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Posts tagged with: RWA Nationals

A first look: RWA conference from a newbie’s perspective

One of the best times of the year for a romance writer is July and the national RWA conference. I’ve been several times myself, but this year I got the pleasure of rooming with a newbie to conference. I’d been looking forward to this quite a bit because my roommate (and close friend) has down moments in her writing (just like all of us) that she occasionally struggles with, making her doubt both herself and her abilities. (She’s brilliant, btw, and one day will put us all to shame.) But what I had not gotten to see with her before was her experiencing anything remotely like what I knew nationals could do to a person. Motivation, fangirl moments, just the wow of being a part of it all and coming home with scores of ideas and need-to-learns and need-to-reads. It’s a great experience, and I have to say that reliving the first time through my friend’s eyes was inspirational for me. It was one of the best parts of my conference this year, to know that she got to be there and have that wow (and for me to see her having it!).

Therefore, I bring her here to the Rubies and friends today so that she can share a bit of her experience. Everyone…please welcome my friend and zombie lover, Gretchen Stull!!!

Street Teams: The Nuts and Bolts

I’m sure you’ve all heard it . . . street teams are “the thing” right now. Everyone is getting one! But how do you start one? And what do you do with it when you get one?

I’m far from an expert, but I’ve been watching and listening and playing around with one on my own. I also sat in a street team workshop at Nationals this year just to pick up some tips. Additionally, I’m sure there are many other rubies here with much more knowledge and know how, so please, feel free to share your thoughts on the matter in the comments (because I guarantee I’m only scratching the surface here). Non-rubies…please tell us what you know, as well! This post is here to help, so comment with anything you think others could use. :)

Notes from RWA Nationals 2012

It’s been a few weeks since the RWA Conference in Anaheim, and sometimes that kind of distance brings a clarity that helps you appreciate the most meaningful moments.

Sometimes, that kind of distance just makes you forget stuff.

But never fear, because I took notes! Alas, I was not armed with the latest in note-taking technology. Instead, I rocked it old school:

In this post I’m going to share the scribblings inside my little blue notebook. Please note that in most cases, I’m paraphrasing, and each of these snippets was taken out of the larger context of a speech or workshop. Still, I hope you can get a sense of how warm, wonderful, and generous these speakers were!

Cherry Adair at the Golden Network Retreat:

  • She wrote 17 manuscripts before she sold. After she sold, she shredded them.
  • She recommends having a one year career plan and a five year plan.
  • “We [writers] always believe the bad news; the good news is iffy for us.”
  •  “Don’t read reviews!”

Panel at the Golden Network Retreat:

  • Deb Dixon on starting a story: starting too soon is like clearing your throat before you begin speaking. When you read a non sequitur opening it feels like stepping off a bus that’s not fully stopped.
  • Cherry Adair on where to start your story: “get in as late as you possibly can.”

 Stephanie Laurens on the Changing Publishing Business:

  • “A good story will find its audience, and that will never change.”

20 Things We Wish We Knew Before We Sold  – by Victoria Alexander and Cindy Kirk

  1. This is a business, and you’re only as good as your last book.
  2. Your editor is not your best friend.
  3. Bad covers don’t always equal bad sales.
  4. Good reviews and awards don’t always equal good sales.
  5. This job doesn’t get easier—it gets harder.
  6. Things can change in a heartbeat—be nice to everyone!
  7. Not everyone will like your book.
  8. Agents and editors are online, so be professional, even on private loops.
  9. The book you’ve just finished is your favorite.
  10. You can change your writing process.
  11. You have to develop a thick skin.
  12. Professional jealousy exists.

(Um, I had to leave the session at this point and I really wish I had the last 8 points! Maybe someone else caught them?)

 Where the Hell Are We? – by Alyssa Day, Elizabeth Hoyt, and Kristan Higgins

  • Alyssa Day (paranormal) recommends keeping notes about the setting and world you’re creating. Draw maps!
  • Elizabeth Hoyt (historical) says that the reader should be able to glean the time period through telling details that don’t pull her out of the romance. She recommends thinking outside of the box for historical research—things like museums, portraits, and even Pinterest.
  • Kristan Higgins fictionalizes towns but often bases them on real places. Research = sitting in a bar. J She likes to create public spaces in her stories that are ripe for humiliation. “The more uncomfortable [a scene is] for your characters, the more delightful for your readers.”

