Author Photo Contest!

BPlS_CeCMAErwnYThat picture is a bit blurry, but that’s Nora Roberts rocking it out on the dance floor at the Harlequin party a the RWA National Conference. She is so wonderful in so many ways.

I’m over at Word Whores today, talking about why scenes should have goals.

Also, I’m choosing a head shot for my book jacket! *muppet flail* A real book jacket!! So, I have four new shots. I’ll likely use the one I pick for all my social media schtuff, so you’ll be looking at it A LOT. Keep that in mind. Let me know which you like and why. I brought  a SLEW of books back from the conference, so I’ll be giving away the book of choice to three commenters.
(As soon as my suitcases catch up to me, I’ll take a pic of the stack and you can choose from that.)

All pics taken by Sarah at Pritschow Photography. I think she did an amazing job.

(Also, for the purists, these are not the highest resolution I have – I reduced size for the multi-upload here.)

Take it away!

IMG_4764 small

IMG_47902 small

IMG_47922 small

IMG_96022 small


Oh! Atlanta

7_15_13Jackson would make a fine hat accessory, he thinks

I’m off to the RWA National Convention today. If you want to keep up on the fun, the best way is to check my stream here on Twitter. If you’re already on the Twitters, you can also follow the #rwa13 hashtag, for a broader view.

And, if you’re anywhere near Atlanta, consider coming to the massive “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing! More than 400 authors will be signing over two hours. Check out that list. I have trouble sitting at my own table and not running around going all fangirl over everyone else.

Should be a fun week!

Carina Press (Mostly) Uncensored!


I’ll be participating in this very fun panel discussion at RWA next week for those of you going. We’re to be frank and answer what you REALLY want to know about publishing with Carina. See you there!

I’ll also be signing Ruby at the literacy event Wednesday night. You don’t have to be attending the conference to stop by – so if you’re in the Atlanta area, please come and say hi! I love to chat with people!

Does Writing Faster Mean Cutting Out the Art?

001During my travels last week, I stayed with a friend of many years, Kristine Krantz (aka KAK). She blogs on the Word Whores with me and also writes fantasy. We met via the RWA online chapter FF&P, sometime back in the vicinity of 2009. We became critique partners and friends.

At that time, we were both in the same place – shopping these fantasy novels we’d written and hoped to sandwich into some pre-cut genre somewhere. Though my path was hardly a straight-line – no A-ticket Cinderella ride for me – mine has gone faster than hers. She’s still “pre-pubbed” or whatever euphemism you’d like to slap onto that vicious purgatory of waiting for the market to catch up to your genius. I know this is a hard place to be, because I’ve been there. Another friend and sister Word Whore, Allison Pang, who I met at the same time and in the same way, also shopping a like novel, did manage to pull the A-ticket and full Cinderella ride.

(The moral of our three paths, by the way, is that none is strewn with rose petals and nobody, so far as I know, has received a sparkle pony life companion.)

At any rate, (I’m sure by now KAK has scanned ahead to find out just what the hell I plan to say about her) KAK invited me to stay at her house while I attended the Lori Foster Reader & Author Get Together. This turned out to be an unexpected delight because we spent many hours on her delicious screened back porch, overlooking her park-like back yard, while we worked on writerly things and talked.

There’s something truly restorative about rambling conversations on writing and publishing with like-minded friend who’s as keenly interested in the minutiae as you are. Though we see each other on IM, the conversations only go so far. I also realized, as we talked, that I haven’t been updating her regularly on all of my “business.” It’s a funny thing – as you get into dealing with Published Author World, you tend to talk most to people in the same tangle. I don’t *think* I ditched my pre-pub buddy, but we’ve been working on really different things. And, as you faithful readers know, my life has been moving really fast lately.

In fact, she FINALLY (hee hee hee) completed a monstrous revision of her epic fantasy novel. “Revision” is probably a misnomer because she really wrote a whole new novel with the same world and characters. I feel quite a bit of guilty responsibility for this since I was the one to give the crit that triggered the massive rewrite.

She says she doesn’t blame me.

