Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

Back and Still Alive

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

I returned from the 2015 RWA national conference this past Sunday evening. Since this was my first conference as a member of the national board of RWA (As a Director at Large) my conference experience included duties and activities above and beyond the usual.

Alas, I was unable to pack in just a carry-on size bag, even with packing cubes and video watching. As a Board member, I was at conference from Saturday to the following Sunday. I would have totally been able to do carry-on, even with my admitted failings, if I were only there from Tuesday to Sunday.

But that turned out to be OK, because that meant I could put lots of books in my luggage. I’m still not clear on why my bag wasn’t overweight. The carry-on failure was mine. I brought too many clothes. There were items I did not wear… ::::but what if I’d needed them?????::::  One year someone spilled wine on my only pair of pants and boy do I wish I’d brought an extra pair. Oddly, my packing cubes were full on the way to conference but on the way back, one was empty. I guess I got better at rolling up things small. I’m a convert. Those make it really easy to keep organized.

Highlights of Conference

Guys. I got to shake hands with Nora Roberts!!!!  Tessa Dare and I met Jude Devereaux. I managed to put some brakes on the fangirling but not much. Tessa was gracious as always. I also met Carol Mortimer. Oh, gosh. It was wonderful.

The doughnut party was another success. Megan Frampton was in charge of fetching the doughnuts and they were delicious.

Box of doughnuts

Why you shouldn’t be late to the doughnut party

Workshops and Meetings

I didn’t make it to as many workshops as I’d hoped. Good thing I bought the conference recordings! The workshops I attended were fun and /or informative. I was able to meet up with a lot of authors I only see at conference even though I “talk” to them all the time on Facebook and Twitter or other author forums. The bar arrangement at the hotel was strange. It was as if no one believed Romance authors would want to sit around and drink and talk all day. I felt for the wait staff. There weren’t enough of them for the demand, but they were all lovely while insanely busy.

The Mood by Numbers

This one is harder for me to assess because as a Board member I have much more insight into the issues of the organization. In addition, my writing career is going far better than when I was traditionally publishing. That’s a pretty simple truth. From 1987 until 2010 I think my total writing income was something like $60,000 TOTAL for 17 books. That’s about $2,600 a year. From 2011 to present, total income is roughly $240,000 or about $60,000 a year, and 140,000 books sold. Those totals are actually higher because that doesn’t include income or books sold from projects that went through accounts that aren’t directly connected to my reporting. It’s closer to $260,000 and 160,000.

I had none of my old anxieties and fears about contracts and publishers, and that was great. I had some killer hallway conversations with authors about career planning and management. My anxieties now are about the bets I placed on certain career events. For example, I “bet” if you will, that I would get reversions for 6 of my traditionally published books. I got three of the hoped-for reversions. I had the basic plan B in place and that’s the trajectory I’ll follow now.

For me, I made contacts and arrangements with my fellow authors that I expect to materially improve my career position and that is the reason to go to the RWA national conference.


RWA – Reporting In!

Saturday, July 25th, 2015

I have been crazy busy at RWA, the Romance Writers of America’s national conference being held in New York City. The Golden Heart/RITA ceremony is later tonight. I’m as gussied up as I can be and then I get to cheer on all the contestants. Yay!!!

Tomorrow I head home. Later, I’ll blog more about the conference, not of interesting to everyone, I know. I will also update you on the status of projects . . .


Various Bits of News

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

I leave for RWA (Romance Writers of America) Nationals on Saturday. I’m on the National Board which meets Sunday, Monday, and possibly Tuesday. Conference starts Wednesday and ends Saturday evening.  The Board has loads of stuff to discuss. I return from conference the 26th. I will try to blog if possible.

If you’re planning to be at RWA, please say hello! If you have any concerns or opinions about RWA, please do let me know. The annual donut party Megan Frampton and I throw is scheduled for sometime Friday afternoon. If you’ve been a past attendee, you know it’s fun as heck. Plus. Free donut. BYO beverage. If you’re not following me on twitter (@cjewel) now would be a good time to follow me so you don’t miss the official time announcement.

