Posts tagged with: Golden Heart finalist

North Star Or Shooting Star. It Begins.

Next week, during the Ruby Winter Writing Fest, we begin the quest to bring our imaginary friends to life.

Reading that line, I’ll bet some of you immediately had this mental picture of yourself sitting at your favorite work spot, downing carafes of coffee or tea (or in my case, Diet Coke) while drilling the key board, writing an entire novel, and within six weeks, finishing it with ‘the end’. Good for you. You have a goal.

Yet, I’m sure some of you froze at the word begin because the choices you have to start your story are limitless. The question where do I begin? haunts you. Which one start should I pick? Is it the right place?  Fear not, I have some advice for you.  

Every writer knows the importance of the first line, the first paragraph, the first page, the first chapter. Failure to immediately gain a reader’s interest is the vilest death to your story. Your work is like a shooting star that speeds across the sky and disappears without a big bang. The dreams and hopes pinned to such a star are gone in one quick moment. It’s far better to be that twinkling North Star.  So today, we prepare to start our masterpieces.

     #1 Great beginnings are the hard work. Rarely do they come easily and quickly and without dozens of rewrites. Sometimes they appear freely in later paragraphs or even chapters. We only need to recognize them when they do. Know that fact. Owned it.

     #2 First impressions are the most lasting; Proverbs.

A magnificent first line must be lean, powerful, and provide the reader with a question or promise. Here are some examples of great lean and powerful lines.

It was a pleasure to burn.  ‘451 Fahrenheit’ Ray Bradbury

All children but one grow up. ‘Peter and Wendy’  J.M. Barrie

There was a bloody man walking down the road. ‘Discovering You’ Brenda Novak

 Brilliant. Each of those lines not only asks questions but they also laid the foundation of book’s theme or its characters’ persona.  Knowing your story’s theme is important. Try outlining ahead of starting your story to learn the theme, but if you finding outlining is not your thing, don’t sweat it. The theme will come to you.

     #3 Ground your readers as quickly as possible in time and place. However, settings should be shown in small bits and either add to the conflict or become a character itself. Examples:

On the day of the miracle, Isabel was kneeling at the cliff’s edge, tending the small, newly made driftwood cross.  ‘The Light Between Oceans’ M. L. Stedman

It was a cold, bright day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. 1984 George Orwell

ONE HOT AUGUST Thursday afternoon, Maddie Faraday reached under the front seat of her husband’s Cadillac and pulled out a pair of black lace underpants. They weren’t hers. ‘Tell Me Lies’ Jennifer Cruise


     #4 Write the first chapter as if it were the entire story, with its own escalation of action and conflict. And let it end with mystery and unanswered questions. Mystery demands answers. It propels readers to read on. Do not tell all. Exposition kills drama and backstory is boring.

     #5 Write tight. Write fast. Let your voice ring true. Voice is what is truly unique about your story.

      #6 All the boom, boom action or fast paced dialogue will not keep readers flipping pages unless they care about the characters. A great story is an emotional ride. A reader must connect with the characters and care what happens to them immediately. They don’t necessarily need to like them (leads to character growth) but they must understand the character’s actions and feel for them as a human being. Establish your hero/villain goal, give him/her a familiar quality, and then add a ticking bomb. 

     #7 Dialogue is action. It’s fast paced (quickly drawing a reader farther into the story) and it’s an excellent way to show character and conflict. Here are a few great examples.

“Your title gives your claim to the throne of our country, but men don’t follow thrones. They follow courage.”

William Wallace in Braveheart.

“It’s not the broken dreams that break us. It’s the ones we don’t dare to dream.”

Will Schuester in Glee

“The problem is not the problem. It’s your attitude about the problem that is the problem.”

Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean

“Get busy living or get busy dying.”

Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption   

Wow! Wow! Just wow!

     #8 Big or little, internal or external, conflict is a reader’s addiction. Add it where ever and whenever you can. You hear me. Big or little. Internal or external. Pile it on!

