Cartoon done at the ImaJinn A Romance Party.
This Romance Writers of America Conference was a different experience for me. I’ve been going to the RWA National Conference, on and off, since 2002; this one had me in a different zone. A step up in my career. The difference, you ask?
Don’t laugh. For the very first time, building on conferences from the past 3 years, I had people to shmooze with. Relationships to nurture.
I came in 3rd with my guitar book in the ImaJinn A Romance Contest with ImaJinn Books, and got to hang a bit with my editor-crush Brenda Chin. I will most definitely work with her some day. (My chapter mate, Sarah Vance-Tompkins, won the contest and the chance to work with Brenda and I am SO thrilled for her!)
Later on the same evening, I drunk-pitched my young adult novel to a funny, fun and nice editor at a big house and got a request. (Only 2 glasses of wine, but when all you’ve had to eat is the parma ham and the tapenade and toast, that will do it.) And then I drunk-emailed the agent that’s interested in the book. (Luckily it was a clean and clear email. No gushiness nor misspelled words or bad grammar. Sheesh.)
And I hugged people. Two memorable hugs -NYTimes Bestselling Author and my dear friend Tawny Weber, who gave one of the best hugs of conference – she was sharing my joy and I’ve known her since 2003 – and Sharon Sala. If you’re a writer and you’re not following Sharon, she shares a lot about her life with her Little Mama, and usually all I can say on her posts is “sending love and hugs”. So it was beautiful that I could physically hug her (ran into her at the pharmacy in the mall) before she had to leave the conference.
Yeah, so I hugged people. Lots of people. Ran across the room to hug people. Reached over chairs to hug people. Juggled coffee to hug people. It was so cool, getting to touch people that I’ve known and loved online “for reals” and in person. I can’t even mention all of them here because I’ll forget someone and that would be bad, so if I hugged you, consider yourself hugged yet again (!) and if we didn’t connect, I’m SO sorry and please grab me next time for a hug (and I’ll be sure to interrupt your conversation to hug you!). I hugged agents and editors, longtime friends and brand new friends, and every single hug refreshed my spirit and connected me to the world just a little tighter.
Conference is about so much more than going to workshops (though I did some of that) or sitting in the bar (did some of that, too). It’s about forging working relationships and friendships. It’s about letting that agent know that you do think about her even if you didn’t recognize her (sorry, hon! Conference brain.). It’s about turning yourself into a real person for those in the industry. More than that, it’s about giving yourself the opportunity to be in the right place at the right time.
It’s about volunteering to help at the literacy signing. I got to work with Nalini Singh, prep the books for the folks in her line and yes, there were LOTS of folks in her line! Nalini and I had been in a yahoo loop way back when, called the Brainstorming Desireables, so it was terrific to reconnect, plus she’s an awesome writer.
(I can’t tell you the times I went to introduce myself, and was told, “I know who you are.” Always a thrill, and I don’t think I’ll ever get over that.)
It’s about cramming into someone’s normal-sized room to a party hosted by the Houston RWA chapter, with 50 other conference goers, and giggling and marveling at the intelligence of the woman who used the conference coffee travel mug as a cocktail shaker. Effing brilliant.
It’s about walking for a mile to get to a publisher’s dinner, and laughing, talking, and getting to know the folks sharing that particular journey. (OMG I wouldn’t have missed that walk for the world. The WORLD, I tell you.)
It was also about sharing the whole experience with two roommates, women that I trust and love. About sitting on the balcony at night in the humidity and the wind, drinking beer, and philosophizing about men, the conference, relationships, pain, and turning it around and making ourselves pee with laughing because we also talked about boobs, and menopause, and hair, and the damned humidity. From the early morning flight out to San Antonio on Tuesday, to giving sleepy hugs at 7:30am on Sunday, those two women were (and remain) my touchstones.
Going to RWA National Conference is about writing, yes, but so, so much more. My heart is full and my spirit light as I look forward to the next part of my career. Thanks, Dad, for recommending that I join RWA. Sorry I waited until 2002 to follow your advice.
