Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Change Genres Class (On-Line)


Workshop: Changing Genres: How to Decide What to Keep & What to Dump, What to Change, What to Enhance, When Following Trends, Jumping into Different "Lines" or Going Down a New Road

Speaker: Beth Daniels

Date: April 5 - 30, 2010

DESCRIPTION: The publishing world is in constant transition with different aspects in novels changing, sometimes over a decade, sometimes - it seems - nearly overnight. Will you be ready? Or are you already thinking of jumping from your current "ship", swinging with the finesse of Captain Jack Sparrow onto the publishing vessel riding the waves to starboard or port?

There are a number of reasons why writers decide to try something different. Some do it because the bottom has fallen out of what they were writing, some because they are excited about a rising trend. Whatever your reason for considering making the leap there are decisions to be made. And that is what this workshop is all about.

Just because editors are no longer buying what you have been writing doesn't mean you need to junk your style entirely. There are elements that travel well between genres, even if the genres stay within the romance marketplace or leap into an entirely different marketplace. Determining what can or should be kept and what needs to be altered, enhanced, dumped, or learned goes beyond simply decided to take the leap.

This workshop runs four weeks and sets challenges twice a week. These challenges (or homework, if you will) address things like the marketplace, evaluating the elements required, making note of how many of them are already part of the writer's style, deciding what needs to be learned/adapted/changed, and even confessing - or realizing - the reason a writer is considering leaping into a new field. In other words, "what's it going to take and can I follow though?"

I started out as a romantic-suspense writer, segued into being a romantic comedy author (of both adult and young adult books), fell into writing corrupted fairytale short stories, and have been world building to launch into the fantasy market, so I've been jumping genres throughout my twenty year career as a novelist. Sometimes what these changes were made unconsciously and not as thoroughly as time and more thought about the process now demands. But they've kept me in contracts, not to mention extremely versatile.

All that is required of attendees is a vague idea of where they'd like to go, where they'd like to be as their writing career evolves. Both unpublished and published authors welcomed.

BIO: Beth Daniels currently writes as Beth Henderson and J.B. Dane, though she answered to Lisa Dane and Beth Cruise in the past as well. She has worked with editors at Berkley, Zebra, Leisure, Harlequin/Silhouette, and Simon and Schuster's Aladdin Paperbacks, done e-books for a now defunct company (not her fault, she says), and began her writing life with hardcover books slated for library use with a publisher that got out of the romance business (again, not her fault). More recently she's had a number of articles about writing picked up by e-zines, saw a short story published in a mystery and suspense magazine that turned up its toes the next year (really, really not her fault), and has a story in the MOTHER GOOSE IS DEAD anthology slated for publication by Dragon Moon Press sometimes in 2010.

For over a dozen years Beth taught college level composition, both in the classroom and online, and a credit course on Novel Writing. Five of her former Novel class students are now published.

Twenty-six of Beth's manuscripts have appeared in print or e-book format. These have been historical romantic adventures (6), romantic comedies (10), romantic-suspense (3), and young adult romantic comedy (7). Her titles have appeared in 12 different languages in over 20 countries. At the moment she is working on various manuscripts and attempting a collaboration with another RWA member on a contemporary/fantasy/romantic adventure. She also ventured into self-publishing to keep her out-of-print backlist in print, but previous e-books in print, and in frustration, to move beyond a manuscript she'd been reworking for editors for a decade with no bites, released a previously unpublished historical romantic adventure set in the American West.

She is currently/or has been a member of/or about to renew membership in Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Novelist Inc., and Historical Novelist Society. Website:

Fee: $20 CRW Members; $25 Non-CRW Members. FMI about the workshops or speakers, or to register: or email Online Workshop Series Coordinator, Karen Docter, at To subscribe to Online Workshop Series mailing list, A minimum of 5 students registered two days prior to class start is required for workshop to remain viable. No refunds after 24 hours prior to class start.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dealing with Blank Pages

On Facebook, I got this question in response to the status update that I was beginning work on the sequel to ALMOST TO DIE FOR (NAL, August 2010):

How do you motivate yourself when you're staring at a blank page? It kills me every time.

The deeply personal reply to this is that I'm actually MORE afraid of working on the novel in progress than I am of a blank page. In fact, I actually open up a new document every time I sit down to write. I do that in order to lie to myself. The lie I tell myself is that this is just a draft, it's not part of the REAL novel, and so it's okay if it sucks. Otherwise, I would be too paralyzed to write.

I also write it in Georgia font, single-space so that it "looks" like a draft and not the real document, which is in Courier, 12 pt, double-spaced standard manuscript format. The really ironic, silly part is that, when I finish the scene or however much I end up writing that day, I usual cut and paste it EXACTLY the way I wrote it.

I could probably save myself some hassle if I'd just write in the "real" document. But my brain just can't. I feel too much pressure for what I write there to be perfect, you know?

Weird, huh?

But I think the thing that's really at the heart of this question is: how do you deal with STARTING something? For me the answer is: do a lot of pre-writing. These days, I almost never start a novel that I don't have an outline/synopsis for, which means I know the basic plot point, the beginning, middle and end. When I sit down to figure those things out, I pull out my trusty notebook and start scribbling. So I hardly ever start anything with knowing, at the very least, where I INTEND it to go.

Of course, it doesn't always go where I say it will.

And, just recently, I tried starting a short story without any idea of where it was going, and guess what? It's sitting in my hard drive completely stalled out. *sigh*

Monday, March 29, 2010

RT Review

Jill M. Smith reviewed Honeymoon of the Dead (Berkley, May 2010) for Romantic Times Book Reviews. She gave it 4 stars (highest = 4 1/2) and said:

The fifth and final chapter of witch Garnet Lacey's adventures comes to an offbeat conclusion. Garnet has grown throughout the books, but this time, some of her earlier misdeeds come back to haunt her. This highly enjoyable series embodies the old saying, what can go wrong... Thanks to Hallaway for hours of escapist delight.

Given that I didn't KNOW this was going to be the last book in the series, I'm pleasantly surprised to see that the reviewer thought it held up as well as all that. Also, I didn't think that Penguin was sending out ANY review copies, so seeing something here (and so positive!) really made my day.