     #9 In order to understand a character fully, we need to know the world he came from. Show the character in his or her world in an interesting way, but make that world change quickly. He can be making toast, but why not have make toast over the gas stove. His method of making toast is interesting and says something about his character, doesn’t it? 

     #10  The most important bit of advice on making your first pages awesome I saved for last. Have faith in yourself that the story ahead will be adventurous and fulfilling and go for it!


Anyone else have advice on producing great starts? 


Autumn Jordon, one of the sneaker Rubies, is an award-winning author who writes Romantic Suspense, Thrillers, and Contemporary Romance under the same pen name. Join her newsletter at Autumn

Get to Know Your RWA PRO Liaison, Priscilla Oliveras!!

Since we’re in our annual season of welcoming Golden Heart Finalists, I wanted to ask another special guest to join us: Priscilla Oliveras, RWA’s wonderful Pro Liaison (not to mention four-time Golden Heart nominee and soon-to-be-published Kensington author!!)

Priscilla Oliveras headshot 1The PRO Liaison represents all those RWA members (like our Golden Heart nominees) who aren’t published quite yet, but are, as she says in her bio on the RWA site, “this close” to publishing.

Priscilla writes contemporary romance with a Latino flavor. In addition to serving on the RWA Board as PRO Liaison, she works full-time in marketing & publicity and, since earning an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, teaches an on-line romance writing course for ed2go. When it’s time to relax you’ll find Priscilla going for a run, cheering on her favorite teams, salsa dancing, napping in her backyard hammock or having fun with family and friends. Find out more about her at and follow her antics on Twitter with @prisoliveras.

And the fabulous news is, Priscilla’s soon to be PRO-no-more: she’s got a three-book deal with Kensington Books!! Here’s the blurb for the first of her upcoming books:

His Perfect Partner shares the love story between Yazmine Fernandez, a professional dancer struggling with needing to meet family expectations and the personal sacrificios her career demands, and Tomás Garcia, a single father convinced his daughter and career success are enough.

When his nanny leaves for a family emergency, Tomás realizes it’s time he finds a partner to help co-parent his daughter. But after his ex chose a job promotion over their family, he vowed never to fall for a woman who’d view him and his child as a weight slowing her down. For Yazmine, changing her career plans would negate everything her ailing papí sacrificed for her, not to mention every plan she’s ever made for herself. But when she steps in to care for Tomás’s daughter, the what-ifs of having her own familia hit her hard. As they grow closer and she experiences a heart-breaking loss, their attraction heats from a soft smolder to a fire that’s impossible to ignore. In the end, Tomás and Yazmine must choose between the separate paths they’ve forged alone and a new one that leads to their Perfect Partner.

I’m so excited for these books to come out!! And I know I’m not alone in that. Any time Priscilla’s name is mentioned in romance-writing circles, people talk about how much they love her. (“Priscilla’s an angel!!” is a phrase that crops up often.)

So strap on your angel wings, everybody, and grab a comfy seat while Priscilla and I chat about all the exciting things she’s been up to!!


– Welcome, Priscilla!!! It’s delightful to have you here!

It’s clear you know how to give a lot of yourself in everything you do. You’ve been an active part of the romance writing community for a while now, and of course have had those four Golden Heart finals–so you know what it’s like to be an aspiring writer in the trenches. After all the other things you’ve done, what moved you to run for PRO Liaison?

I’ve served on the chapter level in a variety of positions in years past and really felt like those experiences would help me serve in a positive way on the national level. I’ve been a member for 20 years—yep, that long—plugging away at my writing in between raising kids, homeschooling kids, earning three degrees, moving across the Pacific and the US, and making it through a really difficult ending of a marriage. Now I’m at a point where I’m able to focus and dedicate more time and energy to my writing. RWA and the members I’ve met have always been and continue to be a huge reason why I’m still here—the knowledge and insight, the friendships and mentors I’ve gained are all invaluable. It’s important to me that I give back to the organization and people who have given me so much.