And, as always, this was my conference experience. Your mileage will vary!
Lynne Marshall and I heading home on the FlyAway Bus from LAX. Blurry and giddy with exhaustion.
Kendall Grey’s Hot Blooded came out on 7-14-14. I resisted the lure of it for two whole days before I succumbed.
I’ve read her Urban Fantasy series, Inhale, Exhale, and Just Breathe; and I’ve read her erotic trilogy, Strings, Beats, and Nocturnes. I thought I was prepared for anything Kendall Grey could throw at me.
Was I wrong.
Hot Blooded, to me, is a Hawaiian version of film-noir style, if film noir had been done now instead of the fifties.
Blood, and sex, drugs and family – ‘ohana is everything – drive the story. It’s a twisty dark tale that is utterly believable.
Grey shows you what some people will do when pushed to their limit. It’s gritty, it’s real, and it’s damn good fiction. Some of the best writing I’ve read in a long time.
If you’re looking for something different, something out of the ordinary, something that will change the way you look at the concept of “family” – then read Hot Blooded. If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought. I’m dying to discuss it with someone.
I’m in San Antonio this week, soaking up the Romance Writers of America atmosphere and hugging the stuffing out of my friends. May your week be a grand one – mahalo!
Everyone’s doing boxed sets this year, several books bound together with one low, low price. This phenomenon has usually been in the romance world – sweet romances, country romances, sexy romances, gothic – well, you get my point.
Now, just in time for Father’s Day, Wolfpack Publishing has come out with a Western Boxed Set. Some authors you may know include Kat Martin, L.J. Martin, and Chet Cunningham (yes, my dad). So I’m VERY excited to share this with you.
Spread the word, grab the boxed set for your dad’s Kindle, and make my day. Here’s the blurb for it:
“NEW RELEASE SPECIAL $1.99 FOR A LIMITED TIME! 9 full length Western novels from America’s premier western writers – Western Writers of America Spur Award winners and runners up, NYT best selling authors. Frank Roderus, Robert Vaughn, Gary McCarthy, Chet Cunningham, Douglas Hirt, Kat Martin, L.J. Martin, Cliff Hudgins & Thom Nicholson. Over 650,000 words of fine western writing. Action, Adventure, Romance at its very best!”
This includes my dad’s book WADE’S WAR. So you see, you REALLY need to pick this up!
Thanks for dropping by! Who’s your favorite Western writer?
Here is the blurb and COVER REVEAL for Kendall Grey’s latest, HOT BLOODED! Read on and share…
If Robert Rodriquez (Sin City), Tony Soprano, and David Lynch (Twin Peaks) made sweet love to a Hawaiian version of The Bride (Uma Thurman’s character from Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill), the resulting spawn might look like Kendall Grey’s upcoming mystery/suspense/supernatural thriller, HOT-BLOODED.
The first installment in the Ohana series, HOT-BLOODED is set on the island of Maui and is wrapped in the light and dark watercolors of Hawaiian culture, history, and mythology. It’s about guns, drugs, surfing, and tiki monsters. HOT-BLOODED tells the tale of a ballsy, half-Hawaiian angel-turned-demon, the duplicitous assassin who falls for her, and the blessings and curses of family—all wrapped up in freaky, supernatural gift paper.
Here’s the description:
WARNING: HOT-BLOODED does NOT end with a happily ever after. It contains drug use and graphic sex, language, and violence. The story is intended to entertain, not to condone or glorify illegal or immoral activities. This book is unsuitable for sensitive readers and those under the age of 18.
*Written in 3rd person. Contains a massive cliffhanger and multiple POVs.
Ohana is everything…
When an accident claims her mother’s life, Keahilani Alana must take charge of her ohana (family) or risk losing what little they have. With an underage brother to care for and no education, she has few options. The door to a heavenly hellish opportunity opens when she stumbles upon a valuable secret her mother left behind on the slopes of an extinct volcano—a legacy that tempts the family with riches beyond their wildest dreams. But the secret is much bigger and more sinister than they realize. As reality unravels and exposes eerie truths about the ohana that should have remained deep under the mountain, Keahilani must either resist the call of her blood or risk being consumed by its darkness.
