Friday, September 24, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Blogging, Research and Writing & Shemar, Oprah and Boris

Photos snagged from the Internet by Denny S. Bryce

This blog is a summary of blogs I did not post (or write until now) during the month of September. I did, however, think about posting each and every one - a lot.

Oprah Winfrey and Me - Having to recreate this post is aggravating, but here goes. I got mad because Oprah's recent book club recommendation is Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. I'm confident it's a brilliant book, and have already downloaded a sample onto my iPad so I can add it to my reading list. However, I wanted her to break the mold for a change. Recommend a romance novel, not another 'important' book by another male author, but something different. No such luck though. So I'm a little miffed.

Research or Am I Taking My Writing Seriously or What? - I did something today I've never done - actually two things - but let's stay focused, huh? I went into a gun shop and interviewed the owner and his partner about guns. Guns purchased by law enforcement in particular. I learned about bullets (full metal jacket, hollow point, silver point) and barrels, size, weight, and more about bullets. While I was there a customer offered to show me his concealed weapon (a very cute Latino man:). I looked at the owner who said it was okay, and the man raised his shirt, turned slightly, and there it was - his weapon tucked into the small of his back at his waistline in a small holster that was attached to his belt. For some reason, I just thought that was so damn sexy.

Black Men as Romantic Hero - New TV season is off to a slow start IMHO. But a new show starring the very handsome black man, shown to the left (Boris), is UnderCovers. It's the first show in recent memory that stars African Americans (or blacks) as main characters in a dramatic series that isn't a 'black show' or comedy starring a black comedian. I'm watching it now, and wishing it well, but we'll see. I'm sort of teetering, feeling similar to the way I felt watching "Hawaii Five-O" Sunday night (or was it Monday). Lots of pretty, but wishing for arcs and substance. I'm a rough critic on pilots...

Finally, it's Wednesday and that means Shemar Moore Day - and yep, also a new episode of Criminal Minds tonight. Moving pictures always better than stills when it comes to Shemar.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why Writing Contests? I'll Tell You Why!

Eye Candy: The photos to the left of Alex O'Loughlin and Shemar Moore, snagged from the Internet, have nothing to do with this post. Denny S. Bryce

Last week was one of those weeks during which I sat back and smiled big time (Cheshire grin for real), pleased with and proud of the recognition, accolades, and general good wishes I’d received for my writing – then I broke out in a cold sweat.

The latter will become more clear as I get this little tale out.

I’d learned that I’d placed (2nd) in the second writing contest I’ve ever entered in my entire writer girl contest life. The 2010 Heart to Heart Contest, presented by the San Francisco Area – RWA, is the instigator of my latest joy (and fear). I am a finalist in the paranormal category.

So what did I immediately do after letting the world in on the good news (via Facebook, Live Journal and Twitter) – I panicked. Why? I’m not all that sure, but…

I’ve been working like a minion for years (the number in print would make me wince) – writing more than a half a million words of fanfiction, taking writing classes, workshops (one with Rebecca Walker in Maui, you’ve got to do this if you can, and don't be thrown by memoirs - it's writing, okay?); RWA conferences, other writing conferences, reading, studying, questioning, in fact, where’s my Internet doctorate on writing romance fiction and what’s hot and what’s not in the publishing world today? Seriously, that’s how much time I’ve devoted to the craft, to the industry and to learning, and its only a smidgen of what I still need to do. Because I want to learn. I love the process – getting the information, figuring out the puzzle (one of the reasons I’m a plotter – with a heavy, heavy dose of character, I believe) I love the commitment required to be a writer.


The question on the table is why am I panicking and what is the value of entering writing contests (for me)? Does placing in a contest mean I am a good writer or is it a testament to the fact that I write good contest (not meant in a mean-spirited way BTW).  But a contest is a means to an end – a step on the journey.

So what do I look for when I enter a contest (this is a lesson learned from my former critique partner, Marta, a smart lass, who writes kick ass fantasies:) …(girl, where's your website!)

The judges. I look at the editor and agent or published author who will be judging the final round. I want that feedback. Sure, I also dream of having one or all of those editors or agent(s) request the first three chapters or the full manuscript – but as an unpublished author I also crave feedback.

And of course, it’s not just the final round. The feedback from authors and writers who volunteer to judge a contest can provide reaction to the excerpt submitted from your manuscript.  

Also, I suggest you volunteer to judge a couple of RWA contests this year, especially if you are an unpublished author. I did, and I learned a lot about analyzing and critiquing and how to apply that impartial screening to my own manuscript. I should add that of course writers can't be completely objective about their own writing. I mean we have to have a high level of ego to write IMHO. You're creating worlds, people, goals, motivation, your ego lets you bring these people to life - so it's not always easy to critique your own stuff (and critiquing to me is different from editing). 

NOTE: If you have doubts about your ability or have questions, email the contest coordinator - ask him or her questions, and then after you submit your critique ask the coordinator how you did. 

It all contributes to achieving our final goal - writing good books that get published and that people want to read (oh, first they have to buy them:)...

And still I don't think I've answered the question as to why I panicked.

That's easy – over and above the excerpt submitted--the rest of the book has to be a winner as well…



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