Tag: writing groups

writing groups

Crime Bake

I spent last weekend at the New England Crime Bake, which is a small mystery conference in Massachusetts. By small I mean intimate, by which I mean that you could sit down at a table with mega-best-selling author Lisa Gardner and ask her questions. (I did not ask a question, but I did make a comment. An introvert’s triumph!)  There were so many craft lectures on topics I wanted to learn about: Lisa Gardner talking about Character Development, Jane Cleland talking about Mastering Suspense, fabulous agent Paula Munier talking about Practicing Your Pitch, Susan Reynolds talking about how to Fire Up Your Writing Brain. Then there were “Drop in and Ask the Expert” panels, including our own Miss Demeanor Robin Stuart teaching about cyber crime and Bruce Coffin explaining police procedurals. One of my favorite panels was titled “The Survivors Club: Career Strategies for the Long Haul.” On the panel were moderator Lisa Haselton and panelists Lea Wait, Stephen D. Rogers and Toni L.P. Kelner. Listening to them speak, honestly and humorously about a career in the writing business, was like going to therapy. There were the horror stories about editors departing suddenly and writers being jettisoned. Stephen Rogers has had 800 short stories published, which sounds fabulous, except that in order to reach that number he had to get 4,000 rejections. They shared stories about changing their names to get more sales,  trying to adapt to the times,  compromises they had to make or didn’t make. At the end, wrapping up the session, Toni said something wonderful that I didn’t write down, so I’m paraphrasing it, but it was something like, I’m so happy with what I do. I can’t complain at all. Agreed. Then there was the final banquet, and the Miss Demeanors (among them Michele Dorsey, who co-organized this fabulous conference) and an assortment of wonderful people, were honored for our achievements.  As everyone cheered, I thought how blessed I was to be part of this wonderful community.    

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From Special Ops to Thrillers

Like so many writers, S.B. Woodson (Stacy) had a prior life that serves as great material for her writing. Unlike most other writers I know, though, that prior life included jumping out of helicopters. Now she juggles writing with raising two young kids, which means she’s up well before the sun (and well before me).  You’ve had a very interesting background. Can you tell us a little bit about your former careers? Stacy: The military has shaped who I am, and the careers I’ve pursued. I served ten years in the Army, mostly in the Special Operations community. Following the military, I worked in the Pentagon on the Joint Staff where I provided recommendations on policy and doctrine for the Psychological Operations community. Later, I earned my MBA and transitioned to various leadership positions in a government contract firm. After my daughter was born, I returned to the Joint Staff J39 as a federal employee. My primary focus was preparing briefs and materials for Congress. Now I write full time and memories of my military service play a role in most of my stories. Congratulations on your Daphne! You write in different genres. How do you think writing romance has influenced you as a suspense writer? Stacy: Some of my favorite thriller novels are character driven stories written by authors who started in romance. I’ve learned so much about craft and how to write compelling characters through Washington Romance Writers, an amazing chapter of Romance Writers of America. What is your writing routine? Stacy: I have two small children so I try to work my writing routine around their schedules. On weekdays, I’m usually up at 3:30am. I run three miles and then I write until I need to get them ready for school. My son goes to preschool three days a week. So I write the bulk of my time on these days. If I have a deadline or don’t meet my word count, I will go to the library on Saturday. I am grateful to have a supportive husband. Is there anything you’ve learned along the way that you wished you’d known earlier about getting an agent or getting published? Stacy: ThrillerFest was and continues to be a game changer for me. I attended my first ThrillerFest in 2015. Here I found my writing group and critique partners. We share information about writing classes, contests, and conferences. I was able to learn from the group and avoid pitfalls others have experienced. I set a goal to complete my first book and pitch it at the next conference. The following year, I signed with an agent. At ThrillerFest this year, I connected with an editor from Publishers Weekly, and I’m a contributor to the publication now. 

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A community of writers

 Starting this week we at Miss Demeanors are a community of writers + 1. Yes, we have a new Miss Demeanor all set to unveil. (I’ll keep you in suspense and let her share the bits of her story that she wants to. No telling tales out of school here!) What’s really important is that the community grows and keeps growing. Writing fiction is solitary. But not really. The work is done alone (by most people) but community keeps us sane. Community – whether in a writer’s group, at a conference or on line – is where you learn how to fail and how to succeed. It is where you realize you aren’t alone as you face the blank page or computer screen. It is where you celebrate the victories large and small (first page written, first time on a best sellers list).  In the week we broaden our community I’d like to hear where you find your writing OR reading community? 

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