Posts Tagged ‘Fun’

March Jewel Madness

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

Here at Jewel Central we play along with the NCAA March madness tournament, but in a way that doesn’t stop the fun. If we used a traditional method, we’d all be out in the first round.

Instead, we pick one round at a time for each of the tourneys (women’s and men). This way, every one has something at stake in every round. Feel free to play along. Last year we had a blast, along with snarky comments. Everyone welcome. You get bragging rights for every win!

Link to a printable Men’s bracket (PDF): 2015 Men’s Bracket

Link to a printable Women’s bracket (PDF) 2015 Women’s Bracket

Select your predicted winners for the Men’s games taking place on March 17 and 18. Report your choices in the comments.

You have until Thursday to make your picks for the first round of both.


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 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.


RWA update

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

As I write this, I’m still at the conference hotel since my flight doesn’t leave until later this afternoon.

I chatted with Grace Burrows, author of the awesome The Heir and The Soldier. She’s a really lovely woman and very, very smart and interesting.

I also met a gentleman from Amazon who gave a workshop about digital publishing. I missed his talk since I had a conflict, but now I have his email. SCORE. I have a feeling his head is spinning. Apple sent a representative from iBooks. She was very nice.

The donut party was a success:

Picture via @LauraCurtis

The RITAs were thrilling. I presented the Golden Heart for Best Paranormal Romance which was won by Trisza Ray. I kid you not, at the beginning of conference, we were in the same elevator and I saw her GH finalist ribbon and told her congratulations and that, hey, I was presenting a GH and maybe I’d present hers! And heck if I didn’t! She’s an ER doctor. Romance writers are smart, amazing, accomplished women.

When I get home, I’ll check my notes for more things I can blog about. There’s lots I can’t mention yet . . .


Final Thoughts about RWA 2010

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

In no particular order:

I am not cut out for 90 deg weather anywhere in the world and even less cut out for 95% humidity in that kind of heat.

Dunkin’ Donuts rocks.

I sure saw a lot of First Timer badges at the conference and that was just wonderful. For quite a long time I didn’t go to conference because I figured as a contractless writer who was possibly a has been, never will be again, there was no point. I now believe that’s quite wrongheaded. All the first timers I talked to were excited and rejuvenated and thrilled by their conference experience. It’s a place for writers to make contacts with other writers, with published authors and with agents and editors. If you’re looking for an agent, RWA is THE place to find out privately about what others have experienced. You’ll have the opportunity to hear MANY agents speak and, if you’re not an out of control freak, you can meet agents personally and make important connections. The same applies to editors. Authors looking for new representation or new contract opportunities are in the same situation: published or unpublished, attending the national conference puts you in a position to make good things happen. It’s now my opinion that the only reasons not to go to RWA are money or conflicting private or personal commitments or obligations.

This year I only made it to a few workshops and would have liked to attend more. I had meetings with both of my editors, and with my agent, signings for my publishers, publisher dinners, and two obligations arising from my RITA finals which left me pretty booked up. Combine that with staying up until 2 or 3 AM gabbing and getting the inside dirt or plain old unofficial news and the like and then getting up early for stuff — or in the case of workshops not making it up — one keeps busy. Constantly.

My sleep schedule was all messed up. My body was on Pacific Time but quite used to getting up at 4:15AM PST (7:30AM EST) so getting up early wasn’t as hideous as it might have been and about midnight, it was really only 9:00PM PST but what the hey I was usually up until 2:00AM EST. So yeah. All this was complicated by the fact that I was massively doped up with decongestants because my cold of 2-3 weeks ago went away except in my left ear and unless I was over medicated, I could not hear out of my left ear. I brought two kinds of meds and found that when one failed to do the trick, taking the other did. Most of the time I could hear and I didn’t die from taking different meds at the same time. Thank goodness.

I found out that agent Louise Fury (who reps my roommate) is the bubbliest, nicest, go-gettingest person ever and is hell of fun to party with and that her South African accent means listening to her is just plain fun. Ann Aguirre is wicked funny. Google can be a dangerous place for writers who have had something interesting to drink. Not me, as I do not drink except very rarely (and almost never at something like RWA), and besides the AC and all the decongestants were sucking the moisture out of me so that I was constantly dying for a drink of water.

Several times I was just personally and privately bowled over by the fact that I was a RITA finalist. It was an amazing experience and my friends and heck, complete strangers couldn’t have been more supportive about giving shout outs on my behalf at any and all times. By the time of the Grand Central signing on Saturday, I was tired, drugged up, sleepy and hyped up all at the same time at the pretty much constant line of people who wanted my books. This meant that my dyslexia, which is usually only a problem when I am tired, was in full effect. There were a couple of people whose names contained nearly all of the letters that trip me up. I had to stare at their name tags and make sure I was seeing the letters in the correct order, and even then sometimes I had to ask them to spell the name out loud.

I spent as much time as I could up in my room working on finishing up My Dangerous Pleasure and made some decent progress, thank goodness.

Amusing moment of the conference: in the hotel lobby bar a gentleman in a gray T-shirt whose brain went all asplody when he found himself in close proximity to 5, then 10, then 15 and more women in outfits that were low cut or high cut. He so plainly didn’t know where to look.

Unexpected moment of the conference: After the Grand Central dinner, someone said I should go with her and her friends to have a drink so I said OK, and it turned out to be Roxanne St. Clair and Kristin Painter who had had a previous encounter with the executive chef of the entire hotel and, hey he was there again, and most of that is their story to tell, but resulted in a number of free drinks later. Double free water for me!! and a great time sitting around with agents, editors, old friends and new friends and talking smack and then some gentleman with that bemused expression that means they can’t believe they are outnumbered by women 10 to 1 and all of them are hot romance writers who are funny as hell and not afraid to talk about sex and men. No wonder we got free drinks.

Disappointment: finding out that the blueberry vodka drink (blueberries soaked in vodka for three days!!) also contained rock candy syrup which would almost certainly have red dye in it so I couldn’t have the one drink I would have risked a drug interaction to try. (I am allergic to red dye).

Happiest moment: Seeing Victoria Dahl in The Shirt. I tweeted it.

And now, I have to get back to work.


Fun, she said, more fun!

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

At the end of this post, I have some questions for you but first, it’s National Poetry Month, so here is a poem by yours truly:

Chocolate, A Dirge To Perfection

Just now I finished my hot chocolate
Oh hot chocolate,
My mind is lonely
Without you
And yet the inside of
my belly
Seems quite content.
Such power you have
Over my matter and mind.

And now, just so you appreciate the difference between good and bad, chocolate and no chocolate, here is a poem by a real poet:

At Eleusis, by H.D.

What the did,
they did for Dionysos,
for ecstasy’s sake:

now take the basket,
think of the moment you count
most foul in your life;
conjure it.
pray to it;
your face is bleak, you retract,
you dare not remember it:

it is too late.
The next stands by the altar step,
a child’s face yet not innocent,
it will prove adequate, but you,
I could have spelt your peril at the gate,
yet for your mind’s sake,
though you could not enter,

What they did.
they did for Dionysos,
for ecstasy’s sake:

Now take the basket–
(ah face in a dream,
did I not know your heart,
I would falter,
for each that fares onward
is my child;
ah can you wonder
that my hands shake,
that my knees tremble,
I a mortal, set in the goddess’ place?)

Now for the questions:

My blog has been boring lately. What should I do for more fun and games here?

Maybe a poetry blog contest? Like, everyone write a poem on the subject of chocolate and somebody will win something?




How about a picture of your pet contest? And if you don’t have a pet, make one up or lie or something.

Please help.