At RWA 2013 – Saturday

RWA 2013 wrapped up on Saturday, July 20, with attendees looking increasingly bleary-eyed as we stumbled from workshop to workshop.  In the morning I had a chance to visit with a number of friends, and even met someone from New Zealand who had read my Golden Heart entry–that was a thrill!

I went to a workshop on Key Writing Skills, giving by agent Jill Marsal and Starcatcher (and now multi-published author) Robin Perini.  This was an excellent hour; I have a whole page of notes.  Four main areas: Develop Great Characters (characterization means observable traits, while character is true nature revealed under pressure; goal and motivation always important); Create a Compelling Story (braiding plot and character, internal versus external conflicts); Focus on Story and Pacing (show character changes in every scene, while turning points change the story’s direction); and Revise and Polish (watch out for backstory, telling rather than showing, overwriting, etc.).

The rehearsal for the awards ceremony, a precaution against someone falling off the stage, accompanied by a plea not to drink beforehand, only took about half an hour.  Then I caught a sandwich with fellow Firebird and Lucky 13 Oberon Wonch and her roomie.

I went to two more workshops on Saturday afternoon, “Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts,” by Margie Lawson (I’ve been to Margie’s workshops in the past, but she’s always interesting), and a really terrific presentation of Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! methodology by Jessica Brody.  I’m reading Snyder’s book now, and I’m going to see if that helps me plot the new novel I haven’t been making much progress on.

The last event of the conference, on Saturday evening, was the Awards ceremony for the Golden Heart and RITA winners.  Cheryl Bolen, my long-time friend and conference roomie, and I went downstairs about 7 PM and had a glass of champagne (in spite of that warning) while we waited for the VIP door to open.  We made out way to our table near the front and found it full of West Houston RWA folks:  Lark Howard and I as Golden Heart finalists (both in the paranormal category), Sophie Jordan as a RITA finalist (novella), and Sarah Andre standing in for a finalist friend, Krista Hall (romantic suspense) who was unable to attend the conference.  Cheryl, Susan Breeden, Tera Childs, and Sophie’s husband were our guests.  As it happened, the only one of us to accept an award was Sarah, reading a thank you from the absent Krista.  Rounding out the West Houston participation were Colleen Thompson presenting a RITA and Christie Craig, the evening’s emcee (entertaining the audience with her usual humor and standing on a box to reach the microphone).  Winners, finalists and audience all had a wonderful time.

Kay and Cheryl at the Awards Ceremony

Kay and Cheryl at the Awards Ceremony

Sunday, and time to go home, came all too soon.  Somehow I managed to stuff all the free books I’d picked up (yeah, I need more books.  But, she added virtuously, some were for my neighbor who looks after Nutmeg when I’m away) into my suitcase.  Cheryl, Colleen Thompson, and I caught the shuttle to the airport, where a Skycap who had clearly been dealing with ladies from RWA all morning, cheerfully told Colleen that if she could pull “one hardback and one paperback” out of her suitcase, it would slip through under the fifty-pound weight limit.  He was right.

Even with a stop at the grocery store, I was home in time for dinner.  Nutmeg the cat was glad to see me (and the roast chicken I’d picked up on the way home) and I was glad to sleep in my own bed.  But I’m still processing all I learned at the conference, getting in touch with new friends, and catching up in general.

And definitely looking forward to RWA 2014 next summer in San Antonio!



RWA Conference: Friday

Sometime during the conference I discovered that it is indeed possible to check my email on my Kindle (the keyboard model with 3G), although the process is somewhat eyestrain inducing.  Friday morning I discovered that attempting to answer email through the Kindle is not a good idea.  As I saw when I checked back later, the Kindle sent out four blank emails for each one I thought I wrote.  Fortunately I only sent two or three.  Most of the folks who email me regularly were at the Conference, and the rest knew I was out of town and unlikely to answer them.

Friday morning, after snagging a couple of scones from the continental breakfast spread, I went to my editor appointment, one of the big perks of attending the Conference.  The organization that goes into herding at least fifty people at a time to the right editor or agent at ten minute intervals is impressive, and the volunteers who make it work deserve a round of applause.

