This will be my first Romance Writers of America conference in four years, so I’m excited. There’s something about
taking over a being in a hotel with 2,000 other romance writers that gets my blood flowing.
The energy is amazing, the nerves palpable. Every year there are a lot of people who are attending conference for the first time. They are usually fairly easy to spot – they keep to themselves and have a glazed look of panic in their eyes. By the end of the conference, the panic has ebbed but the glaze is looking rather permanent. It’s information overload.
I’m pitching at this conference, as I have at every conference I’ve ever gone to. I have always been confident at pitching – don’t know why. Lucky, I guess! I’m still
trolling searching for the right agent, and I’m also taking a stab at Harlequin again. (I’ve been reading their books since I was 13; I really, really want to write for them.) I’m also pitching one of my older books that I’m inordinately fond of to Entangled Publishing. They’re holding pitches off-site, at their hotel across the street so yay!
But between now and checking in on Tuesday, I’ve got a lot to do. Like, um, formalize all my pitches, to start. I need to make sure my phone is internet-enabled, and not just when the wireless is engaged. I need to pick up my jackets at the dry cleaners tomorrow, and finish all my work tasks. A big thing is to remember all the small things; tooth brush, toothpaste, makeup, curling iron, hairbrush – I always forget something, then have to buy something that doesn’t quite work. Can’t afford to do that this time, so I’ve got to get it right.
Then there’s the clothing issue. What with not being in my usual shape, due to the rocks in my belly, I’ll be doing a lot of camouflage dressing – jackets and jeans and boots, mostly. Dressy-casual, but not too dressy. Business-like, but not a suit&heels. When you’re spending your day rushing between workshops and lunch and appointments, the last thing you need to wear is a pair of high heels. (No new shoes for me this trip. I learned my lesson about that long ago.) So, laundry just got jacked up high on the list.
I’m lucky enough to room with three incredible women, all whom I’ve known and loved for a few years. We will totally rock our room with hilarity and wine and love and I just can’t wait. (Reminder – buy wine.)
My very first conference experience was rooming with the lovely and talented contemporary romance author Lynne Marshall, way back in 2002 – Denver. Every night after we collapsed in our rooms, we’d stay up, chattering about what we learned, and sharing our notes. It was like having a mini-conference within the conference, and remains one of the highlights of all of my conference-going experiences.
This is a decade later, and I find I’m still excited about learning, still excited about seeing old friends and meeting cyber-friends, and more than anything determined to reach out to people I haven’t yet met but want to meet. I plan to be ready with my business cards to hand out, and my logline (as to what I write) memorized. Bob Mayer says you should go to conferences with a plan – know what you’re going to do, who you’re going to talk with, and have concrete goals. Below are my goals, in no particular order:
1. Be upbeat, but not obnoxious.
2. Ask for business cards from people I connect with. Pass out business cards lavishly to the same.
3. Don’t fawn over Angela James. ESPECIALLY refrain from calling her “cute”. (Yeah. Don’t ask!) As a matter of fact, try to avoid Angela James entirely in any possible one on one situation. (It’s not her, trust me. It’s totally me.)
4. Rock my interviews. All three of them. Get requests for full submissions.
5. Spend some time at the bar, sticking to soda water with lime.
6. Soak up information like a sponge. Really consider taking as many of the self-publishing workshops as I can.
7. Find all of my friends and cyber friends at the book signing and say hi to each one.
8. Scrutinize all the agents that speak at the agent panel; see if maybe there’s one that meets my criteria, and do some research on him/her.
9. Don’t spend any time in my room unless I’m a) sleeping b)partying with the girls after everything is over or 3) taking a shower/doing my hair.
10. Be as much of a positive, welcoming influence as I possibly can to everyone I meet.
So there you go, my goals for RWA 2012. Not outside of my scope of reach, I think.
How about you? Are you going to RWA 2012? What are your goals? Oh, and by the way – I’m not signing at the Literacy Signing on Wednesday night, as I wasn’t sure if my second book would be out in time. But I’ll be hawking tickets and calling out the baskets at the signing – so if you see a crazy woman with electric red hair and a jacket and jeans, flinging business cards willy nilly, it’s probably me. Come on over and say hi!
