Posts tagged with: Winter Writing Festival

Winter Writing Festival Check-In Friday!

Hello Winter Writing Festival Participants! Welcome to our second Check-in Friday! So…how did you do this week? Did you meet your goals? Did your muse come out to dance, making your fingers fly across the keyboard and the dialogue flow without your conscious thought? Or were your kids home, demanding sippy cups and play dates until you had to lock yourself up in the closet to sprint to the end of your daily word goal?

We want to know! So make sure to comment on this blog on the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood site for your chance to win one of the 5 following prizes (1st winner picks first, 2nd winner picks second, and so on):











1) A Kindle copy of Romanced By The Redneck by Lindsey Brookes.

2) A $20.00 e-gift certificate to Powell’s Books from Shoshana Brown.

3) Two e-books (winner’s choice) by Vivi Andrews

4) A $10.00 Starbucks gift certificate from Tina Beckett

5) A first chapter critique (25 pages max) any genre by Anne Marie Becker.


If you are reading this on the blue WWF site, pop over to the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood site ( to comment. You must check in every week on the RSS site to be eligible for the grand $250 prize!


Wishing you every success this week!

Winter Writing Festival: Check-In #5

The Third Annual Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Winter Writing Festival is coming to the end of its fifth week. It’s hard to believe we’re on Day 36 of the festival – people have been doing an outstanding job meeting their goals and it’s time to celebrate!

Today we complete our 5th full week, and it’s time to officially check in!

If you’re reading this on the Festival website (the blue site), jump on over to the regular Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog (the ruby-colored site, at and leave a quick comment about your experience with the Festival and your progress so far.

A few odds -n- ends before we get to the goodies.


Our Chat Room  is open over at the site. You can check the times that are posted on the RSSWWF site (blue site) for your sprint hostesses and come join us.

If you haven’t had a chance to drop in yet or if you’re not sure how it all works, Kim Law put together a great post on how the sprints work right here.

2. If you’ve made your goals so far, you should be at 36 POINTS! (The day one sign up got you a bonus point for the first day!) Don’t forget, you can always make up points so if you’ve fallen behind, just work on catching up over the next few weeks. All writing is good writing!

If you made your goals, please add a line in your comment in all caps saying I MADE MY GOAL!!! You will hear us cheering loudly!!!

If you’ve fallen a bit behind, don’t worry, just jump right back on and keep going!

3. There’s still time to download your Festival Participant Badge right here:

If you’d like to post the badge to your personal site, you can grab it here.  Just right-click on the badge below, choose “SAVE IMAGE AS” and save it to your computer. You can then upload it to your own website as you please!

writing-fest-2012-template copy



Anyone who checks in at the Ruby blog today will be entered in a random drawing to win one of the following prizes – don’t miss out!:

  • Synopsis critique (Amanda Brice)
  • A Breath of Scandal (print) by Elizabeth Essex
  • Edge of Light and 2-book set of Remnants series (eBook) by Cynthia Justlin: Her own Best Enemy and Intrusion
  • Ruby-slipper ring holder (Gwynlyn MacKenzie)
  • $20 Amazon Card (Diana Layne)

So come join us and let us know how you’re doing! How did Week #5 go? Did you make your goals?

I hope you dance

I’m sure you’ve all heard the song “I hope you dance.” It came back to me forcefully in, of all places, dance class.

I call the class “Line Dancing for Zombies.” While many of our classmates are young and active, we have one lady who is 91 and another in her mid 80s. One of my classmates had a complete knee replacement less than six months ago and is dancing rings around me because I dance like a pregnant water buffalo. A good reason to line dance. It saves on apologies to partners.

Today we had a man join our class who is on portable oxygen. He didn’t know any of the steps; none of us do when we first join. He had the extra weight of the oxygen tank to carry with him as we moved and turned. He shuffled through the class, watching what the rest of us were doing and trying to keep up.

