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To Be or Not To Be & Other Editing Quandaries: Heart of Dixie Online Workshop December 10, 2010

I’m shamelessly plugging the Heart of Dixie’s online workshops because I am the online workshop coordinator. The line up for 2011 is on my HOD Online Workshop Page and you can get to it by clicking the link at the top of the page. I love online workshops because I can control when I do the work and when I contribute my work to the group as a whole. So I don’t just coordinate the workshops for my writing chapter, I also take online courses with them (as the coordinator) and with other organizations. If you have time constraints and other obligations, it is so easy to save the files and look at them later, too. Not everyone posts their issues, problems, “homework” answers which is fine. However, I’ve discovered that the more I post, the greater benefits there are to me as a writer. 
Please join me and my HOD writing chapter for January’s online workshop:
To Be or Not to Be & Other Editing Quandaries
Instructor: Cindy VallarFreelance editor and Associate Editor of Industry for Solander magazine and a historical novelist (
January 3-28
Cost: $20
Workshop Description: Authors are told to write the best book we can, but in today’s competitive market that’s not always enough. We could follow Mark Twain’s advice: Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. In reality, though, the writer has to make the changes. While not all of us are adept at putting on an editor’s hat, there are some simple steps to take to tighten the writing and polish the manuscript.
This workshop provides tips on what an author can look for to improve your chances at getting past the initial query. We’ll cover passive vs. active sentence construction, redundancy, weak vs. strong verbs, stating the obvious, synonyms, cause and effect, dangling modifiers, clarity of pronouns, author intrusion, speaker identification tags, adverbs and adjectives, head hopping, and more. The list may seem daunting, but if you know what to look for, you can easily make corrections that may increase your chances of getting a request to see your entire manuscript.
Presenter Bio: A retired librarian, Cindy Vallar is a freelance editor and the Associate Editor of Industry for Solander, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. She writes “The Red Pencil,” a column that compares a selection from author’s published historical novel with an early draft of that work. She is also the Editor of Pirates and Privateers, and a content editor for Pyrates Way magazine. Aside from presenting workshops, Cindy writes historical novels and articles on maritime piracy, reviews books, and maintains her award-winning web site, Thistles & Pirates (, which she invites you to visit.
As a special bonus, if you mention this blog as your reason for attending the workshop, I will put your name into a drawing for a special prize to be announced at the time of the class.
See you in the virtual classroom!

M&M MAGGIES 2009 October 6, 2009

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I’m finally coming up for air after a weekend of learning, laughing and playing at the MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS conference in Atlanta, GA. I got an honorable mention as did my CP for the MAGGIE. And I was thrilled. To final was huge. And the feedback I received from my judges and the published authors I met at the conference validated me as a writer.

The judges loved my writing voice. They loved my writing style, and they were very helpful with suggestions about how to tweak the front end to make it even stronger for future submissions to agents and editors. I’m also reentering the new version in the GOLDEN HEART when I return from the beach.
I have a lot of work to do when I get home next Monday, but I am resting my head until then. No major attempts at revisions while I am at the beach! I’d rather give my brain a break, continue absorbing all I’ve learned, and come back with my racing shoes on ready to write again.

