Words Matter

As a mere child, I’d cut letters from words to make more words. For example, from the title of this blog, Words Matter: matt, rat, as, word, sword, words, matter, toward, wad, or, more, war, roar, stat, at, dot, draw, date, mate, rate, ate, watt, smart.

Then, I’d form silly sentences:

Draw Matt as a rat

Or a dot like dat.

I confess, libraries were far and few, and both television channels broadcasted in black and white. But we had running water.

Then I’d say something like, “Ouch! That smatted.” Can you believe nobody understood me? Although, thinking back, the family dog made an occasional effort.

When I discovered that one guy—what’s his name?—J.R.R. something created a language for elves, oh my gosh, I immediately set forth cutting letters from Sears and Roebuck catalogs again!

Writers must love words and choose them wisely and consistently for their characters. (I’m doing the best with the mind I have.)

Elton John wrote and sang: "And I would have walked head-on into the deep end of the river." What a great line.

Cowboy poet and veterinarian Baxter Black—in his own spelling—penned:

"…It’s a comf’terbul feelin’ when you don’t have to care

‘Bout choosin’ your words or bein’ quite fair

‘Cause friends’ll just listen and let go on by

Those words you don’t mean and not bat an eye…"

Baxter’s one of the funniest ol’ coots there’s ever been!

William Shakespeare, in his play The Tempest, left this immortal advice: "What's past is prologue." One cannot avoid liking William.

In Believing the Lie by Elizabeth George, we not only see what Zed looked like, but feel how stressed he was:

"…Zed looked up thoughtfully. He glanced at the window. It was pitch-dark outside, so all he saw was his own reflection: a redheaded giant with worry lines becoming incised on his forehead because his mother was attempting to marry him off to the first willing woman she was able to find and his boss was ready to deposit his well-written prose into the rubbish and he himself just wanted to write something marginally worthwhile…"

Whoa.

What about words from a character who packs chewing tobacco between his lower lip and gum? “To” may sound like, oh, anything from “yu” to “ooo” to “tvo” (isn’t that how you pronounce the number two in Swedish?). Seriously, put your tongue against the inside of your lower lip, push out, and converse away.

In Donald Maass’s book Writing the Breakout Novel, one of his “assignments” is to create a chart. For example, write a common item, and then write how five characters refer to it. (Charles the plumber says “toilet.” Dani the sailor says “the head.” A homeless man from England says “loo.” A teenager from Georgia says “goin’ naw.” A mom from Texas says “ladies’ room.”)

Do your protagonist, their nemesis, and all secondary characters sound alike?

Please, say it isn’t so.

I hope not.

Dang, what are you tellin’ me?

Plug my ears and cover my imagination.

Start over.

Next month: Ideas—where’d they go?

A special thank-you to the organizers, crew, and guests of Western Reboot: Authors of the Modern West. Excellent program!

Writing Romance: A Word About Sex

Hello Campers,
Last month I promised to take a side trip here and discuss – ahem – sex.

Is sex necessary in a romance novel? That’s a huge question. Before I move into the real discussion, I’ll point out that my romances do not have sex in them. That is a personal decision I made, and I’m not here to get preachy in any way. I fully realize that this decision will result in some folks not buying or liking my books. Disclaimer done.

In preparation for this post, I googled “sex in romance novels.” The first hit was a Goodreads discussion titled “How Important is Sex in a Romance Novel?” It’s an interesting read. There’s everything from “super important” with points deducted if there is not sex, to folks who skip the sex scenes altogether, to one guy who says “Any good Romance story must include the points of love lust, sex & the aftermath, the sweaty bodies, the stained sheets or the unconventional romp in the park.”

Most said that it depends on the characters. That may or may not be true. It may completely depend on the target market.

Once upon a time, I wrote a novel for an erotica publisher. I didn’t enjoy writing it, and on the 1-5 flame rating system, it got a 1. I didn’t write for them again. It wasn’t my forte. Another two-book “series” I wrote – before my change of heart – did contain sex, though it wasn’t a main focus of either story. I so love those two stories. Recently I went back to the first one to see if I could take the sex out. What I found out: sex changes everything. But you likely already knew that. If I took the sex out of that book, I’d have to go about setting up dominoes that were knocked down by that act.