He made it through the class. He had the choice to sit out exercise with his oxygen bottle or make the effort to come in to the YMCA and dance, and he danced. It was his own steps rather than what is choreographed for each piece of music as he tried to figure out what we were doing, but he danced.

We’re two weeks into the Winter Writing Festival. By now the first flush of excitement is over, and the tedious slog of doing what you said you would do every day is wearing you down. Things are coming up in your life. The dust bunnies are multiplying, the kids are coming down with the flu, a new project has come up at work demanding more of your time.

Like the man who had the extra weight of the oxygen bottle and lungs that must have quickly begun to burn from the need to rest, you have a choice. You can sit out putting those words on paper or on the computer screen, or your fingers can dance across the keyboard. I hope you dance.

How is the Winter Writing Festival going for you?

WOOO-HOOO: It’s the Winter Writing Festival’s Week One Check-In!!!!!

The Third Annual Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Winter Writing Festival is really rocking, with the Ruby Sisters and dozens of their always-talented friends writing their hearts out!

Today we complete our FIRST FULL WEEK, and it’s time to officially check in!

If you’re reading this on the Festival website (the blue site), jump on over to the regular Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog ( the ruby-colored site, at and leave a quick comment about your experience with the Festival and your progress so far.

(See info on SWAG you could win, below!!)

A few bits of business before we move on:


A reminder to those who haven’t jumped in with the writing sprints yet: our Chat Room  is open over at the site. The sprints have helped MANY Festival participants make amazing progress! You don’t have to be in first-draft mode either: the sprints work just as well if you’re in the planning or revision stages too. It’s just a great way to get butt-in-chair and stay focused for a couple hours!

If you’re still unsure, or feeling a little shy, check out Kim Law’s really helpful post about how the sprints work right here.

2. We’re at EIGHT POINTS! (That’s where you should be if you made your goals all week. You should have nine points if you got the bonus for signing in on the first day! And some of you have been heaping up extra points–so if you’re ahead of that already, good for you!

If you made your goals, please add a line in your comment in all caps saying I MADE MY GOAL!!! You will hear us cheering loudly!!!

If you’re a bit behind, NO WORRIES!! You can  always double up on later dates, OR revise your goals is your original ones were a tad too ambitious. The point is to KEEP WORKING and MAKE PROGRESS!! We can’t say it enough: the Festival is designed for YOU!

3. Git yer red-hot Festival Participant Badge right here:

If you didn’t get your badge up on your personal website yet, you can grab a copy right now.  Just right-click on the badge below, choose “SAVE IMAGE AS” and save it to your computer. You can then upload it to your own website as you please!

writing-fest-2012-template copy


4. Is it too late to join??? NEVER TOO LATE!!!

If you’re just discovering us, or if you’ve got friends burning with jealousy because they’ve heard of all of the progress you’ve made in the Writing Sprints, tell them to jump right in!! They can give themselves Super Bonus Golden Sunshine Points (or some less embarrassing name, if they prefer) to make up for any days they’ve missed so far, and move forward from there.


Anyone who checks in at the Ruby blog today will be entered in a random drawing to win one of the following prizes (just because we love you!):

Now it’s YOUR turn, Festival-goers!! How did the week go? Did you make your goals??

Third Annual Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Winter Writing Festival Opening Ceremonies

roaringfireWe now declare the Winter Writing Festival OPEN!
Let the Games begin!!

To get your BONUS point for today, add a comment on the regular Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog in which you:

1) define how *you personally* will earn your Festival “points”


2) declare your commitment to earning 50 points by the end of February. (Further details on goal-setting follow below).

That’s all you really need to do–we’re a pretty casual bunch around here. (Leaving a comment today also puts you in the running for some cool prizes–the first of our fabled Festival Swag, which we give out every Thursday from now until the end of February!!)

But to get the most from the Winter Writing Festival, leave your comment on the regular Ruby site, then jump over to our special Festival site,, and officially register. Click on the “Member” snowflake near the upper right of that page, then click on “Register for the site.” When you log back in throughout the Festival, you can add points to your progress bar and see how far you’ve come.

