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RomantiCon: The Writers

I’m back again with another recap of RomantiCon 2012. Before I get to the meat of the post I have a special announcement. I worked my ass off to hunt track down each of EC’s cavemen to ask them one special question: Would they mind being interviewed here on my blog. And you know what they said? They’d love to! The things I do to try to make y’all happy. You want the sexy menz? I’m going to bring them to you, but you have to work for it first.

I’m giving you until Monday, October 22 to come up with some questions you’d like me to ask these wonderful men. And they are wonderful. Please leave your questions in the comments and I’ll compile them for the guys next week so we can all get to know the Cavemen a little better.

And now, the rest of the story…

I’ll admit to being a little concerned about this conference. No, I wasn’t expecting them to truss me up as some virgin sacrifice to one of their sexy cavemen…although that would have been awesome. It’s that whole “What if no one wants to be my friend?” feeling. Like you’re in high school all over again and praying you remembered to put deodorant on.

But it wasn’t like that at all. Mainly because I shared the shuttle with another writer who was attending their first RomantiCon. Sky Robinson was a blast to hang out with. This woman has a laugh that makes you hurt yourself laughing. It was a little less intimidating once you have someone, also new, to talk to because then you start branching out. Tentatively, yes, but by the time you leave the convention, you’re like “What’s up, hooker?” Or maybe that was just me.

Sitting with Sky is the mysterious A.M. Griffin who managed to nearly make me have an accident with her impression of the fine state of Oklahoma. Sorry, it’s an inside joke, but ask her about it if you ever meet her in person. You’ll probably hear a lot of laughing and denials.

I also got to meet Lea Barrymire and Erin Simone, two very lovely, witty ladies who left me in tears at times. In the picture below from left to right, Erin Simone, yours truly, Sky Robinson, A.M. Griffin, and Lea Barrymire. We had so much friggin’ fun, if we’d had anymore, I’m pretty sure we would’ve gone to jail.

There were also some authors who seemed to pop into the picture just to shake things up, but I never managed to get a candid of them. Shoshanna Evers is gorgeous and made me both relaxed and uncomfortable for reasons I’d rather not explain *cough*. Christine d’Abo is friggin’ hilarious and she was my Pro Football Hall of Fame buddy. Three hours of ogling Super Bowl rings, old football jerseys, helmets, shoes and all kinds of things forms a bond unlike any other. And I’m not even mentioning the hours we spent in the Pro Hall of Fame store.

Sasha Devlin is my sister from another mister. Actually, we’ve decided we’re formerly conjoined twins who were unevenly separated as she has the boobs and I got the booty. Francesca Hawley spent some time with us as well and helped me stay up so I wouldn’t miss my flight out on Monday morning. J.K. Coi, Cara McKenna Cristal Ryder, Cassandra Carr, um, um, um….Cara Carnes, um, there’s more! Regina Cole, Virginia Cavanaugh, Aline Hunter, man, the list just goes on and on.

Needless to say there were a lot of authors there who made me feel as though I was right at home. The fact they’re also connoisseurs of beautiful men makes it that much easier for us to get along.

Have you begun checking out flights and hotel reservations for RomantiCon 2013 yet? 😉

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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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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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Pre-National Nerves

Well, a week from today I’ll be heading to Orlando for my very first Nationals Conference. I’m feeling equal parts excitement and trepidation.

Excitement because I can’t wait to take some of these workshops. I suppose being in college as long as I was, I have no problem sitting for long periods of time absorbing information. As long as it’s something I want to absorb, that is. Put numbers on a board or start talking about adding and I’m going to zone out. Yeah, pretty sure that won’t be a problem at Nationals, but who knows?

I’m also excited because I’ll be surrounded by my kind of people: writers, more specifically, romance writers. It’ll be fun to listen to what kind of conversations go on. I missed out on the chance to get an appointment with agents and editors, and I had thought about doing a little friendly stalking, but I’ve decided not to. Not only do I not have new material ready for pitching, but I’m kind of at the point where I realize my Veil series is probably a dead horse. And that’s okay. I think I’ll be taking some elements from it and working on another idea. Besides that though, not pitching to agents and editors means I don’t have to be nervous and go through the I’m-gonna-be-sick-please-don’t-let-me-puke-on-the-nice-editor/agent pre-pitch jitters. This is a good thing.

Now on to the trepidation I feel. I’m a shy person. Are you shocked? You have to be considering how much bull I talk here, but I’m…antisocial. Remember the Grumpy McGrumperton post? Well, that sort of extends to things beyond the phone. It isn’t that I don’t like visiting with people, but I never know what to say. That’s when I revert to a defensive position: sarcastically witty (if I do say so myself). I realized this when I had to take two consultants on a tour of our facilities last week. I made little remarks the entire day and they chuckled, but I think they were wondering what the hell was wrong with me.

I’m hoping this won’t be a problem because I imagine a lot of writers are like that. I hope? I was talking to my BFF yesterday and said I sure hope people talk to me. I’m going alone. I don’t know anyone from personal meetings, everything’s been on-line (and I’m not saying this to make people feel sorry for me, it’s just a fact). So she said OMG, that would suck if you didn’t have anyone to talk to! Better bring your computer. Which I am anyway because I have to be able to update for my peeps!

It’s scary, almost like finals for school (which I still have nightmares about). You know, the dream where you have a final for a class you’ve never been to and aren’t even sure where it’s located and your entire life hinges on passing? You don’t have that dream? Oh. Must just be me. Anyway, that’s how nervous I am, but I’m slowly growing comfortable with the idea. I just keep remembering that the people I’ve met through RWA, FF&P, and various other groups are…well, people too. They might be just as nervous as me! In which case, we’ll all clump together like sheep and baa once in a while.

How about you? If you’re going to Nationals, are you nervous? Do you want to be my friend? Check yes or no…Bwahahaha. Sorry. Ahem. It’ll be cool.

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