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RT Convention – Day 2

Okay, it was actually Day 3 of the convention because I didn’t go on Thursday. Looking back, I kind of wish I did because there were a lot of digital publishing things going on, including an e-book author signing. If I had paid closer attention, I would’ve gone, if for no other reason, to get a feel for what digital authors are signing and/or giving away.

image courtesy of zimbio.com

Friday was a full day of workshops. Some great, others were meh. The first one I attended was on writing sex scenes that readers won’t skip. For those of you who don’t read romance, there are a lot of people who tend to skim or skip sex scenes because the scenes are often poorly written. By poorly written, I mean it could read like a manual (insert tab A into slot B) or it could be full of purple prose (to quote Ruthie Knox from her April1 post “She clawed at him like a cat, her velvet glove clutching his manhood with tight fingers). Bottom line, if it doesn’t grab you as a reader, you skip it.

(SIDE NOTE: one panelist talked about how in films, sex is represented by a montage of body parts that allows us to tune out, but then ends in “come hands” so you know they’re done. See photo above for example. Funny stuff, and so true)

The panelists were hilarious. It just so happened that all 4 write M/M romance (male-male), which isn’t my thing and I’ve never read one, but many others do. Each of the speakers explained his/her approach to writing sex scenes and although I can’t say I learned something earth-shatteringly new, it was a good refresher. If the couple has sex it needs to make a difference in the plot, increase the conflict, as well as reveal character. One writer talked about how she pushed the limits of sexual tension so that when her characters finally got to the point of having sex, it was necessary and explosive. Another writer talked about how she puts it all out there in the first sex scene because it forces her to up her game for subsequent scenes.

image taken from Louisa’s web site

My favorite workshop was definitely the panel on contemporary romance. Besides having a stellar lineup — Louisa Edwards, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jodi Thomas, Christina Skye, and Sarah Wendell, with Beth Ciotta moderating–this workshop reinvigorated my love for the genre not only as a reader, but also as a writer.

For me, the biggest challenge as a contemporary romance writer is developing conflict. I think I’m pretty good with internal conflict between the hero and heroine. The internal stuff is usually the baggage they carry with them (and by baggage I mean psychological and emotional, not luggage). I did a post questioning the necessity of external conflict here. After listening to these authors, who are all very successful, I find that the external conflict really isn’t as important as developing intriguing, complicated characters.

It made me feel better about my writing. In addition, I got to meet Louisa Edwards after the

image taken from SEP’s twitter

presentation and had a bit of a fangirl moment. I learned that Susan Elizabeth Phillips is freaking hilarious. I’m so looking forward to her being one of the headliners for our chapter conference later this month. And we could probably create a drinking game based on how often Sarah (or someone jumping in for Sarah) said man-titty. Overall, I great time was had by all in this workshop.

The other workshops I attended we okay, but not fascinating. I did get the chance to meet some people that I’ve only known on-line, which is always a lot of fun.

From what I could tell, the reader portion of the convention was a little insane. The Q&A with J.R. Ward had a line running down the hall. Some of the parties were wild. Of course that is hearsay since I didn’t actually attend them.

I enjoyed myself enough that I’m seriously considering going next year because by then, I will have a book out to sign and it’s still in the Midwest, which makes travel easier.

Are you looking forward to any conferences or conventions this year? How about book signings?

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RT Convention

image courtesy of RT convention web site

This week is the RT Booklover’s Convention. For those of you who are unaware, it’s a huge conference and convention geared toward bringing readers and authors together. I’ve never gone before, but since it’s practically in my backyard this year, I thought I should go. The convention itself runs nearly the whole week, straight into the weekend. There are themed parties every night and from what I understand, much craziness.

This is what makes conferences hard for me.

I am a true introvert. This doesn’t just mean that I tend to be shy or quiet, although that is often true. It means that I need space and alone time to recharge. Surrounding myself with hundreds of people, even though I’m having a great time, takes its toll on me.

I attended Wednesday, the first official day of the convention. I waited until a little after noon to arrive because I didn’t plan on participating in the welcome parties. I managed to attend 2-1/2 sessions and by the time they were done, I felt a headache coming on. This is the kind of atmosphere where my husband, the ultimate extrovert, shines. He feeds off the energy and busy-ness of having other people around. (Like I said before – total opposites)

There is a lot of energy and an overload of information during the convention. The workshops I attended on Wednesday were mostly on promotion and marketing. I hope to get some craft/writing workshops in when I go back on Friday.

