Summary: RWA Nationals

If I had to summarize the RWA Nationals in one word, I’d have to use this one: Whew.

Fortunately, I don’t have to do that. Even in an entire blog post I can’t possibly sum up all the highs and lows and in-betweens of the conference. It was a lot like a roller coaster. A lot of buzz about the future of e-publishing. A little talk about how self-publishing an ebook is a lot like the old vanity publishing. Very difficult to make a success of such a career. However, in whispers, some writers talk about how other writers have done it. How they don’t have to share the proceeds with anyone else, so they make more money from each sale.

However, I didn’t go to the RWA Nationals to learn about e-publishing. It’s a definite trend to watch and I almost always read ebooks on my Nook (I love that thing), but I went to RWA to sell my book. To a publisher or an agent who will know how to sell it to a publisher. On Friday, I haunted the editor/agent appointments looking for appointments with someone interested in single title romances. I was rewarded for my efforts and three hours later walked away with two agent requests for additional material. Both agents are extremely well-respected and successful in the romance industry and I would be honored to work with either one. So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed and working hard on my synopsis this weekend.

Because you see, I found out something in one of my workshops. I’ve been writing my synopses all wrong. (Aaaargh!) Angela James of Carina Press said in a workshop I attended that when she reads a synopsis, she wants to feel like she’s read the book without having to read the book. Oh no, I thought. That doesn’t sound like what I’ve been sending out.

I’ve always thought of a synopsis as a book report. It’s not that. It’s more like Cliff’s Notes of your book. It needs everything, not just the main characters, conflict and resolution. You need to be able to summarize the entire journey the characters take in your book. And you need to do all this in three to five pages.

So needless to say, I have my work cut out for me. Fortunately, I only have to do it once. I hope.

Biggest thrills of the conference: Riding in the elevator with Steve Berry and talking about Junior’s Cheesecake; walking past Diana Gabaldon—I didn’t have the guts to stop and say hello, but I did pass within three feet of her; hearing Harlequin editor Paula Eykelhoff talk about her years of experience in the romance industry; pitching my story to anyone who’d listen, but especially to an agent I’ve queried at least three times; discussing the Mills and Boon line of medical romances with Harlequin editor Bryony Green; in fact, meeting anyone from Harlequin from the writers to the editors. I’m not just saying it because I’m a fan, either. They were all wonderful, friendly people. Maybe working with romance does that to you.

Day 2: Short and Sweet?

Long day. Unsuccessful appointment with lovely helpful editor. Too cheap to spring for 24 hours of internet when checkout is noon so this update brought to you by my Droid. Great workshop on epublishing this a.m. by literary agent Evan Gregory. Loving it, learning a lot and looking forward to applying it! Check back for my summation of the whole thing Saturday. Full sentences when I have a full size keyboard again!

Day 1: Passionate About Writing

Here I am in the very heart of the city that never sleeps and all I can think about is getting some sleep! It’s been an awesome day that didn’t quite go the way I had thought it would at first, but ended up great, anyway.

It started out on a high note, although I didn’t get to meet up with the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers who were here. I ended up on the wrong floor, but two lovely ladies, Jeannie Watt and Sophie Gunn** invited me to join them for coffee, noticed my orange “first timer” ribbon and gave me some excellent advice. Thank you ladies! I’m looking forward to reading your work now that I’ve met you. 🙂 After coffee I headed off alone to the opening session where Diana Gabaldon, Tess Gerritsen and Steve Berry answered questions about everything from what their most touching moments with their fans were to how can an author break through into the world of best sellers today. All three were highly entertaining and informative, and I enjoyed the session immensely.

Afterward I headed up to the room with my hands full of coffee and danish, and a lovely woman by the name of Diane Burke, who writes love inspired suspense, gave me her card and was exceptionally friendly, inquiring about my first experience with the RWA conference.

My afternoon was made up of several informative workshops. I got lost on the way to one, however, and happened along the Spotlight on Carina, Harlequin’s digital-first imprint. Editor Angela James was very informative and persuasive, and I will be looking very closely at Carina as a possible publisher for at least one of my two completed and polished manuscripts.

To wind up a very productive day, I met four other Lyrical Press authors for a drink: Pamela Hearon, Mary Abshire, Cathleen Ross and Cassiel Knight. We found we had much more in common than just writing for the same publisher, and wound up spending a very pleasant couple of hours together.

So now it’s off to bed after I take a sleeping pill to help cushion my delicate North Carolina eardrums against the constant racket of the Big Apple. Night, everyone!

