I was thirteen when I learned I’d switched the voices of the ABBA women by giving the blonde’s lyrics to the redhead’s, and vice versa. It shouldn’t have mattered. Frida and Agnetha continued to harmonize; their melodies remained the background music as my sister and I washed the nightly dishes. In truth, though, it took a while for me to shake my disorientation.
Accordingly, when the time came to meet a few WU people at RWA Nationals, I felt a wee bit nervous. What if the literary drapes didn’t match the carpet? What if we didn’t click?
What if I discovered they didn’t care for citrus?
Then it occurred to me: some of you might wonder about the Unboxed people in their unplugged moments, too. What are they like when they shed their pixellated masks?
Click to read below the fold, and I’ll endeavor to answer that very question.
If you’ve been pronouncing her name in the French manner (ter-ACE), stop that! Her name actually rhymes with “fleece.”
Unlike most of us, her publicity photos are representative of her appearance. She’s petite, her hair’s as glossy and blue-black as a raven’s wing, and when she lets it free, nearby males are prone to serious rubbernecking.
But where she really shines is her personality. People like her, respect her. That was apparent in the first annual meeting of the Women’s Fiction Chapter of the RWA. (Which I must tell you allowed me to meet some of the most consistently kind people of the three-day conference.)
Did you know she founded RWA-WF while co-running this place, promoting her first book and writing her second novel? That she’s its warmly regarded president and installed WU’s own Barbara O’Neal as its resident Wise Woman? (Brilliant concept, that.) Well now you do, and that’s enough gushing about one person, even for me.
If you’ve been pronouncing Ann’s last name “ah-GWIRE”, cut that out, too. It’s Spanish and meant to be said “ah-GURE-ay.”
I shared a lovely Greek meal in a Disney Boardwalk restaurant with Ann, Therese, and Ann’s two writing buds. *waves hi to L & J* In that short time, I discovered the apple does not fall far from the tree — that is to say, there’s a reason the woman writes kick-ass heroines. She faces kick-ass deadlines with a resolution and calm that’s mighty impressive. If Ann were a snow machine and you turned her loose in Florida, even with 1000% humidity and 100-degree heat, they’d begin to stock shovels in Walmart.
Puzzled by the concept of a Wise Woman? Then know this lady cannot walk more than three feet without someone wanting to hug her or be introduced. Apparently I’m not the only fan of her fiction and teaching.
I had only one disconnect upon meeting Barbara: The voice I’ve heard in my head for the last several years did not match her auditory voice. Y’know, maybe that’s because she was emotional. And who frickin’ wouldn’t be on the occasion of winning their sixth RITA?
Barbara, I hope you’ll forgive me, but I stole this image from your Facebook page. IMHO, it’s worth a group happy dance here and an extra woot. Six RITAs, people! For those of you unfamiliar with the title, within the romance world that’s the equivalent of six Academy Awards.
Last but not least, the guy who spoke at the Women’s Fiction meeting and caused my shoulders to descend from the vicinity of my ears. He said two things I needed to hear. They set my priorities for the conference and for my writing path in the immediate future. It’s because they were so helpful I will forgive him his strong and misplaced opposition to the color ochre.*
- If possible, resist the push to rapid production. A good story well told means an audience willing to wait. Reward their loyalty with quality.
- Contrary to watercooler talk, most publishing deals still occur in the conventional manner: The author writes a solid book, hopefully obtains an agent and publisher, then works on marketing — in that order. Work on craft. Be at the conference for craft. Marketing comes last.
So does this answer any of your questions? Am I the only person with this kind of curiosity? What more would you like to learn about WU’s literati?
*Refers to an exercise on developing character in his packed-to-the-gills workshop. :-)