Sorry folks, I'll be blogging tomorrow on the conference. I'll have to get a new card reader to transfer my photos to my computer since I forgot to bring the cable for my camera! I left the conference after the Beau Monde conference yesterday, and flew to San Diego to visit my brothers and family. And I am really beat! See you tomorrow with tons of pictures!
So, You're Not in San Francisco....
Well, I'm going to take you on a tour anyway. All you need is your video rental card ;)
Want to see the opera house and ride the hilly streets? Try Foul Play, with Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. Oh, and he lives on a houseboat and she drives down Highway 1 in her VW, remember?
Or there's the chase in What's Up Doc with Barbra Streisand.
See some of the gorgeous Victorian homes in Mrs. Doubtfire.
Or rent Pacific Heights if you prefer some suspense with your sightseeing.
Didn't make it to Alcatraz? Watch The Rock.
You can even travel in time (those gals at the conference can't do that!) and see San Fran in the 1950s in Vertigo.
Or even earlier in Barbary Coast.
And, okay, it's been awhile since I've seen it, but I think The Presidio has some great scenes of ... I think it's Golden Gate Park. But Mark Harmon, back in his Sexiest Man Alive days....worth the rental.
The Wedding Planner has a scene at Golden Gate Park, too, and Grace Cathedral.
Sweet November with Keanu Reeves has some great scenery as well. And there's San Francisco ;)
What are some movies you love set in the City by the Bay? (Okay, I just put a Journey song in your head, didn't I??)
Labels: San Francisco
And the Rita Goes To....
When Trish suggested this topic for Conference week, I thought it was a great idea. Then I looked at The List
and realized I've only read one.
I loved it, thought Phoebe was a terrific heroine, a balance of toughness and softness that is hard to find in many romantic suspense. The hero (Dylan? Not sure) was playful and determined in his pursuit of her. And there was a scene in the RS plot that left me gaping. I could NOT believe that line was crossed, but WOW did it up the suspense.
I have three more of the finalists in my TBR:
What Rita finalists have you read and loved? Which books do you think might be Rita finalists in 2009?
Labels: books, reading
What If You Aren’t Going to the Conference?
Earlier this month I suggested that our readers attending the RWA conference get their heads in the game. But not all of our readers are heading to San Francisco. Some can’t afford to go or have other obligations that prevent them from attending. Several posse members, yours truly included, will not be there this year. I have an assignment for those of you in a blue funk over not going. You must pick at least one item in the list that follows and perform it to your best ability, then share with us how it worked to lift your spirits.
1. Wallow in a pint of your favorite full fat ice cream. If you’re really depressed, go for the half gallon. High wallow factor flavors include Mayfield Moose Tracks, Starbucks’ Coffee Almond Fudge, and Godiva White Chocolate Raspberry.
2. Type up queries to the editors or agents you won’t be having an appointment with, affix stamps and mail or e-mail them. Be proactive. Turn your lemons into the proverbial lemonade—or better yet, your limes into mojitos.
3. Create a “DC or Bust” sign for the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, and car dashboard to remind you to start saving money for next year’s conference now.
4. Whine to your husband, best friend, and/or children as often as possible. You might as well spread the misery; it’s cathartic.
5. Throw yourself a romance pity party, I mean film fest. Pop some popcorn; Charge yourself $5 for a coke. Throw juju fruits at your husband.
See that stack of books in your “to be read” leaning tower of Pisa? Spread the books on the floor, blindfold yourself with a scarf and pick one. Read it.
7. Channel your favorite heroine. Well, fiddle dee dee, why not? Baffle your friends, family, and the people you work with.
8. Use the conference program supplement included in your Romance Writers’ Report to determine which taped sessions you might want to hear. Purchase a few or get the whole conference all on a two CD-ROM set for a bargain price.
9. Put your favorite “poor pitiful me” song on the CD player and belt it out at the top of your lungs even if you’re tone deaf and the neighbor’s dog starts howling. Suggested song choices: “All by Myself” or “I Don’t Care Anymore.”
10. Write a limerick about your best friend who’s going to the conference without you, the rat. “There was a romance writer named Belle, who left her critique partner in hell…”
In all seriousness, I wish every WNP reader who wanted to attend the conference could. If none of the above suggestions strikes your fancy, work on your novel this last week of July. Even better, finish it, and share that good news with all the posse readers.
This Week, on the Wet Noodle Posse
So, everyone is heading out this week for conference....or are they? This week on the WNP is for those left behind.
Monday - Maureen Hardegree will blog about what to do if you're not going.
Tuesday - We'll talk about Rita nominees - who have you read, who you want to read, who you think should win.
Wednesday - Mary Fechter will take you on a virtual tour of SF.
Thursday - Delle Jacobs will talk about the Beau Monde and Hearts Through History.
Friday - NEW RELEASE FRIDAY!!!
Okay, y'all! Time for last minute conference questions!
Let us have it!
What was your name again?
One thing I find really hard to do is remembering names and faces and putting the two together. It gets really old having to stare at people's chests to read their nametags, particularly if you need to put on eyeglasses to do so. It's even more embarrassing if it's someone you're supposed to know--like your editor. I've erred on the side of caution and greeted complete strangers like the best friends I thought they were. I've stared blankly at people I know really well online but whom I haven't seen for a year. Or an hour. Apologies to you all.
A bit of science. There's a specific area of the brain for remembering faces, just as there are specific areas of the brain for reading and speaking and so on. Approximately two percent of the population suffers from prosopagnosia
, which is a total inability to recognize faces. People with the condition cannot recognize anyone, not even close friends and relatives--the arrangement of features just doesn't compute, and it's mind-boggling to think how you can overcome such a condition. Major researchers of the conditiion from Harvard and University College, London, have a site, faceblind.org,
where you can take a test. I took it, and to my surprise came out as average. The faces they show you are all sort of strange, asexual hairless creatures, rather like Voldemort
but better looking.
About halfway through the test I suddenly realized that they all had different eyebrows; and rather later on, that some of them could be female. Duh. So possibly I'm better at it than I thought--because gender, after all, is a big clue (except at Nationals where it's nearly all women).
