Posts Tagged ‘RWA Nationals’

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 Authors looking for new representation or new contract opportunities are in the same situation: published or unpublished, attending the national conference puts you in a position to make good things happen.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.


RWA Update Saturday

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

All right, so Saturday, I had an energy bar for breakfast then went to a workshop on Promotion with Sheila Clover of COS Productions (Book trailers) Rebecca York (author) Barbara Vey of PW and Sue Grimshaw of Borders. Lots of good ideas about promotion. Then I went to an agent panel with Steve Axelrod, Kristin Nelson (my agent) and Karen Solem. That was packed to beyond full. I got totally freaked about everything, but there was great information and varied opinions about the business.

I had a lovely lunch with my Berkley editor Kate Seaver, then dashed to the RITA rehearsal which was short and also freaked me out because I never thought I would be a RITA finalist and there I was in a room full of my dream authors. Since my main decongestant didn’t kick in and do the job, right before lunch I took the other decongestant and just as Kate and I were sitting down to lunch, I could hear again. YAY!!!

After that I signed books at the Grand Central signing. I had a line much of the time which was pretty cool. I bought raffle tickets for the benefit for Jennifer Haymore, a Grand Central author who is currently battling breast cancer. A couple of years ago, we sat next to each other at the GCP dinner and had a wonderful chat. I wish she were here instead of this.

I finished off the afternoon by sitting with my roomie, Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches Trashy Books, Sarah Franz, Angela James of Carina Press and several other people talking about, what else? books.

Then I came back to the room to get ready for the RITAs.

I’m currently trying to decide if I should take more decongestant. I can hear OK so I’ll just have some on hand I suppose.


RWA Thursday/Friday

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Yesterday, I attended the workshop with Lee Child and Suzanne Brockmann. I was giddy just being in the same room with Lee Child. It was a great workshop.

I had lunch with my Grand Central Editor, Michele Bidelspach and then I went in search of donuts for the donut party my roomie and I were threw Thursday night. The hotel concierge only knew of a Krispy Kreme rather far away so instead I downloaded the Dunkin Donuts app on my iPhone, got in a cab and told the driver to take me to the Dunkin Donuts the app informed me was nearest to the hotel.

Donuts in the cab

At the donut shop, there were two young ladies who asked me if I worked for Avon — we were having a moment of confusion because I was thinking Avon Romance, the publisher, and they were thinking Avon the cosmetics, because I still had on my conference badge, which I later found out, had the words Avon on it. So I just said, no, I’m a writer. And they look at each other and ask me what kind of books I write. When I said romance, they both jumped up and down and squealed. I paid for my donuts, and took them back to the cab where I had left my bigger bag, which happened to contain several copies of Indiscreet. I went back and gave them each a copy and signed them for the young women. They were very excited. When I told the cab driver why I went back inside, he told me his daughter loved romance, so I signed another for his daughter. Back at the hotel he said if we ran out of donuts, he’d go get more for us. So all in all, a very fun outing!

When I got back to the room with the donuts, I discovered that GCP had sent me flowers.

RITA good luck flowers from Grand Central Publishing

Then we had very good sushi for dinner with a bunch of folks. The donut party was a great success. Someone came with a small suitcase that turned out to contain a blender, tequila and margarita mix. OMG! We jabbered away about all kinds of stuff and things finally wound down about 2:30 AM and my roomie and I went to bed.

Number of energy bars consumed: 1 on account of other people paying for my meals.

Friday So far

We got up at 7:00 am and went down to meet with the Risky Regency ladies, then I was off to breakfast with my agent (very nice) and then a meeting with my Grand Central editor (productive). Then back upstairs to write for an hour, then downstairs for keynote luncheon and now back here.

Later today, the Berkley Books signing, the RITA reception (overlapping, will be late to the reception), the Berkley cocktail party, then the Grand Central Author dinner. After that I’m totally free. Heh.


Some Good News and More about RWA

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

My good news first, because it’s so exciting. Indiscreet won the Bookseller’s Best award for Best Short Historical. I am now an Award Winning author. Gosh. In the picture from left to right: authors Jaci Burton, Cynthia Eden, Ann Aguirre and me.