The Romance Author and Booksellers Panel

  • Jon Fine (Amazon) says metadata helps people find your book. The “search inside the book” feature is helpful in that respect. Recommends adding Facebook and Twitter links to your Amazon author page. Thinks it would be cool to somehow have the cover of the book someone’s currently reading display on the back of their Kindle—good conversation starter on the subway, etc.
  • One way to gain readers is to look for books comparable to yours and email those reviewers to ask for a review.
  • Don’t be shy about approaching local stores for signings. This works best if you have a group with at least one bigger name author.
  • Erotic sales are trending upward but don’t seem to be cutting into romance sales.

Secrets of the Bestselling Sisterhood – by Jayne Ann Krentz and Susan Elizabeth Phillips

  • You have to find your own path. Develop a strategy.
  • Tell your critique partners what you want them to look for, i.e., pacing, energy, etc.
  • You need to develop a tough skin. “If readers love you, they go to your Facebook page. If not, they go to Amazon.”
  • Advice to younger self: the fear is part of the process. It doesn’t go away. Use it to motivate you.
  • Know your core story’s conflicts and themes. Don’t be afraid of archetypes.
  • Know your own voice. It can be hard to hear your own voice (like an accent) so give someone a scene to read and ask them what emotion they come away with. That is your voice.
  • Know the market. Read the bestsellers.
  • First draft is the discovery draft. They don’t create character profiles. They research as they go.
  • JAK would self pub if she were starting out today to begin building an audience. But she recommends submitting at the same time.

How to Make the Most of of Goodreads – by Patrick Brown

  • Goodreads has 10 million members and 21 million monthly visitors. Their mission is discovery.
  • As an author, your goal should be get reviews, esp. early in the life of your book because this can (1) help readers discover your book, (2) help readers decide, and (3) spread the word beyond Goodreads.
  • Advance giveaways help to generate pre-release buzz; the average giveaway gets 850 entries. Tips: (1) start early, about 3 months before is ideal, (2) run the giveaway for a month, (3) offer as many books as you can, and (4) use the Goodreads giveaway widget on your blog, Facebook page, and website.

Michael Hauge: Close-up on Pretty Woman

  • A theme is a prescription for living—the hero’s/heroine’s arc made universal.
  • Characters must earn their happy ending. Love requires great courage, great risk, and comes at great cost.

Phew! So those are a few of the nuggets I’m taking away from RWA. But I only got to about 10 workshops, and there were SO many great ones to choose from! The handouts from many of the workshops are available (but you have to log in first) here.

You can also order audio recordings of most of the sessions here.

  • For the Rubies who presented workshops this year, please share your nuggets of wisdom with us!

  • For everyone else, what did you hear at Nationals that resonated with you?

  • What workshop topics would you like to hear next year? Give us some ideas!

The Ball. What Will The Sisters Wear?

 

Today we’d like to publicly congratulate our Ruby sisters who are up for 2012 RITA and GOLDEN HEART ©awards. Ladies, you ROCK. We’re so proud of you.

The National conference is in full swing and tomorrow night the Rita and Golden Heart© winners will be announced.  Going to the festivity is always fun. Seeing everyone dressed-up is a blast. 

Earlier this week, I asked the Rubies to share what they’ll be wearing to the ball and a blurb of their book.  Let’s take a look.

First, our RITA nominee stars.


Elizabeth Essex is a nominee in the historical category. Hi, Elizabeth. Tell us what you’re wearing tomorrow night. Also, can you share a little about your book?

 

First I’m wearing a lovely dark blue Badgley Miska gown my eldest daughter (who is my wardrobe consultant :) ) picked out for me (although it’s already packed so no pic), but I’m wearing some really fab shoes with it.

