Wednesday, January 17, 2018

REFLECTIONS OF 2017: GOODBYE 2017, HELLO 2018 BY KAY BLAKE



This week our members share their Reflections of 2017.



2017 has been quite an interesting year. I have done so much, and there is still so much that I want to learn and do.

I mentioned before how I am an author who suffers from a chronic illness called fibromyalgia. There are so many days that I want to leave the writing behind. The pain sometimes gets so bad, but I have made so many accomplishments this year.

I joined RWA and RWA NYC in January 2017. I was welcomed with open arms by supportive people. Authors and writers at all stages of the game, all simply wanting to share their love of romance by painting their words onto their pages. I have been afforded so many opportunities like the RWA LIRW annual conference which put me in the path of an agent I am interested in. I was one of the attending RWANYC authors at the Brooklyn Book Festival, a festival that I’ve been to many times. I was able to have my first ever romance reading from one of my novellas. And those things were possible simply because I’m a member of RWA, interacting with genuine and helpful people.

From a writing aspect this was more of an experimentation year for me. I wrote stories simply to see if I can do it. I wrote them and learned what I needed to work on, and what is more my niche. I also was able to step outside of my comfort zone. Learning my strengths and the things I need to get better at with my writing as I continue down the author path. I also won a Summer Indie Book Award, getting first place in diversity for my novella Catch Me If I Fall. It was an honor and a shock. One that also confirmed that I was on the right path. I hope I can continue to do the same.

On a personal note, I am a mom of three cubs as I call my children, I was able to still get my bachelor’s degree in developmental psychology. My oldest and middle cub both had graduations right after mine, and I was in awe how I was still able to make sure that they were on top of their game when it came to their school work, and still manage to graduate magna cum laude.
I say these things, not to toot my own horn, but more to look back on what I’ve been able to accomplish over the years. I was so stressed about what I had to do, that I had to sit back and really look back on the things I did get done. And while there were many bumps on the road, they still got done.

I have plans for 2018. I am still working out what and when, but I do have plans. I do have goals that I want to achieve that would further my career as an author. I want to try new things with my voice and break molds. I want to be confident in every move I make next, and I am ready.

Nevertheless, she persisted. My motto that I used for 2017, and I tend to use it for 2018 with a slight amendment. Which one? I’m not quite sure yet. But, I am ready and excited for what’s to come next for me.♥


Kay writes sassy, sexy and sweet contemporary and interracial romance. She is from arguably the greatest city in the world. (New York). She is a sarcastic sweetheart who prefers snuggling at home with a good book. She is a mom to three cubs. Kay indulges in strawberry cheesecake, horror movies, Harry Potter, The Walking Dead, wrestling and of course a happily ever after.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

REFLECTIONS OF 2017: THIS TOO SHALL PASS BY KATE MCMURRAY

This week our members share their Reflections of 2017.





One undeniable truth about the publishing industry is that it has changed radically in the last five years. Some changes are good, opening the market to writers who wouldn’t have been able to publish otherwise, giving readers to access to stories they might not have seen otherwise, giving writers room to experiment with new genres and new ideas. Some changes are frustrating, like publishers and bookstores closing, changes at Amazon, the popularity of some romance subgenres waxing and waning.

Odds are good that 2018 will bring more change. Odds are also good that we as authors will undergo changes in our careers. We’ll have to adjust even more and adapt to the changing market. We’ll face adversity and hit setbacks.

We as authors also put pressure on ourselves, be it financial or competitive or anything along those lines. I talk to other writers frequently, and many of my friends and colleagues have expressed similar anxieties. Many of us think we should write more, put out books more frequently to stay competitive in an overcrowded market. We worry about marketing strategies, covers, alienating readers with one too many tweets about the current political climate, building readership, losing sales, and so on. We worry about Amazon scammers, about deadlines, about other authors being more prolific than we are, about the mysteries of the various bestseller lists, about our publishers dropping us, about nobody buying the sub-genre we love, and so many other things.

Stop. Take a deep breath.

I don’t have all the answers. I worry about all these things, too. But I do have some faith. Maybe it’s Pollyannish of me, but I truly feel that a good mix of talent, perseverance, and elbow grease are the ingredients of success. Many things that happen in the industry that make us gnash our teeth are flash-in-the-pan, really. Sometimes it’s hard to see past the latest hullabaloo, but I think there’s a difference between long-term career planning and doing what works right now. There’s a difference between doing something to make a quick buck and putting together a sustainable writing career.

