Category Archives: RWA

Nationals Wrap-up

I know, it’s been several days since you’ve heard from me. In fact, if you actually want to hear my voice, you’re so out of luck. Nationals destroyed my voice and I sound like I have a secret to share with everyone. I don’t. Not really.

Nationals was fun. No doubt about it. I met so many new, wonderful people and was able to meet up with people I met last year. I didn’t grab the wrong bag at the airport this year, but I did almost get on a first-name basis with the security guards at the hotel. No, not in that way. I sort of locked myself out the hotel room safe, then two days later had a door that wouldn’t lock. They were very nice, by the way.

I wish I could talk about everything that happened, but that would mean this post would be about five pages long. Hence the reason I still have the non-existent voice: I keep having to re-tell my conference stories to relatives who stop by. I actually saw one of my critique partners do a top 10 list, so I think I’ll follow in her steps. Ready?

10 of the best things that happened at Nationals (in no particular order):

– I saw gorgeous men (there were a couple of cover models there. More on that later).
– The food (when I ate) was excellent.
– I finally met my critique partner, Daisy Harris, in person and she’s just adorable.
– I also met my agent, Nalini Akolekar, in person and she’s wonderful and thinks I’m a bizarre woman. It’s a good thing, trust me.
– The hotel was beautiful.
– Jillian Chantal took mercy on me and walked with me through Times Square because I was afraid someone would whisk me away (and no, it wouldn’t have been Gerard Butler).
– I had a lot of fun people watching.
– The Gathering (FF&P party) was a lot of fun with great food.
– I had drinks with several up and coming Avon authors with books out, or just about to come out. They were a lot of fun.
– I met my publisher and several Siren authors for drinks. A wonderful time was had by all.

10 things not so great about Nationals (in no particular order):
– I stubbed my toe in the women’s bathroom and had to beg a band-aid off of someone to stop the bleeding.
– I was locked out of my safe and then couldn’t lock my hotel room door. Thank God for security men.
– The elevators were completely whack.
– The shower was one of those “gentle rain” type shower heads when I really needed to have the hot water beat me half to death every morning.
– Starbucks closed too early and were stingy with their chairs.
– The smoking area left a lot to be desired and I’m almost positive my butt will never gain back it’s normal shape.
– New York shuttle drivers are insane and should probably not have licenses. In fact, it might be better for the entire city to be closed off to vehicles for the safety of tourists with heart conditions.
– Chicken is a four-letter word now and I never want to eat it again.
– Could someone please tell me why they don’t turn the a/c units on “arctic” when there’s a book signing with over 500 authors? Anyone?
– Internet charges should never be that much at a hotel like that.

So, that’s what I got out of Nationals. If you haven’t been, you should definitely go. Of course, now I’m debating on whether I’ll be going to Anaheim next year for Nationals or Chicago for RT. I’m thinking RT might be a wild ride. What do you think?

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First Impressions

So, as many of y’all have probably guessed, I’ve never stayed in a city as big as NYC. I’ll admit to feeling very intimidated by it all. It’s not…quiet, lol.

Yesterday wasn’t really a conference day for me. It was more of a wake-up-before-the-crack-of-dawn-and-pray-I-make-it-to-the-airport kind of day. You’ll be relieved to note that, yes, I made it to the airport, made my flight, and even made it to the hotel…eventually. My shuttle driver was having conniption fits because every street she tried to take was closed off. Yeah, it took nearly 2 hours to get from the airport to the hotel, but it’s okay.

I got to meet with my publisher, Diana, with Siren as well as several Siren authors. We had a few drinks, talked about writing, and generally just had a nice time. One of the ladies, Cheryl Brooks, had her traveling sidekick, Willie, with her. Willie, in case you were wondering, is a naked male doll. He took pictures by margaritas and seemed to be enjoying himself. A lot. *cough*

One thing I will say about New York is that…well, these people seem to think they’re superhuman. Is there something in the water here? ‘Cause every corner we came to with a pedestrian light was more like a suggestion rather than a law. People were weaving in and out of the cars like they were nothing. I nearly put holes in my hands from wanting to yank the steering wheel out of the driver’s hands because I thought she was going to hit someone. I think we may have glanced a pole at some point. *shudders*

It’s going to be a quiet web presence week for me. I’m not paying the crazy prices the hotel has for internet service (at least for more than one day) and my phone keeps crapping out on me. So I plan to have a nice long blog next week to recap.

I hope y’all have a great week and if I can sneak any messages out, I’ll try!

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Making Friends at Nationals

Well here we are, two weeks out from Nationals and I’m glad to say I haven’t been obsessing over it as much as I did last year. Of course, once again, I’m lucky enough to be able to skip the pitching sessions. For those of you who are anxiously biting your nails, pulling out your hair, and waking up in the middle of the night screaming, “But I still have to tell you about the HEA!”, you have my deepest sympathies.

