Badurday- May 26, 2012- Special Guest Danica Avet- A FUNNY THING

Jillian: Today’s guest is Danica Avet, a long time friend and one of the first people to ever follow this blog. We love her and I wanted her to share her Silken Sands Conference success story with the blog. Welcome Danica. Please be sure to enjoy the badurday boys she brought us as the inspiration for her rock star hero in this story.

A FUNNY THING

DANICA: It started out innocently enough. I was having a smoke outside the hotel in New York City. What most of you non-smokers don’t realize is that there are a lot of writers, editors, and other industry people who have this naughty habit. And when smokers get together, they chat. Which is how I ended up talking to a lady who turned out to be the Editor-in-Chief for Ellora’s Cave. I didn’t pitch to her because at that time I had an agent who was handling all of my business. We chatted, we laughed, we connected. Later that week, I met another editor with Ellora’s Cave, but it was more of a passing “Oh, Danica, this is Grace Bradley” than a meet and greet.

Fast-forward to March of 2012. I’d mentioned on Facebook that I was going to the Silken Sands Conference. The same editor-in-chief I’d chatted with in New York told me to tell Grace Bradley hi for her. It seemed simple enough. I wasn’t pitching at this conference either. By this time though, I no longer had an agent. The book my agent had tried to sell for a year had been contracted out to Evernight Publishing by me. I was happy enough. I had two other stories waiting to be unleashed upon the unsuspecting publishing industry, one that I’d already submitted to two publishers, but I was being patient. For once.

The first day of the conference, I was loitering in the lobby of the hotel waiting for the first big event to start and wondering where I was going to take my mother to dinner when a lovely lady with beautiful red hair sat in the chair next to me. I glanced at her tag because I recognized her face, but couldn’t place her name. Grace Bradley. I told her Kelly had asked me to tell her hi. That was all. She glanced at my tag and said “I remember you from New York”. It’s the hair. It has to be the hair, everyone remembers the hair. But I was still pleased that I’d made some kind of impression on her.

We started talking about one of her authors who is my critique partner. Then we somehow started talking about another one of her authors whose books I adore. We moved on to the beach and summer in the south and next thing I knew, she asked me what I wrote. Ever have that moment when you go “Um, um, um, um”? I had that moment. I wasn’t pitching to her, after all. I was happy with my new Zen-like patient attitude toward the publishing industry. Yet I ended up telling Grace about the book I’d just written called Primal Song. She was attentive and nice and it felt cool, not at all stressful despite my moment of panic. She told me to send her something sometime and all I could say was “but I didn’t mean to pitch”. She didn’t seem to mind. She thought from that short conversation that she might like what I wrote.

That accidental pitch led me to receiving a contract for Primal Song with Ellora’s Cave. Actually, if you piece everything together from RWA Nationals Conference and the Super Secret Smoker’s Guild meetings on the big steel pipe and the small, intimate Silken Sands Conference and a chance run-in with an editor, it seems like fate. Maybe it wasn’t accidental at all. Maybe Primal Song was always meant for Ellora’s Cave but I was too blind to see it. Or maybe it was all coincidence and luck. Who knows? All I do know is that what started out as a mediocre 2012 has blossomed into Awesomefest 2012.

Lesson? Don’t underestimate the power of the little connections you and definitely don’t knock small conferences. They allow for more intimate chats with other authors, editors, and agents. It’s a little more relaxing for everyone involved. As much as I love going to Nationals, it’s a bit like a big game reserve with authors stalking editors and agents who become wary if you glance in their direction. Silken Sands provided me with an opportunity that I would have missed at a bigger conference and I have to give major thanks to Jillian Chantal and Sayde Grace who twisted my arm convinced me to give it a try. Thanks, y’all!

Performing His and Hers Toilettes

Wow. Another week gone already? Silken Sands Writers Conference is coming up fast! March 16-18 will be here before you know it. So just in case you haven’t registered, here’s the link again: http://www.gccrwa.com/silkensands .

