Hello fellow authors and blog-mates! It's me, Claire, again.

Last month, while I was trying to sift through an insane amount of email, I found buried in one of my folders a notice for workshop proposals for a conference that, although I haven't been there, I've heard outstanding things about. This would be the NOLA Star's, Written In The Stars, conference, put on by the chapter who hosts The Suzannah contest each year.

So, I dug out a workshop I'd put together for my local RWA Chapter, did a little cutting, did a little revising, crossed my fingers and sent it off.

Last week they accepted my proposal!

So, in March of 2011, I'm going to my first out-of-state conference, as a guest speaker! And I'm trying to convince everyone I know to register and attend. Unfortunately, our esteemed leader, Jewelann won't be present, but it looks like there are some awesome programs being offered, and who can go wrong with Louisiana?

Personally, Louisiana has been on my list of 'Intended Destinations' for a long time, so I'm doubly thrilled! Downside -- I won't get to stay in that haunted planation house I've always wanted to see. Oh well, maybe next time. I'm more excited about meeting authors and interacting with the folks I admire and respect than meeting some ghosts. And, to top it all off, I just heard this morning it looks like one of my critique partners is going to make the drive down with me.

Which means, quite possibly, we might not have to rush off that Sunday morning. Though work schedules will come into play, I'm sure.

Ahhh... Shreveport, here I come! I do so love the south.

Here's a blip about the workshop:

Gone Fishing!
Everybody knows to catch the fish you have to have the appropriately baited hook. Catfish gnaw on hot dogs. Trout are picky. Bass like things that sparkle. But what'll make an editor bite? Published author, Claire Ashgrove, will discuss five different types of hooks and illustrate how to make your manuscript sparkle appropriately when the submission pool is full of generic bait.

For more information: 2011 NOLA Stars Conference

Please come join me, I'd love to see you there!


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Now... I'm not going to names, first and foremost.

But tonight I set aside the first book that I've ever picked up and started to read. The book was published by a house I usually gobble up everything they put out. The author was new to me. (And if you've watched my posts at Cascade -- no it wasn't one of the two books I mentioned there that I was interested in.)

In the first three pages of the story I changed points of view so many times it was frightening. And that just set off the nails on chalkboard feeling for me. So, I literally tossed the book aside. I don't know about the rest of you, but after listening to class after class on craft, I have become more or less a POV purist. I want the change blended smoothly if it isn't at a scene or chapter break, and I want to stay there for at least a page. I don't like author intrusion -- when a character starts describing things they couldn't possibly see/know about themselves -- and I don't like to feel like a ping-pong ball when I'm trying to follow a story.

Ask my poor crit partners... these things drive me nuts.

I even double-checked the publication date on the novel -- 2010. The cover was awesome. The premise really enthused me... but wow... I just can't get past the head hopping and author intrusion and how it cleared an editor's desk. Espeically out of this house where everything is usually something that makes me wish I had written the book.

Anyway, it got me thinking about how I've grown. I remember one early critique partner pointing out my head hopping, and to think that my personal writing avoids even the blended POV shift now is kinda funny.

I've heard pre-published authors talking about "Well so and so does it..." and I hadn't really realized how much of this still happens beyond some of the big, established names. (And to my knowledge this author doesn't qualify as "big" "established"). But now I can see where confusion comes from. I can see how come folks have trouble with "my manuscript was rejected for head hopping" when published authors are doing this.

Have you all noticed this? I say, I have to toss my hat into the "confused" pile now.

Anyway -- Folks, don't succumb to the 'cheat' of head hopping. There's a place and a time to switch POV, and it isn't a bad thing to switch POV. But switching every three to four paragraphs tends to infuriate readers like me.



First things first -- sorry folks for being late with my posting today. I usually post late at night, but last night exhaustion set in before I could type anything.

So, this week, I've been doing a lot of house-keeping related to writing. Fleshing out a few ideas, smoothing out some rough spots in an existing manuscript, doing edits for Waiting For Yes, and a bunch of other stuff related to chapter work, critiques and other general things.

The result was, by mid week, I was pretty unenergized in general. So what did I do? I fed my shoe obsession. Somehow that always works well.

Allow me to introduce you to the cutest pair of shoes I've ever set my eyes on.

Contrary to my fellow shopper's opinion of, "You've got to be kidding", as I toted these shoes through several department stores looking for something to wear with them, I got rave reviews. Regardless of anyone else's opinion, these perked my spirits like nothing else. I was struck with the need to write about a woman in snappy shoes. Hee.

And then the first pair of high heels I've ever owned:

They don't look it in this picture, but they are four inches tall. And I confess, the sudden urge to own a pair of platform stilettos came from the heroine I just finished writing about. More aptly, her job. That's all I will say there. With a little luck, that story will come out in print and we'll talk about that later.

It's funny -- I haven't been shopping in, quite literally, years. Yet, this little spree really energized me. I'm finding myself anxious to be done with all the house-keeping necessities and ready to put new words into action.

But before I do that, I have one more trip to make.

I thought I'd give these two (new to me) romance authors a shot.

Then, I think I'll knuckle down and do some writing come November.


