Photo Diary of My Week at RWA’s 2011 National Conference

Registration Goody Bag:

**Wanna know something cool?!? The Conference was partly sponsored by Avon, my publisher. A thumb drive was part of the registration package. On that driver were four sample pieces of work…one was MINE and the other was my fellow SFARWA member and conference roomie, Rachael Herron! How sweet is that?!?

Me, in front of the Harper Collins office:

*I was sooo nervous for the Avon sponsored Digital Day, can you tell? I’m uber-glad Rachael was nice enough to come with me and show me the ropes. The Digital Day was great. I met everyone from the editors, to the marketing team, to the cover artist who designed my FABULOUS cover, to other lovely Avon authors. It couldn’t have gone better.

Holding up my t-shirt at the Avon Signing:

**Wasn’t that sweet of them to print it up?!? Totally made my morning. Can’t wait to be a part of the signing next year!

Avon Author Spotlight:

*Wanna know the coolest thing about the spotlight? Seeing my cover on the bigscreen. Hearing my wonderful editor, Esi, gush about the book. It feels amazing to know that someone loves my work as much as I do. Oh, and hearing the crowd ooh and aah over the cover and blurb wasn’t too bad of a feeling, either. *wink

A little hole in the wall Italian restaurant my roomies found on the last day of the conference:

*It was the BEST Italian food…

…but the company made it better:

*That’s A.J., Rachael and me. They seriously made the trip the AWESOME experience it was. We got along so well–it’s too easy to LOVE them–that every night I laughed till I cried. I’m gonna miss those slumber-party nights…

The LOOT I ended up taking home:

*Forty-eight signed books in all. $374 worth of top-notch reading material for a $25 checked bag fee. Not too bad, eh? My TBR pile is enormous. Can’t wait to dig in.

More to come tomorrow…

It’s the little things…

I wasn’t expecting a package from UPS yesterday, so you can imagine my surprise when the big and brown truck pulled in front of my house and blared the horn. The package was big. Fluffy. The return address read “Harper Collins Publishers.”

My heart sped.

Look what was inside:

There’s a bracelet, a NYC magnet featuring Times Square, a subway map in a nifty little holder, and a book called, “My First New York” about famous people and their first trips to the city. In case you haven’t heard, RWA’s national conference is being held in New York City next week. I’ll be there from Monday-Saturday.

This little package, preparing me for my trip, was over the top. I cried. The publisher didn’t have to send anything like this. They didn’t have to think of me…but they did. It was the littlest thing–a bag filled with goodies—that made all the difference for me; I still don’t think of myself as “making it” in the writing industry (and doubt I’ll ever think that way), but as of yesterday I feel like I’m giving NYC a run for its money.

Writing update: I’m on Chapter 3 of my novella, still on page 60 of Book3 in the Crimson Bay Series. I should be finished with the novella by the conference and Book3 by Fall. And I must admit, I’m having much more fun writing the novella than I thought I would!

More RWA Orlando Stuff

I’m going to warn you–this will be a longer post. There’s just so much to tell. If you don’t want to hear ramblings about RWA National or see the weird pictures just scroll down below where I make a very cool announcement regarding the 100 Follower Contest!

First things first, I came upon these ladies in the “Hemisphere” portion of the Dolphin hotel:


The picture is proof how absolutely crazy writers are about books. (I am undoubtedly a part of that “crazy” label.) There were so many autographed books given during the signings that many needed boxes to mail home their things. Checked luggage wouldn’t cover it by a long shot. I just couldn’t believe their stash! They told me they’d fill all the boxes and then some. Insane. They were from North Carolina (or was it the South–forgive me ladies) and were very nice to let me take their picture to show you all the level of commitment to our favorite books and authors. I think it sums up the dedication well.

While walking through the hotel from one workshop to another, I couldn’t help but feel the hand of fate guiding me. I always seemed to find myself at the right place at the right time. I met some amazing people and learned great things from them. BUT I have to say I freaked out just as much when I talked to Allison Brennan as I did when I saw this in the lobby of the neighboring hotel.


There it was–staring me in the face. For those of you new to my blog, I’ve been an avid collector of anything Titanic since around 1992. It was beyond cool to see that even across the country, so far from things comfortable and familiar, something simple like a Titanic crate can make me feel like I’m home.

Then of course there was this kick-ass waterslide outside The Yacht Club.


I didn’t bring my bathing suit otherwise I might’ve given it a whirl.

