Tag Archives: CRW

When Correspondence Doesn’t Pay: The Costs Versus The Benefits of Blogging

Moonday Madness

a blog for writers (et al)

Today I’m getting ready for the Colorado Romance Writers Annual Retreat, where I will be conducting a workshop on Kickstarting your Writing Process with Improv. So, instead of our regularly scheduled blog, today I bring you a very interesting tidbit on the pros and cons of blogging. ie: Does blogging pay? Check it out here:

When Correspondence Doesn’t Pay: The Costs Versus The Benefits of Blogging.

via When Correspondence Doesn’t Pay: The Costs Versus The Benefits of Blogging.

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Mystic Month of May Continues

Thursday’s Bite

Usually a paranormal blog, today featuring the Mystic Month of May

Thanks to everyone for stopping by my blog post on Helen Hardt’s blog HERE, and for visiting with Hillary Seidl on my blog HERE. CRW’s Mystic Month of May is full of prizes and discovery so be sure to hop to every site and meet all our wonderful authors.

And if you missed Wednesday’s blog hop on over to Hillary Seidl’s site and read about JL Bowen’s Goddess’s of May.

Today, Thursday, the CRW bloghop features Lori Corsintino on JL Bowen’s blog. You can read all about her upcoming release of her first novel in the Tales of the Fey Trilogy HERE.

Friday visit website www.LoriCorsentino.com. not just to see the very cool website she has (I love the picture she chose and someday I’ll have a website just as mysterious and pretty) but also visit with ML Guida and find out about her latest release and her take on the month of May.

Next week the schedule is as follows:

May 21: M.L. Guida guest Lizzie T. Leaf

May 22: Lizzie T. Leaf guest Marie Sexton

May 23: Marie Sexton guest BJ Hayes

May 24: B.J. Hayes guest Lia Slater

May 25: Lia Slater guest Jenn Le Blanc

May 28: Jenn LeBlanc guest Clare Austin

May 29: Clare Austin guest Holley Trent

May 30: Holley Trent guest Elizabeth Haysmont

May 31: Elizabeth Haysmont guest Helen Hardt

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Filed under Bloghops, Thursdays Bite

Celebrating Being Odd

Colorado Romance Writers celebrates it’s published authors with a blog hop, the Mystic Month of May. Every day there are chances to win new prizes and enter the final prize drawing. Click HERE to see a list of all the wonderful authors, a different one each day, that you can follow from blog to blog. Click HERE to find my guest spot yesterday on Helen’s Haven. And read on today to find Hillary Seidl and her take on what authors are really like and don’t forget to leave a comment to enter to win a free e-copy of Desperate Soul: Sia.

Celebrating Being Odd

                Hi Jessica!  Thank you for having me on your blog today!  I’m honored.

Coming into my own has taken a long time. I’m still not on the level that I would like but these things take time.  And I’m convinced that it’s a life journey.  Okay, enough of the reflection and on to a funny story.

You should have seen the face of the dishwasher repairman face when he entered our condo.  When I tried to figure why he had a confused expression, I decided to look at the rooms from his point of view. First, I had a compromising (racy) scene on my TV, a re-run of True Blood.  The particular scene of naked Sookie, ahem.

Second, he asked why I have a sign in my living room that says, ‘Vampire on Duty’.  What could I say?  I told him it just sort of stayed there from Halloween and I thought it was funny.  His eyebrows raised another half-inch.  Great.  Now I’m a super freak.  Pshhaa!  I was fine.  I didn’t care.  It’s my house.  My taste.  Whatever.

Third, he says, “Nice lights.”  Fine.  This one is on me.  *Hangs head in shame*  I still have my Christmas lights up.  I love the lights at night.  Plus, my dear mini-dachshund, Leela knocked over my living room lamp and it shattered. EVERYWHERE.

We didn’t chat much after that but he eyed my writing table full of notes, papers, books that were scattered everywhere.  I wanted to scream!  Look guy, I’m a writer and I’m sort of weird.  Deal!

That’s half of the reason why I write odd heroines.  I like to have a bit of fun and paranormal.  I should’ve mentioned that I’m very suspicious of normal folk.  Nobody can be that vanilla. Those are the people that have the stuff in the closet nobody supposed to find.  0.O

I like the odd in the world, odd places and odd people. That’s what makes life fun and interesting!  Celebrate being different!