With practice, I think you can remember faces better but you do have to be able to also remember names; there's no area of the brain for that, it all comes down to memory and practice. One technique is to try and take a mental snapshot or two of the person's face and expressions, (not what they're wearing!) and , if you can, tie it into their name. There are hundreds of sources online on how to remember names, but most suggest you try and use the person's name three times in the opening conversation to batter it into your brain; or get them to repeat their name to you. Get their biz card and write something about them on the back (after your conversation, not during; they might think that's a bit weird).
This article at buildyourmemory.com
suggests the use of mnemonics to link names to faces. For instance, try playing with the name--breaking it down into syllables and what the individual words thus created suggest to you. Say I introduce you to my alter ego Jane Lockwood
. The syllables are lock
; you can visualize both of them. (And, uh, remember Jane writes erotic
romance, so you don't necessarily have to think about trees.)
The other method using mnemonics is to try and build an association--a visual image--of the person's name and a physical characteristic, and I must admit that one has me baffled, particularly if the person has a lavishly-syllabled middle European name, for instance. But it may be worth a try. If the person's last name is Duck and they have a flattish, protuberant nose, you're in luck (just try to stop calling him Bill unless it's his name).
Here's a list of web articles
that you might find useful on how to remember names and what to do if you don't. Remember that if you sweat over it, you'll make it worse. If you go in to a room full of people worried that you're not going to remember names and setting yourself up to fail, you're not going to have fun or learn or be at your best.
Labels: national conference, remembering names
Last Minute Money Saving Ideas for National
Okay, so you've already paid the biggies - registration, hotel, transportation, wardrobe. But your expenses aren't over! There are still meals, books, drinks, and all that can add up. (Please forgive me if I am stating too much of the obvious here!)
1) Budget. Give yourself a certain amount you can spend each day. Figure out when RWA is feeding you and when you have to feed yourself and allot yourself money accordingly. If you underspend, well, add that money to the next day!
Don't forget Wednesday's booksigning. I allow myself only a certain number of books, and I can imagine more of you will be doing this because of the luggage restrictions. I know ahead of time who I'll be buying from, and allow for a couple of impulse purchases. Remember, you'll also be getting free books at the luncheons and publisher signings, too.
2) Get a FedEx account set up ahead of time. That way you can send your books back through the hotel and not have to pay the extra luggage fee. My SIL did this with her dirty laundry when she went to Boston this summer, and it was way cheaper.
3) Share. Share a cab from the airport, to a sightseeing destination, split the cost and the tip. Share a meal...San Fran has a ton of good food, why deny yourself, since you're there? But if you share a meal with a friend, you save money AND calories. (Ask me if I've done this. As IF!)
4) Instead of hitting the gift shop or vending machines, hit the Walgreens or grocery store. Buy your bottled water or Diet Coke and keep it in the ice bucket. Same with emergency snacks. Even better, on the mornings when RWA gives breakfast, snag a water or juice to take with you.
5) Instead of sitting in the noisy, crowded bar (gosh, the one in Atlanta was the size of a dinner plate, seriously!) meet with some friends in a room and bring your own wine. I know, I know, they say you can meet people in the bar, which is true, I suppose...I've seen Nora and Rose Hilliard, but I wouldn't be able to hear them even if I was brave enough to talk to them! Plus, WAYYYY too many distractions. If you want to hang with your friends and save money, the room is the way to go. The Wet Noodle Posse has done this the past two years after the ceremony - a couple of drinks at the party, then we have our own party! Way fun, and you don't have to worry about looking like an idiot in front of the wrong person!
Anyone have any other tips to share?
Pitch the Pitch! by Delle Jacobs
I promised last week I'd tell you a new way of managing your editor and agent appointments, but it's taken me a little longer to put it together than I expected due to the fascinating job of coordinating the Royal Ascot. But here it is.
Are your knees knocking like a drum roll at the thought of pitching to an editor or agent at national? I know how you feel. Been there, done that, never going back. Not that I don't do editor/agent appointments-- I do. But I refuse to pitch.
Like a lot of authors, I dreaded more than anything the annual ritual of pitching at national, but it seemed like the only way I could get my toe in that fast-slamming door. I was a nervous wreck. I made awful mistakes. I swear to you, I couldn't find my business card when it was right in my hand! And I went through four years of this. Finally, I was sitting in an interview across from a pleasant, pretty young editor and I suddenly realized she had to be younger than my youngest daughter. And I was afraid of her? Clearly something had to change.
What I did was pitch the pitch. I had to completely eradicate that word from my vocabulary. I was a professional woman who often appeared before judges in courtrooms, going head to head with some very aggressive attorneys and winning more often than they did because I knew what I needed to do and was prepared with a strong case. I wouldn't have taken the case to court if I didn't have my evidence. I had confidence in myself and the work I was doing. I needed to have that same approach in my interviews.
I decided I was a professional author making a presentation. I was interviewing the editor or agent, just as she was doing with me. I had no business behaving like a groveling, begging idiot. . I was not pitching. I was giving a professional presentation. So I designed my presentation according to those lines. Persuasion, just as in a courtroom, depended on presenting factual evidence in a package that attracted and held attention long enough for it to impress its audience and get its point across. No judge would have listened to me if I had tried to approach him the way I approached an editor.
First, I realized that most editors simply cannot follow the usual spiel, no matter how hard they try. We make it impossible for them to listen. That's because we go about it backwards, trying to cram our entire story into a short interview, and talking so fast they couldn't follow the words even if we weren't boring them to death. And to really drive home our point, we refuse to lose eye contact even long enough to blink. Imagine being in the editors' seats. Eeek!
Okay, but how do we get it across then
, when we only have eight minutes? Or worse, two? The answer is, we don't. There is no way we can. Nor should we even try.
Instead, I went the opposite direction. How could I capture just the essence of my book? I thought of back cover blurbs. They grab the idea and the hook in just a few sentences. Back then, nobody talked about High Concept, but that was essentially what I was seeking. I decided if I can't put it on the back of a business card in readable size print, it was too long.
Here's one of my very early versions, actually from a card for the published book, but the principle is the same: Get your message across quickly in an intriguing way.
Some others I've done:
THE MUDLARK: The only thing they have in common is their grim determination not to marry each other.
HIS MAJESTY, THE PRINCE OF TOADS: Q: How many kisses does it take to change a Toad into a Handsome Prince? A: We'll never know. Sophie's lost count.
