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.
Are you looking for some summer reading? You are SO in luck! It turns out that some of my favorite people are now my favorite authors! Here are three ladies I am proud to call friend, and they all have new books out.
Lynne Marshall, a long-time Harlequin Medical Romance author, has the second in her Whispering Oaks trilogy out for Harlequin Special Edition called The Medic’s Homecoming. (You can find my review of it on Amazon, but here’s a hint…LOVED it!) Here’s the blurb:
THE GIRL NEXT DOOR… ALL GROWN UP! Lucas
The Medic’s Homecoming by Lynne Marshall
Grady never planned to return to Whispering Oaks. But when family duty called, the prodigal son arrived like the good soldier he’d been for years. And with him came the unfulfilled expectations of the past-expectations his neighbor, Jocelyn Howard, knew all too well.
Jocelyn had been in love with the rebel next door since she was a little girl. But she couldn’t shake those old insecurities that she’d never be good enough, for Lucas or for anyone else. Still, the newly discharged army medic had scars that could never be truly healed-or so he thought. Maybe together, they could mend their wounds…and make each other whole again…
Dee J. Adams has a very successful romantic suspense series out with Carina Press
Dee J. Adams
called the Adrenalin Highs series. This next book, Against the Wall, a High Stakes novel, is her newest and if its anything like her previous books, will undoubtedly grab you by the throat and not let go until the last, final explosion (and kiss, lol!)
Against the Wall by Dee J. Adams
Here’s the blurb: Tanner Bryant wants revenge. After spending seven long years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, he’s determined to even the score with the man who put him there. The only thing in his way is a slip of a girl in a big-ass bind.
Jess St. John needs eight million dollars or her kidnapped family will die. Caught in a war between the mob and her boss, a corrupt film producer, she will stop at nothing to get the job done.
In a race against the clock, and a deal with the devil, Jess forms an unwilling partnership with Tanner to help find and free her family before it’s too late. In return, she’ll look the other way when her boss goes permanently missing. It soon becomes apparent that Tanner has more honor than he wants to admit and Jess finds herself falling for the gentle man beneath the rough exterior. But love and revenge run a close race and when push comes to shove, Tanner has to decide which one is more important.
Roz Lee is the author of the successful Lust Boat novels, and she’s just come out with a new series with baseball heroes. Who doesn’t love those boys of summer? The latest, Bases Loaded, looks fantastic! Here’s the blurb:
Antonio Ramirez is ready to leave his wild reputation
Bases Loaded by Roz Lee
behind in New York and adopt a more respectable life with the Texas Mustangs. When he spies the woman of his dreams at a Fundraiser—its love at first sight. Convincing Clare Kincaid that he’s sincere is harder than he expected. Giving Clare what she wants could wreck his career and compromise his feelings for her.
When super sexy Antonio Ramirez approaches her, Clare is sure he’s playing a cruel game, but the Mustangs new Center Fielder won’t take no for an answer. She might be convinced of his sincerity if only he would invite her to play the one game she longs to play.
Links to Amazon are in the book titles – you know the drill! What are YOU reading this summer?
Lynne Marshall’s new book, Too Close For Comfort, hits shelves today. If you love romances with older heroines, you’ll love Too Close For Comfort and Lynne’s other older-heroine book, One For The Road.
Lynne – you’ve just allowed me to push my wine blog to Saturday, lol! I’ve got five questions for you to answer, so I can introduce you to my readers. Thanks so much for playing along!
Christine: What draws you to writing older heroines?
Lynne: Though life is interesting at every stage, I feel things become more challenging after forty. Women often hit their stride after the big four-oh. I believe we become more intriguing and sure of ourselves. Also, I can relate to women a bit closer to my age than the twenty-something heroines and their dating adventures. I enjoy stories that include marriages and children and the next big relationship obstacle to overcome.
Christine: Other than writing, what is your favorite creative endeavor?
Lynne: I am a totally uncreative person outside of writing. I have done many crafts over the years, but none have stuck. I do feel that I am fairly creative with throwing things together and coming up with a darn good meal, though. Is that considered being creative?
