Golden Heart – I didn’t final, but I won.

March 26, 2008 at 10:17 am | Posted in Bria, contests, Honorary Heartlette, Kristan Higgins, motivation, romance, writing | 6 Comments

I’ll admit, I didn’t think I’d be ready for the Golden Heart deadline and, being the superstitious Boston Irish that I am, I feared I’d final.But I didn’t. No surprise there.

The happy surprise is that, while not moving on to the final round for the national award, I’m pretty sure I won.

When the first deadline came about in December, I had been writing for about six months. I loved my story. I loved my characters. I liked my writing. But I had a lot to learn, and in the last several months I’ve submerged myself in it.

Craft books, workshops on CD, self-editing guides, reading for more than just enjoyment, working with amazing women on the Diva board (the entry never would have been in the mail without Mamad, Kaige, Lanie, Neith and a lot of help from those as I did chat drive-by’s) and partnering with the Lovely Ann as my CP.

The experience has been hair-raising. My Murphy’s Law fear pushed me to be as close to complete and polished as possible. My availability pushed back. And the friction that caused – well, it bettered my writing by an unimaginable amount.

Sentence structure, word choice, tight prose all became more consistent.

And now for the big “author confession” – I’m dyslexic. I can’t see those mistakes that are obvious to everyone. And I thank God every day since January when we started for my CP Ann. She corrects errors and points out potential errors. She also asks the hard questions and tells me straight forward when something doesn’t work or she just plain doesn’t like it.

So, my advice for those aiming for the December’s deadline:
o Get a Critique Partner. Don’t know how to set that partnership up? Read these guidelines
o Don’t fluff the deadline – strive for it as if it were publication, not a contest
o Plan ahead – start NOW
o But most of all, do it for the joy.

I’d like to take this moment to give a very special shout out to KRISTAN HIGGANS – our very first Honorary Heartlette. Kristan finalled in the published author’s equivalent of the Golden Heart – the RITA.

So, pick a goal and run at it, but mostly, Go Write.

Signs, signs, everywhere there’re signs

November 9, 2007 at 8:55 am | Posted in Kristan Higgins, Meg, motivation, NaNoWriMo | 3 Comments

October 29- The spacebar on my keyboard begins to stick and the left side of my neck and shoulder blade ache (a sign I’ve been spending too much time at the computer)

October 30- The four books I’ve been wanting for months arrive at the library

October 31- I slice the tip of my index finger and the band-aid is not conducive to typing

November 1- I realize I have no conflict or climax for my story and go over my calendar for the month to discover this is the worst month for me to find free time (I will literally have only two hours of nonwork, nonfamily time the whole month)

November 2- I papercut my middle finger, and again, the band-aid interferes


November 3- I try to piece together my story but I had erased the notes as well.

Now I’m not sure if I’d call myself a spiritual person, but I do believe we are all on this earth to follow a certain path. When we are on the correct path, the stars are aligned and all is right with our world. If we veer off in a different direction, forces collide to push us back. So looking at the last week, I’d have to say, I don’t think I’m meant to be working on this story and/or doing NaNoWriMo right now.

Call me superstitious, call me crazy, but it’s a gut feeling. I have no idea why. Maybe this isn’t the right time to write the YA, maybe I’m supposed to refocus on my edits. Or maybe, as my husband said this morning, I need to take a break from writing and do something else to recharge.

I don’t know. All I know is I do want to write this story and I don’t have another one in me itching to get out. At least not now. Lana’s friends have their stories as well, but they haven’t pushed to the forefront enough to take over my thoughts. Yet.

And I feel terrible about it. I have two friends doing NaNoWriMo with me and I’m afraid I’ll let them down if I quit. So on Saturday night, I shelve writing and pull out one of the books (Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins which I highly recommend) and I have an epiphany (as well as a late night as I stay up reading until 2am).

Why not try something different? I’m sneaking out of my comfort zone to write YA so why not go all the way into first person narrative? On Sunday, I sit at my computer and a thousand words flow out my fingertips. I’m having fun and loving the process. I’m back in the game!


What’s so special about Sept 25?

September 25, 2007 at 10:42 am | Posted in books, Honorary Heartlette, Kristan Higgins, new releases | Leave a comment

Today we celebrate the release of new books by Honorary Heartlette Kristan Higgins and Purple Hearts Favorite J.R. Ward.  We’ve been anticipating these new titles for weeks!

 khcatch.jpg               jrwlover.jpg

Pick up Catch of the Day and Lover Unbound today!

