Tag Archives: liberty states fiction writers

Finding Your Writing Voice

I began my writing journey over ten years ago and from the get go I submersed myself in learning and refining my craft. Even then, I heard talk about ‘finding your writing voice,’ but didn’t pay it much attention. I mean, I was too busy trying to learn how to write a book : )  I read every romance and women’s fiction that I could get my hands on, and joined a critique group.

Then I started to attend conferences and saying I was overwhelmed, well that’s putting it mildly. A few years passed, and I found workshops no longer exhausted and overwhelmed me. Instead, I actually began taking away information that I could apply to my own writing projects. I thought, hey, my book is good, but it can be so much better, so I used what I learned. I entered contests and received some great feedback. I pitched to editors and although they rejected my projects, I often received nice, detailed letters encouraging me to revise and resubmit.

On some of the revision letters I was told to take my writing to the next level—the story flows, now add some personality and give the book flavor. Now, some writer’s sell their very first book, or even their second. Some go on to win awards and become NYTimes bestsellers right off the bat. I’m not one of those writers. Everything I’ve ever wanted I’ve had to work hard for. Ahhh, but that’s another blog for another day : )

Anyway,  I wondered about what the editors had said, what it meant to take my writing to the next level, so I talked to as many published writers as I could and they all told me the same thing. Relax and trust in your skills, it will happen. But I was still frustrated. It doesn’t help that I’m the kind of person who hates to wait. What did they mean, relax? I kept thinking, when will it happen? Where is this voice I’m supposed to have and why is it so hard to find?  Not until I pushed the thought from my mind–when I said enough of this frustration and trying to find something I don’t know how to find, did I truly relax. And what do you know…

I had my ‘aha’ moment a few weeks later when I was reading a chapter I’d written out loud to myself. I liked what I was hearing and somehow it seemed different than my other books. My dialogue was more conversational–my characters witty and real. I caught myself laughing at these people I’d written–what they were doing, and why.

I added my personality, made my characters endearing, quirky and appealing, and it was then, not until I was well into my fourth book, that my writing voice took form. I found that by giving my characters the opportunity to become real people reader’s want to relate to, my writing voice flowed freely.

It’s funny, I’ve heard that when you read your book, the emotions you feel are the emotions the reader will feel, but somehow I didn’t get it until it happened to me. Right there in the quiet of my own little office on a day I will never forget, I found the voice that had probably been there all alone. I just didn’t know how to coax it to come on out and play : )

Best,

Cathy Tully

Thank You from the Conference Chair

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Thank you flowers from LSF Writers. Aren’t they lovely?

Yes, I am tooting my own horn, but IMHO this weekend’s Create Something Magical Conference went wonderfully. There was so much energy, excitement and enthusiasm in the air from start to finish.  I have to give a huge thank you t o my conference committee. They are an amazing collection of individuals and I certainly couldn’t have pulled it off without them. Because I did have such a great committee I was able to set the conference chair on the shelf for a few minutes and pitch my manuscript.  I received multiple requests for my work SQUEE! Go Me.  But in all seriousness, the conference ran as smooth as it did up to and through the actual day of the conference because of my fabulous committee.

I also have to offer a HUGE thank you to Jonathan Maberry. He was an incredible and inspiring keynote speaker plus he’s been a great support of the Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference from the beginning.  There are not words enough to thank him.

Much gratitude goes out to all of the speakers who offered their time and expertise.  I’ve heard nothing but great things about every workshop.

To all of the editors and agents that attended we so appreciate you give up your Saturday to join us. Thank you for listening to pitches and for speaking on panels and offering your insights on the industry.

Thank you to all of the attendees, readers and writers alike. The conference certainly wouldn’t happen without you and all of the excitement and energy you bring with you. To all of your who pitched I wish you much luck on your submissions. For those who didn’t next year will be your year.

Finally, I’d like to send a mega shout out to Kim Rocha and all of the Book Obsessed Chicks. You throw one heck of a party, ladies. I was thrilled to have you there.  Next year, I’ll have to make a point to get in on at least one line dance. ;-)

It really was a magical weekend. I hope to see everyone back next year! For now, the conference chair is going to take a nap.

~Best
Rayna

Pitch Writing: An Important Career Skill

???????I’m doing a pitch workshop at the Liberty States Fiction Writers Create Something Magical conference next month.  Nothing makes a conference goer sweat like the prospect of pitching her book. But the process isn’t something to fear. A 10 minute speed date with an agent or editor is hardly a bear sniffing your camping tent.  You’ll be fine, and the whole pitch process is a good exercise for your future career.

