RWA Nationals

Conference Recap Part One

on August 3, 2012

View from balcony

I set a goal to have a conference wrap up blog up no later than today. So here you go. But since I couldn’t possible fit everything into one blog, I’m doing a partial recap today and the second half will be up on the Romance Writers Revenge on Monday.

I could start with the flying debacle. Suitcase overweight (lesson learned!) and first flight delayed so connection almost missed (another lesson learned!) but that’s typical travel stuff. I could start with the moment I sat down on the second flight, winded and exhausted, to find Jade Lee in the seat next to me, but then I’m name dropping right away and that’s so gossip-columny. (She is AWESOME! Just in case you were wondering.)
Firebirds hanging out

So let’s start with the important stuff. On Tuesday night there was a gathering of the flock. That’s right, I got to meet my fellow Firebirds! (That would be the other 2012 Golden Heart finalists.) Some looked just like their pictures (hello, Deborah!) while others were harder to recognize. Most people knew me right off even though my hair is way shorter. Once again I must reiterate how lucky I am to have landed with this group. Incredible, intelligent and inspiring women all.

Tuesday was my first Golden Network retreat and the panels they provided (as well as the breakfast and lunch) were stellar. Top editors and agents critiquing first pages (I agreed with all of them, which is rare) and answering questions about the industry. I left the event encouraged and happy to have gotten to know a bit more about some editors and agents I’d never seen speak before. Also, if you ever get the chance to hear Cherry Adair speak, GO!
Literacy Signing before the masses hit

Then it was off to the book signing where I got to be Kristan Higgans‘ author attendant. What does that mean, you ask? Well, I asked the same thing and was hoping it would entail oiling up the cover model she would be bringing with her. But alas, no. I was there for line control, picture taking, and moral support. I think I fulfilled my duties admirably, except those few times I was talking to friends and had to be jerked back to my duties with an iPhone thrust under my nose.

Side note: As a non-iPhone owner, can I just say that little shutter thing is too cool.
Thursday morning was my first ever PRO retreat, which offered a detailed presentation on contracts. Learned a great deal from that one, most of which made me very happy I have an agent to help me wade the contract waters. The speeches provided by Stephanie Laurens and Robyn Carr were quite different and yet both inspiring and uplifting. Each instilled their words with passion for the genre and emotion for their fellow writers.
My schedule didn’t allow for many workshops this year (must get those CDs!) but I gleaned at least one story idea for the current WIP in each of the two I attended and that’s enough for me to consider them a success. The St. Martin’s spotlight was everything I’d hoped for and made my pitch to one of their editors even better thanks to the insight gained.
From a professional standpoint, this conference was a great success. Tune into the Revenge on Monday when I’ll get down to the fun stuff. Disneyland, hanging with friends, and the big awards shindig.
Anyone else attend? Want to share your writerly highlights? Since I missed so many workshops and spotlights, I’d love to hear from those who were able to attend more of the crafty stuff.

Look How Slowly I’m Twitching

on July 20, 2012

I’m not typically a spastic person. In fact, most people would say I’m the opposite of spastic to the point of being annoyingly laid back. I’ve attended the RWA National conference on three previous occasions, always with the joy and excitement of getting to hang with my friends for four or five days, but never the manic condition from which I’m currently suffering.
My conference binder!
I’ve shot past subdued excitement, crossed through mild nausea, and landed in full on monkey brain (to steal a term from my conference roomie.) To compensate, I’m organizing to the Nth degree. I have a binder. A BINDER! I’ve never created a binder before. (Reminds me, I need to put the loose leaf paper in the binder.)
I did a pre-pack trial run and spent the last week planning how the final pack would go. (Anal much?) Then last night the actual packing began, but it’s like the rough draft of packing. I see much revisions and re-packs in my future.
I’ve created a schedule in Word and Excel, printed a version of each for the binder, and then printed smaller versions of the Excel file to slip into my badge each day. I’ve created a packing list that details every piece of clothing I’m taking, as well as toiletries and incidentals.
I’ve watched packing videos, read countless blogs with conference tips, and even have a map of the area surrounding the hotel. (In the binder, of course.) Tickets for Disneyland have been purchased (thank you, Mo!) and at this point, I think I’m ready.
Then I remember I’m pitching and my hair is too short and I plan to wear my contacts but I know they’re going to kill me and I’m meeting my agent for the first time and editors and holy crap when am I going to sleep???
*breathes*
Really. I’m fine. It’s just another conference, right?
How you doin’ this week? Anyone else looking for a place to hide?