It’s been an adventurous week here in Runere Land. (That moniker was granted by Jeff Salter, a blog buddy, who has his first book—“The Overnighter’s Secrets”— coming out in April from Astraea Press. Go, Jeff!) Hubby and I have been getting things together for my conference workshop, while having a herd of the grandchildren over. And I use the term ‘herd’ politely. It’s fun, but when they head home I’m left feeling trampled! lol

For starters, instead of echo location, the four year old has candy location radar. Seems I’d dropped a few little wisps of foil while peeling Hershey’s Kisses in my office. And I do mean wisps, because when she said “There’s all kind of candy wrappers over there” (which with her New Orleans accent sounded like “Theah’s awl kinda cyandy wrappahs ovah deah”, and yes, it was so cute I made her repeat it), I looked. Carefully. Nothing. She promptly laid three minute foil flakes in the palm of her hand and shoved them under my nose. Well, huh. They did come from candy wrappers. And I hid the rest of the bag.

Meal time rolled around and I fixed them all plates so they could eat in the living room. Radar Girl looked it over, fixed me with a cool stare, and asked, “What’s for dessert?” I told her, and she immediately pointed to everything on her plate in quick succession, saying, “That’s nasty. That’s nasty. That’s nasty. And that’s nasty. I can’t eat it. Can I have my dessert now?” We butted heads for a few seconds there, me lecturing that dessert does not qualify as a nutritious meal, and she had to empty her plate before she could have any. Tried the ‘you hurt Mawmaw’s feelings’ routine, but got nowhere with it. Finally told her point blank that Mawmaw does not cook nasty food. Had her look around at the others plowing their way through their heaped plates. The only thing that ended our prolonged standoff was her brother trying to stab and steal the pork roast on her plate. I learned defensiveness must improve the flavor of food, because she cleaned her plate!

We shared stories too. Mine was about a friend who’s a rocket scientist. Literally. He and his wife had come for a visit one afternoon, and he went to the bathroom. It wasn’t the length of time he spent in there that was odd; it was the muffled bursts of laughter at twenty second intervals that got to me. He finally poked his head out the door, grinning.

“Hey, it started out I was just trying to be polite,” he began, “but when I nudged the seat down, it drifted down in slow motion. I’ve never seen a toilet seat with a braking system before!” He raised it, and started it on its downward trip, avidly following its turtle mode progress to ‘female usage position’, another burst of hysterical laughter rolling out of him. I was forced to explain we have grandsons in the majority, and when a little guy stumbles in half asleep and forgets to keep a grip on the seat to hold it up, I end up shuddering through a blood-curdling screech an instant after being woken by a loud bang. I’ll admit I’ve gotten pretty good at handing off ice packs one handed, the other covering my eyes so the poor little guy can maintain the illusion of privacy as he ices his whacked weenie. Dignity went out the window with his hopping around howling with ‘things’ in a two-handed hold. (I keep telling those boys to retain full possession of the thing and don’t drape it over the porcelain edge, but do they listen? Nooo.)

Anyway, after one too many icepacks, I went in search of something safer for them and found it in Tylertown at a bath specialty shop. It’s better for me too. All my consideration when I don’t turn on a light so I won’t disturb anyone is for naught; particularly if I’m half asleep. There’s that millisecond of time that extends forever in the sleep-fuzzed brain. You know the one. It’s that twinkling instant between knowing you should have landed, realizing you haven’t, and falling in. But physics rule, gravity is all-powerful, and there’s nothing you can do to stop the splash landing.

I end up yelling loud enough from the pure shock of ending folded in half in cold porcelain and icy water to drown out almost everything else, but I’m pretty sure it’s the older boys who booby trapped the thing. There’s way too much muffled hooting and snorting into pillows, and laughing shouts of “Hey, Poppa, does Maw know how to swim?” Or “Quick! Somebody find the shoehorn!” Or “Should we fish her out now? She sounds pretty mad; maybe we should just leave her there to cool off  ‘til we need her to cook breakfast.”

Yes, I had a lengthy, invigorating 3AM bath to remedy the aftermath. Didn’t even try to be quiet about it. But it wasn’t all bad. Since I was already awake, I did get some writing in!

