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Monday, April 27, 2015

Retreat From Harsh Reality

This past weekend, I attended a fabulous event. Since 1985, the members of the Mid-Michigan chapter of Romance Writers of America have taken time to chill out, relax, and regenerate. Our annual Retreat From Harsh Reality began as a “pajama party” in a dorm at Western Michigan University. Our members came from all over Michigan, though most lived from the middle to the west coast. Members couldn’t always attend the monthly meetings and those who did didn’t always have time to really chat and get to know each other. Thus the need for a weekend to do just that, as well as to recharge our creative batteries.

Over the past thirty years, our “mission” for retreat has stayed the same—time to get acquainted/reacquainted and absorb the energy that flows when a group of writers get together. We always have one speaker who gives a talk and participates in a roundtable chat. This year, our speaker was Rita Clay Estrada, the founder of RWA. Her talk about the beginnings of the now international organization for romance writers was truly inspirational. The original members of RWA might as well have taken the motto from the movie Galaxy Quest—“never give up, never surrender.” True pioneers in an industry that prided itself on never changing. Rita was so engaging and approachable. Whenever the group got together, she was there from Friday evening through Sunday morning. We had some hero(ine) worship going on at first—“OMG, it’s the lady after whom the RITA award is named.” But very quickly she put everyone at ease and we realized she’s a writer like the rest of us.

I joined MMRWA in 1993 and my first “meeting” was at retreat. It wasn’t as bad as camping outdoors but close. Dorm rooms boast few amenities—thin mattresses on top of cots, towels so thin you could see through, and bathrooms that hadn’t been thoroughly cleaned since Eisenhower was president. WMU had a policy of not turning off the heat until the end of May. Our retreat was the 3rd weekend. It could be 80° out and heat would be pouring out of the registers. Despite the inconveniences, we had a great time picking each others’ brains and learning more about the industry as well as the craft of writing.

We’ve come a long way from a university dorm to a lakeside resort. Despite the venue, our members still want to get together, to pick brains, learn about the industry, hole up somewhere to write, and/or brainstorm and critique. We still want one writer-speaker (no editors or agents), someone we can talk to, who is willing to engage with writers who are at the beginning of their careers or have been at it for a long time—unpublished and multi-published alike.

As always, I came home from retreat with renewed energy. I’m ready to tackle my current work-in-progress with enthusiasm. I love going to retreat because it means getting together with “old” friends and making new ones. I hope the other attendees came away like Energizer Bunnies—full of enthusiasm and ready to get to work.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Spring Nasties

Last month, I wrote how great it was that spring finally arrived. Spring also brings nasty stuff. Like rain. In moderation, rain is good. You know the old saying “April showers bring May flowers.” More rain and you have mud. With the house construction next door, the rain is washing dirt into the pond behind our houses. Of course, the pond helped that by flooding over its “bank” and when it receded dragged more dirt in. Poor ducks have to swim in all that muddy water. Too much rain and you have real floods that endanger lives and property. We’ve been fortunate that the spring flood of 2012 hasn’t been repeated here in West Michigan. Sorry, California. I wish we could send some rain to you.

Road Construction. The signs are out again. Winter is hard on roads in Michigan—as elsewhere. We know it’s spring when the orange barrels and warning signs come out. In between cussing at the delays and taking alternate routes, our mantra is “it’ll be great when it’s done.” We just have to learn to live with it.

End of regular television programming. The season for prime time shows is ending. You can see the episodes building to a crisis and you know they’re going to end on a cliff-hanger. Too bad we have to wait until almost October to find out what happens next. I used to hate the season’s end because that meant constant reruns. A whole summer of shows we’ve seen before. But thanks to the minor networks (that aren’t so minor anymore) we get to watch the new seasons of old programs or the advent of new ones. Thank goodness someone in marketing got the brilliant idea of filling the void.

Another spring nasty is the onset of allergies and the spring cold. How can a simple virus make you feel so bad? I apologize to all those people who are suffering diseases so much worse. A cold isn’t life threatening. It just makes you want to curl up and wish the world would leave you alone. I’ve only had this cold for four days. Four days when I didn’t even want to read. Me, not reading? Impossible. Yet, it was true. My eyes hurt too much to focus on words. Instead, I watched many episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise. Correction: I slept through many episodes. And took real naps—the kind where you get into bed and pulled the covers over your head. Then I slept through the night. I think I’ve stored up enough sleep to last several weeks.

Maybe it’s a good thing Hubs and I got our colds now (he so kindly shared his with me) instead of in a few weeks—when we get to meet our new granddaughter. She’s here! A few weeks early but healthy. Mom and baby are doing well. Dad can’t stop grinning. Through the wonders of technology, we’ve gotten to see her and hear her cry and laugh. She’s a real charmer.

I guess spring isn’t so nasty after all.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Authors in Bloom Hop

Dianne Venetta_AIB Logo_2015
Welcome to the 4th annual Authors in Bloom Blog Hop. This is my second time. Last year, I had a blast. I hope you’ll enjoy the blogs in this year’s hop. You’ll find the list of authors participating at the bottom of this post.

Spring is my favorite time of year. After a gloomy, snowy winter, seeing bits of green poking through the still brown grass and trees beginning to bud reminds me of renewal. Last spring was our first in our new house. We had no idea how entertaining the ducks would be. Talk about tame. I guess that’s what happens when people toss bits of bread to them. The best show is the duckling parade. We’ll watch those little balls of fur waddle after their mothers. As they grow, their feathers changed until you can tell the drakes from the hens. Then in the fall, those ducklings will learn to fly and they’ll be gone. All winter, we hoped they would return. The ice hadn’t even disappeared from the pond behind our house when they did. Already, our neighbors are sitting on the steps of their deck and throwing bread. Won’t be long before Hubs does, too. Then the babies will start following us everywhere we turn in the backyard.

Because winter lasted so long this year, my spring bulbs are still hibernating. Along with baseball opening day and the return of the ducks, nothing says spring like daffodils and tulips.

Happy Spring!

My only book (so far) that takes place in the spring is a romantic suspense ONE RED SHOE. You could describe it as It Happened One Night meets Knight and Day. (As you can tell, I love movies.)

When elementary teacher Daria Mason left Iowa for a writers’ conference in New York City, she didn’t expect to come home with a wounded spy. Sam Jozwiak works for a shadow agency that gathers intel vital to U.S. security. From the moment he steals digital files from a Russian Mafia kingpin, Murphy’s Law takes over. No matter how he covers his tracks, the kingpin’s assassins find him. What’s worse than getting shot in the butt? Accepting help from an Iowa tourist. Thus, begins a road trip that takes Sam and Daria cross country with the assassins right behind them.

ONE RED SHOE is available at Amazon ~ B&N ~ Kobo ~ iTunes

I will be giving away a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble e-Gift Card to a lucky commenter. For more chances to win, use the Rafflecopter below.

an ereader of your choice (up to $200 value)

$25 gift card (winner's choice of ebook retailer)
available to INTL residents (VOID where prohibited by law)

To be eligible for the Grand and 2nd Prizes, you have to visit each participant and leave your email address with your comment.

Here's the list of participating authors.
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