APHRODITE'S BREW: What was supposed to be a restorative tonic for women turns out to have an entirely different effect on men-- and the bachelors of the Ton are running scared.
Here's one I put on the front of the card for LADY WICKED:
And here's my current back blurb for my recent release, SINS OF THE HEART:
You don't have to go to the extent I have in the past, developing a card for each available manuscript with a unique face for each one. Just put your short blurb on the back of your regular business card. Put a few in your pocket and have them handy to give to that editor you chance to meet at your table or in the elevator.
The good thing about putting these blurbs on cards is, if you're losing focus, all you have to do is glance at them to pull yourself back on track.
The next thing to do is to be prepared to answer the questions an editor wants most to know:
1. Who are you? Why should she consider publishing you? In other words, something very basic about your credentials.
2. What kind of story is it? Genre, word count, etc.
3. Who are your hero/heroine? What makes them unique and intriguing?
3. What do they want? (What are their goals and motivation?)
4. Why can't they have it? (What is the conflict?)
Going about it in this way, I design a presentation that lasts less than a minute, with my presentation of the book being under 100 words. I leave the rest of the time for discussion.
I like a visual presentation, and I've discovered editors and agents like to have something to look at besides my face, so I've always had one card for each book. I've actually found myself laying out six cards on the table because the editor asked about my published books. Five of them were for Golden Heart finalists at the time, but some were published as ebooks so weren't available to her, so I just used them to show my credentials. But then I removed the published book cards and showed her the back-side blurbs of the three of the unpublished manuscripts. She asked me to tell her about two of them, kept both cards, and asked to see both manuscripts.
Normally that would be risky, but it just happened that way, and it worked. Also, we didn't have to do that deadly "never-lose-eye-contact" thing because we both had reason to look somewhere else.
You don't even have to do the visual card thing. Just because I like to do pictures doesn't mean it's the best way to approach your interview. But you can still use the basics of my approach. Just remember these few rules:
1. You are a professional, giving a professional presentation, which you have carefully and professionally prepared.
2. In the beginning, introduce yourself and say, "I am the... [insert whatever piece of your credentials best and most quickly identifies you].
3. Speak SLOWLY. You won't need to worry about speeding through a pitch and rattling like an idiot because you aren't pitching. Your very concise PRESENTATION will intrigue the editor into a real conversation about your book. And you can relax, knowing you're prepared, and professional. She'll remember it, simply because you have created a pleasant interaction, not one that strains her nerves and her ears.
4. Express the essence of your book in 100 words or less, stating it in an intriguing, unique way. If you can make it like a slogan, 30 words or less, that's even better.
3. Prepare short, interesting answers to the questions an editor is likely to answer. Again, very short!
The Anti- What Not to Wear
This blog was originally scheduled for this past Tuesday (July 15), but had to be postponed.
Business cards, publicity folder, notes for agent/editor pitch…
These are all necessary items for any successful writer’s conference. But there’s one major thing not included on that list. And it’s a big one.
Your attire. Your wardrobe. Your threads.
Any worries about whether or not your closet has what it takes will be wiped away once you step inside the San Francisco Marriot for the RWA National Conference and take a glance at the variety of clothing styles.
Traditional business suit. Come on in and join the group.
Dress casual slacks, capris or skirt with a nice blouse. Welcome!
Trendy, hip haute couture. Entrévous.
Sweaty exercise clothes. Let me show you to the hotel gym, you never know who might be trudging away on the treadmill next to you, rocking to their I-pod.
Saturday evening’s Awards Ceremony will bring you much of the same. Casual church dresses intermixed with cocktail dresses sashaying by beaded, floor-length evening gowns.
Are you getting the gist of things? In a nutshell, dress to your comfort. Knowing that you will be mingling with a group of professional, creativity-driven, business-minded, fun-loving people.
I’ll warn you, most hotels and restaurants tend to be chilly. Better to have us cool, then sweating in our nice duds. I usually bring a sweater if I’m only wearing a blouse. If I’m sporting a jacket for the day, I make sure to have a shirt I’d feel comfortable wearing alone, in the event I find myself growing warm and decide to take off my jacket.
I don’t normally carry a purse around all day. I’ll pack one or two small ones for evening events, or in case I’m able to sneak away from the hotel to take in the San Francisco sights. But during the day, I utilize the welcome bag RWA provides upon registration/check-in. I do bring a small bag (makeup-bag size or a plain zip-lock) to carry a few personal items. Okay, so I’m a girly girl. I need my lip gloss or powder to freshen up during the day. I’ll drop in some minty gum as well to avoid embarrassing bad breath. You’ll probably also find a cereal bar or some nuts, something to perk up my stamina if I feel like I’m starting to fade mid-afternoon.
And then, we get to the biggies.
If you’re a Sex and the City fan, you know how important shoes are to a woman’s psyche. Well, some women anyway. And here’s the thing, sometimes I agree.
I search far and wide (okay, maybe only the stores at my local mall, I’m not that much of a shoe fiend, nor do my budget and time allow me to be, but that’s another story) for shoes that are comfortable, yet stylish. You will be on your feet a good portion of the day. Walking to presentations, waiting in line for the elevator, a special event or a signing, lugging your free books back up to your room, etc. I guarantee your feet will be sore by the end of the day, whether you’re in flats or heels. Once more, the idea is to dress to your comfort level. If you can hack the trendy Manolos, go for it! (And if you’re wearing Manolos, come find me so I can drool, okay?) If Lifestride pumps are more up your alley, I hear ya sister! If comfy flats match your outfit and make your feet send up a squeal of thanks, put those babies on!
Have you caught my drift yet?
At National you’ll find people wearing all sorts of different styles. Granted, very few will be in shorts and T-shirt (unless you’re at the gym or just coming in from touring the city). In general, the consensus is whatever you’re comfortable wearing when talking with your peers, professionals and those you admire within the publishing industry.
So, you’ve probably got just over a week before you leave for San Francisco. If you’re like me, you’ve started setting stuff aside little by little, adding to the pile as something new comes to mind. Or maybe you’re a last minute packer, confident tossing everything into the suitcase on your way out the door. Yikes, that makes me nervous just to type it. :-) Either way, I hope I’ve given you some reassurance that you don’t need to run out and buy a new wardrobe. Sorry, you can’t blame that new dress on me. But if you bought one, I’m sure you deserved it.