It means we must be smart businesspeople in addition to good writers.

But here’s something else I think is true: good books will rise to the top.

No, really. The books readers talk about, the ones that get recommended by reviewers and trade publications, the ones you put on your keeper shelf, they’re good. What I love about romance is that there really is an abundance of talent, and great books are being written every day. It’s hard to get heard over the din of other authors clamoring for attention, that’s for sure, but if you write a good book and are smart about how you market it? There’s a whole world of readers out there anxious to get their hands on it.

So, my advice is this:

Push aside all the noise, all the pressure, all the conventional wisdom and focus on writing the best book you can. Write like no one’s watching, like there’s no pending contract. Learn your craft, get into the heads of those characters, write the book of your heart.

Get feedback. Revise. Make that book even better.

Find the right path for you, be it indie or traditional or some mix of both. Don’t do what’s easy, do what’s best for your career. There’s no right or wrong path to follow, but think big and think long term.

Learn the market. Read in the genre. Read reviews, look at bestseller lists. Pay attention to what’s happening in publishing. Subscribe to the Publisher’s Lunch daily email or to a trade magazine like Publisher’s Weekly. Follow industry experts on Twitter. Make friends with other authors and exchange tidbits and advice. Be armed with as much information as you can to help you make informed decisions.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. The worst thing that will happen is that someone will say, “No.” A “no” is not the end of the world, it’s a chance to assess, adjust, and try again. And you won’t get a “yes!” if you don’t try.

Network. Meet people. Here in New York City, the heart of the publishing industry, there are many opportunities to get to know industry professionals, from editors and agents to publicists to cover designers and ebook formatters. Even if the people you meet don’t help you directly, you can benefit from their knowledge of the industry and their connections.

Think long term. Think multi-book series and building a fan base. Think about where you want your career to be in 2020. In 2030. Don’t think in terms of If. Think you can do it and you will get to where you want, and it’s only a matter of strategizing how to get there.

It’s a lot of work, yes, but our favorite authors make it look easy.

And finally, remember why you do this: for the love of writing and storytelling. At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing. We write because we love the romance genre, because we’re compelled to, because we get so much joy and satisfaction from writing a story we’re proud of. The market is the market; it will ebb and flow and break and correct itself. But the constant is that we love to write and we’re passionate about our books, and I believe that will rule the day.♥


Kate McMurray is an award-winning author of gay romance and an unabashed romance fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with baseball. She has served as President of Rainbow Romance Writers, the LGBT romance chapter of Romance Writers of America; and as Vice President of RWA/NYC. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. Visit her at www.katemcmurray.com.


READ ROMANCE !


Friday, January 12, 2018

BOOK COVER FRIDAY! STRANGER BY ROBIN LOVETT


WELCOME TO BOOK COVER FRIDAYS!
Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from 
one of New York's Leading Romance Authors.





STRANGER
A Dark Stalker Romance
By Robin Lovett
Swerve



SUMMARY:  This isn’t supposed to be a love story. She doesn’t want him to sweep her off her feet, and he is far from her knight in shining armor. He wants to ruin her life. But even the simplest plans for revenge can go wrong. I like the way he watches me, this man I don’t know. It’s something I’ll never confess to, never tell a soul. But with one look of those penetrating eyes, I feel as if he’s unwrapped me, turned me inside out, rubbed away at my trust-fund-holding, good-girl exterior until I’m raw and exposed.  He looks like he wants to destroy me. Like he wants to obliterate me and my shallow, perfect life until there’s nothing left.  And once I meet Logan, I want him to.



Visit Robin at www.romancelovett.com.



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Friday, December 1, 2017

BOOK COVER FRIDAY! BREAK MY HEART BY JEAN C. JOACHIM


WELCOME TO BOOK COVER FRIDAYS!
Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from 
one of New York's Leading Romance Authors.



BREAK MY HEART
A Pine Grove Novel
by Jean C. Joachim



When fire ripped through his home, trapping his beautiful golden retriever, Breaker pushed firemen aside to rescue his beloved dog. While heading for the stairs with the canine in his arms, a falling beam crushed them, killing the animal and scarring Breaker’s face.

