Here it is, folks. The final voting for our sweet teacup dragon’s name! And, just because I love you all so much, I want to share in the RWA Swag wealth. Here’s your chance to get some of the cool stuff I brought back from Atlanta. If you don’t get the swag from today, don’t worry! I’ll have more chances later in the month. *If you do get the swag, you’ll need to send me a mailing address to receive the goods.* For every swag winner, I’ll also send a random book I brought home. Score!
Talk about fun stuff, look at all this loot!
And these are the books I brought back:
For today’s swag winners ~ the first three commenters to correctly answer the following will get this super cool Kim Killion 2013-2014 Calendar! If you’ve never heard of Kim Killion before, she does wicked book covers at Hot Damn Designs! Y.U.M.
1) What is my daughter’s first name (correct spelling is a must!)?
2) What is my dog’s name (either one is fine)?
3) What is my favorite color?
Good luck and have fun! **I’m a total spaz and didn’t clarify that you only needed to answer one question! My sweet friend Natalie answered them all, so the next two commenters win by default!
Now, on to the dragon naming! I decided to go with the top five names from the first round of voting. You can see the results of the voting here. Thanks everyone for helping to make this dragon extra special!
I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend. What are your plans? Has summer ended for you yet and your kids are back in school, or are you still in chill mode?
It’s here! The day of voting is finally here! You all gave amazing suggestions for lady teacup dragon’s name. Now it’s time to cast your vote. The poll will be open for two weeks. I’ll announce the name when the new website goes live on August 13th. I’m so excited!
Whew! That’s a lot of names for you to choose from. Thanks for helping name the dragon.
Now, onto RWA Nationals. What a week! Today’s post is all about the conference, next week I’ll post pictures and tell you about our day out in Atlanta.
RWA ~ Romance Writers of America is an amazing organization filled with writers at every stage of their career. From the super newbie who just decided to write a book, to the published icons like Nora Roberts. This year, I attended as a PRO member. What’s PRO? It’s RWA’s way of saying I’m serious about what I do. I’ve submitted my work to an industry professional (agent or editor), and am working toward a goal of being published. Kind of cool, right?
RWA National Conference is a whirlwind of learning, networking, stargazing, and laughing. Yes, laughing. I laughed so much last week I’m surprised I don’t have chiseled abs like the cover models on those romance novels I brought home.
Patricia Sands, Steena Holmes, Kate Wood, Elena Aitken, and Barbara McDowell. Love you.
What made the conference special for me this year was getting a chance to meet some amazing women I’ve known online for two years. We first met in Kristen Lamb’s online blogging class and since then they’ve become sisters to me. Barbara McDowell is my sister from a cooler mother, Patricia Sands is the wild older sister, Elena Aitken and Steena Holmes are the mischievous twins who look innocent, but always get others in trouble, and Kate Wood is the baby of the family. The one we tease mercilessly, but adore absolutely.
Added to this awesome family reunion was Tracey Livesey (whom I met last year at conference and am truly smitten with), Dara Lee Snow, Trish Loye Elliott, and Melinda VanLone (who I also met last year and roomed with in Dallas). Others filtered through, but this was the core group. They kept my happiness tank filled to overflowing all week.
Here we are looking amazing before the RITAs.
Hanging out with my peeps was only part of the experience. Workshops were another reason I flew across ten states to Atlanta (technically it was nine, but our flight dipped over the corner of Tennessee, so I’m counting it). 🙂
My favorite workshops were, surprisingly enough, on self publishing. Craft classes were a close second. It amazed me how many self publishing options RWA had this year. It’s becoming clear that the industry is taking indie seriously, and that is a very good thing.
At the PRO retreat I was inspired by the contradictory workshops offered. In the beginning session, Courtney Milan made it known that she dislikes agents and traditional publishing. A great deal. She waxed poetic on the benefits of self publishing (she’s wildly successful, by the way), and encouraged us to take our careers into our own hands. Then, the next class featured Esi Sogah from Kensington Publishing. SHE espoused the virtues of traditional publishing. My head was spinning by the end of the retreat. In a very, very good way. I loved the differing points of view as it’s my belief a writer shouldn’t pick one way over another. Being a hybrid author, someone who is open to and involved with all forms of publishing, is where I believe an author’s success will thrive.
