Sunday, July 30, 2006

Congratulations All Around!

Congratulations to Gayle Wilson and Kelley St. John
for their wins of the 2006 Readers Choice Awards.

Kelley for Best First Book and Gayle for Romantic Suspense!


Congratulations to our own Dianna Love Snell for winning the 2006 Rita in the Long Contemporary category with her debut book, WORTH EVERY RISK!

Way to go, Dianna! We're so proud of you!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?

Okay, I have a short and sweet blog for today. What makes a man sexy?

To me, a man is sexy not by looks alone, though you have to give him credit if he’s got killer abs, but by his attitude. For example, Jack Nicholson is not nor has he ever been a handsome man. Yet his confidence and his voice make most women fall at his feet.

I do try to give my fellows in my books The Attitude, no matter how they look.

And the fellow I like on the big or small screen is Stuart Townsend. You may remember him playing Lestat in the movie Queen of the Damned. He’s got all the things I think makes a man sexy, bedroom eyes, long fingers, and deep husky voice. He’s sexy in the extreme.

I tried to download pictures to the blog, but Blogger wasn't being nice. So check out this link:

What about you? What do you think makes a man sexy?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Cover story

I'm hoping against hope that my new YA novel for Simon & Schuster, due out in Spring 2007, gets a cover along these lines:

And my taste in covers isn't limited to YA. In the Vestavia Hills Public Library this week, of all the books in the "new releases" display, this is the one I picked up to read the description:

I just have a thing for artsy photographic innuendo.

Does a certain type of cover catch your eye and say, "This is the book for you"? Chick lit cartoons? Hot Blaze photos? Historical clinch paintings? Three-armed women?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Fiction is Fiction, NOT Reality!

I was going to blog about going to Nationals, but it sounded a lot like the one a couple of weeks ago. I'm not Grandma yet! (g)

The dictionary describes fiction as: (1) an invented idea or statement or narrative; an imaginary thing; (2) literature, esp. novels, describing imaginary events and people; (3) a conventionally accepted falsehood; (4) the act or process of inventing imaginary things.

So, why do some people expect life to resemble fiction? Last week I read an article where a lady was bemoaning how romantic movies had messed up her and her friend's love lives. Hit her with the clue gun! They're fiction, just like romance novels. Meant to entertain.

People don't expect Darth Vader to show up in their life. People don't expect Arnold Schwarzenegger to blow up their house. People don't expect their lives to resemble a Stephen King novel or book. People (or at least the ones I know) don't expect to find a vampire in their bed.

What makes romance different? Is it because romantic novels and books mainly appeal to women? Are we so weak-willed that we can't tell the difference between fiction and reality?

HEAs really do happen. My parents were married for over 40 years. My brother has been married for 36 years; their son for 11. I've been married for 21 years. My aunt and uncle for 50. Maybe today couples go to divorce court at the first sign of trouble without working at marriage or relationships.

You can probably tell these stories irritate me. They make women appear so stupid. I don't want the books I read or the movies I watch to resemble life. I want to be entertained or want to entertain with the books I write. Why is romance different?

I really don't have a clue. Every so often these types of stories pop up in newspapers and on tv. Can you offer any suggestions? What do you expect from your fiction?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Creativity and the Control Freak

Hi, my name is Paula, and I'm a control freak.

I am not a go with the flow kind of woman. I like things to be logical, well-planned and controllable. If I have a decision to make, the word "snap" is not in my vocabulary. I like to know my options, choose them carefully and make the right choices.

As you can imagine, being a writer and a control freak at the same time is rather like being a shy, modest stripper. Good luck with that.

Of all the professions in the world, writing is one of the hardest to control. First, writers rarely have any control over the urge to write. It's part of our nature, built and nurtured by our experiences, our genetics, our talents and our spirits. Not writing, for most of us, is like not breathing. Possible for a short time but ultimately unsustainable.

Second, writers have little control over how the story turns out. Oh, we can set up our spreadsheets and index cards and whiteboards. We can Discover Story Magic or Write the Selling Synopsis or learn the ins and outs of Goal, Motivation and Conflict, but ultimately, our characters tell their own stories, and we're mostly along for the ride.