Life, as the famous Breaker Winslow, disappeared. With his career finished, Rick appealed to his friends –who turned their backs on him.  Broken, despondent, and alone, he takes refuge in a decrepit farm house in rural Pine Grove. Can the man who had success and love around every corner rebuild his life or is escape the only answer?


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Thursday, November 30, 2017

WRITING TIPS! TIPS & TRICKS FOR CRUSHING WORD COUNT GOALS BY ALEXIS DARIA



All this week RWA/NYC Members are sharing
their tips and tricks for writing more, better & faster.
Happy Writing!





For the first time ever, I’m on deadline, so I’m putting everything I’ve learned about writing fast and writing a lot to the test. In June 2017, I wrote 22 days out of the month and added 62,298 words to the Project Roommates manuscript before hitting “The End” on June 30th. Since a few people have commented on my word counts, rather than blaming it on “desperation” and discounting all the research and work I’ve put into learning how to increase my output, I made a list of tools, suggestions, and resources to share.

As with all writing advice, take what works for you and junk the rest.


Know your best writing time
For me, that’s early mornings. It’s quiet. No emails. Noisy kids upstairs aren’t up yet. By hitting my word count first thing in the morning, I approach it fresh and rested, and it’s out of the way so I’m not worried about it for the rest of the day. Know what works for you and stick to that time. If early mornings are your thing, check out #5amwritersclub on Twitter. Bonus tip: Make sure you’re getting enough sleep!

Find a buddy
Having a virtual writing buddy to check in with is a godsend. This time around, my buddy was Sarah Morgenthaler, fellow 2017 Golden Heart finalist. We messaged each other when we woke up, declared our writing goals, and got to work. We checked in periodically, and the other Rebelles joined in and cheered us on throughout the day. I can’t overstate the value of a supportive writing community.

Uninterrupted writing time
When I’m deep into the story and someone interrupts me, it takes extra time to get back into it. Knowing I can sit down for a length of time and not have anyone interrupt me is invaluable. I bought a membership at my local writing space so I could achieve this, and it has made a huge difference in my output. Carve out your writing time and protect it from interruptions.

An outline
I know this is a contentious subject, but this is what works for me. When I have a limited amount of time, knowing exactly what I have to write when I sit down helps the words fly. I’m currently using an outline devised from Story Geniushttps://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=alexisdaria-20&l=am2&o=1&a=1607748894 by Lisa Cron. There’s still a lot of flexibility in this outline, but having the emotional arc planned out made it easier to write the story quickly.

A deadline
Nothing like a deadline to light a fire under your ass. Some people find them stressful. For me, nothing motivates me more than knowing someone is expecting me to turn something in, or that I’ll lose an opportunity if I’m not finished in time. Sure, I’m stressed out, but it makes it easier to turn off everything else and focus solely on meeting the deadline. No room for procrastination or self-induced writing drama.

A diary
“Qualitative Data,” I call it, thanks to Monica Leonelle (Write Better, Fasterhttps://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=alexisdaria-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B00TUEN7IO). It’s a place where I can complain, brainstorm, celebrate, and write about how the writing is going. I was shocked by how much I like having this extra doc in my Scrivener file, and I update it at the beginning and end of each writing session.

Tea
I go off caffeine every so often, but for this book, I started each day with a cup of earl grey. Not for the caffeine, but because I like the flavor. I didn’t realize I was hooked until I had two horrible days where I lazed around feeling awful, and didn’t write a single word. Those happened to be days where I didn’t have any tea. I’ll go off caffeine again soon, but for now, I’m not going to mess with what works. Bonus tip: drink lots of water!

A fun way of recording my word count
Some people use stickers or spreadsheets. I used to keep a spreadsheet that logged my writing sprints, similar to the Pomodoro method. Now I log my daily word count in a simple spreadsheet, and on big word count days, I draw a progress bar to color in every 500 words. I also log my word count every half hour in the notebook, so I know how quickly I’m writing. Each little colored rectangle is like a fun reward.

Turn off social media
Very important. I don’t think I need to explain why. Airplane mode is your friend.

A playlist
I choose songs that match the tone of the story, or have lyrics that speak to the themes or the characters. Sometimes when I’m struggling to get started, I’ll realize I’m not listening to the right playlist. When I switch, it helps me get my head back into the story.