If you still have some questions, or want to add a thought or two, please chime in. The clock is ticking. Soon we’ll be walking through the Marriot doors, ready to soak in the best the romance industry has to offer!
Labels: fashion, national conference, RWA
This Week on the Wet Noodle Posse
This week on the WNP, some last minute helpful tips!
Monday - Priscilla Kissinger will offer some fashion tips.
Tuesday - Delle Jacobs will give great advice on preparing your pitch.
Wednesday - Mary Fechter will give some penny pinching tips based on past conference experience.
Thursday - Janet Mullany will show you how to remember names and faces in the sea of oh-so-many.
Friday - Q&A!
Question and Answer day and Wha??
You might have noticed two blogs appearing here today. One by Delle on Pitching and Pris's Anti- What Not to Wear.
We decided to move them to next week when you will have more time to respond.
So today is our usual question and answer day. Any questions?
About the RWA Conference?....
Any other questions today?????
Labels: Friday Q and A
Look after your feet
... and they will look after you.
Back to the basics, down to the ground, if you like. If you have beautiful, skinny feet and can spend hours in high heels, then you don't need to read this. This is for the rest of us.
You will be walking around (San Francisco is a walking-public transport sort of city) and on your feet a lot at the conference. You may even, gasp, have to put on high heels at some point.
So how do you keep your little piggies happy?
- Do not, ever, ever, ever, expect a pair of shoes that don't feel comfortable the moment you try them on to get better. Maybe I should amend that. Eventually--many blisters later after your feet have sculpted the inside of the shoes to their liking--they'll be okay. If in doubt, leave them at home.
- Do bring a pair of slopping around shoes. I always bring what I refer to as the "dress flip-flops." They have a slight wedge and a surprising amount of support. Your slopping around shoes may be sandals or sneakers or even, amazingly, something that looks good.
- Bring as many shoes as you think you'll need and don't be afraid to throw some away while you're there. (You'll need the space for books. Since my major shoe purchases are at Payless, it's no biggie.)
- Put your feet up (discreetly) when you can.
- Treat your feet to a nice soak or scrub at least once a day.
- Have a pedicure before you fly out.
- If you really, really hate the feel of shoes on bare feet, invest in some lowcut socks or hose. I have been told that you can tame elegant shoes on bare feet by slathering them (feet) in lotion. This sounds so vile I can hardly bear to think about it, which brings me to...
It can happen to the best of us.
Say you have a pair of really reeking shoes but you love them and must
wear them at Nationals. You may be able to tame them by tying them firmly into a plastic bag with a couple of teabags (black tea, nothing fancy) or bicarbonate of soda inside the shoes. When the growling and writhing in the bag subside, open with caution. And don't make tea with those teabags.
You can even try placing a teabag into the shoes as you wear them, although bear in mind that the bags may break and you'll leave a trail of dampened tealeaves behind you.
Spray the offending shoes sparingly with a weak bleach solution (inside, and if it ruins your shoes, don't come crying to me. I have no professional qualifications). A "green" bathroom cleaner is pretty good.
Or--it's so obvious--get a foot deodorant. This stuff, Lavilin, is weird. It's bright blue-green, it smells funny, but it works and you only have to put it on every few days. You can buy it and other products (including some that make me grateful that my feet are only ugly and huge) at footsmart.com
. Great selection of shoes there, too, for people who have horrible feet and/or difficult to find sizes.
I like this stuff too, made by Boots
(the beloved British company, products available in the US at Target and at this site)--it's a foot and leg spritz with echinacea and feels delicious.
And if you're not totally grossed out, what footcare tips do you have?
Labels: foot care, national conference
Conference Activities for Non-Joiners, Newbies, and Self-Promoters – Esri Rose
RWA’s annual National Conference is an opportunity to network, learn and promote. But what if you’re brand-new to the conference, don’t belong to any local chapters, or are a disorganized flake who didn’t get her act together beforehand? I’ve been all three and continue to be two (that’s easy to figure out, isn’t it?). Membership in the Wet Noodle Posse usually saves me from having to entertain myself at conferences, but I’m here to tell you that you can be the howlingest of lone wolves and still get your game on in San Francisco. Here’s how.
Become a Member of the Press
All you need to get people to talk to you are a blog or online photo account like Flickr, a notebook and/or digital video camera (best), and bits of paper telling people where they can see their photos and quotes after the conference.
“Hi, I’m Amanda Roofus of MakeMeMewl.com, and today I’m asking, What kind of underwear do your book heroes wear? Boxers, briefs, a hybrid, or commando? Patterned or white? Silk or cotton? Do you have an upcoming book I can tell readers about? Great. Here’s a card with my site’s web address. Make sure to check in after [or during] the conference.”
You also can ask serious questions, like: What’s the best money you’ve spent on promotion? The worst?
Advertise Your Status
There’s still time to order a HELP! I’m Shiny New. Could I maybe sit with you? button from CafePress (I made them just for you, with no mark-up). Romance writers are generally very kind and mentor-oriented, so give them a chance to help you. Even more, they love to be kind to potential readers, so wear something that lets them know whether you’re into fantasy, historical, inspirational, or whatever.
You can use this same technique to hook up with people who share your non-book hobbies. If you’re a knitter, Corgi-breeder, SCA member or whatever, wear a little flair that lets other members of your tribe find you. The more interests you share, the more fun you'll have!
There is a bulletin board at Conference. Before you go, find something fun to do in San Francisco, whether it’s karaoke, a meal at a quirky restaurant, some kind of tour, or a drag show. Make sure it has a reasonable price point, doesn’t need reservations, is in a safe area, doesn’t conflict with some huge Conference event, and is easy to get to. Now put up an eye-catching sign on that bulletin board. Free Friday Afternoon? Call Amanda Roofus at Room 123 if you want to have High Tea at Blah-Blah historic house. If you get a mob, close registration after the first 20 people and take down the sign. If no one calls, no one but you will know. If only one person comes, you’ll have made a really close friend. And it doesn’t matter if some chapter is doing the same thing. You might get even more people for something like that, because they missed out on a known quantity. Take pictures and blog about it afterwards. Hand out paper bits with your URL.