– Absolutely, mentorship is the heart and soul of this community. And you’re doing it at a whole new level now. (Thank you for your service!!) Now that you’re actually part of the Board, what new insights do you have into RWA or into the industry?

First off, I’ll say that our staff and board work extremely hard. J As for insights into RWA, I’ve learned that no decision is made lightly. As many angles and perspectives as possible are taken into consideration. That means discussions can be long and lively, but ultimately they’re professional and approached with open minds.

I’ll admit I was a little intimidated going into my first board meeting, but it was made clear from the very beginning that my opinion, thoughts and ideas are welcomed and encouraged. And expected. It’s my fiduciary duty to speak on behalf of the PRO community and I don’t take that responsibility lightly.


-What are you most excited about in the near future for RWA, in terms of where the Board is or might be taking us?

I’m exceedingly proud of the work we’re doing to ensure that all romance writers feel and are welcome in our organization. It’s absolutely imperative to me as a person that anyone writing romance knows there is a place for them here. Yes, we all have our differences, and it’s not that I expect everyone to hug and sing “Kumbaya” or anything, but there’s a place for appreciation amongst us. Appreciation that while maybe someone has a different opinion or a different belief or a different lifestyle or a different perspective or a different whatever than someone else, we can appreciate that each of us has something of value to offer.


-Speaking of different perspectives…you’ve had four Golden Heart finals, and I’m sure you’ll never forget those life-changing phone calls telling you you’d been nominated. This year, as a Board member, you got to MAKE the calls to finalists. What was it like getting to be on the other side of that and tell writers they’d finaled?

Oh goodness, it was like Christmas morning excitement! I love giving gifts. It’s fun watching the excitement and joy on my girls’ faces when they open a present or see what Santa brought. When I looked at my list of GH and RITA finalist calls I was giddy with happy nervous energy. I couldn’t wait to start calling. To share the fabulous news.

It’s a huge perk of being on the board. I see it as a special gift for all the hard work that’s expected of us. And I have to say, that work is totally worth it!


-Speaking of work that’s worth it you’ve signed a three-book deal with Kensington!! Tell us about your deal and what’s up with your books!

Getting that call from my agent, Rebecca Strauss, was surreal. That idea of a mix of different emotions welling inside you…I can totally relate now. I was relieved. I was stunned. I was happy. I was worried they’d change their minds.

I’ve been writing a long time. Not steadily. But plugging away. There were times when people have said, “You’re so close.” And then I’d get a rejection.

Over the years my GH finals were HUGE pick-me-ups. I remember getting the call in 2008 and when I hung up, I burst into tears. Not because I was happy, but because at that point those ugly self-doubts about my writing and my ability had really set in. That GH final was a huge nod of validation. Like a call from the Writing Gods to not throw in the towel. It lifted this incredibly terrible weight from my chest and helped me regain perspective.

My agent’s call with the offer, then later my first conversation with Martin Biro, my Kensington editor, were moments I’d dreamt of for so long, it was amazing to finally live them. There was a ton of information exchange—copy edits, proofreading, dates, deadlines…the pressure is still on. But I’m ready for this new challenge.

Let’s see, you asked about the deal. My books will be released under the Kensington Shout line, a relatively new line for debut authors. It publishes both contemporary and historical novels.

kensington officeI’ve signed a three-book contract for His Perfect Partner and two sequels in the series. HPP is set for an October 2017 release, which is great because that’s right in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month. It’s the perfect timing for Yazmine Fernandez and Tomás Garcia to debut. J Then Book 2, Rosa’s story, has a tentative release date in March 2018 and Book 3, Lilí’s story, is tentatively set for August 2018.

One of the fun things I’ve gotten to do recently is meet my editor and a number of the Kensington family in person. I’d already scheduled a trip to NYC to visit a family member before I sold and had planned to meet with my agent. But my editor was free as well so we met for lunch and then a tour of the Kensington offices. Everyone was super welcoming and friendly. It was a real treat!


-Congrats again on your sale!! Before you go, what last piece of advice would you leave us with?

