Tag Archives: RWA nationals conference

A Meeting of the Minds

I’m still sort of in conference mode. My brain is going over everything I learned, saw, and talked about throughout the weekend and one thing keeps popping up.

Aspiring authors, this post is for you. It can be intimidating to go to a conference the first time. Especially if you go alone. Most writers, as far as I’ve seen and heard, are introverts. We like to study the world around us, but keep to ourselves and fashion worlds from things we’ve observed. When you’re at a conference, it’s tempting to sit off to the side and lose yourself in your head.

I understand perfectly! I’m not a people person. I like sitting in my cubby hole and having very little to do with the outside world, but when I’m at a conference, I have the chance to meet people of the same mind-set. You have to remember, they’re writers. They understand everything you’ve gone and are going through. They’ve sat at their keyboards for hours at a time because they’re caught in the grips of a great story. They’ve also stared at their monitors with a blank expression because their story has deserted them. These are your people.

It can be tempting to bring someone along for “safety” (like other writers are sharks waiting for fresh meat). I did it my first conference as well. I brought my aunt and cousin because I wanted to know someone there. As it turns out, I didn’t enjoy the conference as much as I would have without them. They weren’t into writing. They didn’t get my thought process, or the absolute terror I felt at pitching my book to two editors. They sympathized, but they didn’t get it.

Other writers get it. They’ve been there and done that. If you go off on one of your tangents about a book you’re writing, they most likely won’t get a glazed look in their eyes. (I say most likely because if they’re writing something completely different from you, they’ll understand, yet not. It’s still okay.) They understand how sick to your stomach you feel at the thought of having to pitch your book.

Even better, they’re fonts of information. Writers come from every walk of life and they have experiences you may not. You make connections and network with people who can be valuable research commodities later. Case in point, I had an idea for a story with a scientific bent, but I’m so not scientific. Fortunately, I met a lady at Fantasy on the Bayou who was and she graciously agreed to let me email her at a later date to help me with the science for my story.

How can you beat that? So writers, if you’re scared or nervous about going to conferences because you don’t think you’ll have anyone to talk to, you’re wrong. These are your people. These are people who can help you, guide you, and they’ll become friends who dispense advice when you need it.

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Conference Time

We’re only four weeks away from the start of a crazy conference bound month for me. I do enjoy conferences because it’s always great to see my writing friends in person, but it’s also a great time to learn and make new friends.

The first conference is Fantasy on the Bayou, the FF&P chapter’s very first conference. It looks like it’ll be fantastic. Karen Marie Moning will be there as well as Bob Mayer, Leanna Renee Hieber, Kristin Painter, and a host of other fabulous writers. The workshops look excellent and the book signing should be amazing. If you happen to be in the area on Sunday, March 4, be sure to stop by to meet some fabulous authors and pick up some books. *grin*

I’ll be giving a workshop on Music and the Muse on Saturday afternoon. I still don’t know what kind of media I’ll have to play songs to help stir participants’ muses, but I’ll figure something out. I might have to take a nerve pill before the workshop so I don’t blaze through my whole presentation in five minutes flat (think of an old cassette tape on fast forward). It should be interesting.

Then, two weeks later, I’ll be heading to Pensacola, Florida for the Silken Sands Conference. I’m really excited about this one because I get to reconnect with my Southern Sizzlers and meet the ones I haven’t yet. Besides, it’s on the beach! I’m not a very big beach fan, but I do love to listen to waves crashing on the shore. To me, that’s the perfect brainstorming time. I have a feeling I might skip out of some workshops just so I can watch the Gulf waters and commune with my muse. *cough* Again, there’s a fabulous list of authors who’ll be doing a book signing on Saturday afternoon, so if you’re in the area, be sure to stop by.

The only time I’ve been to Florida was for the RWA Conference in Orlando and I flew out there. I’ll be driving to Pensacola and I’m actually looking forward to the trip. I do like driving along the coast. I wonder if the Gulf looks different over there. Hm. And they probably have proper beaches. Our beaches at Grand Isle, Fourchon, and Holly Beach are rather small because of coastal erosion and…yeah, the water isn’t very pretty sometimes. I don’t think that’ll be the case in Pensacola and I can’t wait to find out!