But it took her a long time to do this. Meanwhile I’ve been working fast. It’s nice for her to be able to do this, because she has the luxury of time right now. We know you pre-pub authors get sick of hearing this from us – we got sick of hearing it, too – but writing before contract is REALLY different than writing for contract and under deadline. We know it’s not nostalgia-worthy since being in that hem-tugging, please-see-me stage of publication wears on the soul, but having the luxury of time is something we look back on fondly. Also the lack of expectations.

KAK and I had this conversation. She mentioned that she’d noticed me blogging about writing books I sold on spec and how it feels different. I said, yes, that it feels like another kind of writing altogether. For me it means:

  1. I have to form a plan ahead of time, because selling on spec means I sell the concept and THEN write the book. This is not a natural pattern for me.
  2. Writing a story you’ve “pre-sold” to an editor creates this lens where I feel like I’m writing FOR the editor. That person is very firmly in my mind, because they are now the primary recipient of my story. I haven’t decided if this is good or bad.
  3. There is a firm external deadline. I have to plan ahead – by a year or more, in some cases – to ensure I have the time to write and revise the way I want to.

This last is crucial because, as I rambled on the topic, KAK nodded and said, yes, you write faster and cut out the art.

Which I’ve been mulling ever since.

Because I don’t think that’s true. I can totally see why it would seem that way. There is certainly not the time to lovingly tweak and polish every bit. There is, also, a definite sense of creating a product that fits a particular expectation (see #2 above). However, I don’t feel like I’m cutting out the art.

Maybe this is self-delusion, because I really HOPE I’m not cutting out the art.

I definitely have not managed to short-cut the suffering. Writing a book faster is no less painful than writing it slowly. It’s more that I am more efficient about it. Some of this is experience. I know by now where I’m going to bog down and how I’m going to feel about it – and I’m quite a bit more ruthless about pushing through it. I don’t have time to wander for weeks through the Enchanted Forest (see last Friday’s post, if you have no idea what I’m referring to). I’ve BEEN through that stinking forest and now I just take the direct – and sometimes arduous – path straight through to the Fountain of Story.

I think it’s less cutting out some of the art and more knowing how to pack the art in there. Like really experienced travelers can pack for a two-week trip in 30 minutes and not forget a thing. You just get good at it.

Mainly because you have to.

Speaking of which, I have a novella due on Saturday and just shy of 9K to go to finish.

See you on the flip side!


What RWA Has Done for Me Lately

Dramatic sunset last night. And I got more happy news yesterday, which I should be able to share next week. Hopefully the world won’t end in two weeks, because I have plans.

There’s been some bruhaha over in the hallowed halls of RWA lately. One of the special interest chapters, Women’s Fiction, is being disbanded because their mission and bylaws don’t match RWA’s. RWA, being the Romance Writers of America, has the mission of furthering the romance genre. The Women’s Fiction chapter deliberately focused on fiction for women that are not romances. The chapter bylaws were apparently quite clear on this and some members were even asked to leave (with no acrimony, dues refunded) because their work did not meet the Women’s Fiction definition. All of this has come into play because of increased IRS scrutiny of non-profit tax-exempt organizations. Organizations with this status cannot have subsidiaries with bylaws that are in conflict with the umbrella organization.

All very dry and not really what I want to talk about today.

Amidst all the debate – and there’s been a fair amount of lively and mostly polite debate on the forums and email loops – one person said that RWA had never done one thing to advance her career. A couple of people called her on it, but I’d like to take it a step further.

I am a believer in professional organizations. The strength in numbers created by people of like minds can have a massive impact on the world, creating a smooth path that newcomers sometimes never appreciate.

I think of this with the women’s movement. So many young women refuse to identify themselves as feminists. That’s because we have the enormous luxury of not needing to. We can vote, hold office, walk about unescorted, obtain any job we wish, control our own money, cannot be owned or traded like property. All important qualities for being an independent human being – and all things that women did not use to have, and that many women around the world today do not have. It’s only a non-issue for the women enjoying the rights the women before us fought for.

