Archive for the Writing News Category

Yesterday, I attended the VCRW/CFRW sponsored Super Saturday featuring Roxanne St. Claire, Lucienne Diver, and Lorena Streeter. It was a smashing success. It had it all: Excellent Speakers, Cold Reads and Agent Appointments, Basket and Critique Raffles, and finally, an author booksigning. Yes, VCRW is my home chapter, so I am a bit biased. However, it was much more than that.

Here’s my takeaway from yesterday. Writers need other writers. My best friends are writers, and being at an event filled with them nurtures my soul. When our President came down with the flu, members stepped in to help without even being asked. We all worked together, overcame every obstacle, and made sure our Super Saturday was one of the best ever. I came home feeling uplifted, renewed, and ready to kick butt!

My point? Don’t sit home in your writing cave. Join a writers group, attend writing events, connect and share. The winner will be you!

FAITH, NOT FEAR. This is my new motto. For too long I’ve allowed my own lack of confidence in my writing abilities to hold me back. Fear, and I will call it by its name, has caused me to miss opportunities and drop a lot of balls. Maybe I would be published by now if I had not allowed fear to rule my decision making.

At the 2013 RWA ® National Conference in Atlanta, Cathy Maxwell shared a story about a young artist who never signed his paintings because he didn’t think they were good enough. This spoke to me.  How many times have I hesitated to submit my work because I doubted myself? How many times did I fail to follow up on a ‘good’ rejection letter or a call for submissions because I was afraid to fail? No more.

It’s time to be fearless, to put myself out there, confident that I am a good writer and that my work is good enough. I’m taking chances without fear. Rejection will not stop me. I will continue to submit, revise, and repeat until my dream comes true. What about you?

Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1

I can’t tell you the laugh riot of fun I had yesterday at the First Coast Romance Writers Open House. Love this group! Really enjoyed meeting with Entangled Editor, Kerri-Leigh Grady. The day started out with breakfast at Cracker Barrel and ended with twisting familiar romance tropes into the hysterical. There is nothing better than spending time with other people like me. They understand the crazy that goes on in my mind. =)

I finished the evening with the premiere of HELL ON WHEELS and THE WHITE QUEEN.

RWA 13 has to be the most epic con ever. I met people  I know will change my life, made new friends, and fed off the energy of over 2000 writers all packed into one space.

I started off with a little sight seeing at the Atlanta History Center. The Swan House is not to be missed. For the same ticket price, we toured The Margaret Mitchell House. Actually, Margaret (Peggy to her friends) rented out a 3 room apartment space within the house. This is where she wrote the classic American novel, GONE WITH THE WIND. Long my favorite of all time. I rubbed the lion’s head newel post for luck as she did.

I capped the day off with the RWA Literacy signing where I reconnected with old friends, made new ones, and bought a ton of books! We raised over $52,000 this year.

Thursday, I attended the PRO Retreat where all the buzz was Traditional VS. Self Publishing and the new Hybrid author. Highlight for me was Esi Sogah, editor from Kensington. She made my day when she said Romantic Suspense is on the rise and she is looking for it. When asked about Trad vs Self publishing, she made a thought provoking comment, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Book selling is a business. Do you want to be in business, or not?”

But the day was not over. I attended the FF&P Chapter’s THE GATHERING and Prism Awards, congrats to all the winners. What a fun time.  Then the Borough’s Publishing Open House where I snagged a request from Editor Chris Keeslar.

Friday more workshops and my first scheduled appointment with Lucienne Diver of the Knight Agency. Request number 2 achieved.

But yes, it gets better. Saturday was my day! Started off with an 8:30 am workshop where I stalked ( uh, took the opportunity to talk with) agent Nicole Resciniti. Request number 3!

And what a treat to spend time with former chapter mate and Harlequin author, Katherine Garbera. Kathy is now living in jolly old England and it’s been an age since we’ve been able to chat. Kathy has been not only a friend, but a mentor to me over the years and I can’t say enough about how awesome I think she is.

And then it happened. While waiting to meet some friends for lunch, I was introduced to Rita Clay Estrada. The Rita, the mother of RWA! She has her own statue and she shook my hand. This has to mean that the publishing gods have spoken and I will get a publishing contract this year. Right?

