Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

Miscellaneous Updates

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

It’s been a while since my last post, I’ve been busy and a bit frazzled. The RWA national conference was the third week in July and since I’m currently on the board I was in Denver for 9 days. Conference was great, busy, and inspiring.

I’ve been writing, of course, and thinking about projects and the order I’ll write them in.

The Current Project

As you may or may not know I am working on a book set in the My Immortals world. My original plan was to write two new books introducing the series so that I could properly market the books and the series. I thought about that long and hard and decided I would rather start a whole new series set in that world. Those first two books should revert to me in 2021 at which time I can market that series without being severely handicapped.

What I’ve decided to do is center this new  series around the street witches  who play such a crucial role in the My Immortals world. What I need now is a boffo series title and I only have terrible ideas. Fortunately, that’s a good start. I do need a new title for the book. I have terrible ideas about that, too.

The good news is the story is actually finished and at this point I’m going through and polishing and adding a lot of words. At the moment I’m staying right around 68,000 words because I delete the ones I don’t like and replace them with better ones.

Habits Old and New

I’m working on setting up new habits and ways of thinking about my writing and my approach to writing. I hadn’t realized while I was dealing with my mother ‘s health issues how many negative thoughts had wiggled their way into my head. I was feeling guilty about not writing fast enough or enough that all and that seems to have wormed its way into my head as a new pattern.

That’s one I’m going to get rid of. I need positive thoughts about my writing and I need not to guilt myself out for taking time to decompress, I need not to stare at my computer resenting that I’m writing s o o  s l o w l y when I’d  rather nap because I’m tired and stressed. The good news is I have caught up on my sleep and I’m not habitually tired and I’m no longer waking up in the middle of the night because I heard something and am worried about my mom.

And so I am laying down new habits of positive thinking. I am really excited about this new series, and it’s pretty exciting that I’m actually so close to done.


Greetings From Denver

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

Hello! I’m in Denver, Colorado for the Romance Writers of America Conference! Facebook is giving me fits about trying to log in so this is me also waving to facebook folks!

Today was the first day of the Board meeting. We got a lot done and that’s about all I can say at the moment. We meet again tomorrow so I’m heading to bed pretty soon. I hope everyone is having a great week.

I arrived Saturday. It was 97F and I did not go outside. Today, it rained. I also did not go outside. I do not expect to go outside tomorrow either, but I guess you never know.

Stay cool, and if you’re in Denver and you see me, say hi!


RWA National Conference

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

I am in Orlando, Florida where the RWA National Conference has kicked off. I arrived Saturday since the National Board met Sunday and Monday. Tuesday was a day of rest, napping, writing, and ice cream. Conference has started and it’s high energy. If you see me, say hi!


RWA National Conference

Friday, July 15th, 2016

I’m here in San Diego, California at the RWA National Conference. What a beautiful place to have a conference. The hotel is gorgeous and the meeting space is wonderful and there are amazing views everywhere you look. There are loads of places to sit for a private conversation. And the weather is spectacular. The mood is upbeat.

The donut party that Megan Frampton and I throw was today, and it was well attended by fun people. Delicious donuts were consumed. This year it was my turn to obtain the donuts and I must say that I did a fantastic job locating the raison d’etre of the party. The Donut Bar in San Diego brings donuts to a whole new level.

Romance writers, donuts, and wine. It was great. Tomorrow are the RITAS, which I love love love attending. I’ll be home Sunday, tired, happy, and sugared out.



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.