Saturday, October 16, 2010

Emerald City Writer's Conference

It's been a while since I posted ... mainly because it's been a rough couple of months since getting back from RWA National Conference in July. It didn't occur to me that surgery 10 days after I got back from Orlando would be a big deal, but it certainly knocked me off my writing schedule.

Two weeks ago, Susan Lute and I gave a workshop at the Emerald City Writer's Conference in Bellevue, WA titled Hell, Yes! I Want to be A Happy Writer! It was a blast! The five people who attended certainly said so! Our time slot was opposite Margie Lawson, and workshops like Career Plan Bootcamp, Plan a Year's Worth of Writing in One Weekend, and Goal & Motivation - Explaining the Life and Career of a Romance Writer, so I'm really not surprised at the low turnout. Jenna Bayley-Burke (why yes, I AM going to name-drop, LOL) was a hoot, and made it so enjoyable. It was taped, but my prayers must have been heard, because it seems that something went wrong with the taping process. No, you did not see me by the recordings booth, with my finger on the 'delete' button. Really. Wipe the thought from your mind.

We've been to this conference several times and each time we come away saying that it's the best conference ever. This year was no different. The agents and editors were top notch, informative, accessible and just really nice. After pitching to an agent (and telling her my fainting goat story - you know, you scare them and they pass out - that's me, pitching!), she asked to see the first three chapters of HUNTER'S REVENGE. Whoohoo!! The editor I pitched to gave me a fantastic addition to my plot line that adds another dimension, and possibly more drama for my main character. Other than not asking for a submission, it couldn't have gone any better!

After accepting Cherry Adair's FINISH THE DAMN BOOK Challenge, it's back to the keyboard for me, and in my spare time, adding a new dimension to HUNTER'S REVENGE.

Are you writing? Submitting? A published author once assured me that editors and agents aren't going to come to your house, turn on your computer and print your manuscript out so they can read it. And they can't buy it if you don't submit. Happy writing!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Passion and Writing

So, I took a trip Friday. No, not a trip where I went somewhere fun, or interesting. Oh, no ... I tripped on the edge of a rubber mat and nearly went sprawling on my face at the entrance of WalGreens. Right in front of the cashier and several customers. What the heck does that have to do with writing, or getting published? Glad you asked! My little trip gave me an epiphany. I hate to be embarrassed. With a passion that nearly eclipses every other passion in my life.

During the PRO Retreat at the 2010 RWA National Conference last week, Donald Maass (agent extraordinaire) said we need to find that passion in our life and transfer it to our characters. Give them something to be passionate about.

Now I'm going back over the book I thought was ready to out to a requesting agent, and rework the beginning (oh yeah, and eventually the entire freaking book!) and transfer my passion to my character Hunter Kelly - who has to be passionate about not being a victim again. She has to get MAD. Mad enough to overcome a fear of being victimized again, and DO something to stop it. Mad enough to kill.

Another thing I'm passionate about is the workshop Susan Lute and I are giving at the Emerald City Conference in October. It's titled HELL, YES! I WANT TO BE A HAPPY WRITER! Our goal is to identify obstacles to being a happy writer and give our attendees the tactics or tools that will allow them to write the story that will give them creative joy. I'm passionate enough about this topic that I'm overcoming my fear of public speaking to do a workshop (hell, we're doing several workshops and are going to apply to next years' National Conference - wish us luck!). If you'd asked me even 5 years ago if I would be pushing to give a workshop, I would have said you were nuttier than a fruit cake.

So, what are you passionate about? Passionate enough to do something you swore you'd never do? Passionate enough to overcome a deep-seated fear?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Orlando, FL - July 31, 2010 - Day Six

Words written: 0                                                             Weather: 95 High (heat index says it feels like 107)
Hrs. writing: 0 (unless you count this blog!)                                     79 Low
Hrs. shopping and sightseeing: 0                                                     45% Humidity

(Picture is the WDW Dolphin Hotel from our room on the 7th floor of the WDW Swan Hotel.)