Offer to Volunteer
Yes, there are official volunteers, but there is always more work. Find yourself a staff member and say, “This is my very first conference, I’m at kind of a loose end, and I’m wondering if you need any help with anything.” If the first person says, “No” and doesn’t give you someone else to contact, ask someone doing something completely different, or locate a coordinator you can speak to. Make sure you’re dressed nicely when you ask, so if they have a sudden moderator hole they need to fill, they can slot you in. If you have a car, make sure to mention that. You can also try this with chapter people, especially if you find someone in a chapter that’s local to you. It's a good way to find out if you want to join them.
Compliment an Author
Especially a newish author, and especially just before mealtimes. “OMG, you’re Esri Rose! This is my first romance conference, but I read your elf romance and just wanted to tell you how much I adored it. Hey, is there a food court around here? I am so ignorant of how this all works.” (Alternatively: “Are tables reserved, or do I just sit anywhere?) This is guaranteed to get you an invitation to join the author for a meal.
Esri Rose will be signing copies of Bound to Love Her at the RWA Readers for Life literacy signing Wednesday evening. Stop by and get an ElvesAmongUs.com button!
Labels: authors, books, Conference, national conference, networking, romance, romance novels, RWA, writing
Don't Be Shy: RWA Survival Skills for the Very Very Bashful by Diane Gaston
If you've met met me you probably haven't guessed I am shy. I am. My idea of a nightmare is to be placed in a social situation where I don't know anybody, especially if they all seem to know each other. Shudder!!
RWA with its 2000-or-so attendees all in one place can strike terror in the hearts of the very very bashful. I'm speaking from experience
. I faced the terror, though, because I wanted so very much to be successful at romance writing. I made
myself talk to people!
Here are some tips to make RWA easier.1. Go with a friend.
When you are shy, sometimes this is the only way to do it, otherwise you just wouldn't dream of attending. Even one friend provides enough security to keep the nerves in check. This is not to say you and your friend should be joined at the hip; you should each attend the workshops that most interest you. You should each talk to other people and do some things alone-expand your horizons. Having a friend to attend those purely social events or the meals, however, does increase your enjoyment of the conference, because you don't experience the nightmare I mentioned above-a social situation where you don't know anybody.2. Remember we're all kindred spirits.
One of the hardest things about being shy is to not know what to talk about, but at RWA we have a built-in commonality. Here are some good conversation openers: "What are you writing?" "What are you reading?" (This is a great question if you happen to sit down next to an agent and editor at lunch- we all like to talk about books) "What workshops have you attended" "Have you had any interviews?" "Do you belong to your local chapter?" and the usual "Where are you from?" If you happen to sit down next to a librarian ask library questions- "How does your library support Romance?" If its a bookseller ask bookseller questions: "What are people buying these days?" "How is your Romance section arranged?" Be prepared to keep asking questions. I've found that while people love to talk about themselves, it is very common that they will not ask much about you. Don't feel bad if this happens. Happens to me all the time.3. Be willing to be embarrassed, to laugh at yourself.
Let people know what you are feeling when you forget their name or ask a question that turns out embarrassing, like asking some woman if this is her first conference and finding out she is Nora Roberts (she'd think that was hilarious!!). Saying, "Oh, I'm so embarrassed" is okay; everyone understands.4. Remember it is not you.
How people treat you says more about them
than about you. Some people will not be friendly. Some people will be snobs and only want to talk to their own clique. Almost nobody will seek you out for conversation - you must do the seeking. But this has nothing to do with the person you are; sometimes it is the other person's own shyness getting in the way. If one person snubs your attempts to be friendly, think, "What's her problem?" Do not conclude "People don't like me. I'm hiding in my room."5. Practice not being shy.
Force yourself. This is a great opportunity to practice
not being shy--RWA is a happy place. We're all excited about being there. Make yourself say hello to the person sitting next to you at a workshop. Strike up conversations at lunch. Ask questions in workshops. Talk to vendors at Midnight Madness. Come talk to me at the Literacy Signing (I will not pressure you to buy - I'll give you a bookmark, though. A Bookmark is my security blanket at signings). If one approach you make doesn't work, don't worry about it. You are just practicing
so practice a little more and it will go better.
Believe me, you will have a wonderful conference if you give yourself permission to counteract your shyness. The plus is, the more you do this the easier it becomes and pretty soon people will be shocked when you tell them you are shy. Happens to me all the time!
What are your tips for counteracting shyness?
What situations are hardest for you because of shyness?(this photo is from RWA 2001, New Orleans, the most fun I ever had in my life! Fom left to right: Leisa Connor (from Australia), Melissa James (also Australian, a Harlequin Romance author), Me, Karen Anders (Blaze), and Maryanne Cappelluti (the Noodler we lost to scleroderma in 2006)
There is still time to enter my contest at dianegaston.com and to read the sneak peek of Scandalizing the Ton, coming in October.
Labels: Diane Gaston, RWA, shyness
This Week on the Wet Noodle Posse
Conference chatter continues this week over at the Wet Noodle Posse. Here’s what to watch for:
Monday: Don’t Be Shy: Survival Skill for by Diane Gaston gives us survival skills for the
RWA National Conference
Tuesday: Golden Heart finalist Priscilla
Kissinger talks about What Not to Wear: Packing for Conference
Wednesday: Esri Rose chats about
conference activities for non-joiners, newbies, and self-promoters
Thursday: If you look after your feet, your feet will look after you. Janet Mullaney tells all.
Friday: Q&A Day
Promo Loop Update
I know we don't usually have a Saturday blog, but I got my June royalty statement and wanted to see what the results of posting excerpts on a good dozen email loops were.
I sold exactly the same number of books in June, with the daily promo on email loops, as I did in May, with no promo.
Good to know.
Question and Answer Friday
Clearly I am NOT the person to be doing this! While I live for Fridays during the school year, they slide right by my during summer vacation!!!
Okay, I'll start - what are you looking forward to MOST at Conference?
Labels: Friday Q and A
Networking at Conference -- Really, it's not scary!