I haven’t pitched to an editor or agent in a few years, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t written pitches. If you think you’re done with pitching once you’ve snagged an agent or editor, think again.  Authors have to write pitches, too, except now they’re called proposals or short blurbs. Every time a new contract comes up, my editor doesn’t say, “If you send us books, we will pay you money.” No, she needs a proposal to take to her acquisitions meeting. Guess what the first sentence of  my proposal is?  A pitch.

Pitch writing doesn’t stop after a book is acquired either.  After the book is finished, cover and promotional copy has to be written.  Promo copy is pitches of different lengths, this time aimed at potential readers/buyers.

There might be slight differences in the wording or focus of the pitch depending upon the intended audience. But just like an action scene, a pitch has to grab the attention of the editor, agent, or in the case of promo copy, potential buyer.

The reader of the pitch must be hooked. In one or two sentences, you have to make them want to acquire/read your book.

I have one more use for a good pitch.  I like to pin my proposal to the bottom of my storyboard while I’m writing the book. During the actual plotting and writing process, rereading that initial pitch helps me stay focused on the core of the story.

Now that I’ve expounded on the importance of being able to pull the hook for your book from the rubble of a manuscript, I’m looking for some successful pitches from well-known movies or books to use in my workshop.  I have a few, but in my opinion, nothing explains a good pitch better than fabulous examples, and what makes that light bulb shine for one person might not work for another.

Does anyone have a killer pitch for a well-known book or movie?

The Best Piece of Advice

anyone ever gave me came from the wise and experienced authors at Liberty States Fiction Writers. I’ve filed this advice in my brain right next to wear clean underwear in case I’m in an accident.

DO NOT ENGAGE

No, they weren’t talking about the thrusters on the Enterprise. They were referring to people who review your books. Goodreads, Amazon, professional bloggers, whatever. I was reminded of this for two reasons. One, my debut book, She Can Run, has garnered enough reviews now to have a few unfavorable ones. Two, I read a post on a loop recently from an author who contacted a reviewer to complain about a review. An ugly back-and-forth ensured. Which was exactly what I’d been warned would happen by those wise and experienced authors.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Liberty States Fiction Writers for saving ME this embarrassment.

This was the precious advice I received. It doesn’t matter if the reviewer has valid points about your book, is just being mean, wants to prove to the world he’s smarter than you, says things that aren’t true, or is flat-out insulting. None of that matters. No good can come of a writer complaining about a review. You will look like you can’t take criticism. You will look unprofessional. You will will look like a whiny bitch. Worst of all, you will draw even more attention to the review.

I’d tell you not to read reviews, but we all know that’s harder to do than it sounds. Writers are insecure. We MUST know what everyone thinks of our babies- er -books. Plus, reviews are as addictive as potato chips. You can’t stop after just one. But the next time someone posts a terrible review about your book, call a good friend and get all the complaining out of your system (sorry, Rayna!) Shut off the computer, go to the gym, and work off your frustration there. Not everyone will like your book. Just get over that now and move on. But above all,

DO NOT ENGAGE.

Does anyone else have a priceless piece of advice from a fellow writer that you’d like to share?

Calling All Readers!

I love conferences. There is nothing more energizing and inspiring then getting together with other authors and talking books. As a writer you always need to learn, grow, and perfect your skills. At certain point in time, however, you have to step out from behind the desk and start interacting with your end user, your readers.  This year Liberty States Fiction Writers has given me the opportunity to create a forum for authors and readers to come together to hang out, have a little fun, and talk books at our Create Something Magical Conference. The conference will be held on March 17, 2012, so with registration starting very soon, I thought I’d give a sneak peak of what we have in store for the readers and writers that join us for our inaugural reader’s event.

Have you always wanted to attend Lady Jane’s Salon, but never had the opportunity? Well, here’s your chance. We will be starting things off with drinks, dessert and readings.  From there you’ll have the opportunity to hang out with some of you r favorite authors such as Larissa Ione, Katharine Ashe, Virginia Kantra, Jonathan Maberry, Ally Blue, Sarah MacLean and many more. Of course, there will be a book signing so you’ll have the chance to check a few items off of your to buy list. Finally, we’ll end the day with a little dinner and a lot of dancing.

That’s just the tip of the ice berg. We’ll have games and prizes as well as a few other surprises in store. So I hope we’ll see some of you on March 17, 2012 at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel.

