I'm writing this ahead of time as I'm at plot group on my Tote Bags day.
That's me at left, all dressed up during Romance Writer's of America's conference a couple of years ago. I post this pic as I want you to know it's nothing like the way I look at plot group--which is one of the may wondrous things about this twice-yearly event. Everything we wear is strictly casual. No pearls or little black dresses allowed.
By "we" I mean moi and fellow-authors and friends, Kate Carlisle, Maureen Child, Susan Mallery and Terry Southwick. We meet in Las Vegas in September and January. Our plot group is the brainchild of Susan Mallery, who's been plotting this way since she started writing romance fifteen years ago. Over a hundred books later...yep. She's still doin' it.
Because it works. I, a totally independent non-plot-group, non-critique-group writer for twenty years, will attest to the genius of this method. I love it. Susan had to club me over the head and drag me there the first time--okay, I exaggerate. But there was some nagging on her part. And some mocking of my totally ridiculous excuses, as well. But she only had to do that once. Since then, she couldn't get rid of me if she tried.
The method: Each of us brings material to plot two books. Each day of plot group, we do four books--two before and two after lunch. Sessions are an hour to 90 minutes long, depending on how it goes. We double-tape each session. During the session, it's all about the book being plotted. We make an effort not to talk over each other and to be guided by the one whose book we're plotting. It's fast and furious and you have to work hard to stay in the game and on the story. Amazing. Every time, I head for home with the basics I need to write the proposals for two books. It's a dream come true, having four brilliant, knowledgeable, talented brains at my disposal. Mwahaha!
So yes, the work is exciting and such fun. But there are other kinds of fun at plot group, too. Susan always leaves room for plenty of down time. There's eating out every meal. What's not to like about that? And there are cocktails in the evening, totally deserved after a great day of work. There's gaming, if that's your thing. There are bondy moments and alone moments. One of my greatest pleasures at plot group is having a whole room to myself with no one to please but me. I watch movies the DH has no interest in, spend hours tuned to Lifetime. Oh, yes! I also love the gym at the resort/hotel we always go to. I get up early and exercise. True,my plotmates have been known to scoff at the idea that I'm pumping iron when I could be resting in my room with a latte and the morning news. But hey, it's my downtime and I can use it as I please!
Oh, and this time we have some special events to celebrate. Kate has just sold her first book to NAL--actually a series of books about an expert on...books, meaning rare first editions. The series is called The Bookbinder Mysteries. We've already plotted the first one. I can't wait to see where she's taking the next.
Also, Susan has made the New York Times Bestseller list for the first time--and two weeks running, no less as I write this--with her latest HQN book, ACCIDENTALLY YOURS! How cool is that? Extremely!
So yes, there will be martinis raised high in salute to our successes. Congrats to Kate and Susan...
Happy 2008, everyone!