Debra Mullins, Patricia Wynn, Angela James…and Was that Milly or Mimi?

January 17, 2012

So Saturday, was the monthly OCCRWA meeting. My first real meeting as an RWA Pro, and I was invited to the PRO breakfast before the regular meeting at 7:30am. I’m a ridiculously punctual person, but I was of course late, and as much as I’d like to blame Hunky Hubby, who always gives up his second Saturdays to be my chauffeur, I can’t. He was up early and ready to go. But, we weren’t late because I didn’t get up early enough; we were late because for some reason I got it into my little blonde head that the meeting was at Mimi’s Café… near the Brea Mall. When I Googled it, there was, of course, no Mimi’s Café by the mall. Luckily I had another Pro member’s phone number and was able to call and ask where the non-existent Mimi’s was (thank you Mary)…only to find out that we were meeting at Milly’s, which is indeed near the Brea Mall. Since Hunky Hubby and I met because I ended up at Shoreline Village in Long Beach when I was really looking for Ports O’ Call…not in Long Beach, he just shook his head and headed toward Milly’s. Mimi’s, Milly’s…you can see how I could get them mixed up…you can can’t you? Shoreline Village…Ports O’ Call…hey, they both have water and boats…

Anyway, the Pro breakfast was very casual, just a few members attended, but it was fun to get to know other writers on a more personal level. Hunky Hubby was happy to join us. He got food and a table filled with women…what more could he want? The conversation focused on the upcoming RWA National Convention. (Registration begins this week. I’ll be there. Will you?)

After Milly’s (I think I have that right now) it was time for the pre-meeting “Ask an Author.” I don’t like to miss “Ask an Author.” This part of the meeting alone is worth the price of admission.  Every month a published author sits down with a group of writer’s and talks about their experience. These authors will answer pretty much any questions that you have. This month’s author was Debra Mullins. Debra has hosted “Ask an Author” twice since I’ve been an OCC member, and both times I’ve left the table with valuable information. In fact, no matter which author has hosted I’ve walked away with new knowledge.

This month the conversation included finding the right agent, whether you need an agent to sell, and the benefits of entering contests. Until this round table, I hadn’t really considered entering contests. There are a number that have intrigued me, including the OCC Orange Rose, but I’ve focused primarily on writing my book and submitting to editors. After this session of “Ask an Author” I’ll be checking out the contests more carefully, focusing on them as a way to refine my skills, get some professional feedback and possibly get my work in front of editors and agents that I might not be able to reach otherwise.

Patricia Wynn, author of ten published books, was the morning speaker. She was an outstanding speaker and packed an amazing amount of information into her presentation which focused primarily on combining genres. If you write historical/romance, romantic/suspense…in fact if you write fiction, the information Patricia shared was invaluable. Probably the main point that Patricia brought out was that the balance between combinations of genres will determine which genre your book will be marketed toward. If your book has both romance and suspense but the plot is focused more on the romance, then it is more likely to be marketed as a romance. If the plot is focused more toward the suspense, it’s more likely to be marketed as a thriller.

Vivacious and charming Angela James, Executive Editor for Carina Press, was the afternoon speaker. If you follow her on twitter, you already know that she’s funny, energetic and very open. If you were at the meeting, you also know that she is very knowledgeable and willing to share that knowledge. Her presentation focused on the history of digital publishing and where publishing is heading, but she also talked about self-publishing, working with agents, and negotiating contracts.

I took fourteen pages of notes at this meeting…and I wasn’t done.

Following the meeting we got a little taste of “the slush pile.” Angela James listened to the opening pages of ten manuscripts that some very brave and talented members were willing to share. We all listened…then in a room full of people, we also heard Angela’s evaluation, and shared some of our own comments. I took more notes. What I left the critique session with is that the first pages must be compelling; you must have a strong hook…and limit the backstory.

After the meeting Hunky Hubby and I attended the reception for Angela James, held at author Dr. Debra Holland’s beautiful Yorba Linda home. The reception was a great opportunity to get to know other OCC members, talk to published and aspiring authors, and of course the guest of honor, Angela James.

Whatever you write, I highly suggest that you join RWA…and if you’re in Southern California join OCCRWA. If you’re already a member you know why. I’ve networked, found mentors, been able to pick the brains of successful writer’s, gleaned information from presentations, been motivated and inspired.

…And next month, I’ll be at Milly’s on time. I won’t forget the name again. My grandmother’s name was Milly, and it’s the name of a character in my book. Hmm or maybe that’s Mimi?



2 Responses to “Debra Mullins, Patricia Wynn, Angela James…and Was that Milly or Mimi?”

  1. Tari, I clicked on the links for the OCCRWA and everything was out of date. Will they be putting up a schedule of 2012 meetings?

  2. taristhread Says:

    Genie, I’m sure they will, I’ll ask about it. The new board just started, and I’m sure they’re learning their positions. Send me an e-mail at, and I’ll be happy to forward the schedule to you when I get it. Are you an OCC member?

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