I also believe that I am a creative cusser. I make up cuss words, and enjoy stringing a long line together, with gusto, and hopefully won’t even offend anyone in the process. In fact there is evidence of my fake cuss words in Too Close for Comfort, in particular, at the beginning of chapter Twenty-one.
Christine: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Lynne: I would like to try out several places for a year, but not necessarily to settle down there for good. I must say, I have a love affair with Canada, and I could see myself in a small seaside town in the Atlantic northeast. There was one place in particular that my husband and I stumbled upon when we visited Halifax in 2010. I believe it was called Chester, (Chester Harbour) Nova Scotia. I’d really love to live there for a year. Or in Mahone Bay, which was equally beautiful and quaint.
Christine: Name three simple joys in your life.
Lynne: That first cup of coffee in the morning. Knowing my husband is nearby. Seeing both of my grown childrens’ faces.
Christine: If you could sit down for a meal with any literary character, who would it be and what would you eat?
Lynne: I honestly prefer to keep my characters in books, and actually being with them would ruin the magic of reading and imagination. So may I change that to any literary author?
Samuel Clemens! Oh my gosh, what I’d do to share a meal with Mark Twain. I’d let him choose the meal and would do everything in my power not to let him know whether I hated something or not. Though he’d probably test me by ordering something weird, and I’d love knowing that! I’d eat something I’d never liked before in order to share a meal with Mark Twain, and I’d listen to every single word he uttered and would watch every gesture and expression he made.
Lynne, thanks so much for stopping by! Readers, I swear you will LOVE this book – give it a look see!
Too Close for Comfort
The Wild Rose Press
Dissove the partnership…or renegotiate between the sheets…
Blurb: Joy Waltham is stressed out. Before she can expand her business empire, she needs her ex-husband’s signature dissolving his silent partnership. A trip to Maine to find her ex, get the signature, and chill out seems ideal. But instead of relaxing, Joy winds up in the middle of a mystery—and wrapped in the overprotective arms of Comfort’s chief of police—her ex-husband.
After retiring from LAPD, Paul Donovan took charge of tiny Comfort’s police department. Bored senseless, he’s still not ready for chaos in the form of his ex-wife shaking up his life. Joy arrives just in time to meddle in his investigation of a string of accidental deaths. Now forced to work together, Joy and Paul confront some unexpected challenges.
It’s emotional deja vu as they dig through their thorny past, reawaken old sexual attraction, and face the fact they never stopped loving each other.
“It could have been crazy,” she said, straightening her shirt.
Paul didn’t believe her. She read it in his expression. They had no business reopening their past, and that was exactly what they’d do if they got it on right here right now. She stared at him, desire whispering for a reprieve. Joy cleared her head with a sigh. He swallowed. So did she.
He patted her hip, a sure sign that the party was over. “Let’s go.”
Not quite understanding what had come over her in the first place, she attempted to sound upbeat. “Well, it was fun while it lasted.”
She pulled up her corduroy pants while Paul backed out of the car, ass first. He tucked in his shirt and pulled off his knit cap then scratched his head. He made a sound in his throat like a quiet self-deprecating curse. With lips drawn tight, and eyes crinkled at the corners, he stepped back while she crawled out.
“So what’d we learn from this?”
He didn’t waste a beat as he opened the passenger door for her. “That I had no business bringing you out here.”
She stopped close by his face, and ran her hand along the jaw that had just rubbed her cheek raw. She caught a whiff of his aftershave mixed with a surge of testosterone, and wished she’d had the chance to breathe more of him. “You’re right, Mr. Straight and Narrow,” she said, staring at him, her mouth still tingling from his kisses. “This was probably a mistake. Heaven forbid we should have some mind-numbing sex for old time’s sake.”
Order from The Wild Rose Press
Order from Amazon
~ Until the next time, 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?
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!
Mabon was September 21st; the Autumn Equinox is today. Since they celebrate the same thing, the balance of light and dark in the sky, it’s strange they aren’t celebrated on the same day, but there you go.
According to Scott Cunningham and his Wicca – A Guide for the Solitary Practicioner, Mabon is the completion of the Harvest begun at Lughnasadh, or Lammas. As he puts it – “Nature declines, draws back its bounty, readying for winter and its time of rest.”