Unfortunately, I won’t be going to RT or RWA Nationals this year. My pocketbook just can’t take it. Like I told my nephew last night (baby Bennett), I’m not Nora Roberts. He laughed at that. In fact, he laughed at me a lot last night so I can say with some confidence that if this writing gig doesn’t turn out well, I can always become a comedian for babies.

I’ll pout all summer long when I read Tweets and Facebook updates from the conference attendees, but you can bet I’ll be going to at least one of the big conferences next year. I think this year will be a small conference year. Which isn’t a bad thing, really. The small conferences are fun and not nearly as overwhelming as bigger ones.

What conferences are you going to this year?

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Cajun French: Maman

I know. You were all bummed because there was no Cajun French lesson last week. I apologize! I’ll make it up to you, I promise.

In fact, this word is one that dawned on me to use last week. I was speaking with the awesome Sable Grace duo about Cajun French, heritage, and geography at Nationals. I was asked how we address our mothers and grandmothers here in south Louisiana. We mostly use mom and mama for mothers and ma-maw (ma-mawn) for grandmother.

However, there is one word that I use without even realizing it but I don’t use it in reference to my mom or any of my grandmothers. I think they’d probably hit me if I did. The word is maman pronounced “muh-mahn”. The ending is a nasally sound with barely any inflection on the n. Maman is a grandmotherly lady, or an old lady. Yeah, the women in my family do not like to be called old. (Although my mom has been trying to convince us for the last five years that she’s a sweet, little old lady. *snort*)

Anyway, when I use the word maman, it’s not in a good way. Take for example shopping with my mom when I was a teenager. The styles then were all grunge. I wanted baggy T-shirts, baggy jeans, and Chucks. She wanted me to wear blouses with *shudders* flowers on them. I’d try them on for her because she insisted, but I’d always come out of the dressing room saying the same thing:

I look like an old maman!

I even said it at Nationals without trying to insult anyone. I know the styles for today’s dresses are lots of flower maxi’s or Empire waists, but there are some dresses out there that take that cute, innocent thing too far and venture into “old maman” land. I was glad to see there weren’t any women there wearing them, but I had to be careful because someone might have a dress like that at home. At least on the interwebz, I’m safe from slippers, flip-flops, sandals, and purses flying at my head.

The usage isn’t even limited to clothing and fashion. It could be an attitude. Let’s say you know someone who goes to bed at 7 p.m. every night, never has any fun, never goes anywhere, complains about the neighbors’ dogs barking…oh no, this is starting to sound like me! *cough* 😉 Anyway, a young woman who acts much older than their age could be said they “act like an old maman“.

So that’s this week’s lesson. Do you think you’ll be able to use this word? Or, you can confess to Tante Danica…when you’re home, you act like an old maman, don’t you? It’s okay. I do too. I like being in my house and in bed for 9 at night *cough, cough*

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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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Fantasy Man Friday

Hey y’all. Still in NYC and I’m sure I’m having fun. I’m positive I am. These are my peeps! In case you were wondering, writers are the coolest people ever. Really.

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet because it’s Fourth of July weekend and I know y’all just want to get on with the naughty, smexy man. Ready?

Um…rar. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Happy Fourth of July, y’all!!

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Remaking Gloria Gaynor

You didn’t think I’d forget about my summer remake series, did you? Tsk. For shame! I would never forget something as important (and fun) as that!

Yes, I’m still in NYC and I’ll go out on a limb and say that future Danica is having a blast. Today she’s meeting with her agent in person for the first time ever and I’m sure she’s freaking out over what to wear. I recommend the black skirt and plain blouse, but she’ll probably go with her black capris instead. Le sigh.

So because I’m…or rather she (future Danica) is spending so much time surrounded by thousands of romance writers, I—we thought today’s song could go out to all the writers at the conference and those who weren’t able to make it.

This song is an anthem for a decade and a mantra for every woman who went through a bad break-up. I love this song. I really, really love it. It’s simply amazing and timeless. Then in the 90’s a band called Cake remade this awesome song…and made me love it all over again. It isn’t the best rendition if you were looking for an upbeat song. No. Cake is kind of like…laid back and funky and tongue-in-cheek.

