Tuesday, June 26, 2012


This past weekend I had fun at RomCon in Denver. It's been a long time since I went to conference where I didn't present anything or sit on any panels. But I do love reading. The theme of RomCon is "Where Readers Rule"--which sounds great. I went to a lot of fun panels including "The Jury's Out with Rebecca Forster & CJ Snyder", "Romantic Suspense Q&A panel" and "Paranormal Romance Q&A panel". They also gave out a lot of free books at the con. Score!
Interestingly, it was like the hottest weekend of the year (so far) in Denver and the hotel was like an icebox.

However...there were a lot of events you had to pay extra for, like a "Titantic Tea Party", "Monte Carlo Night", "Chocolate Mangasm II", and on and on. Most attendees seemed to feel like the organizers were nickel-and-diming readers and authors. And several of the events were quite disorganized--Monte Carlo Night comes to mind.

So, I'm sorry to say, romance readers and authors would probably be better served saving their money for a Romantic Times convention.

How about you? Have you ever been to RomCon? Romantic Times? Other cons?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

start your engines

Students, start your engines! Seton Hill University's MFA June residency is about to kick off. This is an intense week filled with critiquing workshops, lectures, classes, and everything else you can think of writing related. I blogged last summer about the residency schedule: here. Check it out if you're interested in the nitty-gritty. Author and agent extraordinaire Donald Maass "The Fire in Fiction Workshop" is the special guest this year. Exciting!

The summer residencies also have an alumni writing conference associated with them including special guests. This summer the "11th Annual Writing Popular Fiction Workshop: In Your Write Mind" takes place June 21-24.
Among other events, there's a book reading/signing on June 22 from 7-10:00pm on campus featuring authors Michael Arnzen, Shelley Bates, Sally Bosco, Lawrence Connolly, Gary Frank, Geoffrey Fuller, Sheldon Higdon, William Horner, Scott Johnson, Michael Knost, Patrice Lyle, Kate Martin, Heidi Ruby Miller, Meg Mims, Rachael Pruitt, Maria Snyder, Victoria Thompson and Jessica Warman. In addition, six publishers, Leap Books, Dark Quest Books, Fantasist Enterprises, Headline Books, Raw Dog Screaming Press and Grit City Publications, will be represented. Also exciting!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


The issue of likeability has some up several times in my critique groups in the last month or or so. One of my critique partners has said repeatedly that he doesn't like one of my novel pov characters. Since this is the antagonist (unbeknownst to him) I'm totally fine with this. :) Note, too, this is a multiple pov book. Thus, it is not necessary to like all pov characters.

Another critique partner doesn't like the love interest for my protagonist. She says he's too mean/jerky. Although he isn't a pov character,this is more worrisome because I want him to stick around for multiple books. I went back to revise and de-jerkify him. I found I didn't change that much. I deliberately made the protagonist and her love interest have a lot of misunderstandings and arguments because they want different things at this point in the book. And it opened the door for another man, aka a love triangle, which I also wanted. Thus, it's definitely okay to have less likable non-pov characters.

I, myself, am having trouble liking the protagonist of one of my critique partners' books. This is a one pov book and it's in first person. Thus, a not-likeable main character seems to be more problematic here, IMHO. Obviously, a flawed character works great for the internal character arc of the book--which we want. The danger is: the reader might stop reading the book before the arc is complete. I'm still pondering this one.

What do you think? Should all characters be likeable? Should all protagonists at least be likeable?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury

As most of everyone has heard by now, author Ray Bradbury passed away last night in L.A. This is a significant loss to world culture. Of course, some of his most famous works include The Martian Chronicles, and Fahrenheit 451. I think Fahrenheit 451 is one of the most prophetic novels ever written. It's also the most scientific. Bradbury himself said Fahrenheit 451 was his only true science-fiction work; the others were fantasies despite their settings (such as Mars!). There's no question Bradbury liked to tell stories, but also like to make readers think.

As Clifton Fadiman says in one edition of The Martian Chronicles Prefatory Note: "Mr. Bradbury has caught hold of a simple, obvious but overwhelmingly important moral idea... That idea--highlighted as every passing month produces a new terrifying lunacy: sputniks,super-sputniks, projected assaults on the moon, projected manned satellites--is that we are in the grip of a psychosis, a technology-mania, the final consequence of which can only be universal murder and quite conceivably the destruction of our planet." Bradbury's paradigm was very different from those of his science 'fictioneer' peers. Since humanity has not heeded his warnings, let's hope his dire prophesies do not come to pass.

There's a fascinating interview about Bradbury posted at The Paris Review: Ray Bradbury, The Art of Fiction No. 203. Check it out!

Rest in peace, Mr. Bradbury.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I belong to an awesome writers group, with hundreds of members. It's called Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Among other activities, like critique groups, we have free writing programs at least once a month. For example I just went to one called "Instant Plot: How to Plan Out Your Novel the Easy Way" by author Laurence MacNaughton (he has lots of helpful info on his website). As you can imagine, a short-cut for plotting a novel sounded great so I had to check it out. Laurence had some solid (if basic) info and I forced myself to work on the plot of my newest book. "Ouch!" said the pantser.

One of the best things about RMFW is knowing or even just chatting with other writers for the first time. I have to say, in chatting with at least dozens of other writers over the years: there is a direct relationship to writing-as-a-priority-in-your-life and success as a writer. No question. It is blatant and obvious. Invariably, when I talk to a writer and they say something like, "Oh, yeah, I'm writing a novel, but I had to put it on hold for the summer because my teenager is home from school." warning bells go off. It's difficult to be a successful writer if you don't write! On the other hand, when a writer friend with a challenging day job with long hours, small children, volunteer duties, etc., says, "Yeah, I had to cut down my writing time to thirty minutes a day because the kids are home from school for the summer." bells peal in anticipation of his victory. This writer will succeed because writing is a priority to him.

Of course, not everyone needs to be a published writer. And writing success looks different to different folks. But, if you want to be a writer, you need to make writing a priority, IMHO. This has to mean some kind of regular writing.

How about you? Is writing a priority?