That time we attended a seminar in our pajamas…and learned awesome stuff!

So, every time I teach someplace, people say to me–Hey! when are you going to teach a seminar on how to write a romance?

Good question. I LOVE teaching on how to write a romance. Because writing a great romance isn’t just about a boy who meets a girl, falls in love and lives happily ever after. A powerful, heart-tugging romance goes deeper. The romance that moves us is the one that heals the deep wounds of the characters, grants hidden dreams and helps them become better people.

Makes an impact on our world.

Image result for braveheart romance

 

C’mon–even BRAVEHEART has a romance. Deep down we all love a romance that overcomes dire obstacles and wins the day. And because of that, a great romance is about the expectations. We expect to fall in love, just a little. To feel something when we close the book.

And yet, people think romances are easy to write, simply because there are so many of them. (did you know that romance is the #1 selling genre?) And yes, there are plenty of bad, sappy, poorly written romances out there. But, there are also romances that deeply move us, change us, spark hope in our jaded hearts. And those…the ones that matter…take thought, deliberation and skill.

But here’s the truth..yes, romances all use the same powerful ingredients. How they are combined, along with powerful characters and an author’s unique voice makes each romance a different story. Still, it behooves us to learn the ingredients and how to combine them to deliver that powerful story.

A few years back, I gathered aspiring romance authors together and taught them all my secrets. Many of them are now published. (Waving to you, PT Bradley, Beth Vogt, Melissa Tagg, Lisa Jordan and so many more.) But as my schedule got crazy, and hotel prices went up, I thought…there has to be a better way.

What if…what if held the romance seminar online? So students didn’t have to leave their homes. They could even, I dunno, wear their pajamas to class.

And, I could make it cheaper, because no one has to travel! (This seminar starts at $297..and goes down from there. Read more!)

And, finally, with Facebook, I could hang around help students after the class was over.

Soooo….

I’m super excited to announce an ONLINE SEMINAR on How to Write a Brilliant Romance! (Excited? Me too! Click here for details!)

April 21-April 22!

In your house. Or cabin. Or apartment. Or dorm room…wherever you are, right?

If you want to learn how to write everything from a thread of romance to a full out romance, this seminar is for you!

You’ll learn:

  • How to structure your romance
  • How to create heroes and heroines readers will fall in love with
  • How and when your hero and heroine should meet
  • How to make two characters fall in love
  • How to write a sizzling kiss
  • How to create believable conflict
  • How to keep the tension high in the middle of a story
  • How to put romance on every page

Most of all, how to write a romance that makes an impact.

AND, I invited, amazing, brilliant, NYT best-selling author Rachel Hauck to help me. SUPER AWESOME!

Click here to read more about the Brilliant Romance Seminar.

Listen–for the next three days, we have an EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT that gives you nearly $30 off the price of admission. (10% off!)

Use coupon code: BR-EARLY-BIRD to get your discount! (OR, let’s make this easy–click HERE for the coupon link! You’ll see it applied at checkout. Easy-peasy.)

Unfortunately, my webinar platform only allows me limited seating…so, the live event is only open to the first 125 people. (So grab your seat!)

I can’t wait to hang out with you all, help you write brilliant stories, share my secrets…maybe I’ll even stay in my pajamas!

Your romance matters! Let’s write something brilliant!

 

Susie May

Novel.Academy

The Big 3 Questions Every Writer Should Answer

Before I begin to plot a novel  — before developing my characters or deciding on the obstacles they’ll face or devising their spiritual journey — I always ask myself the “Big 3 Questions.”

Always.

The Big 3 are focusing questions that every writer should ask before plotting a new novel. So what are the Big 3?

  1. What is your novel about?
  2. Why should anyone pick up your novel?
  3. What is your novel’s Story Question?

 

To understand the importance of these questions, let’s take the Big 3 one by one.

  • What is your novel about?

Keep your answer to this question simple. One to three sentences. If you don’t know where to start, write down your genre. Then give a straightforward explanation of your story’s plot. EX: Contemporary Romance. My novel is about the relationship between a young widow and her husband’s twin brother. (This was for my novel Somebody Like You.)