Unions are a huge topic of conversation today. The impact of unions on our economy, creating in many cases unsustainable – even ridiculous – organizational and fiscal scenarios. But we can’t forget how unionization changed the face of our world following the industrial revolution. We take for granted our five-day work week, 8- or 9-hour days with breaks to eat, as if these are basic rights. Of course little kids go to school and can’t work in factories. But all of these “basic rights” are only there for us to take for granted because our predecessors banded into unions and fought for it.

Now, comparing a professional organization for writers of romance looks a bit weak in the face of these profound battles, but the principle is there. For a romance writer – and member of RWA – to say the organization has never done one thing for her only demonstrates that we have no idea what we’d be facing if RWA had never existed.

There’s a reason that the RWA president has to have published at least five books (I think that’s the right number), because our president must be experienced in the industry, with a credible level of clout for dealing with publishers and literary agencies. What if romance writers never had that public face to represent us?

We all know that romance has long been the sneered-upon bastard stepchild of the reading world – despite its tremendous sales. What kind of conversations would we be having about romance without those sales numbers that RWA compiles and shouts to the world?

For myself, I can vouch that RWA has opened more doors for me and provided the greatest community than any other writers organization I’ve been part of. And I’ve been in quite a few – from arts councils to small critique groups. The conferences, local chapters, online chapters and other communities in RWA have given me an array of tools and friendships that I could never attempt to quantify.

More, I feel certain that those writers who banded together back in 1981 created a smooth road for me. There are all sorts of things I take for granted that might not be there without our powerful and respected professional organization.

I’m proud and grateful to be a member.

In Which I Am FAMOUS

Isabel and Jackson napped together all afternoon. It’s so lovely seeing them be companionable.

 So, some fun things. You can see a picture of me on the New York Times business page here on slide #2!


And also? A pic of me in this video! (I’m at 2:20, if you want to expedite the process.)

Don’t I totally ROCK? Or, rather, doesn’t the very cool chick who photographed me at the convention totally rock? I feel like sending her expensive chocolates and cheap champagne. Or vice-versa. I don’t know her that well.

As for today, this might be my last Monday post for a while. Via Roni Loren’s Fill Me In Friday blog, I ran across this post, about blogging less than five days a week. It really struck home, because I’ve been noticing a lot of you check in only once or twice a week – much like his readers. And, gods know, now that I’ve got three series going and my AGENT (okay, I’m still a little giddy over that) I shopping yet another, I don’t need to blog every day.

So THIS? My official announcement that I’ll be putting up blog posts on Tuesday, Friday and at Word Whores on Sunday. Just *think* of the improved quality! The condensed intensity! The sheer reduction of emails in your In-Box!

Yes, I know what’s important to you.

Final Wrap-Up of RWA. Includes Dancing.

Hey, it’s Friday, which means it’s my last day to wrap up the final two days of the conference. Which pretty accurately captures how it all feels at that point: fast and compressed.

First thing that Friday morning, I dragged myself together in time to meet several other Carina authors (Jennifer Bray-Weber, Adrienne Giordano, Ruth Casie, Rita Henuber, Julie Rowe) and Carina freelance editor Mallory Braus for breakfast with our Brenda Novak auction winner. We had a lovely time – including mimosas! Poor Joyce had managed to sprain her ankle the day before, tripping over tape at the doors of the keynote luncheon, and was a real trooper. She asked us for the honest dirt on writing for Carina and we all raved with the lurv. So much for dirt!

I made it back over to the convention in time to catch the tail end of Marcella’s workshop on using acting techniques to add tension and emotion into your writing. She even put me on the spot to talk about Feeding the Vampire, which she’d used early on as an example of starting with action. Hey kids – I’m an example! And not a cautionary tale this time!

Robyn Carr spoke at that day’s luncheon and did a marvelous job. She gave us her personal story, which is my favorite kind of talk. It took her thirty years to make the NYT Bestseller list, so she said she wasn’t inspirational to anyone. She so was. You might have seen all the people tweeting her best line: “Success is not measured by fame or fortune or power. Success is measured in moments of satisfaction.”