Like I said, I’ve been writing a really long time. My oldest was in diapers when I started and now she’s 26. Maybe I would have been published sooner if I’d spent more time writing and less time doing other things. But the majority of the “other things” I did were important to me as a mom and as a person. And that’s okay. That was my choice.

The thing is, I own those choices. And that’s all we can do.

So, for anyone out there who feels like their “time” may never come. Don’t let yourself go down that path of negativity. Keep writing. Keep honing your craft. Keep learning about the business. Keep on keeping on.

And whether your waiting for the call with a traditional publisher or if you’re learning about self-publishing to do it on your own, your time will come.

Keep the faith in yourself and your abilities and your determination.

I hope to see many of you in San Diego this July for RWA National. We’re hard at work on the PRO Retreat and would love for you to join us!

Thanks so much, Priscilla, for being with us, and for taking on the job of PRO Liaison!! I’m looking forward to being able to read all your books!! Okay, readers, what questions or shout-outs do you have for the lovely Priscilla Oliveras today?

Meet 2016 Golden Heart Finalist Rayn Ellis!!

It’s been so much fun meeting the Mermaids so far! Today we’re welcoming Rayn Ellis, a 2016 finalist in Contemporary Romance with her manuscript SOUL SONG.

Rayn Ellis 31After surviving 25 years as a CPA in the Corporate World, a dare to complete The 3-day Novel Contest had Rayn packing up her calculator and accounting briefs (think legal briefs, not boxers) and stepping into the wonderful world of Romance. Turns out writing hot sexy men, kick ass heroines and steamy sex scenes is way more fun than crafting accounting research papers (yes, there is such a thing).

Rayn lives in the Pacific Northwest in Canada with one seriously gnarly cat, who refuses to allow her picture on Twitter. A city girl who longs for life in a quiet coastal town, Rayn is a surfer wannabe and has a passion for organic food, second rate Rom-Coms, and her Elitist 1965 Casino™ electric guitar.

Here’s a blurb for Rayn’s Golden Heart book:

SOUL SONG tells the story of ex-Stepford wife LAUREN WAITTES, who was ostracized by her gated-community after her svengali-esque husband pulled a Bernie Madoff and vanished. Facing financial and emotional ruin, she struggles to find her way in the real world of soaring legal bills, FBI indictments and fraud victims desperate to find their money. The receptionist position at an exclusive music event planning company is just what she needs to rebuild her shattered life—safe, secure…and anonymous. 

JOEL SHERIN can shred better than Stevie Ray Vaughan. That’s what makes Joel the best Blues guitarist in the biz and the brainchild behind SMASH Records, the hottest new independent label in Seattle. A label he created to showcase his mentor, an international Blues legend, who lost it all in Lauren’s husband investment scam. Music revves Joel’s engine…but it’s women that provide the fuel. And he likes them hot, fast, and temporary. Until he meets hesitant, conservative Lauren.

Two days before SMASH’s inaugural, twenty-day tour, an accident sidelines the tour manager, and Lauren fills in. On the road with Joel and his crew, she discovers the sultry power of the Blues to heal her broken spirit, and the sizzling passion of uber-talented Joel to unlock her soul. That is, until her connection to her ex-husband’s multi-million dollar fraud is revealed in some no name, backwater town. Will Joel believe in Lauren’s innocence? Or will he turn his back and run?

Wow! A lot of really interesting conflict threads, there!! I love that she’s innocent but presumed guilty…. And a Blues guitarist hero…oh, my!!!!

Okay, folks, let’s grab a seat and get into the groove with Rayn Ellis! I’ve had lots of fun talking with her, and you will, too! Leave a comment, and be put in the running for a $10 Amazon gift card and a goody bag of Rayn’s favorite chocolates!!

Show and Tell Wednesday: Marnee Blake on Regency Adventures

Today we have a special Show and Tell feature from Marnee Blake, a 2015 Golden Heart historical romance finalist.

