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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Jason Barret

Joining the RWA

I had just finished, Unrequited Love, that first tragic novel. I think the title was a give away to everyone but me, but what did I know? I was a guy who primarily read Sci-Fi; yep a Trekkie for years, and books filled with action. But now that I had just finished a story that demanded to be told, what could I do with it?

I bought a copy of Writer’s Guide and from its description I was convinced that I was holding a Romance novel. So, out of the blue, I looked up a local romance author, Mary Reed McCall, and asked her advice. She was so nice just to take a phone call from a total stranger, but she did and suggested that I go to a conference that was being hosted in a few weeks by the Central New York Romance Writers in Syracuse, New York. Talk about dumb luck. It took me years to finish that book, and if I had finished it just two weeks later I would have missed an event that changed my life. I took her advice; sent an email, made a call, and I was registered for the conference.

When I arrived I was greeted very warmly at the registration table and was given a stick-on name tag for my shirt. I was then escorted into the conference where I saw more than eighty other authors. Personally, I had never even met an author before and the feeling, that sight, was overwhelming. My escort then introduced me all around, you see, Mary had called ahead! When I met Sci-Fi writer CJ Barry, and Historical writer Gayle Callen, who loves Star Trek, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I might actually fit in. I wasn’t prepared to be in a room with so may other authors, it’s a memory and feeling I’ll never forget. The Romance genres were fully represented; Sci-Fi, paranormal, time travel, historical, westerns; you name it, they were there. It was a lucky day for me in so many ways. I was reluctant to go to the conference at first because I associated Romance books with only Historicals and Knights in shining armor dashing off to rescue the needy maiden in distress but that wasn’t the case. I was completely clueless about the genre and writing it but I got the feeling that somehow I had come home.

Then came lunch, I was waved to an empty seat at a table for twelve by my future critique partners, ALee Drake and Jenna Grey. We all ate and talked excitedly about the conference and our works in progress. When it was my turn I jumped right into a short verbal synopsis of my book. Then it happened. I told them my heroine died at mid-book. Gasps, forks dropped, and a deadly silence settled over the table. At my best memory there were ten little pairs of unbelieving eyes just staring at me in utter disbelief. I thought I had sworn and didn’t realize it. Finally, my soon to be critique partners, ALee and Jenna, took pity on me and delicately told me that my book, although it sounded great, was not a romance, but not a problem, everyone is welcome at the CNYRW group. I came to understand romance writing with their help over the subsequent many months and I’ve been a member of the RWA and CNYRW since that day. A reviewer once said to my editor, Amanda Barnett, “you can tell it’s written by a guy!”

“Thank God,” I thought to myself.

5 comments:

robynl said...

it is refreshing to have a guy write romance; way to go. I can imagine the silence when you dropped the bomb at the table, lol.

joder said...

Yes, I can see where everyone would be a bit shocked. I'm glad you got to meet so many of your idols and that they're sci-fi fanatics since I am too.

Jason Barret said...

Robynl and Joder,
Shock?! It was crazy! My critique partners, Alee and Janine, and I still get a good laugh from it from time to time about that day. If fact, I think they took such pity on me that just afer lunch they asked me to join them in the critique group and we've been friends ever since.

Ellen said...

Hi Jason,

I'm enjoying your blogs very much--love your sense of humor!

I remember my first CNYRW meeting when someone asked me what I wrote...category, single title, paranormal...etc.? I was dumbfounded. I was writing books. Who knew there were different kinds?

Congrats on your book!

Jason Barret said...

Thanks for visiting Ellen. Maybe that's why I picked paranormal~ no more confusion there for me!