RWA Local Chapter Panel

This post should have been posted the day after this took place. Alas, that day my husband and I decided to attack our non-draining kitchen sink issue. It involved renting a 1oo ft roto-rooter. The primary operator being me. Only when you have fed a hundred feet of one inch wide cable into a pipe and then put the same cable from the pipe to push it into the wrap cage. It is an exhausting process. I had a work out. Regardless of whether I don’t do that sort of upper body workout. I was so pooped.

So here we are.

Our romance writer’s chapter hosts a public forum once a year. This year we chose to talk about what needs to happen next to that manuscript you wrote during NaNoWriMo. We broke the topics up among all of us, or most of us.


We spoke to a captive crowd of colleagues.


Myself and Mia Kay presented the riveting details of editing. I have a free site that analyzes portions of a draft for numerous writing infractions. It is called ProWritingAid I’m taking pics, leaving my spot for the lovely and talented Margaret Etheridge, also know as Maggie Wells.

8Our fearless leader, Mags is next to Mia.

Brinda Berry and Voirey Linger held our attention while giving us pointers in critiquing.


Dara Dylan and Lindsay Cross gave us a memorable example of revision, using the beloved story of The Princess Bride.

Mags informed us about being a traditionally published author.



Megan Mitcham gave us an indie author’s perspective of self-publishing.


Mandy Harbin is a multi-published hybrid author with views on the advantages of spreading your work over many venues.

We had great time teaching what we’ve all learned over the past few years. You may think I’m leaving out the details of the presentation. It is easy to google each of the topics. We gave them to our audience from our own perspectives.

Happy writing!



Writer’s Retreat

Our writer’s chapter holds a retreat every year where we lease a lakeside resort house and hide away from our families for two days and immerse ourselves in our stories. This year we spent a weekend on Lake Hamilton in late September. It was glorious and massively productive.

It really looks painful to be here doesn’t it?



The house has 3 porches. I’m an outside writer. So that means I populate any porch space I can find. This is a very comfortable and delightful space to work.


At a break we all congregate on the middle porch and spread out on the swing and the chairs to relax and unwind… put our brains into some down time.

DSC_0133This is Brinda Berry

DSC_0135and this is Parker.

This our Carol.    DSC_0136


CSC_0140 We have Cindy and

Mandy   DSC_0137

DSC_0139  and Jen.DSC_0141and Dara!

I spend some more time looking at this fabulous view. The inspiration to write hits me later, but it does come. Trust me.


Then we have the inside writers at work.

DSC_0144Our excellent and devoted president Margaret (Mags)

Harper and Mandy love this spot – and they are totally into it. DSC_0143 DSC_0142Megan rocks this spot with Brinda and Jen.

And  I couldn’t resist the bird’s eye view. IMG_0364

This is an awesome place. Comfortable and productive and worth every penny.

We all need a chance to regroup and recharge. Happy writing everyone.




Update… on Things

I meant to make a monthly update, but somehow I missed it last month. I must have been engrossed in editing or life or something, because I totally let that slip.

January saw the completion of eight chapters of Forever Heart edited. In the midst of it all my dear friend Voirey Linger answered my desperate plea for a writing coach. There comes a point in many of our lives we face our shortcomings and we realize we have no way of fixing them without an intervention. I began the quest to nail down my hero’s motivation. Without VL he’d still be a mystery to me.

I also read Debra Dixon’s GMC book. Very entertaining and enlightening. I’m starting to sound like a regular writing nerd.

February, though not over yet, I read yet another craft book… 2K to 10K Writing What You Know.

Another excellent read that inspires me to write better, smarter. I am also digging into my heroine’s motivation in Forever Heart. This means the edit is on hold until I get her … and him, nailed down.

Onward ho! Toward March!



Yes, I’m taking a vacation from the evil day job, but not from writing. Also, I have made a commitment to spend more time on this blog. This is the year for ‘stuff’ to happen. At least I hope it does. We all know we are responsible for our own destinies. This year I take the bull by the horns. (Geez, I’m full of clichés)

Regardless, I started my exercise program already. I swim three times a week. I also walk stairs for twenty minutes. I changed jobs in Aug and my activity level dropped tremendously. The poundage is inching back on, regrettably.


I also bought a yearly planner. It took me two weeks to find one remotely acceptable. Then a sweet writer friend (Dee Carney) set me on the road to an Erin Condren planner. It isn’t here yet, but I can’t wait to start writing in it. In the meantime I’m utilizing a simple notebook to keep track of things. The old planner is now my work planner, which I desperately needed for only work. Thank you Dee for your exuberance!

