October 22, 2016: Jessica Watterson (Special Event)

In the Trenches: Query Letters

The Saguaro Romance Writers are excited to welcome Jessica Watterson of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency to our October Special Event. She’ll provide an “in the trenches” look at all things query letters. Join us for tips, tricks and an inside look at the elements of a query letter and what makes a good one. Then she’ll put that advice into action with cold reads of several query letters from SRW members and other event attendees as time allows.

About Jessica Watterson

Jessica Watterson, Agent
Jessica Watterson
Jessica is an agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. She graduated from the University of California at Irvine with a degree in sociocultural anthropology and English. Jessica has made books a serious part of her life for many years. During college, she started an indie review blog that has featured author interviews and has reviewed several self-published books that eventually ended up on the New York Times Best Seller list. Jessica is actively building her list and is most interested in all genres of romance, especially historical, contemporary, romantic suspense, and paranormal. She greatly enjoys romance novels with strong characters that jump right off the page and a plot that stays with the reader long after the book has finished.

September 24, 2016: Pamela Tracy

War of the Words
Are adverbs really bad? And, just who gave the word “said” such a bad reputation? Besides writing for Harlequin and whoever else will snatch up her books, Pamela Tracy is an English professor who not only spends her romance writing hours wrangling with words, but she also spends her classroom hours instructing the next generation that “You can paint the world with words.” Come hear what she has to say about tags, repetition, and fragments. Wait! It’s not just what she says; the truth is in the pages of the books by our favorite authors.

Pamela Tracy
Pam Tracy

Pamela Tracy is an award-winning author who lives with her husband (He claims to be the inspiration for most of her heroes) and son (He claims to be the interference for most of her writing time.) She started writing at a very young age (a series of romances, all with David Cassidy as the hero. Sometimes Bobby Sherman would interfere). Then, while earning a BA in Journalism at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, she picked up the pen again – only this time – it was an electric typewriter on which she wrote a very bad science fiction novel. First published in 1999, she has since published more than thirty books/novellas and has sold more than a million copies. She’s written contemporary, historical and suspense – all in the romance genre. Her 2007 suspense, Pursuit of Justice, was a Rita finalist. Her 2009 suspense, Broken Lullaby, won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the year award.

RWA 2016 National Conference Catch-up!

We had so many great stories to share about our experiences in San Diego that we couldn’t get to them all in August. From reader retention rates to all the swag and anything else we can squeeze into our second session, stop by and listen to more fantastic lessons from RWA 2016.

August 27, 2016: RWA National Conference recap and prizes!

Maybe you weren’t able to make it to the RWA National Conference in San Diego this year. Or maybe you went but left your cloning machine behind and couldn’t attend all of the amazing sessions. While nabbing the recorded sessions is a great substitute, we’ve got more than a dozen chapter members who made the trip and want to share some of the highlights of their experience and the sessions they attended.

From the impressions of a group of first-timers to the musings of a few conference veterans, we’ll talk about everything from the fabulous authors we met, to the bounty of workshops offered, and through to the many lines and crowds we had to navigate to get to that coveted signing or talk. We’ll cover thoughts on the endless bounty of the author goody room: what caught our eye and whether there is such a thing as too many pens. Attendees from a wide range of sessions will share our big takeaways: A Myers Briggs-type test for writers; Series Branding & Facebook Advertising; Deep POV; Amazon Worlds; Rocking Reader Retention Rates; Michael Hague’s sessions; the Secret Ingredient in a Page Turner and more.

In addition to sharing what we learned, we will also be sharing the goodies we got in SRW’s annual Raffle Event this meeting. Free books, signed books, e-book cards, pens, buttons, and much more. The SRW attendees of RWA 2016 want to reveal everything that made this conference exciting, educational, and rewarding. Join us for a recounting of our excellent adventures in San Diego.

Meeting fee of $25 members, $30 guests and walk-ins includes lunch.