What this means, though – and I think it’s a positive – is that that sex scene was integral to the story. It was not just obligatory.

That being said, I’m glad there’s a romance market for every reader and every writer. (What I’d like to see is a rating system – but that might be just me.)

Let’s look at some of the submission guidelines for various Harlequin brands.

DARE
• The heat level is explicit and graphic. The hero and heroine have a powerful sexual and emotional connection.
• We’re looking for authors who have a distinct, memorable voice and write stories with a high level of sexual tension as well as graphic sex.

DESIRE
• Sizzling sensual tension between the hero and heroine.
• Sexual language that leans more euphemistic and romantic rather than explicit.

PRESENTS
• A hero who will command and seduce. There's nothing in the world his powerful authority and money can't buy…except the love of a woman strong enough to tame him!
• High sensuality and sky-rocketing sexual tension to quicken your pulse.

HEARTWARMING
• Plots unfold in a wholesome style and voice that excludes explicit sex or nudity, premarital sex, profanity, or graphic depictions of violence: references to violent incidents or premarital sex in the past are acceptable if they contribute to character development.
• Physical interactions (i.e. kissing/hugging) should emphasize emotional tenderness rather than sexual desire or sensuality: low level of sexual tension; characters should not make love unless they are married.

The inspirational imprints that have a “mandatory faith element” and no premarital sex.

As you can see, the HOT value of each of these imprints is different. So your decision on sex with these imprints is a market-based one. That may not be true for other publishers. Check submission guidelines for your target publisher.

Obviously, if you’re self-published, the decision is entirely yours. But you will still be targeting readers. That, of course, may not be your focus when writing your novel. It will be more about what you like to write – what you like to read. Let me assure you, then, that there is a market for every SIZZLE level out there. Write the book of your heart.

Your readers will find you.

Okay, enough sex talk. Next month we’re back to our outline, and we'll tackle the MIDPOINT.

Until then, BiC-HoK: Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard.

Cheers, Jax

February isn’t just for lovers. IT’S FOR WRITERS!!!!!

February is made for writing. Seriously.

The weather sometimes sucks (unless you live in Colorado, like most RMFW writers), leaving us with no excuse but to get some words on the page.

We’re also still in our honeymoon period with the hastily made New Year word count resolutions (by June it’s all over) we’ve made.

We can often use our Valentine’s Day gift goodwill with our partners to sneak off for an extra writing session or two without risking bodily harm (unlike in June).

It’s a short month, forcing us to push for more words daily so as not to throw off our monthly word count.

For how many of you is November your highest word count month?

Agents and editors are finally digging out from the holidays and New Year submitters. Which means they are all but begging for your beautiful words!

And then there’s President’s Day. A time to remember what words can mean for a country.

One more reason February rocks for writers is Groundhog Day. Not the rodent, though he’s super cute, but the movie. Fiction is just like that movie. We write, then edit, and rewrite, until we get the ending right!

What is your favorite writerly month? And why?

Mambo No. 5

It’s not so much a rule as a repeated observation. While the plural of anecdote isn’t data, there comes a point where something happens often enough that one has to believe there’s something other than divine intervention at work.

The observation is that many authors don’t begin to get traction until they’ve published five novels. More specifically, they’ve published five novels in the same recognizable niche—ideally, in a series.

There are two reasons why this observation is important.

First, the goal is to gain an audience for your work. Having an audience means people like to read the stories you like to tell. Everything else comes from that basic premise. Fame, fortune, or just seeing your name on the cover of the book a stranger is reading, you can’t get very far in publishing without an audience.

To gain that audience, you need to be putting books in the places they look. For the average indie author, that means in a sub-sub-cat on Amazon. This creates a problem if your five novels are all in different categories. Sure, go wide if you want. Kobo and Nook and iBook, oh my, but the same observation holds across vendors and even formats. (Can you say "audiobooks?" Of course you can.)