Thanks for visiting. I love hearing from you, so feel free to leave a comment!
The lovely author Ashley Cockerill has asked me about my Yummalicious Hollandaise Sauce. I really have to add – it should be called Easy Peasy Yummalicious Hollandaise Sauce. That, as you might imagine, got me to thinking and salivating about weekend breakfast.
Yesterday I stumbled upon another fantastic recipe (thanks to Angela James), and now I have two totally different breakfasts for you to make some super-special weekend. (Also good for relaxing holiday breakfasts, if you’re not the one in charge of the family dinner.)
BREAKFAST #1: Eggs Benedict I love eggs Benedict, mainly for the Hollandaise sauce. Over the years I have strayed from the narrow cook-book definition of eggs benedict – I don’t always use English muffins, I rarely use Canadian bacon, I don’t poach the eggs (don’t get me started about poached eggs!); so how can it be remotely considered eggs Benedict? It’s all about the Hollandaise Sauce, baby. Let me define it before going further:
As eHow.com puts it: Hollandaise sauce is “A hot, emulsified sauce made from egg, butter and lemon juice. It’s one of the five “mother” sauces of French cooking.” (And, apparently, has been around for four hundred years or so. Woof.)
My mom, not being a gourmet cook (but feeding us well and tastily for many years), never made Hollandaise sauce. It wasn’t until I married a man with a microwave that I learned to love it. Since I married that man, we’ve replaced the microwave three times (kept the man!) and the book I learned this recipe from is long gone, but here it is:
¼ cup butter (or margarine), ¼ cup light cream, 2 egg yolks, beaten, 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon dry mustard
Put your butter in a two-cup container and microwave for 20-30 seconds, until melted. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Cook in the microwave, uncovered, for one minute until thick – stir with a fork every 15 to 20 seconds. And…voila! Makes 2/3 cup sauce, more or less. Perfect!
Note: I have never used margarine in this recipe. I’ve varied the light cream from everything to heavy whipping cream, to half and half, depending on what I had in the fridge or what I could afford. For the lemon, MEYER lemons (preferrably home grown) work beautifully in this recipe – but if you absolutely have to use bottled lemon juice, go ahead. Oh, and always save your extra egg whites in the fridge for breakfast the next morning. And do NOT leave out the dry mustard! Wet mustard will not work, sorry.
I have never made this any other way than in the microwave – but when I hear people tell stories about it, there’s usually tears involved. I’ve never cried about the way this recipe turned out.
Poaching eggs: I refuse. (What are restaurants for, anyway?) After many failures and partial eggs, as I was making my breakfast one morning the lightbulb went off in my head – I was making them the way I had been taught by my father when I was a very young ballet dancer – technically “poaching” the eggs without the headache. Let me tell you how.
Hot pan, butter sizzling, crack two eggs in. Let them sizzle for a bit, then add about 3 tablespoons of water, and put the lid on the eggs. DO NOT LEAVE THE KITCHEN OR YOU’LL HAVE RUBBER EGGS. Cook on medium, but check the eggs after a minute. Once the egg whites are set, the egg is done! If you want the yolk hard and not runny, take off the heat, leave the cover on and make the toast you forgot to make earlier, and you’ll have a hard yolk.
So how do I make my eggs Benedict? Either English muffin or a croissant, split in half and toasted. Hollandaise sauce, made in microwave. Bacon, likewise made in microwave (lots less grease to clean up!). If using sandwich ham, I heat it in the same pan as the eggs. If I’m really spiffy and using Canadian bacon, then I gently warm it in the microwave. Or sometimes I’ll use cooked asparagus, but that’s another post. Once your bread and meat are done, plop the egg on top, drizzle the Hollandaise sauce, sprinkle lightly if you wish with Paprika, and serve with a cup of fruit, a cut up apple or a quartered tomato fresh from the garden, plus the perfect cup of coffee or tea to round out your meal. Prepare to go into a food coma after eating.