May 21, 2016: Rose Ortiz

The Art of Writing Body Language
Pulling readers into our stories is vital. We want them to fall in love with our characters and our world, because if they don’t, they won’t read what we’ve written. There are many tools we have to draw readers in, and body language is one that too many authors fail to use. Rose Ortiz will talk about body language, its components, and how writers can use it to add depth to characters, dialogue, and emotions. We will look at how other authors have used body language, and how we can use it to make our writing stronger.

About Rose OrtizRose Ortiz2b
At the age of ten, Rose was given access to the Young Adult room of the library. That’s when she fell in love with Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and—when no one was looking—Rosemary Rogers. The result was a love affair with books, especially romance novels. After retirement, Rose split her time between reading and writing. She has won awards for her writing and currently is writing two series, one contemporary set in Minnesota and the other historical set in Georgian England.

Block Busters & Creative Prompts
So far in 2016, we’ve had talks about writing active hooks & settings, about building plot bridges, about using Tarot and other cards to brainstorm, and writing reviews. For our second session in May, we’ll work as a group and at our tables to devise character arcs, plots, story ideas, and all manner of creative inspirations to keep you engaged in your writing. Come prepared to tie all this year’s meetings together with the help of chapter member facilitators.

June 25th Special Event: Laurie Schnebly Campbell


Viscount Hotel
4855 East Broadway, Tucson
9:30 am – 3:00 pm
Special Event Meeting fee of $30 for members $45 for guests and walk-ins includes a single-entree buffet lunch.

Perfecting the Pitch

Part of your job is overcoming the fear most writers feel when it comes to selling themselves and their work. (If we were the naturally outgoing type, we wouldn’t BE writers!) So this session begins with a look at the seven fear-fighting techniques. Next comes the pitch itself, with hands-on work to prepare what you’ll tell the agent or editor during a formal appointment or an elevator meeting. Finally, we’ll cover the tricks for improving your presentation…and following up for the best chances of success. If you’re not planning to pitch anytime soon, you’ll get to choose an editor / agent’s role and play it for all it’s worth!

Letting “Mad Men” Write Your Synopsis

Whether or not you’ve met the editor / agent face-to-face, at some point they’ll need a synopsis to convince their superiors “we want this book.” So you’ll need to put on your Dan Draper hat and use some proven techniques from Madison Avenue that get people wanting to buy a particular product. We won’t get your entire synopsis written during this session, but you’ll learn every step you need for creating a synopsis that makes people eager to see your book.

About Laurie Schnebly Campbell Laurie Schnebly Campbell

Laurie Schnebly Campbell loves speaking to writers about issues that draw on her background as an advertising copywriter, a counseling therapist and a romance novelist who beat out Nora Roberts for Best Special Edition of the Year. Along with romance and how-to books for writers, Laurie writes scripts for videos and commercials (some of which feature her voice) at a Phoenix ad agency. She also enjoys teaching a catechism class, narrating at Talking Books, playing with her husband and son in Sedona (the red-rock town named for her grandpa’s mom), and teaching online classes every month except July & December. “People ask how I find time to do all that,” Laurie says, “and I tell them it’s easy.  I never clean my house!”

April 23, 2016: Amylynn Bright, Kellie Hazell & Vicky Loebel

Do You Want to Write a Review?

So, you want to write a review? Or you feel like you should write a review. Or maybe you just want to support your fellow writers. Maybe you read something that was so enjoyable, life altering, paradigm shifting, that you simply must tell strangers about it. You’re saying you can write a book, but a book report scares the bejesus out of you. Amylynn will walk us through the basics. We’ll look at writing a few reviews of well known books and how to hit the highlights. We’ll have fun.

About Amylynn BrightAmylynn Bright

A vigorously voracious reader, and a former literary snob, Amylynn been known to write a few reviews in her time over at The Examiner.  Amylynn’s books take place in Regency England where the lovely ladies and rakish gentlemen of the haute ton weave stories of high passion and true love. And lately Amylynn’s woven romance stories in with contemporary American life.  Welcome to her world where, against all odds, everyone lives happily ever after – if they’re brave enough to see it through.