Before I leave, I’m recapping the conference–hazy memories at best. Was it really a week ago that I was getting ready to put my party shoes on?
Thursday: I arrived in Atlanta at the same time as my CP’s flight. I checked into the Hilton, got concierge privileges (thanks to Diamond member DH), and then zipped to the train station to fetch CP. It was so good seeing her again. We registered for the conference, got our cool goodie bags filled with books and promo items, and slipped on our badges with the ribbon flagging the fact that we were MAGGIE FINALISTS. Woot! That flag was a conversation starter everywhere we went. People were impressed. People wished us luck. By the time the award ceremony night arrived, I felt like a winner for life, regardless of the outcome. Later that day, we ate pizza and tried to watch the movies, but we were so tired, we went to the room and crashed. Well, we talked and talked and talked and then we fell asleep.
Friday morning I was nervous. I had to see the agent I’d pitched the book to in July at the National Conference. I had seven minutes to review the fact that she’d requested the full, tell her about the MAGGIE, and pitch the next book!! I want her as an agent very much. She’s well-regarded and knows category romance. And I think she’d be a delight to work with as she’s always so personable whenever I see her.
The pitch session went very well. She remembered the story as soon as I told her the title. No. She had not read it. She’s been traveling for her job, overseas, and is behind on her reading. I asked if I could send an email to her about the book, reminding her about its MAGGIE FINAL, and she said yes. Then I pitched my next book. She is very interested in the story. I was honest. I told her I wrote the book in a week. I am in revision. I’ll have a partial and synopsis ready before the end of the year. No problem. Send it when you are ready. And believe me, I will. Whew. That part over. Then she asked me a few questions–very good for me.
The rest of the day we learned, ate, met other authors and published authors, played, talked, wrote, and planned for the following day. My CP had two pitches to prep so we huddled in the concierge lounge and worked in privacy (thanks DH!).
Saturday and my CP had two successful pitches, we were nervously awaiting the awards ceremony, and we were cramming in more learning. Every workshop I attended was beneficial to me. There were so many options, I had difficulty choosing. Then we had the keynote speaker during lunch and let me tell you, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s story is poignant and inspiring. If she can forge through fourteen years of disappointment and real pain, we can do it, too. I will never give up my dream, and I will never try to chase a writing trend either. Sure, it would be wonderful to have a bevy of vampires to write about, but I can only read the wonderful books written by paranormal authors. I am not one of them.
We put on our party clothes, our fancy finery, and fun shoes and went to the awards ceremony. First we presented to the published authors. I presented the award to the author in my category. That was fun! I hope I can do it again (and final in the MAGGIES again!). I didn’t trip on the stage, and I managed to keep my mouth from seizing in panic. No. I didn’t win, but afterward three authors spoke to me and said I was already a winner because I finaled. I feel like a winner. I am validated as an author. I am going in the right direction. I’ve been writing for four years, and only became a PRO this year (due to my severe allergy to filling out forms–could have done this a lot sooner!). I’ve come a long way in short time. I plan to get a lot further by the end of 2009. And I know 2010 will be a banner year for me in production of new stories and my active pursuit of obtaining an agent and/or editor who will promote my work.
Sunday we were all tired, but we went to an amazing workshop run by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love. If you have a chance to learn from them, do it. The information they impart is invaluable to writers. My head is spinning with their advice and knowledge. Then it was time to load up the car with four writers’ baggage and head to the airport to drop of darling CP, and two new writing friends. We almost didn’t get out of the parking lot. Someone backing up out of a space nearly rammed into my front end, but my CP saw it, I braked, and then blared the horn. I think we’re all pretty much space cadets after a weekend like the M&M, so my only thought was I hope her heart isn’t beating as fast as mine is right now. Whew. We were off. I dropped everyone off at the busy airport. Then it was on route to home and hearth. Four hours later, I returned to my casa and to reality.
Here are my tidbit takeaways from the M&M/MAGGIE experience–if you get the chance to go, here’s why you should even if you’re not a MAGGIE finalist:
1) GWRA is a fabulous chapter. The people are the best around, and there is a genuine desire by all to make sure you are having a positive experience. Published authors are warm and inviting. They remember the BEFORE WE WERE PUB stage of writing. They understand the hunger. The drive. The hopes.
2) The contacts you’ll make are tremendous. More happened in hallways and during luncheons than anywhere else. This is an easy conference to network in. It’s a great conference to cut your teeth on before hitting the NATIONALS.
3) Before you go, enter the MAGGIES. If you final, your experience will be magical. But even if you don’t, you’ll get AMAZING feedback from the judges. It’s a fabulous contest.
As soon as I got home, and dropped my luggage in the bedroom, I joined GWRA. I can’t wait to get to know this fabulous group of people.
And now…. off to the beach!