Desperate Soul by Hillary SeidlDesperate Soul is my paranormal contemporary novella.  I’m so excited to promote this book because its sequel is coming out later this year.  Grand Rock is my fictional paranormal little town in Colorado.  Trust me.  There’s a lot going on.

Desperate Soul: Sia a paranormal novella to be released by 5 Prince Publishing Available now!  Amazon, B&N, and All Romance E-books

Thank you so much Jessica!  I would love to give a free e copy of Desperate Soul to one lucky commenter!  Good luck and happy reading! Hillary Seidl

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Announcing CRW Bloghop with Prizes Galore!

Sensational Saturday’s

a blog for now

Colorado Romance Writers Mystic Month of May bloghop
Colorado Romance Writers is having it’s first ever blog hop, And I get to be the first guest!

We have prizes at each stop, and some grand prizes, so be sure to stop by and leave your comment to enter. And if you haven’t gotten a chance to read Little Red Riding Wolf  I’ll be giving a copy away at the first stop, so come visit!

Our Schedule:

May 14: Helen Hardt with myself as guest

May 15: Jessica Aspen guest Hillary Seidl

May 16: Hillary Seidl guest JL Bowen

May 17: J.L. Bowen guest Lori Corsentino

May 18: Lori Corsentino guest ML Guida

May 21: M.L. Guida guest Lizzie T. Leaf

May 22: Lizzie T. Leaf guest Marie Sexton

May 23: Marie Sexton guest BJ Hayes

May 24: B.J. Hayes guest Lia Slater

May 25: Lia Slater guest Jenn Le Blanc

May 28: Jenn LeBlanc guest Clare Austin

May 29: Clare Austin guest Holley Trent

May 30: Holley Trent guest Elizabeth Haysmont

May 31: Elizabeth Haysmont guest Helen Hardt

Come meet the published authors of the Colorado Romance Writers. We have a diverse group who write across many genres. And they all are fun and interesting women. (No guys yet, but we have one male in our group and I expect him to be published anytime!)

rodeo queen by helen hardtstripped defenseless by lia slatercinder by marie sextonexecutive decision by holley trent

Little Red Riding Wolf by Jessica Aspen

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Retreat Bijou, Elizabeth Pelletier of Entangled Publishing

Sensational Saturdays

a blog about whatever is on my mind

This is the last in a three part series about the wonderful jewels I gleaned from the Colorado Romance Writers Retreat. To read the initial post about the CRW retreat you can visit HERE. To read about the amazing Margie Lawson’s Defeating Self Defeating Behaviors you can visit HERE. And to read about coping with contest grief with Ann Brady you can visit HERE.

Have you ever wished you knew exactly what an editor was thinking when they read through the slush pile? Do you want to know what stands out and how you can get your manuscript read? Well, we were lucky enough at the retreat to have our very own editor at our mercy. Liz Pelletier from Entangled Publishing was brave enough to step into the room and answer all our questions. She was frank, she was open and she let us know exactly what we could expect from Entangled when we sent our babies off to the slaughter.

No, that’s the first thing. Entangled is a small press. They are fairly new and they really take the time to look at your query and to try to read through those first five pages. If you are worried that no one even looks at your piece, Liz does. She can’t read everything, but she looks at the query and decides if it should be read in depth by an intern. So how do you get her attention?

She said it was simple. She needed to connect to the story, connect to the characters. And she needed to do it right away. Make your character either likeable, in a situation of adversity, sympathetic or empathetic (put the reader in the character’s shoes).

That’s it. If you do that, right away, Liz will send it on to the next step where they read it and critique it. At least the first thirty pages.

And then what happens? Well a few books get picked up. Most don’t. Why?