I did, however, remember to bring my formal dress for the Golden Heart and Rita award ceremony. People were dressed to the hilt–I even saw a hoop skirt! You wouldn’t believe the extravagance of the night or the thrill of seeing the winners take their awards, hearing them make their tearful, joyous speeches unless you were there–and you really should be there next time. I didn’t make it to the award ceremony last year and now I really regret it. I didn’t realize how inspiring it would be…I want one of those Rita’s. Just one. I won’t be greedy. And I’ll get one if I wear my fingers down to nubs typing away all hours of the night…better get started, shouldn’t I?

Here’s a picture of our wonderful table who had to put up with my giddy-sleep-deprived-antics during each song. Sorry, gals, but I had too much fun with our finger kick-line, jazz hands, and awful karaoke style singing. (The awful was on my part, of course. You guys were great).

And now, for the announcement! Pararomance has reached 100 followers! Woohoo! We did it! Now I can start giving away some wicked cool stuff. I’m going to use a random number generator to pick the winner of Lisa Sanchez’s Eve of Samhain or a $15 Starbucks giftcard on Friday. You have until the end of the week to comment and enter the contest or tweet and blog about the contest to get your entries up. You can read all the rules on the “100 Follower Contest” tab above.

Good luck!

RWA Overview

I’m now home safe and sound from one of the best conferences ever. I couldn’t possibly explain to you how much I learned or how tired I am this morning. Both are equally overwhelming. I have great stories to tell and will most likely be blogging about them all week, but for today I wanted to give an overview. Let me take you back to the beginning…

I’m a die hard Dumb and Dumber fan and had to take a picture as we were flying over the Rockies. The scene in the Rockies where Harry had an extra pair of gloves the whole time Lloyd’s hands were freezing kept coming to mind. I know, I know, I’m a dork. I’m well aware. Here they are:

This was the entrance to the Swan and Dolphin hotel where the conference was held:

Beautiful, isn’t it?

I lost my voice early in the conference (Day 2, I think) and it’s mostly due to the fact I spent most of my time on the lobby trying to network over the raging sound of this:

A short walk from the hotel was the Disney Boardwalk. Shops and arcade games lined the boarded street as well as restaurants and dance halls.

I even ate dinner one night with two friends (Hi Pamela Fryer and Vanessa Kier!) at Disney Brewery. Disney. Brewery. Two words I would never have expected to see together. The food was great and our server was from Antioch! Great to meet someone from my neck of the woods. Here’s the waterfront view we had from our table:

Nora Roberts was the keynote speaker for the first luncheon. Lisa and I got slammin’ seats thanks to awesome line-stalking skills. This is us a little blurred:

And this is proof Nora Roberts has sold her soul to become a romance writing Goddess. She’s seriously glowing. When I ran into her a few days later I showed her the picture. She thought it was hilarious and said she’s no God. I bet there’s a few in the industry who beg to differ:

I was invited to a Doughnut Party hosted by Carolyn Jewel who was up for two RITA’s at the award ceremony. For those of you who don’t know what a RITA is, it’s like the OSCARS but cooler. A RITA is won by votes from other published writers. In other words, your book has to be the best of the best in its category and is voted on by probably the most critical people in the business. It was great to meet a handful of nominees, chomp on some sticky, sugary goodness and drink margaritas from sparkly plastic cups. It was awesome. Here’s two of my party crashers, Adrienne Miller and Monica Newcomb (both writers and great people):

And there’s no way they’re that innocent, fyi. I’d show you the picture snapped right after this one but Blogger officials may shut me down. I’m totally joking, but not about the fact that we had a blast.

This week I’ll post more pictures of other author friends and late-night happenings (boy, are some of the stories C-R-A-Z-Y) and more from the RITA’s. Have a great Monday! Mine will be filled with sleep, sleep and more sleep…but after this conference I’ll dream big. *grin

RWA Day 1: Flight

So. My plan was to post a ton of pictures today. I took tons. So not like me. My blog post was going to be funny–a riot!

Instead I’m sitting barefoot on the hotel bed exhausted out of my mind…and blogger won’t load the pictures because the hotel Wi-Fi is too slow. Yeah. No good. So until I can mooch off Wi-Fi from another area you’ll have to do with this re-cap.

I’ve been up since 2:30 am pacific time. It’s 11:00 pm eastern time now. I’ve had little to eat today; unless you’d call an airline Wasabe Chicken Sandwich and a mocha lunch. Turbulence due to thunderstorms over the runway was so bad that we had to circle the airport for 20 minutes. I almost had a panic attack each time we hit an air pocket.

And I couldn’t stop laughing. Call it an awkward stress release–beats me.

Did I forget to mention I had a kick-ass dinner with Debra Dixon, the owner of Belle books? I did? Let me tell you…she was awesome. Dinner was much-needed. Drinks were fruity and much too strong for my taste.

