Posts tagged with: critique groups

Meet 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Anna Murray!

Today we’re welcoming our final Persister guest (before we get to meet most of them in person at Nationals next week!!), 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Anna Murray, whose manuscript BIRDS OF A FEATHER is nominated for Best Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance.

Anna Murray’s creative essays have appeared in Vox, The Reject Pile, Role Reboot, The Satirist, Daily Mail, Soundings Review, Adanna Literary Journal, Piker Press, and the Guardian Witness. Her recently completed novel is represented by David Black Agency. The Complete Software Project Manager (John Wiley & Sons, 2016), her business title, is a top seller in the Amazon business category and has enjoyed great reviews: “This is a technical book that reads like a novel.”

Anna is also CEO of emedia, llc., a technology consulting company, and holds B.A. in English from Yale and a M.S. in Journalism from Columbia. 

Here’s a blurb for BIRDS OF A FEATHER:

Delia McDonnell has one goal, and it’s money.

Once an heiress living on Fifth Avenue, Delia lost her fortune twenty years ago in the Great Family Financial Disaster of 1986. The betrayal and abandonment surrounding that event soured her on trust, relationships, and love. Now, in 2006, the object of her affection is money, a concrete and reliable companion, one with an exchange rate.

Every bit as brainy as she’s beautiful, Delia assumed a PhD in computers and math would be her ticket to ride. But so far, her best offer is programming software for an automated call center.

Suddenly, Delia finds herself courted by two rival hedge-funds, each owned by a young billionaire. The reason: Her obscure PhD thesis reveals a way to make billions in a coming market crash. 

Delia accepts one of the job offers and begins her life as a “quant.” This includes eighty-hour weeks, six-figure show horses and handbags with price tags like cars. Her multi-million-dollar apartment couldn’t be better. It looks out over her former mansion, today an embassy. 

Delia’s new hedge-fund boss has ties to her past. Big city. Small world.

There’s one thing jeopardizing Delia’s goal. Something may matter to her as much as money—and that’s solving the unexplained death her of beloved aunt and surrogate mother.

Pursuing this decades-old mystery could risk her fortune. Worse: She could spark the ire of her boss. Who knows the lengths to which he might go—or has gone in the past—to deal with those who stand in his way?

In Delia’s quest to reclaim her fortune, she will brave the winning and losing of millions; face the estranged mother she has not seen in years; save a horse; protect an improbable parakeet residing in her window box; grapple with the affections of two hedge-fund titans; and challenge her own conviction of the value of money over love.

That sounds like a terrific read! I’m so delighted the “Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance” is back in the Golden Heart (under its new name). So many interesting stories in that category, and this is no exception!

Folks, Anna’s here today to share a story from her own writing journey, and it involves…well, just read the title and you’ll know you’re in for a wild ride.

Take it away, Anna!


The Paris Review, CIA Buddhists, Critique Groups, Kristan Higgins, and Finding Your Tribe

Puffed up with confidence, I ascended a spiral staircase to an oak-carved room at the top of a campus tower. I had qualified for Advanced Fiction, which, that spring, was being taught by a world-renowned Illustrious Author.

Huffing from the climb, I glanced around at my seminar-mates, the 10 applicants with writing samples deemed worthy by the Illustrious Author. The first thing I realized was I was the only one wearing an actual color. The rest of the students’ camouflage green, gray, and black garb seemed to have all been procured at an army-navy surplus store. There was also a very high ratio of Doc Martens to feet.

Worse: The color I happened to be wearing that day was pink.

Don’t be a Lone Wolf…

Or “why writers need other writers”

When I first started writing a book, I did it for fun. Most people thought I was crazy because most people think writing is work…not fun. But on those hazy, can’t-exactly-remember-because-I-was-a-tired-mama afternoons, I would put down the infant, drag out an ancient laptop and enter a fantasy world where characters did amusing things and drank lots of tea. Three years later after I typed the end, I realized I didn’t know what to do next.

I took to the internet and found…RWA.

I was titillated at the thought of belonging to an organization of writers, specifically romance writers. It was beyond comprehension that I could join and be part of something like RWA. After a few months, I researched chapters and found that the NOLA STARS chapter was IN MY TOWN! The rest is history…

So why am I telling you this? Because I kinda have a bug up my butt here lately about the attitude toward RWA specifically, and it bugs me that the perception is there’s enough information online that writers don’t need other writers. It bugs me that people say, “I get nothing out of RWA” which is something I’ve heard all too often this past month. It irritates me that people say this, yet they put forth ZERO effort to make our local chapter (or national association) better in any way. They want ROI without investment (other than dues).

Maybe I’m stepping on toes. And if so, I apologize. But I find a great deal of value in belonging to RWA. I’m a romance writer. It’s an organization for romance writers. It costs around $8 a month. They don’t ensure I’m successful but they provide many of the tools I need to grow and be successful. RWA isn’t a magic pill, but it brought me here. To this blog. With these incredible women. And that, for me, is enough for me to shell out my annual dues.