One of three Harvest celebrations in Wicca, the name Mabon to delineate this neopagan festival of the autumn equinox was invented by Aiden Kelly in the 1970s as part of a religious study. Considered to be an American invention, few Briton pagans use it; but as more American Neopagan publications are sold in Britain, the term is gaining in popularity.
“Mabon is considered a time of the Mysteries. It is a time to honor Aging Deities and the Spirit World. Considered a time of balance, it is when we stop and relax and enjoy the fruits of our personal harvests, whether they be from toiling in our gardens, working at our jobs, raising our families, or just coping with the hussle-bussle of everyday life.” For more on Mabon and all Autumn celebrations around the world, drop by a fantastic website called Crystal Links.
But what does this have to do with wine? It’s also a time of winemaking, the first crush, the picking of the grapes. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate that?
So by the beautiful Lynne Marshall’s request last week, here are some under $10, juicy Old Vine Zinfandels that you can sink into to help you enjoy the changing of the seasons.
Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin Lodi Zinfandel, Vintage 2009 Alcohol 14.5% by volume – $9.99 at Vons and other fine establishments.
On the Label: “As the truck pulled up to the 80 year old Zinfandel vineyard, my first impression was, “wow, those vines sure have some gnarly heads!” Thus began my love affair with Old Vine Zinfandel. Lodi has some of the oldest vines in Caliofrnia. Unlike modern rows of trellised vines, these old Zinfandel vines were grown as free standing “head trained” vines. Today they resemble wild bushes with twisted old trunks and branches that spread out in all directions sprouting leaves like unruly umbrellas – truly “Gnarly Heads”.
“Our grapes are hand-selected from some of the oldest and most respected vineyards in Lodi. Older vines produce fewer grape clusters, but the small berries yield concentrated fruit flavors characteristic of great Old Vine Zinfandel. Rich, dark berry flavors from the small grape clusters are balanced with French and American oak, which creates layers of licorice, plum, pepper and vanilla. This luscious combination provides a lingering and spicy finish. This wine pairs well with barbecue, pizza, hearty pasta, chili and ribs.”
My Take: Wow, what a label. I enjoyed it, lol…and I don’t always, but this one had just enough information to intrigue me. As to the wine? My first impression was big – thick. Sweeter than I prefer (heads up to those of you who like sweet wines). Lots of dark fruit, with a nice balance of pepper, the first taste was good but the aftertaste even nicer. I quite enjoyed this wine, which means I’ll have to keep checking out Gnarly Head.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ But on the sweeter side. Not my absolute favorite, but a solid wine that didn’t disappoint.
Smoking Loon Old Vine Zinfandel 2009 California 13.9% Alcohol by volume. $9.99; on sale fairly regularly for $5.99 at Vons – from the Sebastiani family
My Take: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m a fan of Smoking Loon. Quality wines at reasonable prices – what’s not to like? The Old Vine Zin tastes expensive. It’s big, bold, nicely fruity but with complexity – not a sweet wine at all. Give it some time to open up in your glass, and pair it with hearty, autumn dishes, and it’ll be a wine you will return to again and again. After all, there is much to be said for consistency.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~
AND ONE MORE…
Big House Cardinal Zin Beastly Old Vines 2010, California $9.99 at Vons
On the Label: “It’s the Cardinal Zin who consoles the straying souls of The Big House. Proud of these dark berries that evoke a sense of envy for their blackberry and peppery flavors, this Zin has been known to elicit lustful feelings and cause mere mortals to covet those long silky legs as they drip down the glass. To avoid the ire of your guests, this wine should be served with a gluttonous feast that includes sloth. Hallowed be thy zin.”
My Take: Love in a glass. I opened it, I poured it, and I fell in love. Big, peppery, warm and comforting, it was the perfect glass to drink with the ever-popular roasted chicken, and broccoli and cauliflower in a rich garlic Alfredo sauce. Plus, with a screw top, you don’t have to fuss too much before you actually get to the wine. It’s a fun wine to give, to serve, or to savor by yourself by the fire on a chilly night.
My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable! ~
~ ~ ~
As usual, this is just my honest opinion and will totally depend upon my mood, the weather, and how much sleep I’m getting. Your taste buds will differ.
~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Give yourself a present – buy it now, lol!