One of the best things I did after selling my novel is to join the Romance Writers of America organization, both the national group and my local Orange County chapter. I was reminded of that again this weekend at the monthly chapter meeting, where I had the opportunity to meet two authors I’ve interviewed through correspondence (Gina Black, who’s Q&A can be found here, as well as Jackie Hyman, who writes as Jacqueline Diamond and whose Q&A is forthcoming). It was the perfect opportunity to put my new commitment to being social, which I talked about in the previous post, into practice. And I’m glad I did. Both women were so warm and friendly, I really felt silly for being nervous about approaching them.It was also an opportunity to learn more about Tod Goldberg, who shared what he’s learned about crossing genres in the writing world while entertaining the crowd with stories from his life (his mother was friends with the Gabor sisters, and he was once caught mid-coital by Zsa Zsa knocking on the door – that’s one I’ll never forget).
With four books under his belt (most recently BURN NOTICE: THE FIX, a novelization of the successful television series; a long list of contributions to anthologies, newspapers and magazines; and his faculty roles in writing programs at UCR and UCLA Extension, he has much to share with writers at any level about how he works and what he’s learned along the way, including:
- that the four things he is constantly aware of while writing are Character, Dialogue, Setting and Subtext;
- that he believes setting begets character, which begets the story;
- that a person is so affected by a place (setting) that you are virtually a different person in each place;
- that, consequently, setting is a catalyst for character development;
- that dialogue should convey how people think and should be used to reveal character or move a story forward;
- that writers should strive to be adept at more than one genre because at some point people will not want to buy what you write (advice from his brother, writer Lee Goldberg); and
- that writers should challenge themselves and not be afraid to fail.
At this weekend’s meeting, I also received a silk rose in a glass vase in recognition of the sale of THE BELLY DANCER. You can bet that I wanted to run out of the room when I realized I was going to have to say a few words about what the book is about, but I managed to eek my way through it with my standard 33-word description. I lost my breath somewhere around word 27, but lucky for me it was friendly room and everyone pretended not to notice. Anyway, here’s my rose.