Posts tagged with: conference

Smile – Everyone’s Watching

Conferences! What a wonderful time to meet like-minded people, make friends, find mentors, learn the craft, and maybe entice that perfect agent or editor to love your stories. You can make major strides forward in your writing career by attending conferences, but you can also make some horrendous mistakes that can set you back. Let’s talk about positive attitude.

From the moment you step into the hotel, or maybe even as you arrive at the airport in your hometown, you are “on.” Meaning that there are people around you who can notice you and your reactions and interactions. This is the time to practice patience, resilience, friendliness and helpfulness. This is not the time to complain about the lines for check-in or comment about the leggings a woman has chosen to wear that shows the outline of her thong. The hotel staff is working hard to accommodate all the conference attendees, and the person you just made a snarky comment to about the thong lady might be her best friend.

One of my favorite quotes is:

“…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

This is very true. Your goal at conferences should be to make people feel better having met you. I’ve had people complain to me about everything from the lines in the bathroom to the luncheon chicken at conferences, and the only thing I remember about them is that they are complainers and not someone I want to sit next to.

At one crafting workshop, we were supposed to share a few lines from the opening of our WIPs with the people at our table. At the RWA conference where I was a Golden Heart Finalist, I read a line from my book, which was up for the award. I thought it was pretty creative, but the woman next to me said that it didn’t make any sense, and that I should re-write the whole paragraph. No, she wasn’t some famous author or editor, offering constructive criticism in a helpful way. She was a woman who barely smiled and offered nothing positive to the conversation. I don’t remember much about her except how she made me feel.

When I was an unpublished newbie, attending my first RWA conference, I rode down in the elevator with a VERY well-known author and her small entourage. My heart beat fast, and I smiled broadly. She had lovely shoes on, and I thought to complement them. I made eye contact, but she looked away. In fact, it seemed she went out of her way to completely ignore me through the long way down. Perhaps she thought I had a manuscript tucked in my pantyhose that if she said hello I’d ask her to read. Or maybe she’d been accosted in the bathroom by writer fans. I don’t know, but I stepped off that elevator feeling like the geeky, wallflower that the cool kids look down upon. Because of who she was, I will remember her name and what she didn’t say to me (with a smile or a “thank you” when I would have said I loved her shoes), but I will also always remember how little she made me feel. And I will NEVER buy one of her books.

I will also never talk badly about her because that would be a negative reflection on me, but I won’t be able to recommend her as an author either. I doubt this will hinder her success in any way, but for those of us who are not the very-well-known, making others feel small or being negative could hurt our budding careers.

On the other side of the behavior coin, I’ve had some authors take the time to ask me what I write. They’ve been gracious and helpful, giving me information or even their contact information. They made me feel hopeful and encouraged. And I will ALWAYS remember that. I forward their promotion material on. I attend their talks at conferences. I buy their books and recommend them to people.

Fabulous and very welcoming author, Jennifer Bernard, and Heather at a small conference in Wilmington, NC.

As you prepare for your upcoming conferences, remember to not only pack your business cards and comfortable, yet professional, pumps, but also pack your smile. Okay, that was corny, but you get what I’m saying. A smile, a nod, a patient example, a helpful word – all of these things are just as, or even more, important as your perfect pitch. When you are at conference, you aren’t just pitching what you write, you are pitching yourself to potential readers, colleagues, and editors/agents.

If you are drained and just can’t pull it together to be civil one more minute, high-tail it to your room for a quick nap to regain your composure before heading back out into the public eye. Conferences are exhausting, and at some point, we all want to complain about how the tea water in the hot water carafe tastes like coffee (maybe that’s just me), but you certainly don’t want to appear negative to everyone around you. You want to be remembered for the gracious, positive person that we all wish to be.

Keep this in mind, and remember to smile at the people in the elevator!



Stretch Your Wings: Top Ten Tips for Introverts at Conferences

Before I began attending writers’ conferences, I thought of myself as an extrovert.

Dressed for battle in gray wool and white silk, I fearlessly strode into my first conference ready to conquer the romance-writing world. I’d thought of writing as a profession, and by that time, I was awfully good at being professional. I was ready to kick ass and take names on my way to the top.