Good writing! I’ll be looking for you at the beach! Pensacola style!
~Runere~

Visit at www.RunereMcLain.com  Friend her on FB@RunereMcLain  Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Silken Sands Self-Published Star Contest Finalists!

I’m currently sitting here pondering which manuscript to pitch at Silken Sands Writers Conference. It’s coming up very soon and I (*dither, dither, dither*) need to make up my mind.
And I’m throwing it out there that there are still some respectable places on the pitch roster available. Not many, but a few. So if you feel your project is ready (or can be readied!) to present to an acquiring editor or agent by March 16-18th, I urge you to hurry and register to save your spot! http://gccrwa.com/silkensands

I still need a little help deciding. I love the Paranormal venue. It’s my deepest love. I have more MSS with Paranormal aspects. But I also write contemporary. Those come so easily they scare me. Anything that quick and easy has to be wrong, right? But then maybe they flow due to the articles I’ve written as a magazine staff writer. I loved taking a current event and throwing a fun or funny spin on it. Contemporary seems to be an extension of that, so maybe I’m just more at home with it. Frustrated sigh. *kicks rocks*

So what am I going to do? I’m going to . . .
. . . take this opportunity to tell you about a few authors who don’t presently have that dilemma!

Glad to say the finalists in the Silken Sands Self-Published Star Contest have been announced. Congratulations to eighteen great ladies in six categories of Romance! I mention them here because I’m so proud of every one of them.  Read more about the contest and the entry and judging procedure here:  http://gccrwa.com/starcontest

 

 

2012 Silken Sands Self-Published Star Contest Finalists

Short Story:
Gaea’s Chosen: The Mayday Directive by Cara Michaels
New Money & Old Trouble by Jane Carver
Dragon In The Mist by Nancy Lee Badger

Novella:
All’s Fair In Love & Seduction by Beverley Kendall
Loving or Nothing by Cara Marsi
Deceive Her With Desire by Nina Pierce

Single Title Contemporary:
Wife by Wednesday by Catherine Bybee
For the Love of a Woman by Christina James
Hardball by V.K. Sykes

Single Title Paranormal:
Bayou Legend by Janet Breakfield
Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She’s Dead by Christiana Miller
Love by Accident by Michelle Beattie

Single Title Historical:
This Heart For Hire by Elysa Hendricks
Another Chance by Michelle Beattie
Her Secondhand Groom by Rose Gordon

Young Adult:
Pride’s Run by Catherine Verge
Freaks of Greenfield High by Maree Anderson
The Boyfriend Thief by Shanna Norris

Winners will be announced at the Silken Sands Writers’ Conference in Pensacola, Florida, on March 17, 2012.

My Sizzler Sisters and I will be presenting these authors a bit more in depth, and providing web site and buy links for their entries. So be sure to check in often, and look for more fun ahead!

My final suggestion for today is one made by another member of our writing chapter, Jamie, and it’s a good one indeed.

If you’ve never read a Romance eBook, this list of authors is a great place to start!

Good writing, everyone! See you at the beach at Silken Sands!
~Runere~

Visit Runere at http://www.RunereMcLain.com    Friend her on FB @ Runere McLain    Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Silken Sands Writers Conference! See You at the Beach!

Writers conferences. A matter of hot debate, the question asked most frequently “Is a conference worth the time and money you spend to attend one?”

IF you’ve done your research, IMHO, yes, they are worth it! You can find sources in writer’s publications, local writers groups, and on line. One quick warning; there are as many types of conferences as there are genres, so research until you find one benefitting your genre, level of experience, and budget. You can find single subject conferences (characters, dialogue, marketing, etc.) that last a few hours or a single day. Weekend conferences with pitch sessions, meet and greet, and craft workshops. There are week-long retreats as well. Conferences have sprung up not for writers, but for readers. Many of your favorite authors have conferences to meet their fans, held in cities or on sea cruises. But for this blog, we’re dealing with writers!