Third, writers have no control over how their work is received. From contest judges to editors to agents to readers, there's always someone else out there who makes the ultimate decision about the value of our work. We have no control over whether an agent wants to represent us or an editor wants to buy our work. We can't control whether or not readers love our books enough to buy them.

So, are any of you control freaks, too? How do you reconcile your need for control with your need to be creative and innovative in your work?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hard Learned Truths of Writing Fiction

Warning: These truths may not necessarily be your truths. But, for me, they are irrefutable facts.

1. No one will ever love my stories and characters as much as I do.

2. Rejections hurt. Whether it's the first or five hundredth, they still sting.

3. When and if I ever sell, I'll need to cut my word count by at least a thousand words to allow for the extra pages to thank all the people who have helped me along the way.

4. It sucks to be on a diet when rejections start coming in.

5. No matter how many times I revise my work and call it complete, there are still things I find to change and make it better.

6. Thanks to email, Sunday is not a rejection safe day.

7. In the years I've been writing, I have learned so much, but it's still a thimble full compared to what I have yet to learn.

8. No matter how many disappointments, rejections, poor contest scores or endless days of staring at a blank computer screen, there's still nothing I'd rather be doing than writing.

What about you? What irrefutable truths have you discovered about writing fiction?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

In the Amazone

Getting the published is the worst thing that ever happened to my writing, because there’s so much online to distract me--including Amazon.

I love Amazon. I order lots of books from there--lots more than I intend to. I want to buy just one, but if I buy only three more, I qualify for FREE Super-Saver Shipping! Even when I plan to buy a book from a local store or check it out from the library, I often look it up on Amazon for more info about it and what else the author has written.

And I hate Amazon. The publication of MAJOR CRUSH is still 16 days, 12 hours, 36 minutes, and 2 seconds away. But since the book was listed for pre-sale on Amazon last December, there has been Too Much Information.

Better together
Amazon sometimes suggests that if you buy one book, you buy another book you’d also enjoy. For instance, when you pull up a page for the other books in the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies series, Amazon suggests you buy...a second Simon Pulse Romantic Comedy. No brainer. And when you pull up the page for my Simon Pulse Romantic Comedy, Amazon suggests you buy a Spanish textbook.

What do customers ultimately buy after viewing items like this?
In this statistic, Amazon tells you that someone viewed your book but decided to buy a different book instead. In other words, Baxter McClanahan asked you to the prom, but he left with a willowy cheerleader named Beige.

And finally, the dreaded sales rank
I know from long months of experience that if someone buys a copy of your book, your Amazon rank will soar to #15,000. Over the ensuing weeks, you will slowly and painfully drop to #100,000, to #400,000, to #800,000, and finally below #1,000,000. If you did not feel more secure about your writing career, you might almost be tempted to buy 16 copies of your own book just to save you from your rank between a knitting manual from 1982 and a biography of Oliver Wendell Holmes. I said almost.

Go ahead and make fun of me. But when your first book comes out, I will remember this...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Quotable quotes

Recently I got review quotes for MAJOR CRUSH (to be released August 1) from YA authors Marley Gibson and Diana Peterfreund. You can read them on my web site here. They won’t be printed on the cover of my book, though. My critique partner Victoria Dahl got a review quote from historical author Connie Brockway, who was the keynote speaker at the Southern Magic Readers’ Luncheon last year. This quote will grace the cover of Vicki’s first book, TO TEMPT A SCOTSMAN, which will be out in August next year. You can read the quote here.

As writers, I think Vicki and I feel the same way about these quotes. We are sooooo gratified to have our work publicly valued by authors whose work we love ourselves! But as a reader, I don’t think I view review quotes the same way other people do. The Smart Bitches had a discussion a few months ago about Sherrilyn Kenyon’s book sporting a quote by Kinley MacGregor (they are the same person). Some readers were genuinely upset, because they didn’t realize these writers were the same person, and a review quote greatly influences whether they buy a book. Now, I had sent an ad featuring this very Sherrilyn Kenyon book to Romance Writers Report because Southern Magic was honoring Sherrilyn’s 50th sale. I think it says volumes about my perception of review quotes that I did not even notice the quote was there! (When the Smart Bitches drew my attention to it, I thought it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen, and pulled a Sherrilyn book off my TBR shelf and started reading.)

