I completed judging my book assignments in the first round of the RITA contest! Although this is only the second time I’ve participated in the RITA contest, it’s fast becoming a yearly tradition that I enjoy immensely. What better time than January to be shut indoors reading books, am I right? Also, it encourages me to read romances outside my genre; it’s always good to dip one’s toes outside his or her comfort zone. All sorts of new authors and stories are available to you when you do. As a writer and avid reader, I love any story, no matter the genre, so long as it’s an exciting one. I really enjoyed my reading assignments and can’t wait to hear the list of finalists in late March!
Love to read ROMANCE? Want FREE(ISH) BOOKS?
If you said yes to both questions, then please consider signing up to judge in The Carolyn Readers Choice Award contest.
The North Texas chapter of Romance Writers of America is looking for close to 400 romance readers to help choose winners in six romance sub-categories. To be eligible, you must be 18 years of age or older and not affiliated with the publishing industry in any way, to include being an aspiring author.
Judging involves reading the entirety of up to five books and filling out an online score sheet.
Contest closes for entries on Feb. 14 and judging panels will be emailed out during the following few days. Judging deadline is April 14th.
For more information and to sign up, visit http://www.ntrwa.org/thecarolyn/the.carolyn.judge.info.htm. If you have any further questions, contact Jen FitzGerald, the contest coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but I got suckered into watching a Hallmark channel Christmas movie last weekend. I always say the same thing every time I finish watching one of those corny things: “Well, that’s two hours of my life that I can never get back.” And yet I let myself get reeled in to watching this particular Hallmark movie because of the plot line—an unpublished romance author signs up for a 5-day writing conference at the aptly named “Mistletoe Inn” and as you can imagine, lots of silly romantic hijinks ensue. All in all, not a bad premise, right? Especially for someone like me who loves reading and writing romance and would undoubtedly connect with the scrappy romance-writing heroine…or so I thought…
First off, our heroine is not scrappy. She doesn’t have a spunky bone in her insecure little self. The heroine—I’ve forgotten her name and don’t care enough to google it, so let’s just call her Crumple Face for our purposes—has never let anyone read the stuff she’s written. Now that’s not entirely unheard of, especially since she’s an aspiring writer and has been tweaking her manuscript for years, and certainly every writer is protective of their book babies and loath to hear criticism. That being said, constructive criticism is par for the course if you want to improve your craft. Oh, and it’s also a part of life that anyone reaching the age of thirtyish like our heroine Crumple Face should surely have experienced by now. Anyway, poor little Crumple Face can scarcely contain her emotions as she embarks upon her 5-day writing conference at the Mistletoe Inn. She’s wide-eyed, excited, nervous, tittering, sometimes physically vibrating with anxiety over people’s responses to her writing. Will they like it? Will they hate it? Will her dreams be crushed? Will she be declared her generation’s next great authoress? Surely the latter!
As you can imagine by the moniker I’ve given our heroine, she does not react well to constructive criticism. Her poor little face immediately crumples with devastation every time she receives feedback on how she can improve her writing, no matter how gently that feedback is packaged inside festive wrapping paper complete with fluffy bow. After a while, I truly enjoyed the movie for Crumple Face’s reactions alone. Picture a toddler running off sobbing with her hands waving overhead because she dropped her lollypop on the ground, only it’s not a toddler, but a fully-grown woman with a complete dearth of coping mechanisms. Hilarious! I started to think the viewer could even make a drinking game out of it: Take a sip every time Crumple Face bursts into tears! We’d all be drunk before the movie was half over.
Now, as one would expect with any Hallmark movie, by the end our heroine learns a few valuable lessons in time to receive that book publishing deal she’s been pining over. Yay, validation! I was nearly rolling off the couch with laughter. Who knew it was that easy? All I could think about was my own struggles getting published and how, after nearly twenty years and a bulging file folder full of publishing/agent rejection letters, I finally sacked the notion of getting traditionally published and self-published instead. In comparison, poor Crumple Face would have launched herself off the nearest cliff after that first rejection form letter.
Writing, folks! It ain’t for the chicken-hearted.