Afterward, I was trying to text my agent the news from the hotel Lobby with Amy Pierpont, (Executive Editor for Grand Central Publishing) came by with Sherriyn Kenyon who I DID NOT RECOGNIZE until Amy introduced her because her hair was completely straight instead of the usual curly. Of course I blurt out my news like a big doof, and they were both very gracious. The upside is I was too gobsmacked by the whole thing to make a fool of myself over Sherrilyn Kenyon, who books I ADORE madly. Grand Central publishes my paranormals, by the way, and some of Kenyon’s backlist.

The Literacy signing was the madhouse it always is. I only had Indiscreet to sign but still, I got to be there with my RITA finalist flag and my two RITA finalist pins and I confess, it was kind of a dream come true. At previous signings I would see the authors with the RITA finalist flags and all the authors with their pins and such and I always thought, wow. Maybe someday that will be me. And now it is. It was just wonderful.

Since I’m telling my day backward, before the Literacy signing, I was in my hotel room working on My Dangerous Pleasure and making some progress, thank goodness. Before that I was at the gym and before that I was asleep.

Number of Energy bars consumed: 3
Number of Energy bars given to hungry stressed author who is not me: 1


Reporting from RWA Nationals

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

I arrived yesterday after a really long and boring flight. The airport MEARA system was a disaster and let me say nothing more than a nearly TWO HOUR wait to get on a bus to the hotel. OMFG.

There were only two people working the hotel registration desk and 40 people in line. OMFG again.

But now I’m here now, I got some rest, I picked up my RWA conference materials, went to the gym and now I will hole up in my hotel room and work on the WIP until the Literacy signing tonight.


Florida Bound

Monday, July 26th, 2010

I’m heading for RWA today . . . well, technically not til tomorrow, but I’m doing a Park N Fly so I go to the airport hotel tonight. This keeps me out of commute traffic, always a nightmare in Nor. Cal bay area and keeps me from the very real possibility of having to wait 2 hours for the airporter when I get back. 4 hours to get home? No thank you. Better, faster and cheaper to do a a Park N Fly.

So, tomorrow, Tuesday, I will wend my way to Florida. Meanwhile, I have some last minute errands and packing to finish.

Mostly I’m hoping I don’t forget anything really important.

I’ll try to blog from Orlando.


Personality Disorders of the Creative Writer

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Most writers consider themselves introverts, and with a few exceptions *coughVictorialDahlcough* I’d say that’s true. Think about it. Where does a creative writer spend a whole lot of time? Alone. In front of her computer. And there are people talking to her that NOBODY CAN SEE. When she’s not communicating with these voices in her head, she’s probably thinking about them.

Suppose one day you’re having a perfectly normal conversation with someone you just met, or maybe someone you know in passing. In the middle of conversation she suddenly gets a vacant expression. How rude! She’s zoned out on you. And then she says:

Do you think it would be easier to kill someone with a ballpoint pen or a spork? 1

You may not need to back away slowly and then run for your life. She’s probably just an author. To test your theory, you say say this:

How many words in your MS (pronounce this “emm ess”) so far?

If the answer isn’t numeric, then you run.

This sort of thing happens to authors all the time. They spend inordinate time alone and when they are with other people, it’s pretty certain those people are not writers, too. By and large we’re a strange bunch, given to drifting off and mentally rewriting Chapter 10.

But, you might say, I go to signings (oh bless you! ThankYouThankYouThankYou!!!) and you authors are smiling like Vanna White pimping vowels. You make conversation with anyone who walks within 20 feet of where you’re sitting. You tell complete strangers about your book, you shove bookmark into my hands whether I want them or not!


This abnormally chipper behavior comes at a cost. We are introverts thrust into the world of the extrovert, and let me tell you, it’s exhausting. Draining. By the time you get home you’re ready to crawl into bed and sleep for 12 hours straight only you can’t because you have to catch up on your word count so you don’t miss deadline. For most authors, no one has heard of us. Readers are not champing at the bit to get a signed copy of a book by some weirdo person they never heard of, and we can tell most of you are sorry you accidentally walked into our gravitational field . . . (evil laugh). We only want you to try our book. Look at the pretty cover! And the words, they tell a story you will LOVE if only— no no, don’t go away. Here have bookmark. Yes, I love Nora Roberts, too. She’s a great author, I agree but my book it’s about ohgoddon’tleaveme. Mostly it only gets worse from there.