I’m guessing review quotes don’t grab me because I don't buy by browsing. I buy books because they are like the books I write (adult or YA romantic comedy), because a new friend I’ve found online wrote them, or because Vicki told me to. And the reason I don’t browse is that I'm almost never out in public without a five-year-old boy pulling on me. I buy a lot of books on Amazon. If I buy them from local bookstores, I've looked up the book on Amazon first and know the exact author and title and where to find it in the store. (I bought Lani Diane Rich’s THE COMEBACK KISS at Books A Million at Brookwood Mall last week; it only took two minutes, but my son managed to knock something over. We are not buying that. No. We are not buying a train calendar. Put that back. Put that back. Put that back. Put. That. Back!)

What about you? Do review quotes make your eyes glaze over, or will you buy Vicki’s book because Connie Brockway said so?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Query Letter Hell

I hate writing query letters almost as much as a synopsis. Maybe knowing the whole story makes it difficult to boil down into a paragraph or two. I have managed to come up with the basics of a query that I decided to share. Editors and agents don't enjoy rejecting writers. They really want to find books to sell. It's up to us to write a query letter that makes them want to see the manuscript.

Know if the agency/publisher wants a query letter only or the first three chapters and synopsis and send it. Though, Miss Snark ( says to always include the first five pages with your query so he/she can get a feel for your writing.

Evil Editor critiques query letters. He's so funny I'd like to marry him. I'm not brave enough to submit one of my letters, but you can learn a lot by reading his critiques.

I've heard several editors say they hate it when a writer tells them their book will make them laugh, cry, etc. Then, they're waiting for you to prove it. They also don't like writers to compare themselves with well-known authors because usually the writing comes up short of that comparison. Let them come to their own conclusions.

A query is your calling card. Above all, be professional. Make it as perfect as possible. Don't be cutesy or put yourself or your writing down. Keep it to one page. Don't send it by email unless the agency lists that as a viable option. While you're waiting, start another manuscript. If a publisher/agents lists six months as the time it takes for a reply, wait longer than that to inquire about your status.

Bribery doesn't work. They may enjoy the chocolate you send, but it won't make them buy your book. Also, no emotional blackmail, i.e., my kids will starve if you don't publish me.

One editor once said brightly colored paper would get her attention. However, it's best to stick to the basic white or buff. Don't use your company's/office's letterhead.

Here's my suggestions for a query letter:

Your address, phone number, and email. You want them to be able to find you.

The editor's/agent's CORRECT name and address. CHECK SPELLING! They hate to have their name misspelled or be called Mr. when she's a Ms.

If you have met this agent/editor before or have a recommendation from their client, put that up front. He/she may not get to the bottom of your letter. However, don't invoke a client's name without their approval. It will be found out and will only make you look unprofessional.

Boil the manuscript down to a couple of paragraphs. Hit only the high points (goal, motivation, conflict). Don't keep any secrets. Mention only important characters (hero/heroine; protagonist/antagonist; villain).

Your writing credentials. If you've published before. If you've won awards. Some editors/agents like to know of any contest finals. Some like to know if you've achieved RWA PRO status; some don't. That's something you won't know unless you hear that agent/editor speak at a conference or have a conversation with them. Impertinent information wastes their time. For example, that fact that you're a vet isn't important unless your character is a vet.

Book title. The genre/sub-genre. Word count. Whether it's complete or not. (Most editors/agents only accept queries for incomplete manuscripts from the previously published.)

Include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE). You may not hear back otherwise.

Sincerely, Your Name

Have you found any tried and true methods you'd like to share?

Monday, July 10, 2006

How the Soaps Helped My Writing, Part 2

A while back, Carla wrote about how watching General Hospital helped her writing. Her post largely focused on character development, especially in her heroes. I'm going to revisit the subject of the soaps today, but my focus is on romantic relationship development.

If any of you were fans of the soap DAYS OF OUR LIVES back in the late 1980s, you remember the twisty, angst-ridden, sweeping romance and marriage of Steve "Patch" Johnson, the tortured bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and Kayla Brady, the pretty, sweet daughter of a fishmonger who ran a low income emergency clinic on the riverfront. It was a bad boy/good girl romance that transcended the archetype, and Steve's tragic death not long after the birth of their daughter was one of the most heartbreaking moments I've ever watched on a soap.