I find for me, that this is kind of an awkward convention. I wanted to go to check it out, but it’s awkward because I’m kind of stuck in limbo in my publishing career. The aspiring authors are crammed into a lot of the craft workshops and they want to grab the eye of editors and agents.

The published authors are all over. They interact with readers and play games and have parties and still (amazingly) attend and give some workshops.

I’m in limbo because I do have an agent and editor, but I don’t have a book. Right now, I don’t even have an official title or release date, so while I can tell people about my book, I can’t give them a card with the title or tell them when it will be available. For someone like me, who has a hard time networking to begin with, it’s doubly difficult.

Putting that aside, I did manage to talk to a few people that I’ve only known online and it’s always nice to have a real face to put with a screen name. Like I said, I focused on a few workshops on promotion and marketing because I know I need to start thinking about that. My book will be out before the end of the year, which feels like a long way off, but I know I’ll blink and it’ll be here.

I was hit with so much information, it’s a little overwhelming. One presenter didn’t offer much useful advice. It felt like she was trying to sell us on using her PR services.

Another presenter, however, was fabulous. Dana Kaye, of Kaye Publicity, is obviously also PR person, but she tailored her workshop to help authors do things themselves. That alone would make me want to hire her. Unfortunately, she doesn’t take on e-book authors. (And I don’t know if I could afford to hire her anyway.) But she left such a great impression that I would definitely tell others about her. She got me thinking about things I can do to reach out in unusual ways to promote my book. She also blogs on her web site and offers advice to writers. Yesterday’s post is about what to wear at conferences.

The last panel I attended was a panel of book reviewers. I went because I wanted to hear how they decide what to review and their process for everything. I think that as an author who’s going to rely on them, I should understand how they work. In truth, I really wanted to hear Smart Bitch Sarah talk. She’s hilarious and it’s fun just to listen because she’s passionate about romance.

How do you feel about conferences and conventions? Do you go to any as a reader or writer?

Friday Favorites – Playing Catch Up

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I was pretty much out of commission for the end of last week. First I had a migraine from Wednesday until Friday, then I was feeling sickish starting on Saturday. Turned out to be allergies with a sinus headache, but it took me a couple of days to figure that out since I don’t normally suffer from allergies. Anyway, that was 5 days gone from my life. Because of this, I’ve been trying to play catch up all week.

And it’s been a great couple of weeks in the blogosphere. So many blogs, so little time. A fair warning, quite a few of the links this week go to some lengthy posts, but they are well worth the time investment.

First, unless you’ve been living in a bubble, I’m sure you’ve heard about 50 Shades of Grey, a book that started as fan fiction based on Twilight. It is erotic romance and was just picked up in a huge deal.

I have not read any of the books in the trilogy, so I can’t comment on that, but I have links that highlight some of the issues at play:

First up, Jane over at Dear Author did a comparison of the current book with the original. The reason she did this was because the author claimed that although the book started as fan fiction, it is currently an original work. All I’ve got to say on that is if a student turned this in as an original work, he or she would fail.

Next, Jami Gold questions whether quality editing is valued by anyone, and she uses this book as a point of reference.

Carly Phillips discusses the book here. She actually read the entire trilogy and the comments in the post are interesting.

And finally, and I believe most importantly, Smart Bitch Sarah writes about romance, porn, and condescension. No one defends romance quite like Sarah.

TV stuff:

I’ve talked about how much I love Justified, and on his blog Eat, Sleep, Television, Adam Bellotto does a great recap of this week’s episode. As he says, this episode wasn’t so much about moving the plot forward as wrapping up loose ends. Take a peek around his site for recaps of other shows. I don’t watch all of them, but he does a good summary.

Last week Tiffany White asked readers to vote on which shows they would watch if they could only watch one TV show per night (horrible thought). This week, she posts the results.

Emmie Mears has been running a series of cookie dough posts talking about relationships in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I didn’t watch the show when it originally aired, but after hearing so many people praise it, I watched some, but not all the episodes. I definitely see the appeal, but I never really understood the whole Buffy-Spike thing. In her last post, Emmie dissects that relationship and it makes a whole lot more sense now.