For an example:

In the old days, science fiction was on the Science Fiction shelf. Today it might be on the Space Opera shelf or the First Contact shelf or the Colonization Shelf or the Military SF shelf. If I want to gain an audience, I need to know who that audience is with a much greater degree of specificity than I might have had to in the past—and what kinds of stories each of those shelves hold. I write science fiction, but if I want traction, I need to pick one of those shelves to focus on because that’s where the most likely readers will look.

Which is not to say I need to run up the demographics on those people who have bought my books. I already know their most salient characteristic: they read space opera. Sure, they might read other niches as well, but in order to get their attention I need to have a big enough footprint in one niche to show up on their radar.

Second, amortization of your promotional investment becomes easier when you have more properties. As I wrote last September, backlist is your lever. The five-novel rule provides a rule of thumb for how long that backlist might need to be to effectively amortize your promotional investment in time, money, and focus across your catalog. When you can realistically expect buy-through on your catalog—because the books are in a series or at least all in the same niche—then justifying giving one book away for free becomes a lot more palatable.

This second bit is why I generally don’t recommend that new authors spend time, money, and attention on paid promotion. A Bookbub is great when you’ve got five books, but not so great when you spend $500 to give away a few hundred copies of your only title.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t work on gaining some early fans, but more like maybe focus on what matters most—having your five novels in play—and work on building relationships with the other authors in your chosen niche.

The career path for indie authors involves a different kind of dues. We don’t have to ride the query-go-round, but we have to look past the sales levels of our earliest works and grit through to at least five novels in order to find traction. While it’s true that some people capture lightning in a bottle on their first time in the rain, the odds of winning the lottery are still pretty small.

Somebody cue up Lou Bega. Suddenly, I want to mambo.

 

As an aside, what would you like me to write about as 2018 unwinds? Leave a comment or email me at nathan.lowell on the gmail.com and I’ll see what I can do.

How to Write Memorable Villains

Villains.

You can’t have a good story without them. We loathe them. We hate them. Sometimes, we admire them. While we know the protagonist, the hero, must prevail, deep down inside, we sometimes still root for the bad guy.

So how do we create a memorable villain? The first thing we have to remember, to quote Tom Hiddleston, is that “Every villain is the hero in his own mind.” We have to remember that the villain, however horrible their deeds or deplorable their actions, believes on some level they are doing the right thing.

How is this possible?

Villains should have a sympathetic background.
C.S. Lewis wrote in his book Mere Christianity that no one does evil for evil reasons. They do evil as a shortcut to doing good. We must remember that every vain, head-of-the-football-team villain in a YA is really craving the respect and attention they feel they deserve. Every mad terrorist in a globetrotting thriller is really looking for justice for their people. Their methods are skewed, but once upon a time, their hearts were pure.

See, I think the best villains have sympathetic backgrounds. You may completely disagree with their actions and methodology – but if the writer can make the reader feel sympathy for the position the villain is in, then we are moving toward a memorable villain.

Of course, having sympathy for the villain's circumstance doesn’t mean you have sympathy for the villain.

A really great villain must be thoroughly irredeemable.
Did you read Frankenstein? I did. For most of the Monster’s story, I felt bad for the shambling corpse. He moved in with a blind dude living in the forest. (BTW, who leaves their blind relative living in the freakin’ forest?) He serves the old man. He cares for him. The old hermit introduces the Monster to reading. I started rooting for the Monster – especially considering the good doctor abandoned his creation.

Then the old, blind hermit’s family comes visiting and drives the Monster off. Still, I am filled with sympathy for the Monster – until he murders a little girl in his rage. As bad as the monster’s life has been, nothing justifies a child’s murder. Frankenstein’s Monster has truly stepped into his role of villainy once blood is on his hands.

A villain must also be more powerful than the hero.
Ever wonder why every teen movie starts with the “new girl” or the “new boy” in town? Ever wonder why these characters are lovable misfits? Because the new person, or the outsider, has no social cache with the school community they’re forced to join. The villain in these stories are more powerful than our hero because they have social power. The hero's journey will be about gaining and creating their own community – a goal opposed by the villain.