Now, if finaling wasn’t commendable enough, you should know that this blog was made in the midst of a power outage. Neither snow nor rain nor big bad storms shall keep this Firefly down. 🙂

So without further delay, welcome Marnee! Take it away.


My manuscript, A DANGEROUS CHEMISTRY, is a 2015 Golden Heart Finalist in the Historical Romance category.  It’s a Victorian-set historical with a bit of a campy, action movie vibe.  My debut, ALTERED (coming in Dec from Entangled Embrace), has a similar action-y feel.  But, an action-y NA scifi thriller is one thing.  The same for a Victorian romance?

Well, it’s a little bit like Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr.

That movie was a bit gritty and edgy, but still very Victorian.

And it’s got a little bit of Kingsmen: The Secret Service going on, too.

I don’t know how many of you have seen this movie, but hubs and I loved it.  And Colin Firth.  See the movie for Colin Firth.  Granted, Colin’s not in my book.  But, my book has lots of the same sort of fast-paced fight scenes.  More kissing, though, and way less gore.

The setting is unlike most Victorians, too.  It’s more this…

Old door of a poor house, Sperlinga - Sicily

Old door of a poor house, Sperlinga – Sicily

And less this….

Great Hall Ballroom in Rundale Palace, Latvia

Great Hall Ballroom in Rundale Palace, Latvia

The story follows a scientist who is working to purify water with chloride and the illegitimate daughter of a St. Giles crime lord.  They band together to rescue a kidnapped girl and end up untangling an international intrigue. Oh, and falling in love.

So, tell me: what unusual settings do you want to see in historical romances? Or, what historical settings are your favorites?

Thanks, Jeannie, for having me! It’s an honor to hang out with the Rubies!!

Jeannie again: And thank you, Marnee, for the great teaser. Chemistry? Action/Adventure? Historical Romance? I’m thoroughly hooked!  Congratulations once again!


Marnee Blake is a 2014 & 2015 Golden Heart® Finalist. She used to teach high school students but these days she only has to wrangle her own children. Originally from a small town in Western Pennsylvania, she now battles traffic in southern New Jersey where she lives with her hero husband and their happily-ever-after: two very energetic boys. When she isn’t writing, she can be found refereeing disputes between her children, cooking up something sweet, or hiding from encroaching dust bunnies with a book. Marnee’s debut, ALTERED, an NA scifi thriller, will be released by Entangled Embrace in December 2015. Her writing is represented by Helen Breitwieser at Cornerstone Literary Agency.

Meet 2014 Golden Heart Finalist Carrie Padgett!

carrie Today we’re welcoming Carrie Padgett, 2014 Golden Heart Finalist in Inspirational Romance!

Carrie’s a multi-contest finalist and winner who lives in California’s Central Valley with her    husband (a.k.a., Stud Muffin), where they enjoy the adventure of empty nesting. A true book lover, Carrie says she expects to die either under or next to a stack of books she was planning to read.

You can find her at:


Recently, she sat down with the Rubies with mugs of warm tea for a (virtual) chat:


Welcome to the blog, Carrie! Congrats on your final!

I’m beyond thrilled to be a 2014 Golden Heart® finalist in the Inspirational category. Thank you to the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood for hosting me today.


Meet 2013 Golden Heart Finalist AE Jones

Today we’re welcoming the third of our guest bloggers from the Lucky 13s–the Golden Heart Finalists of 2013.  AE Jones is a finalist in the Paranormal category with her manuscript MIND SWEEPER.

Here’s a blurb:

Born with the ability to erase memories, Kyle McKinley is summoned to cover up a supernatural smack down between a sword-wielding angel and a demon. When the police step in, she is partnered with Joe Dalton, a by-the-book human cop with the sexiest turquoise eyes. Together they protect humans from becoming pawns in an apocalyptic showdown by unraveling the events that forced an angel to pick up a sword.