Making A List And Checking It Twice…Or Not

on July 13, 2012

I board a flight for Anaheim, CA in eleven days. That’s less than two weeks. Roughly 264 hours. Or 15,840 minutes. Though depending on when you read this, that number could be substantially lower. Suffice it to say, it’s not long now.
At this point I should have a list. Some reference sheet where I can mark off all the things I’ve yet to do. Another for all the things I need to take. Another for all the places I need to be and when I need to be there. Do I have these lists?
Of course not. Gah!
I will. I mean, I intend to have them. A couple are even started already. Mostly in my head. Not the most reliable place to keep them, as there’s a giant hole in there that things fall through never to be seen (or remembered) again. But it’s a system.
I’ve picked out all the clothes and I’m good to go there. Five pairs of shoes is more than I’ve ever taken, but priorities change when you go from being one who will blend into the crowd and become as noticeable as the dusty fake palm tree in the corner of the lobby to one who will be on display and couldn’t blend in short of finding and Invisibility Cloak. (Should that be capitalized? I’m leaving it either way.)
You may have noticed by now I’m a little frazzled. I feel like that life-changing phone call came five minutes ago. Where did those four months go??
Just so you don’t think I’ve squandered that time, I have finished revisions on the manuscript, landed an agent (that is so fun to say) and now that agent is sending that manuscript around to editors. *insert eye twitch here* I’m also charging ahead to write the next book, which is coming along nicely. These facts are the ones that will keep me sane for the next eleven days.

Because when all this hoopla is over, there are still characters to meet and stories to plot and books to write. So that’s what I’m doing. But I’ll get to those lists. Eventually.

Olympic Fever and Epiphanies

on June 26, 2012

Anyone else catching that Olympic fever? I have always loved the Olympics, even though I’ve never tried one iota of the sports involved. Summer or winter. But let’s be honest, the Olympics is not about the sports, it’s about the athletes. The triumphs and heartbreak. The hard work and sacrifice. The mix of skill and talent and determination that makes these ordinary individuals extraordinary.
I was watching the diving trials this past weekend and in an instant knew exactly where I am in my life. This is one of the perks of getting older – epiphanies. Tiny slaps of reality that illuminate where you are and where you are no longer.
So I was watching these young men on the platform, and the first one walks out. If you haven’t seen these divers, their uniforms are, shall we say, slight. So the mind goes to the obvious. “He’s an attractive lad.” (Yes, I say lad in my mind. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) And then the announcer says, “This talented sixteen year old….”
I sat bolt upright. For half a second there was the “I’m a filthy old woman” thought, but the louder thought that followed was way more important. “That child is only three years older than my daughter and he looks like that?!?!” In that instant, I was a horrified mother ready to lock her daughter in the nearest tower. Which ironically might actually be in London. Heh.
There was another diver after that one who was only fifteen. And from Arkansas. Which is where my thirteen year old is right now. At least this child was out of the state at the moment, but what if there are others there just like him?? (The one to the left is NOT the 16 year old. *g*)
Yeah, epiphanies are painful.
In another twist of irony, I will be in Anaheim at the RWA Nationals convention when the games open. Friday night will be all about finding a television and tuning in. (Party in my room. Bring your own popcorn.) Since I’m up for a Golden Heart® award, you could say I’m competing in the RWA version of the Olympics. Before you scoff, think about it. We spend HOURS on our craft. Sacrifice time with our families and friends and pets. Swallow ungodly amounts of coffee and chocolate to keep our stamina up. (Again, that’s our story and we’re sticking to it.)

We may not all be the fittest athletes, but my fellow Firebirds and I are extraordinary individuals, at least for that one week at the end of July. Here’s to the writers who bring home that little gold necklace, and the athletes who will live out their dreams in London.

On The Road To A Smaller Me (and a Mea Culpa)

on July 5, 2011

I’ll get the mea culpa out of the way first. Last year when I attended RWA Nationals in Orlando, Twitter was all the rave. I had an account but wasn’t a fan. However, everyone around me was tweeting non-stop, which I found incredibly annoying. Why couldn’t they just enjoy themselves and take a moment to update their Twitter stream or Facebook status when they got a break?

 

As one who did not get to attend this year, my opinion has changed quite a bit. Not completely, as I still think it’s rude when you’re having a conversation with someone, attempting to look them in the eye, and they’re looking down at their phone. But I so appreciate all the participants who Tweeted speeches, workshops, spotlights, and the awards in real time.

 

It was nearly as good as being there without the travel and expense. And without the laughter, camaraderie, and buzzing atmosphere, but bits of that came through as well. So THANK YOU to all who took the time to let us live vicariously through you. I will not be such a spoil sport next year when I (hopefully!) get to attend again. I might even do some Tweeting of my own.

 

Now to the smaller me. The Romance Biggest Winner project is officially underway. As of today I will eat better, get myself moving, and support my teammates as much as possible. I’ve bought a scale, fruit, and salad mix. Anyone who knows me knows these things would normally never be on any shopping list of mine.

 

I cannot say I’m on a diet. This is something I want to maintain going forward so calling it a diet will mean going back OFF the diet when it’s over and that would be disaster. What I have to do is learn to cut back on the amounts and up the exercise. I’m not going to cut out pasta all together, or try to get used to skim milk and wheat puffs. I know I’d never keep that up. But I don’t have to buy cookie dough (unless I actually have a reason to make cookies), channel surf for three hours like a brainless zombie (while my “middle spread” gets bigger), or go back for seconds when I know I’ve had enough.

 

The project runs for the next six months and if you’d like to follow along, check out the blog for frequent updates. Ashley March is the mastermind behind it and from the looks of things, she’s going to be working like crazy to keep this thing organized. For that alone, I can forgive her for the spreadsheet from hell.