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!

 

 

Catching Up

Actually, I feel like I’ve been trying to catch up ever since I got back from California, and that was that was seven weeks ago!  But I’ve had a lot going on since then.  Let’s face it, life never really slows down, does it?  And would we really want it to?  All that busy stuff keeps us up and moving.  I haven’t been bored, I’ll say that much.

Last week I had a birthday–let’s not worry about which one it was–and Jo Anne, Sarah Andre, Lark Howard and I celebrated by driving out to Katy Budget Books for a launch party for our friend Shana Galen’s latest book, When You Give a Duke a Diamond.  It says a lot about Houston traffic that it took us about an hour and twenty minutes to get out to Katy at rush hour and about twenty-five minutes to get back two hours later.  But the time navigating through traffic (Jo Anne was driving, but she got a lot of advice from the back seat) was well spent.  At dinner later we realized that without our writing connections, the four of us would probably never have met, and that would have been a loss.  Lark gave us her take on the evening last week at Reading, Writing and Rambling, the blog she shares with our friend Pat O’Dea Rosen.

Later in the week I had a second birthday dinner with my next-door neighbor and her daughter, a lovely meal at a charmingly old-fashioned Italian restaurant, Antonio’s in LaPorte, Texas.  Seafood fettuccini with lemon garlic sauce, yum.  LaRue gave me this charming little porcelain kitten box.  It’s less than three inches long, so I’m not sure what it’s meant to hold, but for the moment it’s sitting on my monitor stand, after becoming yet another victim of my attempts at photography.

Books:  not much reading this week.  I did finish Tera Lynn Childs’ Just for Fins, the third book in her Young Adult mermaid trilogy.  I don’t read a lot of YA fiction, but I’ve enjoyed this series, a light paranormal tale set in Florida (and underwater, of course).  I started Cheryl Bolen’s Marriage of Inconvenience, which I am enjoying.  I have an early copy; the book will be released October 2.

TV:  This afternoon I finally watched last week’s SYTYCD, a pure performance episode.  I don’t know, or really care, who’s going to win the titles Tuesday evening (and I’ll have to record that one, too–I have a meeting that night), but all four of the remaining dancers are amazing.  Who would have thought a few weeks ago that Cyrus the Animator would be in the final four?

This evening, of course, I watched Hell on Wheels.  Another bloodbath.  This is the most violent show I watch–I was going to say the only one, but Major Crimes last week ran up a pretty substantial body count–and I remain completely hooked.  By the characters, and the background, not the bloodshed.

This week I’m looking forward to the return of Bones, the premier of Revolution and the season finale (alas) of White CollarWarehouse 13 has three more episodes to run, and Castle will be back next week.  There is no standard TV season these days, is there?  But there are always new stories to enjoy, and, I hope, to learn from.

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.