by Christine | Publishing, Writing
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!
by Christine | Publishing, Writing
So, I just came back from the Desert Dreams conference, which was a wonderful experience (thanks to the Desert Rose chapter of RWA for a FABULOUS time!). I really want a partner in this writing endeavor, so I was focused on meeting with agents and hoping to stir some interest in my work – which I did, so yay me. (Now I’m behind. Again. So it goes!)
I also got to speak very informally with one of my editor-crushes, Brenda Chin (she’s just fantastic, and I’d go kayaking with her any time). A big step for me – a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have known what to say or how to act. Anyway…
A good conference. No, a GREAT conference. Lots of goodness – lots of hugging old friends, meeting and cheering on new friends, and I’ve even been asked by a couple local RWA chapters to speak at their monthly meetings, so that was a kick. (I must get back to those ladies…)
And then, I opened my email today and saw this post from Kristen Lamb who I absolutely adore. It’s titled BIG SIX PUBLISHING IS DEAD – WELCOME THE MASSIVE THREE . Go ahead and click on that and read the article – I’ll wait.
Back already? So, basically, she says (and it’s really hard to disagree with her logic) that Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft/B&N are the new beasts on the publishing playground, and they will devour traditional publishing the way Apple first devoured music stores, and then devoured Kodak and their traditional film cameras (does anyone carry a camera any more?). This is also much in alignment with what I heard from Bob Mayer this past weekend.
After the weekend I just had, this news (which isn’t really news) makes me dizzy. I am still firmly of the opinion that I don’t want to be my own publisher – I don’t want to work that hard. Writing the book is hard enough, thank you very much. However – I feel very much whipped around, like I’m on the edge of the tornado that is publishing now.
Maybe I’ll “grow up” and get over it, and pub my own stuff. Maybe not. It’s still a discoverability issue – even if you get 70% of royalties on stuff you pub, if no one can find it and if no one buys it, that’s zero dollars. Actually, negative dollars since you’ve paid for the cover/editing/etc. If you make your work free, whoopee – that’s still no cash in your pocket, and no guarantee that anyone will go on to purchase from you. And no matter how much I love writing, am I willing to put book after book out there with no return? To be honest, I really don’t know. But it’s hard to put food on the table with a negative income, even when doing something I love.
So, still conflicted. Here’s a soothing photo of people kayaking. (Brenda, take note – if/when we work together, I’d LOVE to kayak with you!)
What about you? Are you thinking about taking the plunge? Have you already taken it? Are you resisting it with every fiber of your being, and now feel like a little dinosaur about to be eaten by the big T-Rex?
I love your opinions – lay them on me! Am I still firmly an ostrich, dancing, and is there anything wrong with that?
~ Until next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
by Christine | Life, Writing
Okay, so last week I whined about being Alone in the Publishing Wilderness. As a writer, I didn’t want to have to do everything (marketing, blogging, facebook/twitter/etcetera) all the time (I still don’t). And I got a lot of response from others feeling pressured, and overwhelmed, by all that goes with publishing. As I’m ramping up for the release this year of my second novel, I’d really like to get this whole writer-marketer thing down to where I’m comfortable with it.
In the past week, I’ve learned five important lessons about the publishing world, and myself, that I thought I’d share.
1. I don’t want to be a publishing dinosaur. As much as I’d love to hide in my cave and just write, I tried that. Didn’t work. (Well…I got a lot written, but slowly – it was the beginning of my career, what can I say? I didn’t work HARD enough.) Now I’ve got a day job, learning new stuff – I can and will learn the new publishing stuff, too. It’ll keep me nimble, lol.
2. Reading others’ blog posts informs me, broadens my horizons, and gives me a few chuckles. The mere act of reading someone else’s thoughts gives me more opportunity to empathize (or get angry on behalf of – depending), strengthening the human connection. Gives me food for thought and conversation with the family and the boss. (Good conversation is RARE!!!) Plus anyone that provides belly laughs is my friend for life. And you never know where the germ of a story idea will come from.
3. I am not Alone – I am a Modern Author/Warrior. Kristen Lamb’s latest post finally explains it to me to where it’s palatable. I’m really looking forward to the nify armor! Plus she and the other MyWANA teams totally rock, and I keep forgetting to keep them at the front of my mind. If you’ve noticed the #MyWANA hashtag, or all the derivatives, but haven’t understood it, see her video for a full explanation here.
4. More Blogging is a Good Thing. Just like More Cowbell (my new favorite blog). I enjoy blogging, I like talking about wines and recipes and every now and then, my writing. Kristen Lamb tells us to set aside time to do our blog posts in advance and schedule them accordingly…well, yeah, okay, I can work on getting organized. (Kristen also says that if we make our bed every day, that it will eventually lead to a clean house. Haven’t noticed that one working yet…)
Maybe I’ll start having guest posts once a week. Takes some pressure off, you know? Plus, after reading this fascinating article about 12 blogging mistakes from the guys at SEO MOZ, Irealized that perhaps search engine optimization IS something I need to learn.
5. Content is Still King. Whether you’re writing a novel, short story, blog post or grocery list, content is still king. The only thing that’s better than strong, solid content is LOTS of it. (Hence more blog posts. And the masked guy in the corner, fingering his whip every time I stop typing on my latest manuscript, lol.) I read Bob Mayer’s post this week on the secret handshake of successful digital publishing – and it restored my faith in content.
Other places to go for more inspiration:
Bob Mayer’s post on Platform, Product, Promotion is something every writer needs to read.
JA Konrath provides thought-provoking tidbits on A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, and his latest post is one of my favorites.
Piper Bayard and her partner, Holmes, always have interesting (and funny) stuff to pass on to us real people. Love this post on the Guinea Pig Diaries!
