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An Evening with Susan Elizabeth Phillips

susan-e-phillips

I had the pleasure of meeting Susan Elizabeth Phillips at an author event at the Franklin Library in Des Moines last week.  It was wonderful.

I met her several years ago in Anaheim at a Romance Writer’s of America National Conference. I attended her workshop and it was very informative and entertaining so I knew her talk would be memorable.

She write’s humorous romances with quirky characters. Most of her hero’s are sports figures. Her heroines are strong women who sometimes find themselves in awkward situations but it always works itself out in the end. If you have shied away from romance thinking you might not like it, I would encourage you to check out this author.

I arrived a few minutes early and met a handful of my Iowa Romance Novelist friends. We sat in a group toward the front. She introduced herself and then she acknowledged our organization. I have never had an author do that. She introduced us to the crowd to let them know about our local authors and to help us maybe attract a few new members.

Most authors stand up front and speak about how they started writing or where they got the idea for their last book. She did do a little bit of that but most of the evening was spent with her reading excerpts from her books and awarding gifts to the first person who guessed the correct book. Even though I have read a few of her books, I soon started feeling inadequate. These women were very familiar with her work and it quickly became a very lively event.

She explained how some of the children in earlier books were brought back and she told their stories.  The more she talked about the books, the more I wanted to read them. It was not a good thing for someone like me. I am a bookaholic.

That night I did buy two books and had her autograph them. What hooked me on Natural Born Charmer is the fact that someone is walking down the street in a beaver costume in it. I have to find out what that is all about. I bought First Star I See Tonight because it is her most recent book.

Since then, I have purchased most of the rest of her collection. It will take me a while to catch up and I know I will enjoy every minute.

But before I can start reading those, I had to finish the one I have been reading.

a-story-to-killIt is a cozy mystery with a protagonist who is a mystery author. Her ex-husband was a college professor and he owned a huge home close to the campus. After his death, he surprised her by leaving his home to her. She decided to make it into a writer’s retreat. She invites writers to spend one week a month there to work on their own books while she as the author in residence encourages them. It was the first in a series and I did enjoy it. The characters were likeable and it kept me guessing until the end where she did hint that her husband’s death may not have been a heart attack like she was originally told; so a little  mystery to come.

I continue to work on my projects. Working on the second draft of the novel I finished before I went to Tennessee. I put it away and have just taken it out so that I can look at it with fresh eyes.  I meet with my critique group Sunday so need to have something to share with them then.

I am also developing my mystery series. Not a lot to talk about at this point but moving forward.

Until next time, keep writing and reading.

Virginia

 

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

A Rose By Any Other Name…

rose

I have had so much overtime for the past few months and it is making it a little more difficult to jump enthusiastically into my project.  In the past, I have tried to work a little bit each of my four work days to keep my three day weekend for writing and all the other tasks everyone has to do like, cleaning, laundry, shopping, and trying to spend a little quality time with family. Since I work a 10 hour day, I finally decided it was too much so started using my Monday off for overtime. The last few weeks we have had less overtime each week so I think it is trending to the point it will go away for a while.

I completed my hours for the week today and decided I needed to post my blog since I missed it last week so here is what I am doing:

I continue to develop my story for the new project. I am trying to name my characters. For those who don’t write, it is almost like naming your children. The name has to fit the character, their age, gender, and personality. You have to like the name and feel comfortable with it because you will be spending a lot of time with this fictional character. I am struggling a little with my protagonist. I’ve got a couple names so far but no last name yet. The only name I have decided on is the victim and her name is Faith. So I am hoping to push forward with the names today so I can move forward with this project.

Here are a couple of books I use for naming characters. Do you have a favorite character naming book? Would love to see what other writer’s use.

baby-name-books

 

I am also trying to start revising my completed project. I will share more about that process as I get further into it.

We have a Harlequin Editor coming to our Iowa Romance Novelist meeting in October  to do a program and am hoping to maybe make a connection to pitch the romance down the road, maybe.  I am reading a couple books on revision to help me get started. Will share those next week.

If you are in the Des Moines area and would be interested in a writer’s workshop. My chapter of Romance Writer’s of America – Iowa Romance Novelists will have a Red Quill Workshop October 15th from 10:00 AM to 2:30 PM with a Harlequin Editor. This workshop will give you the inside track on the art and business of writing and publishing from an editor of one of the biggest publishing houses. Mystery, suspense, women’s fiction, romance, young adult, or any other genre. This is an amazing chance to meet a Harlequin editor face to face. Check it out on our Iowa Novelists Facebook page. Hope to see you.

I just finished reading ‘Last Ragged Breath’ by Julia Keller. She is one of my favorite authors. Just noticed her newest book just came out so will have to buy it – ‘Sorrow Road’. If you’re looking for an enjoyable mystery series, do check this one out. What are you reading? I am always looking for a new author.

Until next time, keep reading and writing.

Virginia

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

A Conference Saved My Blog

Killer Nashville Panel1

I just got back from Killer Nashville – a mystery writers conference and it breathed life back into my flagging writing career. I not only am thrilled to be starting a mystery project but I also felt the need to bring life back to my dead blog.