I’m busy writing my Christmas novella for Christmas in Duke Street. My Demon Warlord should be back from beta after RWA, so once the novella is done and the beta read is back, I’ll be revising My Demon Warlord. Then I start Sinclair Sisters Book 3  (Emily and Bracebridge, for fans of the series ….)




Post RWA Roundup

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

I am back from RWA14. Tired. Happy. Glad to have a couple more days off. Here are some highlights for me, in the order I remember them.

1. My friend and writing pal critique partner and all around wonderful person Carolyn Crane won a RITA for Best Romantic Suspense, for Off The Edge. The novel was self-published. Carolyn is an amazing writer.

2. At the RITAs, I refrained from taking a picture of Hugh Howey crawling under one of the tables. All the way under. It would have looked…wrong, but someone dropped their cellphone and it went well underneath the table, and he was retrieving it for her. Which was a very nice thing to do.

3. At the RITAs Hugh Howey and I were in line together and table mates. Oddly enough, we ran into each other several times at the conference, which was why we were table mates. I think he was glad to see someone he recognized.

4. The day before the RITAs, Carolyn Crane, Molly O’Keefe, and I sat at a table yakking. The next day, they both won RITAs. Anyone up for a RITA next year may wish to schedule a meeting with me. Just saying.

5. My roomate, Megan Frampton, is awesome, hip, and the best roomie ever.

6. There is no such thing as too many donuts or too much coffee.

7.  These words came out of my mouth: “You’re probably wondering why this css for the p tag has display-block: yes when the p tag is itself a block level element.” And then I realized, that, actually, no. Probably no one was wondering that.

8. When I said, “xml stands for extensible markup language” someone actually wrote that down. I reminded him there wasn’t going to be a test.

9.  There was a workshop about data about data about the publishing business, and that was awesome. We need MORE workshops like that.

10. I learned that the Grace Burrowes cover on one of the elevators in the hotel was altered so the guy had a shirt. The original cover has a shirtless guy. The hotel could not deal, so the shirt was added.

11. I had terrible tacos at a restaurant in San Antonio.

12. It’s kind of funny watching several directionally deprived authors attempt to find a bar. I was among my people. None of us knew where the hell we were.

13. It is possible to walk for 20 minutes along the Riverwalk and come out across the street from where you started.

14. I finished my first round edits for the In The Duke’s Arms Anthology.

15. Courtney Milan and I arrived at a restaurant to meet up with Elizabeth Hoyt and Jennifer Ashley. See No. 12 and 13.  They had left by the time we got there. I did get a few minutes to chat with Jennifer earlier, so that was nice. Later, I saw Elizabeth walking the opposite way in the crosswalk and we waved at each other, so it’s all good because we did fancy waves.

16. San Antonio is too hot for me.







Post RWA Post – The State of Publishing (Part 2)

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Part 2 of my impression of the state of publishing after attending the RWA National Conference. RWA is the Romance Writers of America and they have an annual conference for members. Part 1 is here.

That was Then, This is Now

Two years ago, there were no official RWA workshops on self-publishing. Amazon was present, but in an explanatory, defensive mode. There were, however, stealth workshops. By which I mean, writers agreed to meet at the bar at a certain time and talk about this self-publishing thing some people were doing. Last year, there might have been a couple official workshops. This year, there was a self-publishing track. I went to as many of them as I could.

There’s been a lot of grumbling about RWA with respect to policies about self-publishing (SP), and some of those grumblers had a point. My feeling is that RWA can’t react too quickly–they need at least SOME time to make sure their policies are in the best interest of a writer seeking a career as a professional. Vanity publishing (where authors pay to publish) have been more or less the opposite of being in the best interests of a writer. There’s a lot about SP that can look just like Vanity Publishing.

By 2012, the evidence that SP can be in an author’s professional career interest was overwhelming. And RWA DID allow SP authors to join PAN (the Published Author’s Network). I’m not totally on board with the income thresholds they set, but at least it’s permitted now. SP authors have not been permitted in the RITAs and they’ve also been excluded from the Golden Heart contest. An unfair double whammy. As of 2014 (next year’s contest) SP published works can be entered in the RITAs. This is beyond right.

