Tuesday, September 20, 2016

September Links

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Don't sneer at genre fiction. Let James Preston share Three Tools for Reading and Watching Genre Fiction with you.

Kate Moretti explains why we have genres at all in Does Genre Dumb it Down or Make it Rain?

There are Craft Books for Pantsers--that's what they say. I'm still on the fence. ;-)

And another post about thinking it through or getting it down. Join Kristin Hoffman in Making a House a Home (and What It Taught Me About Writing)

Next Week: All about the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Book Pusher for September: K. Brown, S. Chefalo, D. Gabaldon, K. Lonsdale, P. McLinn, F. North

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Read and Enjoy!

COME AWAY WITH ME Karma Brown: Women's Fiction

This vivid exploration of love and grief will make you cry, but it's worth all the tears in the end because the resulting life is more valuable than the journey.

GARBAGEBAG SUITCASE Shenandoah Chefalo: Memoir

This harrowing memoir is also helpful. Chefalo has some amazing suggestions for fixing out disaster of a foster care system. Her personal experience make them all the more important to consider.

OUTLANDER Diana Gabaldon: Historical fiction with elements of romance, SF, and adventure

Here's the book that started it all--over 12 books and a TV show. If you haven't read OUTLANDER, you should correct that now. Gabaldon's amazing universe will draw you in and keep you coming back for more.

EVERYTHING WE KEEP Kerry Lonsdale: Women's Fiction

This amazing, twisting suspense will keep you turning pages and guessing wrong. What a ride! Must read!

LAST DITCH Patricia McLinn: Mystery (Caught Dead in Wyoming #4)

Last Ditch is deliciously twisty--and it's not just the whodunit that's in play. Great characters and sharp writing are hallmarks of a McLinn mystery.

THE TURNING POINT Freya North: Women's Fiction

This is a beautiful story of deep love and longing. What love truly means and how its absence hurts is key. Go slow and savor the shifts in POV, but it's so worth the read.

Next Week: Links--you know you love them! ;-)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

IWSG: How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

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Insecure Writers Support Group
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Our Co-Sponsor's this month are: C. Lee McKenzie
Rachel Pattison
 Elizabeth Seckman
 Stephanie Faris
 Lori L MacLaughlin
Elsie Amata!

I'm baaaack! July and August were Real Life months if you know what I mean. Between my two cataract surgeries and my mother's fall and her developing congestive heart failure, I've been out of commission when it comes to IWSG. In fact, this is my first post with the new (and let me cheer this development) monthly questions.

This month's is "How do you find the time to write in your busy day?"

The short answer is: I retired from teaching ;-)

The long answer is much more complex, as it so often is. I have a fatigue syndrome and that makes my writing time limited on many days. I've found through much trial and error since I retired twelve years ago that my best time is mid morning to early afternoon. From 9 AM till 3 PM, you'll find me writing, editing, polishing, or researching. That sounds wonderful. And it is, until you factor in fixing lunch, walking dogs, and general aches and pains from various joints and the sundry migraine. That said, I've polished a MS for submission and partials are out with the two agents I pitched in February. There are four more WIPs in the works. They're at various conditions of completion. I'm still working on the sequel to the book that's out in the cold, cruel world, but know I might need to shift to one of the standalones if I can't find traction with the first.

I've yet to research a list of target agents. I'm still quaking at the thought of doing that.

How on earth do you write if you have little children and/or a full-time job? I don't know the answer. But I know a ton of productive writers who do.

Next Week: The Book Pusher's September post!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pitching Report

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I think this is one of the hardest lessons of writing. No matter how hard you work, write, edit, and polish, there's another step to go on the long list of to-do's for hunting agents. You need to following:
  • log line or pitch--also known as an elevator pitch--no more than fifty words
  • short pitch for conference pitches in person--usually about 3 sentences
  • query
  • synopsis of varying lengths
  • outlines as requested (even if you don't write from an outline)
  • snips from the manuscript of varying lengths
In the interest of feedback, here's my elevator pitch for MOTHER'S DAY. What do you think? Would you want to read this book?