Of course, when his casket was switched at the funeral, Steve and Kayla fans realized he wasn't really dead. We waited sixteen years to get the payoff. Now, Steve's back on the show, with no memory of his former life. Reunited with his wife, who never got over losing him, and their grown daughter, he's about to embark on a journey to find out who ripped their lives away from them and whether or not they can find their way back to the love they shared all those years ago. I am, of course, sucked back into the soap after all these years, because I can't imagine missing one second of seeing these characters back together again.

As coincidence would have it, I'm writing a bad boy/good girl WIP at the moment. I had actually fashioned my bad boy after a more current character, Sawyer on Lost, but as I've been rewatching old video clips from the original Steve and Kayla days, I realized that my hero has a whole lot of Steve Johnson in him, too. So it's the perfect time to analyze what it was about the Steve and Kayla story that kept me riveted two decades ago and now has me riveted again.

Here's what I've discovered:

1) Great romance starts with conflict.

There is nothing more bland than a couple of pretty people with good attitudes and lots in common falling in love. Yeah, it happens in real life a lot, and those people probably have great, happy lives. But it's not compelling to watch. Humans crave drama. And drama comes from conflict.

I'm not sure I've ever seen a successful fictional romance develop from a more unlikely pairing. Steve was rough, bitter and sarcastic. He was basically a hired thug—and Kayla was one of his paid projects. First he was hired to scare her away from a doctor she was working for, which he did by trashing her apartment while she was out, making threatening phone calls. In fact, the first time he ever saw her, he was hiding in her closet, watching her undress. Later he took a job following her and spying on her for a bad guy who wanted information about Kayla's brother.

At first, Kayla came across as a sweet, optimistic goody-two-shoes. A crusading nurse willing to put herself on the line to help other people, she wasn't particularly warm to Steve's rough talk and sexually aggressive posturing. With a cop for a brother, she was in a position to make a lot of trouble for Steve, and she didn't mind reminding him of that.

Not exactly an auspicious beginning for a relationship.

2) Great romance works through conflict a step at a time.

Steve and Kayla didn't go from stalker/victim to husband/wife in a couple of months. Every step along the way played out in a logical and interesting manner. Internalization gave us glimpses of the shame that Steve felt for what he was doing to Kayla, and the curiosity and attraction Kayla felt for the glimpses of the good man inside the thug who was driving her crazy.

We slowly saw different facets to both of their characters: Steve's compassion for a couple of abandoned kids living on the streets and Kayla's strength and determination in the face of dangerous circumstances began connecting them, shattering preconceived notions about each other and building a new understanding between them. Slowly they began sharing truths about themselves with each other.

3) Great romance is built on character growth.

Every character in every book starts with a worldview. For Steve, it was that there were two worlds. One where normal people lived, where the justice system worked and everything was happy and rosy, and one where people like him lived, people who couldn't trust the system to find justice for them. It was the jungle for people like him, survival of the fittest, every man for himself. People in his world stayed far, far away from people in that shiny happy world where normal people lived. Kayla, on the other hand, believed that if you trusted the system to work, it would. You just had to tell the truth, be good, let justice take its course and everything would work out.

Neither of them managed to hold onto those worldviews after they came into contact with each other. Kayla saw how the system let people like Steve and the young street kids he helped fall through the cracks. And Steve saw that the system could work if there were compassionate and decent people—like Kayla and eventually her family—who cared enough to patch up the holes so that people didn't get lost in the shuffle. Each of them learned something from the other, incorporated those lessons into their lives, and became better and fuller people because of it.

I've simplified a very complex romantic story to cull out three important points, but I think these are points that all of us need to pay special attention to when we're developing romances for our own characters.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Southern Magic's Romance Readers Luncheon

Romance Readers Luncheon featuring best-selling author
Teresa Medeiros
November 4, 2006

At the beautiful
Wynfrey Hotel
in Birmingham
For the registration form, go to our website
Welcome Speaker
Lyn Stone
Come and join us
at the
Wynfrey Hotel
November 4, 2006, Saturday
11 am to 3 pm
1000 Riverchase Galleria
Birmingham, AL 35244

Door prize giveaways!
Be prepared to purchase

raffles for chances at
baskets loaded with books
along with the popular
Get Your Name In a Book!