This is why political thrillers are crammed with governors, senators, and titans of industry as villains. They are inherently more powerful than the protagonist. If you were to write a story where the local office manager was our hero, but his nemesis was a lowly custodian, things would turn to comedy and farce very quickly.

A memorable villain must be an opposing force.
What’s the point of a villain who’s never in the hero’s way? Everywhere the hero turns, they should see the villain or the villain's handiwork blocking their success and frustrating them. If you’re writing a story where the stated bad guy is just grousing at the protagonist and not actively getting in their way, then you don’t have a villain. Make sure the villain is always in the way of the hero. Always thwarting their hard work and ruining their plans.

PLEASE NOTE: This doesn’t mean the villain has to be on the stage. But it should be apparent that the villain is the root cause of the hero’s problem.

A memorable villain must make it personal.
A great villain will always take things to the next level and make things personal. Whether they just want to throw the hero off their game and get in their head, or they truly want to cause the hero pain, a memorable villain will find and dig at that open wound the protagonist has been trying to hide.

Years ago I saw Prince’s Purple Rain. In it, Prince plays “The Kid,” an up-and-coming musician and his band in Minneapolis. There is a big battle of the bands competition coming up, and The Kid’s nemesis is Morris Day and the Time (another band). The Kid comes from an abusive home where his dad hits his mom. At one point we see our hero step in and defend his mother. Toward the end of act two, the father commits suicide, throwing The Kid into a tailspin right before the finals of the band contest.

As the villains, Morris Day and his band, come off stage from a triumphant set, they sing “Let’s get crazy” in a mocking tone as they pass The Kid’s dressing room. Suddenly, they stop and back up. Morris Day turns to Prince’s character and says before running down the hall, laughing, “Hey man. How’s the family?” The Kid breaks down in tears. Brutal. Just brutal. NOW, it’s personal.

If you want to learn more about villains, you can listen to the current RMFW Podcast, where I talk to the esteemed Mark Stevens about it all. On Saturday, February 17th, I will be giving an RMFW free program at the Sam Gary Branch Library in Denver on this very subject. The program starts at 2 PM, but get there early if you want a seat!

When I’m Sixty-Four

“Will you still need me, will you still feed me?”

Fill in the blank…

Of course: “…when I’m sixty-four.”

Yeah, I played the HELL out of Sgt. Pepper when it came out.

My older brother and I each had record players, but one copy of the record between us. We would sit in each other’s rooms and listen. Rapt. Over and over. The White Album, too. Holy smokes. We were nuts about The Beatles. When a new album came out, we would own it within the week.

I liked The Stones better than he did; he liked The Who more than me. (Tommy changed my mind. But every band took second place to The Beatles).

But that song, “When I’m Sixty-Four.”
Catchy, bouncy, plaintive—impossible. And so clean and melodic, the second song on Side Two after the psychedelic “Within You, Without You.”

Sixty-four seemed ancient. I pictured a wheelchair, watery oatmeal, infirmity. Will you still need me? Will you still feed me?

Then my father died at age 54 in 1979, and seven years later, my mom died at the same age. By the late 1980’s I thought maybe there was some sort of ticking time-bomb inside me, too.

You know, an expiration date.

By the time my mother died, I had been writing fiction for a few years. I was working on a draft of an early novel.

Three years after my mother passed away, I got married in a double wedding on the top floor of an old funky warehouse in LoDo (when the buildings were empty). It was 1989. I had just landed a good agent in New York for that first book, a mystery, and quit a good TV news job to write a second book. The first book had taken six years. I didn’t want the second book to take that long.

At the wedding, the bar was open before the ceremony started. We had a great rockabilly band on hand for the dancing.

And we walked down the aisle to…

“When I’m Sixty-Four.”

Our friends loved it. We laughed.

Sixty-four seemed, still, so distant.

Eighteen years later, I finally got published at age 53—a small, indie press. I had a great time seeing a book reach readers. Phew, published. Right under my personal deadline (literally).

Did I have one year left? It didn’t feel like I was about to die. I mean, what does that feel like?