So, RWA is adapting to the new world. If you’re a member, continue to make your voice heard.

The Long Arm Of the Law and the IRS

I did attend a few workshops that were not self-publishing related. I was shocked there weren’t more writers in attendance at the workshop about legal matters for writers. One of the speakers is a lawyer who does this work.

Are you a professional writer? Do you know how the provisions of the Copyright Act affect you and what steps you need to take to make sure your intellectual property is fully and legally protected? Do you have a CPA? Do you know the rules about what you can and can’t deduct? Should you be a corporation?

I see far too many writers asking legal and tax questions on email loops and I always wonder if they really think it’s wise to take legal and tax advice from writers instead of legal and tax professionals. While other authors can certainly share what they do, there’s just no way for someone to know if that person is right and, if so, if that’s also right for them.

Special Forces

One of the workshops I attended was the middle portion of a talk given by a man who’d been in Special Forces for many, many years. He had equipment there for us to look at and examine. For the record, body armor is thick and freaking heavy. So glad I went!


The Librarian workshop was informative. I was taken aback (but in hindsight should not have been) to see how excited they were that Smashwords is going to be working with Overdrive. They were giddy. I’m not kidding. Giddy. This tells you a lot about how badly publishers have been treating libraries.

Fortunately, I have another avenue to Overdrive and I won’t be stuck with libraries getting the Smashwords version of my files. I’ll be able to get a much better file to them. But at least now it’s possible.

A Dangerous State of Denial

I went to a workshop panel about using free digital content to support print sales. I saw that some of the speakers were editors from traditional publishers. The others were that publisher’s publicist, and two authors. I was quite interested to hear what they had to say since it’s well known that free sells books. Even publishers know this, though they’ll often deny it.

Publishers are in a dangerous state of denial with respect to how to support authors. They’re business as usual in a business that’s being disintermediated.

Let me see if I can capture my reaction to what I heard:

::asplody head::

I came away from this panel appalled by either of the possibilities;

  1. They actually believed what they were saying or
  2. They knew it was BS and were saying it anyway.

Here’s some of the highlights — some paraphrasing.

I have never given away free content.
(an author)

Blog posts, tweets, and facebook posts are free digital content. (author)

Countdown widgets are really effective, but we only do them for big releases because if all the books have these widgets, the effect is diluted. (publicist)

Writing about anything (that isn’t the book) is free digital content. You can draw in readers that way.

We want to be careful that your message to readers fits your brand and matches the message we’re establishing for you, so check with us. (publisher and publicist in response to a question about writing a novella featuring a gay secondary character from the writer’s novel.)

Links! If you have links to, say, recipes, put them on your website!

This last was followed up by a question about whether to put the links on the home page or somewhere else on the author’s website. The answer? Don’t put them in a sidebar. No one looks at a sidebar.

Did anyone mention that a home page is almost NEVER a visitor’s entry point to a website?

Did anyone mention populating the website metadata tags to make your page-O-links findable by search engines?

Did anyone mention giving away free books ever?
Other than the author who has never given away free digital books, No.

Did any of the editors say anything about what THEY can do with free content to support an author’s book?

Are you effing kidding me?


Post RWA Post – The State of Publishing

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Part 1 of my impression of the state of publishing after attending the RWA National Conference.

RWA is the Romance Writers of America and they have an annual conference for members. This year, it was in Atlanta, Georgia, which is a lovely city. The weather is bad-ass for someone from Northern California. There were at least 3 flash flood warnings. I was happy to get back to Nor Cal and feel the fog. Ahhhh…

About Me Impressions

On a personal level, I LOVE RWA Nationals. It’s one of the rare times I get to hang with people who share my mental quirks. I get to see writers who are on-line friends and I make new friends, too. There’s gossip and rumor and dancing, a trifecta of WIN. I’m pretty sure I saw Jim Hines dancing at the Samhain party after the RITAs. That Samhain party is AWESOME and I want to issue a huge thank you to them for the wonderful entertainment open to everyone.

