If you aren't a Romance writer, (or are a romance writer but live in an editing cave) you might not be aware there is this little thing happen this week known as RWA NATIONALS.
Just a little writer's convention in Anaheim with approximately a bazillion published, pre-published, wanna-be-published, might-be-published-someday and haven't-written-a-word-but-how-hard-can-it be-to-get-published-? authors descending next door to the "happiest place on Earth"!
And, I'm one of them! (pause for excited SQUEEE!)
Social media is all abuzz with Who is going? Not going? What shoes should you wear? How many shoes can you cram into a carry-on suit case? What color are your nails? (Passionate Purple, by the way, thanks for asking)
My new twitter friend, Diane Farr blogged about how unimportant all of the above are to getting published. Like an agent is seriously going to ignore your fabulous or not-so-fabulous pitch and decide your fate based on your footwear.
But, most of us are girls.
This is what we do.
It's like getting ready for camp and prom all in the same week.
Of course, I wore this to prom.
I'm hoping to project a little more sophistication this weekend.
And, a lot less hair.
So, it isn't the shoes, the nails or the earrings that's important.
For me, it isn't even that I will see some of my FAVORITE writer friends (although that is enough to make me bounce around the room like Tigger on street speed).
For me, it is the fact: I am going.
One year ago, I sat at home reading the #RWA11 tweets, living vicariously, but not truly believing I would ever go.
Wednesday, I am getting plane and proving to myself that this writing thing is real. It has value and I'm not too bad at it.
So, if you see me there, PLEASE SAY HI! and, let me show off my cute, new shoes!
If you ever meet me in person, it takes approximately .03 seconds to to realize, I'm from Texas.
Yes, I have an accent. I say "y'all" for singular and multiple pronouns. I've also been known to throw out a "Howdy" or two. One of the reasons why you'll probably never see a VLOG from me. The camera makes it worse.
But, let me tell you what annoys the fire out of me.
Southern characters created by someone who has obviously never been here. An actor with a fake Texan accent is enough to make me turn off a movie. There is a difference between "southern" and "hick", if you don't know it then you shouldn't attempt it. But, it grates on me just as much in books.
I have never, in my life, said, "Boy howdy! Am I glad to see you!" nor have I called anyone "Partner". But, yesterday, when my mom referred to someone as being "all hat and no cattle," I got thinking about some of our phrases and how they might work their way into my writing.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Fire~ This is usually used to replace a word that I shouldn't say in front of my kids. Of course, I realized it might be less than effective when one of my girls told her sister, "If you don't stop that, I'm gonna knock the fire out of you."
Fixin'~ Yes, this is a reference to time. It is used as in, "I'm fixin' to go to the store."
*Some phrases for you:
"This ain't my first rodeo."
"Like a chicken with his head cut off."
"All hat and no cattle."
"Bless his/her heart."
"That dog ain't gonna hunt."
*Definitions for those listed above available upon request.
So, how 'bout it y'all?
What's your favorite colloquialism?
What stereotype about your area do you hate to see in movies or books?
I am very excited to have Shanna with us today. She and I went to college together, um, a few years ago. Her life has changed infinitely since then. Today, she's sharing with us about her debut release, Lip Reader, as well as her hearing loss and a cause close to her heart.
Tell us about what led to your Deafness and how you chose to face it.
age 27, I had just given birth to my first child, a healthy boy. While
sitting at home with him, I noticed in quiet rooms that my ears rang
uncontrollably. Conversations became distorted, and I had difficulty
hearing voices on the phone. When I was diagnosed with tinnitus (ringing
of the ears) and progressive hearing loss in 2001, I attributed the
loss to hormonal changes from pregnancy. Later, I investigated my family
history of hearing loss and discovered that genetic deafness went back
several generations on the paternal side of my family. Exploring this
family history and journaling about it helped bring me out of the
initial denial, anger, and funk of having hearing loss.
What has been the biggest challenge of losing your hearing while raising three children?
children---ages 11, 8, and 4---have adapted by speaking to me quite
loud. When they can't get my attention, they also tap me on the shoulder
(best case scenario) or scream (worst case). My daughter took baby sign
language classes with me and seems to be more proactive in speaking
clearly, facing me when she speaks, and using sign gestures so I can
understand her. The challenges are there. My home is filled with loud
voices, but also laughter. I remain concerned for their safety. At the
swimming pool when I can't wear my hearing aids, I pay close attention
to them. My eyes are my ears.
You focus on lipreading, but you also use sign language. How do you decide which communication mode to use in each situation?
daughter is likely to use her hands while she speaks to me. My oldest
son speaks clearly and has a deeper voice, so he is easier to lip read.