Along with amazing workshops, I had the opportunity to meet with an editor from Tor and two agents. All three requested material from me (YAY!!!). Part of the cool thing at Nationals is that you’re there with industry people, in formal settings like my pitches, and informal, like at the bar. Laura Bradford was cruising by, so I asked her to join us and she did. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that they’re just folks, too. If you see an agent or editor, don’t be afraid to ask them to sit with you. You never know, you just might make a friend.
Laura’s the beautiful brunette in the center. To her side is Elena, and hiding behind the menu is the elusive Sara Fawkes. Notice all the men in the background? There was a Microsoft conference there at the same time. They were thrilled to be surrounded by 2,000 women!
Next year, I’m implementing my Nora Roberts Drinking Game. Every time we see Nora, we have to do a shot. Hear her name? Shot. Seriously, we’ll be drunk the entire time. Nora is a goddess at the conference. She glides through the room without her feet ever touching the floor. I didn’t get any signed books from her this year (I don’t know why since I saw her at the signing), but I did see her plenty of times to make me a little verklempt.
The signings and goody room! Oh man. The signings are a book lovers dream. For real. You go into this room where tables upon tables are set up. Authors are there to sign books and, time permitting, to chat with you a little. It’s heaven. I didn’t bring home as many books as last year (86), only because I had to ship them. Yes, I was sad about this. I still managed to bring home far too many. As well as a ton of swag from the goody room. I don’t have an exact count on the books, or a picture of the swag because they are still on a FedEx truck waiting to be delivered to my house. 😦 Next week I’ll show you my loot.
The conference had two keynote speakers at lunch ~ Cathy Maxwell on Thursday and Kristin Higgins on Friday. Both women had excellent speeches that made us laugh, cry, and laugh some more. Their stories were inspirational, to say the least. I was sobbing like the romantic fool that I am.
Sylvia Day & Kristin Higgins
Aside from the workshops, the swag, and the keynotes, there are parties. Each of my online chapters had a party ~ Celtic Hearts was kind enough to have theirs on Wednesday, but Thursday night was a scramble through the hotel to attend four, yes four! parties. We went from a Passionate Ink party (complete with spanking/kink demo), to Hearts Through History, over to the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal party. I ended the night at the Kiss of Death Death By Chocolate party. It was a whirlwind night, but so much fun!
Eden Bradley getting her kink on!
The FF&P table decorations. Cool, right?
And finally, I can’t end my post without talking a little bit about the RITA Awards. These are the Oscars of romance writing. It’s a night filled with glittering gowns and golden statuettes. Christie Craig was the emcee and damn! She nailed it. Just enough humor and sass to make the evening unforgettable. I knew several of the finalists for the Golden Heart (the award for unpublished works. the RITA’s are for published books), and cheered a little too loud each time their names were read. They didn’t bring home the gold, but to me, they’re already winners. Congratulations to all of the Golden Heart and RITA finalists!
Even Superman got fancy for the RITA Awards.
Next year the conference will be in San Antonio. I hope to see you there. Want more pictures of the conference? You can check out my Pinterest board! Just click here.
What’s been your favorite experience at a conference? Did you pitch? Was it terrifying or fun? What’s the one conference you’ll always attend?
I’m wicked excited today. Why? Because the website is going to be up and running soon! That means all of you fabulous readers will have to re-subscribe to the blog (boo!), BUT you’re going to love the new place and I’ve got so many fun things to share with you once the site is fully operational. (Did any of you just hear that dude from Star Wars? Good to know I’m not alone in my geekery). 🙂
Laird has been working her sweet tail off to get the new website to look exactly how I want it. Think dragons and diamonds! Sparkles, castles, pink, yeah, it’s going to totally rock. I can’t wait for you all to see it.
Want a little teaser? This is the business card I had made up for Nationals…
BUT FIRST! We need a name for our little teacup dragon. This will be the LAST week you can submit a name. Voting is going to start next Friday, so make sure you get your name in before then!
What do you think she should be named? Add it to the list!
As most of you know, I’ll be in Atlanta next week for the RWA National Conference. Romance Writers of America puts on the best conference I’ve ever attended and I’m over the moon about going this year. Last year was my first time and, well, let’s just say I was woefully unprepared. This year? I’m on it.
