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In Conference (RWA in Denver)

Closeup of Gwen, Serena Bell, and Jaycee Lee laughing

Serena Bell photobombed me and Jaycee Lee at the RITA Awards

I love a good writers conference, and this year’s Romance Writers of America’s National Conference in Denver did not disappoint. Sure, the hotel was a bit of a maze, but the workshops, speakers, and socializing opportunities were fabulous.

And downtown Denver is a gem.

Tan, four-story building painted with mural of a man in a cowboy hat playing guitar

Mural on 16th Street

Locks attached to a bridge railing overlooking the South Platte River

South Platte River

Smiley face icon stuck between two buildings above an alleyway

Even the alleys had fun in Denver

Art installation that looks like giant air fresheners hanging over an alleyway

Need a spot of fresh air?

I only remembered to get pictures with a few other people, but it was nice to catch up with old friends, make some new ones, and finally meet online friends face-to-face. My Scrivener workshop went well—at least based on feedback from those who stopped by my signing table or caught me in the hallway. Any haters ignored me, lol—and I had fun signing books at my first RWA literacy autographing (which raised nearly $40K for the cause!).

Laura Griffin and Gwen Hernandez at the literacy signing

With Laura Griffin at the literacy autographing

JoAnn Ross and Gwen Hernandez closeup

With JoAnn Ross

Do you have a favorite conference experience, writing or otherwise?

Signing Books for Literacy

Any chance you’ll be in Denver next month? If you’re nearby and you’re a fan of romance, don’t miss the Romance Writers of America (RWA) “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing on Saturday, July 21st.

literacy autographing promo graphic

I’ll be there—with about 300 other romance writers—signing Blindsided and Running Blind for charity. As an author and avid reader, adult literacy is an issue close to my heart. (To that end, I recently started volunteering as a book club leader for the LA Public Library’s literacy program.)

Thanks to awesome readers like you, since 1990, RWA has raised over $1 million for literacy organizations. According to ProLiteracy, that’s enough to help 40,000 adults learn to read!

I hope you can join me to support the cause, and take home some great reads in the process. I’d love to say hello, sign a book or two, even take a selfie with you. 🙂

The Deets

  • FREE admission, open to the public (no advance tickets required)
  • 100% of the proceeds go to ProLiteracy and the Literacy Coalition of Colorado
  • July 21st, 3-5 pm, Sheraton Denver Downtown, 1550 Court Place, Denver, CO

Scrivener How-To: Using Snapshots

Happy Friday! I’m at the Writers in the Storm blog today talking about how to save your words in Scrivener with the Snapshots feature. I hope you’ll check it out. I’m traveling and may not be able to respond quickly, but I’ll pop in to answer questions when I can.

Cheers from Alaska!

Blockbuster Video storefront

Turns out Internet isn’t cheap here…

How to fail at writing

 

Quote by Thomas Edison, "I have not failed. I have just found 9999 ways that do not work." in blue lettering on white.

I’m all for the idea that failure is merely figuring out what doesn’t work, finding out where you need to focus your energy, and that it’s an important part of the learning process that we often stigmatize to our detriment.

However, I really wish my method for producing a novel didn’t resemble Edison’s light bulb-inventing process as much as it does. I’m mainly a pantser—a seat-of-the-pants or “organic” writer—who doesn’t plot my books in advance. (Believe me, I’ve tried.) For a logic-oriented person who likes to make lists, and plans just about everything else in her life, this is disconcerting, irritating, annoying, and a long list of other synonyms.

For my books, I have learned that I need to understand what the antagonist is doing and why, or I won’t get past the first quarter of the book, no matter how exciting my initial premise. Without the villain’s goal and motivation, I can’t figure out how to escalate their actions against the main characters in a way that makes sense.

I also need to know the inner conflict between the hero and heroine (what’s keeping them apart), and the outer conflict (what’s keeping them together). The latter usually relates back to the antagonist/villain, so it’s all linked.

In order to determine these things—because even when I think I have them, I usually don’t—I must write. I write scenes (or partial scenes), discard them, write new ones, repeat. Every scene (or set of scenes) is a method for testing an idea. It also spurs my subconscious to go to work on the story in ways it just won’t if I’m only sitting around thinking or making lists of ideas.

Eventually, I do nail it. (Hopefully, it doesn’t take 9,999 times!!) And once I have the early stuff figured out, the rest of the book comes together much faster. Not fast exactly, but faster.

So, if you’ve ever wondered why it takes me so damn long to write a book, mystery solved.

I’m slowly learning to, well, not love, but at least work with my method. Honestly, I feel lucky I have a process at all. I’m writing, so life is good.

