Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tick Tock, Deadline Approaching for Romancing the Script Contest

Okay all you RWA screenwriters out there, May 1st is fast approaching.  You don't want to miss out on the Romancing the Script Screenwriting Contest, really you don't. 

Run, don't mosey, over to: and click on the contest page to find the list of stellar judges and our final judge: Suzanne Lyons, Producer/President Snowfall Films, Inc and WindChill Films, Inc.

Download your application and the rules and get us that script. 

And if for any reason you have trouble with the site, it's getting a "facelift", then email me directly at

Leslie Ann, 2012 Contest Chair,
Romancing the Script Screenwriting Contest, Scriptscene RWA

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cynthia D'Alba Two Steps over to Five Scribes

Five Scribe Readers, I’ve known Cynthia D’Alba for a few years now, but I must confess I never had any idea that she was ed-u-ca-ted.  She’s worked as an RN, taught Obstetrics in an RN program, coordinated a prenatal screening program and then was Medical Services Director at the University of Tennessee, Memphis.  Cynthia ended her medical career as an Administrator for a private group medical practice, then  missed academia and left medicine to return to the University of Memphis as Director of Graduate Programs at the Fogelman College of Business. She grabbed the opportunity to return to Arkansas by taking a position as Assistant Dean for Executive Programs in the College of Business at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. There she finished her education by earning a doctorate in Higher Education Administration. In 2002, she retired.  Always an avid reader, she decided to try her hand at writing.  Is it any surprise then that this woman who holds a doctorate accomplished her dream of publication?  I’d never bet against this woman at anything she puts her mind at to succeed.  Last but not least, she's also the debut author of TEXAS TWO STEP!!!  Please welcome my firend, the lovely and generous Cynthia D’Alba to the Five Scribes.

CDA: Wow. You make me sound so good in the intro. *Fluffs hair* Thank you.

D.B.:  My pleasure, Hi, Cyndi, by the way, I do believe that’s one of the longest bios I’ve ever written. But, damn, I’m impressed.  Congratulations on your debut of Texas Two Step by Samhain Publishing.  I read that you wrote a doctorate, but that you think writing fiction is harder than writing your thesis.  Why is that?

CDA: Writing fiction is harder than writing my dissertation. With my dissertation, it was fact-fact-fact, then test, then analysis. Nothing from my imagination. I was working within the constraints of the facts and research findings. With fiction, the only limits are the ones I put on myself. The other problem is there are some rules with writing fiction, like keeping your point of view consistent, and I had to learn those rules to make my work acceptable to publishers. I had a huge learning curve.

D.B:  Texas Two Step is a fun, sexy read.  It’s the story of Olivia Montgomery-Gentry and Mitch Landry.  They share a strong attraction and a tumultuous past, and part of this past is that they have a son that Mitch knows nothing about.  First question, this is a reunion story, and then of course the secret baby.  Why do you think romance readers are so drawn to this type of novel?  And tell us what inspired you to write this book?

CDA: I think what makes reunion stories so much fun is all the emotional trauma that has to be dealt with. Reunion stories and second chance stories look at the fork in the road we’ve all faced at some point. Choosing the left turn instead of the right turn and our lives would be totally different. I suspect many of us also have a story about the guy (or girl) from our past that we wonder, what if…

Why this story? Mitch started out as an Italian Prince for a Harlequin Presents contest. After a couple of chapters, he fired his rifle in the air to get my attention and announced that: 1) I had his last name wrong, and 2) put him back into his jeans and cowboy boots or else. Gunfire always makes me sit and pay attention.

D.B:  Olivia is a dynamite character.  Strong, sexy, she’s come into her own.  Mitch is sexy as all get out, and you have a gift for describing these characters.  How long have you been working on Texas Two Step, and you just seem to know these characters like they are part of you.  When Olivia spoke, I even could hear her Texas twang, and I could easily see these characters.  Tell us what inspired them and how much fun (or not) was it while working with them?

CDA: What everyone is missing is that this book is from the Texas Montgomery Mavericks. When most people think of “mavericks,” they think male or hero. But Olivia is the Montgomery Maverick in this book. She’s strong. Self-assured. Determined to not let life’s hurdles defeat her.

Mitch is a very alpha male. He makes decisions that he thinks is best…including decisions that affect lots of people without consulting them because he’s sure he’s made the best decision. There aren’t many women who can handle that kind of challenge.

The two most important women in his life are Olivia and his mother.