The Tarot-Designed Plot Bridge

In February, Vicky Loebel shared her plotting techniques to streamline the drafting process for the pantsers among us. In March, Kellie Hazell outlined how to use tarot decks and other cards and kits to brainstorm our way through writing. Now Vicky & Kellie will combine their toolkits to demonstrate how to build your plot bridge using tarot cards. Come prepared to participate with your big brainstorming and outlining questions!

About Vicky Loebel & Kellie Hazell

Vicky & Kellie have endured each others’ company for almost as long as the Saguaro Romance Writers have been around, including serving together on the SRW Board of Directors not once, not twice, but three times – and volunteering together in other ways more than either can recall. Over the years, they took breaks from chapter activities by brainstorming plot snarls, character foibles, and revision speed traps using any card deck they could find and all manner of plotting techniques. They have even been known to watch movies such as The Fifth Element together as an exercise to analyze story structure. Ply them with enough allergen-free chocolate and bourbon, and they may even share the story analysis experiment that was their viewing of Upstream Color.Vicky LoebelKellie Hazell

March 19, 2016: Kellie Hazell and Chloe Gregan

The Writer’s Tarot (& Other Cards)

Pam McCutcheon demonstrated her Writer’s Brainstorming Kit for us last February. While those cards and the accompanying book are tailored for writers looking to flesh out characters and plots, Tarot decks, loteria cards, archetype cards, and medicine cards can also be a great source of inspiration for new stories, saggy middles, and even challenging revisions. Kellie will bring all of the cards, decks, and kits she’s collected over the years to demonstrate how each can be used to kickstart the creative process, at any step of the journey.

KellieAs a clinical research program manager, Saguaro Romance Writer’s Vice President of Programs, and mother of a fourth-grader, Kellie Hazell searches for inspiration in all kinds of places to keep the juggling act of life going while squeezing in time to write – or at least brainstorm her way out of a creative crunch.


Authentic Guns & Ammo in Fiction

What does firing a gun actually feel like? What are the most common ways writers get guns wrong on screen and in print? How does gun safety training change the way you look at guns (or how SHOULD it change the way you look at guns)? How have modern guns changed over time and how does that impact the gun wielder? Local firearms aficionado Chloe Gregan will answer these questions and offer tidbits about guns that most folks don’t think about. For those interested, Chloe will also offer an off-site show and tell from her personal (unloaded) collection.

ChloeChloe Gregan has been shooting since the tender age of 7 and has built a steady knowledge base about guns in the process, developing it through her tenure in the military and now as an employee of a firearms manufacturer. In her spare time, she also offers firearms coaching, teaching others to improve their shooting, cleaning, safety, and marksmanship. She hesitates to call herself a gun “expert” but considers herself a lover of the art that is shooting guns and troubleshooting them, er…fixing them.


February 27, 2016: Vicky Loebel & Michael Petersen

Plot Points for Pansters
(And the Outliners who Love Them)

Morning Session:
Are you confused by story climax and big black moments? Does rising and falling action make you want to shove your characters off a cliff? Do turning points spin your head, and does the thought of filling out pages and pages of scene lists and character questionnaires make your day job look pretty good?

Whether we’re outliners or pantsters who plot as we go, most authors reach the point sooner or later of asking “am I doing this right?” And one of the keys to evaluating your work is understanding classic three-act structure.

In our February morning session,  SRW author Vicky Loebel will draw on her history as honorary “queen of false starts” to show how mastering few basic plot concepts makes novel-writing faster. We will review the basics of plot structure (drawing from K.M Weiland’s Structuring your Novel,  Michael Hauge’s The Hero’s Two Journeys, and James Scott Bell’s Superstructure), banish sagging middles, consider ways to combine plot, character, and setting to make a story stronger, and debate the usefulness of constructing a simple plot grid.

To illustrate plot structure, we’ll do a quick analysis of Romancing the Stone, Pride and Prejudice, and (time permitting) The Wizard of Oz.

