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Patricia Kay
Patricia Kay

As you know, I drove down to Houston for the West Houston RWA’s 2010 Emily Awards . I was told that the West Houston ladies would “take good care of us” during the special Emily presentation, and they were right.

One of the speakers was USA Today best-selling author Patricia Kay, author of more than 48 novels of romance and women’s fiction. 4 million copies of her novels have been published in 18 countries.
Patricia was speaking on “The Emotional Connection”. While I won’t get into the details of her presentation (take one of her great writing classes for those), she mentioned a few jaw-dropping points that made me sit up and take notice. And they’re ones that too many authors forget.
This genius is all hers (and none of mine). Anyway, here goes:
  • It’s not about what happens on the page – it’s about what happens in the reader’s heart and mind. Think about movies or TV – men watch sports to experience jubilation, excitement, etc. And as for reality TV like American Idol? It’s about people’s hopes and dreams.
  • People read fiction in order to feel– to experience emotions in the context of safety. To cry their eyes out, yet know they are safe. To experience fear, without experiencing actual harm.
  • If you leave the reader without emotional impact, you will leave the reader unsatisfied. There must be an emotional payoff – and in order for a payoff to occur, there must be an emotional investment to begin with.
  • If a reader is involved in a book, they forget about whether or not the author is a good craftsman. (About POV errors, about adverbs, etc.) This is what you must strive to do – make your readers care, make them emotionally invested.

Hmm. Something to think about, no?



Viking attack

The NEW Viking Invasion!

OK, peeps – just back from Houston, where the extremely wonderful folks from the West Houston RWA hosted the awards for their 2010 Emily Contest.


Odin’s End took 4th place in the Contemporary Single Title category. And I also got a request for a full synopsis from Frances Jalet-Miller of Grand Central Publishing.
Now, some of you may say, “Fourth place? Fourth place? Dawna, that reeks.” Au contraire, naysayers…
First, Odin’s End is not romance – and because it wasn’t a historical romance, I put it in the Contemporary Single Title category.
Second, as y’all know, Odin’s End isn’t contemporary – it’s historical fiction! And still I put it in the Contemporary Single Title category.
So our little tale of the heretic’s daughter captured by Vikings ended up placing in a category where it really didn’t belong. SWEET! I am so grateful to Jo Anne, one of the judges of Odin’s End, who approached me just to say how much she loved reading it and that I needed to let her know when it was published. That just sent delicious writing chills down my spine! Thanks for the LUV, Jo Anne!
And, because of our little tale of barbarian hotness, the folks at the West Houston RWA have decided to create a separate category in next year’s contest which would accommodate women’s fiction! Pat O’Dea Rosen – one of the coordinators for my category – delivered this awesome news!
Many thanks to the wonderful members of West Houston RWA. Special love to Pat, Diane Holmes, Lara Chapman, “Montana Lani”, the judges, and everybody else who worked so hard to give us a wonderful contest and award experience. Truly, if you’re looking for a GREAT contest, go for the Emily!
A special congrats to my pal, Keli Gwyn, for her 1st place win in the Historical category for Violets and Violins. Go, girl!
And over the next days, I’ll post some of my notes from our two presenters, Sam Havens and Patricia Kay, who autographed her book for me!
Want Your Book to SELL?

Want Your Book to SELL?

OK peeps – as promised, I’m providing some of the information from this year’s HNS Conference. The first session I dropped in on was “Breaking In and Staying In the Historical Fiction Game”, a panel presented by Michelle Moran, Karen Essex, and C. W. Gortner. Thanks to these wonderful peeps for their expertise!  If anything here doesn’t make sense, cough that up to my poor note-taking skills rather than any error on their part, OK?

Here’s the gist of things they suggested you do once you are published to ensure longevity (read “increased sales”) in your career.

Michelle Moran (author of Nefertiti) offered these specific suggestions:

  • Plan on spending at least 10-20% of your advance on marketing/publishing
  • Fly to New York (or wherever!) to meet : 1) your editor, 2) your publicity team, and 3) your marketing team
  • Know the difference between the publicity department and the marketing department. The publicity department handles reviews or anything else “free” that promotes your book. The marketing department handles ads.
  • If you haven’t done so already, create an author website that includes a page for bloggers. This page should contain images of your book that they can download, links to Amazon, etc. It should also have a form where bloggers can contact you for Q&A, guest posts, etc.
  • Consider the difference between spending this money on print and internet ads vs. internet only. It’s hard to judge the value of print advertising (so, if you’re printing up bookmarks, how many sales are these really getting you?). Internet advertising, however, is easy to measure. You can see the effect of every click. When purchasing these ads, ask yourself “Who is my target market?” For me, that would mean “What kind of people are interested in Vikings?” This isn’t just readers. What about people who are traveling to the place you’re writing about? In my case, this would be Norway and France.

Karen Essex had this to say:

  • Decide whether you just want to enjoy writing, or if you want to enjoy writing and publishing
  • If you want to enjoy writing and publishing, you must be tireless in making sure your books reach an audience
  • She agreed that you must do all the things Michelle mentioned to get attention from your publisher; understand that publicity departments have about 3 weeks on your book before they move on to the next book on their list
  • Make yourself useful. Write about people that readers want to read about. And yes, you must tailor your material to the public taste.
  • Talk to book clubs
  • Also, you must reconcile the beast of “going commercial” vs. “being artistic.” Bottom line: what will allow you to live your dream?