Oh, I love them! Now, tell us about your book.

 

My RITA nominated book is THE DANGER OF DESIRE, (Kensington Brava) and the blurb is as follows:

AN UNLIKELY PARTNERSHIP

Naval Captain Hugh McAlden is accustomed to taking on deadly, high-stakes assignments—and being rewarded handsomely for his success. But to accomplish his latest mission, he’ll need someone more inconspicuous among his own ranks. Someone like the larcenous beauty who just relieved him of his pocket watch from under his very nose …

Meggs is one of London’s stealthiest thieves and her livelihood depends on remaining untethered and unnoticed. But when she is caught by the icy-eyed Scottish captain, she sees a chance to escape her life of crime forever. Every wary, she accepts his unusual proposition, even as she plots to cut and run at a moment’s notice.

AND AN UNCONTROLLABLE DESIRE

But as Meggs and Hugh come nearer to the danger at the heart of their mission, thoughts of betrayal and distrust begin to dissolve, overshadowed by a passion worth every risk …

 

Thanks, Elizabeth. The story sounds awesome!  Good luck tomorrow night.

 

 

 

Up next is Darynda Jones whose debut book ‘First Grave on The Right’ is up for two RITA awards—Best First Book and Strong Romantic Elements.

Hey, sweetie. Tell us about your attire for tomorrow evening and your book.

I will be wearing a long black evening gown, and yes, shoes.

 (For those who don’t know, Darynda walked on stage to accept her Golden Heart barefooted.  She didn’t think she had a chance in H*ll of winning and had kicked them off. She better be prepared this time. LOL)

 

 

 

My Rita Stuff is First Grave On The Right.

Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

 

Loved the book. Good luck!

 

 

Hey, Golden Heart© Ladies, who is going to share first?

 

Kim Law: OK, I’ll go. I’m wearing an Adrianna Papell Beaded neck cocktail dress (color-primrose, a steal I found at Nordstrom’s!!), and a pair of Badgley Mischka grey satin heels with crystal accents! Here’s a picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blurb for Montana Cherries in the Contemporary Series Romance category:

Some dreams are different than they seem.

With life finally heading in the right direction, Dani Wilde intends to help through harvest at her family’s Montana cherry orchard before heading east to her new life in New York City. She’s sure waited long enough for the chance! What she doesn’t expect is to find one sexy “almost-happened” from her past showing up on her doorstep with a cute four-year-old in tow. Walking away from Ben Denton a second time was going to be harder than it seemed.

New dad Ben latched onto fatherhood as if he’d never before uttered the words permanently unattached, and is now fully committed to giving his daughter the small-town upbringing he knows she deserves. But when past sparks turn to instant flames, he can’t help but want to convince Dani that his dreams could also turn into hers.

 

WOW! Pretty, Kim.  I want to see a pic of you in this dress.

 

Sally, how about you?

 

Me. I’m wearing a floor-length, sleeveless, deep vee-neck dress, in a wine/purple color, because how often do I get a chance to go floor-length? (Um, twice before this–the 2009 GH/RITA ceremony, and my wedding.

:P )

 

 

Blurb for IN WOLF’S CLOTHING up for Golden Heart© in romantic suspense:

 

After breaking up with her fiancé and nearly losing her life because of her low-level job at a secretive government agency, Josie has fled that high-pressure atmosphere, trading her career and comfortable lifestyle for a job as a bartender, a no-frills studio apartment, and a strictly physical fling with a barfly called Lenny. But just as Josie gives in to Lenny’s efforts to make things between them more serious, she discovers that he is involved in a major international drug-trafficking operation. Horrified, her first impulse is to run, but her sense of duty impels her to report what she has heard to her new acquaintance, Peter, a federal agent who she discovers is already assigned to track Lenny’s transaction. When Peter convinces to her to stay with Lenny and act as an informant, Josie is plunged headfirst into a world of secrets and lies, of false love and real danger that will push her conscience and her heart to the breaking point.

 

NICE! You’ll look lovely. I just know it.  I can’t wait to see the pictures.

 

And the great Liz Bemis, how about you?