On a General Writing Note: I LOVE Savvy Authors. It’s a free site (they also have a paid site) and the posts are always informative, no matter where you are in your writing career.
So, that’s what I’ve learned this past week. What are some of your favorite blogs to visit for inspiration, or a chuckle? I’d love to know! Please feel free to include the link in your comment so I can check them out!
by Christine | Mashup of Awesomeness
In the spirit of Holiday, and Freedoms, and all around extreme coolness, I’m passing on some blogs – or books – that I’ve found to be amazing, wonderful, interesting, or just very, very cool.
First up is Ais Portraits and her terrific post about food styling. This young woman is a terrific photographer, and I’ve just today found her. Trust me when I say I’ll be following her development!
Ais’s mom is Lorna Tedder, and her blog is The Spiritual Eclectic. An all around great place to hang. Lorna is good peeps and seeing her change and grow has been an amazing journey this past few years – plus I learn a lot!
I have to give a shout out to my very dear friend, Lynne Marshall. Her single title, ONE FOR THE ROAD, is out now from Wild Rose Press and it’s definitely a book full of heart. Lynne is a writer who knows how to dig into your emotions and keep you hooked, right from the beginning. You can find her book here.
For knowledge and fun, give Catie Rhodes a try. She’s a writer who blogs about – well, a lot. Today, she’s blogging about high treason, and how everyone who signed the Declaration of Independence could have been drawn and quartered (and I don’t mean have a portrait made and given a place to sleep), plus a lot worse. She gives good history – it’s another place where I always learn something.
For writers looking for mentors, check out Kristen Lamb’s blog. She’s the #1 social media guru for writers, in my opinion. Plus, she’s downright funny and fun to hang with. She teaches online classes, too – so if you can grab one of those, do!
Another terrific writing mentor is Bob Mayer. I’ve taken his Warrior Writer class twice now, both times in person, and done all the exercises in his book at least twice. He’s dedicated, funny, and prolific. He’s got his finger on the indie press pulse, and I’ve learned a lot from him. Because of an idea he gave me in one of his workshops, I sold my first book. So I’m also forever indebted to him!
And last but not least, for this week anyway, is a wine blog by Joe Roberts called 1 Wine Dude. He’s a “certified” wine specialist, but he’s straight forward, funny, and not at all pretentious. I’m actually gonna find him on Twitter and follow, as he does reviews there. He tastes tons of wines of all price ranges and is witty about his reviews but not obscure.
So there you have it, some of my favorite online places to hang. Coming soon is a blog on pink wines – why, oh why couldn’t they have just kept calling them Rose? (Pretend there’s an accent on the “e” for me, okay?!)
In the meantime, have a safe and happy Fourth of July. Love from my house to yours!
~ ~ ~
Have you read DEMON SOUL yet? You can find it at Crescent Moon Pressor Amazon.com. Happy Reading!
by Christine | Uncategorized, Writing
Do you like the new header? Su Kopil at Earthly Charms did it for me, based upon the bookmarks she designed for me. I love it!
Last year, March 5th marked my last day at my Regular Day Job (as opposed to my Part Time Day Job). Since that time, I’ve taken more online classes (some concurrently) than I have in the previous five years. And I’ve learned a lot.
The classes that stood out for me were the following:
Deep Story Technique by Carol Hughes – she gave me a comprehensive road map to follow – it’s got everything in it from the Hero’s Journey to the Five Emotional Turning Points. It helps me plot (which I hate doing), it helps me with the synopsis, and it helped me reshape the book that ultimately netted my first sale.
The Tiny Art of Elevator Pitches by Carrie Lofty She helped me whittle down further and further my one sentence pitch until I understood it was the kernel of the story that belonged in the pitch – not the detail. Now if only I could keep her on retainer to help me with ALL my book pitches.
The Logline, Premise, Query and Synopsis by Elle James and Delilah Devlin This, in conjunction with the other two (all of which overlapped) solidified how important the ancillary writing is that surrounds the actual novel. Truly a revelation and an excellent class by excellent instructors. They gave thoughtful and genuine critiques to everyone who participated.
Writing the Query Letter by Julie Rowe Are you seeing a theme here? I knew my query letters sucked as I was getting form rejections from my queries. Julie’s class helped me build on knowledge previously gained. (I think I need another class, though. My query letters still suck.)
A Cop’s Life by Kathy Bennett This was my first breather class – tons of information, and I’ve saved it all. I’ve got a cop coming up in a novel, so I wanted to be prepared. Luckily, Kathy is in my local RWA Chapter so I can ask her questions when I need to.
Book Factory by Kerri Nelson I, too want to write and sell as much as Kerri does. Now if only I can discipline myself to use her techniques! (Hint: it’s all in the way you manage your time.)
Writing Love Scenes by Shayla Black Great info, bad timing on my part as just days after the class ended I went in for surgery. But I saved all the lessons and you can be sure the next time I write a love scene, I’ll be re-reading them.
Holly Lisle – I’m going to stop there. Holly Lisle is awesome. Any class of hers that you choose is terrific.
Warrior Writer by Bob Mayer I took this class again in 2010 after taking it in 2009 because my local chapter gave it as an all-day workshop. Even though I have the book, even though I’ve done the work from the book, I still learned something about me as a writer. In 2009, I wrote a review about the class that basically said I felt stalled as a writer and I knew something had to change. What I hadn’t been aware of was that I needed to change.
I’m currently getting ready for the Henry Miller Writer’s Workshop, focusing on children’s, middle grade, and YA books and presented by the Andrea Brown Agency. It starts tomorrow – I’ll be there, with my YA book in my sweaty palms, ready to find out why it’s not generating the interest I know it should be.
I’ll post about more classes that I took during the past 12 months, plus how the workshop goes, when I return next week. Till then, write well!