Thursday, December 1, 2011

RWAs Kiss of Death Chapter Home to Romantic Suspense

When I began my writing career in 2001, I did so because I'd fallen in love with authors like Sandra Brown, Catherine Coulter and Linda Howard.  Their storylines surrounded a compelling heroine in a bad situation who meets up with a strong heroic man.  These talented authors put these characters in such straits that while turning page after page, I thought, how on earth are they going to get out of this mess, much less be together?

Well, thanks to my active kids, I'd quit my newspaper and magazine jobs and decided I'd like to try to write books like these amazing authors.  I mean, how hard could it be?

I'm here to telll you, it's very hard.  Nonfiction isn't anything like fiction.  In nonfiction we're told not to editorialize, in fiction we're told to get inside a character's head.  In nonfiction a passive sentence isn't going to send you to the woodshed, in fiction it'll topple your story.

Realizing I knew little about writing fiction, I decided I'd better become educated.  Moreover, because I wanted to write romance, I thought the perfect place would be to start with my local chapter in Colorado Springs.  Pikes Peak Romance Writers was indeed a great place to start and I'm still a member.  I joined my first critique group here, and here these wonderful women taught me to write fiction.  To a point.

Not many in my local chapter were writing romantic suspense, and when writing romantic suspense, there's a fine line between overdoing the romance -- because suspense readers, after all, want to read about women in jeopardy.  As I received my critiques and contests scores back, often there was one word written all over the pages.  Why?  Explain why they're doing this.

Dear readers, a good mystery is all about why and setting up a compelling mystery.  I didn't want to answer their questions in the first or second chapters.  I was writing a mystery, and to this end, knew immediately, I needed to go in a different direction.  But where?

Eventually someone told me about a wonderful RWA chapter that might be able to help me.  To a romantic suspense writer, this was the proverbial coast guard sailor throwing (I bet he was cute, too) a life preserver.  Turns out, this chapter was called

This chapter reeled me in from the depths, introducing me to authors like Kylie Brant, Cindy Gerard, Suzanne Brockmann to name a few.  This chapter had amazing courses called Murder One and Coffin, which not only taught the craft of writing, it taught about police procedure, forensics, how to hide a body and more.  What's more, if you were a member the courses were $15, a virtual steal when knowing this information was vital to my career.

The Kiss of Death Chapter also had a group called Lethal Ladies.  Here I discovered murderously inclined romantics like me who didn't write WHY all over my pages, because they UNDERSTOOD what I was writing.  That cute coast guard guy had not only thrown me a life preserver, he'd handed me a blanket and I was no longer shivering in the cold.  I was learning, about the genre I loved to write:  ROMANTIC SUSPENSE.

And finally the reason I've been a member of KOD these many years?  They have an amazing contest.  Not only for unpublished authors but for published authors as well.  THE DAPHNE DU MAURIER AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN MYSTERY/SUSPENSE.  I was so grateful to KOD and all it had offered me, I got involved in this contest.  I got to see the amazing talent out there and that Romantic Suspense transcends many levels.  Mainstream, Single Title, Paranormal, Historical, Category and Inspirational.  I had cousins all over the place in my chosen genre.

Many people can write more than one genre.  I've seen it happen.  They can easily switch between straight romace, Young Adult, Erotica, whatever is popular in the market.  Through it all, I have had one passion.  I've stuck with Romantic Suspense--It solves my craving for mystery and a happily ever after.  I've also been told that I've got the thriller aspect nailed down, too.  But for my purposes, RWA's Kiss of Death Chapter easily fulfills my needs and thanks to KOD and to Bell Bridge Books, I've achieved my dream of publication.

As I've grown as an author, I've joined many chapters.  I love them all and each serves an important  purpose.  But if I was down to my last red cent and could only belong to one, it would be   If you love Romantic Suspense, I promise this is the chapter for you.

Happy Writing.



Leslie Ann said...

I joined KOD when I was writing Rom Suspense, and was the Death by Chocolate Coordinator one year. (A nearly all chocolate party held at the RWA Annual Conference, during the KOD awards ceremony. YUM, I got to try the desserts to find the right ones...) Anyway I digress.

I left KOD when I began writing scripts. Now I'm writing both and will rejoin this great group.

Writing fiction is hard, and if you can find a group of writers that are nuturing and supportive, you've found the treasure.

Thanks for sharing, Donnell and reminding me to rejoin KOD.

LA of the Scribes

Donnell said...

LA, yay! I recognize you can only belong to so many groups. Not enough time and certainly not enough money. But KOD has been one of the organizations that got me as far I am now. Hope I go farther. Can't wait to see what you've been working so diligently behind scenes on! (wow, that last sentence was awkward

Angi Morgan said...

Grest post, Donnell.

The Daphne unpublished contest win of my book shot me in front of my agent & editor, leading to my first sale. This will always be one of my favorite contests.


Donnell said...

Oh, Angi, thanks for sharing. I, too, think KOD is one of the best chapters out there. Period. I love that you got your agent and your first sale as part of the Daphne!