How about you? Do you have a process for writing—or anything else—that frustrates you, but ultimately works?

Anniversaries

partially blurred clocks flying over gray backgroundJanuary marked nine years since I started writing. February was 10 years since I quit working for someone else. March means I’ve been married to my awesome man for 23 years (!!). And in May I’ll have been teaching Scrivener for seven years. (April is, apparently, worthless.)

Every time these anniversaries roll around, I’m shocked at how much time has passed.

And yet, if I look back, tons has happened. Contest wins and finals. A nonfiction book deal. Three training platforms. Four novels indie published. Two kids in college. Five moves. And so many new friends. Whew!

I’ve grown immensely as a writer and businessperson, though there will always be more to learn. In fact, that’s part of what keeps it interesting.

There are things I miss about having a “day” job—the camaraderie, the ability to leave work behind at the end of the day, a steady paycheck—but I love being my own boss.

Unlike many of the jobs I’ve had over the years—being a military spouse either means having a long resumé or no resumé—writing never ceases to be a challenge. You don’t “master” it and then get bored. (Or realize how repetitive it is, have a blast learning how to automate it, and then get bored. Oops.)

In addition to improving the craft of writing and storytelling, there’s always a new storyline to develop, a plot problem to solve, or a character to understand.

And no matter how many manuscripts I write—and there are way more in various stages of never-to-be-completed/published than the four novels I have out—each one presents its own struggle. Usually the good kind. Like solving a puzzle.

(Please remind me of that next time I’m pulling out my hair over my current work in progress.)

And when I want a break from writing, I get to teach people how to use my favorite program. I talk to real live humans, and help them solve a problem. Two activities I adore. 😉 Plus, the need to keep up with Scrivener and all the technologies I use to provide online courses and private training ensure I’ll never be bored.

(Side note: If your kids ever tell they could never be bored if they had a dog, I’m here to tell you they’re lying.)

So, basically, I’m happy.

Last weekend we celebrated our wedding anniversary with 36 hours in Seattle. Below are a few pics.

tulips in buckets in a public market

Fresh flowers at Pike Place Market

utility cover stamped with flowers and "CITY LIGHT CITY BRIGHT" repeated around the edges

Every utility cover I saw in Seattle was different. This one was across from the Seattle Art Museum.

Camellia bush in front of pond with pine trees in background

Washington Park Arboretum Japanese Garden

vine-covered pergola in pond with mostly bare willow and greenery in background

Washington Park Arboretum Japanese Garden

tall bridge over lake in early morning, with dock and boathouse in front and smaller boats in back

George Washington Bridge over Lake Union looking East from the Fremont Bridge

boathouse and canoes on water

Center for Wooden Boats on South Lake Union

What big milestones or anniversaries are happening for you this year?

Blind Ambition is 99¢ for a limited time

To celebrate the recent release of Running Blind, Blind Ambition (Book 2 in the Men of Steele series) is on sale through next week for only 99¢!

This hot, second-chance romance introduces the island of St. Isidore—where much of Running Blind takes place—as well as the heroine of Running Blind, Caitlyn Brevard.

ad with BA book cover, sensual couple, and 99¢ message

Packed with action and emotion. BLIND AMBITION is a page-turner! – New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin

IT’S ABOUT TO GET HOT IN THE JUNGLE

Rescuing a kidnapped aid worker from St. Isidore’s dangerous rebels is just another day at work for former pararescueman Dan Molina. But his mission falls apart when the woman—who once shattered his heart—refuses to leave the island.

Alexa Alyssandratos can’t return to her life as a nurse on the hurricane-ravaged Caribbean island, but she won’t leave until she’s certain the orphans she cared for—especially one sick little girl—are safe from the rebels. Denied their ransom, a would-be dictator and his soldiers are hunting Alexa, and Dan is the only person who can protect her. Old passions reignite as she and Dan race to save the children before they disappear forever.

Read an excerpt and learn more on the Blind Ambition book page, and get it today at your favorite online retailer. Enjoy!

Amazon
iBooks
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Google Play

Running Blind is here!

Running Blind cover art

Running Blind is finally here! Did you know that this is my fourth romance, and that each of them was published while I was living in a different city?

This release was by far the craziest because I was editing, working with a cover artist, and trying to keep to my publishing timeline, while in the middle of moving and house hunting. Never a dull moment!

I know some of you have been waiting patiently—or not so patiently—for Kurt and Caitlyn’s story, so I hope you love it.

Running Blind is available from all the major online retailers in ebook and print. Learn more on the book page.

Have a fabulous day!