First, choose a conference in your genre. If you write Mystery, don’t attend a Paranormal conference. Seems ridiculous to mention that, but one Romance conference I attended had a lone male there. Talked to him a bit and it turned out he was looking for help with Westerns. He was one lost puppy. But we put our heads together over the workshops, and craft is craft, so it wasn’t a total bust for him. Pointed out if he’d substitute ‘six gun’ for ‘stilettos’ in certain aspects, he’d do fine. Plus he loved the attention he got from all those ladies when word of his dilemma got around. Made me feel good he went away smiling.

I write paranormal romance. I’m attending Silken Sands Writers Conference in Pensacola, Florida this March 16-18 because of the sheer diversity of romance genres represented there. (If you need info, click here: www.gccrwa.com/silkensands .) Barbara Vey from Publishers Weekly is the Kickoff Speaker, a mighty presence with her personal blog there. Yet I’ve never met a more unpretentious woman. She has one of those smiles that has you opening up to her without being aware you’ve done so. Knowing she’s with us . . . Please excuse the strange woman doing the disjointed wiggle dance in the corner; I’m trying to stay to the shadows, but I’m super excited! And multi-published Historical Romance author Beverly Kendall is our Keynote Speaker. Can’t wait to hear what she has to say!

Speakers provide more than group entertainment. They’re head cheerleaders for every one there. The Keynote speaker is the individual held up as a success story, proof the dream can be accomplished. I’ve heard Keynote Speakers who tore at your heart with what they endured to achieve that dream. Sherrilyn Kenyon is one. She’d just started using her MacGregor moniker for a series, and we chatted about ancestors. She didn’t know me from Adam, yet was interested enough in the subject to ask how far back I’d tracked mine. I responded with a rousing “Clan MacClaine o’ Loch Buie, Scotland”, complete with hacked consonants and swallowed vowels. She started laughing. “How do you do that?” she wanted to know. “I still can’t get it right!” (Helps if you have family who never lost their accent. Imitation comes naturally to a child, and I guess I’ve never grown up.)

At another conference Romantic Suspense author Karen Rose talked about her writing journey, then brought home how ordinary individuals comprise writers’ ranks. Turns out she’s terrified of snakes. I’ll never forget her pot and spoon story, holding up the very items she bangs away on to scare off serpents every time she walks her dog. Even after a family member told her snakes have no ears, she refuses to budge off her stance her system works. After all, she’s never encountered a snake!

How many? And why? I try to attend three conferences a year. Why? Because there’s no better place to stay abreast of changes in the field. And with the financial crash of major publishing houses that left their long-term authors unpaid, the mass charge to ePub and Indie Pub, the change in royalty percentages and house expenses charged to the author, they’re changing often and quickly. Attending every four months or so to put your finger on the pulse is not unreasonable; in fact it’s good business. But even one a year will recharge you. Every conference has panels of experts, those knowledgeable of current facts, not just rumor and hearsay circulating the Twitterverse, loops, and email. They also have the most current list of author loops and organizations to choose from. Unfortunately there are scam artists out there. It’s comforting you can rest assured everyone at an RWA conference has been vetted by the chapter putting it on.

Throw in the opportunity to pitch a project one-on-one, directly to an acquiring editor or agent, and they become an unbeatable prospect. Being able to write “Requested Material” on an envelope or in a subject line lifts you out of the slush pile of thousands.

What Can You Expect At Conference?
Initially, a bad case of nerves. But then you look around and see quite a few others in the same condition. Nerves turn to excitement. Only another writer can truly understand a writer, and it’s a giddy moment when you realize you’re in an entire herd of them. Speaking with others at every level of the field gives you a good sense of what you’ll need to do to accomplish your goals.

Workshops at conference are varied, and set up to appeal to writers at almost every level. What do you need help most with? POV problems? Dialogue? World building questions? Where to start your book? Perfecting your pitch to that editor or agent? Organizing your space or writing to be your most productive? Finding that cotton pickin’ Muse who heartlessly abandons you when you finally have an hour to write? By going over the workshop descriptions, you can pick the best ones that specifically help you improve your craft.