Doesn’t that sound like an incredibly fun read? I’m not surprised to learn that AE has been hooked on strong narrative since she was a kid: growing up as a self-confessed “TV junkie,” she often rewrote endings of episodes in her head when she didn’t like the outcome. (Raise hands, folks–how many of us did that?? Yup, me, too.) She immersed herself in sci-fi and soap operas. But when Buffy hit the little screen (don’t talk to her about the movie, it still gives her nightmares) she knew her true love was paranormal. Now she spends her nights weaving stories about all variation of supernatural – both their angst and their humor. “After all,” she says, “life is about both…whether you sport fangs or not.”


Today she’s going to talk with us about another story she strongly identifies with–and it may not be what you’re expecting.


Take it away, AE!


 get-attachment.aspxWhy the movie A Christmas Story should also be called A Writer’s Life

The day after I received ‘the call’ letting me know that I was a Golden Heart ®Finalist, a line from A Christmas Story, one of my favorite movies of all time, jumped into my head.  Let me describe the scene for you. The Father (and we never do know his actual name) receives a telegram and he starts dancing a jig and announces in a sing-song voice “I’ve won a major award.”  And that line has been running through my head ever since. That’s when I realized that not just the scene, but the entire movie, was a great metaphor for a writer’s journey.

If you haven’t seen the movie and are looking for an excuse to laugh for 2 hours, then I highly recommend it. The movie was filmed in the 1980’s but takes place in the 1940’s in Cleveland, Ohio. Since I am a North East Ohio native, this holds a special place in my heart.  The main character is little Ralphie Parker. The audience spends the entire movie in Ralphie’s head (or actually we hear the narrator’s voice who is the adult version of Ralphie reminiscing). Right there should tell you that this movie is a writer’s life. Let’s face it; we are probably the only professional group who doesn’t flinch when we tell each other we hear voices in our heads!

So how does this quirky little movie equate to a writer? Let me elaborate (you knew I was going to, right?).

Meet 2013 Golden Heart Double Finalist Nan Dixon!!

Today we’re delighted to welcome Nan Dixon, the first of several 2013 Golden Heart Finalists who’ll be guest-blogging with us between now and Nationals. This is one of my favorite things on the Ruby blog every year: getting to put faces and voices to the names that filled those highly-coveted slots on the RWA website back on March 26.

FYI: TWO of our Golden Heart guest-bloggers from the past three years–2010’s Erica O’Rourke and 2012’s Tracy Brogan–are 2013 RITA NOMINEES(!!!), so we can expect fabulous things from the 2013 crew! As it happens, our first guest-blogger for this year will already be a familiar face and name to many, since she’s been burning up the contest circuit for years now.

A self-confessed “reformed contest junkie,” Nan Dixon won the Contest Diva award for most finals—18—for the contest year 2009.  In 2012, SOUTHERN COMFORTS won The Molly, Great Expectations and Fire and Ice.  ONE FINAL NIGHT placed second in Great Expectations and Fire and Ice.  And POETIC JUSTICE placed second in the Daphne awards. She’s a four-time Golden Heart finalist, with a DOUBLE final this year.

CLEAN SWEEP – Golden Heart Finalist, Single Title

It’s when Kate MacBain is forced to clean houses.  This dedicated executive plans to be CEO of the family business—not a maid or even a girlfriend.  But Alex, a composer with writer’s block, refuses to be swept out of her life. 

SOUTHERN COMFORTS – Golden Heart Finalist, Contemporary Series

A cynical Boston developer falls for a struggling Savannah B&B owner, but is she attracted to him—or his money?

Today, Nan will be sharing her advice on making the most of your time at conferences.

Take it away, Nan!


nan dixon author photoMaking Conferences Work for You


I love conference season.  It’s a chance to escape my writing cave, meet other writers, learn my craft, pitch my books and just have fun.  But more important, as an unpublished writer, a conference is a professional opportunity.   


Here are my suggestions to make your next conference—work for you.  A lot of these suggestions are geared for RWA, but can apply to the regional conferences.


Set conference goals:  Are you trying to learn about a specific part of the craft of writing?  Conflict has always been my nemesis; so I try and attend as many workshops on conflict as available.  Do you have a specific publisher you want to write for?  Attend the spotlights.  They give advice on what they’re looking for in submissions.  Check out workshops that give you critique opportunities like the opening pages or query letter reviews.


