Heart-Shaped Glasses May Mash-up

Welcome to our first mash-up! Never been to a mash-up before? Well, you’re in for a treat – a big heart-shaped treat, that is. Because all the ladies here love to share, once a month we’re going to share with you some of our favorites from around the web.

Tina’s pick of the month:

This awesome list of worksheets for writers that includes spreadsheets, worksheets, etc. for plotting and story structure.

http://jamigold.com/for-writers/worksheets-for-writers/#Scene

Julie’s picks of the month:

Potential Husbands from YA Fantasy: A Comparison Chart
And
25 Vintage Photos of Librarians Being Awesome
Lori’s pick of the month:
Wordbitches.
Jennifer’s finds of the month:
How to Immediately Become a More Productive (and Better) Writer
http://www.copyblogger.com/kaizen-writing/?utm_source=feedly
And
Bethanne’s top picks of the month:
And
Debora’s hot picks of the month:
Cool Writing Fiction Plotting Cheat Sheet
And
* * *
Have a great day and we’ll see you again next month with more of our favorite views around the web!

About Debora Dennis

A believer in second chances and that time should never be an obstacle to finding love, Debora writes time travels with modern snark and spice! When she's not writing, she's spending time with her family, reading, or trying to figure out a way to get chocolate into every dish she serves.

The Conference Virgin

Conference LanyardSome “firsts” are experienced between two people or witnessed by only a few – attending your first writing conference is not one of them! Every year thousands of romance writers converge on a new city and spend days mingling, networking, going to workshops and putting faces with online names.

Just the thought of signing up for a conference can be enough to send an introvert into terror-mode! Maybe you’ve been convinced by a writing buddy that it’s the next step to take in your career, maybe you’ve simply decided a few days away with people that truly “get” what you do in the wee hours of the night would be fun.

My first conference was a little bit of both…I really wanted to go and meet the women I knew only by their emails, but if I didn’t get the extra push from a friend who offered to be my roommate, I never would have taken the leap and signed up. And I’m glad I did. My first conference was the RWA National in Dallas. I had my first razzarita in a bar with an agent, I pitched my first book to an agent and an editor, and I attended my first standing room only workshop with the wonderful Nora Roberts. I definitely came home on a high.

So what can YOU expect from your first conference? Hoards of writers just like you! Late nights in the bar and lots of laughs. Expect to spend money on food, because not all your meals are included and you’ll want to go out with your new friends! You’ll be overwhelmed both by the crowds and the positive energy pulsing everywhere you go. Expect to take lots of notes in all the wonderful workshops you’ll be attending. EXPECT to come home pumped to write and take your manuscripts to the next level.

Lastly, here’s a few tips on what to bring and what to leave home:

The conference rooms where the workshops are held are usually freezing – definitely pack a sweater. Business casual is the standard dress code, except for awards night when you’ll want to dress up. Bring your comfortable shoes – you’ll be walking a lot! (I know, you’ve got to bring all those great heels in the closet…so if you’re a high heel kinda girl, go for it.)

Most conferences give you a tote bag at check-in, my advice is to keep it light and leave the huge, everyday pocketbook at home. At my first conference I got a lanyard with a large inner pocket and it has gone with me to every conference since. During the day I put some money, my room key, my business cards and my phone in there and that’s it…don’t weigh yourself down.

Business cards are nice to have, but you’ll mostly be handing these out to your new writing friends – agents and editors won’t be looking for your card, if they’re interested in hearing from you, they’ll give you theirs.

Leave your manuscript at home! No passing it over the table or under the bathroom stall. ūüėČ Again, if an agent or editor requests to see it, they want to you to send it to them.

Have I mentioned the books? OMG…at RWA National you will get more books than could possibly fit in the luggage you arrived with. Most people find a box during the conference, box them up and ship them home (don’t worry about figuring this out – you’ll no doubt see the masses lined up with the hotel staff doing exactly this!)

Bring your smile! Romance writers are awesome, generous women and everyone remembers being a conference virgin.

Do you remember your first time at a writing conference or is your first time looming in the near future?

 

About Debora Dennis

A believer in second chances and that time should never be an obstacle to finding love, Debora writes time travels with modern snark and spice! When she's not writing, she's spending time with her family, reading, or trying to figure out a way to get chocolate into every dish she serves.

First Adventures

I’ve always been a practical person. Okay. Sort of… No, not really. In the earlier years of my life, I used to indulge myself in eating and trying new foods, shopping for everything unnecessary, and spoiling myself with as many books as I can fill my house with (Good thing for e-readers!). I had hobbies, I had great friends, and I was never bored. I worked, I wrote, I went to school. I kept busy and I had more than others, so I should be happy, right?

