhere.  I hope this week finds you happy, healthy, and surrounded by friends and family.  (And I hope those voices in your head keep talking & giving you ideas for stories!)

This is my last blog as co-blog mistress for FF&P, but I hope to guest blog in the future.  I just need a little break to take some time and relax a little bit.  With a hubby, two kids, three animals, multiple family members, three publishers, six book releases this year and six slated for next year…I need to breathe.  J
FF&P was the first chapter I joined and became really involved with…back in 2009.  I met some of my first writing friends here, and I learned a lot from both the Mudpuddle and from taking numerous workshops.  I also believe very strongly that my first book came out with good sales because of the friends I made at FF&P.  We’ve always helped each other, and we’ve always cheered each other on.

If you’ve been here a while, you know exactly what I mean.  If you’re new, you’re going to love it.  Make sure you jump in and get involved as soon as you’re ready…because you won’t regret it.

Make friends and not connections. 
Friends are what count…and this business is tough.  It’s a roller coaster ride of requests & rejections, good sales & oops sales, great reviews & holy crap reviews…and it’s no fun being on a roller coaster alone.  Sometimes you want to hold someone’s hand when you’re upside down, and other times you want to encourage your buddy to lift her hands in the air as you swoosh down toward the earth.

I may have gone a bit too far with the analogy there…but hey, this is the place to do it.  We all hear voices and secretly think vampires might exist. J
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as co-blog mistress for this amazing chapter, and I’ll see you on the loop!  ~ RAZ

USA Today Bestselling Author Rebecca Zanetti has worked as an art curator, Senate aide, lawyer, college professor, and a hearing examiner - only to culminate it all in stories about Alpha males and the women who claim them. She writes the Dark Protector vampire series for Kensington, the Maverick Montana cowboy series for Entangled, and the Sin Brothers romantic-suspense series for Grand Central.  Sweet Revenge releases on December 3rd from Grand Central.  Visit Rebecca at: http://www.rebeccazanetti.com/

Monday, November 25, 2013

Care and Feeding of Your Muse during the Holidays by JC Hay

Image: Melpomene, The Muse of Tragedy; Elizabeth Sirani
November is drawing to a close, and writers all over are scribbling like mad to hit their word-counts for NaNoWriMo before the month ends. Likewise, those with a wintery bent turn their thoughts to what can be accomplished in what remains of the year. With holidays for many, and gatherings both sacred and secular, it’s a season of hassles, travels, and travails, and it’s too easy to lose the muse in the rush of confusion and crazy. Here then are some ideas I like to use to keep my muse well cared-for.

1)   Keep a notebook with you – if you’re like me, you’re going to spend the holidays around people who are likely to say or do something ridiculous. While I would never insert my family directly into a story, I do like to jot down inspirations and events that I can re-interpret once I’m back in front of the keyboard. Be prepared to grab ideas from all around you, and think about how your characters might respond in a similar situation. The little notes and jots can be a source for scenes, quirks and future stories; just the sort of building blocks with which the muse likes to play.

2)      Feed your Muse – The muse consumes other media as part of her diet, and in the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to forget to feed her. Read every day, or take in a movie, or engage in some other, non-writing creativity. Graphic novels, audiobooks, theatre and film let you look at story without thinking about the words themselves – it can be a good way to help you find new ways into your story. The point is to let the muse kick back and relax, and feel like she’s having fun without boring her. She’ll be fired up and ready to help you when you sit down at the keyboard. Which brings us to the most obvious thing…

3)      Make time to write – Creativity is a muscle like any other, and if you don’t use it, it starts to atrophy. Set aside 30 minutes or more each day, away from the hubbub and craziness, and just write. If you don’t have a laptop, write longhand (the change in process might even fire your muse up more). If you’re not working on a current WiP, then break out a list of writing prompts and write about one of those. Make the time, and make sure your family and friends respect your writing time (lockable doors and hotel rooms help with that).

That’s the things I try to do to keep the fires of creativity burning in the winter. What are your favorite ways to keep the muse engaged through the long dark months?

About JC Hay

JC Hay writes romantic science fiction and space opera, because the coolest gadgets in the world are useless without someone to share them. In addition to Romance Writers of America, he is also a proud member of the SFR Brigade (for Science Fiction Romance), and the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Romance chapter of RWA. His newest space opera, His Lowborn Heart, is coming in December from Lyrical Press. JC Hay is on Twitter, Facebook, and sometimes even http://jchay.com.

Monday, November 18, 2013

How I Use Pinterest in My Writing by Mina Kahn

Hello from W. TX! I’m proud to be a FF&P member and it’s wonderful to be here today, sharing a slice of my writing world. I hope you enjoy the read!