A second book came out when I was 57 and a third when I was 60. Then, a fourth at age 61. The third and fourth with Midnight Ink, a fine house.

Last week, I turned 64. (No wheelchair! No watery oatmeal!)

I Feel Fine. (Another Beatles song.)

And I am making plans to publish Book #5 next fall—the fifth book in the Allison Coil series. It’s called The Melancholy Howl. At the same time, my amazing agent in New York is shopping a standalone mystery. It’s called No Lie Lasts Forever.

And I’m starting to write a new one.

My heroes are writers like Pat Stoltey, still in her mid-70s and cranking out books. Or James Lee Burke (born in 1936) and Lawrence Block (1938) and still, yes, cranking out books. How about Mary Higgins Clark? Born in 1927.

Every day I write is a good day. Every day I wrote was a good day.

There are lots of cool things about the writing business, starting with the writing itself.

But here’s one more. As I start to think about winding down the professional career (Note to my mortgage holder: starting to think about it, not actually doing it yet!) I am glad to have writing out there as something that will keep me going, interested, engaged. Most of all, it will keep me writing.

No matter what happens to the stories I put together, I’ll be writing.

Maybe even when it’s time for watery oatmeal.

Finding My Audience

When my latest book come out last month, I booked a romance blog tour. My promoter did a great job and got my book featured on about 40 blogs. About halfway into the tour, as I was thanking hosts and seeing no other comments—none—I realized I was wasting my money. The blogs were all focused on romance, but not the sort of books I write. They all seemed to feature contemporary and paranormal romance. I write historical romance, and this book is medieval, which is an even more specialized sub-genre. I was getting a lot of exposure, but very little with the people who actually read books like mine.

And yet, I know they are out there. I know a number of authors who write medieval romance and who are doing moderately well. It’s just that getting those readers to even know your book exists is a huge challenge. I realized I had to change my marketing strategy. I had to find a way to connect with those readers.

I contacted some authors I know and got suggestions. They all said you have to gradually build a following. Advertise on romance sites that feature historical romance, join Facebook groups, try Facebook ads, do giveaways, and build a newsletter list.

There are services that help you build a newsletter list. Others that help you get reviews by offering your book for free to interested readers. I did some of these things with my last book (which was Regency romance, a much more popular era), but it looks like I need to step up my game and do even more and spend even more money.

My publishing career, which was once a source of extra income, is turning into an "expensive hobby." But I have no choice. I’ve planned two more books in this series, and if there’s going to be any hope that my publisher will publish them, or that anyone will read them, I’m going to have to invest significant time and money into promotion.

I’m fortunate I’m at a point in my life where I can afford to do this. But there is a part of me that remains uncomfortable. I feel like I am being self-indulgent, trying to "buy" something that should just happen—that is, if my books were good enough. But then I think of my characters and realize that I’m doing it for them. I want to share their stories, and if spending money on promotion is the only way to get their stories out there, then I’m going to do it.

Cast Your Book

Writing can often become labor-intensive. We become so focused on rewrites and editing and tightening up the grammar and narrative and plotting and on and on and on... Sometimes it's fun, for a break, to remind yourself why you're writing this thing - at it's most basic, because it's fun to tell stories.

One of the fun things I've done in the past to break monotony is cast my WIP as if it was a movie. I imagine which famous person would play each character and look up pictures of them in poses or settings that might have occurred in my story. This is fun, plus I find it helpful when writing the story. It's especially helpful when working on series, to help recapture the tone and feeling of each character that you may have been removed from for a time while, say, working on other projects.

In the end, we don't know these people as people, the ones I pick from pictures I find on the Internet. We're really only casting them as characters we remember them playing in past roles. You may think this makes your own character less than unique, basing them on other characters from film or television, and you would be right if you tried to write them exactly as they were in that other work. For me, though, I only use it as a sort of template, if I do it at all. I don't try to write them exactly as they might have been in someone else's story, but use them only as a prototype for the character I have created, only as a reminder, not as a carbon copy.