Book Signing
(open to the public)
to follow luncheon
Teresa Medeiros
From her website:
New York Times bestsellerTeresa Medeiros wrote her first novel at the age of twenty-one and has since gone on to win the hearts of both readers and critics. All fifteen of her books have been national bestsellers, climbing as high as #12 on the New York Times bestseller list, #20 on USA Today, and #9 on Publishers Weekly. She currently has over five million books in print. Teresa is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America Honor Roll, Kentucky Romance Writers, and Novelists, Inc. She lives in Kentucky with her husband and two lovably neurotic cats. AFTER MIDNIGHT, her sixteenth novel, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list in September 2005. In October 2006, look for Teresa’s newest book, THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME.
Southern Magic is a chapter
of the Romance Writers of America,
a non-profit organization.

Southern Magic Authors scheduled to attend.
Gayle Wilson
Debra Webb
Lyn Stone
Kelley St. John
Dianna Love Snell
Rhonda Nelson
Deborah Matthews
Janice Lynn
Kate Lyon
Paula Graves
Bonnie Gardner
Jennifer Echols
Giselle Carmichael
Carolynn Carey

Other Authors scheduled to attend
Stephanie Bond
Carolyn Sue Carey
Jacquie D’Alessandro
Anna DeStefano
Shelly Galloway
Susan Goggins
Carmen Green
Sharon Griffith
Raven Hart
Karen Hawkins
Rita Herron
Sherrilyn Kenyon
Linda Winstead Jones
Kinley MacGregor
Tanya Michaels
Kay Stockham
Donna Wright
List of attending authors
may change without notice

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Courage to Submit

I'll be honest. The longer I'm a writer, the less courage I seem to have. When I first started writing and pursuing publication, I just assumed that what I wrote was excellent and one or even several savvy agents would offer representation immediately after reading my wonderful work of art. I sent out my first submissions with a naive and optimistic attitude -- two queries with two partials on the same day. And I waited. Every day, I just knew my phone would ring, with both agents telling me they just had to have more. Funnily enough -- though, it wasn't funny at the time --both rejections came on the same day. I was stunned. How could they not love my work? I'd shoved it under the nose of all my friends and family and they loved it. What was wrong with those agents?

Well, I won't take you through all of my rejections from agents and publishers, but needless to say, those two agents were just the beginning of many. Much to my shame, I'm finding myself less and less inclined to submit. I've heard over and over again, never submit anything less than your best. And I strive hard to do this, constantly revising and reworking this scene or that character. Sometimes I wonder if I'm really striving to improve it or am I procrastinating submitting because of the fear of rejection.

I know I can't sell without submitting and I know it takes courage, grit and stamina to stay in this business, whether you're a multi-published author or an unpublished wannabe. But that courage wavers and dwindles into a state of frozen inactivity when those rejections start coming in.

So what about you? How do you keep yourself motivated to keep submitting, in spite of rejections? And for those of you who are published, what made you continue to submit and refuse to give up, despite rejections?

Friday, July 07, 2006


The time -- I can't recall exactly, but it was after school.

The year -- Well, shoot. I can't recall that exactly either, but it was near the end of my middle school years, which were late 70's. Let's say 1978.

The title -- Hey, wait a minute. I know this one. Young and Fair. The title caught my attention on the elementary school library shelf (this was back when you simply had elementary and high school, and I was an "upper classman" in the elementary school realm -- 7th or 8th grade).

The author -- Well, what do you know. I know this one too. Rosamund du Jardin. Wonderful author. WONDERFUL!

The hero -- Greg Colby. Is that an amazing hero name or what? Greg...Colby. Kind of rolls off the tongue and has your heart skip a beat. So, naturally, when the modern-day Colby hero (Colby Donaldson from Survivor) surfaced, I was all in favor of the cutie winning the million. He came close, didn't he? And as Greg Colby was in Young and Fair, his modern namesake also ended up being a nice guy. Did the nice guy finish last? I don't think so. I saw Colby in the movie Red Eye last weekend.