But instead of businesspeople giving each other firm handshakes and exchanging business cards, I saw women running into each others’ arms and huddling in tight little groups, dishing gossip and reminiscing like long-lost friends.

Which they were, of course. They weren’t competitors. They weren’t colleagues.

They were friends.

Panic tightened my throat as my stomach lurched. I realized my error, for this wasn’t a work conference.

This was high school!

Show and Tell Wednesday: Conference Swag

With RT just around the corner and the Barbara Vey luncheon coming up this weekend, conference season is officially upon us. (Well, it’s officially upon me, at least.) So it’s time for a Show and Tell about conference swag.

S.W.A.G. = “Stuff we all get”

I’ve scoured the internets to catch a few interesting items. Wanna see?

Authors have been teasing readers online, like historical author Elizabeth Boyle with her secret RT swag.


Take a look at the array offered by Donna June Cooper, author of contemporary romances with a touch of magic. Firefly necklaces! Wildflower seed packets!


This is the sort of exuberance and excitement and branding commitment that makes this former swag queen’s heart go pitter patter.

Buttons with funny sayings are still popular, like these from New Adult and Contemporary author Stina Lindenblatt:


Sometimes SWAG can carry a very poignant message, like contemporary author K.M. Jackson’s We Need Diverse Romance T-shirts. Available for order now in BLACK or WHITE in time for RT.

swag_diverse tee ad c

And then the Rubies are no strangers to swag. Take a look at historical author Anne Barton’s sewing kits.


Elizabeth Essex’s luggage tags feature a different color every year along with a quote from one of her historical romances:

swag_Luggage tags

Temporary tattoos are popular among younger readers, I hear. YA author Elizabeth Langston had a designer create a tattoo using the typography from her book, I Wish:


Paranormal romance author Heather McCollum will be offering readers iced-strawberry lip gloss, in case of emergencies. 🙂

Strawberry lipgloss

Are you a swag queen and proud of it? Need a SWAG intervention? What’s your favorite swag to give or receive?

Feel free to post links here! Show off a little. That’s what swag is for, after all. *winks*


The Emerald City Conference & Giveaway

I took my Ruby Slippers up to the Emerald City last weekend…the Emerald City RWA conference in Seattle that is!

And yes, my shoes were red. That’s the end of that metaphor, but I managed to “catch” a bit of good luck that I must pass on to you.

First of, I ended up going to this conference on a lark. I knew that I had a book releasing in September and my writing schedule had me finishing up the next manuscript right before this conference. (Just made it–phew!)

I’d had no events yet on the West Coast this year other than a reading at Lady Jane’s Salon in San Diego, so I figured why not? I submitted my workshop: “The Review Game: A Shy Girl’s Guide to Getting Noticed” on the very last day possible. On a stroke of luck, it was accepted. So off to the Emerald City I went!

First let me say that ECWC is a wonderful local conference. It was the very first conference I went to as an “official” author and the very first booksigning I ever did. It was 2010 and Butterfly Swords had just been released. I was so happy to be among friends to celebrate my debut. *sigh* I dug up a picture and I looked so shiny then!

My very first booksigning in 2010

My very first booksigning in 2010

Flash forward four years and I was back again. A little bit older, maybe a little wiser. I hoped I had a little something to give back to the writerly community with the talk my critique partner Shawntelle Madison and I had put together about what we learned about how us shy girls who are not mega-bestsellers can get reviews.

Shawntelle and I were not alone in our focus how to navigate the review space and get noticed. There was a lot of talk now on social media, publicity, how to reach readers and discoverability.

“‘Discoverability’ is the new word,” said Bob Mayer in his workshop on said buzz word with his partner in crime, Jennifer Talty. “It used to be distribution. Now it’s discoverability.”

And then he and Ms. Talty went on to list a gazillion different things they’ve tried and continued to try to build an online presence and sell a gadzillion books. The prevailing theme was that you can only do so much so just do what you can. Take what works. So I’ll just take the one thing that I really want to take from Mayer’s talk. “I always say at the end of it all to get back to writing another book. You can’t sell what you don’t have.” He credits his success by always staying ahead by a book. “If I had three books a year on contract, then I wrote four. Always have that extra manuscript.”