You'll notice that there's no "Orlando, FL - July 30, 2010 - Day Five" of the conference. No, it didn't get deleted. It was a blur of workshops, lunch, and more workshops, then we collapsed for a few minutes, went to dinner, then came back for an early night - except for the whole, gotta hone my pitch thing and was up until after 10:30pm, getting some last minute, on-line help from friend Linda Smith.

Last day of conference, so I decided to pitch. Someone else took over my body when I wasn't looking, because I HATE to pitch. It's never going to get easier for me. Period. No matter how many times I do it. After signing into the "Wait List", I sat down and realized that my pitch was too long. Now, mind you, I stayed up last the night before, perfecting this pitch. It was PERFECT. But not if I wanted to breathe, or have time to have a conversation (not taking a breath leads to Darla on the floor, blue).

So, there I am, frantically writing, honing, paring my beautifully crafted sentences. It was a stroke of luck that I wasn't called until I was nearly finished (yes, I was still scribbling on my index card while standing in line!). The agent understood that I was nervous, and asked if it was my first time. Um, no ... 100th actually (Um, yeah-I didn't SAY that, just that no it wasn't my first pitch, LOL!). So I read my perfectly crafted words ... ran two sentences together and forgot to breathe. Yep. Looked up at the agent, who looked at me quite concerned and said 'Breathe'.

After a couple of deep breaths and I finished my pitch, she had a couple of interesting things to say (like, R/S is flat, and that is kinda hard to sell right now). But she was gracious enough to give me her card and that she'd like to see the first three chapters. WIN.

I went back to the waiting area and struck up conversations with other writers also waiting for an editor or agent opening so they could pitch. It made it so much more pleasant, and the waiting not so long. It was a long time later that a volunteer announced that one of the editors was going to stay late and take pitches for those who waited so patiently.

Other than the pleasant women I waited with, I'm sorry to say that I wished I would have just went on my way to a workshop. It was brutal. The editor said to give her the elevator pitch. You know the one, two lines or less to describe a 90k + word manuscript. Then proceeded to interrupt me twice, once to say that my story line was trope (what the HELL does that mean?? I looked it up, and still don't know), overdone, and interrupted another time to suggest that maybe I should look to category. I graciously tried to exit, but she was so busy explaining that she wouldn't be so brutal if she had more time, that SURELY I'd read similar stories already published, they were EVERYWHERE. Yeah, right.

I just wanted OUT of there. Before I embarrassed myself and started crying. I didn't want to cry, not for someone's opinion I didn't believe. I said-gently-that I've read a lot of books, along many genres, and I'd never seen my storyline written before. Maybe something similar (woman gets physic powers after a brutal event, etc), but my book has a unique twist, etc. Didn't matter. The editor just wanted her day to be over, despite her assurance that she could stay late and take more pitches. I just wanted to be somewhere else. FAIL.

So, I got out of there and went to lunch with good friend & RCRW Chapter President Kim Wollenburg and tried to let it go. The Fountain was busy, but Kim and I were lucky enough to get a spot at the bar and got food before I passed out from hunger. Didn't really make it to any more full workshops, though after mailing my books off, I heard the last half of The Secret Life of Pantsers. It sounded like great information, wished I would have been able to hear the entire thing. Su was there and took notes, so hopefully I'll get to cheat off her :-)

The Awards Ceremony is tonight, I'll try to take pics of friends and fellow RCRW members for posterity. Then tomorrow its off into the blue yonder @ 10:15 for home. Have to say, I'm looking forward to being home and away from vicious editors.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Orlando, FL - July 29, 2010 - Day Four

Words written: 0                                                             Weather: 93 High
Hrs. writing: 0 (unless you count this blog!)                                     79 Low
Hrs. shopping and sightseeing: 0                                                     82% Humidity (They lie! feels like 98%)

Today was the first full day of conference. My. Brain. Is. Full. Already. The luncheon speaker was Nora Roberts. Now all the hype and hyperbole aside ... she's a hoot! She had us laughing, had me crying (nobody else would admit to it) as she talked about 30 years of friendships because of RWA, and it made me realize that I want to be her when I grow up. Not the fame - that would be a pain in the ass ... okay, maybe the fortune - but better than money and accolades, I want to grow old with my friends by my side. In good times, in bad times, in doubts and when they're cheering me on with glasses raised.