C. W. Gortner, author of The Last Queen, had this to say:

  • It took him 13 years to get published; but when he did, his book sold at auction ($$$$$$)
  • Do your face time. He immediately went to New York  to meet his editors and marketing people
  • He spent half of his advance (people, half is 50%) on  marketing. Be persistent in your marketing. He focused on stretching the usual 2 weeks of hardcover promotion to 6 weeks instead.
  • There is value in virtual blog tours – but before going to a blog, check and make sure it has comments (because most frequently, comments = traffic)
  • Know that marketing for your hardcover pays off in the paperback sales
  • Use Google Alerts to see where you pop up in blogs (so he’s getting an alert on this now!)

Folks, all these experts agreed that you need to meet with your agent and do a marketing plan. Tell the marketing department at your publisher that you want to partner with them in the marketing of your book. Present the plan (drafted by you and your agent) to your publisher and let them choose what they want to do on the list – then you’re free to do the rest.

Remember – if you plan on a lengthy career as a writer, this translates into sales. It’s all about sales. Don’t forget it.




Brainy People at the HNS Conference

Brainy People at the HNS Conference

Hi to all historical novel peeps near and far!

As many of you know, I’m at this year’s Historical Novel Society conference in Schaumburg, Illinois. We’ve had a lot of great workshops, but better yet, we’ve had a great time.

I’ll write up some of these workshops and post them here. I’ll also be writing a few blurbs about the authors I’ve met – we’re such fascinating people!!

So today I hit these sessions, which were all led by incredibly informative, talented authors:

  • Breaking In and Staying In the Historical Fiction Game (led by Karen Essex, C.W. Gortner, and Michelle Moran)
  • Place as Character: Making Your Settings Come Alive (led by Solveig Eggerz, Judson Roberts, and C.W. Gortner)
  • Debut Novels (led by Catherine Delors, Kamran Pasha, Barbara Corrado Pope, and Ann Weisgarber)
  • Selling Historical Fiction – Editors’ Panel (led by Shana Drehs from Sourcebooks, Barbara Peters from Poisoned Pen Press, and Trish Todd from Touchstone/Simon & Schuster)
  • A Fine Line: Historical Romance or Historical Novel? (led by Gretchen Craig and Elisabeth Fairchild), followed by
  • Biblical Fiction: Is It an Oxymoron? (led by Elissa Elliott)

We’re now in the Group Book-Signing (and I need to boogie over and get some of this incredible talent to sign the books I’ve bought!)

For those of you who have never been to any conference before, I’d like to make a few minor suggestions to enhance your conference experience:

  • Bring business cards – trust me, there are a lot of fascinating people to meet. Don’t you want them to remember you long after the conference is over? Well, give them something to hang onto!!
  • Seek people out – is there someone at the conference who writes in your genre? Who’s from the same town as you? Who’s wearing a great pair of stilettos? Go talk to them!!
  • Be excited about being there and meeting people – and if you’re not, well, fake it till you make it. Need I say more?

I’ll be blogging more about the individual workshops and authors in the days to come. Till then, know that attending a conference is like investing in yourself – so why aren’t you investing in yourself?


OK – as many of you know, I’m headed out to this year’s Historical Novel Society Conference in Schaumburg, Illinois.

I’m looking forward to meeting all the other authors (and soon-to-be authors!) and hearing about whatever time period they write about!

But remember, peeps – for those of us on the Writer’s Saga, it’s all Viking, all the time!

Who Dares Wins

Who Dares Wins

OK –

For all of my peeps who are unawares (and these are most of my non-Dallas peeps), I’m attending Bob Mayer’s Writing Workshop getting some great info for up-and-coming writers.

It’s awesome – we’re actually reviewing people’s 25 word story ideas right now (folks, if you don’t know, the 25 word story idea is what you respond with when somebody asks you “What’s your book about?”)

More later! We’re moving into CONFLICT: The Fuel of your Story

For all of my Dallas peeps –

Y’all really might want to take a look at this month’s meeting of the Dallas Area Romance Authors. This month’s speaker is Winnie Griggs, and she’s presenting on Secondary Characters and Telling Details. Now tell me, which one of us doesn’t need help with these???

The workshop is Saturday, May 23rd at the Holiday Inn Express in Richardson (I75 and Campbell Road). There is a $5 door fee for nonmembers. Runs from 9.30 am – 11.30 am, and they serve a continental breakfast.

Secondary Characters – Drawing on the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl,” Winnie will discuss: What is a secondary character; the three broad classifications of secondary characters; the many roles secondary characters play in fulfilling their story purpose, and the effective use of these key functions, classifications, and roles to enhance and further the primary story plot.

Telling Details – Using examples from published works, Winnie will also discuss how to use the right details to add color and vividness to scenes. She will discuss a checklist covering the key dimensions of setting, character, and mood; a filter to help writers choose just the right details for particular scenes; and a process to help writers skillfully weave these select details into scenes in an unobtrusive manner.

Okay, for those of you that haven’t been following the bouncing ball…

I’m doing a two-week program called “Fast Draft” (again, courtesy of Candace Havens – thanks, Candace!). I got my 20 pages today (my own little goal), so after 6 days, I should be at 120 pages, right?

Well, not quite! I’m actually at 80. DOH!!! A full 40 pages behind. However, I’m still plugging away, and will continue until at least Friday.

In the meanwhile, today’s burnt offerings included my creation of the first love scene between my Viking hero and our heroine, the captive Frenchwoman from Fontevraud Abbey. I was fanning myself before I was done. Who knew that a Viking and a woman raised in a convent could make the Song of Solomon sound so good?

I’ll keep you posted on “Fast Draft”.

Meanwhile, for a little entertainment, here’s this fun little Viking cartoon – I promise, this one looks nothing like the barbarian hotness in Odin’s End!



July 2018
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The World of Odin's End