My youngest son has quite a loud voice and is more inclined to place his
chubby hands on my cheeks to get my attention.
At church, a
woman and I sign the worship songs, and I teach Bible verses in sign
language for my daughter's Sunday school class.
about Lip Reader. What was your inspiration? Which character did you
enjoy writing the most? What do you hope your readers take away from the
Lip Reader is a novel loosely inspired by the
genetic hearing loss in my family. The book takes place in Oklahoma
where I was born and raised. My intention with writing Lip Reader was 1)
to explore the history of my family's hearing loss and 2) educate and
entertain readers with a compelling story about a special abled family.
The main character, Sapphie, is a 12-year-old girl coming of age when
she first meets her deaf family. The lesson she receives is one of
inclusion, tolerance, and compassion. Sapphie also learns sign language
from her warm-hearted Grandma Bebop. There is an unexpected surprise
about secret-keeping that readers must discover for themselves.
What led to your decision to self-publish? What would you tell someone thinking of taking that step?
start to finish, the book took just under two years to research, write,
and publish. I felt a sense of urgency to share this book with others
because it sheds light on hearing loss. More than 34 million Americans
face hearing loss, and that number grows annually due to aging baby
boomers with age-related hearing loss and noise exposure. After
researching self-publishing options, I found an independent editor who
proofread my manuscript two times before I submitted it for publication.
Self-publishing isn't for everyone. There is a cost involved,
and the writer must pay for copies of the book to sell at signings. For
the determined writer who can market the published book and has the
financial means, self-publishing is very rewarding. It can open doors to
speaking opportunities, media coverage, and community networking. A
self-published author must take on these responsibilities: 1) hiring a
professional editor to proofread the manuscript before publication and
2) setting up a marketing plan and following through with it. Social
media, blogging, and online book events open up plenty of marketing
possibilities. It's hard work to promote my book, but I like the sense
of control and creativity that come with being a self-published author.
What has been your favorite moment while speaking about your book?
speaking events, I use some sign language and plenty of drama! One of
my favorite events was bringing by oldest son and daughter on the stage
during a college speaking event in Missouri. They acted out a typical
day with me as their hard of hearing mom. My son was shy, but my
daughter stole the show with her honesty and smile.
are also passionate about captioning services. What have you
accomplished in that battle and what challenges are still ahead?
vital to all people with hearing loss, as well as individuals learning
to speak English as a second language. I became involved with captioning advocacy after repeated trips to the movie theater with my family. None
of the movies were captioned. While watching Toy Story 3 at the
theater, I sat stone-faced while my husband and kids laughed at Woody
and Buzz's antics. What were the characters saying? I relied on my kids
to repeat missed dialogue. That wasn't fair to them or me. After that
trip, I partnered with the Hearing Loss Association of America
in contacting theaters about the importance of movie theater
captioning. Since then, AMC Theatres, Cinemark, and others have begun
showing first-run movies with captions.
I became concerned about
the lack of online captions after watching YouTube and Disney.com videos
with my kids. What could my kids hear that I couldn't? My
responsibility while my kids are at home is to guide and nurture them in
their choices. Without the ability to understand the videos they
watched online, I wasn't fulfilling that job. I partnered with the Collaboration for Communication Access via Captioning to inform websites about the importance of captioning all online video
content. The 21st Century Video and Communications Accessibility Act of
2012 is a landmark ruling by the Federal Communications Commission to
ensure that news websites and other sites caption their videos. The
challenge is with captioning individual videos on all websites,
particularly YouTube. How is it possible to enforce the captioning of so
many videos? Yet it is important, and the CCAC and I continue to work
together through the Lipreading Mom Captions Campaign and other efforts to promote universal captioning.
When do you manage to write? What is your writing routine like?
the school year, I write when my kids are at school---usually mornings.
During the summer months, I tend to write more at night after the kids
are in bed. Occasionally I can grab a few minutes during the day to
write a blog post or work on a book chapter. While writing Lip Reader, I
waited until my kids napped or had afternoon quiet time to write. My
goal was 20 minutes a day, five days a week.
My new book,
Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom, is my true story of juggling
motherhood, hearing loss, and the unexpected twists of life. It will be
published by CrossRiver Media
and should be available in 2013. I spent four months writing two hours a
day on the book while the kids were at school. Much of the fodder for
Confessions came from my blog .
Besides hearing loss and parenting, I deal with family depression and
two unexpected deaths of loved ones. There is a lot of humor mixed in
with the serious subject matters. Plan for a few laughs, tears, and
true stories is cheaper than hiring a therapist! I love to share
stories and inspire people from my life. One of my stories, "Signed,
Scared, Delivered," was about delivering my daughter without the ability
to hear the doctor or nurses. Once I began working with two different A
Cup of Comfort editors on projects, I gained the confidence to
repeatedly submit my short stories for publication.