But it’s the friendships you form, the networks you enlarge that stand out the most. The encouragement you get from someone who has been where you are. The inner glow you feel when you help someone who’s where you’ve been.

So come join me at Silken Sands. I need a few more friends who write. We’ll learn. We’ll teach. We’ll commiserate. We’ll cheer. We’ll laugh. We’ll stay up too late. We’ll share.

And at least once, we’ll take time to walk to the water’s edge and play in the waves and push our toes into the sand.

I promise!

See you on the beach!
~Runere~
Visit her at http://www.RunereMcLain.com      Friend her on Facebook @ Runere McLain     Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Phantasy Friday: Camouflage, Dancers and Cornish Hens . . . and Conference!

A quick reminder: It’s not too late to register for Silken Sands Writers Conference in Pensacola Beach, Florida, March 16-18. We have beaches, authors, workshops for every level of writer, editor and agent pitch appointments. (They’re here to listen to you tell them why your book is the one they want; you don’t even have to travel to New York! Take advantage of this local opportunity!) Even a costume dessert on Friday night! I can’t wait for that. It’s bound to be fun with Vampires, Historical ladies, Steampunk, Contemporary and too many others to list. Come in costume of your favorite genre or character and make it even more special. Don’t miss the book signing either. It will be open to the public.

And keep an eye out here at Southern Sizzle! Finalists for the Silken Sands Self-Published Star Contest will be highlighted here! Winners will have info and buy links on their personalized days, courtesy of the Sizzlers! Finalists announced February 15th, and winners announced at the conference! Everything you need to register can be found here: http://www.gccrwa.com/silkensands

Now on with the regular post!

I get an email every now and then from someone saying they love to read about my family. Of course they do! They don’t have to live with them! Little do they know writing about them is my personal form of therapy. *snort*

So we’ll start with the Saints loss last Saturday. The fourteen year old g-son wanted to bake Cornish hens for the game. Cornish hens? What ever happened to chips and dip? But he does an excellent job of them, so he got his way. Too bad the Saints lost. When the 49’er’s man ran the ball in for that last touchdown my living room erupted into chaos. Don’t know how I didn’t lose a ceiling fan blade; they jumped up off the couches as if hit with cattle prods. High enough to get tangled as they screamed at the runner through the television screen, shouting tackling instructions to Saints members the whole way.

When it didn’t work ball caps were thrown on the floor and stomped. I mean jumped up and down on. Repeatedly. Squinted my eyes to watch and they reminded me of little monkeys trying to put out a fire. The air turned blue from the language. Even the g-son got in on the act, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him to watch his mouth. He’d been through a traumatizing disappointment, so I put my ear filters in for about ninety seconds. Add the poor dogs going crazy from all the yelling and stomping and arm flaiing going on . . . I’m sure you get the picture. Absolute bedlam. I finally slunk off and hid in my office. Got an apology from the g-son for the cursing later, so he’s a good kid.

He’s a good kid, but is heavily into the Country Boy image at the moment. He hunts and fishes. Haunts four-wheeler trails to sling mud. Has ‘Porkchop’ embroidered on the back of his ball cap. He has camouflage for everything. I have two sets: Mossy Oak break-up for heavy woods, and Real Tree with green for hunting in pines or areas of high concentrations of evergreens. He has deer hunting camouflage — high and low country, turkey hunting camouflage and vest, bird hunting camouflage, and hog hunting camouflage. I have a headache. He called before we picked him up to ask if we were going anywhere nice where he might need a dress shirt. A nice change, I pounced on it. Told him to pack one.

My office did double duty, again. Had to hide there to stifle hysterical laughter. Tender feelings would have been bruised had I not. He’d packed –wait for it — a buttondown camouflage.

He has also discovered girls. He and his Popa love motorcycles, and are hooked on a special called “Full Throttle Saloon” about a bar that opens for the ten days of the Sturgis run. I admit to liking it too. But to get to the girl-liking part. The saloon owner’s girlfriend was a professional cheerleader. When she left the NFL, she and a group of other cheerleaders formed a dance squad called “Flaunt”. I’ve always said if you’ve got it, flaunt it. They do. He’s particularly enamoured of said saloon owner’s girlfriend, Angie. I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to overhear this, but I did.