If any of you feel overwhelmed like I did last year, here are some great links that will help ease your mind.
Angela Quarles has a bunch of posts about Nationals, and she has tips about the Marriott hotel, too. Check out this post for newbies and then make sure you read her other posts.
Are you pitching? Here are some great links for making the most of your pitch session. There are two from Angela, and another two from Laura Drake. Read them all. Trust me on this, it’ll ease your nerves!
Angela’s are here and here.
Laura’s posts are at Writers in the Storm here and here.
And lastly… packing. Ugh. That’s the bane of my travel existence. I always pack WAY too much. Well, Erin Knightley is here to save the day! And my back. You won’t believe how much she fits into one carryon, but since there’s a video to prove it, maybe you will. I’m in awe of Erin. Check out her blog here ~ make sure you watch the video. You too will be amazed!
The last bit of the blog today is about movies. Specifically, what’s your ‘Go To’ movie when you’re feeling down, or just want to escape for a bit?
Last weekend I went to see Much Ado About Nothing with my husband. I was psyched. Shakespeare, Joss Whedon, and my sweet Nathan? YES please!
But, well, I was underwhelmed.
So I went on Facebook and asked for recommendations of what I could watch that would erase the bad memories of the movie. As much as I wanted to love the movie, I didn’t, which put me into a funk. Hence, the question on FB.
The day before, I’d watched a super sweet movie called ‘The Magic of Belle Isle‘. My friend Kristy K James wrote a post about it and it intrigued me. Since it was available on Netflix streaming, I decided to give it a gander.
Well, I was smitten. More than smitten. I’m going to buy this movie to have on hand for those times I need a pick-me-up. Read Kristy’s blog here and let me know if you watch the movie if you love it as much as I did. Or, if you saw Much Ado, did you love it? Hate it? Were confused by it? I’d love to know either way.
I’ve given you loads to think about today! But don’t forget ~ I need dragon names and movie suggestions. I’ll be writing a future blog post about movies and need your help. Also, make sure you’re keeping up with the Summer Adventure story! Other than all that, I hope you have an amazing weekend. What will you be doing?
Even though my birthday isn’t until Friday, we’re starting the celebrations early here at A Cup of Tea and Sorcery!
I wasn’t sure how I wanted to celebrate this year ~ the party I threw last year was off the hook. If you missed it, you can check it out here.
I was thinking more low-key, less ostentatious, and then I read this tweet from my sweet Nathan and I knew I had to get involved.
So, I started my own birthday campaign and I’m hoping all of my fabulous friends will buy me a cup of water for my birthday. You can go here to check out all the details. It’s not much for us to give up one fancy cup of coffee or tea, but it makes a world of difference to some other folks around the world. I’d sure appreciate it if you could help me bring clean water to them.
And if you’re so inclined, I’d love it if you could check out my friend Patricia Sands’ blog today. She’s talking about an amazing woman named Rikki who is working her fanny off to bring books to kids around the world. It’s amazing to me what $5.00 can do to change the lives of so many! Please go here to read about Rikki and her incredible organization.
Be sure to check back on Friday because a friend of mine is kidnapping me for a special birthday excursion aboard one of his sci-fi ships! You’ll get to meet Ren Garcia and learn all about the fascinating universe he’s created in the League of Elder series.
The awesomeness doesn’t stop there! There’s a new newsletter out called BeABestSeller.com and they featured me this week! Sweet. This is what they had to say about me:
MAKIN’ IT HAPPEN!
This week’s BAB subscriber that is heating up both the fantasy and erotic romance worlds is the smokin’ hot Tameri Etherton.
I’ve had to privilege to get to know Tameri and watch her bloom as writer through our association with the Southern California Writers’ Conference.
A huge shift occurred for Tameri when she embraced another writing community – The Romance Writers of America.
Since Tameri joined RWA, she has written THREE manuscripts: The Temple of Ardyn (fantasy); Because of You (suspense); and Developing Cassandra (erotic romance). Two of which were written entirely in the last ten months!
Additionally, Tameri was just awarded PRO status by RWA. PRO is a designation given to someone who has submitted a completed manuscript to an industry professional. Basically, it means you’re serious about being published. Therefore, RWA takes you more seriously as a writer.