The heroine -- Lissa Powell. Great heroine name too. Lissa. I can say that when I read this book, I "became" Lissa, the foster girl who lost her parents and found love. Oh man, what a story. The major event? -- My introduction to the world of reading, and loving, romance. I can still recall the way that hardcover book, a historical, felt in my hand as I turned the pages slowly, not wanting to miss a single word of Lissa's story. And then I recall checking out all of Ms. du Jardin's books from the library and reading them cover-to-cover, and then checking them all out again and again. I was hooked.

Would you like to see the cover that sparked my interest way back then? I found it in an antique bookstore recently...

The blurb: Lissa Powell has always wondered who she really was. Discovered by her foster parents when she was about four during the Chicago fire of 1871, the story begins when she is sixteen years old and forced to go out on her own when her foster mother dies. She stays at a boarding house where she meets Effie Cunningham who helps her to find a job at Harrison Colby's, a large department store. There she meets Greg Colby, the handsome son and heir of the store owner. When Lissa finds out who she really is will her feelings change for this or any other young man in her life?

So, how did that very first romance affect my life? Hmmm...let's see.

1) I decided to write professionally. Did this book do that? Probably not by itself, but it sure didn't hurt.
2) I cheered for Colby on Survivor before the rest of the world drooled over him when he described Jerri's description of chocolate.
3) I became a foster parent (a wonderful and rewarding experience, let me tell you). True, my hubby and I may have made that decision on our own without the fact that I loved the people who took care of Lissa in Young and Fair and wanted to be like them. But there had definitely been a spark planted way-back-when by Ms. du Jardin's wonderful story.

Now, there you have it. My introduction to romance, courtesy of Rosamund du Jardin's Young and Fair. Care to share your very first romance novel? Do you remember the title? The hero? The heroine? Would you, like I did, search it out in antique bookstores so you could have a copy to always remind you of the special bond between a reader and romance?

Share, share, share :)

Kelley St. John

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Who's Your Daddy?

Hard to believe it was three years ago that I tagged along with Elizabeth to the DragonCon in Atlanta. If you’re wondering what that is, it’s a fancy name for a SciFi convention. While I was there I learned so much, had a wonderful time, and met lots of people (Hey, Sherrilyn Kenyon!).

Let’s talk about one of the things I learned. I learned that authors of romance are not the only ones to feel like the redheaded step-child of publishing. The science fiction writers feel that way. Not too long ago, I read on one of loops that erotica writers feel they were treated like that. And recently I’ve discovered mystery writers feel the same way.

Okay, people. I’ve decided that we’re all redheaded step-children compared to the "literary" set. Then again, considering that we probably out number them, the literary set may be the true redheads. (No insults intended to redheads.)

Personally, I can’t read a "literary" book. They bore me to snoresville. And the Lord knows I've tried. So I've decided that every book I read must have a romance in it (except history books, though they usually do, too.) and I don’t mean sex. They can close the door, but I want that emotional connection. To me, the sex is just a bonus. (Oddly, in a movie, seeing a good kiss will make me happy and be a-o-k. Of course, I won't pass up a naked manly chest.)

So my questions are, do you like so called literary books? And for goodness sakes, what type? Do you need sex in the romance books you read or do you prefer the closed door?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Romance in the Magic City Writers Conference

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, March 30, 31,
and April 1, 2007
Wynfrey Hotel, 1000 Riverchase Galleria,
Birmingham, Alabama 35244
With pleasure Southern Magic, the Birmingham chapter of the Romance Writers of America, presents a three-day conference with many wonderful programs planned.

!!Dessert reception for all attendees on Friday night
!!Workshops presented by experts in their fields Saturday morning
and afternoon
!!Editors and agents panel along with opportunities for appointments
!!Raffles of critiques from many other editors, agents, and well-known
!!Book signing Saturday afternoon (open to the public)
!!Formal banquet Saturday evening to announce winners of the
!!Gayle Wilson and Linda Howard Award of Excellence contests.


Banquet Keynote: Beverly Barton: Born and bred southern belle, sixth-generation Alabamian, Beverly Barton has been an avid reader since childhood. She began writing at the age of nine and wrote short stories, poetry, plays, and novels throughout high school and college. Since the release of her first book in 1990, New York Times best-selling author, Barton has been a two-time winner of the GRW Maggie Award, a two-time winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award, a finalist for the RWA Rita Award, and a Romantic Times Career Achievement award winner. Her books have been featured by the Rhapsody Book Club and the Doubleday Book Club. With more than fifty romance and romantic suspense novels to her credit, Barton’s momentum never seems to slow down and she continues to garner new readers with each and every book.

Luncheon Keynote: Gayle Wilson: A two-time RITA Award winner, taking home the RITA for Best Romantic Suspense Novel in 2000 and for Best Romantic Novella in 2004. In addition to twice winning the prestigious RITA, Gayle has won both the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Suspense and Mystery and the Dorothy Parker International Reviewer’s Choice Award for Series Romance. Beyond those honors, her books have garnered over 50 other awards and nominations. Gayle has written 39 novels and 3 novellas for Harlequin, including works for Harlequin Historical, Harlequin Intrigue, Special Releases, and HQN. She is currently writing romantic suspense for MIRA.

Sunday Morning Keynote: Linda Howard: A award-winning author of numerous New York Times bestsellers. Linda sold her first book to Silhouette in 1980 and has written a total of 41 novels and novellas for Silhouette, Pocket Books, and Ballantine; she has written category romance, historical romance, time travel, and contemporary single titles both with and without paranormal elements.
Attending Editors/Agents
(Be on the look out for more to be added)
Tracy Farrell, Executive Editor, HQN
Leslie Wainger, Executive Editor, Harlequin Books
Kimberly Whalen, Vice President, Trident Media Group.
Christina Hogrebe, Jane Rotrosen Agency
Before January 1, 2007
Southern Magic or Gulf Coast RW member rate $180.
Non Chapter RWA member rate $190.
Non RWA member rate $200.
PayPal option available at
If you wish to pay through our Easy Pay Plan, payments must
be received by snail mail before the dates indicated.
If you have any questions, contact
The cancellation fee of $50 will apply after the second payment.
EASY PAY PLAN - make checks out to Southern Magic and fill out
registration form.

Southern Magic or Gulf Coast RWA
Early Registration Member Rate ($180)
$50 before October 1st 2006
$50 before November 1st 2006
$50 before December 1st 2006
$30 before January 1st 2007

Non Chapter RWA Member
Early Registration Rate ($190)
$50 before October 1st 2006
$50 before November 1st 2006
$50 before December 1st 2006
$40 before January 1st 2007

Non RWA Member
Early Registration Rate ($200)
$50 before October 1st 2006
$50 before November 1st 2006
$50 before December 1st 2006
$50 before January 1st 2007
Note: If last payment is made on January 1st, 2007 or after,
an additional $10 fee applies.
January 1 thru March 16, 2007
Southern Magic or Gulf Coast RW member rate $190
Non Chapter RWA member rate $200
Non RWA member rate $210

Social Events (Fri night Dessert & Sat night Banquet/Awards)
for significant others only - $100
(Must be accompanied by attendee that paid in full.)
Cancellation fee: $50
Finalists of 2007 Gayle Wilson and Linda Howard Award of Excellence
contests will qualify for the member rates (for 2007 only - the prior
year(s) winners will qualify, too - as we plan to celebrate their wins)
Make Checks payable to: Southern Magic RW
For registration form go to
Send payment and/or questions to:
Carla Swafford
Southern Magic RW
3464 Floyd Bradford Road
Trussville, AL 35173
Hotel Information:
Wynfrey Hotel
1000 Riverchase Galleria
Birmingham,.Alabama 35244
2 0 5 . 9 8 7 . 1 6 0 0 . . 8 0 0 . 9 9 6 . 3 7 3 9 . 8 0 0 . W Y N F R E Y

Conference events will take place in the hotel.
Mention Romance in the Magic City Writers Conference
to reserve your room rate of $115.00 per night plus taxes.
Note that a $9 per day rate will apply if you park inside the
hotel's parking deck.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The American Way of Life

To celebrate the American way of life on this July 4th, I would like to share with you the song that we sang at our last writers retreat. It’s actually a song released by Nickelback on their CD, All The Right Reasons, called Rockstar. Now I had changed up some of the words to hopefully inspire our group and just to have fun. If you have the CD, play it and sing along. Or you can buy their CD at The whole CD is awesome.

Rockstar retitled Bookstar

I'm through with standing in line
to clubs we'll never get in.
I'm like the bottom of the ninth
and I"m never gonna win.
This life hasn't turned out
quite the way I want it to be.