For me, Pinterest was love at first try. I’m a very visual thinker and often imagine scenes in my head (almost like movies) before even penning the first word so it was a natural fit. How do I use Pinterest? Ah, let me count the ways…

1.    For Inspiration. I create a storyboard (or a Pinterest board) for every story I write. Here I collect pictures that trigger characters, place, story themes and ideas. As the board grows, so does my understanding of my story world.

For example, A Tale of Two Djinns is a Romeo & Juliet story pitting earth djinns (genies) against water djinns. My inspiration: nature. So I collected a lot of images of earth and water…as well hero and heroine inspirations. :)

2.    As an Ideas File. Anything that catches my interest, I add to my Cool Pictures board. Some of it has triggered stories or scenes, some are just fun to look at…but all of them sparked my interest and I wanted to save them.

3.     To Showcase my Stories. Once a story is done and is published (or close), I will take my inspirational board to the next level by adding covers and more details. With my newest release Wildfire, a paranormal mystery set in West Texas, I had a lot of fun adding pictures of landmarks that appear in the story. Later on I also added reviews and buy links.

*Note: The description space under each image gives you an opportunity to add key information to further interest viewers. Use it!

4.    For Research. I also create boards based on topics I need to research for different stories. For one story, I needed to know the different parts of a chair…and so there’s a board showing different parts of a chair. Another one is on old, interesting homes and gets quite a few visitors.

5.    To Relax. I love to read and cook when I’m not writing. So I have boards about food, books, writing as well as one about places I’d like to travel. When I need a break, I’ll go play on these boards. It works almost like daydreaming and lets my subconscious work out story problems.

6.    To Connect with Readers. Not only can visitors to my Pinterest boards learn more about my readers, but they also get a glimpse into what defines me as an author and a person. And, seriously, there’s no better way to connect with another person than over shared interests.

I’ll end with some caveats:

1.    There are some copyright issues involving pictures and you should be careful about using images because you could get into trouble. Agent Rachelle Gardner suggests you only post images that include a link back to the source; consider only posting images from websites that include a “Pin It” button; carefully consider whether to use the “Repin” button, and only do it if the pin links back to the original source.

2.     Don’t be spammy. A board with only pictures of your book covers is boring. Like on any other social media, hard sell rarely works.

3.    Only do Pinterest if you genuinely enjoy it. Again, there are so many social networks out there that you don’t want to spread yourself too thin or make half-hearted attempts.

So do you Pinterest? What are your tips, experience, thoughts regarding Pinterest?  If you’d like to check out my Pinterest boards:

Mina Khan is a Texas-based writer and food enthusiast. She writes about djinns (genies), dragons, hunks and whatever else sparks her fancy. She also writes a weekly food column for the San Angelo Standard-Times as Rashda Khan. Originally from Bangladesh, she is now a proud West Texan.

Her first published work, The Djinn's Dilemma, won the novella category of the 2012 Romance Through The Ages (published) contest. A Tale of Two Djinns won the 2013 Readers’ Crown for best paranormal romance.

For more information check out her:

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Benefits of a Local Chapter ~ by Augustina Van Hoven

Having an active local RWA chapter is an invaluable asset for any writer.
I belong to the Inland Empire Chapter of Romance Writers of America or IECRWA.  We are a small group with members from Spokane, Washington and northern Idaho.  Our membership runs the gambit from new writers working on their first novel to multi published veterans and one USA Today best seller. 

Our group is very supportive of its members.  Through their helpful writer’s activities and personal encouragement, many of our members have reached their personal goals of being published.

For me the help begins with the group’s program committee.  The committee makes sure that each monthly meeting includes mini workshops taught by experts from the community or one of our own talented members.  A forensic expert of the local state crime lab instructed us on how the world of forensic science really works as opposed to what we see on CSI.  An advertising specialist explained the mysteries of social media and how to use it to your best advantage.  Our more experienced members have taught us how to do layering, snappy dialogue, and how to put sizzle in your special scenes. 

We have done a series of “write ins” at one of the areas libraries to help increase our word counts and give an extra boost to those who have deadlines.  We schedule a private room at the library for a four-hour time block and set up camp.  Each member writes for forty-five minutes then we take a fifteen-minute break.  At the end of the session we post the total word count of the participants on the chapter loop.  15,000 to 20,000 words per write in are not unusual.

My personal favorite group activity is the '100 words per day challenge'.  Each member writes a minimum of 100 words each day on their current project.  At the end of the day those who worked on their manuscript post on the chapter loop that they completed 100 words that day.  This gives us accountability to the group and helps build the habit of writing every day.  I have personally written one hundred words or more for eighty-three days straight.
Additional goals are handled at the meetings in the form of a goal pot.  Each member who wants to participate puts one dollar into the pot and a note of what they plan to achieve by the next meeting.  Each meeting we check the goals and see who has achieved them.  The names of those who met their goals are placed in a hat and one name is pulled out.  That person wins the pot. 