After lunch, an incredibly handsome man gave me a massage. He’d been set up there all week and, by this point, had three other handsome young men working with him. Brilliant business idea. I told him a lot of heroes would be modeled on him after that. He laughed but, after he finished, he knelt down and put my shoes on, which involved tying the ribbons around my ankles. He gave me a sexy smile and said how into those shoes he could get. Several women watching said they nearly swooned on the spot.

After more workshops, that evening was the Carina Press Author Cocktail Party. Always a delight. I made two new friends there, Cathy Perkins, who I’d vaguely known from Twitter before that, but never really talked to, and Monique Domovitch, a brand new author, who is also with fabulous Editor Deb. We hit it off so well that we retired to the pool bar for a glass of wine before the Harlequin party. Alas, Monique had signed too recently to go, but we had lunch the next day, where I think we talked for two hours. My favorite part of conference: new friends!

The Harlequin party was, again, awesome. Held off site with a tight invitation list, the party showers us with treats. Wait staff were lined up at the doors with trays of a special pink Harlequin martini. I may have had three that night… Which isn’t as bad as it sounds, because I danced and danced and danced.

The lead photo up top is from that party, showing one of my local chapter mates, Robin Perini, explaining something to agent Laurie McLean. And here’s Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, a junior agent with Laurie’s agency, giving us the Vogue pose.

Here’s the ever-vivacious Victoria Dahl, being unnaturally demure.

And Carina Press Executive Editor Angela James, with photo bomb provided by the wiley Andrew Schaffer.

And Carina Press Editorial Assistant Carrie Holden holding an incredibly earnest conversation with freelance editor Rhonda Helms.

Mallory Braus, looking deceptively sweet.

And the dancing, of course.

Hope to see you all next year!

Fantasy Romance and Professional PJs

Thursday at conference ended up being Fantasy day for me. Not sure how that worked out, but there it is.

First thing in the morning, I met up with the agents for breakfast. Actually – before that I ran on the fancee treadmills at the hotel, which let me gaze out on palm trees. You know how I am about palm trees! In fact, I’m creating a blog label for palm trees. So there. I ran on the treadmill on Wednesday, too, and went to Starbucks for my skinny latte after. On Wednesday I had both the fitness center and Starbucks to myself. On Thursday? Whoa! I barely wedged myself in.

So, I already mentioned that this agent contacted me before the conference, to set up a meet to talk. The night before, a senior agent with her agency stopped by my table at the literacy signing, introduced herself, and said she’d be coming along for breakfast. It was very fun to meet up and hear what they had to say. I was joking with people that I wasn’t pitching at this conference – I was taking pitches. For all of you who have been in the trenches with me, being nervous about those pitch appointments, pinning so much hope on them, I’m sure you know how delightful this felt.

We talked about my favorite subject – me and my work – for an hour. Senior agent was great and said she’d be mentoring younger agent. And I really liked the gal who eventually said she was officially offering to represent me. She really groks what I write, which is the most important thing to me. Senior agent said she really sees Fantasy Romance as a genre on the rise and they’d like to make me the Queen of Fantasy Romance.

Hell, where’s my tiara?

Obviously this was a great way to start the day! I attended the PAN retreat and learned a lot of interesting things about the market. At the Carina Press spotlight, Angela James mentioned Rogue’s Pawn – and how Fantasy Romance is getting more attention. She, and several other people, said Rogue’s Pawn had been discussed at breakfast and there was lots of good buzz swirling about it.


That night was the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal (FFP). The hotel staff were just great helping us with this party – and seemed terribly amused by our costumes, as above. All the pics I’ve seen of that night so far are dark and blurry. Must have been all that magic in the air. We did a costume contest, the PRISM awards and had a fabulous time overall. Such a fun party, every year.

After, I switched into my pajamas for Harlequin’s PJ Party, which started at 9. I stayed to watch the Disney fireworks from our room, so I made it there a bit late. WHY I didn’t take pics, I don’t know! But everyone really wore pajamas and it was just a kick. They had candy – like M&Ms and cherry sours – and potato chips with warm blue cheese sauce to put on the side. I seriously felt like we should start making crank phone calls.

Tomorrow will be final wrap-up!

The Glamour, the Excitement – the Pools and Palm Trees!