Blake Murphy is an assassin working to infiltrate a new Hawaiian cartel. His investigation reveals that Keahilani, the sexy surfing instructor he pegged as an informant, is much closer to the drug ring than he thought. Passion ignites between them in the bedroom, but their ironclad ties to opposing interests pit them against each other everywhere else.
When tensions reach the breaking point and her ohana is threatened, the only cure for Keahilani’s hot-blooded fury is a loaded clip with a body bag chaser.
They don’t call her Pele for nothing.
Kendall Grey’s newest book, coming soon!
This looks totally awesome! And I’m willing to bet more than a few men out there will really enjoy this series…
What do you think? Does the blurb make you want to read it? She’s definitely got ME curious!
So, I finished a book the other day called Cupcakes, Pies, and Hot Guys, and I have to say I had SO much fun reading it! It reminded me of a Christie Craig book – jam-packed with the funny, and a lot of sweetness mixed in, only set in Los Angeles and Wisconson instead of Texas.
Pamela DuMond is a new-to-me author, and I think you all will love this series – so go check her out.
I think this is the second book (or maybe third?) in the Annie Graceland series, but it’s definitely a stand-alone, in that you don’t have to have read all the previous books in the series. Though I think I’m just gonna have to download them all, they were such fun. (Plus – recipes! Margarita Cupcakes, anyone?)
Take a look around her website, and you’ll notice she doesn’t just write the cozy funny romantic mystery – she also writes YA, and it looks wonderful. Here’s her Amazon Author page, too. The first thing you’ll notice there is the fact that she’s the author “who discovered Erin Brockovich’s life story, thought it would make a good movie, and pitched it to ‘Hollywood’.”
Fascinating, isn’t it?
Short and sweet today. May your Wednesday be a good one!
I swiped this from Kat’s website!
I am thrilled to have Kat Martin on Writer Wednesday. Kat and her husband, Larry, have been friends with my parents for many years, so it was of particular wonderfulness to be able to go see them and have lunch with them last month.
Left to Right, Julia Blake, me, Kat, and Tonya Plank – a lovely lunch!
Let’s jump right in to the interview, shall we?
CA: They say every writer remembers when they got “the call” (or the letter) for publication. Would you share your story?
Kat: I was sitting in a restaurant with my hubby and my 3 best friends. Agent called. Said I had sold my book. She said I got 4. Since I had been turned down by every other publisher in New York, I assumed that meant $400.00 I didn’t care. As far as I was concerned, my career was launched. Later I found out it was $4,000! Which was a whole lot better since we really needed the money!
CA: Wow! That’s totally awesome. What is the hardest part of writing for you? Characters? Story? Sagging middle? What’s the easiest part?
Kat: There is no easy part. Characters seem to take care of themselves, so that isn’t tough for me. I worry about saggy middles. I worry about making all the pieces and parts come together in a way that makes sense. I don’t relax until I reach the end and know I actually have a book.
CA: Wow – I was so hoping for an easy part! What was the best decision, writing-wise, that you ever made?
Kat: Remains to be seen. I’ve changed publishers, agents, editors, many, many times. Always with the idea of moving forward, moving my career ahead. They were all tough decisions and there is no real way to know if they were the right ones. At least not yet!
CA: So maybe it’s continuing to write? What was the worst decision, writing wise, that you ever made?
Kat: Probably leaving Pocket Books. They really wanted to make me a star and they had the power to do it. Trouble was, they were really difficult to work for. It was affecting my health and my creativity, so I moved somewhere else. Lost a great chance.
CA: But you have your health, and your creativity, so maybe you didn’t lose anything?You’ve written and had published over 60 novels, many of which landed on the NYT Bestseller list. Is getting on the list still as exciting now as it was the first time you hit it?
Kat: It’s just as exciting for sure! And you never know if you are going to hit so it makes you edge-of-your-seat nervous. Thrilling when it happens.