This is one BAB rising star you want to get to know! You can connect with Tameri at:
Aww! I’m blushing. For real. To subscribe to BeABestSeller.com, just click here. Jen sends out great writing tips once a week, right to your inbox. Easy peasy.
Thank you all so much for being a part of my life for the past few years! You’ve challenged me, enriched my life, made me laugh and sometimes cry. But through it all, you’ve reminded me why I love to write. Thank you. That’s the coolest gift anyone could ever give me.
Yesterday on her blog Jenny Hansen asked, “What Lights Your Creative Spirit On Fire?” It’s a fascinating post delving into the need for writers and creative types to nurture our mind, body, and spirits. When you’re finished here, I’d love it if you popped on over to show Jenny some bloggy love.
My response to Jenny’s question came instantly ~ being around other writers lights my creative spirit on fire.
Nearly two years ago I took a blogging class from Kristen Lamb, the WANA Mama who created a community for writers where we can come together to encourage and support each other. What’s WANA? It stands for We Are Not Alone. Because this writing gig is often lonely, it’s important to have people around who ‘get you’.
In Kristen’s online class, I learned loads about blogging, but what I ultimately gained from the experience was a family. A group of writers as excited about me and my writing as I am about them and theirs. As Kristen added more classes, the family grew.
On Monday I got to hang out with some of those family members and we had a blast. We talked about our real life families, schooling, our books, merkins (Google it, but please don’t drink anything when you do), and we talked about flashy pink wigs and tiaras.
Why pink wigs and tiaras?
Because that’s what I wore to dinner.
Sure, it was a little strange to be the only one at the table wearing them, but I didn’t care. I was surrounded by women who accepted me and all my zaniness. Encouraged it, even.
I was surrounded by love.
By the end of the night that wig and tiara made their way to almost every head. Like the jeans in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, that wig looked great on everyone! Just take a look at these beauties.
I’m fortunate that I live in an area where I can see my writing friends on a regular basis and I can’t recommend this enough. No matter where you live, or what you do, you need to find those folks who ‘get you’. Through my WANA sistas, I joined the Romance Writers of America (RWA). In less than a year with RWA, I’ve pushed my writing further than I did in nearly seven years of attending conferences. Why? Because I see my chapter mates once a month and it’s that continual support that encourages me to be the best writer I can be and to get my work out there.
All of these writers, whether they are friends from conferences, online, WANA, or RWA, have enriched my life in so many ways, but mostly what they do is light my creative spirit’s fire. They challenge me to be a better writer, and dare I say, a better person.
So today, I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone. Don a pink wig and tiara and find your family. Whether it be artists, writers, grave diggers, or whatever lights your creative spirt’s fire, find people who will push you to be amazing. Because we can all use a little nudge every now and again.
In the coming months you’re going to see some changes around the blog. I’ll be making the leap to a self hosted website and I hope you’ll all come along for the adventure. The amazing and gorgeous Laird Sapir is hard at work on the new site. It’s going to be fun and groovy, filled with lots of writerly and readerly goodness.
I also hope to have some ultra super fabulous news about my books in the next month. Great things have been happening behind the scenes, but I’m not ready to unveil them yet. If you’ve been wondering why the blog has been hit or miss lately, it’s because I’ve been feverishly finishing edits. How’s that for a sweet hint? 😉
So tell us, what lights your creative spirit? Do you have a group of writers or creative types that make you want to be better? What color wig do you own? Want to own?
In case you didn’t get enough of our zaniness, here are a few more pics from the night. Enjoy!
Doesn’t Gayle look great in a tiara? Maybe we should make them mandatory.
To attend a conference, you don’t need much more than a bit of stamina and some business cards. Heck, you don’t even really need the cards, but they help when you make new friends. Which, to be sure, you will.
In fact, meeting other writers and making connections is my number one reason for attending conferences.
I hear you in the back, moaning about how you’re an introvert and the idea of being around so many people scares the crap out of you.
Well, suck it up, cupcake! Want to know a secret?
We’re all scared.
Yep, even me, Mrs. Social Butterfly Extraordinaire.
But that doesn’t stop me from attending conferences. It just keeps me from wearing my tiara. Believe it or not, I hate to draw attention to myself. Shocking, I know!