After my own ten minute chat, I headed off to visit more workshops.  I had enjoyed Cherry Adair’s keynote talk at the Golden Network Retreat on Wednesday enormously, so I went to her presentation on The Choreography of Action, which was both informative and hilarious.  And she was wearing another great pair of shoes.

Next I went to Laughing All the Way to the Bank: How to Write and Sell Humor.  Comedy is tough, but it’s what I do.  Two of the presenters, Christie Craig and Diane Kelly, are friends of mine, and all four are very funny ladies.  The workshop began with Kathleen Bacus’s recounting of what she learned from I Love Lucy, full of advice and laughter.  Angie Fox told us that “biker witches” sold her first book, and I believe her.

Friday lunch was a Conference event, featuring speaker Robyn Carr, who told us about her thirty-year (and forty-book) journey to the New York Times Best Seller List.  Inspiring, encouraging, and entertaining.  I haven’t found Robyn’s address on line, but I did find this quote from it: “Success is not measured by fame or fortune or power. Success is measured in moments of satisfaction.”

After lunch I did a little gift shopping, California tee shirts for the Scorekeeper crew and books for my neighbor who looked after Nutmeg.  And another book for me, Cherry Adair’s Rita nominee, Hush.

Friday afternoon the RWA Board threw a reception for the Rita and Golden Heart finalists, where we drank champagne, ate dessert, and collected our certificates (headed for my wall as soon as I remember to pick up a frame!).  Most of all, it was a chance to visit with the Firebirds and the Rita nominees.

Friday evening I shared a lovely dinner with Houston friends Sarah Andre and Lark Howard at a local seafood restaurant called The Catch.  I tried the macadamia-crusted barramundi, although I’d never heard of the fish, which definitely does not swim in the Gulf of Mexico.  It was delicious.  (Barramundi, as it happens, is an Australian fish, but I’ll bet the one I ate was farm-raised in California.)

Back at the hotel, I found a flock of Firebirds gathered at the pool, and spent the rest of the evening visiting with them.  Stayed tuned for the opening of the Firebirds Blog: we’re aiming for August 20.

New Books from West Houston RWA Authors

We had a very active booksigning at our chapter meeting yesterday, thanks to the wonderful people at KATY BUDGET BOOKS.  KBB brings us our members’ new releases every month, along with a mini-bookstore of romance novels and craft-of-writing books.  If you’re in the Houston area, visit the store for new and used books, and if you’re not, visit the website for news, reviews, and online orders.

  Colleen Thompson’s new release is Phantom of the French Quarter, from Harlequin Intrigue, about a mysterious hero who lives in the shadows of New Orlean’s Vieux Carré District, until he must protect a beautiful woman in danger.

Shana Galen’s latest romantic adventure from Sourcebooks Casablanca is Lord and Lady Spy.  Does that great cover remind you of anything?  You can check out the book’s trailer at Shana’s web site.

Don’t Mess With Texas is the latest romantic comedy from Christie Craig, and the first in a new series from Grand Central’s Forever line.  Christie keeps us all laughing, and so do her books.

One of our members has THREE releases this month–she writes faster than I read.  Her latest book as Sharie Kohler, Night Falls on the Wicked, is the fifth book in her dark paranormal Moon Chasers series from Pocket Books.

Sharie’s alter ego, Sophie Jordan, has two new books.  Wicked in Your Arms is her latest historical romance from Avon, while Vanish is the sequel to her wonderful Young Adult novel Firelight, from Harper.

Out-of-town member Tera Lynn Childs (we miss you, Tera!) also has a new Young Adult novel, Sweet Venom, the first in a new trilogy from Katherine Tegan books.   This series, about the triplet descendants of the Gorgon Medusa, is darker than Tera’s previous books and is getting great reviews.

Some day I hope to be enough of a WordPress expert to get this many pictures where I want them on the page, but today isn’t the day, and I’m moving on (let’s see, lunch, finish the laundry, finish the scene I’m writing, judge a contest entry, maybe even read a little).  In the meantime, check out these books and web sites–I promise they’re all worth your time.