The very BEST thing about the site, though, is the CHAT ROOM, which we use for writing sprints. Those of you who’ve participated in the Festival before can testify that writing sprints are pretty darned miraculous at helping writers be super-turbo-powered productive–even if your busy life normally makes it hard for you to get much written.

You just click on the Chat Room link in the box near the upper left of the site (right under “Sprint Schedule), and you’ll jump to the chat. Give yourself a name, and you’ll find yourself in a virtual space with other writers also eager to get work done. A Sprint Hostess will be there to greet you and show you the ropes. Sprint Czaress Kim Law has some great instructions here.

Typically, we chat (via typing) for a few minutes between sprints, then write like crazy for 20 minutes, then come back and chat some more. Just knowing other people are writing while you are–and waiting to hear your new word count when you chat again–will keep you in your seat and cranking out those words. You can get inspiration, great advice, and (in half the chats I’ve been in) just laugh yourself silly. DON’T BE SHY!!!! It’s fun and easy…and practically magic!

To help keep you inspired between writing sprints, grab yourself a Participant badge (right-click on the one below and then click on “save image as”) to upload to your personal website.  (You can also find the Participant badge in the About section of the Writing Festival site.)

writing-fest-2012-template copy

You can also check in daily at the Brag Blog (scroll down towards the bottom of the site), where you can report on how your writing day has gone, and celebrate whenever you earn a point! You’ll also find inspirational daily quotes and links to Ruby posts on craft to pull you through when you’re feeling a little stuck.

Also, check out the fantabulous Winter Writing Festival swag you have a chance to win if you meet your goals each week. (You can also purchase some cool Winter Writing Festival swag yourself–including coffee mugs, tees, sweats, and totes with the Festival logo–at our Cafe Press store.)

The Swag you can win today just for leaving a comment on the regular Ruby site includes:

  • 25-page critique from Heather McCollum
  • 25-page critique from Anne Marie Becker
  • Set of first three books in the Death & Taxes series (print), by Diane Kelly: Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure, Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte, and Death, Taxes, and Extra-Hold Hairspray
  • Choice of one of Laurie Kellogg’s books (eBook or Print)
  • $20 Amazon Card from Autumn Jordon
  • $20 Amazon or B&N Card from  Sara Ramsey

What’s not to love? (Our thanks to mega-talented Ruby Sister Liz Bemis of for designing both sites!!)

If for any reason you have technical problems registering today: don’t panic!! Just leave us a message here in the comment trail, and get started earning points for the Festival.  We’ll make sure you get registered ASAP.

You don’t want to miss out on those sprints!!

A quick review of the goal-setting and point-scoring rules:

Everybody gets one BONUS point TODAY for coming to the Ruby blog and leaving a comment that makes a public declaration of your commitment to take part in the Festival and a public announcement of your goals. Then, for each of the 50 days of the Festival (including today), you work to earn an additional point—and you define what it takes to earn that point.

Here are some examples of the sorts of things you might define as worth one point (you fill in the variables with the amounts that work for you):

-writing X number of words or pages
-deep revising Y number of pages
-polishing Z number of pages
-freewriting / brainstorming for Q number of minutes/hours
-doing R number of 20-minute writing sprints
-keeping butt in chair and hands on keyboard for S number of minutes or hours

For instance, one person might commit to earning points according to the following terms:

-writing 500 words per day OR
-deep revising 10 pages per day OR
-doing a final polish on 25 pages per day

Any day that person meets ANY of those goals, she gets a point.

YOU set the goals that meet your personal writing style and writing needs. (For more advice on how to set up your goals, see here).

If you can’t meet your goal on any particular day, you can certainly double or triple or quadruple your goal on another day to catch up. And if you know ahead of time that you can never work on certain days (say, Saturdays) feel free to add something like “keep balance in my life by taking Saturday off” to your personal list of ‘ways to earn a point.’ Really. You can earn a point by taking a planned day off!! Don’t be shy.