“Pop,” he declared, all testosterone filled sincerity as he watched Angie dance on stage, “if I was 32, I’d go get that.” I nearly choked. Hubby, who doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to teasing the kids, asked him, “Why 32? What’s wrong with going to get that now?” The kid stuttered, spluttered and turned beet red. It’ll probably be a while before the g-son makes man-talk with his Popa again. Yep. Good ol’ Popa. He believes in men being men. (Probably why my baby boy — son in this instance — called three days before his seventeenth birthday to tell me he was moving in with a 30 yr old stripper. In New Orleans. It was summer vacation. Tried to be philosophical about it, but I don’t know if it helped.)

G-son won’t be here this weekend, but will the following one. I can’t wait to see what he does next. Or what his Popa eggs him on with.

I’ll see y’all next Friday. Need to make sure I have a clear path to the office. In case I have to hide in there to laugh.

Good writing!

~Runere~

Visit at www.RunereMcLain.com  Friend her on Facebook: Runere McLain  Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Peacocks and Happy Ever Afters

Just looked out the back door in the dark to check on the peacocks, and in the distance their pen has the glow of a thousand candles. Funny how light in the night has such a different feel to it.

That glow is a little muted by the construction sheeting stapled around the pen, but the heat lamps Hubby put in to keep our birds frost-free are throwing off an impressive warmth. Those birds will appreciate it tonight for sure. Hubby even made sure their perches were still wide and flat. Turns out peacocks are prone to frost bite, and it’s better to use a flat 2X4 plank for a perch so their feet stay flat and their bodies fully cover them as they settle on the roost. Better insulation that way. If they curl their very long toes around round perches, the exposed ends freeze and, well . . . gangrenous toes don’t do well.

Got to thinking (I know, scary) and found an odd correlation. Writing is a bit like that cold-wrapped peacock pen. Like construction mishmash, you set unrelated things in place one at a time to create a particular result. You sheath the pen in careful layers to block out the winds the way you layer elements in a story to shield and strengthen the story line. You set staples at critical points to secure it tightly against the frame, much the way you use key incidents and dialogue to ensure your reader stays with you. You add heat lamps to create comfort in a hostile atmosphere, the same way you add pieces of written illumination to your characters’ surroundings.

But you can’t just toss those lamps in or haphazardly prop them up on something. Too far away from the roost and they aren’t effective, much like a vague plot provides no interest. Too close, and they become a danger. A haphazardly built story runs the risk of it collapsing under the weight of too much confusion. So like the positioning of those little heat lamps is critical, you think and plan where to use your high points and black moments for best effect. Test your reasoning and make adjustments. You have to secure those lamps to something solid so they won’t fall if bumped or jostled. The same goes for your story; your research has to stand up to scrutiny, your time and plot lines solid. Each scene has to serve a purpose, with every scene ending securely locked with the next opening one, or things collapse around your characters and they become lost in a sea of broken pieces.

But without a power supply those lamps won’t shine. All your efforts for naught.

The power supply is imagination. Your muse. That driving demand that a story be told. And like that supply source, it runs in a straight line to its conclusion, insulated against outside elements.

I sat here shaking my head just now, wondering how on earth I got off on a tangent comparing peacock survival to writing. Then it hit me.

Those peacocks are the characters of any story told. If you write strong characters – and by strong I don’t mean just alpha males or kick-ass females – I mean characters that connect deeply with readers on an elemental level. Characters that face the same emotional dilemmas as the rest of the world and find ways to overcome them, characters that hurt yet continue on despite that pain, characters that face crises or impossible odds yet keep going one step at a time. As long as you create believable characters you can modify their setting and maintain a habitable atmosphere, like we did with that peacock pen, and those characters will carry on.

It seems like a lot of work just to take care of a few birds.