  1. The reader couldn’t connect with the character
  2. Lack of voice or too much voice
  3. Too many books just like it
  4. Just don’t love it
If you can hit the character hook, the interesting plot or a twist on an old plot, then you will make it to the next step. As long as they have a place for it. Liz said occasionally it happens that there is a fantastic book, but they just signed someone with a similar plot and they can’t publish two books that are so similar.
At Entangled they work with each author in depth, so they have to really like the book. Liz reads the books she’s responsible for multiple times. She has to love the story or she just won’t want to face it over and over and over again.
Is there anything else you can do to maybe get a leg up with a publisher? Yes. Edit your query and your submission. Then edit them again. Actually read them, don’t just spell check. And if you can, have someone else read them and make sure you didn’t use the wrong there, or two for to. I know you’ve heard this many times, but editors are still getting manuscripts with major editing mistakes. Don’t be a victim!
Be on the internet, be a prescence. We’ve talked about this before, but you should at least have a website and be on some sort of social networking platform. Editors want to know you can market yourself. Or at least that you know you should be doing it!
Google yourself. Check out if someone can find you, or does that stripper with the dog face come up instead. (Hey, it happens!)
Make sure your book is within the parameters for their house. If they don’t do YA, don’t send your YA mystery to them. Check the submission rules and be aware. Every  house is different with different rules. Get in line with the rules and you stand at least a chance. Get out of line and you will be receiving an auto rejection. Next!
I want to thank Liz for her time and consideration. She made me think and even though I’m not sharing everything on my three pages of notes I hope this made you think. Sometimes we take rejection personally, but after listening to Liz I had a new respect for how an editor makes her decisions. Thanks Liz!
Let me know about your experiences with rejections. Did the editor give a reason? Did you listen?
Today’s Halloween Treats book is giveaway is a signed copy of CRW’s very own Alegra Gray’s Nothing But Scandal. Halloween Treats is my treat to you in celebration of my novella Little Red Riding Wolf’s publication on February 18th, 2012 by Passion in Print Press. Leave a comment to enter the drawing for the book and to enter the grand prize drawing on October 31st for three swag bags and B&N gift cards!
Nicole Grueber has won Thursday’s book, Dragon Moon. Send me your address through the contact box and I’ll send you your book. Congratulations!

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Bijou from the CRW retreat, Margie Lawson

Sensational Saturdays

where I blog whatever I want

I’m thrilled to see so many new commenters on Jessica Aspen Writes! I love communicating with everyone. Those who know me know I am pretty talkative, so thanks for jumping in and feeding my conversational need. Once again this was confirmed at the CRW writers retreat I attended in September where we were lucky enough to have the talented Margie Lawson helping us figure out our personalities and our self defeating behaviors. Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in today’s contest!

Are you riding the horse, or is the horse riding you?

Self-knowledge is one of the things Margie Lawson teaches in her Defeating Self Defeating Behavior courses and she was only able to cover a teeny tiny portion during the retreat, but I could still spot the wheels turning in everyone’s brains as they looked a little deeper into themselves and their various reasons for not getting the job done.

Are you like me? Very social and liable to be caught up in too much tweeting or blogging and never having enough time to finish your project? Or are you caught up in repeating the self defeating, it’s never going to happen so why bother. Whichever you are you have a problem. Either the work doesn’t get finished or it doesn’t get sent out. Whichever one is your problem, or if it’s something altogether different, Margie has it covered in her course. Margie is the woman with the solution.

If you’ve ever taken a Margie course, you know she fills it with tons of wonderful information. At the retreat we only had enough time to take a quick peek at our personalities and what might be holding us back as well as make lists of doable goals for the retreats. I discovered I’m pretty balanced on three out of four of the personality styles in the survey she had us take. This means that my talent for organization and my ability to socialize are just as strong as my positive enthusiastic side. What I’m lacking is the self-confidence and forceful pieces that might push me to say, submit my work?

Once again, Margie is the woman with the solution!

Her terrific system of goals have helped me tremendously since I started her Defeating Self Defeating Behaviors course. Making two lists, winner and superstar, keeps me on task and keeps me from beating myself up when I don’t get everything done. It also lets me reward myself with something fun, say Tweeting, when I have to do those tasks that are not so fun, say sending another letter after the first query asking “what happened to my query?” Rewarding my efforts that are difficult has helped me to achieve the things that are hard for me. Thanks Margie!

If you haven’t take a course from Margie Lawson I highly encourage you to do so. Her online courses have a tremendous amount of information and she has several for each stage of writing. We only had a taste of Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors at the retreat, but I know (from my personal experience with Margie’s courses) that you will discover things about yourself that you never knew. And address those issues that hold you back. Even if you feel that you’re on track, you can still find a wealth of information to get you organized and over any issues you might have.

You can find Margie’s courses like Defeating Self Defeating Behaviors, and many more, at her brand new online school, Margie Lawson Academy!

What kind of self defeating behaviors do you struggle with? Have you ever taken Margie’s course? What strategies work for you?

Leave a comment and enter to win today’s Halloween Treat book, Kate Moore’s To Save the Devil. All entries go into the final drawing for the three grand prizes! Thursday’s winner is Sharon Clare! Send me your address through my contact box and I’ll be mailing prizes out next week! Congratulations Sharon!

