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.
I have lots of summer memories – great ones that I’d like to share.
Frolicking dogs on the beach.
And this one…
Saturday’s Tomato harvest – the small yellow ones are the lemon pear tomatoes, the small red ones are the cherry tomatoes, the two green and yellow striped ones toward the back are the Green Zebra, and the orangish one at the front right is the Mr. Stripey (but without stripes).
Plus this…one of these days, Brenda Chin, we ARE going kayaking. This is a promise! My coast or yours, doesn’t matter.
Kayaks, and the garden. Two of my favorite things…
And I can’t forget this! The little dog would curl around the man, then trot out to the end of the kayak, then back to the man – but he was a real good little sea doggie.
Just taking the dog for a paddle…lol!
I really hate to say goodbye to summer, so I’m not going to. Especially since I believe we’ll get hot temps into October.
And one of my most favorite memories from this summer. The seal.
Isn’t he gorgeous?
As August winds down and September looms, may the memories you cherish implant themselves into your heart.
From me to you, with love.
Until next time, be good to one another!
It’s been years since I’ve played this game…
Remembering to be aware of traps and leeches is something that I have to remind myself of every so often, especially after going through last years’ receipts. Every writer should beware of the traps set for the unwary. Unfortunately, every trap is different, too, depending on the person and where they are in their career. So I decided to share with you the stuff that’s tripped me up over the past few years.
In no particular order, here are the things I have learned to be wary of as I go about building my career.
1. People Who Make Money Off of Writers. Every art form has them, the people who are like leeches, bleeding those who can least afford to spend the money because we’re desperate for guidance. (These are the people who get actors and dancers to perform for free, because every actor and dancer isn’t quite who they think they are when they aren’t performing. I’ve been both, and I get it.) Who are these people making money off you? They are those who profess to know what you need to learn because they have done it, and now are willing to teach you. I’m not saying all teachers are in it just for the money; in many instances, you can find good teachers at reasonable rates (especially online) who will teach you what you need to know/want to learn.
Plus many teachers are very good at it, and they do it because they see a need and they know they can fulfill that need. But when those rates go sky-high? (Tip: Just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean it’s a good class.) When the class is less than satisfactory? Yeah, then you have a problem. YOU ARE BETTER OFF WRITING YOUR NEXT BOOK than take a class you really can’t afford and might not get much out of. That said, classes can be vital to our growth. Budget your class money, and be very careful how you spend it or you’ll be like me. I’ve got several classes that I’ve spent over a hundred dollars each on last year, and you know what? Few of those classes were memorable and made a difference in my work. And now money is tight. If I’d saved that money, I could have gone to National Conference this year. Lesson learned.
2. Beware Of Other Writers’ “How To Do (whatever)”. This one is similar, and yet a little different from the one above. If you are like me, and you go to conferences and writer’s meetings, you have all these people sharing their way (or “a” way) to do things. Like, plot. How many different plotting structures are there? Without thinking too hard about it, I can think of 4. The problem for me is, none of these work AS I’M WRITING. Now, that may just be me, but still – I’ve had workshops totally mess me up and paralyze my writing. Not pretty.
I came to this epiphany at the SoCal RWA Conference last month. I was lucky enough to continue a dialog I had started with the fantastic Brenda Chin back at Desert Dreams last year. (My other posts about Brenda are here and here.) So, we’d talked about a book I’d sent to her and she said the plot needed work. We talked, I revised the plot and sent in the synopsis to her, and we met up at the SoCal RWA Conference where she said, yeah – there’s too much plot.
But but but – I had used the Latest and Greatest Plotting Device in my Toolbox – The Blake Snyder Save The Cat way to plot! (Blinks eyelashes, widens eyes innocently.) How can it possibly be too much? (Trust me, it was. Too much. Way. WAY. Too much. Maybe not for a single title, but DEFINITELY too much for a category romance.) Just another instance of how a great new “tool” can totally derail you. (Or maybe that’s just me.) Yes, be a sponge. Absorb all you can. Then let it all go, and just write.
(BTW – Brenda sat with me and explained the nuances of a catagory romance plot. Book is in progress. I’m a happy girl!) (Also BTW – you’d think, after reading the books for so many years, it would be ingrained. It wasn’t. Sigh.)