Dating and Love:

Even though I’m married and have been out of the dating scene longer than I was ever in it, as a romance writer, I try to read about others’ experiences because that’s what I write. As a woman, I know that if my husband and I ever split, I have no intention of ever looking to get into a new relationship. I don’t have the energy or patience to deal with the junk. But as a writer, I’m fascinated by it.

Merry Farmer has a great post asking where all the good guys have gone. She links to the original article that points to some of the problems and you should really read both. After reading both the article and Merry’s post, I’ve reaffirmed my gratitude that I don’t have to worry about dating. I’ve also realized that I am dead on in how hard I push my kids to be independent. I have 3 kids, none are teenagers yet. They all know they are expected to go to college and earn a degree and they also know that if they want to continue to live in my house they either have a job or they’re in school. When school is done, if they want to live here, they pay rent. It’s not that I need their money. I need them to be independent. To find their own way. I did it as a necessity, but I’m glad I learned independence early. I screwed up a lot, but I learned from it. There was no one to bail me out.

Ingrid Schaffenburg talks about online dating and the search for chemistry.

A new blog that I started following that you should check out is The Romance Man. He’s a man who reads romance (woo-hoo!) but he also blogs about love, being married, and being a father. The stuff he writes is pretty damn funny. Here he looks at advice on how to snuggle. If you’re easily offended, you might want to skip it, but if you read Chuck Wendig or Tawna Fenske, you’ll like this guy.

Writing:

I only have one writing link this week, not because there weren’t more great posts, but because this one has a message for every writer. Tawna Fenske tells us what she learned from an 85-year-old food critic. Good stuff.

I plan to get out an enjoy my weekend. Chicago has been experiencing way warmer than normal weather (80 degrees again today!!) What plans do you have for the weekend?

Friday Favorites – Crushes, Buffy, and Book Fandom

It has been a busy week in blogs. I came across so many great things, it was hard to choose.

First up, let’s talk TV:

(banner by studio D)

Personally, I am not a Dr. Who fan, but I know quite a few people who are. They routinely try to convince everyone around them to join the ranks. Since it’s now on Netflix, I might give it a try. As some of you might have noticed over on Twitter, I’ve been RTing tweets about a Dr. Who bloghop my writerly friends have created. There are great prizes each day that you can win just for commenting. Hop over to Erica O’Rourke’s blog to get the main details.

Debra Kristi talks about Buffy the Vampire Slayer and who was better — Angel or Spike? This was a show that I didn’t watch when it was on. At the time, the concept seemed silly. Then, as I embarked on my writing career, I kept hearing from so many writers (including Jennifer Crusie) that it was a fabulous show. I haven’t watched every episode, but I have seen quite a few. I’m definitely in the Angel camp. I love David Boreanaz, as I mentioned my love for Seely Booth last month.

Finally, Tiffany White talks about criminals we love. I don’t watch all of the shows she mentions, but Dexter and Justified I watch religiously.

Here are some fun, non-TV posts to check out:

Merry Farmer had me cracking up with her post on inappropriate crushes. I think we’ve all been there before. I currently don’t have a real-life crush, but I totally have a girl-crush on Angie Harmon. It’s

Image Credit: SBWALLS.BLOGSPOT.COM

inappropriate because I’m not gay and I don’t think she is either.

Jillian Dodd has a great post on whether men and women can be just friends. Watch the video; it’s really worth it. I think this is fascinating both as a woman and as a writer. I love to read friends-turned-lover stories, so maybe the guys are right here.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (one of my favorite go-to sites for romance) had a great post about book fans and how paranormal romance readers seem to be “more active, involved, and at times rabid” than fans of contemporary romance. I read both paranormal and contemporary, but I lean more toward contemporary, but maybe that’s because it’s what I write.

Speaking of contemporary romance, Angela James (executive editor for Carina Press) has put out a call for submissions for contemporary romance series. Angela James is a smart, savvy person and I have no doubt that working with her would be a truly rewarding experience (no, she is not paying me to say that. She doesn’t even know me)

Finally, in my post yesterday, I talked about canceled shows. Sometimes, a good show gets canceled because it can’t stand out or it’s not great. I mentioned that as writers, we often face the same kind of rejection. Chuck Wendig has a great post listing the 25 things writers should know about rejection. Rejection sucks, but learn from it and move on. He says it all much better than I did.

That’s it for this week. I hope you enjoy the links. And the really burning question: Who do you love — Angel or Spike? 🙂

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