I wouldn't have those fantastic friends in my life if it wasn't for writing, RWA, and our local RWA chapter, the Rose City Romance Writers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The PRO Retreat was fantastic as always. After thanking the PRO organizers and volunteers, we heard from industry professionals: editors, agents and the incomparable Donald Maass, who was also a hoot! He made a vampire funny without even realizing it. He had some interesting things to say about the industry as a whole and where it is going. And good advice (IMHO) about digging deep into your own passion to put into your characters, to give them passion that leaps off the page.

Dinner was at The Fountain Cafe, I had the chili & cheese cup on a recommendation, plus a side salad. A few of Su's french fries might have reached my mouth, but except for saddlebags on my hips, there's no proof. Good food is an understatement. Didn't have room for any of the ice cream, shakes or floats. Oh, well ... there's always tomorrow.

Orlando, FL - July 28, 2010 - Day Three

Words written: ?                                       Weather: 94 High
Hrs. writing: 1, maybe 1 1/2                                     75 Low
Hrs. shopping and sightseeing: 4                               94% Humidity (triple yuk! Like a sauna ... with clothes!)

Wednesday started out a little slow for me, as my foot was swollen ... again. Had nothing to do with the carry-on bag handle I dropped on said foot Sun night/Mon morning, just some mysterious swelling that happens to the pad of my right foot every once in a while (yes, I had an injury in the Denver Airport - did I forget to mention that?? Not too much drama, so I left it out :-). I was hoping it was gone for good ... no such luck. So roommate Susan Lute went off on an adventure without me.

Rested foot, iced it, and wrote for about an hour, maybe an hour and a half. Unfortunately, I don't have any way to count my words on WordPad, so you'll just wait on the word count, LOL!

About lunch time, my foot was feeling better, so I called up new friend Kathy and we went to Downtown Disney for lunch at The Raintree Cafe. What a blast! It rained every 10 min, and the animals made noise and moved. The fish tanks were beautiful and the bar stools looked like the hind-end of different animals, complete with legs and tails. I *was* going to get a pic of people sitting on them, but thought it might be a little rude (butt-shots are soooo not attractive!).

A trip back to Ghirradeilli Chocolate was a must, since Kathy hadn't been yet, but I was good ... only had an iced White Chocolate Mocha coffee.With the humidity so high, we were pretty wiped out by that time, so it was another shuttle bus trip back to the Swan.

Su was there when I arrived at the room, full of her adventures @ HP World. Sounds like she had a blast, even with the crowds. She didn't go alone, she met up with a fellow PAN (Published Author Network) member, but of course, I can't remember her name :-( 

Then it was a quick check on-line to see what people were doing - quick is a relitive term, as the internet speed is ssslllloooowwww. The Literacy Booksigning started @ 5:30 and we made it just after the doors opened. The room was HUGE, the largest one since I've been going to National conferences. The noise level wasn't deafening, so Su and I strolled around catching up with those friends we haven't seen for a while and admiring books, books and more books. I found a couple of new authors Laura Bickle ( and Alayna Williams (, who happens to be one in the same person (grin). Lovely woman! I had a blast talking with her.

After the signing, Su wanted to go back to Downtown Disney, and dinner sounded look a good idea. We were invited to Elisabeth Naughton's launch party, and were the first to arrive. It was a blast! Joan Swan handed out Long Island Iced Tea ... I'd never tasted one before - it was delicious. Met a three lovely writers - Hi, Lexi, Jacqui and Adrian!! and made new friends (I hope!!).

Su and I both won a door prize, and then we absconded back to our room to crash for the night. The 2010 RWA National Conference madness has begun!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Orlando, FL - July 27, 2010 - Day Two

Words written: 0 (this blog counts as words, doesn't it??)     Weather: 95 High
Hrs. writing: 0 (does talking about writing count??)                             78 Low
Hrs. shopping and sightseeing: 6                                                         84% Humidity (still yuk!)