But life became so unfulfilling… Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t spoiled. I worked hard for everything I wanted, but nothing seemed good enough. I realized it was time to move on…

Time for an adventure.

What did I do?DSC00745

I packed all my belongings, quit my present day job, dumped my boyfriend at the time (Trust me, it was time. Four years with the same man with no future was definitely a good motivator.) and moved out of New York.

Where did I go?

Hawaii! My very first adventure.

For a girl who has never left home, change seemed to be the enemy but I was ready to have some fun! I saw the opportunity and I took it. How could I turn it down? Adventures come in many shapes and sizes.

The first time I stepped foot off the plane, all I could think about was “the air smelling so soapy and why was everyone just smiling?”

I was almost tempted to get back on the plane, but I wasn’t ready to give up.

Everything was a change. The pacing in life was worse…

My first instance with bringing my New York road rage to Hawaii taught me a lesson. There’s no need to rush anywhere. It’s okay to drive 25 mph on a 65 mph highway. It’s okay to take walks to work even if it takes an hour. It’s okay to sit all day at the beach and just watch the blue water or count fish in the Harbor. Or spot men in trees…. I had all the time in the world to do as I pleased. And I got to write, write, and write! I found the chance to concentrate on something I totally wanted. Who would have thought?

I learned so much on my adventure. Not only about the culture, the land, the fabulous food, and the people, I learned about me.

It’s an adventure I wouldn’t trade for anything.

What was your first adventure?

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About Clarissa Yip

Constantly on the run, Clarissa leads the life of adventure and mischief. When she's not getting herself in trouble, she's usually busy studying the art of eating and curling up with a good book or spending numerous hours reading and writing. It's really hard to find her in one place for too long...

First Words…

Hi, I’m Nina Croft and for my first post on Through Heart-Shaped Glasses, I thought I would say a little about how I first started writing and my first book.

I¬†didn’t¬†write when I was younger; probably because I was too busy reading. Then, at the age of twenty-seven, I found myself living in a remote village on the banks of Lake Kariba in Zambia. And almost totally bookless.Lake Kariba at sunset

For the previous few years, I’d been working in London as an accountant. I was bored and restless (I wanted life to be more like the books I read!) and in desperate need of some sun and some excitement. So together with my brand new husband, I signed on with a charitable organization sending volunteers all over the world.

img016Lake Kariba is a man-made lake formed when the Zambezi River was dammed in the 1950s. We were working for a charity helping the people displaced when the dam was built and their homes flooded. They were subsistence farmers and fishermen, living in villages dotted along the edge of the lake, and much of my time was spent whizzing around in boats (dodging hippos and crocodiles!)

It was a stunningly beautiful place, but very remote, with no electricity, no TV, no internet and very limited access to books (and this was way before kindles!). For someone used to reading a book a day, it¬†wasn’t¬†long before I was suffering severe withdrawal symptoms.

Even food was a logistical nightmare. A boat ride away was a small supermarket. Unfortunately, it rarely stocked food; on a good day you could buy toilet rolls and toothpaste. We could order beef locally, but it tended to arrive still warm and with the hoof still attached‚ÄĒa little off-putting. Then there was the local dried fish‚ÄĒkapenta‚ÄĒthe most disgustingly smelly stuff to ever come out of the water‚Ķ

Obviously, I needed something to take my mind off the lack of food and books. What I did have was an extremely large laptop provided by the charity (and powered by a solar panel) and it occurred to me that my only solution was to write my own stories. And that started my first venture into writing and resulted in my first partial submission to Harlequin (several years later) called, The Best of Intentions. Sadly (but not surprisingly) it was rejected but with a very positive letter and a compliment slip for if I wanted to try again.

That was my first attempt at writing, but definitely not my last. So are there any major changes in your life that have made you take up something for the very first time?

About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

First Rejection

No, no, no…I’m not talking about my first crush in elementary school that crossed his eyes and ran the other direction when I professed my true love.¬†Although I have to say that it could’ve been worse if I hadn’t watched, with my tender heart in pieces, as he slid to a stop and ran into the monkey bars.¬†My best friend’s giggles quickly helped to start the healing process as the teacher picked gravel out of his elbows. My true love today, besides family and friends, would be my stories. Every hurt, joy, stress I feel is woven into my writing. It can get pretty emotional and I¬†sometimes feel the torture I put my characters through.¬†My contemporary stories focus on real life drama and intense relationships in small town America. Rugged cowboys, oh my, and the strong women that fight back when life¬†tries to buck and bully them.¬†And with as much emotion as I¬†put into my stories, can you imagine the anxiety I felt when I first submitted my¬†work to a critique group, and then the pain when the¬†first response was a woman blasting me with tons of red ink?¬†I actually considered quitting as I’m sure many others have done after rejection knocked them for a loop. But I have been truly blessed with my current critique partners, and even a few from the past. They¬†steer me in the right direction with constructive criticism and have taught me so much along the way. They cheer me on and supply chocolate and hugs when I get shot down.