By the way, I highly recommend ONE egg per person, and loading up on the fruit and fresh veggies. You can always put the asparagus on the side and drizzle Hollandaise on top…
Best Weekend Breakfast #2: This is perfect for that rush rush, gotta get breakfast out of the way before the holiday begins. It’s also great for a slow weekend, a lazy morning, a cup of coffee and the Sunday Times. It’s called the Maple-Bacon Biscuit Bake. I made it early this morning – my home still smells of bacon 12 hours later.
It’s heaven in a biscuit. Kind of strange, in that you only bake it for ten minutes (okay, at 475 F, but still…) and then leave it in the oven for another ten to 15 minutes with the heat off…but let me tell you, it was love at first bite. Bacon, maple syrup, brown sugar, butter, and a fabulous biscuit recipe (that alone is a HUGE keeper!). What’s not to love? Go to the link above and get the recipe – Angela James put it on Facebook yesterday, which is how I found it (and got all fangirl and STUPID because it was ANGELA JAMES putting it up – sigh!). My Hubby, my two Young Men, and a teen who had stayed the night all declared these biscuits to be the Best. Breakfast. Biscuits. Ever. And they’re easy. You can either use real milk or buttermilk. My guess is, if all you have is half and half that would work just as well.
Oh, and don’t freak when you see Bakewell Cream in the ingredients list. There are directions to use baking powder and omit the baking soda if you don’t have Bakewell Cream…though I’m thinking I need to try it out, and might just place an order for it soon.
So Ashley, there you have it – not only the Hollandaise Sauce to DIE for (terrific on Steak Diane…), but a wonderful breakfast biscuit, too. Enjoy!
P.S. – I know, it’s Monday. But hey, the weekend will be here before we know it – and now you’ve got time to plan! Cheers!
~ ~ ~
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The solstices have always been magical for me, even before I knew what they were. “The longest day of the year.” “The longest night of the year.” Both were magical times in my young mind, spurred on with many, many viewings of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Plus actually dancing in the full length ballet, years ago, with California Ballet Company down in San Diego, way before acting in two different productions of it. But that’s another story.)
Not only are the days themselves somewhat magical, but I also believe its a good time to enact change. Whether in your self, your routine, your environment, it’s the perfect time to shake things up, make things better. Some people use the calendar New Year to do so; others use back-to-school time to make changes. I’ve used those dates, too, but this year the Solstice seems right.
The biggest change for me? I’m going to really, truly believe in myself and go for what I want, which means there’s a story here for you. I’m on Twitter – not a lot, but often enough – and whenever Angela James (Carina Press) finds something awesome, I tend to check it out. Today, she found Tara and Tara’s Story. This so moved me that I sent the link to my closest writing group, the Los Angeles Romance Authors.
But Tara’s story basically built on stuff I’d been processing internally, via a video shared with LARA by Lynne Marshall, a lovely writer and neighbor of mine. And while this video took time to watch, it is definitely stirring and I sent it to my husband and sons, the most important people in my life.
It’s a TED video (I don’t know anything about them, but you might?) and the woman who speaks is funny, passionate, and wonderful.
So, here’s to change, scary as it may be. Here’s to being the most authentic you that you can be. And here’s to living a wonderful, helpful, serving life.
Happy Summer Solstice, everyone!
Yesterday got off to a great start. I went to a “get the most out of RT” hour, and they had all the pubbed authors stand up, give their name and the name of their book, and it was really nifty!
The best part of that hour though was finally meeting in person Kristen Lamb, the guru of Social Media for authors. She is just as nice and funny and intense in person as she is on twitter – and that’s saying something. We hung out, made plans for some future blog stuff, and ended up sitting together at the Welcome to RT mixer along with Roz Lee, Jennifer Haymore, and Sarah (who got 2 requests – one from an agent, one from an editor!!!).
In the afternoon I went to the Crescent Moon Press spotlight, the Ravenous Romance spotlight (both of which were very enlightening), then went to listen to Elaine Spencer and Deidre Knight from the Knight agency, along with Shannon Butcher and Kristen Painter, two Knight Agency clients. They were talking about plotting your career – and the best advice they had was to stay flexible, keep writing, and if you can, get an agent to help you through the turmoil that is going on in the publishing world. What is true today may not be true ninety days from now. There really aren’t any more 5 year plans for an author’s career – everything moves faster now.