Remember, we all have different life commitments and different approaches to our writing lives, so we all need to set our own goals. All goals are equally worthy. This isn’t a competition, it’s a supportive process for MOVING FORWARD WITH OUR WRITING.

We want the Festival to work for YOU!

Check in at the Ruby blog every Thursday during the Festival to report your progress (and be entered in random drawings for some of the Festival Swag).

If you reach the end of February with a nice round 50 points, YOU WIN!!

Good luck all, and GET WRITING!!

Winter Writing Festival: Week Six Check-In

Where has the winter gone? It’s already time for the Winter Writing Festival Week Six check-in, and we’re entering the home stretch. There’s ONE WEEK LEFT (said in a British “Mind the Gap” voice, so as to incite calm progress rather than screaming panic).

Some of you have been plugging away at your goals and making consistent daily/weekly progress. If you’re one of those people, stand up and take a bow! I wholeheartedly applaud you (even while wondering how you did it, since ‘making consistent daily progress’ has never been one of my traits). You only have to keep it up another week. And once this week is over, hopefully you’ll carry those great habits into the rest of the year and achieve more than you thought was possible.

Some of you have been working in fits and starts, catching up some weeks and falling behind in others. That’s fine too! I’m a big believer in celebrating all progress, whether you technically hit your goal or not. If last week just wasn’t been your week, for any reason, don’t be shy about checking in anyway. No matter how much or how little progress you made, you’re still moving forward. You’re still eligible to win some of the book giveaways below (and get some encouragement/commiseration/motivation in the comments section). And you still have a week to catch up. There will be more sprints to help motivate you, and I’m sure you’re not going to be alone if you’re chained to your desk writing frantically this weekend.

We’re in the home stretch. The best part of this week is that it’s not quite the end — so you still have some time to catch up, wrap up, and end on a high note! And no matter whether you “win” or not, I would encourage you to think about what worked for you over the past few weeks and replicate it whenever you write, not just during the festival. If you love sprints, use Twitter to meet up with other writers and sprint there. If you like the accountability of a points system, suggest doing something similar with your critique partners. I would love to hear any strategies you’ve found useful for meeting your daily/weekly goals, whether you’ve applied them consistently or not!

Anyone who checks in today (on the Ruby blog – check in there if you’re reading this on the WWF site!) is eligible to win one of the following:

Covers for Week Six Prizes

In addition, if you report in and say I MET MY WEEKLY GOAL (in all caps), you’re eligible for the drawing for any of these awesome prizes:

  • 1 chapter critique from Liz Talley (chapter of winner’s choice)
  • 1 chapter (up to 20 pg) critique by Vivi Andrews
  • $10 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • Audiobook of Georgette Heyer’s Sylvester read by Richard Armitage and a copy of Elizabeth Essex’s The Danger of Desire
Best of luck, everyone! Here’s hoping we all meet our goals by February 29!

Winter Writing Festival: Check-In #4

One…breathe…two…breathe…three…breathe… *sigh*

Who’s like me and has hit that sagging middle part of the Winter Writing Festival? If only a few crunches would right our world real quick, huh?

Because that’s right, just like our stories, we can also suffer from a sagging middle during the festival. And I’m not talking about our wasitlines! I’m talking about that gung-ho, all-fired, let’s shoot out of the gate at full-speed excitement for the festival and all that we can accomplish in fifty days thrill. Yes, even that can sometimes begin to drag about this time. Drag. Droop. Crumble. Collapse. After all, we are at week four of seven. Right smack dab in the middle.

Winter Writing Festival WEEK TWO CHECK-IN

Winter Writing Festival WEEK TWO Check-in

Congratulations!  You’ve made it to the second checkpoint in the writing marathon that is the Winter Writing Festival.