But then they fan, catching you off guard with the unexpected display. You can’t help but stare, awed, your senses so involved in the moment everything else drops away. You’re lost in time, entranced by all that shimmering iridescence and the sheer volume of rare beauty. It’s the same feeling you get when all those different writing elements, diligent application of technique, and determined sticking to the building blocks of good writing culminate in that perfect sentence, phrase, scene or chapter. That HEA or HFN ending is when your story fans its tail. Those few moments when everything is right and equitable in the written world and that feeling transfers to the reader.

That’s when you’re glad you went to all the effort.

That light in the darkness is the one you feel in your soul, because it does glow like a thousand candles.

Keep writing, and don’t forget Silken Sands Writers Conference is only a little over two months away! If you haven’t registered yet, you need to do so. Check out the workshops lined up, and see which agents and editors will be in attendance Sign up for pitch sessions to present your work one-on-one to them. I’ve included the link to make it easier.

~Runere~

Silken Sands Writers Conference
March 16-18, 2012
Pensacola Beach, Florida

http://www.gccrwa.com/silkensands

 

 

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com  Friend her on Facebook at Runere McLain  Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

The New Year Off To a Good Start Despite the *#/%%!! Hackers!

Of Special Note: A quick reminder the Silken Sands Self-Published Star Contest deadline has been extended. Due to scum sucking hackers, our website was down for two days. Sooo . . . now that we have a new host, we want to make sure things are fair for everyone. Entries will be accepted until January 7, 2012. You still have time to get your entry in! Here’s the link: http://www.gccrwa.com/starcontest/

It’s the New Year, and I’m happy to say mine started off on an unexpected yet promising note. Who would have thought the very first Monday of the year (and you know how we all feel about Mondays!) I would have signed a contract for another anthology?  Puts me in the frame of mind that 2012 may be the breakout year in my writing career!

Shush. I can dream! lol A strong imagination is a writer’s greatest tool!

But that happy surprise in my inbox seriously bumped up my enthusiasm. I’d allotted more time to writing every day, and now I feel justified in doing so. Also, I’m getting things organized for a workshop at our Silken Sands Writers Conference in March, assisted by the lovely Gothicdweller! It’s titled: “Of a Paranormal Persuasion: Using Fact to Create a Believable Paranormal World”. Hope you can come spend that hour with us, and the rest of the weekend taking advantage of the many other helpful workshops being offered, the agent and editor pitches, and great new friends you make at these affairs. Goth and I are both excited about the many new people, the pitches and fun!  Check it out at www.gccrwa.com or www.gccrwa.com/SilkenSands.

I love the paranormal. I can’t help it. I also love my Celtic heritage. A chance combining of the two has opened a whole new writing endeavor for me. One involving Cailleach Bheur of the Highlands. The supernatural remnant of the Celtic Goddess of Winter, Cailleach Bheur is a lean, blue-faced hag reborn every Halloween, and doesn’t return to stone until Beltane’s Eve, April 30th. In the story I’m currently writing, for some reason she’s been picking on a particular clan for centuries. A clan who has trouble finding lasting love because of her shenanigans. Hope I manage to effectively blend some interesting Celtic legends, history, people, and a twist on the paranormal in a way that draws a reader in to Winter’s Witch. We’ll see. But I can tell you the spark of that idea caught flame while I going over some photographs of old statuary I’d taken. Funny how items from completely separate areas can meld together. Rather like love and the way it combines unlikely individuals, don’t you think? In fact, I’ll share my inspiration with you today. One of the pics is a slash job. Sorry. But if you half close your eyes and allow it to blur a little you can see where he’d cause some concern if glimpsed climbing up the side of a castle or among the rocks!

The intricacies carved in the Celtic cross depict many things; family lineage, Holy oaths . . . and protection from things that can't be explained.

The blue-skinned Caillech Bheur of the Highlands is released from her stone state between Samhain and Beltane's Eve, plenty of time to wreak havoc.

Spirits pay visit deep in the night . . .

But do they come to harm or protect?

Happy writing, everyone! Keep those fingers flying over the keyboard!

~Runere~

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com  Friend her on Facebook@RunereMcLain  Follow her on  Twitter@RunereMcLain

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