This is going to be just a brief post. I have been gone for way too long. Short story, health and life issues pulled me away. Now life is much better and I miss blogging. I plan to ease back into this, hopefully a blog a week. All about writing depending on what is going on around me at the time.

I am an avid reader so will continue to read and review books just for the love of reading and maybe helping readers find stories that I enjoyed.

I hope to write about the craft of writing as I continue to write my novels. As I get further along in this adventure I hope to look a little more at the business end of writing but to be honest, I have to wait until I have a little more experience with that part of it. I will share my experience as I write my own novel, what stage I am in, what I am doing, what’s working, what isn’t working, and looking for suggestions from my friends who write and read my blog.

I hope to continue author interviews because I feel there is so much to learn from those who have already been there, done it.

I am also hoping to bring back the joy of blogging.

And oh by the way, that big dude in the middle is one of my local writing friends and mister in crime – Stephen Brayton, talking about how to use your day job to feed your writing career – in more ways than one. You can check out his book – Alpha – set in Des Moines with a protagonist who is a detective who is also into the martial arts.

For now keep reading and writing!

Virginia

 

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Writing Prompt – What if?

What if you wake in the night to the sound of tapping, look outside your window and see a bloody hand print, reach for your phone and it is dead…

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

How to Get the Most Out of Attending a Writers Conference

Before you do anything, take a few minutes to think about what you want to accomplish by attending a writers conference.

  • Do you want to learn more about the business of writing?
  • Are you wanting to become a better writer?
  • Is networking of interest?
  • Are you published and want to promote your work?
  • Do you just want to have some fun?

Any of these are legitimate reasons to think about attending a conference. But as you know if you have done any research, conferences are not cheap. You have your registration fees, travel and hotel expenses, meals, and who can go to a conference without buying some books? So to save yourself from signing up for the wrong conference, you will need to do some research.

Before you do that though, sit down and make some goals for what you want to get out of a conference. What are you looking for? Put it down on paper and be specific. When you get home afterwards what do you want to have achieved?

And then look for a conference that fits your needs. You might start your search online, get recommendations from friends, and if you belong to any national writer’s organizations – check those resources, also magazines like ‘Writer’s Digest’ or ‘Writer’ list information about upcoming workshops and conferences.

If this is your first conference would you feel more comfortable in a smaller more intimate setting or are you ready to jump into one of the mega conferences like RWA’s National or the mystery writer’s Bouchercon.

Just wanted to give you something to think about. I will post later this week about the next step in preparing for a writers conference.

Until then, what do you do specifically to prepare or do you just pack a bag and go? Hopefully I can give you some suggestions that will help make your next conference experience more memorable.

Happy writing,

Virginia

 

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Dealing with the Dreaded D Word and Writing

I received a birthday present I would like to return but it isn’t possible. I was diagnosed with diabetes this past week. My first reaction was shock. I have started on some medication and will be meeting with a dietitian soon. I am incapable of waiting and know that most of what I need to do is up to me so I bought a book on the disease and started making my game plan.

I have been losing weight slowly since Christmas so I was already headed in the right direction there. The book and googling American Diabetes Association has me on the right track with my diet and how to eat. I am using an app on my smart phone that I used in the past for weight loss to track calories. I am now tracking carbs. I have added exercise. Trying to get 30 minutes a day at least 6 times a week. Am looking forward to walking around a lake in the area as soon as the weather allows. In the meantime, I am using a stationary bike.

So far I have lost 10 pounds since Christmas but I have a long way to go. I am still a little scared but I trust that if I do what I am supposed to do I can keep this under control.

I am also high risk for cancer and while I was so worried about that, Diabetes sneaked up on me.

Needless to say, my stress level has had as many peaks and valleys the last few days as my glucose level. I can’t describe the sensation but I just feel off sometimes. I don’t know if it is stress or I am more aware of my body than I was. I think I have been dealing with this for a while and didn’t realize what was happening. Everything I have read so far says that once I get the glucose level in my target range I will feel better.

I thought I found it difficult to write before, thinking I didn’t always have enough time. Now I have to fit in exercise and meal planning, and learning how many carbs are in everything I eat. I guess if I can fit that into my daily routine, I can also fit in time to write regularly but not this week.

I do not have a family history of the disease but my favorite past times are reading, writing, and movies. None involve a lot of physical activity. I used to be very active. I worked in a corporate wellness center for five years and I told my boss at that time that it probably lengthened my life. Once I left that job, I guess I didn’t think about it. I figured I was getting older and I deserved to be able to take it a little more easy.

I guess I was wrong. Writers are more prone to being sedentary.  Think about your diet and move more. Don’t let this happen to you.

It is not all doom and gloom. With weight loss, I will be able to keep things under control and hopefully prevent complications. It will take me a very long time. At the rate I am going, I will reach the goal weight I want next January, unless my increased activity cuts that down.

All of this has lead to more stress than I ever wanted to deal with but I am. I want to write and to do it, I have to get myself into the right (write) frame of mind and I will, because I want it bad enough.

I will post once in a while about my journey with this dreaded disease but most of my posts will be about what I love, the craft of writing.

Please feel free to share your experiences. How do you deal with stress? Do you fit in regular workouts?

Virginia

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 840 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 14 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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