Here, listen for yourself and tell me what you think.

Gloria Gaynor:

Cake:

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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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Nationals Conference Week

Well this is it. I’m leaving for New York City today, or rather, I’m on the plane right this minute which means…I wrote this before I actually…got on the…Yeah, okay. You get the idea. I know myself well, so let’s just pretend I wrote this after I got on the plane, okay? Ready?

Oh my God. I was up at three o’clock this morning! No, no, I wasn’t partying. I was trying to make sure I remembered to pack my underwear. I don’t make a habit of not bringing any, mind you, but with  my luck that’ll be the one thing I forget. My dog was following me around the house trying to figure out what I was doing. She doesn’t like it when she sees the suitcase come out. The cat, on the other hand, wanted to help me pack. I’m bringing lots and lots of white cat hair with me to NYC. You’re welcome.

Before I could even leave the house, I had to make a list for my mom who’ll be taking care of my monsters while I’m gone. It went something like this:

1. When you bring Mia (the dog) outside, be sure to bring a big cup of ice for her to chew on. It has to be ice from the ice maker though; not the cubed ice.

2. Give Mia her medicine to her twice a day and you have to give it to her on a spoon. She’s a big girl and will lick it straight off the spoon. You’ll only have to clean a little bit of the floor.

3. If you give Mia a treat, you have to give Cookie (fat cat) a treat, too. I know she’s fat, but we can’t give special attention to either one of them.

4. Keep Ty (old cat) in water. Seriously, fill up her bowl even when it isn’t empty or she’ll wait for you to walk down the stairs and try to trip you. Ms. Princess can’t drink from a half-empty water bowl.

5. You have to give Cookie and Mia a lot of pettings. Ty could care less as long as she has a full water bowl. Cookie always wants her pettings right when you’re ready to go to sleep so you may want to go to bed earlier to make sure you have time to actually sleep. Mia wants attention all the time, so you won’t be resting at all.

6. Remember not to close the bathroom door all the way when  you’re about to take your shower. Shower time is their entertainment.

Now on top of these instructions, I’ve had to leave instructions for my brother to go to my house and pet the cats and dogs. Not that they’ll appreciate my care. When I return on Saturday, I can promise you that Mia will be happy to see me, but when I call for her, she’s going to give me the cold paw. Cookie, on the other hand, will be thrilled I’m  home and cover me in her cat fur (a sure indication of love).

The problem I’m going to have between now and Saturday is how in the Hell am I going to sleep without my babies???

Have a great week everyone! I’ll try to get online at some point, but I can’t make any promises. I will post a big review next week with pictures, so I hope you stop by!

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Fantasy Man Friday

Well, it’s Friday again. Yay! Woot-woot!

It’s been a topsy-turvy week. My brain is on overload with plans and lists of things I need to do before Nationals. I’m leaving on Monday, so I have to get everything ready this weekend. I already did my clothes shopping (thank God), but that’s only half the battle. It’s going to be fitting everything in my suitcase and making sure I don’t forget anything that has me going in a million directions.

On top of that, I’ve got to get a pedicure (these puppies are in sad shape, I tell ya), get my hair colored and trimmed (because I have a root system that would shame an oak tree), and buy my babies food while I’m gone. My babies are the cats and dog, by the way. I’m going to miss them so much *sniff* Who’s going to stomp on me while I’m sleeping or snore and smack their lips when I’m trying to fall asleep? *sniff, sniff*

Ah well, I’ll get over it. This week was also the official start of summer. I really think they should move the date up to at least May 12th because we’ve had record highs here since mid-May. It’s been miserable. I really don’t like summer, you know. Oh, well there are some things I like about it. Like today’s Fantasy Man.

He looks ready for summer, doesn’t he? With his shorts falling off and those rippling muscles dripping with water…*drool* He could totally drip on me. Rar.  *cough*

I’m going to do my best to blog next week, but it all depends on whether or not I can get a free wi-fi connection. The prices at the hotel are nothing less than highway robbery, but maybe I can try posting from my phone. Hm. We’ll have to see. I do have regularly scheduled posts ready to go, so you won’t be bored! I hope.

Have a happy Friday y’all and a great weekend!

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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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