A retired teacher, childless and recently widowed, defies her narrow-minded family and her small Southern town when she opens her home to an abused twelve-year old, little realizing that the girl is the key to long-buried family secrets.

Next Week: IWSG--I'm back... ;-)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


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Vision has been on my mind lately. After two cataract surgeries in two weeks of each other this July, it's no wonder. My dominant eye is now my distance focus and it's happy with anything that's a few feet to any distance. My weaker eye is my close focus--reading. If you've followed my blog at all, you know reading is key to my happiness. My brain is still figuring out how to shift from one focus to another and how to blend them to create depth perception. I'll be honest, the lag of my brain getting the message is a bit disconcerting.

But, I'm getting there. The journey has me thinking about visual detail and how to use it better to draw my readers into the scene. My characters' view points matter. What Laura Grace sees in a home or garden would be very different from Mack. Or Rosemary.

Diana Gabaldon describes using the close and far views to draw readers into what she wants them to see. I like that idea. Now, I need to use my personal experience to utilize visual details more effectively.

What about you? How do you use the visual detail in life or your writing?

Next Week: Pitching Report

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August Links

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Jane Friedman offers "5 Steps to a Killer Book Talk." Now, we know what we have to do once we have a book to talk about.

And here's good link for about copyright myths: "'Busting' Some Popular Copyright Myths" by Susan Spann.

I don't know about the rest of you, but setting is one of my weakest points, so I really enjoyed Becca Puglisi's "4 Ways to Choose the Right Story Setting."

Chuck Sambuchino offers up "10 Tips on Landing an Agent at a Writers' Conference."

And just when you want to be proud of your accomplishments, Emily Ross warns about "The Seven Deadly Sins of Debuts."

You won't look at genre the same after reading "Ursula K. Le Guin talks to Michael Cunningham about genres, gender, and broadening ficiton."

Ruthanne Reid gives us "All About Commas."

Of course, you knew this already--"Can Reading Make You Smarter" by Ceridwen Dovey.

I dare you not to laugh: "What I've Learned About Heterosexual Female Desire From Decades of Reading" by Mallory Ortberg is the perfect place to end this link list. ;-)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Book Pusher's August Mini Book Reviews: V. Diffenbaugh, J. Kibler, C. Martin, P. McLinn

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THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS Vanessa Diffenbaugh: Women's Fiction

 An amazing journey of a foster child into love, loss, and growing up with all of life seemingly against her. Her one solace gives her a voice--flowers and their meanings. This is an absolutely must read.

CALLING ME HOME Julie Kibler: Women's Fiction

A poignant story of love and loss, and what we sacrifice for both. Calling Me Home is a deep, enriching story that shows racism in all its facets, but also tells how love can heal. The lovely characters live and will steal your heart. Must Read!

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US Charles Martin: Suspense

The Mountain Between Us is an amazing testament to enduring love and the stamina and faith required to maintain it. Must Read

SHOOT FIRST Patricia McLinn: Mystery (Caught Dead Wyoming #3)

McLinn continues her charming mystery series with another twisty story.

Next Week: August Links!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What Is Women's Fiction and Why Is it Needed?

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What is Women’s Fiction for The Thursday Night Book Club at
Neva Lomason Memorial Library, Carrollton, GA--July 21, 2016

I loved sharing my genre with the Thursday Night Book Club. Ladies, your questions and discussions were delightful. The fact that you meet month in and month out to read, share, and discuss good books is something I wish more people did. After all, books are food for the soul.

Here's what I shared with the group. The library provided copies of Diffenbaugh's The Language of Flowers, Kibler's Calling Me Home, and Meissner's A Fall of Marigolds.  Many of them had read more than one of the books. To be able to share some of the best in Women's Fiction with astute readers was a treat.

Why have the genre?