Honorary Heartlette – Kristan Higgins

July 1, 2007 at 7:40 am | Posted in Honorary Heartlette, Kristan Higgins, writing | 2 Comments

Greetings, writers! I was so flattered to be asked to guest blog on this website, knowing the founders are wicked cool, smart and fun! Quite heady, to be on their website!

As of this moment, I just sent in my third romantic comedy to HQN, called (for now) ONE OF THE GUYS. This book is scheduled for August 2008, following CATCH OF THE DAY (October 2007) and FOOLS RUSH IN, my debut novel. I’m also cranking out the first draft of a new book, tentatively entitled THE PERFECT MAN. My titles all change, however…one of the surprises of publishing.

When I started writing, I was blessed and cursed by knowing nothing at all (as Meg and Bria can well attest, since they listened to me whine about it last month). It was a curse, because I had no community, no time-proven and helpful websites, no local chapter, no fellow newbies who knew what I was going through. Writing can be lonely work. I had no idea what to expect at each turn in the road, no one to shepherd me along and shore up my battered ego. But my ignorance was also a blessing, because I wasn’t saddled with knowing who was looking for what and when. I had no idea that romantic comedy wasn’t selling…that vampires were in…that 100,000 words was too long. So my ignorance served me there…Remember that whatever’s hitting bookstores now was written 2 years ago, so it’s not necessarily what’s hot right now.

So there’s a lot to be said for ignoring all the industry gossip and advice and just writing what you write well, regardless of what’s in at the moment. And that’s kind of me, anyway…Connecticut Yankee with a Puritan work ethic. When I started writing FOOLS RUSH IN, I’d been staying at home with the wee bairns, throwing rocks in the duck pond and playing a lot of Bob the Builder. My husband (Saint Terence of the Firehouse) understood, bless his dear Irish heart. He said he’d give me a year to finish the book and get started on a writing career. Otherwise, back to copywriting I’d go, once our younger kid started first grade. A year. Hence the buckling down. Hence the “just get something down on paper.” Hence the plowing forward with revisions.

So that’s my advice, newbie writers! Finish the book. Find a good critique partner. Stop checking your email and Googling old boyfriends. Just write. Finish. Then get excited about revising, because writing equals revising. A lot of revising. Your CP, your agent, your editor will all ask for revisions. Make them. Learn to love them. Your book is a product sold to a market. Listen to what the market says. And remember, revising is different from tinkering. Tinkering is when “red” becomes “scarlet.” Revising is when you delete the whole scene, add a brother when there was none and change the heroine’s profession. Don’t be afraid. At the heart of your book is you. The voice. The essential story. That won’t change, no matter how many revisions you go through.

When I write a first draft, I am very conscious of the fact that probably ever single sentence is going to change. Every bleeping one. The first draft is really more of an expanded outline for me. I make a document and add to it as I go along. This document is called “Things that are wrong.” Depressing? Nah. Just a guide of what needs changing. I can’t wait to finish the bleeping first draft, because to me, revisions are when my book becomes really good. Marketable. Sleek. Funnier. When the voice really pops through, now that the details have been wrestled onto the page. This is when the book becomes mine, and when it becomes really good. And you want to submit your absolute best work. There’s no point in sending out a manuscript when you yourself know there are problems. An agent won’t critique the book (unless she’s signed you already). That’s what your CP is for, and that’s why you listen to her.

Oh, and one more thing. It takes a long time. Even when things go fast, it takes forever. Don’t take it personally. Don’t become bitter. Publishing is a behomoth of an industry. You’ll get the call. A contract will come 6 months later. The actual book? A year and a half (sometimes more!) after the call. So keep plugging away, understanding that the system is horribly flawed. And in all this time, don’t stop writing new stuff. It’s the lifeblood of a writer, falling in love again with every new story. Give yourself permission to fall in love again.

All the best, newbies! If one day our paths cross, make sure you stop by and say hello, okay? I’ve been where you are. And you’ll be where I am, too (however dubious an encouragement that may be). So let’s be friends, shall we?

All the best, Kristan

Kristan Higgin’s Guest Blog

June 25, 2007 at 9:12 am | Posted in Honorary Heartlette, Kristan Higgins, writing | 1 Comment

I am very excited to announce that Kristan Higgin’s will be blogging for us as our first Honorary Heartlette on July 1st.

Please come read her fabulous entry (I have read it, but I would have said that anyway since I have a great amount of faith in her) on Sunday.

For more information about Kristan and what she writes, visit our Honorary Heartlette Page (see above) and check back to see who will be our August 1st guest.

 Have a great week!


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