You can’t discover an author’s books if they don’t have any….

Robyn Carr brought me to blinky try-not-to-cry stage as she told the story of her thirty-year “overnight” success. She admitted to not knowing what it took to succeed, other than that she believed it helped to stay positive. Because thinking the other way, that you suck and you can’t write certainly ISN’T the answer.

The wild CherryAdair presented her inspirational “Finish the Damn Book” awards to aspiring authors who took her yearly challenge to well, finish the damn book! Nine people received the award this year and eleven were disqualified because they sold in the midst of the challenge. It inspired me to watch this presentation.

Can it really be so simple as that? Finishing the book? I don’t know, but roomie Gwen Hayes rallied us upstairs to do some work before the booksigning that night. I added new words to my Opium War steampunk and Shawntelle penned an epic battle scene. Monica Murphy joined us to finish edits on a novella. What? Is this shameless braggery because we actually got some writing done at a writer’s conference? Maybe a little.

At the ECWC bookfair, the coordinators set co-speakers together so Shawntelle and I were able to sit together in the lunch room. We truly are joined at the hip now. I was able to speak with some readers who already knew my books and many were were new to my books. I even sold a couple of my little red beauties.

Signing at ECWC 2013 with Shawntelle Madison

And of course I went fan girl and picked up copies from two of my favorite authors who happened to be at the conference. Tiffany Reisz was rather gracious as I confessed about being obsessed about her first book, The Siren. I received a print copy of A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant. I already have it on my e-reader, but I have all her other books too, so I had to pick my favorite one. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it! A heart-wrenching and wonderfully crafted romance. Cecilia and I even were able to talk shop a bit on our favorite historicals.


These are not giveaways. They’re mine, mine, mine!!!

BUT…I talked about catching a stroke of luck, right? Guess who won a raffle basket from the 2011 GH class, The Starcatchers?

Me with Starcatcher Anna Richland

Me with Starcatcher Anna Richland

And I spotted a couple of Rubies in there as well: Sara Ramsey and Anne Barton! This beautiful basket was put together by Starcatcher Anna Richland who is also offering a critique. I regret that I couldn’t bring the entire basket home. So I left it with a good friend who lives in the area.  But the books packed nicely in my suitcase and are fair game.

So here’s the fabulous giveaway: One of 3 book bundles, one of which includes a Golden Heart critique. If you wish to have the critique done by November 12, it MUST be turned in by November 1. Otherwise, the winner can still redeem the critique, but it won’t be done in time for this year’s Golden Heart.

starcatcher_giveawayWait…what happened to the champagne and chocolates you ask? That lovely, delicious bottle of champagne was…um… confiscated by TSA…yeah.  And the chocolate too. *Licks fingers. Wipes keyboard*

Enter using the Rafflecopter below. I’ll be drawing and shipping out books next Monday. Good luck from The Rubies and The Starcatchers! Drawing will take palce next Monday.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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!!!

Free-for-All Friday: RWA National Tips and Tricks


Can you believe the 2013 RWA National Conference starts next week? It seems like just yesterday that the Rubies were all named 2009 Golden Heart finalists, but if you look at the right hand side of our website’s home page, so much has happened since then.

In those four years, there have been many additional Golden Heart finals and wins, several RITA finals, and one RITA win (Darynda Jones generously let us rub RITA’s belly for luck). A gratifying number of Rubies will walk the stage as nominees and presenters at this year’s awards ceremony.  But to me, the biggest metric of our success is this: since 2009, the Rubies have collectively published over 200 books.

OVER 200 BOOKS. Yay, us!

There’s a lot of experience here at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood, from the sisters and from members of our community.  Whether you’re a RWA National newbie or an old hand, today, in true free-for-all Friday fashion, we’d like to learn everyone’s tips and tricks for navigating RWA National.

Here are a few of mine:

Don’t overpack! (You’ll need room in your suitcase for books!) I challenge myself to make it through the entire conference on four pairs of shoes. Four. I choose my shoes first, and build my wardrobe around them. Take it from a massive shoe hoor, IT CAN BE DONE.