If you had a week to do whatever you wanted with no consideration to cost, what you do?
husband and I would have unlimited babysitting and would stay in a bed
and breakfast way out in the middle of nowhere. The innkeeper would
provide all the luxuries of home without all the chaos of home!
Thank you so much for visiting with us today, Shanna!
Would you like to know more about Shanna?
You can connect with her at her blog, Facebook or @lipreadingmom on Twitter.
First, I am dying to see what this guy looks like and to know if he is really an actor or if he just thought he was that good . As a plot, I could see a female bounty hunter trying to prove herself by bringing in a big case. What could you do with this?
Both were unemployed and decided to use their season passes to "put a smile on our faces instead of sitting at home and being bummed out about being out of work."
This kind of fascinated me. The conflict of dealing with unemployment (or a disintegrating marriage~which was what came to my mind) in the "Happiest Place on Earth" could make for some interesting twists.
Oh, the places this one could go. Imagine a time-travel, what if he had put the whiskey there himself when he went to the past so he could find it in the future and know the experience was real? Is your head spinning yet?
Or the beginning of a dual timeline story. The man finds the liquor and his life parallels the life of the man who put it there.
These are my swaps for today. What'd you bring to trade?
First, let me say, as an inspirational romance set in the old west, this book was WAY out of my normal reading. But, since I've followed Keli's journey to publication, including crying with her when she opened her first shipment of books (Did you miss that? You can see it here.) I felt so invested in this book, I did little dance in the kitchen the day I opened it.
Sorry, no video of that.
About the Book
ever-resourceful widow, Elenora Watkins arrives in El Dorado ready to
go into partnership with Miles Rutledge. When he refuses, Elenora
becomes the competition across the street. Is this town big enough for
the two of them?
Miles can’t help but stick his
well-polished boot in his mouth whenever he comes face-to-face with
Elenora. Can he find a way to win her heart while destroying her
Miles’s mother, Maude, is bent on
Elenora becoming her new daughter-in-law while Elenora’s daughter,
Tildy, thinks Miles would make a perfect papa. How far will these
meddlers go to unite this enterprising pair?
Check out Keli's video of the real life inspiration for her story.
What did I think?
Let me just say, I smiled like a loon through most of this book. The characters are immediately real and loveable. There is one particular scene where the men in the barbershop are teasing Miles that made me realize people in that time were real. They had lives not so removed from ours. They weren't all gunfighters and staunch lawmen. They loved their families, flirted with their wives and the men, because they are men, still showed affection by dogging on each other.
Having been accused (or praised~ whichever way you want to take it) in my life of being a "stubborn, independent woman", I loved the character of Elenora. Her quick wit and resourcefulness instantly drew me to her. The banter between her and Miles adds a delightful flavor of humor and authenticity to the story.
This is an inspirational romance, but the message of faith is by no means heavy-handed. References to the Lord and prayer arise organically and do not pull the reader from the story as I have seen in other inspirational works.
There is also plenty of "romantic tension". Enough to keep you turning the page to find out "Will they?" or "Won't they?" for just a kiss!
So, my question to you is, what have you ever wondered about the old west? Can you imagine the people you know living there? If you were there, what would you be? A shop owner? Sheriff? Outlaw?
The names of those who leave a comment today will be combined with the names from Tuesday and entered in the drawing for an autographed copy of Keli's book.
Keli's debut A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, Californiareleased this month. It has been a joy getting to know Keli and watching her succeed in her writing journey. She is one of the sweetest people I've met and I am thrilled to have her with us today.
You can see a video of Keli opening her first shipment of books below. Be sure and grab some tissues!
I live in the heart of California’s Gold Country. I love
this historic area and wanted to bring it to life on the page. El Dorado is a
small town a few miles from where I live. It’s a sleepy suburb now, but it was
a thriving community in 1870, the year my story takes place.
When I read about
the town’s leading businessman, a well-respected mercantile owner named James
B. Wetherwax, I wanted to learn more about him, but I found little information.
Being a writer, I could imagine such a man, and I did.
My hero, Miles Rutledge, is that man. Of course he needs a
woman in his life, so along comes enterprising Elenora Watkins, who opens a
shop across the street from his. Women in California have been able to own
businesses since the early days, a fact I learned from the plaque on Emigrant
Jane’s storefront, a building still standing in my hometown of Placerville.