3. Jealousy This one hurts. Mainly because it hurts all ways around. There are some people I know who have marvelous careers that started writing at about the same time I did. I’ve learned to be happy for them and only mildly envious, instead of wildly jealous. Jealousy does no one any good. I have come to learn that, had I had early success with my writing, I most likely would have burned out because I wasn’t that good. No, seriously. I had a lot to learn. I STILL have a lot to learn, and I’m looking forward to that journey. I am content with my path because, frankly, everyone’s path to success will look different. Kick jealousy to the curb, you won’t regret it.
4. Anyone Who Promises You A Fast Solution is lying. There are none. There is no magical way to lose weight except through hard work. There is no magical way to become a brilliant writer except through hard work. There is no magical way to become a better person/good mother/loving spouse/best friend/critique partner except through hard work. No one will hand you a career. You have to work hard for it. Anyone who promises a fast solution is talking about moving money from your pocket to theirs. They win, you lose.
5. Anyone Who Says “You Must” or “Must Not” With Regards To Your Career. Be REALLY wary about these people, because often (but not always – see #1) they are people in power. At my very first conference (2002), I had an editor tell me that paranormal was dead on arrival, and try something else. Three years later, Ms. Meyer set the ball rolling with Twilight. Do take whatever your agent/editor says seriously, take it and live with it and make it your own – but if your gut rebels, then look at the relationship. Open that dialog again, and work it out with the person who gave it to you. Don’t take their position on an issue at face value. If after discussion it still doesn’t sit right, then their advice isn’t for you. This may change your career, but hell – IT’S YOUR CAREER. Not theirs.
6. Be Careful on Social Media. This should also be called the “don’t bash anyone” point. You may have been dismissed by every publisher in the business; but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to Indie pub your book and then trash talk about all publishing houses everywhere on social media. All that does is make you look childish and, perhaps, a wee bit unstable. Instead, use the trite but true “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all” when it comes to social media. Because honey, what goes on the internet never dies.
I am a soft touch. I’m easily convinced the next wonderpill will make me look like a 20 y/o Victoria’s Secret model (after airbrushing) in real life. That the next skin cream will have people looking at me with delight and wonder at my glowing vitality. That a stranger will come up to me on the street and tell me I’m beautiful. (Oh, wait – that really did happen. Twenty years ago.) I’ve learned the hard way, and I no longer have the money to toss away on a class that won’t get me anything but a handful of followers (or whatever).
So I’m passing on my hard-won knowledge (for free, lol!). Please, all you wonderful writers and actors and dancers and photographers and artists and game designers out there just trying out your wings – please be careful. Search out the traps. Spend your money wisely. Keep working at your craft and keep your eyes open for new opportunities, and beware of those selling promise-covered snake oil. There are no short cuts.
We Need More Writers and Poets, Dreamers and Lovers in the World.
Without them, the world is a poorer place. Do you have a lesson to share? Please do!
~ Until the next time…Cheers! ~
Demon Soul and Demon Hunt are available for the Kindle and Kobo! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?
It’s here, finally. The end of 2012. We’re on the cusp of 2013, a bright, shiny new year not yet failing to meet our expectations. I’m looking back on my writing year, and then taking a look ahead at 2013. Come along, and see what I’ve been up to!
So in Looking Back, this year I’ve:
Turned in the manuscript for DEMON HUNT – it pubbed 7/16 of this year.
Cover for Demon Hunt, by Taria A. Reed.
Turned in the short story BLOOD DREAMS – it pubbed 6/1 of this year.
Invited to write a short-SHORT play based on The Rose, by the Brother’s Grimm; wrote it, rewrote it, rewrote it again; turned it in; it had it’s debut at the Crescent Heights High School in the Spring. Totally delighted.
Went to Desert Dreams Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona in April; got to hang with old friends, meet up with new ones, and began a relationship with the amazing Brenda Chin of Harlequin. Also met up with Beth Yarnall of OCC RWA and Debra Mullins of EVA RWA; they both asked me if I would be interested in speaking at their chapter meetings. I said yes, of course. ULP!
Worked on “A Run for the Money” and “Evie’s Song” and “Jesse on the Verge”; pitched them, sent them off ; got rejected.
Joined in with friends for a Summer Camp writing group for the month of June. We still meet – Summer Camp has changed into Boarding School. Some of the most creative, intelligent, fun, supportive, and wonderful women – I’m a lucky girl!
Started “Weightless”, a YA story set in a ballet company; wrote 50k on that. Needs a rewrite and it needs to be finished. BUT – pitched it, sent it off, got rejected. I’m okay with that. Sent it in to a contest – and got great feedback.
