Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bylines Writers Desk Calendar Submittal

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! I submitted the following entry for the 2008 Bylines Writers Desk Calendar, but you get to read it here first. Hopefully the calendar editors will find my words to be sufficiently encouraging for writers to include them in the calendar.

Contrary to popular belief, being a successful writer is not a solitary pursuit. Yes, only you alone can plop your butt in the chair and pound out those words on the computer, but what happens when you lose your motivation? What happens when you think you're ready to sell that finished manuscript? You need to network with other writers to gain encouragement, set goals, get critiques from knowledgeable sources, find out about the screwy publishing business, and learn which publications, agents and editors are the right ones for your work.

I'm a consummate networker, being an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, The Short Mystery Fiction Society, Romance Writers of America, Pikes Peak Writers, and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Through the contacts I've made, I've found markets for my short stories and made connections with agents and editors. And I had to make a lot of those connections, because my novel manuscript was rejected almost ninety times before I found my agent and publisher six long years after I started writing seriously. Without encouragement from my writing buddies, I would have given up long before then. So, don't be a loner!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Cover Art and Third Winner

Five Star sent the final cover art for my book, which makes the reality of seeing my novel in print that much closer. Click on "Beth's Web Page" under Links to see it. I didn't like the first cover they proposed, and this one is MUCH better. The bow makes it look like the book itself is a gift basket, and the gun is there to show that it is a murder mystery, after all.

Also, I just picked the third winner in my email newsletter gift basket contest. He is J. Tucker from Elgin, Illinois, and he chose the mystery lover basket. I selected some mysteries for him that I thought a man would enjoy, with one by Tony Hillerman, a fellow Western writer. I'll be drawing a fourth name in December. Keep those entrees coming!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bands of America Nationals Competition

Last Wednesday - Sunday, my husband and I were chaperones for my son's high school marching band on our trip to Indianapolis for the Bands of America (BOA) Nationals Competition. It was the first time the band had performed in ANY BOA event, and they made it into the semifinals round, ultimately coming in 27th place out of the 92 bands there. On Wednesday, we took school buses to the Denver airport, flew to Chicago, and rode charter buses to Indianapolis, then did the reverse on the way home Sunday. The kids practiced and performed on Thursday, toured the Speedway and NCAA Hall of Champions on Friday, performed Saturday morning and watched the finals competition that night.

Besides the 154 students, 18 chaperones, 11 staff members and the principal, there were around 100 parents plus brothers & sisters, grandparents and friends cheering on the band. It was an enormous logistical undertaking, but we didn't lose any kids or have any disasters--just a misplaced cell phone and a stolen backpack. We were SO grateful no one got sick or hurt. The group went 5 nights with 5-7 hours sleep each, so everyone was exhausted by the end, but also very happy with the outcome. Inbetween laundry loads, I'm trying to catch up on my writing work now.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

PPW Character Development Workshop

Yesterday was Pikes Peak Writers' fall workshop, The Overnight Guest: Learning Your Character's Personality by Sue Viders and Becky Martinez. Along with Barb Nickless, PPW's Workshop Director, I organized this workshop. I was in charge of the Continental breakfast, so Friday, I shopped for pastries, fruit and paper goods, and spent the evening cutting up melon and washing grapes and strawberries. Everyone seemed to enjoy the breakfast, and the workshop itself. Sue and Becky make it interactive and fun and ended with a brain-storming game that got everyone laughing. Quite a few of the participants bought one of their books or the brainstorming card game.

For the exercises, I worked on defining the personality of my current protagonist's male love interest. I always have a harder time getting into my male characters' heads than my female characters. I learned a lot about good old Rob yesterday, things I hadn't known about him before!

This was the first workshop that Barb and I organized together. We are so pleased it was successful, and we even made a small profit. Much better than losing money! On to the next one...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Second Gift Basket Winner

I'm pleased to announce that Shannon Scott from Decatur, Georgia won the second gift basket in my email newsletter sign-up contest. She chose the mystery lovers theme. Too bad my book's not out yet to include in it! She'll get some special treats from mystery author friends of mine, though.

My list reached the second hundred mark must faster than the first hundred mark and is marching steadily toward three hundred. I can't wait to award that third basket! I'm very pleased that so many members of the DorothyL and CozyMysteryKorner email loops have signed up for my newsletter, as well as friends, neighbors, writing pals, and the ever faithful Sisters in Crime. What would I do without you all?