By Trish Milburn
For some people, the idea of networking at the RWA National Conference sends icy shards of fear through their heart. Honestly, there's no need for that. Networking is just a fancy word for talking to other people who like books and romance as much as you do. Here are some quick ways to flex your networking muscles at the conference.1. Editor and Agent Appointments
-- If you take a stroll through the waiting area for these appointments, you'd think you were in an anteroom for the gallows. Now I say this having had to take my share of Pepto Bismol before said interviews, but they really aren't bad experiences. To me, the anticipation beforehand is much worse. Once you're in front of the agent or editor, the time flies and most of the time it's a pleasant experience. And when else are you going to get one-on-one time with an industry professional without interruption (at least until your allotted time is up). Oh, and if it isn't a one-on-one but rather a group appointment, do not hog the time. If a group appointment is 25 minutes and there are five people, do the math. Each person gets four to five minutes, depending on if the editor or agent takes up some of the time by speaking at the beginning.2. Workshops
-- During workshops, you can meet and chat with the other attendees. You never know when you might meet a kindred spirit, a future critique partner, someone who might be in a position to help along your career down the road. Also, if the speakers are editors and agents, take notes and ask intelligent questions, ones that haven't been asked a gajillion times in workshops since the beginning of time. You also might have the opportunity to go up after the workshop and ask a question that helps them put a face with a name when your submission comes across their desk. This is an especially good way to meet them if you weren't able to get an appointment with them for a pitch.3. Luncheons
-- I know it's more comfortable to sit with people you know at the luncheons, and I'll admit to doing it myself, especially since I don't get to see many of my writing friends more than once a year. Still, if the opportunity presents itself, you might consider sitting at a table with strangers or with an industry professional. A word of caution -- now is not the time to try to pitch to him or her. They want to enjoy their lunch and downtime as much as you do. But you never know when he or she might ask you about your writing. And even if the topic doesn't come up, if you're a pleasant table companion, people tend to remember that.4. The Bar
-- No, you don't have to drink to enjoy the networking hotbed that is the hotel bar. I don't drink, but at every conference I spend many late nights in the bar talking to other writers and, occasionally, an editor or agent. Another word of caution -- since editors and agents are likely about, do not allow yourself to get stinking drunk and make a fool of yourself. Sadly, I've seen it happen.5. Business Cards
-- While they are not a necessity, it's nice to have a basic, professional business card on hand to exchange. This will mainly be done with other writers or perhaps members of the media if you're published, but again, you never know where it might lead. And with places like VistaPrint, where you can get nice business cards for only the price of shipping, it could be a wise investment.6. Attitude
-- Perhaps your biggest networking asset is your attitude. Don't be a diva. Don't be nasty or talk trash about fellow writers, publishing houses, editors, agents, anyone! Think about it. If you were an editor who overheard two writers talking, and one was professional and courteous while the other badmouthed someone in every aspect of the industry, who do you think she'd prefer to work with in the future?7. Volunteer
-- If you moderate a workshop or work the editor/agent appointment desk, this is another way to come into contact with industry professionals and published authors who could offer you good career advice at some point. If you didn't volunteer this year, keep it in mind for when the call goes out next year.
Remember, networking is just one aspect of the conference experience. If you're new to networking, try one of the above and make plans to add another at the next conference you attend. And have fun! Conference shouldn't be solid work. You're allowed to have a good time too.
See you in San Francisco!
Labels: national conference, networking
It's Not the End of the World
I woke up this morning late, realizing it's OMG Wednesday already and I'm not even finished with Monday yet. Tuesday got squeezed in almost as if it were forgotten. And there's only three weeks left till I leave for conference-- no, less than three weeks now, since I leave on Tuesday.
What happened to the twenty pounds I was going to lose before conference? No problem there- I know exactly where they are. My teeth look so dingy, I should have started whitening them two months ago. And looking at my schedule, I can't even figure out where I'll cram in a manicure. There's the Royal Ascot, and the Silent Auction I promised to help manage, and...
Hold it. Hold it right there.
Relax! It's not the end of the world! I'm above self-induced panic attacks now. I promised myself that over ten years ago. I do not have to go into a last-minute frenzy over national because I know what to do instead.
Now, all of you, listen to Granny, here. I know what I'm talking about. This is something about which I have tons of experience, and I can save you many wasted years of time:
You know what I mean. It's a common problem for women because we always want to do everything, and have the erroneous idea we can somehow stretch time to do it all. Notice that word 'erroneous'? Time does not stretch. We fool ourselves because we have developed good event- and task-squeezing skills. Events and tasks can be tightened, squeezed, but time cannot.
For thousands of years, women had no choices in their lives. They had one occupation, and for almost all of them, that was it, and they accepted it. They just buckled down and did what they were expected to do.
Enter the modern age. Women looked at their washing machines and piles of laundry and decided they wanted something more. Meaningful careers. But to be truthful, most of them did not want to give up their domestic life. They wanted both. Men reluctantly came along with the idea, having discovered women were of some value to them. And they learned to like it. Extra income. But someone who still swept the floor and cleaned the dirty corners they missed in their quick swipe of the kitchen.
The truth is, the majority of the compromise fell to women, and still does. Even in households where the workload is pretty evenly distributed (and I give my guys lots of credit for that) women learned a new way of rationalizing and working to be able to meet their dreams. They began to think they could squeeze time.
Squeezing time comes about because women have choices they never had before. Now women have jobs that take up around 50 hours of their week, then they have home chores and family. Then they have their other stuff. Exercise, health and body care, favorite hobby, leisure, education-- and did I mention writing? How does a busy woman squeeze in all of this without neglecting something she really needs to do? then something like the national conference comes up and squeezes the whole thing even tighter. So, feeling the rising panic, she tries to squeeze time, speeding from one task to another, promising herself she'll get to all of those things she's setting aside. And then when something never quite manages to make the list, she blames herself for procrastinating on it.
The management tool here is organized guilt. Instead of accepting that some things have to get less attention, she avoids the guilt by postponing it until a time when it's too late to do anything about it. It's easier to handle that way because as long as there's still opportunity to do something, the guilt burden is heavier. If she waits till it's too late, she simply assigns guilt as the price she is willing to pay for her avoidance of choosing one important task over another.
This is guilt's purpose in our lives. I'm not talking about true guilt, the kind you deserve to feel when you deliberately hurt a friend or do something truly cruel or sinful. I mean the kind you use to cover your failure to have 48 ours in a day. Time-squeeze guilt actually accomplishes nothing except to allow us to feel we have done something. It's like worry. 99% of the time, it accomplishes nothing except to relieve an even more unworthy and more crushing guilty feeling.