Got a phone call from Brenda Chin on the last Monday in July (just before RWA National Conference) – she requested a manuscript that I pitched via a piece of paper! Woo! Sent it off. Have refrained from stalking her via phone or email. Suspect it’s not her cup of tea but will wait for the formal decision on it.
At the conference, I had several delightful, informal bump-intos with Brenda (at the booksigning, in front of Kathy Lyons‘ table, I introduced myself – she said, “I know who you are.” Squee!) (The next day, she bought me a cup of coffee! Double Squee!) Had a hard time not acting all fan-girl on her, but I managed to not totally embarrass myself. Pitched a new manuscript (that wasn’t even written – a HUGE no-no, but since she’d just requested one, I felt safe enough doing that). Needless to say, she hated it BUT – liked a turn of phrase. Gave me a plot. Said “write me that”. So – that’s what I’ve been working on, novel-wise, ever since.
In October, I joined a group called Fierce Backbone; a play development group made up of writers, actors, and directors. They’ve been reading and commenting on my first play (written in 2010/2011); if it ever gets to a staged reading, I’ll be shouting about it from the rooftops. Two people, one set. Imminently produceable.
In October, I also got to be the guest of honor at a book club. They read my book, talked about it, asked me a bunch of questions – it was fantastic and I learned a lot. Thank you Tabitha! And along with Lisa Kessler, I did a booksigning down at Starcrafts in San Diego – Teresa See and friends were lovely and gracious.
Because Fierce Backbone sparks creativity, I wrote a play for my husband for Christmas. Money being not floating from the sky, I needed to get darned creative. He loves it (whew!), and it needs rewriting – but that’s what I worked on almost exclusively from October to Christmas Eve. Dialog comes easy to me, so I’ll get more work done on it and submit to Fierce Backbone to get it into the Monday readings, and we’ll see how it goes!
In November, I gave my first-ever talk to East Valley Authors chapter of RWA. People took notes! They came up afterwards, thanked me, and asked questions! I shocked myself by actually being able to talk for an hour. But yeah, my inner actress was totally stoked.
I’m now (with the help of a couple of wonderful pairs of eagle-eyes) back at work on the Brenda Chin novel. I’ve got so much of it written – now it just needs to get cohesive. I am SO thankful that I’ll be taking a plotting course in January!
I’m taking on the mantle of President of the Los Angeles Romance Authors. I am predicting a calm, easy year (!).
I’m speaking at Orange County Chapter of RWA on January 12th; Los Angeles Romance Authors on January 20th.
I plan on finishing the Brenda Book in January and getting it off to her. Think I should really come up with a series idea to go along with this book and pitch that, too. Then, and only then, will I bug her about the other book. Just a friendly warning, Brenda. 😉
Then I really must get to Demon’s Rage, the final book in the Demon Trilogy. I’d like to get that one turned in by the end of March, then write two or three short stories in the world and turn all those in, as well.
Then back to Weightless, my Ballet YA. I’d love to get that one done up and send it around. If no one bites, I may just dip my toes into self-publishing. I love this book and it deserves to go somewhere.
March 15 – 17, I’ll be at the So Cal RWA Writer’s Conference, California Dreaming. Brenda Chin will also be there (according to the conference website).
Stalking seeing her will be very cool. If I don’t have that book done and turned in to her BEFORE then, I will just be a failure so there’s that! A good prod to productivity.
I’m not looking too much farther ahead than March. I have a lot to do in the next three months – besides all of the above, I have two plays to re-write.
RWA National Conference will be held in Atlanta this year. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I’ll be able to go, even though I should since I’m chapter president and all. We shall see.
So, there it is – looking back, and looking ahead. How far ahead do you plan your year? Or do you let circumstances change your schedule?
Here’s hoping 2013 is your best year yet! Be safe out there tonight – remember there will be a lot of amateur drunks on the roads. Don’t drive if you don’t have to!
~ Until next year, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?
So, the hubby, since I’m safely at the day job, decides he needs to see if he can get our smallest kayak on top of our Honda Fit. And when he does manage to get it on there and strapped down, he feels that he really can’t waste the opportunity – and so, therefore, goes kayaking without me. After properly taunting me with the below photo.
Harrumph. I hardly think that’s fair. But, as I’m snuffy with a head-cold and out-of-sorts from this book I’m currently working on (Candy Havens’ workshop is kicking me in the ass), and oh yeah have to be at the day job today, well then – I guess it’s okay.
But really. I could have used some baking in the sun today. (See, Brenda? I wasn’t joking – we do have kayaks, lol!)
~ ~ ~
Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?