So that’s it. My re-cap sans cool pictures that would’ve made you laugh. Oh! And I saw Nora Roberts. Twice!

Workshops start tomorrow. I’ll fill you in more and hopefully have some photos to share. Night all.

And I’m Leaaavvvin’ on a Jet Plane…

Tonight’s the night! I’m leaving for Orlando! Woohoo! I can’t tell you how excited I am to walk amongst the greats and learn what they have to teach. I can’t wait to meet other writers, my agent and hopefully a few editors who’d give a little unpublished gal like myself the time of day.

My plan is to post a little tidbit every night whether it be something I learned, something phenomenal (or funny) that happened or a few pictures of my wanderings. I’m usually the person who forgets to take pictures during something amazing…signing with Nora Roberts? I’ll forget my camera for sure. Talking with my agent? I’m likely to bring my camera but be so nervous I forget to take it out of my bag. BUT with the promise to post tons of pictures HERE, maybe that’ll force me to whip out my camera more often.

For the sake of all that is blogging, let’s hope.

So I’m on my way…wish me luck and good vibes for great impressions and loads of fun with amazing writers! (And if that wasn’t the most awkwardly written sentence I don’t know what is! But I’m too giddy to care! Orlando here I come!)

RWA National Conference 2010

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be attending this year’s conference in Orlando, Florida! My critique partner and I leave on Wednesday at the butt-crack of dawn. (Speaking of, has anyone ever seen the actual butt-crack of dawn? No?)

I wonder if it looks something like this:

Heh. Anyway, we leave at 6:30am which means leaving the house at some God-awful-hour before 4am. Urrrggghhh. (By the by, that’s the exact sound I’ll be making as I wipe the drool off my pillow come Wednesday.)

As tedious as all the tasks are to get to Orlando, once we land we’re heading right to a Literacy Autographing where the best of the bests will be ready to battle illiteracy with their trusty pens. From there on out, I’m going to be a sponge, soaking up as much information on craft and publishing as I can.

Imagine me a little like this:

Only I hope I won’t be that boring. Maybe after I recoup from jetlag I’ll have a little more personality. I’ll probably look like this:

Oh, this is too much fun. Okay, okay, this’ll be me as I run into Nora Roberts, J.R. Ward, Christine Feehan, Allison Brennan, and on and on:

Seriously, though, what better way to learn what it takes to become published than from the experts who are? I’m going there to learn…and of course network. I hope to meet a few editors face to face. And I’ll be meeting my agent for the first time! Woohoo!

To sum it all up, if you’re going to Orlando and want to find me, this is what you should look for:

I really will be floating on air.

Oh Jeremiah

Found this passage graffitied on a park bench:

It reads:

Jeremiah 29:11-13
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Of all the things I’ve seen written on park benches, this one had me stunned down to my shoes. Totally unexpected.

And after the very polite* conversation I had with Frontier Airlines about transferring my flight to Nashville due to the flooding, I needed this. Jeremiah was right…I don’t know the plans ahead of me. All I can do is leave things up to Him, deal with what I have on my plate and have faith that things will work themselves out the way they were meant to.

Hope your day brings you something just as unexpected.

*By polite conversation of course I mean they slapped a smile on their face while charging me $100 cancellation fee. And I responded as politely as I could…by telling them how sub par their company was in customer service compared to their partner airlines and how I’d never fly with them again.

Moving forward

I don’t know if I mentioned it or not, but I’m going in for knee surgery. Again. *sigh*

I only have two weeks to get things in order. My house needs to be clean as I’ll be down and out on pain meds or crutches for a good couple weeks after. Food needs to be stocked up to feed the family. Stomach rumblings don’t stop just because I do, darn it.

And last but not least, I REALLY want to finish my WIP. I’ve been plugging away every day and have reached 70,000 words out of the 85,000 I’m aiming for. If I don’t finish until after surgery I’m afraid my eyes will be different when I look at my work again. I know, I know, sounds crazy. But right now I’m IN that world. I KNOW these characters. And they’re *this* close to reaching their point of no return and subsequent growth. If I stop now or go into surgery at that point, I fear I’ll have to re-read the entire WIP just to get my head back in the same place. It’s not that I wouldn’t mind reading the whole thing again because I love it so much, and I’ll have to do it when I finish anyway, but that’ll take up more time I don’t have.

I have a self-imposed deadline, people.

RWA National in Nashville is July 28th. This puppy has to be finished, edited, PERFECTED by that time. AND I need readers to give feedback. So much to do, so little time.

On a side note: We’re heading out to a livestock auction today. Should be fun. Oh, and tomorrow I’m posting on my Top Ten Movies of All Time. Have a great day!