D.B.  I enjoyed the wedding portion of this book very much.  Mitch’s jealousy over this guy named Adam.  The wedding planner was wonderful and you force these two estranged partners together at every turn.  Note:  For any aspiring authors out there, when you’re writing romance, you must get your hero and heroine together.  If you need an example of an author who does it extremely well, please check out TEXAS TWO STEP.  Has this scene changed very much from draft to draft, or did you just envision getting your protagonists together from the start?

CDA: That scene didn’t change much from draft to final version. I just kept asking myself…How can I make this worse for Olivia.

D.B:  This book is book one in a series.  You have just completed a very successful book tour.  Are you glad/relieved that the tour is over with? And are you getting back to writing?  Tell us about a typical day of writing, and how are you doing with the word DEADLINE?

CDA: Thanks for the nice compliment on my book blog tour. It was quite an undertaking. I’ve written one blog on the tour and am in the process of putting together a workshop on setting up book blog tour. If I’d know then what I know now, I would have done some things differently. I am just getting back to writing. I found the blog tour to be very draining to my creativity. I was using up my creative juices to write entertaining blogs instead of putting that effort into my next book. I don’t have a deadline as the next two books in the series are not contracted. Personally I do much better with a deadline. I love deadlines. If I have one, I WILL have it done by then. Without a deadline, I have a tendency to fiddle around. J

D.B:  You have quite a list of characters in Texas Two Step, and I suspect we’ll see them again.  I wonder if Drake and Magda might show up in book two?  You did an excellent job of showing their attraction –and resolving a conflict as a result. Do you use charts, spreadsheets, do you know these characters and there you don’t need them.  Personally I love a book with lots of characters.  It gives it a richer cinematic feel in my opinion.  Was this intentional on your part? Did the cast of characters just start to grow?  And was it your intention from the start to create a series?

CDA: Quite a list of questions, DB! I’ve had a number of inquiries about Drake, including a phone call from sister! If I won’t tell her what happens I sure can’t put it here. (hee hee) Book two is Travis Montgomery’s story. He and Drake are life-long friends. Since Drake moved back to Dallas in book one, then I expect that he might show up in book two. Do him and Magda end up together? Can’t say.

Do I use charts and spreadsheets…One of my degrees is a master of business. I LOVE my spreadsheets. So yes, I have spreadsheets, particularly timeline spreadsheets. I have a spreadsheet of all the male and female names and their relationship. Did I plan to have so many characters? No. Sometimes the character walks on stage and announces himself. Hobbs did that, as did his daughter, Magda. Neither of these characters were in my plans. 

D.B:  It's my job to ask questions, CDA. :) Talk to us about writing for Samhain?  What did you learn as a debut author about publishing, and will it help you simplify your writing life in book two?

CDA: My experience working with Samhain Publishing has been incredible, awesome, wonderful! It’s the kind of experience I would wish on every new author. An editor who didn’t try to change my voice or interject her own into my story. She didn’t try to change my story, only improve or clarify my story. I had a line editor who found the tiniest mistakes. And then the cover artist…WOW. What a wonderful job Scott Carpenter did with my cover.

As far as making the second book “easier,”…I have to say no. Every book is different…new characters and new challenges while trying to integrate the previous characters as I know readers want those glances into the lives of earlier characters.

I think my overarching problem is my own insecurity about my writing. Fear of failure is the hurdle I have to climb over every day when I sit down to write. One book doesn’t ease that much, at least not for me.

D.B:  Speaking of book two, when should we expect it?  And could you give us a blurb?

CDA: Book two isn’t contracted so I don’t have a date for that. The working title is Texas Tango Tangle. Here’s a brief blurb:

Travis Montgomery thinks Caroline Graham’s idea to state a fake wedding to ease the passing of her dying grandmother is nuts. But Caroline hold the deed to a piece of land Travis has coveted for  years. The only way to get his hands on the property is to go along with this crazy plan. After all, Caroline will only be in town another six months and she’s promised to quick claim the land to him when she leaves.

Neither of them expects to be attracted to the other. Caroline doesn’t want to put down roots and Travis doesn’t want another wife. Unfortunately, an obscure state law throws their perfect plan out the window. Can they confess their love before it’s too late?

D.B.  What advice would you give today’s aspiring author?

CDA: 1) Write. Write. Write. The only way to get good is to write. 2) Don’t just keep writing the same story over and over. Start something new. 3) Don’t get in too big of a hurry to publish. Yes, we can all self-publish but be sure your work is ready for the public.