And then it was time for my editor appointment with Kate Dresser of Harlequin HQN. I think Kate and I were separated at birth because we hit it off immediately. It was not like a pitch appointment, it was like running into an old and very dear friend. BFF and request number 4. Even if Kate doesn’t buy my book, I still heart her. =)

Heart overflowing with joy, I dressed for the Rita and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony. During the conference we were treated to some inspiring, uplifting, and at times tear jerking presentations from keynote speakers, Cathy Maxwell and Kristin Higgins. But no one can hold a candle to Awards Ceremony Emcee, Christie Craig. She really could be a stand up comedienne. From pulling rejection letters out of her bra to explaining to us the difference between how a northerner and a southerner start a story, she rocked the house. By the way, here’s how you tell: Northerner – “Once upon a time. Southerner – You ain’t gonna believe this sh*t.” LOL! Congrats to all the finalists and winners!

As I drove out of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis with co-pilot, Gloria Ferguson AKA GLO Z, Laura Kirkland, and Tina Sacco, I was still flying on the conference high. Another friend and chapter mate, Debra Jess literally flew home, but it seemed appropriate since she writes “high flying fiction”!  Although we passed through many storms, we had a safe trip home convoying with chapter President and Loveswept author, Ruth Owen.

And that was my takeaway from the conference. No matter how your writing journey unfolds, don’t give up on your dreams. Keep writing, keep submitting, and one day, you too can be up on stage in sparkles and sequins clutching Rita (the statue version) in your sweaty palms as tears stream down your face. Tears of joy and gratitude for all the friends who supported you and helped you achieve this special moment.

I keep hearing that Disney song from Cinderella playing in my head, “A dream is a wish your heart makes…” Cherish your dreams, nurture them, and believe. It can happen.

I was thrilled to attend the Spacecoast Authors of Romance meeting yesterday. Their special guest, Sue Grimshaw, did not disappoint. Sue spent 16 years as the book buyer for Borders and is now the category specialist and Editor-at-Large for Random House. She has relaunched the ever popular Loveswept line with classic titles plus new originals. And yes, I would like to work for her. =)

Sue, is truly passionate about romance and I love that. I was lucky enough to receive a pitch appointment and a request. Now fingers crossed.

Find Sue and the newly imagined Loveswept line at Romance at Random.

November is National Novel Writing Month.  Starting November 1st, you can join writers from all over the world and complete your novel. I’ve never done it before, but I’m willing to give it a shot.  Join me, go here to sign up:

The STAR Super Saturday was well worth the price of admission. Agent Michelle Grajkowski and Author/Editor Anna DeStefano generously shared their knowledge of the publishing industry with us and took pitch appointments. The food was awesome, catered by Jason’s Deli, and the company was even better.

On a personal note, it was so nice to reconnect with old friends I hadn’t seen in quite some time. And frankly, there’s nothing like the magic created by a large group of writers packed in a small room together, wired on chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and caffeine. =)

I left inspired and eager to send off my requested material. Thanks to the STAR Chapter for an amazing day.

I had the privilege of attending the inaugural Futuristic, Fantasy, and Paranormal Chapter’s Fantasy on the Bayou Conference March 2-4, 2012 in New Orleans, La.  The editor/agent panel gave me a window into the thoughts of industry professionals on the current state of publishing. I gathered that it’s in flux. No one really knows what’s going to happen, but digital publishing is definitely front and center on everyone’s minds. One thing they all made clear is you must have a social media presence if you want to sell books in the current environment.

Throughout the conference, series and branding were the buzz words. Trilogies are hot sellers and many authors are able to build a career on a series of books. Think Twilight and Harry Potter. Melissa Singer of Tor gave a workshop on how characters evolve and change through a series of books. Angela James of Carina Press preferred her authors focus on one genre to build a readership and create a brand. This way she knows where to focus her marketing dollars.