I have the privilege of hosting the second-week check-in.  And it is indeed a privilege.  I’ve *met* some awesome new friends and hung out with some *old* ones in the Chat Room. Whether you’re producing new words or editing old ones, come join us for some writing sprints.  The link to the chat room, as well as the times, are listed at  The energy there has encouraged me to produce some major wordage this past week.


It’s also a privilege because I love to see how many writers are hanging tough out there.  Those who met their goals in Week One, I applaud you.  Good job.


But Week Two… well, the marathon gets tougher as we hit the middle.  Did those who didn’t meet their goals in the first week give up?  Or did they persevere and say “well, it’s a new week, I can do it this time.”  I’d love to hear how you’re hanging in there, or, if you’re not starting off so well, how we can help you plan to get back on track.


Third, it’s a privilege to host today because I get to hand out some fantastic prizes.  Here is the list of offerings for Week Two:


Anyone who checks in today can win:

  • Kismet’s Kiss or The Source of Magic (eBooks), PLUS the novella Swords and Scimitars (eBook, due out Feb 2012), Cate Rowan
Swords and Scimitars is a novella about the immortal founders of verdant Teganne and desert Kad, two rival realms divided by magic—and bound by blood, mistrust, and love. The chronicle continues in the award-winning fantasy romance novels The Source of Magic and Kismet’s Kiss.
  • 1 signed set of all three hardcovers in Darynda Jones FIRST GRAVE series: First Grave on the Right, Second Grave on the Left, and Third Grave Dead Ahead (out Feb 2012) by Darynda Jones

Those who met their weekly goals (earned at least seven points this past week) are ALSO eligible to win:

Diane Kelly writes romantic mysteries featuring feisty heroines, quirky sidekicks, and sexy leading men, with humor that leaves readers laughing out loud.  Diane’s manuscript for Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure won the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart award. Her manuscripts have received more than two dozen RWA chapter awards as well. Diane’s fiction, tax, and humor pieces have appeared in True Love Magazine, Writer’s Digest Yearbook, Romance Writers Report, Byline Magazine, and various other publications.






Bev Pettersen is the author of award-winning romantic suspense novels, including: Jockeys and Jewels, Color My Horse and Fillies and Females. When Bev broke her leg galloping at the track, a friend brought a Dick Francis novel to the hospital and she was hooked. Horses had always been a integral part of her life, from Pony Club as a child and later within the dynamic world of horse racing so the combination of books and horses was irresistible.
  • 2012 Writer’s Diary / illustrated weekly planner
  • $10 Starbucks card and pretty mug (with Godiva Dark Chocolate French Vanilla Truffles!) (Donated by the fabulous Ruby Sis Danniele Worsham, a.k.a., Dani Wade)


And here’s the really good news… if you didn’t make your goal this week, there’s always next week! Happy writing, everyone.  I hope I’ll see you in the chat room sometime.  Good luck to us all as we embark on Week Three – we can do it!


Please check-in in the comment trail of the regular Ruby site (if you’re on the Festival site, scroll back up to the top of the page and click the blue title line “Winter Writing Festival WEEK TWO CHECK-IN” to jump to the right place)  and let us know how you’re doing – whether the result is good, bad, or ugly.  And if you’d like to be eligible for the awesome swag and prizes, make sure you start your post with “I MADE MY GOAL.”

A Little Ruby History

Long, long ago in a galaxy…well, right here in the Milky Way…calls went out from the National RWA Board that would knit a group of women together in a way very few can ever experience – in the quest to procure a little golden heart, the symbol of the best of the unpublished writers, along with all the wonderful accolades and opportunities such an accomplishment would bring. Little did those 59 women know that the knitting together of a group in 2009 would lead to such joy, inspiration, and dare we say, the hottest red shoes to hit RWA Nationals in Washington, DC?

Get Your Heels in the Starting Blocks! Goal-Setting Advice for the Winter Writing Festival

The Festival starts tomorrow! The Festival starts tomorrow!!

I’m so darned excited, I could spit. Not very ladylike, but true.