Meet new people:  Don’t forget your business cards.  I’ve made so many wonderful friends at conferences.  This is my third time to the Golden Heart dance.  This year I’ll meet a new set of Golden Heart sisters and see my Unsinkable and Starcatcher friends.  Follow your new friends on Facebook or Twitter and support their successes.


Prepare your Pitch:  If you’ve completed and polished your manuscript, prepare an elevator pitch.  Just because you have an appointment with an agent or an editor doesn’t mean that will be your only contact with someone who is in the position to request your manuscript.  An elevator pitch is your story setup in one of two sentences.  Be able to deliver your pitch in a breath or two – no notes.  If that’s a problem, print it on your business card.


Pick your targets:  Research the editors and agents attending the conference and determine if your manuscript meets their submission requirements.  Don’t forget, you can query before the conference.  Your objective is to be published.  That means finding the right fit for your manuscript and making sure you contact all possible outlets.  Look at their pictures and be able to recognize the agent or editor in a crowd.  Remember, this is a symbiotic relationship.  They are there to find new authors; you are there to get an agent or publisher.


Make contact:  If your previous queries have resulted in a request, notify the agent or editor that you will be at the conference and suggest a meeting.  They may not have the time, but your email might net you a quick meeting or coffee, or even wonderful advice.


Put yourself out there:  I’m an extrovert and even I have trouble pitching my work.  But last year at RWA I came home with eight requests.  I pitched in the bar, at a party, in a publishing house spotlight and of course the normal appointments.  Don’t forget, you can camp in the appointment room and pick up extra appointments with your desired editor or agent.  You are there to get your work requested.


Appointments:  Make sure you’re prepared and have practiced.  I plan for a three-minute pitch in a ten-minute appointment.  It’s the elevator pitch with my hero and heroine’s GMC.  Then they either have time for questions, or if they have requested your manuscript, you can ask questions.  If the agent or editor doesn’t like the first manuscript and if you have others, pitch them.  At one conference, I gave an agent an option of two different genre manuscripts.  She wanted me to pitch both.  I did—in six minutes.  To my delight, she requested both.


Be Professional:  Conferences are fun, but you’re working.  A lot happens in the bar, but don’t get too loud, too drunk, or too … anything.  And this means looking professional.  Torn jeans and a dirty sweatshirt may not be the image you want to portray.  Sure I write in my bathrobe, but that’s not my public persona.  Carry yourself with confidence and people will respect you more.  And maybe they’ll request a manuscript.

 Because that’s what it’s about, someone requesting your work.  Your perfect story will never sell, if it languishes in the bowels of your computer.  (Or under the bed!) 

 There’s a lot of competition for a few publishing slots.  Do everything you can to make sure that one of those slots is yours. 

Now it’s your turn.  What’s additional advice do you have?


Nan lives in Minnesota with her hubby and one crazy cat, keeping track of her five children’s lives.  She’s ecstatic that the corporate world of finance and pharmaceuticals no longer consumes her life and she can write full-time.  She’s been an actress, singer and dancer.  Loves to ski, both water and snow, and was the captain of the University of Minnesota golf team.  She sits on the board of both her local RWA chapter and a dance company.

She’s represented by Laura Bradford of the Bradford Agency.

Find her on twitter – @nancyevertz

Facebook –

or on the web at and

The Latest Comments

  • Darynda Jones: I love this! I learned this fairly early as well. I also learned that sometimes I just have too many...
  • Heather McCollum: Thanks, Jenn! I forgot that you are also a free lance editor! Do you do both developmental and line...
  • Jennifer Bray-Weber: Very sound advice, Heather. I have done the same technique and often recommended it to some of...
  • Darynda Jones: Bwahahaha! I was so wondering where that was going! Did NOT see that coming. Great job, Evelyn!
  • April Mitchell: Congratulations Bonnie!