So, if, at a conference, such as RWA or what have you, there is a place for an author to go where she can assure herself of a friendly, understanding reception while she gets ready to go be an extrovert, which goes against everything in her marrow, she might just go there. To be ready. To spend a few minutes with people who know what she is and don’t expect anything. It’s an oasis. Thank goodness. For a little bit we can be our introverted selves.

There are a lot of reasons why it’s hard to be an author, and for many of us, having to be an extrovert when we’re not, is one of them.

Answer to the ballpoint pen vs. Spork question

The spork. Doh.


Things will be sketchy here for a bit

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

The book’s due August 15 and I have the RWA National Conference in the middle of that so I’ve had my nose to the keyboard where it will stay until it gets stuck there probably. So, just an alert.

Here’s a random picture.

Red Dahlia

It’s a Dahlia.


On Being a Writer

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

What’s it like to be a writer? Well sometimes it’s darned expensive!

This week’s expenses:

425.00 Register for RWA National in Nashville TN
407.00 Buy round trip non-stop plane ticket Oakland to Nashville
188.50 RWA conf hotel hold on credit card
225.00 Enter RomConInc Contest because editor emailed authors about it, 3 books at $75 each.
093.00 Buy and ship books to contest via Amazon (I’m low on copies plus this saves me postage AND a trip to the Post Office, which would happen God knows when.)

Plus, the really evil thing is I had to use the credit card for some of this, so know I have to go to the “Writing Fund” Bank to get the cash to pay the credit card IMMEDIATELY because credit cards are evil.

Right now, I’m freaking out about money. I’ll feel better when the amounts are all paid in cash. But still. That RomConInc contest is freaking expensive. I hope next year they lower the fee. Not that it matters because in 2010, I only have the Regency short story out. So, actually, I hope they lower the fee for the 2011 contest.

Then today, right when I was in the middle of sending an email to my agent about back cover copy for My Immortal Assassin, my website went down — this would include email and I was on the webmail program. Everything just went ::poof::

Did you hear me scream? Prolly. Yeah, that was me.

So then I had to reconstruct everything and send it from my gmail account.

I’m whining, I know. And I apologize, sort of. But I’m in the middle of massive revisions and not only is that depressing on a number of levels, it’s a lot of pressure to get them done both well and quickly.

To top it all off, I made a pound cake and it was a failure. It tastes great, but the texture is all wrong. ::sob::


RWA 2009 Workshop Review – Carolyn’s recommendations

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

For Reference, here’s the ones I’ve already reviewed, just so you have everything in one handy blog post. But, I’ve added a few, too.

Note: I’m only mentioning the ones I thought were really helpful. For me and what I’m stressing about in my writing. There were a lot of great workshops that aren’t on my list because they’re not relevant to where I am in my writing career. Your Mileage Will Definitely Vary.

And I’m not mentioning ones that Did Not Work for me, so actually, this isn’t a review of all the workshops.

14-001 Opening Keynote Session, Janet Evanovich. Looking for career inspiration? She tells a great rejection letters about-to-give-up story.

14-002 Keynote Luncheon – Linda Howard OMG, her stories are so funny I could hardly breath. The lawn mower story….

14-009 Homeland Security: was actually REALLY interesting. The speaker had some really great stories and she just loves her job so much you can’t help but catch the enthusiasm. Great details to be tucked away in the brain vault.

14-011 Google Book Settlement
– informative. Probably worth a listen if the settlement is still alive or not substantially changed by the current negotiations.

14-012 Pro Session
: Make sure you listen to Madelaine Hunter. She gave a GREAT talk. The rest is pretty good, too, but for me she was a standout. The agent panel was good, too.

14-015 Writing Dark Love Stories, Anne Stuart. Entertaining. Ways to think about the hero, heroine relationship and risk taking.

14-034 Writing the Hot Historical – everything Pam Rosenthal said was fascinating and thought provoking, whether you write historicals or not.

14-035 Secrets of the Best Selling Sisterhood
– SEP and Jayne Ann Krentz. Worth a listen.