The biggest treat of the con for me was Maggie Shayne. She gave me my ‘Aha Moment’ of the conference. In her keynote speech, she talked about how she had a deadline of when her youngest child entered kindergarten for when she would be published. She sold in August, right before her daughter started school. I’ve always had a sort of deadline in the back of my own mind. I planned to be published by the time my children were grown and out of school. I was lucky enough to have some face time with Maggie and shared this with her and how it hadn’t happened yet. She suggested that since my children are still living at home, I am subconsciously holding myself back from my goal because I feel they still need me. She is so right! Now I have to work on changing that. Maggie is incredibly generous with her wealth of knowledge spanning over twenty years in the industry. And her personal story is beyond inspiring.

One of my favorite workshops was Kerri Nelson’s pitch workshop. She is a true master at creating a two to three line pitch that guarantees requests. She also does her workshop online. I highly recommend it as you will use this pitch in everything from query letters to back cover blurbs.

Then we come to Bob Mayer and his workshop on Digital Publishing. I have to admit to being ambivalent about this topic. I am one of those people who still likes to hold a book in her hand and turn the pages rather than look at an electronic screen. I am being dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age. Yes, I do have a Kindle and have read books on it, but my heart is torn. I can’t imagine a world without bookstores and I do not want to hold a kindle in the bathtub or while relaxing on the beach. You don’t have to charge a paperback!

I also look at the music industry and all the changes mp3 technology and iTunes has brought. Rarely does anyone buy an entire album anymore. It’s only the hit songs. And like the music industry, the publishing industry is dealing with pirates. That said, there are positive aspects: unlimited shelf life (your book will always be available online) and e-pubs are more willing to take a chance on ‘out of the box’ books.

Then there is self publishing, which is what Bob Mayer advocates. He doesn’t believe you need editors or agents anymore. All you need to do is write a good book and spend some money to set it up online for sale. I believe he estimated around $1600, but I’m sure that number varies. I can see how this could be a good route for someone who already has a readership and maybe has the rights to their books back, or has a book of their heart that traditional publishers have passed on. But for an unpublished author trying to sell a first book, I can’t see this as a good option.

Sure, in rare cases, your book might go viral and sell thousands of copies, but it’s more likely, you’d be lucky to sell enough to earn the money you spent back. This is just my opinion. Bob Mayer is a former Green Beret, multi-published in traditional publishing, and has now turned to self publishing as well as selling books on how to do it. If you’re interested in self publishing, he can definitely educate you. But, I don’t think it’s for me.

While many believe the digital age is empowering authors and eliminating the need for editors and agents, I think there needs to be a balance. We need to work together to put out a quality product and the sales will follow. One thing everyone I spoke to at the conference agreed upon is that no one knows exactly what the future of publishing will hold, so educate yourself, and choose the best option(s) for you.

This con report would not be complete without a little of the flavor of New Orleans. What happens when you turn a red light district into a tourist trap? Uh, that would be the French Quarter of New Orleans. Steeped in a rich history, rampant with bars, jazz clubs, some of the best food in the world, and of course, ghosts.

The hub of the French Quarter is Jackson Square, anchored on one end by the St. Louis Cathedral, and on the other, by the Cafe Du Monde. Here, you can find everything from souvenirs to tarot readings. Street people, artists, and vendors decorate the square and the line at the Cafe Du Monde is never-ending.

I partook of the famous French donuts called beignets, fried to perfection and covered with a mountain of powdered sugar. Then toured the city and walked the streets with a Hurricane in hand while listening to spine chilling tales. The city so inspired me, that I plan to set my new book there.

I returned from the conference with multiple requests, new found friends, knowledge, and most of all, the desire to write. Thanks FF&P Board and Volunteers, your first con rocked and I look forward to more in the future.

Things are heating up on the romance writing front. I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted anything on this blog. Guess I’ve been more focused on my writing. =)

Finished my award-winning romantic suspense, RUNAWAY, full requested and submitted to Harlequin Editor, Keyren Gerlach and Agent Jill Marsal. Now, it’s the waiting game.

And while I’m waiting, I’ve started my new book, CRIMINAL HEAT. Seeing a theme here?

Countdown, it’s almost here. I am attending the RWA National Conference in Orlando, FL. I’ll be staying at the Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort (Dolphin side). There’s nothing like getting over 2000 writers together in the same place. I can feel the inspiration already!