Kaley CuocoZoe SaldanaFor example, in my current WIP, the next book in my most popular series beginning with the book Rogue Agenda, I imagined casting one of two actresses as the main character, Lainie Parker: either Kaley Cuoco or Zoe Saldana. Wait a minute, you say, that can't work. Lainie is a white brunette. One of these actresses is blond and the other is African American. Well, while I originally wrote Lainie as a Caucasian brunette, in the end, there's nothing about that character that requires her to be either. If they were truly being cast for a movie, either of these actresses has played parts in the past that remind me of Lainie in different ways. I would be just as pleased if either one was cast.

What actors/actresses would you cast as the primary characters in your current WIP? Share with a comment below.

Writing Naked

I am critical of badly written sex scenes. I want, therefore, to be able to write an emotionally singular scenario that scorches as it burns through the heat of unfolding events; a scene that twins joyous abandon with losing one’s self in a blazing physical coupling of passion and sweat.

I read various authors with incredulity, wincing as the scene offers gravity-defying pyrotechnics, then misfires the emotional pay dirt. Intuitive connection with the beloved, often after a courtship of hours, and accentuated with words that I could not use without giggling.

No matter whether the protagonists are sweet country lovers, dangerous co-assassins, or neurotic/erotic dominant/subs, they always have the moment. Mostly interesting, some others not so much. Credibility, people! Can I identify, could it be real? The animal within, I find, is often a voyeur.

In determination to set matters right, I sat myself down some months ago to begin to write one story that would be better than average, a rediscovery tale between older, more experienced lovers, an amalgam fusing a wild ride with wisdom, saucing up a certain street cred garnered as the fruits of mistakes made, life's challenges overcome. I envisioned their passion as I wrote, intensely graphic enough that the reader could sniff the pheromone-filled night air, feel the sweat of anticipation, the gnawing fears of disclosure, and the physical tension of imminent discovery.

My lovers poised on the aching cliff of desire before the magnetic pull of their coupling reached, well, climax. Within four pages, I had become what I was, a former Catholic schoolgirl, incapable of writing, thinking, or expressing the rawness of my own sexuality, embarrassed that my dead mother might somehow read my pornography through the mists and purse her lips in disapproval.

Where had this come from? I wondered, although in truth, the entire question was hypocritical. I knew the answer. My mother, that strong Victorian-minded woman, had taken my thoughts hostage.

Independent thinker? PFFF! I’m a sham, a fraud, a charlatan. In any language, a fake. Inside my beating defiant heart is a compliant girl who can't create for public consumption what she would think acceptable in private. This self-censure is disturbing, pitiful, even humiliating, as I would fashion myself a woman who is creative, provocative, and occasionally daring.

I still can't write a sex scene popping with volcanic fire, a scene that sweats with lust, romance, and passionate imminence, including, of course, the actual act, whether mitzvah or transgression, either zipless or zipped, with or without toys, depraved or transcending.

Others can pen with ease what my stingy heart will not allow me to write. A poet friend describes skin with such reality that desire emanates through the paper, damp with sensual energy. You can feel it. You can smell it. You can lap sustenance at the fountain of desire. I look beyond my own body, play God with character creation, and find only myself in disguise. A split personality battle ensues between the characters for dominance. Will the bitch win, or the diplomat; the siren or the cloister; the giver or the user. Does that even matter that I am trying to write not an intellectual treatise on sex scenes, but heart-pounding, breath-catching sex, for God's sake!

It isn't like I haven't had experience to draw upon; it isn't like I don't know how the mechanisms work. Everyone over the age of 11 has at least the same technical knowledge. I must admit here, to myself, that I haven’t committed to sharing those most personal of thoughts and that I lack the courage to smudge on paper. I flinch at physical descriptions of body parts in ecstasy, feeling myself a Kinsey researcher, a voyeur, an exhibitionist. Yet, my characters are driven by sex, with longing, hapless, hopeless need, and I want to give them their due.

Can I write steamy sex scenes? Will I be able to step out from behind my own curtain? I have no idea. I will no doubt continue to criticize badly written sex scenes, and I will also read them with purpose—but, for today, perhaps only for today, I remain a literary virgin, frozen in desire and fear.