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Filed under Sensational Saturday's, Uncategorized, writing craft

bijoux

bijoux, the little jewels I’ve reaped from the retreat

Moonday Madness

a writer oriented blog

Wine, writing and song, (okay, nobody sang, thank God) that’s what writing retreats are made of. As many of you know I attended my very first Colorado Romance Writers September Writing Retreat last weekend. As to why I didn’t write about it last week, well I was still processing.

Our estimable retreat organizers packed the weekend with workshops, hilarious games and time to write. In fact there was so much going on I was never bored and wished we could keep going for another few days. It seems like September is the month for writer’s retreats as my friends Sharon Clare and Sherry Isaac at Romance and Beyond as well as Elaine Cougler were also at their own lakefront retreat and I’ve read of others who were retreating as well.

Why do we have retreats? One of the things I learned was that everyone goes to CRW’s retreats for different purposes. Some went to connect. To make new friends, see old ones and to get that piece of the business that writers are frequently shorted on, face to face conversation. Some went to write. To have time in a beautiful mountain setting where there were no kids, no job, no pesky husbands vying for their attention. Some went not knowing what they were going for, but all went home satisfied.

Why did I go? I wasn’t sure at first. This was my first retreat and I didn’t know really what to expect. I packed my laptop and WIP, hoping to finish those stubborn last pages. I packed two bottles of wine, hoping to spend time with friends. And I packed my Ipod, just in case I wanted to shut out the noise and really work. And I did all that and more. I did do some work (I should underline the word some) on my WIP, I socialized and played games. But I also attended all three of the quality workshops.

Workshops presented by the fabulous Margie Lawson on Defeating Self Defeating Behaviors, Ann S. Brady on handling the grief of rejection, and Liz Pelletier of Entangled Publishing on what editors are looking for in today’s tough market. All three were so fantastic that I decided they each need their own blog. So look forward to future Moonday Madness posts detailing each one. I can’t take you on the retreat with me, but I am sure going to try!

How do you refresh your inkwell? Have you attended a retreat lately or is it still on your bucket list?

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Brave New Adventures in Awareness

When you sign up for a class in something with a title like Online author awareness, you might not be sure what you are getting. I wasn’t. I hoped I knew what it was. I planned on what it might be. And then the big day arrived and I finally was in class and could see what I was getting into. And I was thrillled.

Last week was my first week of Carolyn Cooper’s class. I was floored.

I’m an information junkie. I love learning. Carolyn loves teaching. It was a perfect fit. Yes, the first lesson was a bit of a shock. I’ve taken several online workshops before, its one of the great benefits to being a member of CRW. But they are all different. Some have one big lesson per week and some homework that the teacher doesn’t give feedback on. Those are the classes where you wish you were getting a little more. Then there are the classes where there is so much homework you can’t keep up. For a moment when lesson one was followed by lesson one part two, I was afraid.

Could I keep up? I, like many in the class, have other responsibilities besides my favorite activities of writing and learning. But as I read on, I realized that Carolyn was a communicator. Yes, it was a long lesson. Yes, I had to slow down and think a little. Yes, there was a lot of information packed in there. But once I followed it through it all began to gel and I began to get excited.

Yippee!

This was it!

I had been for a class to help me understand more about my efforts at marketing my work, and boy am I in the right place. I am learning so much more than I’d hoped for. I thought I’d learn how to manage Twitter better, what’s polite, what helps me and other authors. I think we’ll get to that eventually. This week we learned all about ourselves. What? Don’t you know that already?

Yes and no. I know who I am as a person, but who am I as a paranormal reader. What makes me tick  and what I have in common with fellow paranormal readers are two different subjects. As a person and an author, I have things that I am passionate about. Those are the things that a reader wants to know. And then who am I as a reader? As a reader, how do I look at websites? How do I use them? What am I looking for when I go to an author’s website.

Ashely March, a fellow CRW member and fantastic historical author, spoke to my group on this topic. As an author she wants to be accessible. She wants readers to meet her on the internet and to have a personal experience. When you go to her website you can see that. You can comment on her blog and email her through her contacts. She’ll follow you on twitter and she isn’t spamming when she tweets. Its the real Ashley out there.