14-039 – Joan Johnston – Writing the Breakout Nove
l. Lots of interesting tips and things to think about.

14-042 Buy this Book – Gardiner, Poelle – Give this a listen. Top agents.

14-047 Under Their Skin and Straight To The Heart: Creating Emotion With Significant Detail, Robin Wells– Very good. Give a listen.

14-054 Intellectual Property – Moderated by Nora Roberts. Make sure you listen to Nora’s story about how she was plagiarized. Riveting. You’ll get angry and want to cry on her behalf. The speakers were good, but hard to understand at times (heavy accents, unclear diction).

14-056 Eloisa James Awards luncheon. Her speech will make you cry.

14-062: The Fire in Fiction. Donald Maass
. Will def make you think. Some is kind of obvious but he tells a story (toward the end I think) and the room was COMPLETELY silent while he told it. A masterful example of show not tell. Have a listen. I have already listened to this one a second time.

14-071 Why we Love Mr. Darcy. Brenda Chin, Julia Quinn, L. Ghurk
e: Recommended. This quickly veers off into career decisions and discussions. Worth a listen for everything Quinn says about her career.

14-072 One, Two or Three. Kristin Nelson, Natasha Kern. This one is a MUST listen. Chilling bad-agent story. Great discussion of the thinking behind agenting a book deal. FYI, Kristin Nelson is my agent.

14-076 Setting as Character. Jade Lee
. Worth a listen. She says some very interesting things. Plus she’s funny and a great speaker.

14-082 Mauled Men etc
. This one is about what happens after someone dies mostly in re funeral homes. I recommend listening because the speaker is good and there’s all kinds of unexpected interesting facts and information in this that will probably come in handy one day.

14-084 Spotlight on St. Martin’s
. I consider this a MUST listen. Jennifer Enderlin in particular has some GREAT tips and insights. You probably won’t have to listen to all of it, but don’t miss the first half.

14-088 The good the bad the ugly in New media
. Depressing, but do listen. It’s about marketing and having a publicist. The min. budget of $7500 for EFFECTIVE marketing is just freaking depressing and out of reach for must authors. There are some good ideas and tips.

14-092 Make it Happen. 10 Tips to Breaking in
. Christie Craig’s story was inspirational. I heard about this one at the conference — she made quite an impact and I can see why.

14-094 Legal Flavored Research
. Some interesting stuff here.

14-101 How to Sell to Harlequin’s London Office
. Despite the title, there was some truly awesome story advice in this one. I gave this one 5 stars.

14-102 Anatomy of a Best Seller
. This was good. Chris Keeslar of Dorchester is a great editor and I think writers need to sit up and pay attention when editors are speaking.

14-106 Turning Points, Jennifer Crusie
. I’m looking for new ways to think about story, and this gave me some.

14-108 – Spotlight on Sourcebooks
. Listen to this one.

14-112 – Evil 101 – Where True Crime Meets Terrific Fiction, Sherri Lewis Wohl. This is one of the ones shortened by the Fire Alarm (RATS!!) but there are some great stories if you’re interested in the criminal mind.

14-117 – Chemistry: How to Create The Sizzle That will Keep your Readers Glued to the Page – Sherry Thomas This one is also Fire Alarm shortened, but she was able to come back and go through more material. Give a listen.

14-125 A&B No Holds Barred, JR Ward, Jessica Anderson Both authors have interesting and insightful things to say about writing and the writing process. Plus it’s funny to hear Ward say she’s a plotter and then describe a process that sounds to me like it’s seat of the pants.

14-130 The Scoop! Using Television’s Secrets and Techniques For A Top Notch Novel, Hank Phillippi Ryan I’ve listened to this one a couple of times. Good stuff about deadlines.

14-133 A Look Inside the Editor’s Mind, Leslie Wainger
. She’s an editor. Of course you should listen to this one.

14-136 A&B More How to Make a Living Writing Romance Novels, Stephanie Bond. As you might expect, there is some great stuff here. I do feel, however, this is not really one-size fits all.

14-145 Digital Initiatives With Your Publisher, Various Presenters. Keep yourself informed. Listen.

14-146 Spotlight On Kensington
This might be one of the best spotlights I heard. There’s some great information about how to think about and manage a career.