One of my favorite parts of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood’s Winter Writing Festival is the fact that you can set your own goals (see details here). But of course that means you need to think carefully about what your goals should be to make best use of the Festival’s awesome productivity-boosting power.

Some thoughts on setting effective Festival goals:

If you look at me now, you might not believe this, but back in junior high and high school, I ran track competitively. (I’ll pause for a moment here for a brief peal of laughter from those who know me today. Really, I used to be a skinny little muscle-ball. Seriously. I have pictures somewhere….probably buried in a pile of candy-bar wrappers. Sigh.)

Anyhow, as I think about my goals for the Writing Festival, I think about my track days. The wisdom I learned back then applies now.

1. Know which race you’re running.

Apparently, I have some weird combination of “short-twitch” and “long-twitch” muscles, so when I ran track, my coaches assigned me a wide range of races–everything from the manic kangaroo-style dash of 100-meter hurdles to the marshall-your-energy-for-the-very-long-run mind-game of cross-country.

If you went into a hurdles race with a cross-country mind-set, the other racers would cross the finish line before you made your first leap.

If you went into a cross-country race with a hurdles mind-set, you’d leave the others in the dust…for the first five minutes, and then they’d all have to jump over your prone and twitching body once you’d burned out your muscle’s short-term glycogen stores.

The RSSWWF isn’t a sprint, but it’s not a marathon either. At 50 days, it requires a bit more stamina than the month-long NaNoWriMo, but it’s still a fairly short-term and intensive commitment.

The toughest race I used to run was the 800: half a mile.  It was not-quite-a-sprint, not-quite-a-distance-race. You really had to think carefully about just how fast you could go out of the blocks, and you had to sustain that speed for two full rounds of the track.


My advice for the Festival: push yourself, but don’t kill yourself. If NaNo’s 1667 words a day is do-able but kinda exhausting for you, maybe pull back to 1200, or even 1000.  If you prefer setting an amount of time to write per day, pick a time that will pinch a little, but not make your other commitments impossible to meet. Your family / boss / pets / dirty laundry can be pushed down the priority ladder for NaNo’s 30 days, but 50 days is harder.  Would an hour a day be reasonable? Can you cut out some internet playtime or a couple of TV shows to make that possible? Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you can hang with for seven full weeks.

If you pace yourself right, you might find that your Festival goals can be sustained long after February 29 is gone!




3. Build in some breathers!

Lots of studies have shown that the best way to build aerobic endurance is not by running constantly–it’s by running for awhile, then walking for awhile, then running again. (My track coaches built our lungs with a crueler version of this: “wind sprints,” in which you ran 50 yards at top speed, paused for about ten seconds, then ran back just as fast and kept repeating the process until your coaches felt merciful enough to let you stop. It worked, but it hurt like hell. I like the alternate running / walking thing MUCH better.)

Lots of Festival participants are including goals like “Take Saturdays off to be with family,” or “Take Tuesday and Thursday evenings off.” This isn’t cheating–it’s sound training advice! Some of you may want to write seven days a week regardless, but don’t kill yourself. A little rejuvenation can help you power up and get more done on your “on” days.


4. Depend on your teammates.

Sisterhood is powerful! The best thing about the Festival is we’re doing it as a group.

Announce your goals loud and clear on the Ruby blog tomorrow. Check in regularly on Wednesdays and let us know how you’re doing. Accountability = big motivation!

Use the writing sprints! Many participants last year found the writing sprints (held in the chat room over at to be almost magical in their power to make the words flow. We’ll have regular sprints scheduled at all sorts of times, so keep an eye out for the schedule on the Writing Festival homepage!  (You might want to make “participate in a writing sprint” one of the ways you can earn a Festival point!)

Also, check out the “Brag Blog” on the site. It’s a way you can get a little inspiration and check in on a daily basis! Of course, the more the merrier, so spread the word!! Everyone is welcome to participate!


 Get your muscles warmed up, friends! This is gonna be great!!


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