Probably my favorite CRRWA meeting of the entire year (they are all pretty great, though) is the December meeting, where we recognize the achievements of all of our members. “Did not quit writing” is an achievement, as is “started writing for the very first time.”  There is recognition for a lot of the hard work that goes into the writing life, especially for those of us who are pursuing it as a career. Get a contract? Yay! Queried, and got a no thanks? Also yay! Published your first book? Yay! Published your twenty-fifth book? Yay! Hired an editor, cover artist, or other professional to help you on the indie publishing journey? Yay! Tehre are lots of other things that matter, and there are milestones to recognize, when reached. This year, one of them was mine. 

Book number five? Water bottle time!

Meet the five-book water bottle. I’ve wanted one of these babies ever since they first became part of the program. Since I had come into my membership in this chapter with four books under my belt, this goal felt, at the same time, very close, and unattainable. Close, because I came into my membership in this chapter with four titles to my credit, so one more is not that far away. Only, it was, because my life had exploded, and whether one wants to call it writer’s block, or emptiness, or what-have-you, my general connection to writing was, at the time, 

There was the time travel I put on the back burner (and is still there) and the Regency I tried to write, but couldn’t connect with, until I admitted I had set it in the wrong period. There was the American Revolution romance I tried oh so hard to write, until I admitted that my hero didn’t want to be on the side of the conflict I had selected for him. I ended up stealing his and his heroine’s (first) names for another project (we are getting to that. There was other stuff, too, that didn’t go anywhere, in terms of getting me to a fifth contracted/published work, but that’s not to say those things didn’t serve any purpose. 

Finding out what doesn’t work has value, too, as does taking a risk when that risk feels right. The official story is this: Melva and I were at an NERWA annual conference, and were early for breakfast. We plopped ourselves in a couple of comfy chairs near the breakfast room, so we’d be there when the doors finally opened. We people watched, and talked about how varied romance fiction is, and how those unfamiliar to the genre might think it’s all the same, but look, there’s an inspirational author talking with an author of m/m erotica, and that one writes historical, and that one writes paranormal, and that one writes YA, and that one writes multicultural, and that’s a winner of multiple Rita awards (romance fiction’s Oscar/Hugo/etc) and that person only found out RWA existed yesterday, and, and, and, and….

“What if,” one of us asked, because all great stories begin with “what if?” a writer thought they could attend a couple of workshops and pound out a romance novel real quick, but then found out it wasn’t that easy?” The other one of us glomped on to that. What if they fell in love? With whom, though? Obviously, the worst possible person would have to be the answer. A huge romance fan, someone for whom this genre is, almost literally, life. What would be the worst possible time for tehse two to meet? Originally, we made it at a pitch session, but we tweaked that, and that’s when Chasing Prince Charming was conceived. 

At this most recent meeting, I sat next to fellow The Wild Rose Press author, Ginny Frost, and squealed and giggled, and got to wear a sparkly tiara (as did all members present, even the gal at her very first meeting, ever) as the fabulous K.A. Mitchell played MC, and boasted everyone’s accomplishments. I get to play Vanna White and hand out the prizes -everybody gets one- and the whole atmosphere is so encouraging and celebratory that it is like catnip. 

There is no special prize for a sixth book, but there is for making a sale, or publishing independently, so my goal for the next year is going to be that, among other things. Book number five is my first contemporary, and my first co-written with Melva Michaelian, and my first book intentionally written as part of a series. We are about at the 25% mark of the next book, Drama King, and are already talking about what we want to write next, after these first three books are done. 

We have also talked about what we each want to achieve this coming year, in our solo work. Cozy roantic suspense, and humorous nonfiction for her, historical romance for me. How do we keep all the balls in the air for our solo and joint work, and how do we handle being a debut author, as two bodies with but a single mind. We both have books out that are just our own, and Melva has co-written before, but this new stuff? Totally new territory. 

I look forward to figuring it out. This past Saturday, we had fun. We handed out prizes, applauded each other, snacked, and, best of all, wound up talking in various bunches, about writing and reading and all that goes with it, where we are goimg and where we have been, and, maybe most importantly, where we are right now. 

The lack of a comma is tradition, now.

 I like having a shiny red reminder of what happens when I ride out the urgh, and keep going. Keep trying new things, that, surprise, make the old things even better than they always were. No telling now, what I’ll be posting here next year, but I know, whatever it is, it will be good, or headed in that direction. Writing readers, what acheivements would you like a pom-pom shake for this year? Leave them in the comments, and I can offer virtual cake.


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