Now that I’ve got you all excited for conferences, let’s take a look at a few of my favorites and a few new ones I’ll be attending this year. (Here’s a huge tip: if you’re a tad shy, go with a friend. It’s easier to speak to people when you’ve got a partner in crime.)
First up, President’s weekend (February 15-18) I’ll be attending the Southern California Writers’ Conference in San Diego. For all the deets, check out the website here.
I’ve been going to this conference for almost forever. Or, at least seven years. To read a recap of the conference last year click here.
The SCWC is an excellent learning conference. What does that mean? Well, basically you get fabulous speakers giving workshops on not only craft, but the business aspect of writing. It’s the ugly truth I’m still in denial about, we’ve got to be business people now or fall behind. This year I’m noticing more about self-pubbing and ebooks, which is terrific because I’m woefully unlearned in those areas.
There is so much writerly goodness I’m looking forward to this year. Not only seeing my friends, but learning about Amazon from two successful authors, better editing skills, and writing sex scenes that serve the story. Oh, yeah baby!
That, and getting to rub elbows with agents and editors in a casual environment is always a good thing. I’ve heard some of them like to hang out in the critique sessions, quietly taking note of work they like. Guess I’ll have to suck it up and read bits of my work. Talk about scary! But it’s all good. When you’re at a conference, you’re with fellow writers who get it. They’re all super supportive and encouraging. It’s like one huge warm hug.
Just after I recover from the SCWC, I’ll be heading to Anaheim in March for the SoCalRWA Writers’ Conference. This is a new conference, not just for me, but for the Southern California chapters of Romance Writers of America.
You do need to be a member of RWA to attend this one, so if you haven’t joined yet, do it now. This conference is limited to 200 attendees, which means an intimate environment. Like the SCWC, there will be workshops all weekend. There are also fabulous speakers like Julia Quinn and Sherrilyn Kenyon. Sweet!
This conference also has pitch sessions, a Book Camp, Late Night Salons, and competitions. I’m breaking out of my comfort zone and entering the California Hooker contest. Get your mind out of the gutter, it isn’t what you think. It’s a contest for the hook of your book. Sheesh.
I get a little break from conferences in April, then head to Dallas in May for the DFW Writers’ Conference. This is another new conference for me, but I hear it’s great for writers of all genres. Many of my WANA sisters attend and I’ll get a chance to meet them, which is a huge bonus. Making friends online has been one of the best benefits to this writing/blogging gig and getting to meet those friends in person is fabulous.
What I do know about the conference is that it has excellent speakers like David Corbett and Michael Capuzzo as well as a ton of agents and editors who are there actively seeking new books. Yes!
Finally, in July I’ll fly out to Atlanta for RWA Nationals. Last year was my first time attending this behemoth of a conference. For a fun recap, check out the blog I wrote here.
If you can only attend one conference a year, I have to recommend RWA. It’s an intense four days of learning. There are workshops on craft, business, author spotlights, publisher spotlights, and pretty much anything you can imagine. I left there with my brain crammed with way too much information. I know writers get wiggly about the ‘romance’ part of RWA, but you don’t have to write straight romance to qualify for RWA. This community of writers has helped and encouraged me in so many ways over the past year.
As well as my two local chapters, I joined several online chapters that are more genre specific like. At Nationals, I’ll be able to meet online chapter mates at special events planned just for us. I hear the Kiss of Death chapter usually has something totally groovy, like visiting a morgue or FBI agency. Call me crazy, but that sounds like fun!
There you have it, those are the conference’s where you’ll find me this year, but there are hundreds of others that I wish I had time and money to attend. I’ve heard the Rocky Mountain Fiction Wrtiers’ Conference is great. I’m putting this one on the list for next year.
I hear good things about Thrillerfest, too. My friend Amy Shojai will be attending that conference and a few others, check out her blog post here. There’s even a pet centered conference she’s attending, how purr-fect would that be?
Are you going to any conferences this year? Do you have a favorite you think everyone should attend? What’s your favorite part of the conference experience?
The weekend was a whirlwind of meeting online friends who became instant real-world friends, filling my brain with more writerly goodness than I know what to do with, and having the chance to meet rockstars in the writing community.