I know you have a love for all things Victorian, which makes
me think about English parlors and tea. How does that translate into writing
about the "Old West"?
Don't you love her outfit?
Many of the men and women who first came to California
hailed from the East, where they were used to the Victorian ways. They brought
their culture with them.
were wild in the early days of the Gold Rush, progress was rapid. By 1870 my town of Placerville had a philharmonic society, a
brass band, and a roller skating rink. One could visit places like San
Francisco or Sacramento City and attend performances by some of the top-name
entertainers of the day. The many stately Victorian homes seen throughout the
Gold Country boast parlors that would have served tea and treats on par with
anything served back east.
What a great question, Dawn. I believe people like to laugh,
and there are many inspirational historical romance authors who ensure readers
will do just that. Mary Connealy,Margaret Brownley, and Karen Witemeyer have
sent me into spasms of laughter at times, as they have many.
I’ll let you in on a secret. I didn’t set out to write a
funny story. I’m not all that funny in real life. If I can manage to tell a
joke without cracking up, I often forget the punch line, which makes me laugh
even more. While others who know me well weren’t surprised to find a humorous
element in my voice, it came as a pleasant surprise to me. I hope readers enjoy
my stories, and if they get a chuckle out of them, that’s a nice bonus.
In your guest post last year, you discussed some of the
challenges of writing inspirational romances versus mainstream. What challenges did you face writing this story? How did you manage those?
My biggest challenge in writing A Bride Opens Shopwas rewriting it, which I did three times. The
last time was after my agent, Rachelle Gardner, had offered representation.
Turns out I’d been a bit too nice to my characters and needed to ramp up the
conflict. I had fun making things more difficult for Miles and Elenora. Not to
worry. I told them to trust me and assured them everything would work out well
in the end.
As a result of my rewrites, I’ve become a huge advocate of
outlining a story before starting one. If I have the beginning, major turning
points, black moment, conclusion, character arcs, and internal and external
conflicts figured out ahead of time, I’m much more likely to end up with a
story that flows well and will keep a reader turning pages. There are still
surprises as I write, though, which keeps things fun.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
I must be atypical, because no two days look alike. Right
now I’m spending the majority of my time on promotion, since my book has just
released. When I’m in the planning stages of a new story, I’ll spend countless
hours devouring reference books. During the actual writing phase, I lose track
of time as I immerse myself in the 1800s. I can get so into the period that
hearing the phone ring or the dryer buzz startles me, since such sounds have no
place in my story world.
If you could travel back to the Victorian days and live
there for one week, what you be your top three must-do experiences?
Ooh! What fun! Lemme see. Since I live in the Gold Country,
I’d like to see a mining operation in full swing. While I don’t like the way
the land was ravaged, I’m curious about all the steps in the process. I’d like
to watch the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, especially the
boring of the tunnels through the Sierras. I marvel at what our forefathers accomplished
without computers or the heavy machinery we have today. And I would take a few
of my days to pop in and out of shops in towns across the country, seeing all
the things for sale, so I could add that detail to my stories. Of course, I’d
take note of the clothing, conveyances, and cuisine everywhere I went.
Your book is dedicated to your husband. In what way has he
supported your writing? What would he tell us living with a writer is like?
Gwynly has supported me in every way imaginable. Just the
other day he was stuffing copies of my book in padded mailers. Last night he
and a friend were practicing the folk tunes they’ll be playing at my launch
party. And my dear guy has even agreed to wear a full Victorian outfit at my
author events, complete with frock coat, silk puff tie, and top hat.
If you were to ask Gwynly what living with a writer is like,
he would probably grin. And then he’d tell you life with this particular writer
is never dull. He’s tactful that way. If he were honest, he’d tell you how many
times he’s had to wait for dinner, for me to do a load of whites, or for me to
drag myself away from the computer to take a walk or join him on a ride in his
What would you tell someone
(like, oh, I don't know...me!) who is still trying to find their place as
Have fun! The pressure to follow every “rule,” final in contests, send
out queries, get an agent or a contract, etc. can rob us of the joy of writing.
When that happens, writing can cease to be fun and our work can suffer. I know,
because I’ve been there. When the Lord led me to let go of my expectations, I
started having fun again, my writing took a real leap forward, and things began
happening for me.
To learn more about
Keli, you can visit her new Victorian-style cyber home atwww.keligwyn.com, where you'll find her parlor, study, carriage house, and more, along
with her blog and her social media links.
Thank you so much for hosting me again, Dawn. It’s great to have another
opportunity to spend time with you and your blog’s visitors.
I have a question
Who’s been the most supportive person in your life as you’ve pursued
Keli will send a copy of her new book to a lucky reader who leaves a comment.