The Marriott Marquis hotel staff were wonderful, all of them so charming and helpful and just plain friendly. When my luggage did not arrive on the plane with me, the woman at the registration desk got me a toothbrush, toothpaste, and some mouthwash. MUCH appreciated.

Conference Mood: Trouble in Publishing on the Horizon?

In a word: Revolution.

My impression is admittedly only that, an impression. I didn’t see and do everything or see and talk to everyone. I didn’t do as much hanging out in the bar because I was coming down with a cold and, yuck. I needed the rest. That said:

Revolution is not too strong a word for what’s going on in the publishing world. Harlequin authors in particular seemed frustrated and upset. Their current contract terms materially screw them over in this new environment. Many of these authors have deep backlists that earn them very little. More to the point, that backlist is not earning them what they could earn if they were self-publishing it. So many of the authors I talked to or overheard said things along the line of: “I have x number of books to deliver and then I’m done.”

Apparently, 141 Harlequin editor appointments went unfilled. My understanding is that there were other publishers also with unfilled appointments. (At RWA, you can sign up to pitch your book(s) to an agent or editor. In the past, these pitch appointments have been hard to get. They fill up fast and well before the conference.) I know last year (or maybe the year before) when my RITA status gave me a preferred sign up status, I went ahead and took an appointment with a Harlequin editor because I had an idea… Between the sign-up and my appointment time, news hit about certain HQN contract terms that made me decide there was no way I’d ever sign with them (assuming my agent would even be on board with such a project). I kept the appointment because I didn’t want to be rude, but yeah.

Sign On or Don’t Publish?

It used to be that authors had more or less no choice but to accept some flavor of unfavorable contract terms because there was no viable alternative. How badly you were affected by those terms depended on how good your agent was and how well your last book did. But now?

There IS an alternative and it’s better than what publishers are offering. This bears repeating. The alternative is BETTER than what publishers are currently offering. Authors know this. Even if they’re not sure they want to publish on their own, they are aware.

Walking Away

The mid-list is walking. I’m not sure it matters, though. Yet. There are still enough writers looking to break in that I don’t think publishers are in any danger of not being able to find books to publish. Yet. Publishers increasingly look to self-publishers as the new slush pile. The issue here is that the indies who are getting offers from traditional publishers understand how they’re currently making money and they can compare it to how they will make money if they go traditional. For many of them, those terms do not compare favorably.

This really can’t be stressed too much. The typical debut author had no data to compare to what was offered them. All she could do was spend time Googling, talking to other authors and learning as much as possible about the business without being in the business. Now? Indie authors are in the business and they have sales data that’s far more detailed than any traditionally published author has available to them. When a publisher says, “we’ll give you X dollars as an advance and a royalty rate of 25% of net” that author can look at her track record and do some math.

Why say yes when your data says you’ll make more money staying on your own?

Like I said. Revolution.


RWA – Wednesday Update

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

I’m in Atlanta for the RWA National conference. Today is sort of a pre-conference day with not much going on until the Literacy signing tonight. If you’re in the Atlanta area, please stop by! 5:30pm to 7:30pm. I’m signing Not Proper Enough but I have a few copies of My Darkest Passion.

More tomorrow as the conference gets underway.


The Coming Week

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

This weekend, I’m giving a talk to the Orange County RWA chapter. Should be fun! I’ve been attempting to polish up the talk. Boy. I’m a writer, not a speaker, and I keep making my “notes” way too long. My slides may well be epic. I resisted the urge to make them text-heavy.

Next week is the RWA National conference in Atlanta. I will attempt to blog from there.

If you’re in the Atlanta area, please come by the Literacy Signing on Wednesday July 17th (Atlanta Mariott Marquis) 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM. I’ll be signing Not Proper Enough.


Saying Hello

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Things have been crazy here, but I was still all ready with an AWESOME post and I may have mentioned that the internet here at Jewel Central sucks. And well, I lost most of the post and that depressed me a lot. So instead you’re getting this post where I’m feeling sorry for myself.