When I posted this particular picture to Facebook, my mom commented, asking what was with me, pools and palm trees.

What can I say? I’m consistent!

(But not a foolish consistency – fie on you hobgoblins!)

So, the second day of conference was still pretty laid back. The Wednesday of RWA is largely for special interest events. There’s the leadership retreat for chapter presidents and some of the chapters have “mini-conferences” and so forth. A lot of people were arriving that day. The big event is the Literacy Signing, which starts at 5pm. If you’re signing, you might consider getting there the night before, just for the frazzle-factor. Yes, that’s a real thing. Especially if you’re flying!

But I didn’t have a lot of obligations that day, which was lovely. After a morning of day job phone calls (necessary ebil), I hung out and socialized with the incoming frazzleees in the lobby and dropped by the Carina Press Digital Day session.

I know I tend to wax on about Carina, but this is one of the things I love. As a digital publisher, they’re committed to giving us the tools to deal with the digital world. In the conference room set aside for this, they had tables set up for various stations – Facebook, Twitter, Websites, Pinterest, etc. You could go from table to table, ask questions of the lovely, vivacious and charming Carina staffers and get personal lessons and feedback. I went in thinking I pretty much knew All The Things already and came out having learned several very interesting tricks. Those gals spent the entire day on their feet, too, coaching all of us. Just one of the many things I love about Carina.

My website designers, Liz and Sienna from Bemis Promotions, attended the conference, so Sienna and I had a late lunch and talked about the website. Since I’m handing out praise, I really like that Liz and Sienna are at RWA and know the pool I swim in. Makes everything so much better!

The Carina authors met up early for the Literacy Signing, to meet each other and for solidarity, and we all got helium balloons to tie to our chairs. You’ve already seen the pic of me at the signing.Here’s one of CP and roomie Marcella Burnard at her table.

I had a wonderful time – much better than I expected. I figured with all the truly fabulous and famous authors in the room, no one would notice little ol’me. Several of you have asked how I signed books, being Digital Girl. Carina put our books on CD, with this lovely packaging. I signed the CD covers like, well, a Rock Star!

Vivian Arend, who is so wonderful in so many ways, had “Autographed by Author” stickers for all of us first time signers. (She’d asked us to rais hands on Twitter.) Here she is at the Harlequin Ball, later that same week.

As I was leaving the signing, the lovely and so-smart Courtney Milan said she liked my jacket. (Told you she’s smart!) We chatted on the walk back to the hotel. Vivian and I sat at the lobby bar after that, having wine and snacks, and talking to the 50 bajillion people who walked by.

So, I’ve heard some of you making high-pitched noises about wanting one of those Rogue’s Pawn buttons. If you want one, leave me a comment here and I’ll email you for your address. Buttons for everyone!!

Whales, Dolphins and Why I Love My Twitter Friends

I arrived at the RWA conference early Tuesday morning, expressly to spend the day with my Twitter friend, Branli Caidryn.

Not that Twitter is good for anything but talking about what we had for breakfast. (Blueberry pancakes, thank you – with pineapple on the side.)

At any rate, Branli, whose sci fi book, Project Horizon, will be coming out ANY MINUTE NOW, picked me up at the hotel for a day of yakking about writing and to see whales. Now, I’ve been on a few whale-watching tours in my day. (You can imagine me saying this in a wheezy voice while you pretend you didn’t see me pour whiskey into my coffee mug.) I’ve been on tours out of San Francisco, Oregon and Alaska. I’ve glimpsed some whales. I’ve seen dolphins, too.

Nothing like this.

The morning fog burned off leaving us out on the water on a gloriously sunny day. And we saw blue whales feeding. Now, it’s kind of hard to see whales because, you know, they’re under water, duh. But you get pieces of them. That I tried to capture on my iPhone 4s, without dropping it in the water. Quite the feat, I’ll have you know. 

The video doesn’t capture how fabulous this was. We watched the whales feed for what felt like hours, their backs and flukes churning into sight.

On the way back to port, dolphins escorted the boat in.


Afterwards, we enjoyed a fabulous lunch overlooking the ocean. Just the kind of thing I love.

Thank you, Branli, for a perfect day!