Another way to approach this question is if you’ve written more than one manuscript or published more than one novel. Consider the plots of your books and then answer the question: What are your novels about? EX: family, life not going according to plan, messy relationships, mistakes defining us, twins, estrangement, widowhood, secrets, where do we find significance, military, medicine/physicians

Doing this helps you begin to see the recurring issues you write about. This kind of question also shows up on the author questionnaires sent by publishers’ marketing departments.

  • Why should anyone pick up your novel? Another way to ask this: Why should anyone ever read your book? What are readers going to love about your book? What makes your book un-put-downable? When someone sees your name on the front cover of a novel, what kind of story are they going to get? EX: Rachel Hauck has a literary voice and is known for slip-time novels — stories two time periods intersect — as well as royal romances. Susan May Warren is known for family stories, as well contemporary romances laced with adventure and action. Me? I write contemporary romance with strong women’s fiction elements. 

Again, if you’ve written more than one manuscript or novel, step back and take a big picture look at your books. What defines you as a writer? Humor? Happily Ever Afters? Supernatural elements? Gritty reality?

  • What is your novel’s Story Question? 

I’ve written about Story Question before and, yes, it’s vital to know your novel’s Story Question (SQ) because it fuels your novel and keeps it moving forward. Your main characters and subplot characters are trying to answer your SQ — and your readers are subconsciously wrestling with the SQ, too. EX: Some of my novels’ SQs are:

  • Is it ever wrong to love someone? (Somebody Like You)
  • What if you discovered that what you thought was your worst mistake was actually the right choice? (Crazy Little Thing Called Love)
  • How do other people’s opinions about us influence our choices? (Almost Like Being in Love)

 

By answering the Big 3 Questions, you are discovering more about yourself as a writer: what you write, why you write, and how to connect with your readers on an emotional level through your novel’s Story Question. So what about you? Will you take the time to answer the Big 3 before starting to write your next story? 

 

[Tweet “The 3 Big Questions Every Writer Should Answer via @bethvogt “]

 

 

Keys To Handling Rejection

Hi Everyone,

It’s been awhile but I’ve experienced tremendous growth since the last time I wrote.

You see, I got a rejection letter. Yeah, and the email came through on Valentine’s weekend. Needless to say my husband was at more than a loss.

Can I just admit? I took some time to cry and wonder why in the world a successful businesswoman in her own right would ever subject herself to this crazy publishing world?

We all process things differently. I did your standard sit-in-shock cry and—in typical me fashion—said a prayer and went to bed. Everything always looks better after you sleep on it, right?

I woke up, and the email was still there with a resounding “pass.” After wallowing for 24 hours, I sent off an email to my mentors and went back to my day job—the day job in which I put in fourteen hours, on Valentine’s weekend. (Are you feeling sorry for my husband yet?)

Here’s the reply I got back from one of my mentors: “Best rejection ever!”

What?

You got it. It’s exactly what she sent me via email. And you know, after my mouth hit the ground and I stared at the screen awhile, I saw that she was right.

Perspective, people. Perspective.

I wrote my first book, went to conference, got contracted with an amazing agent and submitted my work. I had accomplished something. I went back and re-read the rejection letter—and while I wasn’t jumping for joy, it could have been a lot worse.

Then I got my second perspective check. My agent said, “No = next opportunity.

So, I dusted myself off and started plotting a new story to be ready for the next opportunity.

I learned four important things that weekend:

  1. Allow yourself time to be upset, but move on. In that short twenty-four hours, I had friends praying and my family surrounded me with love and hugs and the ceremonial offering of Blue Bell Ice Cream.
  2. Pick your friends and mentors carefully. If I’d sent that email or contacted “certain persons,” they would have killed my dreams. They would have enjoyed saying, “What were you thinking?” Choose your friends wisely. Listen to the right voices.
  3. Get out of your head. You are your worst critic. Don’t live there. Get out and move on.
  4. Redefine no to yourself. No = next opportunity.

Oh, and I should tell you that my husband showed up at my work with a steak dinner for two that night. Yep, I will keep him.

So tell me, what wisdom have you gleaned from rejection letters?

15 Things Successful Writers NEVER Say

Writers are an odd lot.

I can say that, because I am one. So I speak from experience, not judgment. Like all creative people, we tend to feel things more deeply, reacting poorly to criticism.

We also have no perspective at all when it comes to our own creations. Because a lot of us begin writing as a hobby, we also seem to have a lop-sided view of the publishing industry.