Advice for New Writers

I’m tackling interview questions for my November/December blog tour.  Yes, I know its 2 months away, but I’ve told you before that I’m a geek.  I always had my homework and term papers done way ahead of time.  Otherwise I can’t think because I feel like Wile E. Coyote with an anvil poised over his head.

Anyway, the best piece of advice I can give any beginning writer is to join a writers’ organtization.   Yesterday I attended the Liberty States Fiction Writers meeting.   I can’t describe how good it felt to mingle with other writers, to have them cheer when I held up the gorgeous ARC (advanced reader copy) of my debut novel, She Can Run, to pick the brains of the experienced authors in the group. (Thank you, Caridad Pineiro, yet again.)

Writing is a solitary life, but writers need to leave their writing caves and mingle with other humans occasionally.  But books are about people and relationships and the outside world.  How do we write about these things if we’re holed up in our PJs guzzling coffee and muttering to the dogs for months on end?  Professional organizations also provide important resources to help writers in all states improve their craft, learn to promote, and talk about what happening in the business. Liberty States Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America have both been instrumental in helping me with my career.

So, that’s my big piece of advice: join a professional organization.  For those of you with experience in the writing world, what advice can you give to beginning writers?  For the newbies out there, what’s your biggest obstacle?

If anyone has other writing organizations they’d like to list here, go for it!

Liberty States Conference

The 2nd annual Liberty States Fiction Writers Create Something Magical conference was even better than the first.  First of all, there was no monsoon this year.  Secondly, the event was just plain fantastic!

Attendees raved about workshops covering topics from dialogue, voice, editing, pitching, marketing and promotion. With a line-up of terrific speakers including Jonathan Maberry, Virginia Kantra,  and Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, that wasn’t a surprise. One of my favorites was the Building Your Brand workshop with Angela James of Carina Press.  I couldn’t take notes fast enough, and nearly two hours went by all too quickly.  Kathy Fawcett and I shot, stabbed, kicked and choked each other in our own Kick Butt Heroes workshop.

One of the most exciting and nerve-wracking parts of a conference is the pitching experience.  Despite a New York train snafu, appointments with agents and editors went smoothly, and more than one writer emerging with that I-just-got-a-request post-pitch glow.

Mary Janice Davidson’s keynote speech was hilarious. She reminded us all that book publishing isn’t as sexy as we’d like to believe.  It’s always wonderful to hear that a New York Times Best had to wait for The Call just like the rest of us.

The day was topped off, like the whipped cream on a sundae, with a book fair that was open to the public. Readers had loads of time to buy books and talk with their favorite authors.

And, did I mention, there was no monsoon this year?

I’d like to thank all the volunteers.  Without you, the event would not have been possible.  Mark your calendars for March 17, 2012, and plan to visit New Jersey (it’s not like Jersey Shore, we promise) when paranormal romance author Larissa Ione gives the keynote speech at the next Create Something Magical conference.

The Kick Butt Heroes Workshop

Kathy, Rayna and I will be giving our Kick Butt Heroes Workshop both at the Liberty States Fiction Writers Create Something Magical Conference on March 19, 2011 in Iselin, New Jersey and at the Romance Writers of America National Conference in New York City June 28 – July 2, 2011.

The workshop will cover some fighting and writing basics, plus a whole lot of punching, stabbing, shooting and choking.  Good times, huh?  We’ll demonstrate some inventive ways to get your characters out of hairy situations, like having a gun barrel pressed against her temple or a knife held to his throat.  Not only will we show how a trained fighter would respond, but also how a novice might escape.  Practical defenses will be covered, as well as some more theatrical maneuvers.  We’ll change up the techniques each time, so no two workshops will be alike.  If you’re attending either conference, join us for an exciting hour.

And don’t forget, we’re running a critique contest this week.  Entries will be accepted through this Thursday, Feb 10th.  Send in your (500 word max) action scene and we’ll chose one lucky (brave) soul for a critique.  See last Thursday’s post, Calling to Action, for details.

A Taste of Kenpo

With the Liberty States Fiction Writers annual Create Something Magical conference coming up on March 19, I thought I’d give you a glimpse of martial arts self-defense training.   Kathy and I will be demonstrating techniques like this one in our Kick Butt Heroes workshop.

The Kenpo technique being performed in this link is called Crossed Twigs.  Picture your villain grabbing your hero or heroine from behind with both hands.  Maybe she is about to be restrained by handcuffs or plastic ties.  Good times!

(And yes, Kenpo techniques have very cool Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon type names which just add to the fun factor.)