We have done other special events such as writer’s retreats at a local ski resort, during the off season, of course, and we are putting together a writers conference for March 7th of 2015, hoping to attract new romance writers for our club and work with other writing groups in our area.

         All of this has helped me grow as a writer.  I can honestly say that without my chapter’s help and support, my first novel would still be an interesting idea instead of a completed manuscript.
BIO:  Augustina has a background in politics and works as an accountant.  She
writes paranormal romance in her evening hours.  Her first novel 'The Kiss
of a Rose' is currently looking for a home.

Augustina Van Hoven ~ Proving that Love is Strange


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Writing For a Cause - 5 things to consider by Jamie Leigh Hansen

Many of you know Childhood Cancer Awareness is near and dear to my heart. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Another cause, genetically mine, is Friedreich’s Ataxia. International Friedreich’s Ataxia Day was September 25th.
I spent the first 28 years of my life ignoring my FA and barely aware of the devastation cancer can wreak on patients and their family. But the day after Thanksgiving 2003, our 8 year old daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor and a whole new, terrifying world came alive around us. But so did a world of caring and support. Both for her cancer and for my progressive disease.
In the past ten years, I have wanted to “Pay It Forward” somehow, some way. For Childhood Cancer Awareness, I wrote a story, Death Is Becoming, and I am offering it for free. More information about the book itself can be found on my website.
Here,I’d like to discuss the process of writing a book for charity. I have done this twice, for both diseases. The International Project to Fight Friedreich’s Ataxia is a group of 17 writers from around the world affected by FA. We have spent the last two and a half years crossing cultural and linguistic boundaries to create a novel, The Legend of Marie Schlau. During these books, I have developed a few conclusions.
1. If the book is put together with a group, have a clear guide on what the purpose is. Is it for literary value, personal accomplishment, raising awareness or raising funds? And yes, those last two are very different. This choice effects the writing itself, are you going for literary beauty or mass appeal that has literary beauty?
2. A group of writers can be diplomatic throughout the entire process, but inevitably there will need to be one person “in charge” for a final say. Even while working for a common cause, there are different ideas for how to accomplish the end written product. That’s just how people are. We think differently, believe differently and have different live experiences informing our choices. Picture a group of writers who feel strongly about first or third person POV. Now get the opposing sides to write a book together. It’s painfully comical.
3. Creating a “fundraiser” for certain groups can be done. Such as with Give Kids the World. You create it and can have a page on their site to share, tweet and such. You can also get a widget to put on your blog. Make sure you allow plenty of time to communicate before publishing the book if you want it all posted about the same time. But sometimes it’s better to have the book easily available for download beforehand, so it’s a “depends” process. Either way, allow time.
4. On the “Donate” page, contact the fundraising coordinator and explain what you want to do. They will help in any way they can, from setting up links, to adding your book to their newsletter. Be prepared to offer copies for the coordinator to read, so he or she know more about what you are putting out to help their foundation. This person is your friend. You both have a common goal - fundraising and awareness. Working together will increase the success of your project. This seems obvious, until you both become hampered by various unexpected rules and hurdles that must be jumped. These aren’t arbitrary barriers, so try not to become too frustrated.
5. Money. Do you charge for the book? If so, how much? And what accounts are hooked up for the book’s payments? Is it your own account? I have heard from others this can create a nightmare of accounting. Personally, for Death Is Becoming, I chose to bypass this by making the book free and concentrating on awareness. There are links inside the book to Donate pages wherein the foundation can handle the necessary accounting.
However you choose to put it together, enjoy the process. You are doing a wonderful thing. :)
BIO: Jamie Leigh Hansen is a multi-published, paranormal romance author best known for dramatic, heartfelt stories with intense emotion and engaging, unforgettable characters.
Her newest work, Murder Tales, is a series of urban fantasy short stories set in Metalline Falls, WA that features Mary, the only human ever saved and raised by the Murder, vampires and werewolves who work together to police the rogues of their world. Currently available are The Murder King's Woman and The Murder King's Summons, with more planned.
Jamie is also currently involved with BabelFAmily, co-writing The Legacy of Marie Schlau with other writers around the world. They hope the International Literary Project to Fight Friedreich's Ataxia will raise funds for FA research.
She loves to hear from friends and fans at JLH@JamieLeighHansen.com. Updates on her projects and links to social media can be found on her website at www.JamieLeighHansen.com.