I hope everyone who celebrated July 4th had a lovely time.

The writing is going well enough in between the chaos.

RWA is next week and next weekend I’m giving a talk at the Orange County RWA so I’ve been preparing for that. Kind of shocking how much writing you have to do for a TALK.

What have YOU been doing?


Post RWA Blues and Yellows

Monday, July 30th, 2012

I’m back from the RWA (Romance Writer’s of America) conference in Anaheim. I drove down with author Isobel Carr. It was a six hour drive of tunes, good conversation and a window seat the whole way. Flying would probably have been a four hour trip, door to door, but I arrived at the hotel with none of the stress and upset of flying. This was eye opening for me. I walked into the hotel calm and relaxed instead of annoyed and irritated. Leaving the hotel was also less stressful, by the way. I feel sorry for airlines now. If they had any brains they’d be lobbying the government for security that works, not the baloney that’s in place.

Anyway, the conference days are all a blur now but a lot stands out. The Marriot employees were the nicest I’ve ever encountered. Wow. They were wonderful. I didn’t encounter a single employee who wasn’t genuinely nice, friendly and helpful. Other hotels should be sending spies there to see how it’s done. I want to go live there. On donut party day, the gentleman who helped bring up the donuts arranged to give us cups and a free gallon of milk, which indeed, was put in our room fridge. How nice was that? The Starbucks people learned my coffee order right away, and considering I was usually there in a line of 40 people, that’s something. My only complaint about the hotel was the internet. $15 a night to get internet in your room? Please. My phone and/or iPad did a good enough stand in, though I did miss some emails I wish I hadn’t.

The Literacy Signing – the Good and Not So Good

I was sitting with, among others, writers Lisa Hendrix and Hannah Martine and they were really fun and nice. Readers did manage to find me and I was intensely flattered by the wonderful things they said. I have a lovely card from one reader and several other gifts. Gifts! That is just so nice. Kris Alice of the German magazine Love Letters dropped off a copy of the magazine edition that has the article I did for them about the settings in My Wicked Enemy. It includes a picture I took from our kitchen window, which, admittedly, has a fairly stunning view.

My cookies did get some people to stop at our table, thank goodness. The seating arrangements, which were not alphabetic, seems to have had precisely the effect that most of us worried about. Readers were stressed about finding their favorite authors. Since our table was by the door, I could see them come in, highlighted seating charts in hand, looking very intense and walking head down and very quickly. They paid no attention to anyone but their immediate goal. I’d have done the same, to be honest. I’d want my favorite authors — who were for all practical purposes randomly scattered through tables numbered in a way only a programmer could love — and only then might I wander, looking for other authors I like, had heard of or even who just had interesting covers. But by then, the readers were tired and would have already have been through the room in random fashion. The thought of then doing a purposeful stroll through tables?

Most authors felt there were fewer people, though that might be a function of the large space, but certainly fewer stop-bys, and for the reasons noted. At this point, I hope they go back to the alphabetic seating.

Carolyn gets lost

After the signing, I was supposed to meet Cybil Solyn in the lobby to sign some books and then go to my Agency dinner. I could not find either, and I waited around for 45 minutes. I didn’t know anyone at the Agency well enough to recognize them (my agent was attending a family wedding) and I did not have any phone numbers. Sigh. The restaurant was a 30 minute walk and I was too poor to want to pony up for a cab so I decided I would try to meet Cindy Dees, Jennifer Ashley and Elizabeth Hoyt for dinner at a restaurant they cheerfully assured me was “right around the corner, just go left.”


Anyone who has ever driven in a car with me knows that I should never, ever be in charge of getting someplace new. I do not know left from right. I do a lot of stuff left handed, and that includes writing, from time to time. I have to be lost someplace several times before I learn how to get there and back. Even when I pull up walking directions on my phone, I have to walk some direction to tell if I went the right way.

