California Dreamin’ Writers Conference 2017 – Best Tips

RWA– Romance Writers of America is an outstanding organization for writers of any type. Yes, they are slanted toward us romance writers, but there’s a good reason for that. I’ll share that story another time. Today I want to give you an overview of the recent conference in March put on by four local RWA chapters in Brea, California. I’ll share more details on the panels in future posts. Continue reading “California Dreamin’ Writers Conference 2017 – Best Tips”

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Back to the Book List

I advertise this as the list of books from the California Dreaming’ Writers Convention, but I am dipping in to all the workshops I attended as well. It’s very hard to separate them. And I am a total noob at conventions like this. Put me in a science fiction fantasy horror steampunk anime convention, and I know the ropes. But, well, things were in the brochure that were invitation only. One had to win a place in the sessions at the drawing held that morning. One event caught my eye, and even though it was scheduled late in the day, I went to the suite to hear M.A. Taylor sharing Cop Tales. Oh,yeah, this lady is who I want to be when I grow up! I crashed the event, but luckily someone who had actually won a ticket could not make it, so I was allowed to stay. I am not likely to ever write a cop story, but I may have a detective wander into a story. The most important thing I learned was that the San Bernadino International Airport is favored over LAX by many celebrities and sports teams. Continue reading “Back to the Book List”

When You Aren’t Writing, You Should Be Reading

At the California Dreamin’ Conference 2015 last weekend, wonderful and talented authors suggested books for attendees, both fiction and nonfiction. I pulled them out of my notes and made this list. And wow, some of these just knock me over. I loved the ones used by certain panelists to illustrate excellent use of descriptions, but all these are on my Amazon wish list. Continue reading “When You Aren’t Writing, You Should Be Reading”

Prince Charming Need Not Apply by Dara Young

PCNNACover2_med Today I am tickled to help a friend and fellow writer get the word out about her scintillating novel, Prince Charming Need Not Apply, including a sneak peek at the cover. Dara Young is “Lighting your fire with strong women…and the men who love them.” How cool is that? Or should I say, how hot is that? Well, here’s a little overview.

Reformed party girl and Chief Cosmetics Officer for rising star Swirl Cosmetics, Sabrina Calihan has sworn off men. But when she meets beauty industry colleague Max March, new head of the Christina Max beauty empire, she finds herself struggling to keep him at arm’s length.
Max is determined to have the sexy woman he first met on the red-eye from Los Angeles. Unconcerned about her professed vow of celibacy, he is ruthlessly determined to show her just how good things can be between them.
He wines and dines her despite her assurances that Prince Charming need not apply. But, as love begins to blossom on a personal level corporate issues bubble to the surface and threaten a happy ending. Now Sabrina must discover if she can win her prince charming back, or if all is lost.
I’m so looking forward to this book, and this excerpt adds to my anticipation:
Alone but for the music, they sat and sipped their wine. Despite knowing intellectually that Max would turn on the charm tonight, she could never have been prepared for this onslaught. His full court press was powerful. Seductive.
“So tell me, Sabrina. Why have you sworn off men?” Max threaded his fingers through hers and relaxed back in his chair.
She listened to the instrumental version of Unforgettable and weighed how much to share. “It’s a long story.”
“We have all night.”
“Longer even.” Her mouth dried up which left her tongue stuck inside it like a strip of beef jerky.
“I won’t be distracted. We’ll come back to that comment.”
“You are tenacious. Very well, you should hear the truth at some point.” She took a sip of her wine in need of both the moisture and the fortification. “I got tired of settling for Mr. Wrong-But-Very-Convenient. After a string of horribly shallow and often incredibly dumb men I had to bring it all to a halt. I called a hiatus to give myself some practice at being alone.”
The first course arrived.
“And that was six months ago?”
“Yes. I’ve been working on figuring out what I want.”
“What conclusions have you come to?” He ate his amuse-bouche.
“Abstinence is easy when you aren’t actually tempted.” And that made having dinner with him either the most courageous thing she’d ever done, or the absolute dumbest.
“No list of character traits you’re looking for in a future mate?” His throat worked up and down as he took a swallow of wine. She couldn’t have peeled her gaze from the tantalizing sight if her dress had caught fire.
“I’m a bit more fluid than that. I leave the strategies and obsessive list making to Elle. I’m more of the I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it type.”
“Hhmm…doesn’t give a man much to go on.”
“I don’t need a man who is trying to conform to a detailed list of requirements. I need a man who knows who he is and is willing to learn who I am. I need a man who can live with the realities those truths entail. Prince Charming need not apply.”
“Duly noted. So, what time do you turn into a pumpkin, Cinderella?”
“Midnight.”
Pre-Order Link for Amazon – Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA

DaraYoungPicture

About Dara Young – I was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, one of two children and grew up in Florida and Alabama. I later graduated from Auburn University Montgomery with a BS in Political Science and a minor in History.
My mother once asked me what I would do with a poly sci degree. At that moment I happened to have a romance novel in my hand, the author of which was a poly sci major. I quickly held it up and said, “Well, I can write romance novels!” How prophetic!
I specialize in configuration management, and I pursue my love of writing romance in my spare time. I dream of one day commuting to my living room in my bathrobe for work.
I met my husband my first week living in New York City. While he does not share my love of books, he does support my writing wholeheartedly! We were married in November 2000, and now share a beautiful home in Southern California.
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Thanks for reading, mark your calendar for the release day, 10/12/2014, and I’ll be back on Sunday.

Formula Stories for the Win

Tropes and formulas are a part of the Romance world. Searching Google will give you lots of plots and arcs and Very Important Elements for any romance novel. Using these formulas might just earn you some criticism about tropes and writing the same story over and over.

You can blithely ignore those critics. At the Romance Writers of America (RWA) meeting I attended yesterday, those of us who were not lucky enough to go to the National convention in San Antonio just last month were treated so some Publisher Spotlight notes that not only made us more jealous of those who went, but gave us lots of important information. And I am going to share some of it with you today.

Harlequin single title lines are not easy to break into, but the Harlequin series, under the Spotlight title, is a little more understanding of both authors and readers. And they insist on the formula. Not the same story over and over, but the same elements. Think of it like a foot race. All the entrants have to hit the same marks to meet the race requirements, but they can do it at their own time, in their own way.

The readers drive the desire for these same elements. A tortured hero, a flawed heroine, a reason for them to work together, a reason they shouldn’t fall in love, and a way to overcome all of that for the Happy Ever After (HEA). Here is Harlequin’s “format” for the perfect story: http://www.harlequin.com/articlepage.html?articleId=1425&chapter=0

Larry Brooks, the Storyfixer, wrote a great blog a couple years back on discovering that Romance writers are as competent and motivated as any other writers, and maybe more dedicated than most.
http://storyfix.com/what-i-just-learned-from-a-room-full-of-romance-writers And I am going to buy a copy of his book, Warm Hugs for Writers, to give to all my Scribophile friends when they doubt themselves.

Shoshanna Evers posted this Secret Formula in 2009, and now is a published author. Wait, can it be a secret if you post it on the Internet? http://www.thewriterschallenge.com/2009/09/secret-formula-of-most-romance-novels.html

At the RWA meeting, we discussed a lot of what is hot and what is fading from view in subgenres. Personally, I am just going to keep writing what I want to write, and I will find my readers through good stories. But the next wave is Historical Romance, particularly medieval. And paranormal is on the way out, apparently. I am sure there are more readers like me who just realized the wealth of books out there about Alpha Male Wolf heros that make me a little melty. And even a lion shapeshifter has caught my attention, in Dark Age Dawning #3, Daybreak by Ellen Connor (who turns out to be two talented women!).

About Dark Age Dawning, I picked up a copy of the third book, and started reading it without the slightest intent of looking for the first two novels. Not only has that changed a few chapters in, I am going to find everything they ever wrote and read it. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8397035-daybreak

Dystopia worlds have been a big deal for a while, where magic makes everything dangerous and beautiful. The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones are big reasons for this trend. But the genre has been around for a long time. Animal Farm being one of the earliest, and The Handmaid’s Tale one of the best. Here is Julia Gandrud’s 8 Point Dystopian Plot Formula. http://writingreadingandlife.com/2013/11/29/guest-post-8-point-dystopian-plot-formula-julia-gandrud/

Think you need a little more help getting this formula under your belt? Look for your local RWA chapter and find out which workshops are available. You can take some of the on-line workshops from any chapter, if it suits your needs. There are also many other sources of learning, from community college creative writing to Scribophile forums, but some of those are not exactly Romance friendly. But here’s a great plot mapping idea from Tracey Montana and Adrienne Giordano at the Romance University (whose motto is R U Ready? Love it). http://romanceuniversity.org/2009/10/19/do-all-roads-lead-to-plot-mapping/

Like Adrienne says at the end of the blog, I’d love to hear how you use the formula, and how you map your plot! Maybe you’d like to write a guest post for me on the subject! Maybe we can trade posts! I know if I followed through on half the ideas I come up with, I’d be rich and have all the time in the world to write. See you on Thursday.