I’ve entered the Romance Writers of America’s RITA contest for the second year in a row. How fun! How exhausting! How nerve-wracking! All things considered, it’s mostly the first; I haven’t invested the emotional weight into the contest this year like I did last year. I’m entering Watermark to see “what if,” but contests are always hit or miss, so it’s best to simply enjoy the experience and not think too hard on placing. Entries opened on November 1st at 11 am, so in a manner of speaking, this is technically old news, but I’ve been distracted by home improvement projects around the house and subsequently, my blog has been the sad victim of neglect. Poor overlooked blog, I’m back! As with Clingstone last year, I entered Watermark into the Historical: Long category. This year the contest is entirely electronic, which is an immense relief since that means I won’t have to mail off five paperback copies to RWA headquarters in Texas; that can get expensive, especially this time of year, and especially for a chronically unemployed former residential treatment worker like myself. All I had to do was upload a PDF of my book and voila! Nothing more to do but cue dusting hands. I am looking forward to judging in the preliminary round again, which all entrants are required to do, but this year I also volunteered to judge the final round (although that doesn’t mean I’ll be picked to do so). Can’t wait to read all those free books in January! That’s it for now…
The free promotion on Amazon for Watermark was a great success! At one point, Watermark ranked #72 in the romance action/adventure category. Again, thanks to all of you who downloaded your copy, and if you’re so inclined, post a review of Watermark on Goodreads or Amazon. As we all know, reviews help readers navigate the millions of books out there and whether a particular pick is up their alley or not; any thoughts on what did or didn’t work for you would be much appreciated! Thanks again, dear readers!
Thanks to all of you out there who downloaded their free copy of Watermark on Amazon! I hope you enjoy Juno and Malcolm's story; it was a true pleasure to write! Today is the last day to take advantage of this free promotion, so jump on Amazon and reserve your free copy if you haven't yet done so. Click here for the link.
Go out and claim your free eBook copy of Watermark! I'm giving away free copies through Amazon starting this Thursday, October 19. The promotion will run five consecutive days through Monday, October 23. Love historical romance and action and adventure? Then look no further and secure your copy of Watermark anytime between Thursday, October 19-Monday, October 23, 2017. Enjoy, dear readers!
I'm pleased to share the link to the latest review for Watermark! Check out the post at the romance blog Romance Novels for the Beach by clicking here.
I'm thrilled to announce that Clingstone won the Historical category in the I Heart Indie Contest sponsored by the Las Vegas Romance Writers! The official announcement will occur at the Vegas Valley Book Festival on October 21, 2017. The following is the announcement on their website: "The VVBF is also where the LVRWs will announce the winners of the 2017 I Heart Indie Contest. The IHI contest is an international contest of book covers and back cover blurbs that is judged by book clubs all over the world. Stop by and check out the winners!"
The paperback edition of Watermark is now available on Amazon! The full spread turned out to be amazing, and I'm really pleased with it! I hope you will be, too. Click here to purchase.
Watermark is something of an homage to my late teens and early twenties, which were spent having a rollicking-good time with a large group of friends in the Great Outdoors back when life was far less complicated. We regularly camped and canoed on the Mackinaw River in conditions that were often primitive, but always wildly fun. Those experiences helped me appreciate Juno’s attachment to the river and the appeal of a simple life full of simple pleasures; those weekends with my friends lacked extravagant amenities, but nights spent around a crackling bonfire laughing and boasting and telling ribald jokes are some of my fondest memories to this day.
Paired with those memories is an excellent book I came across a few years back in a Barnes and Noble bookstore: Wicked River; The Mississippi River When It Last Ran Wild by Lee Sandlin is an enormously enjoyable historical read. If you love American history as I do, the descriptions and little anecdotes found throughout this book makes for a fast-paced read. I didn’t buy this book as research fodder for my own novel, but after reading Sandlin’s book several years ago, the idea for Watermark began to germinate, and the rest is, well, history, ha-ha!
Sandlin’s book is well-researched and provides rich details that brings that time in the annals of American history vividly to life. His descriptions of the river are exquisite; colors and smells leap off the pages. He describes a way of life both charming and dangerous, picturesque and violent. River towns are described in all their squalid glory, and it’s mesmerizing. If, like me, you relish the unsightly details of the past as much as the appealing ones, Sandlin’s accounting of life on the Mississippi is a must-read.
Wicked River touches on, but is not limited to: Yellow Fever epidemics; upriver and downriver navigation; pirates, notably the Crow’s Nest pirates; gamblers; slave insurrections; voodoo; Mark Twain; transients; steamboats; drunkenness; camp meetings; the infamous Missouri earthquakes of the early 19th century; helicoidal flow; fancy girls; minstrel shows; and descriptions of the Mississippi River Valley landscape that read like the most divine poetry.
Intrigued? Lee Sandlin’s book can be found on Amazon by clicking here.