**Note: I’ve recently realized that “Sophie Gunn” is also known as Diana Holquist, a very accomplished writer of contemporary romance. As Sophie Gunn, however, she writes small town romances. I’m looking forward to reading both! (BTW, I’m sure Sophie/Diana told me her real name was Diana, but in my mixed-up, confused, dazed state, I didn’t quite catch it. Sorry, Diana!)

Registration Day: Welcome to New York!

I’m here at the RWA Nationals!!! All registered and properly worn out after a day of traveling, but really psyched to get started on things tomorrow. After arriving, figuring out the hotel’s (very) confusing elevator system (I’m not kidding, a lot of people are having trouble with it!), I got myself registered and received my bag of goodies. Six wonderful romance novels just for registering! Yay! I can hardly wait to dig into them.

To get in the mood for tomorrow’s workshops and (hopefully) networking, my husband and I hit the pavement and wandered a few blocks over to the New York Public Library to look at the excellent exhibit “Celebrating 100 Years”. I saw Charles Dickens’ letter opener, a lock of Mary Shelley’s hair, e.e. cummings’s typewriter, a Gutenberg Bible, George Washington’s farewell address (written in his own hand!), Jack Kerouac’s “Rain and Rivers” journal, and a lot of other amazing items, which, when you see them up close, really make you wonder how on earth they have survived in this world that loves the digital media so much. Why keep so many originals when we can digitize them and share them worldwide? As I looked at e.e. cummings’s typewriter and the sheet of music Beethoven actually touched, I felt like I might know the answer to that, however. You have to preserve the original. There’s simply nothing that can take the place of standing less than six inches away from a true original.

So tomorrow I rise early and get started meeting some current originals in my field. I’ll update again tomorrow night, if possible!

5 Housekeeping Shortcuts for Busy Writers, or How to Maximize Your Writing Time and Not Feel Like a Bum Mom and Wife

This week I’ve been incredibly busy preparing kids for camp, taking them to the swimming pool and getting ready for the RWA Nationals next week (!!!). Sorry, I just can’t think of the RWA Nationals (!!!) without exclamation points. It’s my first time at a national writing conference. The closest thing I’ve ever done to this was Horrorfest several years ago, but that was just fun stuff. I signed a few copies of Horror Library Volume 1, which I helped copy edit and had a story in. I also hung out with some of my horror buddies and went through the haunted house. Mostly it was just fun watching the people in extreme makeup and costumes wander past.

But, I digress. The RWA Nationals will be so much more for me. Workshops and editor meetings and pitching my novels (I have TWO to pitch!)… oh my. So much to do. Keeping up with my blog has been low on my list this week. Not as low, however, as housekeeping chores. So, here are my top five ways to keep up with keeping up my house.

1. Have somebody else do it for you. Of course, right! Maid services are awesome, but they do cost money. Plus, the maids don’t move in, so they’re only there once or twice a week, and let’s face it, if you’ve got kids, there’s more housecleaning to do than can be done in one or two days. So, see the rest of my list.
2. Invest in convenience cleaning supplies. I have a bunch of these. Wipes come with all sorts of cleaning solutions already in them these days. There are wipes for cleaning windows, wipes for cleaning baths, wipes for cleaning electronics. If you read the labels closely, you won’t even have to buy every one of them. The wipes for electronics are also great for glass. Clorox wipes clean just as well in the kitchen as the bath (just make sure you throw away the one you used in the bath before you start on the kitchen — yech!).
3. Steam mop! Steam mops eliminate the need to lug about a big bucket of water that, after mopping the kitchen, is mostly dirty anyway. I’m sure you end up using less water and that’s good for the environment!
4. Stick vac. Like the steam mop, the stick vac is just plain easier to deal with than a big canister vac. Light, easily transportable, usually versatile enough to use on the stairs.
5. Don’t be afraid to let your kids do the fun stuff! Seriously, if it has a switch, my kids love it. Like the stick vac. I know eventually they will get to the point where the vacuum stops being a magical dragon swooping down to devour cities of crumbs, but until then I plan to enjoy this. (Do make sure the kids don’t vacuum up their younger sibling’s toys on purpose, however. I’ve learned from sad experience that this can be quite traumatic for everyone concerned!) My kids will also steam mop for me, but this has to be closely supervised or I won’t be able to tell they’ve done anything.

Watch for more regular updates next week, probably starting on Tuesday. I’ll keep you up-to-date on everything a first-timer sees at the RWA Nationals! (!!!)