Wear comfortable shoes – Yes, more about the shoes. Showing off our fierce footwear is part of the fun, but on the other hand, no one wants to hobble around with bloody blisters all week long. You’ll be on your feet a lot throughout the week, so plan ahead. Break in your shoes beforehand, and bring blister treatment products.

Dress in layers – I had an amusing chat with a hotel employee at last year’s conference about how, at an event like ours, dominated by women, ABSOLUTELY NO ONE is happy with the temperature!  I’m always cold in air conditioned hotels, so you’ll find me bundled up in long sleeves and a sweater. Other attendees will be walking around in sleeveless shirts, carrying battery-operated fans to battle hot flashes. As Grandma Marion always said, “It never hurts to carry a sweater.” Grandmas are wise.

Eat lunch with strangers – Get out of your comfort zone a little! Break away from your buddies and sit with strangers at the conference’s luncheon events. Everyone at the conference loves reading and writing, so you won’t be strangers for long.  It’s not unheard of to find yourself sitting next to, and making informal contact with, an agent or editor who might then ask for your pitch. The person you ask to please pass the salad dressing might be an influential blogger, someone you follow on Twitter, or an author whose work you enjoy. This is the easiest networking opportunity you’ll have all week long. Take advantage of it.

Take some downtime – for most of us, the conference is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t feel like you have to attend every single workshop. Sometimes the best use of your time is to go up to your room for an hour, decompress or take a nap, and re-energize for the evening to come. For more on this topic, here’s a blog post I wrote in 2011:  Behold My P-Ness! Writers, Myers-Briggs, and An Introvert’s Guide to RWA National.

Some things I don’t leave home without:Deep water plug

  • earplugs, in case the room next door gets rowdy
  • bubble bath and my overflow drain cover – turns even the stingiest hotel bathtub into a soaking tub!
  • First aid kit, including Band-Aids, safety pins, the aforementioned blister treatment products, ibuprofen, tampons, etc. (Why pay inflated gift shop prices?)  I didn’t even NEED tampons during RT2013 in May, but I gave two away from my purse stash to authors in need. Is this sisterhood or what?  😉
  • NutriGrain bars, for breakfast or a quick afternoon snack
  • 6′ cheapo extension cord, for convenient gadget charging
  • Favorite book signing pen
  • Bookmarks and business cards – carry at all times!


What are your conference tips and tricks? Any items you don’t leave home without? If you’ve never been to the conference before, what questions do you have? It’s free-for-all Friday; anything goes!

Tammy’s latest release… 


Touch Me…An Underbelly Chronicles Novella

Mere hours after human technology whiz Bailey Brown learns the truth about her Sebastiani Security co-workers—they’re all vampires, incubi, succubi, sirens, faeries, Valkyrie, and werewolves!—she’s thrown into an undercover operation protecting a siren singer at Underbelly, one of Minneapolis’s premier nightclubs. With pheromones saturating the air like sweet chloroform, starving for touch, and her inhibitions fading fast, Bailey has to avoid Rafe Sebastiani, her boss’s gorgeous sex demon of a brother, at all costs…

Because only his touch will do.

$0.99 at! Other digital formats available Sept. 2013.


Getting the Conference Appointment You REALLY Want

Conference horror stories. We’ve all heard a few, or more. Remember the one about the overly-eager writer who slipped her manuscript under the bathroom stall and interrupted a poor editor’s private time? Or was it an agent? I did a quick Internet search on writer+manuscript+conference+bathroom and got over 500,000 hits. Seems more than one writer has tried this way of getting noticed. Of course, there’s getting noticed, and then there’s GETTING NOTICED. Do you really want  your dream editor or agent associating your manuscript–that one you poured your blood, sweat, and tears into–with … bathroom functions?

The Latest Comments

  • Louisa Cornell: It’s a great first line, Louise! I am looking forward to reading the book!
  • Lenee Anderson: The murderer is David’s best friend. I’m concerned if I said something along the lines of...
  • Darynda Jones: This is great, Lenee, especially for a first attempt. Wow. I’m wondering if the stakes can be...
  • Darynda Jones: YES!!! I love it, Vivi, but Autumn’s is adds that twists that grabs me. Great job both of you!
  • Heather McCollum: Yes, this works! Thank you Autumn! You are awesome!!


The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood