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05-19 Sarah Raplee – Riff on 7 yrs. Of SPAM & a Giveaway

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Blaming the Romance Writers

by M.L. Buchman

It's the only thing I can think to do, blame my last month on the Rose City chapter of RWA. It's a good blame, but it's still their fault. Well, maybe the fault goes back further than that, but let's blame it on them anyway.

About two years ago at their monthly meeting, I was asked to give a talk. Understand, they've had wonderful speakers, so no pressure at all. Nope, none. Not until their scheduled speaker was called out of town and I, for reasons still unknown, said, "I can fill in if you can't find someone else."

Well, to make a long story longer, I had a talk I had recently presented to the Project Management International's monthly local chapter meeting. I had used the process of writing a book as a lesson in the 5 process groups and 9 knowledge areas of project management; after nearly 3 decades as a PM, I was also one of PMI's certified trainers. For the Rose City Romance Writer's I thought, "Hey, I can just flip the talk to make it about project management for writers instead."


Well, after a lot of prep, the talk happened and the writers asked so many more good questions that I had to research and think more about what I was trying to say. By now I had taken my 1-1/2 hour talk and turned it into about four hours worth of notes. Then I was asked to present it in front of a group of thirty-five pros, not a beginner in the group, and do it in under an hour. I spent weeks preparing for that. By the time I was done, I had even more material...And I also had an even clearer focus on what I was trying to say.

But I knew an element was lacking. I knew my plot needed a sub-plot, so to speak. I contacted my sister, who has the same initials. She's also been a photographer for decades, is one of the country's leading digital archivists, as well as one of the few in the world teaching the nearly lost art of tintype printing. We threaded out knowledge together and finally created the book of the talk. We're very excited to say the least!
It's a fun look at managing your time and your creativity without stressing about one or quashing the other. And, as we were taught as project managers, it's all about how you communicate. Only with an artist, it's all about how we communicate with ourselves. Hope you have fun with that one.

And then, since I was over in non-fiction land, and I had just finished the first logical "chunk" of my Night Stalkers military romantic suspense series...I wrote about that as well. In The Night Stalkers Special Features I wrote a commentary on the first 7 novels. I looked at where ideas came from, what the editing process was like, how I grew characters, how I researched tech, and--most importantly--why?

What really surprised me here was how much went into each book. Telling only the best stories on each, I barely grazed the surface of what I learned by writing them. As a bonus, I included my Night Stalkers Christmas story, first published in Fiction River: Christmas Ghosts. It is also the only time I expect any paranormal element will fly with the Night Stalkers. (Publishers Weekly called the story
"a real stand out.")

This book too released this week!
I can't remember the last time I had this much fun. Wait! Yes I can. I just started writing the next book in the Night Stalkers series. I absolutely love by day job!

A special thanks goes out to the Rose City Romance Writers and to my Night Stalkers fans, without whom neither of these books would have been necessary! Thank you.


Judith Ashley said...

Speaking as one of the people at your first talk. I'm more than happy to take some of the blame for your moving forward with this project. I'll be looking for it at a book store near me!

And, how fun to collaborate with your sister on this project!

M. L. Buchman said...

It was both fun and frustrating. The best part is that our thought processes about our art are very different. The worst part? Our thought processes about our art are very different. On top of that, forcing her to shift from her visual medium to my written one was a real challenge for her and we had a lot of long distance talks about how to do that. In the end, we're both thrilled with the results, and we're definitely still on speaking terms, so it worked. :)

Sarah Raplee said...