Erin Condren Planner

This wonderful year I will have my last child graduate high school and I will revise two – 2 – of the manuscripts I have sitting in a Dropbox folder. (That is 2 of several finished works, mind you.) This woman will get it done this year.

I have also run across a marvelous spreadsheet for keeping track of your works, the link landing in my inbox just today, thanks to Babette James. If you are a spreadsheet freak, try this one….

Good luck to all of you in accomplishing your goals this new year. I applaud you, because I know how hard it is to get it done.



The Power of Words

As a writer, I notice the use of words… in everything. Commercials, bill boards, work, books especially, nothing is outside of my pervue. Though I could take a whole blog to complain about the language used in commercials alone, today I want to talk about lyrics.

I love music and the words those notes travel over can be so moving and imaginative. I wish to God I could put words together like that. This isn’t a new obsession by any means. I have always been fascinated by song lyrics. I used to sing… all the time… and words to the songs made me want to sing the song.

Lately lyrics have started to capture my attention again. For awhile there I was too engrossed in learning how to write that I stopped listening to songs, only symphonies, movie scores. Last year my daughter started playing the local radio on the radio on the porch. Over the speaker croons Luke Bryan and…
“You’ve got your hands up, you’re rocking in my truck. You got the radio on, you’re singing every song. I’m set on cruise control, I’m slowly loosing hold…”

The picture that line evoked sent me right back to my teenage years (awhile ago, mind you). Just those simple words threw me into a world of my happy past, free wheeling and carefree… the college years. I saw myself the center of that boy’s attention, amazement in his eyes, his mouth dropping open. The way every young woman wants to be admired (I think).
I was amazed. I was hooked too.

From there Blake Shelton’s “Over” the very first line is magical!!
“If I could, I would feed your dreams and starve your fears.”
Doesn’t that take you to a place of utterly perfect love? I’m a romance writer and I find the romance in everything. Worse yet, I find the best part of a relationship in everything because you are looking at a hopeless optimist.

If you aren’t too fond of country music, sorry. I live out here and everything in those songs makes perfect sense. I could post a list of them here, but I have mercy on readers.

I’d love to hear what lines evoke an emotion or a memory for you. Put it in the comments.


Revisit a Hobby

As a writer, I find my regular life inspires and fuels my writing life. If things aren’t flowing in real life, how can I expect a story to flow and the words to take on meaning? One of the many ways I use to keep brain cells alive is horseback riding. I didn’t ride last year (a crying shame), just because a schedule change had me scrambling to find time to just write.

This year my son asked me to teach him how to ride. (I almost fell over.) None of the kids have wanted to ride. Granted, the first riding horse I had was a 16 hand giant and cantankerous as ever. I was the only one experienced enough to brave his antics.

This little girl, though, is a gem. Naomi is a 14 hand Quarter horse of indeterminate age (around 18 now we think). I found her by accident. The only way I seem to find things of great value.


A girl at the feed store was looking for someone to buy a horse she had rescued. Naomi was on the way to the sale barn that weekend. For and easy $350 my husband took ownership. She was very ribby, but not dying or sickly in the least. The girl promised she had looked worse weeks ago. No matter. When I got on her she performed beautifully and didn’t balk in the least.

Today she is an invaluable “kid-broke” mount. After a year and a half of being left to her own devices, she is calm and attentive. I love her. My son hasn’t had an issue with her either. Thank goodness.

She doesn’t have the flawless conformation of our thoroughbreds, but she has a beautiful heart. Riding makes my brain relax and my imagination take flight.

I hope you have as freeing a release as I. I’d love to hear from you. Tell me all about your method of relaxation.


Let’s Fix It!

I love to write. God only knows why. But I really get a kick out of it. I don’t do it very well… yet. I’ll get there, though. I just need to keep up with the “saddle time”. This is term I used when learning to ride my horse.

I didn’t start riding until I was almost 40 years old. Goes to prove you really can teach an old dog new tricks. I just needed to spend a lot of time in the saddle. I took that horse out every day. Rode him all over our pasture, through trees, through tall grass and learned to stay on his back after a few well placed buck-offs. It just took time.

I approach writing in the same light. Write every day. Practice, practice, practice. I read A LOT and read a ton of craft books and collect craft websites like designer beads. The most recent acquisition is an editing site. There are a few out there, but this is a good one for me.

It has number of great features even for those of us too cheap to pay the fee. The one I use heavily right now is the over used words feature. After my mentor returned a chapter to me with several over used words highlighted, I discovered eliminating those words altered the sentence structure for the better. Who would’ve thought!


Lots of pretty colors there.

I know, I know… I probably should have learned this trick a year or so ago. Just because you can teach an old dog new tricks doesn’t mean she learns them right away.

Better late than never. Thank goodness!!