To me, the scariest part of a conference is that pitching session. I had two of them at my very first conference and I don’t think I slept very well for a week. I mumbled my pitch over and over in my head—probably in my sleep—until the people who were with me could’ve pitched my book for me. When it was time for the big session, I paced. I muttered to myself like a crazy woman. I attempted to meditate to no avail. But once in the room, as nervous as I was, I realized the editors I was pitching to were…well, people. I know, shocking, huh? Editors and agents are people, too and I’m sure some of them are rather shy and uncomfortable with the sessions as well, so go easy on them.

My first Nationals conference, I was scared to death I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to. *laughs hysterically* I mean, I may seem like a perfectly social person online, but in person, I’m the person who likes to fade into the background and observe. However, there’s a different feeling in the air at a Nationals conference. The people are you are writers as well and yes, they’re probably more comfortable hiding in the corner as well.

However, when you start to actually mingle with your fellow writers, you can run into some very surprising people. I’d already been chatting with many of the ladies with GCCRWA, so I figured I would be glued to their sides the entire time. After a few misses, I was finally able to hook up with Sayde Grace and Jillian Chantal. Through them, I met Rebecca Zanetti, Cynthia Eden, Leah Fields, and Brandi Hall. They were a great group to hang around with, but there were times when we had to go our separate ways.

I didn’t cry much because I discovered the smokers. Yes, I smoke. I know, I know, I don’t need to be reminded of the evils of the cancer sticks, but if it hadn’t been for those cancer sticks, I wouldn’t have met the amazing team that makes up Sable Grace. Or my Orlando Click, Silvia Arada. I wouldn’t have had an interesting conversation about football with Beverly Jenkins (who is just full of awesome). Or Elizabeth Sinclair, or dozens of other romance writers. Every single one of them was gracious, let me tell them my agent sob story and gave me advice.

You can’t put a price on that. Oh, and did I mention the people you meet in line getting food? I met a lovely young adult author from Houston and we ended up having lunch together. I’m horrible because I can’t remember her name right now, but that’s what Nationals is all about: making new friends, meeting old ones, and learning from those who have been in the business for a while.

For those of you who are attending Nationals for the first time and you’re nervous about not having anyone to talk to, don’t worry. There are so many people who are feeling the same way that you’re not really alone. And if you’re still worried, come find me. I will so talk your ear off!

Tomorrow I’ll talk about clothing and next week, I’ll get to the scheduling

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Nationals

Not that I’m an expert or anything, but having slogged through my first Nationals Conference, I’ve learned some very valuable lessons that I’m going to share with y’all.

First we’ll work on the “Do’s”:

DO wear your First Timer’s badge if it’s your first time. People actually gravitate towards you more. It makes them remember their first conference, not to mention that this great group of people are more than happy to help you out.

DO talk to as many people as you can. Writers are introverts. I think I read that in the contract I made with myself. My real self (the one who doesn’t go to conferences and blogs) is antisocial. She doesn’t like people, she doesn’t like crowds, and she doesn’t like to talk to anyone but family. Danica, on the other hand, is a social butterfly. Once that badge was slipped over my head, Stephanie became Danica. I talked and talked and talked (I might’ve even asked some questions too). While you’re talking to new people, you’re learning more about…sorry y’all, Coast Guard guy just walked by my office. *takes a moment to drool* Um, where was I? Oh yeah, you’re learning about the industry from people who’ve been in it longer than you have. Plus,  you’re able to impart some of  your own hard-earned lessons to other newbies.

DO attend as many workshops as you can, but don’t wear yourself out. There is so much going on at every given moment that it’s easy to be overwhelmed. I slacked, skipping workshops to go to book signings (did I mention there are free books all over the place???), catch a bite to eat, or hang out with the smokers. But I don’t feel as though I missed out on anything. The six workshops I did take were great and I learned a lot, but I didn’t fry my brain out either. That’s very important.

DO bring plenty of comfortable clothes for those moments when you aren’t being a writer. Orlando was hot. It wasn’t much hotter than South Louisiana, but I don’t move around as much here as I did there. I took so many showers, I’m surprised the housekeeping staff didn’t just leave me a dozen towels. Light, loose-fitting clothing that allows your body to breathe is important in that kind of heat. If you’re like me and anal about sweat and body odor, make sure you have plenty of clothes to change into because you’ll be showering until the cows come home.

DO volunteer. I signed up to help set up for the literacy autographing. It was sweaty, dirty work, but I met new people and got to peek at the books that were being signed that night. In fact, I found books I ended up either buying or picking up at the book signings. It was like being in a book reader’s heaven all week.