So in a way, time-squeeze guilt is good because it helps manage other guilt. But it also requires a feeling of panic, that somehow there ought to be a way to squeeze it all in, but you're not doing it and your whole world
No. Don't go there. Especially not now. Don't let your mistaken notion that you have to do all, be all things to all people and still have your own life, take over. You cannot make one day into two days. You cannot go without sleep for three weeks.
You must make choices. You must recognize you are choosing to do one thing and accept that another must temporarily be let go. You probably already know some streamlining and efficiency-building techniques in your life. You probably already use your teeth-whitening strips while you drive to work, and don't put on make-up on Saturdays so you have time to vacuum. And I assume you know how to use your lunch break to do errands or write synopses. But you can't keep on adding on more without taking off somewhere.
So accept the fact that time does not expand or shrink. Time is the great constant of the universe. Decide what must be done. Decide what has to be let go. NEVER promise yourself to do it LATER unless you have a slot marked LATER on your calendar. Find things that can temporarily be let go. Make the choice reasonably and rationally. Tell your family what they can and can't expect of you in the next few weeks.
I believe in list-making and time-planning, two of my favorite ways of managing my life. I do have to be ruthless with myself when it comes to time because I know I will try to crowd in more than can be done. There is always too much to do, though, and something must be left undone. I didn't make that rule. It was made sometime long before civilization raised its ugly head and began to prowl the earth. So my job is to make choices. Not to pretend I can somehow avoid it by playing guilt games with myself. instead of guilt, I substitute the peace of mind that comes from knowing I did not make the day 24 hours long. I have been writing along with all my other responsibilities for fifteen years. I can do this year too.
And partly, I can do it because I'm learning to not waste time and my emotional well-being by spinning my wheels in useless guilt and worry.
I know I said I'd tell you a panic-free way to manage your appointments, but there's not room for that today. So, Friday being an open day for questions and answers, I'm going to post on that then. I have a free spot in my schedule then...
Theresa's Conference Tips
HAVE A SCHEDULE:
I have been to seven conferences now and I always try to schedule my conference time. One of the first things I do when I arrive is schedule my time around the workshops I don’t want to miss. I almost always learn a new helpful tidbit, or at the very least, I feel motivated to go home and write. And for me, that’s what it’s all about. I want to leave conference feeling motivated, inspired, and ready to write.SLEEP:
One big mistake I’ve made is not getting enough sleep. On those occasions, I would end up meeting editors and agents with one eye open and a foggy brain. Make sure you get at least seven hours sleep. Skip a workshop in the morning or take a nap. Do whatever it takes so that you feel rested when you’re out there socializing. CLOTHES:
You want to look nice, but you also want to be comfortable. I have made the mistake of bringing NEW shoes. If you’re like me and you plan to make the most of conference, you never know when you might be asked to run to a social gathering a few blocks away. I now wear only comfortable shoes at conference, not brand new ones that are going to give me blisters.DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY:
If you miss a workshop or you end up with little time to get ready for your agent appointment or dinner with your editor, just take a deep breath and do the best you can. That’s all you can do. Getting upset won’t help matters. Also, if you’re like me and you have yet to be DISCOVERED, don’t sweat it. You’ll get there someday if you don’t give up. Instead of whining or complaining or feeling sorry for yourself (and bringing other people down), get out there and meet people, make a good impression and one of these days it will be YOU walking around with a pink FIRST SALE ribbon at conference!HAVE FUN:
I always make sure to get together with my favorite people, including the Wet Noodle Posse. Bring your camera so that the memories will last forever.Any questions about conference? Go ahead and ask!
Labels: Conference, Relax
Confessions of a Golden Heart Finalist
Conference as a Golden Heart finalist is thrilling and busy! Strangers congratulate you when they see your pin and lavender ribbon. They ask your title and category, but I’ve never been asked for a blurb, thank heavens.
When one finals in the Golden Heart, one is invited to join The Golden Network, an online chapter exclusively for Golden Heart finalists. Getting the invitation is almost as exciting as getting the little gold heart. Since it’s an online chapter, they only meet once a year, on Thursday afternoon at conference.
Thursday evening is The Golden Network reception.
The reception serves two purposes. The winners of the contest, the Golden Pen, are announced, and the members who have sold in the past year are recognized in a “Boot Out” ceremony.
The Boot Out Ceremony is unique. Each year a skit is written to reflect the setting of the conference. In New York, the skit was a Saturday Night Live spoof, in Dallas, it was Texas themed, in Reno, it was gambling, and in Atlanta, the theme was, “If Scarlett O’Hara was a Romance Writer.” Sadly, I don’t remember the theme in Dallas this last time. It was hilarious. The members of The Golden Network who signed contracts were “booted” from the ranks of unpublished and awarded a certificate and a little boot pin. I would be booted this year if I was going ☹
On Friday afternoon, there’s a reception for the Golden Heart and Rita finalists, complete with champagne and chocolate. We rub elbows with Eloisa James and Teresa Medeiros (though not all the Rita finalists attend) and we get our certificates. It goes really fast, because there are over 70 Golden Heart finalists and more Rita finalists. But we dress up, meet other finalists, and take lots of pictures.
If you have an appointment with an editor or agent (which you should, since you have first pick), being a Golden Heart finalist is a wonderful ice breaker, and it really gives you confidence.
On Saturday afternoon, we meet to practice. One year we walked up on stage, said our name into the microphone and checked our slide to see our name and title are spelled correctly. In the past, they’ve run through the slides and tease us with a slide that only says, “WINNER.”
Then we get ready for the big night.
Some people go out to dinner. That makes me too nervous, so I send my husband out for food and eat in the room. The finalists need to be in the ballroom early so we can sit up front. The first year I was late and couldn’t sit in the reserved section. The last two times I was able to sit with my friends. Other friends slip into the area to offer support, give hugs and wish luck.
And then the ceremony begins. Nerves are high. I couldn’t read my program, I was shaking so much. I wait for my category. In past years, I had the second category. This time I was last. I listened and applauded for friends as my nerves tautened.
Just before my category was called, a feeling of calm washed over me, and when I didn’t have to go on stage, I was able to relax.
Then, the party! The lines for food were long, the line at the bar was short. I got hugs of consolation, got to hold a Rita, then went to a party where we read our speeches to each other. That was just a wonderful feeling, because really, one of the reasons I wanted to win was to thank publicly the people who have helped along the way.