White noise
Since I’m using a communal writing space, I keep a white noise machine on the desk (provided by the venue) so I’m not worrying about every little noise I make, or any noises outside of my own headphones. I also listen to a white noise app called Relax Melodies when I’m really trying to focus.

Dragon
Dragon is a powerful speech-to-text software. Alas, I can’t use it at my writing space, but this is a good tool for improving writing speed and saving your hands. I especially like it for dictating stuff like blog posts, or transcribing handwritten notes.

NaNoWriMo
I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month since 2004, so I have years of practice writing 50,000 words (or more) in one month and logging the results. Thanks to NaNo, I know how fast I can write without sacrificing quality.

Time
This is probably the trickiest factor, but it played a big role in my June word count. Through a combination of luck and concerted effort, I’ve managed to set up my life so I have time to create, and the mental and physical energy to crank out the words at this rate. Not only that, but for the last two weeks of June, my freelance work was minimal, so I made the most of the free time and finished the first draft. You don’t find time to write, you make time, so do your best in this area (as much as your life allows) and then actually stick to it. 

Resources
These are some of the books that helped me increase my writing output.
  • Write Better, Faster: How To Triple Your Writing Speed and Write More Every Day (Growth Hacking For Storytellers 1)https://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=alexisdaria-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B00TUEN7IO by Monica Leonelle
  • Writing Faster FTWhttps://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=alexisdaria-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B011NLV1MA by L.A. Witt
  • 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Lovehttps://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=alexisdaria-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B009NKXAWS by Rachel Aaron

It does take practice to increase your writing speed and word count, but there are tools that will help, like the ones listed above. I’ve combined them into a situation that works for me, but I recommend putting some effort into figuring out what works best for you. Always be on the lookout for little tweaks you can make to your process, especially since it might change over time. Now, I write for a few hours in the morning, and focus on other book-related tasks or freelance jobs the rest of the day.

I still need to work on actually using airplane mode more often (why is it so hard for me to unplug?!) and fitting in trips to the gym, but each book I write is an opportunity to fine-tune my process.  What about you? What tips do you have for meeting word count goals? ♥


Alexis Daria is a contemporary romance author, artist, and native New Yorker. Her debut, TAKE THE LEAD, is a 2017 Golden Heart® finalist. DANCE WITH ME (Dance Off #2) will be out 12/12/17. She loves social media, and you can find her live-tweeting her favorite TV shows at @alexisdaria, or talking about writing and books on her blog at alexisdaria.com.



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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

WRITING TIPS! WRITING FAST DOESN'T PAY BY JOAN RAMIREZ




All this week RWA/NYC Members are sharing
their tips and tricks for writing more, better & faster.
Happy Writing!



I don't think it pays to write faster. As a freelance journalist, I have learned the nuances of getting just the facts. It's worked for twenty-five years.  However, it a whole different ball game with novels, especially romance. Here are some tips I've cultivated along the way. While I respect members' rights to disagree, do think about them:

1. Read out loud--This was told to me by a dear friend when I started writing children's books. It makes sense because it gives you an insight into the key areas:

a. Characters' voices
b. Plot
c. Tone
d. Pacing

2. I know we live in a technical world but creativity can't be rushed. If you have the ability to edit online, great. I have to sit with a red pen and mark up my paper copy. Again, whatever works for you.

3. The only way to write better is to get a handle on your plot. Outlining, to the depth that fits your plot and comfort level allows you to see the action. I'm visual. I need this to follow my characters in the story regarding goal and motivation.

4. Put the manuscript away. Most of us don't have the luxury of writing full-time so we have to take our writing moments as they come. The tendency is to get something down and for the sake of our sanity, especially if you're a weekend writer, get something out. If you're one hundred percent sure that what you're composing is polished like a diamond (and diamonds are a girl's best friend, though with me, it's my husband), then go for it. In speaking to many established authors, I've found this isn't the case. They put their work away for at least a month before giving it a second go round.

5. To write faster, you need to edit slower. Take the time to do as someone very successful once said to me, "be in error and correct by editing the heck out of your draft."

There you have it. The rest is up to you.♥

Joan Ramirez is an elementary school teacher, has published three nonfiction books, and is currently revising her first in what she hopes will be a historical romantic suspense series.



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