Now for the Don’ts:

DON’T think that flip-flops are the best shoes to wear for a conference no matter how comfortable they are. You will be doing a hellluva lot of walking. I think the second toe on my left foot is permanently damaged. It’s been numb since Thursday. I don’t think I’ll ever wear another flip-flop as long as I live.

DON’T bring the most uncomfortable heels you can find because it matches your outfit. You will be standing a good deal. 2000 people trying to get into a room…yeah, the lines are long. Make sure your shoes are ones you can wear for hours and hours.

DON’T skip the Literacy Autographing. It’s a great time to mingle with non-writers, see what they’re buying, plus you get to  help out a wonderful cause. It can be intimidating to walk into a room with over 500 authors and try to find the one you’re there to see, but it’s worth it.

DON’T be a wallflower. This harkens back to one of the rules in the DO list. Sitting off to the side, closed off from people (body language, people!) is no way to have fun. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, but don’t want to be alone, sit in the lobby and people watch. I had several moments like this and I loved it. I also met people this way.

DON’T expect to get a full night’s sleep. Y’all know how much I love my sleep. I crave it, yet I might’ve slept at the most 4 hours a night. I stayed up late chatting with my newly found friends until the wee hours of the morning and woke up at my regular time (5 a.m.), and though I ended up passing out the minute I got home, I can’t be upset about it.

That’s about it. I’m pretty sure this will be the last post I make about Nationals because I don’t want to bore everyone. Suffice it to say I had a blast, made some wonderful friends, and met my role models. Could an introverted, antisocial writer ask for anything more? (Other than a six book deal and a seven figure signing bonus, that is.)

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RWA Wrap-up

Well, the 2010 RWA Nationals Conference is over. Most everyone has returned home, most with blisters on top of blisters, others with more books than they thought they’d leave with, and still others who wish the fun didn’t have to end.

I fall in all three categories. I had so much fun and met so many wonderful people that I was sad to go. I was also damned glad to be home. As nice as the hotel was, I missed my bed and my family and pets. So without further ado…

First off, did you know there’s a secret society within RWA? I’m not talking about a chapter (although it could be one). I’m talking about a secret club. I discovered it quite by accident. I smoke. Yes, I know I’m killing myself, but that’s beside the point. I smoke and when I went out to love on my vice, I stumbled across…Beverly Jenkins, Elizabeth Sinclair, Carol Mortimer, Sable Grace, and host of other writers who came and went like feathers on the wind.

The Secret Smokers Club

I met newbies, like me, whom I “clicked” (to borrow Nora Roberts’ phrase) with. Silvia Arada, Heather Long, Malinda (I can’t remember her last name right now!), and others.

Me with one of my "clickers" Silvia Arada. When we get published we'll sit next to each other at literary signings. It's already planned.

Then there was the group of ladies I’d been wanting to meet for a year: Jillian Chantal, Sayde Grace, Cynthia Eden and their friends, Leah Fields, Rebecca Zanetti, and Brandi Hall.

Left to right: Rebecca Zanetti, Brandi Hall, Sayde Grace, and Jillian Chantal

Then there were the ladies I saw on a regular basis, talked to for hours and can’t remember their names unless I have their cards out. I’m sorry if I’ve forgotten to mention you!!

There were so many people, so many friendly faces, I didn’t have time to feel antisocial.

Tomorrow I’ll give you a list of National Conference do’s and don’ts, but for today I’m concentrating on the people who made the conference wonderful for me.

I didn’t run around like the paparazzi, although it was tempting. I exercised restraint and I believe it made my conference experience that much better.

Me with Christina Dodd at the Literacy Autographing. She ran out of books, but was nice enough to pose with her fans.

Taking a picture with Teresa Medeiros. Do you see the awe on my face?

I’d seen Christina Dodd and Teresa Medeiros in the lobby the day of the Literacy Autographing and was star struck. That night, I managed to see Christina and take a picture with her. I didn’t get to see Teresa because there was so much going on, I couldn’t find her. I fixed that when I went to the Avon book signing.

Friday afternoon, I saw a tweet from Kresley Cole saying she was going to be at the Pocket book signing. I had a workshop planned for that time slot, but every thoughts of being a writer were abandoned as I sprinted to the signing room. And sprinting in flip-flops is damned hard to do.

Kresley Cole was worried about knocking heads with me for the picture. Yeah, I did the fangirl thing and said I wouldn't mind. *dies*

After this mind-blowing event, I went next door to Berkley’s book signing looking for the last gem in my crown of fangirldom. I searched all over the room. It was massive! Then, I spotted her. Nalini Singh! I seriously let out a squeak of joy and dodged other writers to get to her table.

She has the most lovely accent and was gracious in the face of my enthusiasm.

Yes, I met 4 of my favorite authors, the ones whose books I read over and over again. There were some missing from this conference, but since I’m planning to go to New York next year, I’ll add them to my collection. Kind of like collecting heads.

Who are the authors you’d want to meet the most at a conference?