I’m wearing a dark blue, “slinky fabric” (very slimming) full length dress with a slight train that I made for the 2007 RITA ceremony. I’m mostly wearing this dress because I can squeeze my post-pregnancy butt into a dress that I haven’t worn in 5 years, and I’m kinda thrilled about that. Also, it has a deep enough plunge in the front that I can feed the baby Riley who, for the record will be wearing an extremely adorable tuxedo. (Because that’s just how he rolls).

Blurb for THE EDGE OF DECEPTION up for Golden Heart© in Romantic Suspense.

Every bad thing in her life came from telling the truth…

After a childhood in which lying meant surviving, Draghana Yenichek is a master of deception. It makes her a brilliant FBI Agent but lousy at personal relationships. Now, the case of her career has her hunting a brutal serial killer who raped and murdered at least three young women, all with a connection to a mail-order bride service. Dana–determined to catch the killer before he strikes again–jumps at the opportunity to go undercover as a mail-order bride and finds herself on the doorstep of Deck Murphy, a prime suspect who isn’t like any serial killer she’s ever encountered.

Every bad thing in his life came from lies…

Deck, a cop and Marine Reserve Sergeant with an inviolable code of honor struggles to return to work after being seriously injured in Afghanistan. When a mail-order bride he never requested shows up at his door, his honor requires that he keep her safe. But Dana’s web of deceit draws too tight, and Deck discovers her secrets. Furious at the betrayal, he turns her out cold. But the killer has Dana in his sights and decides she is his next, perfect victim. When Dana goes missing, Deck is forced to join forces with her FBI colleagues and vows to do whatever it takes to save her… even if it takes him far beyond THE EDGE OF DECEPTION.

 

And Elisa Beatty whose novel ‘The Devil May Care’ is in the Historical Romance category is going to wear this beautiful dress.

She is going to look fabulous.

 

Blurb for The Devil May Care:
A provincial governess learns two shocking bits of news: her long-lost twin has been murdered, and before her death she was both a courtesan and a spy. To avenge the murder and to foil a plot by the French spies who committed it, the governess must impersonate her twin and convince the French that she survived. She must also work with her twin’s former partner in espionage, who blames himself for the death, and who dreads watching his friend die again. Together, they travel into the heart of the Peninsular War, where they must learn to trust one another or lose everything they care about.

 

Ladies, Thank you so much for sharing your wardrobe and your stories. Good luck tomorrow night and have the time of your lives. 

((((HUGS)) from your sisters.

Meet 2012 Golden Heart Finalist Colette Auclair

Colette hails from Glenshaw, Pennsylvania, an unassuming suburb of Pittsburgh. She went to college and grad school outside Chicago, then spent fourteen of her formative single years in Manhattan, where she wrote ads for Warner Books (rechristened Grand Central). “So if you need help with marketing,” she says, “I’m your man. So to speak.” She’s lived in the Denver area for the past dozen years and is a copywriter at Jeppesen, an aviation and marine navigation company. (“If you fly, you know.”)

Her Golden Heart book THROWN is a contemporary single title about a horse trainer with Olympic dreams. She sees her best friend die in a riding accident and is so traumatized, she’s temporarily unable to compete in jumping competitions. Broke, she takes a summer job as a private riding instructor at a movie star’s Aspen estate. The actor disapproves of how she teaches his spoiled daughters, so the heroine hunkers down to gut it out with the rich and unreasonable until Labor Day. However, as the summer heats up, so does their mutual attraction. Until sparks—and horses—fly.

 Take it away, Colette!

****************************************************************************

How I got my start as an author stalker.

First off, giant, giddy thanks to the Rubies for this opportunity! I am humbled and awed by the Golden Heart community. And I am thrilled and constantly amazed to be counted as part of this group.

But first, a confession. Before writing Thrown, I had read exactly two romance novels in my life. TWO. I felt embarrassed when I talked to writers who read their first romance novel to pass the time in the hospital as newborns. I felt like I had cheated somehow.