<stepping off soap box>

But this isn’t about RWA, it’s about not going it alone. And why you shouldn’t go it alone as a writer.

Over the years, I’ve learned that writing is a solitary profession. Only I can create my story. I must sit and pound out words that form sentences that form pages that make a book. It’s on me. But at the same time, I NEED other writers.

Why? Why do I need other writers?

Because this industry is tough as….well, you fill in that blank. And other writers give me something that no one else in my world can. They give me understanding, an ear, advice, a kick in the pants, a shoulder to cry on, and they do that because they understand. Because they are me. Since I joined my local chapter, I’ve had enormous support. Three ladies met with me every week to critique, give advice, eat chips and salsa. At conferences, I met my critique partner and other writers who did things like introduce me to their agent, editor or ask me to write a book with them. I’ve met friends and business associates who have helped my career whether it was to give me a word of encouragement, share a post or buy my book (and love it). I have installed around me mentors, critique partners, brainstorming buddies and true friends who know my struggle. They give me validation and knock me down a peg or two when I get too big for my britches. In other words, they complete me as a writer.

Okay, so maybe you don’t belong to RWA. You belong to another writing group. Cool. Maybe you don’t belong to a writing group but you have a critique group. Or maybe you have writer friends who meet you at a chalet in the mountains to do a writing retreat.


Because that’s good for you. You need to belong to something and you need to give something back. It’s like a balance thing in the universe. You give. You get. Universal truth, or at least I think it is.  SO this post isn’t a how-to, it’s a should-do. If you don’t belong to a writing group or partnership, do something about that. RWA has resources and so do other writing groups. Get out there and be part of something. Judge contests, sign up to volunteer, make a lunch date with other writers. Don’t be a lone wolf. Because lone wolves are lonely. And probably hungry (since wolves hunt in packs). And probably have short life spans (I’m only guessing because I’m not a scientist).

So here we go, right here on the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood you can be part of something. I mean, we’re writers and this is a platform, so let’s use it. What’s been bugging you? Are you having trouble with your WIP? Need some brainstorming help? Title suggestions?

Lay it on us…

Food, Glorious Food!

This Labor Day weekend, my critique partner, who also happens to be a Ruby-Slippered Sister and two time Golden Heart winner, Laurie Kellogg, and her hubby made the long drive to the mountains so we could brainstorm, discuss, and critique.  Laurie brought salads to complement the meats I’d prepared—gotta keep the men happy—and we hunkered down in the kitchen to work while the men adjourned to the living room to worship at the altar of ‘The Norm God’ (translation:  watch endless episodes of The New Yankee Workshop.)

Getting ready for the Golden Heart 2011

The 2010 RWA Golden Heart is over. We’ve squeeed with the finalists and cheered for the winners. We’ve pitched our manuscripts at conferences and sent out query letters. What’s next for our intrepid writers?

The 2011 Golden Heart, of course. Now is the time to get started, not in September when you send in your money and then realize you’ve committed yourself. It would be even better if your story is already partially completed. So what are the three steps to be taking now to see your name on the 2011 Golden Heart list?

1.  Write, write, write. You can only send in entries that are completed. If you put your butt in the chair for 5 pages a day, you’ll have a 400 page manuscript written in first draft in 80 days. October 31st. Halloween. Oohh, that doesn’t leave much time for rewites. It’d have been better if you’d started on that rough draft last spring.

2.  Get your posse together and critique each other’s manuscripts. It’s amazing what another pair of eyes or more can spot in what you thought was a perfect page. Just remember, it’s your story, and you’re the final judge of which suggestions to take and which to ignore.

3.  Enter the Golden Pen contest. Put on by the Golden Network chapter, it’s the closest thing to the Golden Heart, plus you get more feedback than just a number. Particularly worried about the first chapter? There are some excellent contests out there right now which will get feedback to you before the Golden Heart entries need to be sent in.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to line up your muses nearby. Mine are Figment (collected this summer at Disney World), Dark Wing Duck (anyone remember him?), and a pot bellied hippopotamus. I’ve got my muses, my manuscript was begun months ago, and my plan is in place.

Anyone want to share their plan for this year’s race to the Golden Heart deadline?

Me and My CP

Brenda WhitesideI’ve invited my critique partner, Brenda Whiteside, to join me today to discuss our critique relationship – and also to celebrate the release of her debut novel, “Sleeping With the Lights On,” available May 21 from The Wild Rose Press! Congratulations, Brenda! I’m so thrilled for you!

The Latest Comments

  • Autumn Jordon: Also proof to IRS that this is you’re serious about being a businessand not just a hobby.
  • Vivi Andrews/Lizzie Shane: Oh ugh! Editing is NOT my cake. It’s TORTURE. I love the shiny new words when I can...
  • Heather McCollum: Wonderful tips, Kim! I try to get in 2000 words a day if possible (definitely not when life throws...
  • Rhonda Clark: I love editing, so I guess for writing my tips would be: planning a plot twist, exploring different...
  • Kim Law: lol. Tell us how you really feel about interruptions, LOLOLOLOL! But yes…death glare! I don’t...