What I Can Talk About
“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” -Dale Carnegie
I’m always enthusiastic when I have the opportunity to get up in front of groups and speak.
This is, of course, a lie. I’m initially terrified, but after a minute or so of hyperventilating, I come around and manage to speak quite plainly and animatedly about a subject that excites me. I’m happy to attend your meeting, conference, or luncheon, and talk about any of the following subjects:
Taxes & The Writer
I have an online class plan which I’ve taught a few times and was well received. While I’m unable to dedicate the time to teaching a class, I’d love to give a workshop. I cover everything from simple bookkeeping to choice of entity and pitfalls therein.
I’m a CPA with an ongoing tax practice Most of my clients are in oil & gas, but after writing for almost 20 years, I’ve learned a great deal about taxes and the creative arts. I make it fun. No, really.
Writing Young Adult for Grown-Ups
No one can deny the immense popularity of Young Adult novels right now. What many don’t realize is that a large segment of the readership is over 21. The latest buzz in books is a relatively new kid on the block: New Adult. These books bridge the gap between Young Adult and Adult, and typically deal with issues facing young adults who are transitioning from childhood to adulthood – college aged, and whether in college, or not, facing tough decisions about where to go next. It’s an exciting time of life, but somewhat narrow in scope. Writing Young Adult with sex isn’t the same thing. So how do you know the difference? What makes Young Adult different from New Adult? Using current books to illustrate, I will cover the nuances.
It’s the Characters, Stupid
A book may have an intricate, compelling plot-line but if the reader dislikes the characters, or worse, thinks they’re boring, they won’t care what happens. I’m a true believer that any story can work if the reader cares what happens to the characters. I have a tried and true method for developing a ‘real’ cast of characters, and would be delighted to share with your group.
I began writing for publication in 1995. Since then, in a nutshell:
1996 – Finaled in RWA’s Golden Heart. Had no idea it was a big deal. Didn’t win. Signed with my first agent. She never sold any of my 3 manuscripts, and eventually left the business.
1997 – 2000 – Raised kids and paid the mortgage working a killer job. Not a lot of writing.
2000 – 2003 – Wrote many manuscripts for Harlequin, none of which they bought.
2003 – Became disgusted with trying. Wrote exactly what I wanted to write. Finaled in the Golden Heart again. Didn’t win again.
2004 – Signed with another agent, who sold my I Don’t Give A Damn I’m Doing It My Way book to Silhouette Bombshell. They bought two more in the same series.
2005 – Bombshell bought a fourth book. I ran for the Board of Directors of RWA and won. Nobody ran against me. Finaled in the Golden Heart again. Didn’t win again.
2006 – I won RWA’s RITA for Best First Book. Thought I had finally made it. Went home to discover Silhouette was suspending the Bombshell line. Rights on my fourth book were reverted back to me. I parked it on my hard drive. I ran for Treasurer of RWA and won – nobody ran against me.
2007 – Wrote the book of my heart, a paranormal romance. The agent loved it. Editors loved it. Nobody bought it.
2008 – At urging from my agent, wrote a Women’s Fiction. She hated it. I rewrote it. She hated it again. Wrote an historical romance, because those are my favorite, and the agent was meh. Her assistant loved it. Nobody bought it.
2009 – Rewrote the Women’s Fiction again. Agent also hated that one. I told her I wanted a divorce and we parted friends. Began agent hunt. Rejected all around. 125 queries, lots of requests for fulls – no offers. After my Bombshell editor told me I should try to write YA, I read a million YAs, then dusted off the book of my heart and rewrote it as a young adult novel, which worked infinitely better.
2010 – Found a new agent. Book of my heart sold in a two book deal within three weeks, at auction. I was back. In the midst of great joy, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Lost my boob in December. Prognosis was good. I made extensive revisions while on pain killers. I would regret this later.
2011 – ARCs were released in early spring. First reviews were polarized – lots of 5 stars on Goodreads – lots of 1 stars on Goodreads. Traveled all over for conventions and conferences and signings. Spent lots of money on promotion. Went to an independent bookstore in Albuquerque by invitation, on my own dime, and one reader showed up. 25 books on the table – I sold 1. My humiliation was complete. Had a boob job, however, and reconstruction delivered nice breasts. Lemonade.
2012 – Second book in the book of my heart series was released. Readers loved it. The ones who’d ever heard of it. No trade reviews, no ads, no promotion from the publisher at all. Abysmal sales – very clear there would be no 3rd book contract forthcoming. Door closed, so I looked for a window. Dusted off the fourth Bombshell, tweaked & polished and sold it to Entangled Suspense.
2013 – The publisher officially said no to a third book. I decided to self publish it, along with some other manuscripts that never made the cut in New York, including the historical romance.
Now – I’m having more fun writing than I’ve had in years. I still have my wonderful agent, who will try to sell some of my work to New York, but I’m also writing to self publish and it’s absolutely the most exciting thing I’ve done in years. It feels marvelous to be moving forward instead of stagnating.
So, you see, I’m all about reinventing myself, and have poignant/funny/you-won’t-believe-this stories to illuminate why it’s never a good idea to give up. I’m not ‘there’ yet, but getting ‘there’ is what it’s all about. It’s the journey, not the destination. There’s always another opportunity, right around the corner, and you won’t find it if you sit down before you get to that corner.