February Meeting Roundup + Good News

It was a full house at our February meeting, which featured the #1 bestselling author James Scott Bell. James came to speak to us about his unique technique of “Writing a Novel From the Middle.” Ideal for both plotters and pantsers, he said that this method of story creation could “save writers from unnecessary pain” – meaning if you’ve ever written yourself into a corner (and haven’t we all?), this could help you avoid it in the future.

James identified the “mirror moment” that happens right in the center of any unforgettable story. It’s a point in which the main character is forced to look at themselves and take stock of their lives by asking, “Who am I? What have I become?” After realizing they can no longer go on with life the way it is, they’re forced to change in some way – either by overcoming a major character flaw, or by summoning the strength to battle the overwhelming forces that are conspiring against them.

He provided us with a few tips on how to brainstorm your mirror moment, if you’re stuck. One idea was to develop a “character voice journal,” in which you let your character tell you what their story is all about, thereby revealing what their “look in the mirror” will be. You can also figure out the midpoint by analyzing your character’s backstory and weaknesses, since this is the heart of the mirror moment.

Depending on your style of writing, you can use the mirror moment in a couple of different ways. Plotters can actually start their planning from the midpoint – once they figure this out, the rest of the story can fall into place. If you’re a pantser, you might decide to stop halfway through your pantsing to evaluate the current situation and ask yourself where the midpoint is, then continue building your story from there.

In addition to our regularly scheduled programming, we were finally able to present the Marian Award to the very deserving Linda Thomas-Sundstrom!

Marian Award Winner Linda Thomas-Sundstrom (l.) and RWASD Chapter President Tami Vahalik

And our members had a lot of Good News to share with the group:

  • Claire Marti will be releasing her debut novel, Last Change in Laguna, on March 31st. She also signed a contract for book 2 in the series, At Last in Laguna.
  • Linda Thomas-Sundstrom has an April release, Angel Unleashed, and she’s also signed a new 3 book contract with Harlequin Nocturne.
  • Jeanne Dickson’s debut novel, Grounded Hearts, a WWII inspirational romance, was sold to Waterfall Press. She also won 1st place in the inspirational category of the Pages from the Heart contest with Second Chance Ranch.
  • Donnamaie White has 10 books back on Amazon.
  • Bob Richard entered Autumn Breeze in the San Diego Book Awards.
  • Margaret Taylor and Christy Jeffries will be presenting their panel, “Villains, Deviants, and Murderers: Inside the Criminal Mind” at RWA National in Orlando.
  • Susan Burns entered Love Me, Bite Me in FF&P’s Prism Awards.
  • Sylvia Mendoza has a middle grade book coming out on April 25th, titled Sonia Sotomayor: A Biography.

We won’t be meeting in March, since we’ll all be living it up at the California Dreamin’ Conference. But come back in April, when our guest speaker will be Bob Mayer. See you then!