I’m Back and Wishing You and Me a Happy New Year

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to start a new year. If you’re subscribed to this blog or follow me on Facebook or other social media, you may have noticed I disappeared about five weeks ago. Though I hadn’t planned such a break, it came as a relief. Let’s just say 2013 was not my most successful year and I’d had enough of it.

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Please, accept my apology if I missed saying Congratulations or Happy Birthday on Facebook. And I’m sorry I wasn’t around to wish you a Merry Christmas. Today, I’m still under the influence of a beastly cold, but otherwise I’m mostly re-energized. And, since I also took a five-week break from writing, I’m anxious to get back to work, and I entered the WFWA Write-A-Thin Challenge to give me a boost.

What did I do while I wasn’t writing or blogging or socializing on Facebook? I read, of course. During the second week of December, I read two novels and a short story collection! Maybe that’s no big deal to you, but I think the last time I read books that quickly I was in third grade. I’d forgotten how fast the pages add up when you have few distractions. In all, I read five books, abandoned a couple of others after a chapter or two, and then started the one I’m still reading.

Then it was time to put normal life aside to prepare for family Christmas visits. Our out-of-state sons, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren came to town. We had our usual Christmas Eve Syrian feast and though one granddaughter came late due to work, as you can see from the image above, she made it into our annual family photo by magic. (Otherwise known as Photoshop.) We had a lovely holiday. I’m blessed to have such a wonderful family.

I have many hopes for this year, but my main goal is to achieve and maintain a healthy balance in my life. What’s your main goal for 2014?

And Suddenly, It’s Fall

Where I live, it rarely rains from April to October and the summer temperatures hover around 102° F, so about mid-July we start longing for the arrival of Fall. Just when it seems summer will never let go, we wake up to a change in the air. Even if the days still heat up, we sense Fall’s presence.

oct_sceneThis past week, I woke to hardwood floors chilly enough to break out the fuzzy socks. Yay! Maybe it’s because I was born in October that I feel the energy of a beginning more than an ending.  And a boost is surely what I need now. I just finished the critique training workshop though WFWA and soon will be sorted into an online critique group. Egads! What was I thinking?

I participated in the workshop because I’m anxious to work exclusively with other women’s fiction writers. But how can I be a member of a critique group with nothing to submit? I have no choice, now, but to wake that Muse and get back to work.  Shut the doors, put in the earbuds, and start up the Bach cello suites.

So yes, I welcome the energy of Fall. Of course, it also shines a spotlight on the many other jobs I need to tackle. Maybe I’ll get a few chapters written and then switch to the mad house cleaning I used to do in November. Any long-time readers remember my NAHOCLEMO (National House Cleaning Month) challenge?

For me, these cool days present another challenge. I’ve finally decided to get serious about losing the pounds I’ve added during these last five years of sitting, sitting, sitting as I worked on this serious writing business. It’s hard to eat salad when your body’s chilled and begging for hot chocolate and cream soups and hearty casseroles. And I can’t even think about the temptations of the upcoming holidays.

Okay, as long as I keep my fingers on the keyboard, I can’t eat. Well, I could, but …

Linda

Image courtesy of Karpati Gabor / Morguefile.com

Do you write women’s fiction?

Have you heard of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association? It’s a non-profit organization for those who write … well, I guess you figured that out. Their new site went live on September 9 and was jammed temporarily by so many writers trying to join at once. I’m now a proud member too.

wfwa_logo_smAll writers of women’s fiction are welcome: multi-published, debut, and aspiring. Among other things, the association will offer mentorship, critique groups, forums, online workshops, contests, and agent/editor pitch opportunities for members. They’ll also have an annual retreat.

The WFWA’s About Us statement:

We began this organization in 2013 with the idea to create a safe, nurturing place for male and female writers of women’s fiction. The publishing industry is morphing – with new opportunities and, as yet, unknown futures. Some of us came from the Romance Writers of America, where a shift of focus left many of us out in the rain. The founders of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association wanted somewhere to amass and disseminate information to and about our chosen genre.

Defining Women’s Fiction has proven as subjective as the types of books we prefer. For that reason, our guiding statement is broad and comprehensive:

An inclusive organization of writers who create stories about a woman’s emotional journey.

 Our stories may have romance. Or they may not. They could be contemporary. Or historical. But what binds us together is the focus on a woman’s emotional journey.

As you may know, I’ve struggled with the definition of women’s fiction. It’s a very broad category, ranging from chick lit to near literary—but not straight romance. Not everything I write would be categorized as WF. Some would exclude my first published novel, but though Jalal dominates The Brevity of Roses, it’s definitely about Meredith’s and Renee’s emotional journeys as well as his. An Illusion of Trust, the sequel to Brevity, squares firmly with the WFWA definition, as will my next novel.

So, even if you don’t write women’s fiction exclusively, you’re still welcome to join us. Us. Yay! I’m excited to be a part of WFWA. And self-published authors are not considered second class citizens in this group. Another yay!

Linda