NJRW Chapter Meeting & Why I Belong

The New Jersey Romance Writers met Saturday, March 19, at the Hilton Woodbridge in Iselin, NJ. At the General Meeting, President Shirley Hailstock and NJRW’s Board updated members on the group’s finances, the new website, upcoming events including April’s Special Event, planning for October’s Put Your Heart in a Book conference, and the status of NJRW’s writing contests.  Hospitality Chair Val Luna handed out Hershey’s Kisses for those who submitted manuscripts since last month, Hershey’s Hugs for rejections, and a sprig of flowers for recipients of good news.  The Heartline Herald editor, Joan Raleigh, asked for member volunteers to write articles for the newsletter.  Volunteers are always needed and it is a great way to network.

Author Terri Brisbin

Member Kathye Thornton shared information about CTRWA’s upcoming Connecticut Fiction Fest 2011 on May 14 in North Haven, CT.  Keynote Speaker is Eloisa James.  Those attending will have the opportunity to pitch their books to acquiring editors and agents.  Noted authors will present workshops on a variety of topics.  All for only $99. Side note: I’ve learned Kathye has two how-to e-books (pdf) of interest – MS Word 2007 for Writers and also a guide for earlier Word versions.  Useful!

Member Terri Brisbin provided an update on NJRW’s exhibit at the NAIBA tradeshow to be held September 21-22 in Atlantic City.  NJRW will invite our published authors to man booths to sign their current releases and network independent booksellers.  The goal of our involvement is to promote the romance genre and provide information about local authors to the booksellers.

After the General Meeting and a short break, this months’ three featured authors presented their latest books then held a short book signing.  Included were Authors Terri Brisbin –  HIS ENEMY’S DAUGHTER, Shirley HailstockSOME LIKE THEM RICH, and Renee RyanDANGEROUS ALLIES.

Guest Speaker Renee Ryan

The monthly program featured author Renee Ryan who spoke on The Art of Layering: From First Draft to Final Manuscript. She began by stating that she received 187 rejection letters before selling her first book.  She kept them all.  She entered multiple contests and studied the craft of writing. After her first sale it would be nearly seven years before her next.  During that time she went back to studying craft and discovered the art of layering.  She said if we take away only one thing from her talk, we should remember “the one thing you control is your craft.”

Ms. Ryan discussed her eight-step process in layering.  Step One is to write a first draft.  After that, using examples from her work, she showed how to layer each scene with movement, senses, dialogue, emotion, and so on.  Layering makes the scene come alive.  It allows an author to show, not tell.  It allows for deep point of view letting the reader feel she is deep in the mind of the character.

NJRW President Shirley Hailstock

She also provided helpful tips, answering questions such as “What do I do if a scene isn’t working?” (Use highlighters to color code dialogue, emotion, etc.) and “How can I write what a tornado feels like if I’ve never been in one?”  (Watch You Tube!).

Sensational workshop, dynamic speaker!

News Flash…Renee Ryan chaired the RWA Workshop committee for RWA National in NYC this year.  Click here for the amazing line-up of workshops to be presented.

Following a pleasant lunch with our fellow writers down in the hotel’s restaurant, we went back upstairs where we broke into two groups. NJRW’s published authors met for a monthly Published Authors session.  President Shirley Hailstock led a useful Hands-On session for those not yet published.  Writers brought the first 250 words of their manuscripts for a fascinating and very helpful discussion about opening lines.

Simply one meeting, free and available monthly to members of NJRW.  One hand reaching forward, one hand reaching back – writers helping writers. It’s what RWA is all about.

16 thoughts on “NJRW Chapter Meeting & Why I Belong

  1. Deb,

    Sounds like a fantastic meeting. Very good use of a day which could have been spent in other ways–productive, creative, knowledge gathering, writing related, fun. Wow!

  2. Thanks, Mary Jo. It was a fantastic meeting and a great day (despite my lingering cold). So good to meet up with fellow writers. I’ve missed way too many meetings over the last year or two. Can’t make every one, of course, but we need to take time to nourish our chosen career. RWA meetings do that.

  3. What a great blog. I think we all need reminders about why we love what we do and who we are blessed to do it with. I’m the current president of the Red River Romance Writers in Wichita Falls, TX. We are a very small group. I’m trying to encourage participation and productivity. Could I use your ideas of Hershey’s Kisses, Hugs, and flowers. We’ve been using weekly writing goals, funny face stickers for jobs well done, and positive reinforcement.

    Keep writing, keep blogging, and keep sharing.

    Winona “Nona” Cross

  4. Nona, I admire you for taking on the Presidency. It’s a big job, regardless of the size of group. Personally I would think NJRW would be honored if RRRW started using the Kisses, Hugs, and Flowers idea. It’s a great one! Makes one want to submit a manuscript, just to get the reward of a few chocolate kisses! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. Thanks so much, Deb, for sharing the wonderful tips you took away from your conference yesterday. I thought I could blog daily, but am not sure that’s realistic. However, I feel much more encouraged to plug away and continue to develop my craft after reading your post. Again, Thank you!

  6. Rose, I’m glad the post was helpful. Blogging daily would be too ambitious for me. At first blogging weekly was even hard, but after several weeks I’m getting into the rhythm. Writing daily on my ms is another matter, even if only for an hour. Gotta keep the progress going on the current work! Keep writing!

  7. Yes, we did have one guy at yesterday’s meeting. He’s a regular. We have a few others, too. I think men, a few of them, are discovering the gold to be mined in RWA meetings!

    Yeah, the Kisses and Hugs are popular! Who doesn’t go for chocolate? The obvious goal is to encourage submissions, and to feel better about rejections. Rejections do have a positive side…at least they are proof that one is trying, right? 🙂

  8. Deb —

    Thanks for this blog and for taking our photos!

    I just find myself so much more ‘revved up’ to write after a chapter meeting and regret that I haven’t been able to be at many these last couple of years.

    It was GREAT to see you again!

    Terri B

  9. Glad you liked it, Terri. I’m the same way after a conference, a workshop, or a chapter meeting…ready to go! Schedule doesn’t allow every month but this meeting was a reminder that I need to attend a bit more often. So GREAT to see you again, too!

  10. NJRW has always had the added advantage of being next to NYC, which gives us a bigger draw for editors and agents at conferences. I think any group, regardless of size, can make things happen. Even two or three people meeting together who really care about their craft can become a force. I’ve seen it happen in WisRWA and other places.

    You know, you’ve given me an idea. Will let you know how it turns out.

    Thanks so much for writing, Ilona.

  11. Shirley wrote: “Actually, members brought the first 250 WORDS of their manuscript, not 250 PAGES” …

    … which is why we all need to diligently PROOF our work before it goes out to eyes of God and everyone! (I’m so embarrassed.) And of course this post would be the one that has already been read by hundreds the first two days…more than any other ones I’ve written.

    Thanks so much for catching this, Shirley! All better now.


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