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So last week I mentioned I couldn't go into specifics about a contest. This week, I can, and I'm super happy to be able to share.

I entered SOLA's Dixie Kane Memorial Contest, a contest that I really enjoy the feedback in. After much nail-biting, they posted the Official Winners List, and I found my name in there... three times:

1st Place Paranormal -- Seduced By Fire
2nd Place Historical -- Bound By Decency
3rd Place Single Title Contemporary -- Love's Redemption.

I kermit danced for a while (only now my chapter members are asking me to demonstrate that one.) We'll see how The Suzannah plays out. I entered two pieces, one not in the above list.

Also, in exciting events, I decided to give both online workshops and conference workshops a go for the coming year. I've received word that my online workshop for Digital Publishing was accepted through both Black Diamonds RWA and Lowcountry RWA. I'll be teaching those workshops in February and August, respectively -- hope you'll come!

I submitted a different proposal for a couple conferences (one being RWA Nationals) and fingers crossed that they will go. I really would like to present. Really, really.

So it's been fun and exciting this week on my end. Other news to come next week. Anybody else have any fingers-crossed stuff they can talk about? Or achievements? I'm anxious to hear.


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I used to have this perception that being an author wasn't, necessarily, work. Writing is fun -- erego not a job. WRONG.

I figured this out somewhat after my first book saw publication and the world of, dum-dum-dum promotions became part of my life. So, website up, blogs somewhat active, presence scattered, newsletter out... Added that into my schedule.

Kids, it only gets worse!

This week, I had a deadline that I was in a rush to meet because the project was new for me and some of the elements are unfamiliar. Then it was 2 hours on the phone with my agent, discussing a multitude of things and options, one of which was a slight request for revisions on a previously submitted manuscript. Then, as my week of catch up and downtime is beginning to fade, I get edits back for a contracted manuscript.

In short, each day that passes, I learn more about the job of being an author. Promotions never fade. If there's nothing slated immediately, there's a need to keep back list material circulating. Add in the need to keep interest up about what's coming down the pipe -- promo work increases exponentially to the number of titles (at least at this point in my career).

The website is never current enough. The newsletter never feels engaging enough. Workshops to plan and propose. Chapter responsibilities which also increase with more available titles (and they should within reason).

There's a constant learning curve. My PAN membership went through, and now I'm learning more about what I should be doing, and what to expect as things unravel more. I tell ya -- if anyone ever tries to tell you being an author is a "cush job" -- please laugh in their face. It's seriously not. We do have the benefit of working from our homes -- but try and convince family and children that just because you're sitting in the living room at the computer, doesn't mean you can't get up to attend to their immediate needs or carry on a conversation.

So for anyone who's seeking publication, get a handle on this stuff now. Add it into your routine. Trust me, having it fall in your lap can make you topsy-turvy in ways you'd never imagine.

Those of you who've already mastered it -- big kudos from me!

And on that note -- what are your promotional tools?



In working with this new project, I've had to change up some of my habits and break some routines so my "boundaries" wouldn't be the same. One of the things that I've altered is, I've started listening to music while I'm writing. Not anything I'm a crazy fan about (like good classical, or sweeping orchestral because that totally distracts me.) Pop music actually. Which is great for a drive, but not normally part of my writing formula.

Anyway, I've discovered something that I probably should have realized a long time ago. There are a few songs that I absolutely cannot stand because they provoke such intense reactions. For instance, Rhianna's Unfaithful. When I first heard this song a year or so ago, it really made me ill. The message conveyed in there just... well, it bothered me.

Now, the song bothers me because it's very... raw. I've gotten over the need to preach "Hey. You can control yourself, lady." Now it just twists my guts because of the deep emotion in the song, even though I don't agree with the "message". Eminem's song, I Love The Way You Lie does the same thing to me. I mean for goodness sakes, lyricwise, the message is pretty disturbing. But combined together with the vocals and how the vocals are sung, it's a very moving song.

All of which, in an odd sense, has made me change a few approaches in my writing. Being able to appreciate the artistic value of songs that I'd previously snorted over, has allowed me to expand my own writing horizons. It's made me realize that it is okay to use a word choice that might not be pleasant for someone. (Always depending on context). It's okay to, where appropriate, have a little shock value.

I haven't been a writer who's afraid to use profanity, or afraid to open the bedroom door, or liberally apply blood. Don't get me wrong. But with this project specifically, it needed to be a little raw. Which I've been able to achieve with moderate ease, after pushing different boundaries.

And the moral of this little rambling? Sometimes it takes literally removing the box, not just stepping outside it, to grow. If, as a writer, there's something you want to accomplish, but perhaps you aren't certain you can, before you decide whether you're really capable or not, change your habits. Explore new territories. In the end, you'll appreciate the fact you have.

And now, back to writing, so I can meet my commitment of having this to Jewelann Monday. EEP!



"Victorians used the term 'limbs' as a euphenism for legs, which were thought to be so sexually exciting to a man, even a glimpse of a table leg could incite him to sexual frenzy. Table skirts were invented to prevent any unnatural unions between men and furniture."
(History Channel International)



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