Didn't get an early start like we thought, but ran into fellow RCRW member, Jessica Davidson (w/a Jessa Slade in one of the stores on the Boardwalk. She didn't realize what she was getting into when she joined Su and I as we ventured out, I'm sure! We started out strolling around the Boardwalk, then drug her along as we took a shuttle bus to the Magic Kingdom. Our goal was to ride the Tram around the Disney Resort complex, we heard it was free and very interesting. Our source didn't lie. We caught a Tram, and we were off.

The Tram went to the Transportation Station, where we changed trams and caught the one to Epcot. Su and I thought Epcot was one attraction, but it's actually several grouped together. We didn't get out and go in, mind you ... the price tag is a little steep on a limited budget. So we stayed on the Tram and rode back to the Transportation Station and got off. We intended to get back on the Magic Kingdom tram, but the line was horrendous and we were thirsty. So as I bought water, Su and Jessica talked to someone who said the boat was the way to travel. Since I'd wanted to go to boat anyway, it was a great choice! It didn't take but a few minutes on a faux Stern-wheeler to go across the lake back to the Magic Kingdom.

Once there, we decided that food was a necessity, but an interesting fact about the transportation around Disney ... you can't ride a bus from an attraction straight to Downtown Disney, where all the food and shopping is. So I asked the guy manning the information desk and he was singularly unhelpful (especially considering that the question I asked was answered by looking at the directional board next to the information booth - but I didn't see it. It's my defense, and I'm sticking to it!). So we asked another worker what was the closest resort so we could get to Downtown Disney and took the bus he indicated. It was another hour before we got to the Old Key West resort, waited for a DD bus and arrived at our destination.

The Earl of Sandwich says it's the best hot sandwich place, ever. It doesn't lie. It was great food, and the company was fantastic. We shopped, of course, who wouldn't?? And had to visit the Ghirradelli Chocolate store, where I had a White Chocolate Mocha coffee, Su had Espresso Chip ice cream and Jessica had Peppermint ice cream (see how good I was ... only drinking coffee?? Stop laughing, I can hear you all the way here!)

By that time we were hot, tired and ready to be back at our hotel, so it was a quick shuttle bus trip back. Jessica went to her hotel (the Dolphin), while Su and I headed to our room. Yes, I took a nap, who wouldn't after the full day we had? Then another RCRW Member, Kim Wollenburg called. She had just arrived from the airport and wanted to know if dinner was on the horizon. Of course it was! We ate at Shula's Restaurant in the Dolphin. A little on the spendy side, but good food. After one drink and great conversation with Kim, her friend Kathy (who became an instant friend, as she writes paranormal, also!) and we were ready to call it a night.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Orlando, FL - July 26, 2010 - Day One

Words written: 48                                                             Weather: 95 High
Hrs. writing: .5 (or 30 min)                                                               78 Low
Hrs. shopping and sightseeing: 6                                                       88% Humidity (yuk!)

Despite all good intentions, I didn't sit down very long to write today. Susan Lute and I arrived in Orlando at approx 5:30am (PST Time: 2:30am) and we didn't get to the Swan Resort until about 6:30am. We dropped our luggage off in the room, ate breakfast, then headed outside to tour the hotel and surroundings. The famous Disney World Boardwalk is beautiful (despite the heat and humidity that we're sooo not used to) and peaceful that early in the morning. Of course, nothing is open, but that's beside the point :-).

By 9:30am we were exhausted and headed for a nap - well, really to finish out our night of sleep.

We woke up at 2:30pm, showered, then hopped on email to catch up with all we missed while we were sleeping . A couple of hours later, we met up with fellow RCRW Member Terri Reed and our new friend Ruth Kaufman. Then it was off to Disney World's Downtown Marketplace to wander around and eat dinner.

Okay, if you're ever in Orlando, Florida anywhere near Disney World, stop at the Raglan Road Pub in the Marketplace. Great food, complete with Irish dancing (video up on Facebook soon!), live music and fantastic company. Couldn't ask for more!

After dinner, it was more shopping and sightseeing, then we finished the night in our room talking and drinking a YouthBerry tea that Su made for everybody.

Too much fun, not enough writing. I'm feeling guilty ... must write tomorrow!!