As I wrote my novel, which was supposed to be a romantic comedy movie script, I asked my romance-novel-reading friend Kathryn if “funny” romances existed. In my limited experience, romance novels either: had heroines dying of some disease that, oddly enough, enhanced their beauty (all that frailty and paleness); or were thrillers starring feisty heroines, psycho killers and taciturn alpha heroes determined to protect them (the heroines, not the psycho killers).

Those aren’t the stories that naturally populate my storytelling lobe. In fact, armed alpha heroes kind of scare me.

Kathryn pointed me toward Susan Elizabeth Phillips. No killers (usually)! And her books were funny. Maybe there was a market for my style of writing. Maybe I could get published. Maybe, just maybe, someone would read one of my books and say, “She writes just like Susan Elizabeth Phillips, only there are horses.”

I kept reading SEP as they call her, and kept writing. That spring I traveled to Italy and had my picture taken holding her Breathing Room in front of a Florence café that’s in the book. I emailed it to her. She emailed back and put the picture on her website. Happy, happy me.

Then I went to my first Nationals in Orlando in 2010. I met Susan Elizabeth Phillips at the literacy autographing, got a picture, and then, and then, as though predestined by the gods, I rode up with her on the escalator. I scrabbled to think of something to say. Something brilliant that would indicate I was interested in her books and admired her talent. Something wildly insightful or hilarious that she would reference in her workshops forever.

Instead I told her I once took riding lessons in her Chicago suburb. Not exactly brilliant.

However, at that moment, a stalker was born.

During her workshop with Jayne Anne Krentz (a hoot, btw—I highly recommend it), she handed me her very own personal camera that she brought from suburban Chicago and asked me to take pictures. Well. This was progress. I felt certain she would ask me to dinner. But you know how those conferences are; I bet some pushy editor insisted she go to some boring publishing dinner instead.

Months later, I emailed with a writing question. She replied in a month. Clearly, we were becoming friends. It was uncanny.

At Nationals in New York last summer, I brought her two Teuscher champagne truffles (my favorite chocolates in the entire world) and got another picture with her. She kind of sort of recognized me. Or she was just being polite. She’s very nice that way. But I figured I was slowly, steadily inching my way toward us spending holidays together.

Come December, I was hoping for a card from the Phillips family, but no dice. No matter. I kept up with Susan (I call her Susan) and her Facebook posts, commenting here and there, not wearing out my welcome, but keeping my hand in the game. On the last Monday in March, when I got The Call, guess who I emailed… Yep. And guess who emailed me back the very next day? Yep. I was so in.

So as you see, I’m almost her BFF. Don’t be surprised if, when you see me in Anaheim, SEP is chatting me up most of the time. We’ll likely be making family vacation plans. Perhaps we’ll invite Nora.

Of course, I should add that I’ve started to stalk Kristan Higgins as well. No witty author is safe. You all have been warned.

Do you have an author you’ve stalked or would like to stalk? What’s your favorite stalking technique? Who’s on your list for Anaheim?

First Time at Nationals?

My first time was in Reno.  After flying all day, I staggered into a casino hotel around midnight—disoriented, jet-lagged, and overwhelmed.  I never caught up.

Will your first time be in Anaheim?  If you’ve never attended an RWA National Conference, get ready for a non-stop blast of education, nerves, and networking.  But most of all—get ready to have a lot of fun.

Yeah, Right! You Don’t Have Time.

Can you believe it’s been a whole month since the NY RWA Nationals? That means only two months until the Golden Heart contest opens for entries and eleven months until nationals heads to California. Will you be ready for either?

Five Ruby Sisters presented a workshop in NY entitled ‘The Road To Novel Completion’ where we shared specific personal challenges which demands our attention and often takes priority. Things like family, work, chores, handling finances, schoolwork (our own or our childrens’), job loss, serious illnesses (ourselves or a family member), death, births, divorce, accidents and pets. Then there is the whole social media thing we must do.