Long story short, I was lost for an hour. An HOUR! But I met a very nice woman who was also lost. She was looking for RWA registration, and I felt that I could probably get us back to the hotel. Which I did. Sort of. We ended up in the parking garage of the hotel across the street from the Marriot, and someone finally pointed us in the direction of that hotel lobby. Earlier in the day I’d had coffee there with my Berkley editor so once we were there I really did know how to get to the Marriot and registration. Mission Accomplished!

So then I gave up hope of ever finding any restaurant ever and went back to my room where I ate a protein bar and watched some dancing competition show with Liz Maverick and Megan Frampton.

Dining with Winners

I had great breakfasts, lunches and dinners with various writers and, I’m just saying, three of them ended up winning RITAs: Jo Bourne, Ann Aguirre and Thea Harrison. To next year’s RITA finalists, I am available for meals at Atlanta if you’d like to bump your RITA mojo. Send me an email.


I did attend workshops this year. At one point, I ended up with Liz Maverick’s conference schedule booklet in which she had conveniently circled workshops she wanted to attend. So I went to those. And they were good ones, too. Thanks, Liz!!

A certain agent gave a workshop in which he showed a disturbing and perversely hilarious cognitive dissonance. I’m afraid I did tweet that he was a fucking idiot. Here’s the disconnect he showed:

Self-pulblishers don’t have editors, covers artists, copy-editors or marketing departments. That lack of a support team is the reason writers should traditionally publish.

. . . . 20-30 minutes later . . . .

[Traditionally published] Authors have less support than ever. The lack of editorial support is a real concern.

I should hope that most of you already know that his first statement is false. Self-publishers can and do obtain all those services, including editorial. To be really clear: the woman who does my covers also does covers for NY. My copy-editor copy-edits for her day job. One of the editors I use is a NY editor. Another has a PhD in Literature and edits NYT best-selling authors. It’s true that I pay out of pocket for those services, but I have control over what I ask for and what I get. When I say, for example, that I want a tough-love edit, I will get it — because I have engaged editors who I KNOW can do that for my work.

Marketing support? Really? Most of the authors I know feel that support is only given to best-selling authors. We all know that authors have been asked for years to do the marketing and that, other than co-op dollars, there’s not much marketing departments are doing for midlisters that we’re not already doing on our own.

He demonstrated a complete unawareness of the actual self-publishing landscape, particularly as it applies to both his workshop audience and to traditionally published mid-list authors. Total fail. And yet, he was remarkably and insightfully clued in about the challenges traditionally published authors face. I found it quite disturbing that he was unable to transfer that insight outside traditional publishing. That’s the kind of denial and willful ignorance that costs people their jobs or closes down businesses down the line. We’re seeing it play out before our eyes.

The workshops that covered legal issues are all ones that writers who aren’t buying the conference DVD should consider buying individually.

Other Stuff

I had 13 books left over after the lit signing. I bought them all and gave them all away at conference. At the Berkley signing, my books were gone in half an hour. Grand Central was awesome enough to provide copies of all four of the My Immortals books. If you got my my line (and there was one!) you got all four books. I didn’t think I’d run out of books, but I did.

At the post-RITA party, I dipped Courtney Milan.

Cover model Jimmy Thomas came to the donut party. About an hour later, another cover model (whose name I have now blanked on) also showed up. He stretched out on my bed. Fun times, good donuts and just fun conversation. Be there next year if you missed it.


At the Berkley cocktail party Liz Maverick fetched us Stephane Marsan of Bragelonne, a French publisher who is branching out from Sci-Fi and Fantasy translation into translating Romance. He was charming and funny. We talked about the state of French publishing, the translation business, eReaders, smart phones and other publishing matters. And then we talked about Paris, food and Michel Foucault and I say any conference where you get to talk about Foucault is a major win. We are now planning a Paris writing retreat. Who’s in?


My impression, which I have heard others express as well, is that this conference was less stressed out. Most authors are now well aware that we have choices we didn’t have before. I met several authors who have already walked away from contracts that only offered more of the same and they were completely at peace with the decision. And that, people, is transformative.