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It’s Nearly Over

Y’all know I’m not a Saturday blogger. Generally, I like to keep my blogging like I would a regular job Monday through Friday with weekends off. Well, I couldn’t do that this week because it is Nationals and there are things I want to share (and I’m afraid I’ll forget by the time Monday rolls around).

Today marked the start of the workshop frenzy. I had a list of four workshops I wanted to attend and I only made 2. It isn’t my fault. It’s Avon’s and Berkley’s and Pocket Books’ fault. Yes, you heard me. It’s their fault. They had book signings today. Hello? Free books. I didn’t go overboard because I do know I need to fly home and also because for the most part, I already had the latest books of the authors I’d gone to see.

At Avon, I finally got to hook up with Teresa Medeiros. She recognized my name. Mostly because I’d tweeted about gawking at her and she told me I should’ve stopped by. She hugged me and let me take a picture with her. Sweet, sweet lady.

Then it was time for my workshop, then lunch. I kind of wandered around after lunch trying to decide if I was going to my workshop or the book signings. That was when I saw the tweet from Kresley Cole saying she was going to be at the signing. You know I was so there. I finally got to meet my role model. She was…fabulous. I took a picture with her, chatted about the upcoming books in her IAD series and, along with 2 other ladies, tried to wiggle some secrets out of her. She’s…just so awesome. *sigh*

So then because my fangirldom wasn’t quite over with. I went to Berkley’s book signing and that was when I saw my other hero: Nalini Singh. I vaulted…yes, I squealed and vaulted across the room…not quite as graceful as a gazelle.  I might’ve nearly shoved some people over the other author tables to get to her line, but I handled it like a pro when I finally got to her. I got yet another picture and got her latest release (I RULE…or rather, she rules).

Last night was also the FF&P party, The Gathering. The theme was Steampunk and I got some great pictures. The food and company was excellent and I (yes, I) was sitting at the table with Cynthia Eden who won two (count them, TWO) PRISM Awards. It was lovely and I would have enjoyed it more if my feet hadn’t swollen up like a couple of leeches. On the way back to our hotel, I was leading the charge through the revolving doors and…yup, I tried to walk through the glass. Eh. Not my coolest moment.

All in all, it was a great, great day. I got to meet the 4 authors I’ve been wanting to meet for years, got pictures with all of them (which I will post when I get back to my USB cable), and I met some new friends. Tonight is the RITA Awards and Golden Heart Awards banquet. I’m so excited to see who wins and sad because it’s the last night for talking with everyone.

I’m leaving first thing in the morning tomorrow, so I probably won’t blog about the banquet until Monday, but I promise I will. I’ve enjoyed sharing my first Nationals adventures with you and all I can really say is…I’m New York bound!

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This Little Piggy Begged for Mercy

Day 2 of RWA Nationals and my feet are ready to go on strike.

It started out well enough. I woke up early yesterday so I could have my normal two hour warm up before I started getting ready to face the day. I made it to and through registration with little or no fanfare. Then I had 4 hours to spare until it was my turn to volunteer to help set up for the Literacy Autographing.

I kind of wandered around…lonely as a cloud. Then people started noticing the little orange ribbon on my badge stating that I’m a newbie. I had so many new friends I didn’t know what to do with myself! Y’all…I sort of had lunch with Maggie Shayne! Well, she had lunch. I kind of stood at the counter waiting for my order to be ready. She and her friends were nice enough to let me jabber at them while they ate.

My feet started hating me around noon, but by the time the book signing was about to start, they were ready to remove themselves from my legs. I forced myself back upstairs to take a bath because there was NO way I was going to try to see my favorite authors smelling like a man. I did a walk-by gawking at Christina Dodd and Teresa Medeiros (who are both beautiful with great hair in person…damn them).

I finally got to meet up with Sayde Grace, and Jillian Chantal and then it was on to the signing. Let me just say…well, it was awesome. I showed great restraint because I only walked out of there with one book. Yes, one. Mostly because there were no more by the time I found my target authors. But that’s okay. I took a picture with Christina Dodd…Not posting it just yet since I don’t have my cables. But she looks fabulous and I look like I’m about to fall on her.

While walking around though, I managed to make contact with the authors I’ve enjoyed with upcoming releases like Christine Warren, Sophie Jordan, Sharon Page, and I got a great big ole hug from Michelle Marcos. *sniff* I felt so special. Then my feet had to hate me again.

It was…wonderful. Really. If you ever get the chance to go to one of these book signings (whether you’re an author or a reader) you HAVE to go. It was so chaotic and crazy, but it was great to see so many avid readers. It made me feel good to be both a reader and a writer.

So the morning’s task? See if my feet will work. My memory foam slippers are wonderful, but they might not be enough to make my poor toes look…well, more like toes and less like Vienna Sausages.

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