CA: Do you have a ritual that you do before you begin writing each day?
Kat: As with most women, my ritual starts with coffee, showering, make-up, hair, and getting dressed. Then I do my email, check in on Facebook, then start working on my novel. I go over what I wrote the day before and charge forward.
CA: I guess what I’m really asking is, do you ever procrastinate from writing, or do you just jump right in?
Kat: No way to procrastinate if you have a contract. You don’t get paid if you don’t deliver, so if you plan to pay your bills, you go to work, just like any other job.
CA: Well, yeah, that’s totally true! You live part time in California, and the rest of the time in Montana. In five sentences or less, what are the highlights of both places?
Kat: I live in the two of the best places in the world. In California, it’s all sunshine and blue skies. I live on one of the harbor channels so I get to watch the boats go in and out all day. Seals come up to our dock. In Montana, beautiful mountains, rugged landscape. It’s a hard life, nothing like the beach. 70 mile round trip to the show. But the wilderness is exhilarating. Lots of wildlife, eagles, deer, Osprey. You can be in the high mountains in about 5 minutes. Whoops, that’s more than 5 sentences!
CA: Oh, that’s okay – like I’d edit you, lol! So, do you go to writers’ conferences, readers’ conferences, or both? Why or why not?
Kat: I go to both. I don’t like to fly or I would go to more of them. I do it, but don’t like it. My husband goes with me. We usually hit RT, RWA, Western Writers of America. I love Thrillerfest but its usually close to RWA, so I try to alternate.
CA: How big a role does social media play in your marketing strategies?
Kat: Since I don’t understand how to use it, not a lot. I have a Facebook page. I’m on it. I don’t understand the likes and all of that. I don’t have any idea how that works.
CA: LOL – well, I can aim you at classes in Facebook if you want! So is marketing your novels now much different than when you first started?
Kat: It’s totally different. We traveled the country talking to book buyers. There were 1200 at the time. Now there are about 5 and you can’t get in to see them. And digital plays a new and extremely important role.
CA: Wow, I had no idea. Do you feel the marketplace is now more open for new writers, or is it more difficult, with the advent of self-publishing?
Kat: Way more difficult for newbies and for writers published in print. New authors are buried in the hundreds of thousands of old and new books (particularly in romance) that are being put up as e-books. Established authors have a thousand times more competition.
CA: Ouch. What do you wish someone had told you when you first started writing?
Kat: Nothing anyone said would have mattered. I would have just kept on going, even if someone told me how hard it was going to be. It’s a calling for some of us…a compulsion that seems to have no end.
CA: Oh yeah, I totally resemble that. So what is your favorite genre to read?
Kat: Romance is my fav. I read across a lot of different genres, though. A good book is a good book. Period.
CA: Can you read fiction when you’re in the first draft of a novel, or do you stick to non-fiction? Because “they” say you shouldn’t read in the category you’re writing in while you’re writing…
Kat: I constantly read. Anything and everything. Little things pop into my head as I move through a story, things the author is doing that remind me of things I need to be doing. Movies, TV, books. All are great for ideas.
CA: Awesome! Okay, now for some quickies…
Cake or pie? Pie!
Seafood or beef? BEEF!
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Hugs or kisses? I love kissing, but it depends on whose doing it! Hugs are almost always good.
Potatoes or dessert? Rice
Peeps or Cadbury Eggs? Cadbury.
CA: Anything else you want to talk about?
Kat: A little advice? If you want to be a writer, keep writing and don’t let anyone stop you. Persistence is the key.
Find me at:
My website ; Facebook ; and Twitter is @luvromance.
A novella, only 99 cents!
Against the Heart, a novella is out in e-book only for $.99 cents.
Devil’s Prize, historical, just re-issued with a gorgeous new cover.
AGAINST THE WILD, my next Against novel, is out May 27th
I’m so GLAD Kat could stop by! I’m hoping she’ll hang out today and answer questions, if you’ve got them for her.
Until next time – happy reading!