Four times I’ve finalled. The experience has brought me more confidence, name recognition and wonderful friends who have the same goals I do. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
I just have to add a little plug. I’m a Featured Author at The Romance Studio
. Drop by!
This Week, on the Wet Noodle Posse
The countdown continues....
Here's the schedule this week:
Mary Fechter (moi) will blog about what conference is like as a Golden Heart finalist.
Theresa Ragan will offer valuable advice about conference.
Delle Jacobs will write about conference not having the power to make or break your career.
Trish Milburn will blog about networking.
Friday will be Q&A day.
Question and Answer Day!
Happy Independence Day, Posse Readers!
As prolific a group of writers as we are, we don't have any new releases for July. We are, however, open for questions. To get the ball rolling before barbeque and fireworks, here's a question noodlers can answer: What was the best experience you've had to date at a writing conference?
Labels: best conference experience
The business of cards
by Terry McLaughlin
In the interest of lowering the pre-conference stress level, I'm going to offer the following observation: a lack of business cards never prevented any writer from selling a manuscript or making a connection or beginning a friendship with another writer. So if you have no hope of getting business cards made before you head to San Francisco, relax.
But if your conference plans include business cards, keep this in mind: just as your choice of clothing and the firmness of your handshake will make an impression on the people you meet, so will your business card. Will that impression be the competent professional? Or will it be the clueless amateur? It's relatively easy and inexpensive to make a good impression, so check out places like VistaPrint
, Earthly Charms
, Online Print House
, or your local print shop to order some cards for yourself.
Some of the best advice I've seen about business cards for writers can be found in this post
on Miss Snark's blog archive. Her discussion is so logical and thorough, in fact, that all I can add is some personal experience.
How many cards did I used to take with me to a conference? About fifty, just in case. How many did I ever use? About half that many. What was my first business card lesson? To keep the cards handy--in a pocket, so I could produce one quickly. What was my second lesson? To provide plenty of white space for adding important information (difficult to do on a dark or crowded card).
What was my third lesson? You'll notice the sentences in that previous paragraph were all in the past tense. As I mentioned in a comment earlier on this year's blog, now that I'm published, I don't use business cards. I use bookmarks instead. There are several reasons for this choice to do away with the cards: my editor and my agent both know how to get in touch with me; the other published authors I meet don't exchange cards; I'd rather offer any readers I meet a bookmark instead of a business card, and my essential contact information--my Web site address--is on my bookmarks, anyway.
But while I was unpublished, I enjoyed making my business cards (yes, I broke one of Miss Snark's rules). I always used the graphics, colors, and fonts found on my Web site, and I always kept the design on the front of the card--the all-important contact information--fairly simple and clean. Here you can see the front and back views of the last card I created, for the RWA conference in Atlanta, more than two years ago.
And it was in Atlanta that I enjoyed a fun luncheon where everyone at my table exchanged business cards. Those cards were wonderful conversation starters, and they helped me make nine new acquaintances.
A final lesson: consider your business card a treat for yourself--a sign of your commitment to your new profession and a tool for making some new friends.
Get Your Head in the Game: Preparing for National
Several years ago, I wrote the following advice for the President’s Column in The Georgia Romance Writers’ Galley newsletter. I’d like to share it with posse readers, too, because I think what I have to say is just as relevant now as it was then. Prepare for the national RWA conference at the end of July as you would a district basketball title. If you want to win an opportunity to send a partial to the editor or agent of your dreams, gain new professional contacts, and make a good impression on everyone you meet, you’ve got to get your head in the game.
Practice Your Free Throws. Those of us who watch basketball go ballistic when we see players missing free throws, also called foul shots. Players miss for two reasons: they get intimidated and choke or they don’t practice enough because it’s an easy shot. The writing equivalent to a free throw is the two-minute-or-less pitch. Quick pitches are great for when you’re introduced to a published author, editor, or agent who asks what you’re working on. You might feel intimidated, so practice. Your two-minute-or-less pitch should tell who your hero and heroine are, what their major conflict is, and what subgenre you’re targeting. Practice your two-minute pitch while showering, while driving in the car, or while grocery shopping. You don’t want to shoot an air ball.
Don’t Get Caught Hacking. Hacking is a personal foul. The equivalent in the writing profession is to speak ill of other writers, editors, and agents in a public forum. You do not know who might be listening at the bar or restaurant, or in the elevator. Consider keeping the alcohol to a minimum as well. An extra glass or two of Chardonnay sometimes loosens a person’s inhibitions and tongue.
Don’t Be a Ball Hog; Get Some Points for an Assist.
Introduce a friend or acquaintance from your chapter to another professional, be it a published author, editor, or agent. Networking is part of the business. Several years ago in Reno, fellow Georgia Romance Writers member Berta Platas (Lucky Chica, SMP, January 2009) introduced several unpublished authors from our chapter to her agent and other agents she knew. These introductions resulted in requests for partials. Points scored. Kudos to Berta on the assists.
Develop a Game Plan.
Would you play for the district title without one? Use the conference schedule sent out in RWA’s Romance Writers Report or online to determine which workshops you’d like to attend before arriving in San Francisco. Contact friends and professional acquaintances you’d like to see now. Volunteer to help at the conference. There’s no doubt about it, networking and spending time with friends during the conference are as important as learning more about the craft of writing romance. But don’t forget that with the slate of fabulous workshops available, you are there to learn as well as socialize, network, and get requests. Balance is the key. Leave yourself a little down time every day to rest and evaluate how you’re playing. Every basketball game has a half-time.
A breakaway shot is one where you beat your opponents down the court for an uncontested opportunity at the goal. Finish the book and polish it to perfection now, so that when you get a request from an editor or agent, the book is ready to send. Many of your competitors won’t have theirs ready, and you can break away. You might just get a slam dunk!
Is your head in the game?
Labels: Maureen Hardegee, writing conference preparations
July - Preparing for Conference
The countdown has begun....RWA National is mere weeks away. So many preparations, from what to wear to how to promote to how to pitch to an editor and agent. The Wet Noodle Posse has you covered on all that and more in July as San Francisco looms! Make sure to join us, and ask questions!
And our winner for July is.....Nancy Haddock!
Contact me at mfechter @ gmail.com for your Amazon gift certificate!