I want a brand new house
on an episode of Cribs.
And a bathroom I can play baseball in
And a king size tub big enough
for ten plus me.

I'll need a credit card that's got no limit
And a big black jet with a bedroom in it
Gonna join the mile high club
At thirty-seven thousand feet.
I want a new tour bus full of old Renoirs.
My own star on Hollywood Boulevard.
Somewhere between Cher and
James Dean is fine for me.

I'm gonna trade this life for fortune and fame.
I'd even cut my hair and change my name.

'Cause we all just wanna be big book stars
And live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars
The stories come easy and the hugs come cheap.
We'll all stay skinny 'cause we just won't eat.
And we'll hang out in the coolest bars
In the VIP with the movie stars.
Every good gold digger's
Gonna wind up there
Every Playgirl honey
With his bleach blond hair
Hey Hey I wanna be a book star
Hey Hey I wanna be a book star

I wanna be great like Nora without the hassles
Hire eight body guards that love to heat up castles.
Sign a couple autographs
So I can eat my meals for free.
I think I'm gonna dress my ass
with the latest fashion.

Get a front door key to the Playgirl mansion
Gonna date a centerfold that loves to blow my money for me.

I'm gonna trade this life
for fortune and fame.
I'd even cut my hair
And change my name.

'Cause we all just wanna be big book stars
And live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars
The stories come easy and the hugs come cheap.
We'll all stay skinny 'cause we just won't eat.
And we'll hang out in the coolest bars
In the VIP with the movie stars.
Every good gold digger's
Gonna wind up there
Every Playgirl honey
With his bleach blond hair
And we’ll hide out in the private rooms
With the latest dictionary and
today’s who’s who’s
They’ll get you anything
with that evil smile
Everybody’s got a
book dealer on speed dial
Hey Hey I wanna be a book star

Gonna write those stories
that offend the censors
Gonna pop my pills
from a pez dispenser
Get worn out editors to work all night long
Rethink them every night so I don’t get’em wrong

Well, we all just wanna be big book stars
And live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars
The stories come easy and the hugs come cheap.
We'll all stay skinny 'cause we just won't eat.
And we'll hang out in the coolest bars
In the VIP with the movie stars.
Every good gold digger's
Gonna wind up there
Every Playgirl honey
With his bleach blond hair
And we’ll hide out in the private rooms
With the latest dictionary and
today’s who’s who’s
They’ll get you anything
with that evil smile
Everybody’s got a
book dealer on speed dial
Hey Hey I wanna be a book star
Hey Hey I wanna be a book star

Anything's possible, folks! Happy 4th of July!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Debra Dixon and Southern Magic

Tells your friends about it!!

Southern Magic is proud to present Debra Dixon ( and
her workshop "Book in a Day," an intensive full-day workshop designed around
GMC and the Hero's Journey with interactive opportunities.

Date: August 26, 2006, Saturday
Time: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
Place: Homewood Public Library, large auditorium
Birmingham, Alabama USA
A deli lunch will be provided with drinks
Fee: $10 for Southern Magic members; $25 for non-chapter members

Send check or money order to:
Carla Swafford
3464 Floyd Bradford Road
Trussville, AL 35173

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Atlanta or Bust!

Well, July has finally arrived. Where did the first of the year go? When I think of July I think of firecrackers and sweltering heat. I hate the heat and I'm so tired of watering my flowers and tomatoes. July also brings around Romance Writers of America's (RWA) National Conference. I decided to go this year since it's in Atlanta and won't involve buying a plane ticket.

I thought National was going to stress free this year. I inadvertently missed getting an appointment. Well, when Southern Magic's wonderful president, Carla Swafford, forwarded a message that there had been appointment cancellations, I immediately fired off an email. I really thought it was too late in the afternoon, but I received a reply that afternoon. I now have two appointments--one agent and one editor. Which means I now have to write a pitch.

Different people have different reasons for going to National. Some to meet their agent and/or editor. Some to see friends. Some to network in hopes of finding an opportunity to snag an editor or agent. Maybe to even meet a famous author they admire. Or for the inspiration of all that creative energy in one place.

So, what's your purpose in going to National? Or if you're not going, why?