My notebook is filled with scribbles spanning the page with quotes like, ‘Write your passion!’ which sounds so simple, but really if we aren’t passionate about our work, who will be? On pitching I wrote this gem, ‘Practice! Make it as conversational as possible.’ Well, duh. But then we were told over and over again how much the agents wish writers would sit down and talk with them. Not read a pitch from a scrap of paper.
I learned new catch words like, ‘Street Team’, which is apparently a group of highly motivated people who help an author get the word out. I’m not sure if it actually has anything to do with a street, but it seemed more like a group of friends willing to send out tweets, FB posts, etc. to promote your work. Even though I’m confused on the specifics, I found myself longing for a Street Team of my own.
In a workshop about building reader loyalty, this struck me as profound, ‘Balance your “Celebrity” by asking about them. Engage them in conversation not just about yourself, but their interests.’ Again, so simple, but how easy is it to forget this?
As for writing romance, we were reminded that, ‘For women the relationship includes sex. For men, the relationship starts with sex.’ Women tend to think sex is an expression of love where men, well not so much. Natalie Hartford has a hilarious video on her blog that talks about the differences in the way men and women approach sex. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t drink anything while watching it. Fair warning!
I wrote pages and pages of awesomeness that I got from all the workshops at the conference. Way too much for one blog, but be assured I’ll have future posts to share what I learned.
In case you’re worried that the conference was all work and no play, let me just put those concerns to rest.
They were only the beginning… soon enough I was joined by Debra Kristi, Melinda VanLone, Bethany Lopez, Kate Wood, and Tracey Livesay. All except Bethany (who didn’t attend the conference, she just came for the literacy fundraiser) became my near-constant companions for the entire weekend. I can honestly say I haven’t laughed so hard in years. These women are intelligent, beautiful, and have damn fine senses of humor. Which worked in my favor since I can be a bit of an idiot at times. Shocker, I know!
Even though she didn’t attend the conference, my gal pal Gayle Carline stopped by for some drinks Friday night. My SCWC friend Rick Ochocki and his lovely wife Linda were also there. I swiped this pic of Rick from his facebook page because, well he’s in a kilt! Also, he’s standing with Nora Roberts (in her hand is her RITA award).
I could gush on and on about the folks I met, from James Rollins to an erotica writer I saw in line and went all fangirl over. That’s a post for another day. In all, it was an amazing weekend and this is one conference I’ll always attend. Next year it will be in Atlanta, I hope to see all of you there!
The WANA Gals
August McLaughlin and Debra Kristi
August McLaughlin and Jenny Hansen.
Tracey Livesay and Debra Kristi. Tracey is one of the sweetest, most laid back women I’ve ever met. Five minutes after meeting us she was part of our sisterhood. Love her. As for Debra, well she’s just about the most awesome gal ever. For real.
Jami Gold, Janice Hardy, and Kristen Lamb. Jami and Janice are so ultra cool with their colorful hair. And totally nice, too.
Kate Wood and Jenny Hansen. Two awesome gals who make me laugh.
My pal Melinda. Oh, the stories she could tell.
My gal pal Gayle! No conference is complete without a trip to the bar with Gayle.
Rick and Linda Ochocki. It was awesome and weird to have my San Diego peeps at RWA. Sort of like when you see your fifth grade teacher at Vons.
How freaking cute is Roni Loren? I adore this lady.
Roni Loren busy signing copies of her latest book.
Bethany Lopez with her idol, Nora Roberts
Allison Brennan teaching us how to put the ‘thrill’ in a thriller
James Rollins knows how to thrill.
Melina VanLone meeting one of her favorite authors, Hanna Martine.
Nora Roberts is teeny tiny and so, so pretty. Mom, this one’s for you!
Kristen Lamb is one funny lady. Dragon! Spoon! Jazz Hands!
Kate Wood actually wore these to the RITA Awards. They hurt just looking at them, but damn they’re sexy!
The gave us all of these books! Ohhhh, this is every writer’s dream.
The goodie room was full of fun stuff. And a few pics of hot guys. Yum.
Pens, bookmarks, even tea are excellent ideas for giveaways.
More of the fab swag they gave away. Great marketing ideas!
Guess who showed up at the bar? He got totally hammered. ; )
The gorgeous Nora Roberts and the dashing Rick Ochocki
Here are some other fabulous posts about the RWA conference. As more come in, I’ll update the links.