The reason¬†rejections are felt¬†more strongly¬†than normal is because writing is¬† personal.¬†My stories are something¬†I¬†put¬†my heart into and when they’re rejected, I tend to¬†take it personally. It’s hard not to. I’ve been writing for publication for almost seven years now and received my first rejection letter within three months of submitting. That is a quick response considering I know several writers that have been waiting a year, or two, for an editor to respond. They say that no news is good news. Really? Hand me a silver bucket I can throw up in from the overwhelming anxiety every time the phone rings or bings with notification that I have an email.

I have to admit though, my first editor rejection was a good one as far as rejections go. It was a revise and resubmit.¬†The story was ultimately rejected but the process wasn’t as heartbreaking as I’ve been through since.¬†I think the worst I’ve received was a form letter that they just plugged my name into the greeting.¬†A critique partner¬†received one with her name but the wrong manuscript title.¬†The hard part about those types of rejections is not knowing if you even had a chance. Is there something you need to change or did you just get the wrong editor/agent on the wrong day? When you are receiving¬†multiple rejections, examine¬†the¬†rejection letters (or critiques) and see if you can find common suggestions, mistakes. Do you feel as though you can make the changes without losing your voice?

There are plenty of authors with¬†success stories out there with bestselling books on the market that¬†are proud of the¬†hundreds of rejection letters before they found the one editor, or agent,¬†that led them to success. My first rejection was hard to swallow though I’m sure it could’ve been much worse. I find encouragement when I’m down by reading about how other authors have¬†struggled but¬†they kept plugging away and persevered. My post today sounds like it’s geared more toward the writer, but¬†anyone can apply this post to something they really want to accomplish.¬†Make positive changes if needed, but don’t give up if you really want something. Success is always the best revenge.

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!

Chelle Sandell

About Chelle Sandell

Contemporary western romance author, Chelle Sandell, was born and raised in southern Oklahoma but has mostly traded her cowboy boots in for flip-flops. That is unless her cowboy feels the occasional need to go boot scootin' across a dance floor. A foodie at heart, leaning toward the sweet treats, you can find her in the kitchen experimenting on her family and friends. She lives out in the country with her very own cowboy, rowdy boys, Hank & Lilly (blue heeler cowdogs), rescue kitties, and a hungry opossum that loves to sneak up at night to eat the cat food on the back porch. An avid reader from way back when, Chelle first found her writing voice when her favorite aunt showed her a historical romance book that mentioned a Native American ancestor that she had been researching. She realized she could weave her own stories that could have the same impact on readers that she felt when reading. Most of her stories are contemporary western romances, but she also has a Western/Native American historical and paranormal romance waiting in line for attention. While Chelle hasn't published yet, she has met some success as a finalist in the Magnolia State Dixie First Chapter Contest, OKRWA's Finally A Bride, and two eHarlequin Editor Pitch contests.

First Things First

Hi, all, Jennifer here!

I have to admit that in my personal life I’m very sensitive to order and having everything around me just so. No, I don’t have OCD. But I have joked on many occasions that I could quite possibly be borderline. Luckily, my family has learned to deal with it.

So it stands to reason, that in my writing life I like order, too. Our theme this month at the Heart-Shaped-Glasses blog is FIRSTS, so I thought I’d share what I like to do first when starting a new book.

When an idea first comes to me, it’s really vague. For example, in my recent novella, A LITTLE BIT CUPID, I knew I wanted to write about a woman who had never been in love and I also knew I wanted Cupid to help her find Mr. Right but have her want someone entirely different.

See? We’re talking really vague.

Before I can go any further with plotting, the first thing I need are NAMES.

Believe it or not, I can write without a working title, but I NEED¬†NAMES for my characters or they just won’t feel real to me. Without a name, it would be like writing about a cardboard cutout figure. And I just can’t get into that.

So where do I start looking?

Actually, I have a nifty little Baby Name book called Beyond Jennifer and Jason, Madison and Montana: What to name your baby now. It’s an awesome book and I highly recommend it (even if you’re done having children of your own). It categorizes names for you, which makes it ever so convenient, especially if you’re looking for a masculine or feminine type name or maybe a good-girl name, or a no nonsense name, etc…

Once my characters are named, I’m good to go and I can then create my character profiles and then a brief story outline. See? Very orderly. But that’s me. I’m a first things first kind of girl. ūüôā

How about you? What’s the FIRST thing you like to do when beginning a new story?

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her upcoming sweet romance: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH releasing December 5, 2016.

  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    Lori Sizemore's Infamous released on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available.