After our large, fabulous audience (thank you so much for attending) heard first hand that we weren’t just blowing a smoke screen and were just like them, struggling to find time to write, we got down to business and discussed the ways and when we carve time out of our busy lives to finish the books that you see scrolling across the bottom of the Ruby home page. Take a peek. I think we’re nearing seventy published works since July 2009.

Rather than listing what we had in our handouts in New York  let’s open the floor to all the Rubies and our readers and share the ways we get and kept our hands on the keyboards, and  where do we find the extra minutes to write.

I’ll start with two ways that I didn’t share in NY.  First, this is no lie. I wrote the first chapter of my 2009 golden heart entry, Evil’s Witness, while my DH drove the eight hours home from our vacation.  I often write while he drives.  I get car sick, so I pop a Dramamine  before we take off and the problem is solved and words are on the page.

If the dust bunnies are singing “You can’t get me” and I’m shaking with angst to show them how good I am, I set a timer and promise myself if I write at least 250 words I can take them down, and then enjoy a Hershey Kiss, or two.  Really It works.

Now, Rubies and guests, please share your secrets in finding precious minutes to work on your novels.

ps: To see the fabulous pre-workshop presentation created by our lovely Vanessa Barneveld please visit

http://vimeo.com/27042969

RWA Report – Day Two

 

My highlights for June 29, 2011 — Day Two of RWA Nationals

1)  The morning panel featuring authors Steve Berry, Diana Gabaldon, and Tess Gerritsen provided an interesting peek into the lifes and minds of  best selling authors.  Did you know that Gabaldon started Outlander as a practice novel? 

2)  The Keynote luncheon featuring Madeline Hunter was the definite highpoint of the day for me.  I was late to the session, arrived to a packed house and sat down at a table in the back of the room, only to discover that sitting right next to me was romance legend Rita Clay Estrada, one of RWA’s founders, and the name sake for the Rita Award.  What an honor it was to hear her tell the story of how RWA was founded, and then to have a moment with her to hand her one of my Romance Trading Cards and bend her ear about the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog.

3)  Madeline Hunter’s Keynote address kicked butt.  The buzz here seems to be all about the new digital age and she had a lot to say about how new epub formats are giving authors more options to reach readers. 

4)  The PAN Retreat keynote session featured Steven Axelrod of Axelrod Agency, Robert Gotlieb, Chairman of Trident Media, Matthew Shear, Publisher, St. Martin’s Press, and Liate Stehlik, Publisher, Morrow/Avon/Voyager all talking about the state of romance publishing.  As you can imagine, the topic of electronic books and self-publishing was the the hot button topic.

5)  For me, this segued to a get-together whith my agent and several of her clients for drinks and munchies at a fab lounge overlooking Times Square.  Needless to say, we didn’t figure out the future of publishing in our gab fest, but the calamari rocked.

  

  

Below you’ll find some of my photos — taken over the last couple of days.

The Rubies Take Manhattan

Ruby Romance Trading Cards. Collect them all for a chance to win a prize

Rita Henuber at the Literacy Signing

Liz Talley Signs Books

Autumn Jordon at the Literacy Signing

Addison Fox displaying her Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Trading Cards

Darynda Jones at the Literacy Signing

Amanda Brice (left) with Laurie Kellogg

Tami Hogan Signing books

  

Jeannie Lin at the Literacy Signing

It’s All About the Networking, Baby!

It’s conference season again. For romance writers, as most of you know, the mother of all conferences is looming ever closer. Romance Writer’s of America will be hosting their 30th Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida from July 28th – July 31st.

The buzz about this conference is ever growing. Blogs and magazine articles are countless. Topics may include etiquette, travel, volunteering, navigating workshops, and, of course, shoes.

Another subject that will dominate the conference theme is networking.

Suddenly Cinderella: On Acquiring Glamorousness in Four Months Flat

I’m going to embarrass myself today by confessing what REALLY obsessed me after that fabulous March 25 phone call telling me I was a finalist:  glamour.

I mean, Romance is a glamorous business, isn’t it?  Open your favorite novel, and the heroine’s resplendent in a teal silk gown or—depending on your genre of choice—scarlet Jimmy Choos and a butter-soft leather miniskirt.

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