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Writers Energy Refill

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Claire Cook speaking at Saturday’s GRW meeting

Last Saturday I was able to attend the Georgia Romance Writers monthly meeting for the first time. I’ve been a member of GRW for years, and love their annual Moonlight and Magnolias conference, it just hadn’t worked out for me to make a meeting.

I headed from Chattanooga to Atlanta with three good friends and fellow writers, Laurie White (thanks for driving!), Leigh Riker, and Nita Wick. We had a great time and learned a lot from the speaker, Claire Cook. Ms. Cook told us her amazing story of how she wrote her first novel in a minivan. She says she wrote what was in her heart, the books she wanted to read. She also said social media is the great equalizer—it puts readers and writers in direct contact.

The atmosphere of energy and support from the GRW members and guests filled the room and I left ready to dive back into my manuscript. There was a booksigning afterward, and though I did sell books, I mostly enjoyed meeting people.

I’m hoping to get back to a GRW meeting soon. Meanwhile, I’m honored to be part of such a vibrant, supportive group.

Have a great rest of the week!

Cheryel

The Ugly Truth, available only in ebook from Amazon until August 16 when it will be available in electronic and paperback formats from all major book outlets.

If she can’t believe what she sees, can she believe what she feels? When photojournalist Stephie Stephanova visits Ugly Creek, Tennessee to help her best friend, Madison, she expects a boring visit. Then she snaps a photo of something she shouldn’t have seen–and falls for a man she definitely shouldn’t have.

The Real Women of CARA

CARA shoes at Moonlight & Magnolias

I’ve written about CARA before, and I’d like to introduce you to my fellow authors.

CARA is short for Chattanooga Area Romance Authors, a group of five romance writers—all published— who found each other and quickly became friends. Between the five of us, we represent most of the romance spectrum. There should be something here for just about everybody.

In reverse alphabetical order (because I have to be different), here are the women of CARA:

Nita Wick—published in historical and paranormal, Nita turned to contemporary romance in her latest novel, Designs on Haley now available.

Laurie White—Ardent animal lover and very sweet person, her novel Desert Heat will be out from Secret Cravings Publishing later this year.

Kelle Z. Riley—scientist during the day, romance writer at night. The multi-talented woman has more energy than one person should be allowed. Look for some news from her soon.

Leigh Riker—celebrates women with a long list of novels. The most prolific, and published, of our group, Leigh sets the standard for the rest of us.

Cheryel Hutton—Me! I just signed a new contract with The Wild Rose Press, and my new novel should be out early next year.

Have a great hump day!

Cheryel

It’s almost Halloween. Celebrate with a great haunted house read. Shadows of Evil available in both electronic and print format. Boo!

Blood, Fingerprints, and DNA

The forensics workshop at Moonlight and Magnolias conference.

For me, at least, the most fascinating workshop at Moonlight & Magnolias was Junkyard Forensics given by Sheryl McCollum . Fellow CARA members Laurie White, Kelle Z. Riley, and I had a great time learning.

Sheryl showed us how to take everyday materials and use them for forensic tools. Who knew cinnamon would show if there were fingerprints on a plate? Or that you could put food coloring in milk and use rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip, or even your finger, to make it spread out into a rainbow design? I didn’t, but I do now.
Other things I learned: fingerprint powder is really messy. Superglue really can uncover fingerprints. I got to see footprint casting powder. Found that 24 hours in a trunk and anyone can tell there was a dead body there. Flies tell the story of a dead body. That 24 hours is the life cycle of a maggot/fly. You can test ink and know if a pen wrote a certain document. That DNA can be processed in one day, but usually takes about 6 weeks.
We got to see touch and use those special flashlights (can’t remember the name) that show blood and stuff. Actually, they show blood, urine, bleach, and scorpions. Honest. And a few other things we won’t talk about. We  got to play a bit and discovered that the public bathrooms at our hotel were cleaned very well.

Food coloring and milk.

Sheryl is a wonderful speaker, and I learned a lot and had a great time. If I ever get another chance to hear her speak, I’ll be there.

 

Have a great week!
Cheryel

 

Moonlight & Magnolias Conference

Dancing on Saturday night

Moonlight & Magnolias is an amazing writers conference. Held in Atlanta every year, M&M is thrown by Georgia Romance Writers, a chapter of Romance Writers of America. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to attend the last three M&M’s.

This year’s M&M opened with a surprise. Two friends I hadn’t seen in forever were there. But that’s not the big surprise was when they told me how well they were doing as indie authors. And that set the theme for the rest of the conference.

For those who don’t know, “Indie” is short for independent. Indie authors don’t depend on publishers. They self publish via Amazon, Barnes &Noble, Smashwords, etc. They , and they alone, are responsible for doing or having someone do the editing, formatting, cover art, and all the other tasks that publishers have traditionally provided for authors.

The first workshop I attended was with Nina Bruhns (AKA Nikita Black), who told us all about Indie publishing and how she is doing better with indie than with a traditional New York publisher. From there on, the talk was all about income streams and how having several titles available—regardless of the path to publication—was the way to making money in this business. Discoverability is the key–how to get readers to notice your book in the vast ocean of books out there.

It was a lot to take in. And a lot to think about. But you, the readers will be the winners in the end. More choices, books that might never have been published will be out there. And let me tell you, some of them are amazing.

Would you buy a book that you knew was indie published? Would you publish one? Are there types of books you’d like to read, but can’t find—or can’t find enough of?

Have a great week!
Cheryel

A Wild Time Was Had By All

Sorry I haven’t been around. I had some health issues toward the end of last month. Just as I was feeling better, it was time for the Moonlight and Magnolias Conference in Decatur, Georgia. I’d been looking forward to this conference for a year. Georgia Romance Writers (a chapter of Romance Writers of America) put on one seriously awesome conference! When I got back I took my exhausted body and hid in my writer’s den. So shoot me (or leave snarky comments).

Since the conference was so wonderful, the next few blog entries will be about the trip. The plan is to put in some tidbits that will be of interest to writers while giving non-writers a glimpse into the crazy world of writers conferences. And trust me, writers conferences are like nothing else.

The first hurdle was driving from Chattanooga to Decatur. My good friend, and fellow writer, Stephanie Lilley drove down. I printed out the directions, so I have nobody to blame but me for landing us at the wrong hotel. I knew it didn’t look right, but we’d followed the directions. Turns out I’d printed directions to the wrong hotel. Hey, I’m talented, OK? The good part is that we were only two miles from the right hotel.

We finally got to the right place. Decatur is a suburb of Atlanta, and a gorgeous little town in its own right. The Decatur Hotel and Convention Center is downtown near the courthouse. There are all kinds of shops and restaurants within walking distance, but I saw very little, since I wasn’t there to sightsee, I was there to network and learn. I love smaller conferences, as this one is, since there is more of an opportunity to connect with new people and reunite with old friends.

Monday, I’ll tell you more about the conference.
Sundown tonight marks the beginning or Yom Kippur, the most solemn and holy day of the Jewish calendar. May your fast be easy.
Happy Thanksgiving weekend to those in Canada.
Have a great weekend everybody!

Cheryel