·        If I want to get my good story in front of your eyes, I have to find an agent.
·        Once I find an agent, they need the genre specifics to find editors and publishers.
·        Without a genre classification, you can’t narrow down the hunt.
·        Even if a writer self publishes, they must have the genre clear to find readers.
·        The term WF isn’t denigration. In fact, publishers are actively seeking it. It’s one of the fastest growing genres with a wide-open market.

What is Women’s Fiction?
  • First of all, remember, that books that could be classed as WF have existed for a long time: Jane Eyre, Ann Tyler, Gail Godwin, Anita Shreve, Anna Quinlan for example.
  • Women’s Fiction Writers Association's definition: “…layered stories that are driven by the main character’s emotional journey.”
  • Romance Writers Association's definition: “a commercial novel about a woman on the brink of life change and personal growth. Her journey details emotional reflection and action that transforms her and her relationships with others, and includes a hopeful/upbeat ending with regard to her romantic relationship.”
  • RWA ceased allowing Women’s Fiction with Romantic Elements as part of their association in 2012. This was the reason that writers who felt disenfranchised created the WFWA
  • We began this organization in 2013 with the idea to create a safe, nurturing place for male and female writers of women’s fiction. The publishing industry is morphing – with new opportunities and, as yet, unknown futures. Some of us came from the Romance Writers of America, where a shift of focus left many of us out in the rain. The founders of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association wanted somewhere to amass and disseminate information to and about our chosen genre”. The current membership is 791 as of June 29, 2016.

My personal working definition of WF is a story that pulls back the character’s outer layer to find the vulnerable core that makes them tick. In fact, much of what people do is because of the view of our inner core and how it doesn’t stack up to others who are only showing their outer layers. WF works when the core vulnerability creates the tension of the story.

Tropes for Romance vs. Women’s Fiction
Romance Tropes:
o   Heroine and Hero meet early and “cute” or at least in the first few pages.
o   Obstacles must abound to keep them a part making both doubt the outcome.
o   End with Happily Ever After—ends when courtship comes to end. What comes next is out of the Romance parameters.
Women’s Fiction has but one—the emotional journey of the protag(s) with both internal and external conflicts.

Because WF is such a large, general group, we have many subgenres.
·        The first distinction is on this continuum: Literary with the emphasis on character over plot, Upmarket with character still strong, but plot growing to equal importance, and Commercial in which plot is more important.
·        All of them are marketed for book clubs, usually with readers’ discussion guides in the back.
·        Then there are the elements of other genres—the most prominent are Romance and Chick Lit, but you can find mystery, SF, fantasy, and suspense.

How I found this genre:
·        I found my current main story during a dream and began writing. Then I looked into finding an agent and hit a wall. Agents had specific genres that they represent. It’s about a retired teacher and an abused foster child.
·        My story wasn’t mystery (though there is a bit of mystery about why the foster child looks like the MC’s deceased husband), romance, SF, fantasy, Historical, Suspense, or Horror (though some people think abuse fits this category). I knew I didn’t write Literary.
·        That left me with Mainstream. How could I sort through the hundreds of agents?
·        Then I came across Amy Nathan’s blog—Women Fiction Writers—and found my home.
·        When people ask me what I write, I say Women’s Fiction. Let me tell you about my story.”

Here are some Women's Fiction titles that I wholeheartedly recommend!
(In alphabetical order by author:)
Kathryn Craft:
--The Art of Falling
--The Far End of Happy

Vanessa Diffenbaugh:
--The Language of Flowers

Margaret Dilloway:
--The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns
--Sisters of Heart and Snow

Julie Kibler:
--Calling Me Home

Sue Monk Kidd:
--The Secret Life of Bees
--The Invention of Wings

Susan Meissner:
--Secrets of a Charmed Life
--A Fall of Marigolds

Amy Sue Nathan:
--The Good Neighbor
--The Glass Wives

Barbara O'Neal:
--The Garden of Happy Endings

Barbara Claypole White:
--The Forgotten Garden
--The In-Between Hour
--The Perfect Son
Coming in September: Echoes of Family

I'll be taking a break next week. See you on August 9 with the latest edition of The Book Pusher.