D.B:  Cyndi, I enjoyed Texas Two Step, and I know I will love book two as well.  Thank you for being with us today.  You’ve earned a long rest. 
Thank you so much for having me here today. I’ve never been able to keep a secret so ask me anything! To learn more about me check out these links:

Cynthia D'Alba 

Texas Two Step - A Samhain Best Seller

I have one digital copy of Texas Two Step to give to one lucky person who comments.  

Blogger's Note:  I'll be attending a Writing Conference this weekend so comments will be left open until Sunday the 22nd. 

Thanks again, Donnell!  ~ My pleasure, Cynthia D'Alba.  Come back again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Talkin' About the CB Writers Conference

I could go on for a L-o-n-g time gushing about the Crested Butte Writers Conference June 22-24, 2012.
It’s my baby and Barbara and I are so proud of that amazing weekend! But I thought I’d offer a bit of more unbiased opinions from past participants. I asked them what they liked best about it and why they’d want to come back. Here’s what they had to say:

Crested Butte WC is in a class by itself. With its magical setting, small, intimate gathering, and well-organized structure, creative energy abounds. This is a beautiful mecca for anyone who wants to learn more about the written word.

~Susan Wiggs, NYT Bestselling author (2008)

I had a great time at the Crested Butte conference. I can't think of anything better than being nestled in the mountains with a small group of people who have something to say and who are seriously committed to improving their writing. I wish they'd put me on their permanent faculty roll.

~William Bernhardt, NYT Bestselling author (2009)

Well, the setting was one of the best I've ever had in terms of conferences...

you can't beat the mountains and the town. Loved that! But also, I like that it was laid back. I think it made writers feel comfortable approaching us (industry people) with questions or just to talk.

That's what we're there for, ya know? You'd be surprised how many conferences aren't like this.

~Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, Agent at Nancy Coffey Literary agency (2010)

I’ve attended big conferences, but much prefer the smaller, more intimate conference. At the Crested Butte Conference, everyone has a chance to participate—either in reading his or her WIP at the open readers night (what’s that called?), or sharing a breakfast or lunch table with editors and agents (who have a tendency to hide at the larger conferences), to having more than a 5 minute appointment with editors or agents who are swamped by attendees at the big conferences.

There is such a relaxed and friendly atmosphere at CB that everyone is accessible—from conference coordinators, to agents and editors and panel presenters. The workshops presented are informative, open to audience participation, and as good as larger conferences—but with smaller groups so you’re more involved. And also...the price. It’s half what some of the big conferences charge, and I think you get a better value...including a stunning mountain setting.

~Kaki Warner, RITA Award-winning Author (2010,11,12)

We always hear about those "smaller" conferences where things are homey and intimate and the connections you make will last you a lifetime. I've been to a few now and though they all had touches of these elements, Crested Butte is the first one where I walked in, was welcomed, and immediately felt like I'd come home.

This is a great little conference with the friendliest atmosphere and lots of wonderful opportunities to connect to writers and industry professionals in a manner that is more than just deer-in-headlights pitches. Oh, and the setting? Paradise.

~Tes Hilaire, Published Author (2010)

I had heard about the Crested Butte conference for a couple of years before I actually took the plunge. Everything about it is a truly unique conference experience. Workshops are versatile and diverse, the scheduling tight and concise, enabling the bulk of attendees to participate in everything. It’s almost a “single-track” experience, with enough variance for specialty interests and skills. No ‘oh, gosh. . . which of these six workshops do I go to now?’ The guest speakers, agents, and editors are top-notch and relaxed – probably something to do with no eight-hour pitch sessions, and pre-submission of materials. The casual breakfasts are perfect for renewing friendships and making new ones.

Saturday, the conference is combined with a Readers Day – Ever met a writer who didn’t want to mingle with readers and vice versa? Free buses and free evenings to explore the magic, people, and shops/restaurants of Crested Butte. The surrounding community, venue, and staffers who put it all together are like an extended walk through a dream. A ten-star experience in a five-star resort. Unable to make it this year, and boy, am I gonna miss it.

~Ron Heimbecher, Author (2010,11)

What I liked about the Crested Butte Writer's Conference was that it was the fact that it was so small and intimate. I think everyone there felt less intimidated by the writing/finding an agent/publishing/marketing process. This not only goes for the aspiring writers, but the published writers and agents and editors who attended. Of course, I cannot speak for everyone, but it seemed that no one I encountered had their defenses up as sometimes happens at conferences. At some conferences the agents and editors are in a walled castle with the drawbridge up and the moat full of alligators. I understand why, because I've seen looks on the faces of agents at some conferences and that make the poor kitty in Pepe La Pew cartoons look relaxed.