So today, I’d like to clear up some common misconceptions and share some things that successful writers never say.

  1. Uh…I guess…uh…I write. So…I suppose that makes me a writer…sometimes. CUT. IT. OUT. If you are serious about writing, even if you don’t get paid, you can call yourself a writer. So repeat after me. “I am a writer.”
  1. I’m a much better writer than the majority of the published writers out there. This is for the small percentage who don’t have trouble telling everyone, “I am a writer.” Some of you believe you know more than everyone else. I hate to break it to you, but you don’t.
  1. Sure, I don’t need to write today. I’ll go to lunch with you. Successful writers make spending time putting words on paper (or a screen) a priority. If we want to be taken seriously and have our time respected, we must set the example.
  1. I don’t need to read books. I’m a writer, not a reader. Besides, I don’t have time to read. I am not kidding. I’ve actually had writers tell me this. We need to spend time reading, and reading widely. Read outside your genre and learn what works and what doesn’t.
  1. I don’t need an editor. I have a sharp eye and can catch anything I need to in my writing. Yes, many of us do have an editor’s eye. That’s a good thing. But that is NO substitute for an editor. We are blind when it comes to our writing. We see what is supposed to be on the page, not what is.
  1. I can’t afford to attend conferences. I know conferences are expensive, but they’re also vital to moving forward in your writing career. There are a lot of ways to fund a conference—from asking for money from family and friends instead of gifts for holidays, to writing small articles for pay and saving that money. Conferences do three MAJOR things for writers:
  • They provide a place to learn the latest industry standards and techniques.
  • They provide a place to network and talk to writing professionals, like editors, agents and published writers.
  • They provide a place to network with other writer.
  1. I decided to self-publish because traditional publishing just takes too long. I’m glad to say that self-publishing—when done with professionalism—is now a respected option. Beyond that, there are a lot of good reasons to self-publish. But using self-publishing as a short cut is NOT a good reason.
  1. I don’t have a target audience, everyone loves what I write. Every book has a primary audience. Yes, there are books that a lot of people enjoy. But if you write to a specific audience, you’ll have a much better finished product. Not to mention the fact that book stores will know where to shelve your book.
  1. The rules don’t apply to me. Yes, I’ll be the first one to agree that there are exceptions to almost every single rule you ever hear about writing and/or publishing. BUT we can’t look at ourselves as that exception. Follow the rules and let the exceptions be a wonderful surprise if and when they happen.
  1. The first part of my book is just information the reader needs, the story starts on page 70 (40, 60, 90, etc.). I really have lost track of the number of times I’ve had an author say this to me. Here is my response. If the story starts on page 70, that’s where your book needs to start. Trust your reader, and trust yourself, and skip the background information.
  1. I’m not a marketer, I’m a writer. If this really is true and you absolutely refuse to market your work, then be prepared to pay. You’ll have to hire someone to market your book because marketing is a joint partnership between the publisher and the writer. That’s just the way publishing works today.
  1. The publishing industry is dying. No, not really. It’s definitely changing, but it’s not dying. There’s a difference. Learn to adapt with the changes, but realize books and people who write them aren’t going anywhere.
  1. I already have a book contract, I don’t need a literary agent. Now you need one more than ever. There are those who will argue this point, but here are my thoughts. Because of the rapid changes in publishing, contracts are brutal. You need someone in your corner, advocating for you. After the contract, you still need someone to help with possible (really probable) hiccups in the publishing process. If you don’t like your cover, or the copy editor isn’t doing a good job, your agent can be the bad guy and go to bat for you. This makes it possible for you to stay on good working relations with the publisher.
  1. I don’t need to work on social media until after I have a contract. This is another that makes me cringe. Editors and agents award book contracts based on a lot of things. Now days, one of those things is whether or not an author has solid online presence. The lack of a presence may not always keep you from getting a contract, but it will affect the way you’re viewed by prospective buyers. Smart writers build an online presence while they’re working on a book, so everything is in place when they begin pitching.
  1. Published authors don’t need to take classes or read books on writing. Successful writers know there’s never a point when you’ve arrived. Lifelong learning isn’t just a buzzword, it’s vital to stay current in the publishing industry.

Even though I slanted a lot of the points toward books, all are equally applicable to writers of shorter works. These are things that I believe you’ll never hear a successful writer say. I’d love to know what you’d add to this list. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.