The Quirky Ladies is a group of eclectic (and dare I say quirky?) ladies who are passionate about writing romantic fiction. All types of romantic fiction...paranormal, fantasy, historical, erotic and contemporary. Bring it on!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tara's Turn To Shine!


The NECRWA conference was a wonderful mix of inspiring workshops, hilarious speakers, fun-filled schmoozing, and debates about Nora Roberts (Vicki and Kate, I promise to read a Nora trilogy ASAP). The highlight of the weekend was the presentation of the Goldrick Award. This award recognizes one NEC member who has gone beyond the call of duty for our chapter. I am thrilled to announce that our very own Tara Truesdale won this prestigious award on Saturday. Jessica Smith wrote an amazing tribute to Tara, which our president Cindy Gregory read in front of all the attendees. Here is Jessica's lovely tribute to Tara, which brought me to tears....

"Tara has helped the chapter in so many important but quiet ways that she might go overlooked. As someone who has held the post of 'snack lady' you know what goes into furnishing goodies for the meetings. There is a lot of lugging and a fair amount of coordination required to get these snacks on the table. Given the number in the membership, the percentage of people who help the snack lady in this effort is actually quite low. Tara did this service well and with little complaint. Much the same way she did when she helped me on the conference committee. She was so calm, patient, and helpful, and it is only in hindsight that I can appreciate all that she brought to the table during our sometimes stormy committee proceedings. She went on to run her own conference committee at a time of big change to the conference -- a new venue, a new board, and new financial constraints on the planning. She handled all with her typical grace and get-it-done attitude, and the conference was a success because of her leadership. And now she is finishing up year three on the conference committee as Book Fair chair. During a year when she should be basking in the glow of the success from her own conference, she chose to spend one more year helping the chapter . . . bringing a steadying presence and the voice of experience to a set of new and untested conference committee recruits. If Tara doesn't embody all that is good and unselfish of volunteerism, I don't know who does!"

Well said, Jessica! Huge Congrats to Tara....you totally deserve this award! All of the Quirkies are so proud of you! We are lucky to have such a wonderful, loyal and supportive friend in our group.

Monday, March 22, 2010

NEC Conference Time



It's time once again for The New England Chapter Romance Writers of America to hold their annual conference, and there will be Quirks in attendance! The conference starts this Friday, March 26 -27th and it’s being held at the Sheraton Tara in Framingham, MA. There’s still time to register if you’re interested in writing romance. Simply visit www.necrwa.org/Forms/conference.html for registration and links for the hotel discount rate.

If you’re there for the Fri. night dinner, you’ll hear my name mentioned along with Samantha Cayto when they announce the finalists/winners of the Bean Pot award. Illegal Moves finaled in the erotic category!! Our names are in the same category as some heavy hitters, and we’re thrilled to pieces just to be nominated. You know, I’ve always wanted to say that…true story!

If you’re not interested in writing romance, but love to read it (as we all do!), the conference is followed on Sat. by a bookfair that’s open to the public, 4-6 pm. Loads of authors, so feel free to come on over and say hello, get some autographed books, whatever! Visit www.necrwa.org/BookfairFlyer.htm for a full list of signing authors.

Hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Life Lessons from a Dog


I belong in a book group, and once in awhile the group's selection is one I would not pick up on my own. Last month's choice was The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. It is the story of Denny Swift who is trying to become a professional racing car driver, and it is written from the point of view of his dog, Enzo (seriously). I had little interest in a dog's narration, and I have blogged about my illiteracy with cars. This book was not for me, so it was with pleasant surprise that I found myself falling in love with it. Go figure.

Denny repairs high end cars while he struggles to become a Formula 1 racing car driver. He marries Eve and they have a little girl, Zoe. Their family story takes a detour when it hits a series of roadblocks (racing analogies litter the book). Eve gets sick and Denny finds himself in a bitter custody battle for Zoe. The book became a page-turner that had me staying up way too late to get to the end of the race. And it was well worth the ride.

Not everyone in my book group gave it the five star rating that I did, but it made me realize that once in awhile, you should listen to a friend's recommendation and pick up a book you might not otherwise read. Depending on what road your book travels (hard to resist those driving analogies), you might fall in love in a romance, visit an exotic land through a travel memoir, or learn some life lessons from a dog. I did.

Listed below are just a few of Enzo's tips to navigating a smoother life course or at the very least, becoming a better driver. Enzo collected these aphorisms through racing with Denny or watching Formula 1 racing videos. Makes me reconsider what t.v. shows I watch in front of my dog. I might have to tune into the Dog Whisperer and get Ceasar's help to teach my dog to stay off my living room couch....

How do you drive in the rain? Very gently, like there are eggshells on your pedals and you don't walk on them.

We are the creators of our own destiny.

Getting angry at another driver for a driving incident is pointless. You need to watch the drivers around you, understand their skill, confidence, and aggression levels, and drive with them accordingly.

The true hero is flawed -- and a hero without a flaw is of no interest to an audience.

To voluntarily restrict one channel of information is foolish for a racer; to allow information to flow unfettered is divine.

The race is long -- to finish first, first you must finish.

There is no dishonor in losing the race. There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose.

You can't exist as a separate entity. You must give yourself over to the race. You are nothing if not for your team, your car, your shoes.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Learning My Lessons

So, I'm not complaining at all, but I'm in the midst of my first set of full edits from a professional editor, and I've realized that this is not a business for the faint of heart or those with egos easily bruised. Wow!

Of course, lucky for me, I am neither of those things and while I can see how someone might freak, I'm DIGGING IT! First, my editor rocks and couldn't have been nicer about the edits. She actually says please in some of her comments. I mean, not that The Quirks aren't the most super-nice women on earth, but they kick my ass a lot harder for some of the same sorts of mistakes.

Now, I'm sure it helps that I agree with just about all of the edits. And frankly, even those few I'm not 100% sure about, I'm willing to make the changes because this woman gave me - a newbie with no previously published stories - a chance and I'm content to defer to her considerable expertise. The learning experience on this is awesome. I can think of 10 things off the top of my head that I will know going forward and that will make future edits (a girl can dream, right) all the easier. These same things will be in my mind when I edit other Quirk's manuscripts, so I feel like I'll be a better Quirky Lady when it's all said and done, too. Sweet!

So really, in case you can't tell, the process has been going well. My first hiccup in the process was last night, when I tackled those darn story edits (I did line and quick/one sentence kind of edits first). Again, my editor is totally right - the sex scenes need more emotion, and are vastly improved by knowing more about what the characters are feeling. And because I know I'm improving my story, I'm motivated and excited to be doing it. The issue is that I'm constantly questioning myself. Does she want me to drop in a word, or a phrase, or even a new paragraph? Should I be going back to build in what she wants through out the sex scenes, some of which are 10+ pages long? Or is she going to freak when she sees all those edits at this point? Am I doing too much? Too little? Am I spinning myself in circles worrying about it? (Answer to the last question: YES)

Ultimately, I decided last night that the goal is to produce the best book possible for the readers, for myself, and for my publisher, who would like it if I sold lots and lots of copies to those happy readers. Based on this unified goal, I tried to limit my edits to what my editor asked for, and in some cases this did mean I had to back and layer in the emotion for the whole scene. I don't think she'll disagree and I'm really hoping she'll be pleased with the end result.

And if she isn't? First, I'll thank God for the "Reject Changes" button. Then I'll remind myself it's another learning experience to take to heart and into my next editing process. (A girl can dream, right?)