About Vicky Loebel

FB PhotoVicky Loebel began her professional life as a systems programmer for NASA and moved through successively more challenging careers before settling in as a writer of tightly-plotted romantic fiction. She lives on the slopes of Mt. Lemmon, AZ with her sister, three dogs, a rotating assortment of offspring, and a husband who has the patience of a saint.

Vicky is the author of two humorous urban fantasy/romances, Keys to the Coven and Speakeasy Dead. Her latest book, Vacation Bride, is a contemporary marriage of convenience set in the tropical paradise of St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.

It was the subject of several false starts.

Michael Petersen: The Romance Writer’s Business Guide

Afternoon Session:
What is the writer’s cost-benefit analysis of traditional vs self publishing? What advertising avenues give you the best bang for your buck? What is the best price point for your novel series vs your standalone? Is it worthwhile to register as an LLC as a writer? And taxes are coming….how does a writer handle filing taxes best?

Michael Petersen will address these questions and more as he outlines the business side of a romance writer’s life.

About Michael Petersen

headshotMichael Petersen has a Bachelor of Arts from Seattle University and a Masters of Business Administration from Illinois State University. Before retiring from Microsoft at age 35, he worked in various roles including program manager, technical account manager, and technology strategist. He currently manages the business strategy, marketing and production for his wife, USA Today Bestseller Jess Michaels.

Meeting fee of $25 members $30 guests and walk-ins includes a single-entree buffet lunch.  Please let us know you’re coming by reserving on  our payments page or by emailing reservations@tucsonRWA.org no later than 8 am Wednesday before the meeting.

January 23, 2016: Mary Buckham Teleconference

This January, USA Today bestselling author Mary Buckham will be joining SRW via  projected teleconference to present two of her well-known writing workshops.

Active Settings for All Fiction Genres

WritingActiveSettingCover-2Give your setting an active role in your story. Use Deep POV to spin boring descriptions into engaging prose. Find out if you’re writing passive  or active setting and if you are maximizing the setting possibilities in YOUR story. Also discover:

  •  How does setting impact your story?
  •  What is the difference between active and passive setting?
  •  What exactly is setting in a story?
  •  How can setting show characterization?
  •  How can setting impact your conflict…both internal and external?
  •  What does a reader need from a setting vs. what they don’t need?

How Many Hooks Are Enough?

WritingActiveHooksBook1_300pxBased on Mary’s best-selling book series: WRITING ACTIVE HOOKS Book 1 and 2.

Whether you’re a plotter or a pantster (seat-of-pants writer), the simplest way to avoid a sagging middle is to understand how to continually build hooks into your story. So how many hooks are enough and where should you use them? Knowing the answer to that question can be the difference between a compelling story and one that drags.

  • Which types of hooks work best in different genres?
  •  Which are the 5 most universal hooks and why.
  • What exactly is a hook and how do they work?
  • Where should you place your hooks in a manuscript?

Based on Mary’s best-selling book series: WRITING ACTIVE HOOKS Book 1 and 2.

About Mary Buckham

MaryBuckhamphotoUSA Today bestselling author Mary Buckham writes the Amazon best selling WRITING ACTIVE series for writers – WRITING ACTIVE SETTING and WRITING ACTIVE HOOKS. She is also the co-author of BREAK INTO FICTION with NYT author Dianna Love and has taught online and live writing workshops to writers of all genres around the US and Canada. Her next non-fiction release: A Writer’s Guide to Active Setting: How to Enhance Your Fiction with More Descriptive, Dynamic Settings published by Writer’s Digest will be released in January, 2016.

Mary doesn’t just teach writers though, she practices what she preaches, writing Urban Fantasy w/attitude. Love romance, danger & kick-ass heroines? Find it in her Alex Noziak or Kelly McAllister series! Her Sci-Fi, Adventure YA novels are co-authored with Dianna Love under the pen name Micah Caida.

Meeting fee of $25 members $30 guests and walk-ins includes a single-entree buffet lunch.  Please let us know you’re coming by reserving on  our payments page or by emailing reservations@tucsonRWA.org no later than 8 am Wednesday before the meeting.


Romance Writers of America® Chapter 58