At Crested Butte, there seemed to be more focus on what is good storytelling and writing, then what genre is in vogue at this particular second.

If there was one disappointment for the year I attended, it was that the editors and agents elected not to attend the story readings. I thought how sad it was that they missed an exercise that got to the very genesis of literature. It was like the ring around the campfire when all the chores of the day were done and the reward for a good day's work was some entertainment. Bring on the storyteller. No film, no video, no hype--all pictures made with words and breath. What could be more human? ~Martha Catt, Author (2010)

Intimate conference, with plenty of individual face time to get to know high power editors, agents, and authors. Beautiful location with nice amenities and friendly people. I love the first pages session, it's a chance to see the real arbitrary nature of what writing attracts and appeals to people in the publishing industry, and what doesn't. I come back each year for the opportunity to learn more about the craft of writing, and the publishing industry in general.

~Mike Keith, Author (2008,09,10,11,12)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Favorite Time of Year?

As the winter is waning here in Colorado, even though it was a mild one, I'm ready for a change. Though I love shoveling snow--no thanks you snow-shoveling haters, I've got a big enough drive to keep me busy, I'm not going to come to your house, winter has been around long enough for me. And then I think about how lucky I am to be able to live here where we have four distinct seasons.

I LOVE having seasons. We lived in San Diego for 5 years, and while I made some terrific friends and it was a good experience, I missed not having four seasons.
And I missed not having good old midwestern falls.

Fall is my absolutely favorite season hands down. The colors are lovely, the smell is wonderful, it’s a cozy time of year or anticipation, heralding in coming holidays which means great food and family. It’s the rest before the delightful madness. And it’s huddling before a fireplace with a good book–one of my favorite things to do!

What is your favorite time of year? Hmm, how much of your opinion do you think is a factor of where you grew up imprinting that feeling/desire/appreciation on you? I'd hazard a guess that it has a lot to do with my desire for four seasons and loving the fall. I grew up in michigan and I'm old enough that we used to burn the leaves at the street. I LOVE that smell of burning leaves. It reminds me of home, my grandma and good things.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Congratulations to The 2012 Sandy Finalists!

As many of you know I am the coordinator the Crested Butte Writers writing contest, The Sandy. I want to thank the 60 plus judges who selflessly offer their skill and time judging the first round of this contest. Without them, we'd have no contest. SO thank you so very much to the best judges in ANY writing contest! I am very proud to announce this year's finalists. Please join me in wishing them good luck in the final round.

to the
2012 Sandy Writing Contest Finalists! 
Mainstream Adult Fiction 
Final Judge, Kevan Lyon, Agent at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency 
Laura Haley-McNeil (CO)—Rhapsody in Death 
Judy Wirzberger (CA)–- Sisters ad Other Strangers (tie) 
Nanci Woody (CA) – Tears and Trombones (tie) 
 Final judge, Sue Grimshaw, Editor at Large & Category Specialist for Ballantine&Bantam Dell
Martha Catt (NC) – Special Valuation (tie) 
Teri Wardell (AZ) –Caller of Light (tie) 
Robin Weaver (NC) –Design Flaw 
 Fantasy/ Science Fiction 
Final judge, James Frenkel, Editor at Tor/Forge 
Starla Huchton (CA) --- Antigone’s Wrath 
 Lawdon (CO) –Dragon’s War: A Vampire Novel 
Heather Leonard (AL) -- Spellbound 
 Thriller/ Suspense / Mystery 
Final Judge, Kat Brzozowski, Assistant Editor at Thomas Dunne Books 
 Christopher Boswell (VA) --- The Franklin Destiny 
Judith Dailey (WA)—No Traveler Returns (tie) 
 Powl Smith (CO)—The Treasure of Seleucia 
Geoffrey Saign (MN) –Ecokill (tie) 
Children / Young Adult 
Final judge, Mary Kole, Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency 
Fabio Bueno (WA)—Bewitch Me 
Maggie Lynch (OR) –Cameleon 
Lori Sauter (OR) – The White Death on The Doorstep
This is the first year we opened the contest up to published authors. If published in fiction, the entry must have been a fresh story not submitted anywhere or professionally edited. Of the 167 entries, 24% were from published authors. Of the 16 finalists, 25% were published authors.