 

Judith Lavezzi considers herself a novice writer, with one book completed after several years of working on the craft. She’s written several newspaper and magazine articles, which were published before she gathered enough courage to tackle a novel. Her book is set in 19th century Italy and is a story of one man's journey through the sometimes violent and always changing landscape that was Italy before the capture of Rome. She’s partially through the second book, another stand-alone novel set in Italy and America, chronicling the same descendants of that family as they face the threat of an incurable disease in a race against time and hope. She belongs to the 93rd Street Irregulars critique group, and they, with exquisite patience, have kept her from writing a thousand-page novel to impose on all her friends. You can learn more about Judith on her website.

WOTY/IWOTY Nominations

Hey everyone! It's that time of year again. The selection committees are assembled and it's time to start accepting Writer of the Year (WOTY) and Independent Writer of the Year (IWOTY) nominations. The WOTY will be open to those traditionally published, and the I-WOTY will be for those independently published.

If you are a member of PAL or IPAL, and you published a novel in 2017, please check out the website HERE and look for the guidelines and entry forms. If you know an RMFW member who would be great for this, but would not enter themselves, you are welcome to nominate them for consideration.

We will be accepting entries from January 25 through March 15  at 12:00 am

How the work is judged:
Each work is reviewed several times before three finalists for each award are selected. Once you have submitted your entry we will verify it is entered in the correct category (WOTY or I-WOTY) and your application will be forwarded to the judges on the Selection Committees.

Each judge on the panel is responsible for reviewing your application and reading a couple of sample chapters from the work you submit. Every entry will receive approximately one hour of evaluation by each judge (for a minimum of five hours of review on your work). The judges will score all of the works and candidates to determine who they think represents the WOTY or IWOTY award best.

In March, the Selection Committees will meet and determine the three finalists for each award. The committee members judge each nominee on his/her own professional merit.  The judges have several years’ experience in both writing and working with RMFW writers, and are well-qualified volunteers who want the best for not only RMFW as a whole, but all of the individual members.  Only three finalists are allowed per category, so please remember that if you are not selected this is not a reflection on you or your talent. We are looking to find authors who best represent the writing values of our organization.

We will announce the finalists in April, at which time the entire RMFW membership will get to learn more about each finalist.

Finally - from May 1- June 15 - open voting begins. This is your opportunity as a member to help decide who our WOTY and I-WOTY should be. We try to give everyone plenty of time (and reminders) to select the two writers they think should be recognized as RMFW’s Writer and Independent Writer of the Year. To this end this is why we're allowing votes to go through June 15.

The Summer Party
Every July RMFW announces and celebrates the winners of the WOTY and I-WOTY  at the Summer Party. Announcements for this event will be in RMFW newsletter, on the blog,  Facebook and in our Yahoo groups.  Keep an eye out for these announcements, and be sure to join us for the Summer Party!

WOTY & I-WOTY Panel
In August, this panel where members get a chance to visit with all of our WOTY and IWOTY finalists at the Tattered Cover bookstore marks the beginning of the Colorado Gold celebrations. The panel is an enjoyable evening of interviews, prizes, and a chance to socialize with your writing tribe. Plan on coming - it's a lot of fun!

If you’re thinking of entering your work for consideration, do it! We are looking forward to seeing your applications!

To find out more about the eligibility requirements, please visit the website for more information.

Diane Jewkes and Stephanie Reisner
PAL & IPAL Chairs

 

Inline image 1Diane R Jewkes writes historical romance and is the author of two books published by Crimson Romance, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. She is the current PAL chair and is a member of RWA. She has two children, three grandchildren, two dogs and loves to travel. You can find out more at http://dianerjewkes.com/.

Stephanie Reisner is the author of the Thirteen Covens series (thriller/horror), the Sorcerers' Twilight series (fantasy). and the bestselling Gilded Lily series (erotic romance). When she isn't writing, she spends her time with her husband and a clowder of cats. Stephanie is the current RMFW IPAL Chair and writes under four pseudonyms: S.J. Reisner, Audrey Brice, Anne O'Connell, and S. Connolly. You can find out more about her work at www.the-quadrant.com.