RWA Nationals – Recovery and Reflection

RWA Nationals – Recovery and Reflection

It’s been a week since I attended my first Romance Writers of America national conference and I am just now putting it all into perspective.

There is no way I could have been prepared! The speakers were wonderful and the sessions amazing. I think my favorite events were the author signings and the PRO retreat.

Walking into the Harlequin signing and having Nana Malone as the first face I see was so exciting. I had a major fan girl moment, meeting an author whose work I’ve admired for so long made my day. Then, I turn around and its Sarah M. Anderson! If you haven’t read her Men of the White Sandy Series, GET THEM RIGHT NOW!

Let me continue my Sara love fest for a moment. Sara welcomed me to the conference, sought me out several times throughout the week for a quick chat and always had a warm smile and wave whenever our paths crossed. For a newbie overwhelmed at her first conference this meant everything! I want to be her when I grow up!

Were there queen bees and wanna bees? Yes. Should I be surprised? No. Here are my conference survival tips.

  • Be yourself – If you’re a jeans and t-shirt kind of gal, don’t go out and buy a suit.
  • Manners matter – shake hands, introduce yourself and look people in the eye.
  • Take breaks – the conference is hard work, build downtime into your schedule.
  • Bring a wingman – If you can, try to attend the conference with a friend.
  • Relax, take in the moment and enjoy yourself!

I left the conference feeling more confident about who I am as a writer. I’m more knowledgeable about the industry and I have a better idea of the career path that will be right for me. At the end of the day I’m glad I went.

So the fun is over and now it’s time to get back to writing.  A lot has been going on my tiny town of Colton Mississippi. I’m pretty sure my ghost, Ada Mae, was up to no good while I was gone!

 

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Just Keep Swimming

Just Keep Swimming

I think I’m Dory. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming….” Then I look up and realize I have no clue where I am.
I thought I knew where I was going when I reached the finals in the Cleveland Rocks Romance contest. With new found confidence I swam ahead, submitting my manuscript to and agent and a publisher. Nope. I swam right into the murky depths instead.
I know how Dory feels when she got stung by the jellyfish! Just keep swimming….
Forty thousand words into the next book, re edits on my first book, just keep swimming. Most days I’m sure I can do this, I have a story to tell. I need to remember where I’m going and what I need to do to get there.
So, next month I’m swimming to San Diego for my first RWA conference. There will be murky waters I’m know but, I also hope for a few moments when the water is clear and I can swim ahead.
In the mean-time there’s a stubborn ghost of a former slave waiting for me in the next book. Ada Mae has quite a bit to say and even more mischief to make! A Timeless Vintage needs another round of edits before I can turn it loose again. Now that I’ve taken Cherry Adair’s amazing plotting master class I have some exciting new ideas for the next book in the series.
I like Dory, she’s upbeat and optimistic. Just keep swimming!Dory

Sometimes you have so much to do, you take a nap instead.

Sometimes you have so much to do, you take a nap instead.

 

A Timeless Vintage has just gone through yet another round of edits and I’m getting ready to try querying again after my disastrous first try. I’m feeling much more confident after finishing in the top three in the Cleveland Rocks contest. So while I am getting ready to send one book baby out into the world I am giving birth to the next one.

I’m happy with where the southern ghost story is going so far. I just wish I could figure out a way to have a winery in the south so that I can continue doing “research.” Fortunately, I’m starting to think about the second book in the vineyard series. Thanks to Cherry Adair’s plotting with color master class I am plotting with confidence! Okay, maybe not a lot of confidence but, at least I know what color post it I should use to write down the voices in my head.

It’s amazing how something I started on a whim had changed the direction of my life. I had no idea when I decided to sign up for NaNoWriMo four years ago that I would discover a whole new world.  Celebrating my diversity through writing, making new friends and mentors has been an amazing gift. I’m encouraged to work harder and move on to the next set whatever that may be.

And now I need a nap!

Diving In

Diving In

I have an image in my head. My daughter when she was six or seven years old, standing at the top of the high dive. One by one I watched the other kids before her walk to the edge and look down into the water. One by one they turned and climbed back down. Then it was my daughters turn, I held my breath. She slowly inched her way forward, a tiny figure way up high. She peered over the edge, looking down into the fathomless depths. I waited for the moment when she turned and climbed back down. I held my breath, the hands on the clock stopped moving. She backed up a step and then she let out a squeak and jumped.

Whenever I am afraid to do something I picture that moment. It’s that moment when you close your eyes, let out a squeak and jump. This week’s moment was my first online pitch session and signing up for Cherry Adair’s Finish the Damn Book contest. Scary and exciting at the same time.

Don’t be afraid to jump and when you do, don’t fear the fathomless depths. You may struggle for a while but sooner or later you will learn how to swim!

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

The good, I’m blogging again! Yes, it’s been a while. I’ll explain why in the bad part. Back to the good, the book is in another final draft, but I feel like this truly is the last one.  I’ve also started the first book in a small town series. I thought I had five outlines of single title books. In the end I realized I could set each story in the same town and voilà! A small town series! The first book features Callie and Dax. Callie is the librarian for the town of Colton. Dax is the boy who bullied her growing up. Dax returns home to Colton, the girl he gave nightmares to has become the woman of his dreams. Now, all he has to do is prove he’s not the bully he used to be. Add a domineering mother and a southern belle who thinks she already has a claim on Dax and you’re going to need more than one mint julep before these two can find true love!

Now, about the bad… I got very excited after the Emerald City Writers conference, and did yet ANOTHER round of edits. In a fit of frustration, I sent off my manuscript for the vineyard book to the agent that I really want to work with. Rookie mistake! It wasn’t ready. I needed to lick my wounds for a while and that’s why I haven’t been blogging. I just didn’t have anything good to say. I know I blew it with the agent, it’s a tough lesion to learn, but it’s done and now I’m getting back into the swing of things.

And the ugly…. There have been some ugly incidents within the romance writing community. Some I have experienced personally and some I have only read about. I’m getting ready to attend my first RWA conference and I have to say I’m nervous. To their credit, Romance Writers of America has done a fantastic job in addressing the issues. For myself, I have to give a huge shout out to Cherise Sinclair and Cherry Adair for being amazing mentors. They don’t know it, but their kindness and encouragement keep me going even when I make a stupid mistake like sending out a manuscript before it’s ready!

 

Writing, Grapes and Shoes

Writing, Grapes and Shoes

I have reached the point in the writing process where I am in a full-blown existential crisis. Why Am I doing this? What am I trying to say? And most importantly what shoes am I going to wear?

After a glass of wine and a deep breath, I am trying to accept that this is part of the process. Yes, even the shoes!

Editing both my pitch and manuscript, has taken all of my time getting ready for the Emerald City Writers Conference. One moment I believe I am ready the next I am convinced I have no clue. And so it goes…

A few weeks ago I spent a fantastic night helping out at Eight Bells Winery sorting through bind of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes.

eight bells crush

I remember that night as I write yet another version of my pitch. We hand sort the dense, violaceous clusters, plucking out any stray leaves and overripe fruit. It’s okay if a few bits get in, but too much will dull the taste of the wine. Stripping away as much waste as possible will ensure that the wine will have clarity and brightness that will mature into a fine wine. I’m trying to look at writing my pitch and editing my manuscript the same way.

But, if all else fails the shoes will be great!