After the talk I was able to talk to Deidre (and kid her about not showing up at the gym yesterday morning, like she’d said she would. But she didn’t arrive until late morning, so that was a great excuse!). It was nice getting to talk to her like a real person! I handed her a bookmark and she was appropriately pleased for me – everyone when they find out I’m a debut author has been very warm. She didn’t show up at the gym this morning, either, but that’s okay -it was packed again. (She’s lost a ton of weight btw and looks great!)
Going from one workshop to another, I ran into Angela James. She is the tiniest, nicest, prettiest woman I’ve seen in a long time. She’d make a great heroine in a novel, I’m just saying. Anyway, I shook her hand, introduced myself, told her she’d sent me a very nice rejection letter but I might have something else for her to look at – and she was appropriately receptive, and very very nice. I’d love to work for her and so will keep that in mind.
A panel on social media was great – Kristen Lamb was there, Nicole Peeler, Andrew Shaeffer, and Terry Kate of Romance in the Backseat. FABULOUS! I’ve got a date with Terry Kate in May, I think, so it’s all peachy.
Got to rush now so I’ll just say during yesterday evening’s Sexy Sirens Through History gathering, I got to talk to the press person from the Los Angeles times. He not only took my bookmark, he asked me questions about my book, my publisher, RT, my writer’s journey, and asked for my phone number. His name was Alan, and you can be sure I’ll be talking to him whenever I see him the rest of the week. And he said the feature should run in the Saturday edition of the L.A. Times.
So that’s my Wednesday Wrap-up. All in all, I consider it a great personal success!
So, today is the first full day of the Romantic Times Booklovers’ Convention here at the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. But I’m going to back up to yesterday.
I attended a BookCamp event that went from 1:30pm to 8pm, so I got to the hotel early in the hopes I wouldn’t be dragging my luggage, my pens, bookmarks, ballgown, faery wings, and venetian mask around.
Luckily, I got in with no problems and by 12:30 was anxiously waiting for my luggage to appear in my room. Which it did about 20 minutes later. GORGEOUS ROOM. Must remember to sneak hubby in at least a couple of nights. Ahem.
So, BookCamp. First off, the people – Angela James was there, as was Miss Smart Bitches herself (but I didn’t get a chance to talk to her – what a hoot! I love her!), and Patrick, the man behind Good Reads – plus lots of readers and authors. The purpose behind it is kind of a non-structured convention – we all came up with ideas to break into small sessions for, and we came up with 16 different topics – everything from “what about libraries?” to contracts, to audio books, to reading groups…we had three 40 minute blocks of time, spread across four different classrooms – and we shared information. No one person stood at the front to talk – we sat in a circle and talked. Shared ideas. And no matter what topic we talked about, everyone was gracious and respectful of each other. Polite discourse. Fascinating!
After it was over, we moved to Borders Grill across the street from the hotel and had a cocktail party, which was part of the event. Lovely drinks and appetizers. Of course, it was very loud in there, and quite disorienting for me, so I bugged out kind of early and wandered the food court in the hotel before going up to my room. A woman in front of me was desperate for a can of coke – when I saw her name tag, I did obeisance. BJ Daniels is all over the Harlequin romance world, and I always love reading her work. So to meet her in person was a thrill! And she said she’d buy my book! Gasp! I’m so excited!
So…what I learned yesterday was go NOWHERE without my bookmarks and pass them out to EVERYONE. (Side note: this Starbucks gets the most eclectic bunch of folks in it that I’ve ever seen…and most of them are wearing some sort of intoxicating colognes or perfumes of some sort.)
ANYway – I am about to put the computer away, and go look for Promo Alley. I’d like to set my stuff up with the SAVVY and the CMP Peeps…we shall see! (Or maybe Promo Alley is in Club RT…hmmm….)
I don’t know why – but it seems easier to talk to other writers here than it does at RWA. Maybe because there are fewer of us here? I just don’t know. But I’m looking forward to today!