Some authors are more removed from their readers. Whether its because they don’t have the time or they are not interested in interpersonal contact, or they just don’t realize it, their websites are cool, removed, impersonal. They sell books, but are they making connections with readers? What kind of author are you? Why? You probably know by now I am pretty friendly. I thought I would hate getting online and doing all this connecting stuff, but it turns out I love it.

I have to set timers so I don’t burn the food and then I shut the timer off and, whoops! I did it again, be right back!

(Whew! Had to stir the steel cut oats!)

Okay, so I love it. I get distracted and if I don’t set a timer I would spend all my time connecting with people. I can’t do that. I need to write and clean the house and exercise and, oh yeah, eat. But my website can help me. My website, by its design, can show who I am. I can be friendly and readers can look at it and see who I am and what my books are about. They can connect to me, Jessica Aspen the person, and I can be off doing what they really want me to do anyway. Write more books.

You’re going to be seeing changes on my website. I’m in the process, but slowly and surely I will be changing my website up to be more reader-centric and less author-centric. The great thing about that is authors are readers too! I’m not sure exactly what this will entail, this is my scary adventure, remember? (Those of you who didn’t read last weeks post can catch up here.) I have committed to this being my summer of change. Actually this whole year has been a year of change.

Since my year starts in the fall, I began this year with Margie Lawson’s Deep Imersion class (WOOHOO-U), where I realized I was serious about being an author. Now, instead of writing in my spare time, I spend my spare time writing. That was an ah-ha moment for me that started me on a different path that has led to here. In September I didn’t have a web site, didn’t have a blog, didn’t even have business cards. I have all that now. And the next step on the path is being facilitated by Carolyn, the shift to online author.

I’m excited to see where this goes, what my website will look like by the end of the summer and the end of my year. When I connect with my WOOHOO-U peeps in September and we talk about what we’ve done during the year I will be able to say that this year I grew into being an author. I now spend my time like one, I have the comittement of one, and my website reveals exactly what kind of an author I am. A paranormal author.

(Keep checking in and I’ll be making those changes!)

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Filed under channeling success, Optimisim, website

Why Write?

On Saturday I did something I love to do. I spent the day socializing with my peeps at the Colorado Romance Writers mini-con.There was something for everyone. An editor, Kristen Sevick of Tor/Forge, for pitches. A silent auction, which I am happy to report was full of wonderful critiques and gift baskets. And of course a whole day spent sucking up the wisdom of our guest, Kara Lennox.

Kara has published sixty-eight books. Sixty-eight! In an amazing feat Kara provided a one-woman conference, doing workshop after workshop for the whole day. We started with queries, moved through three act structure and right on into movie tricks for romance writers. Her plot-fixers and agent advice finished out a marvelous day of information overload.

Even when its a topic I think I know something about, I still learn something. I took pages and pages of notes and intend on reviewing them to see what I’ve already forgotten. For example, the three act structure. I use a plot structure when I write that is based on something like three act structure. I am going to do exactly what she suggested and peek into my mid-point and see if its where it should be. Did it move during those many revisions?Kara used movies as her examples. She explained that movies are exactly three acts and when you write screenplays, there had better be three acts. Its something I do and something I’ve learned, but the way she explained it has me wanting to pull out my stopwatch and check my Disney movies for their exact mid-points and black moments.

Many authors want to ignore structure and fly by the seat of their pants, but even fly-by-fabric writers should have some sort of map. Kara said many people think the three act structure is hardwired into our brains. That we look for it, and if an author doesn’t stay close to it, the reader feels cheated.

The most exciting thing for me was seeing that even after so many books, and the ups and downs of a long career, Kara is still excited about writing. She loves her plots and characters. She’s written category romance and screenplays and hopes to publish in single title, but the common theme for the long, long, long day was her enthusiasm.

She kept us interested right to the end. I always wondered how anyone could be as prolific as a Harlequin author. How do they keep coming up with new plots that are fresh and interesting book after book. After listening to Kara, I think I know the secret.

She loves it. You can see as she talks that she feels lucky to have made a career out of romance. And who wouldn’t? A lifetime of creating new stories, new characters and new happy ever afters? Why wouldn’t everyone be struggling to do this for a living? Well, maybe because it isn’t the easiest thing to do. You have to be prolific to pay the bills and there are the rejections and revisions.

But seeing someone who has been successful and prolific and still loves writing? That’s a calling. That’s inspirational. That’s who I want to be.

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Filed under channeling success, Optimisim, writing craft