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Friday Favorites – Slacker Edition

As the title suggests, I’m still slacking. I think it’s going to take me awhile to get used to the whole summer schedule. In the past, all I had to squeeze in around my kids was my work-from-home day job and my writing. Now, I’m teaching part-time and trying (and not necessarily succeeding) my hand at social networking. I do have some great posts, just not as many as I usually do:

First up, two great posts on Pinterest. I’ve joined Pinterest, but I’m still learning the ropes. You can find me here: http://pinterest.com/seschroeder/

Amy Clark from Momadvice has a post on being a Pinterest superstar. Then August McLaughlin offers 5 steps to making Pinterest-friendly blog posts. I know I’m nowhere near there yet (no great pictures to pin from here), but I hope to utilize that information soon.

Lani Diane Rich has an excellent post on how you need to fail in order to succeed. I think most people would agree with this, at least in theory. It’s something that I’ve tried to drill into my kids’ heads. But the thing is, I’m one of those people who have avoided doing anything unless I was pretty darn sure I’d be good enough at it to succeed. Writing for publication is the only risk I’ve ever really taken. I’ve always been a writer, and I knew I had skills, but writing for publication is more than being a good writer. You have to be a storyteller. That’s the part I’ve been so unsure of. How could I not be? After writing and getting rejections, you start to wonder. But when you look at some of those rejections, they can give you hope. I’m not one of those writers who has saved every rejection to either show to other new writers or to burn in a big pile when I think I’ve made it. I’ve only saved the ones that gave me hope. A little hope is all you need.

Finally, Trish Loye Elliot has a great post on advice to writers from the masters.

What was the best advice you’ve ever received?

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Friday Favorites – Relationships, Writing & Language Fun

Another week gone and only one more until the kids are out of school. I’m beginning to worry about keeping up with 3 posts a week while they’re home. I’ve gone back to teaching part-time (college level writing) and although it’s only one night a week, I spend hours prepping and grading. Add in the kids and keeping them busy, and something’s probably going to give. Usually my writing suffers over the summer, but this year, I have a deadline, so that can’t really happen. Right now, I’m ahead of schedule and I’d like to keep it that way.

Anyway, onto great links for the week.

Modern relationships:

Samantha Warren likens modern online romance to romance when back when. She has some interesting ideas about how contact through email mimics communication only via letter. Since I’ve been married a long time, I don’t know if this holds true, but I do agree with her that the idea of building a relationship with words is far more fascinating that jumping into bed together.

Mike Stolar is guy getting his 15 minutes of viral fame for sending a survey out to his dates when things didn’t work out. Some articles call this creepy, but isn’t this the stuff of a fine romantic comedy?

Speaking of romantic comedies, Fabio Bueno has an excellent post on building your own romantic comedy. I’m thinking I should bookmark it for future book ideas 🙂

Writing:

Chuck Wendig has one of his fabulous 25 things post up. This time it’s 25 reasons you should quit writing. I know most writers will tell you that they can’t NOT write. I don’t know if I fall into that category. It’s certainly true at this point in my life, but I stopped writing from the time I left college until about 5 years ago. I was busy building my career and writing didn’t enter the picture. I don’t know if that would happen again if I went back to teaching full-time. I tend to throw myself 100% into whatever I do. Chuck’s points are great, though. Writing is tough and it’s not for everyone.

On the other end of advice, Ingrid Schaffenburg was recently at a conference and she shares the advice she learned from seasoned professionals. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: conferences are a great way to fuel yourself as a writer (even if you’re an introvert like me)

Tonya Kappes writes about how often writers are expected to produce books. It used to be that an author could be successful writing one book a year. Susan Elizabeth Phillips writes one about every 18 months. But with the advent of self-publishing and ebooks, readers have gotten impatient. They want it NOW. I get it. I hate having to wait for a favorite author’s new book (I’m looking at you Julie James) and we want them to write faster. I’m currently set to release 2 books a year. I hope that’s enough to build a following.

TV:

Tiffany White has a post this week about the return of one of my summer favorites, The Glades. When I posted a couple of weeks ago about returning TV shows, I talked about The Glades. It’s a cop show with a lot of sexual chemistry and conflict between the main characters. Tiffany does a great job explaining everything if you’ve never watched. (plus, you can catch up on Netflix)

(this one’s a little TV and more on writing, but…) Over on Romancing the Naked Hero, Paula Altenburg writes about secondary characters who steal the show. She opens with talking about Boyd Crowder from Justified. How could I not include this?

Fun:

So Bad So Good has a post on words that don’t exist in the English. My favorite?

Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan): A look between two people that suggests an unspoken, shared desire

OR maybe…

Meraki (pronounced may-rah-kee; Greek): Doing something with soul, creativity, or love. It’s when you put something of yourself into what you’re doing

Here’s another list of relationship words that don’t exist in English (I’m getting the idea that our language is quite boring)

And finally, a little inspiration to find happiness from Pink Chocolate Break.

Who is your favorite secondary character either from a book or movie/TV?

Friday Favorites – Romance, Love and Storytelling

I think I lost more than a few hours reading blog posts this week because I came across so many good things to read. It was hard to choose what to include, but I hope you enjoy my selections:

Emma Burcart has two posts about finding Mr. Right. First, she talks about how sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there and no matter what you do, he just isn’t the one. Then she writes about the mistake so many women make when they meet a man. They see him as a project that they can fix or change. The funny thing is, as Emma points out, if a man looked at us and said, I’d really be into you if you…fill-in-the-blank, we’d be pissed.

Tiffany White talked about Lost Girl this week. This show is relatively new to the U.S. I started watching it when it premiered earlier this year (thanks to another of Tiffany’s posts). I love this show. It’s about paranormal creatures living among people. The thing I like about it is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There is no end of the world gloom hanging over it. Bo is a succubus who spent most of her life not knowing what she was or how to control her powers. Kenzie is her human sidekick, and she gets some of the best lines. Definitely worth a peek 🙂

I have two posts that talk about ebook pricing and the value we place on our work. This is a conversation that is running all over because of things like Agency pricing and the 99 cent ebook. It’s something that’s important to me personally because not only am I an avid reader who spends a lot of money on books, but my debut will be released as an ebook. I think we all love a good bargain, but many times, I’ve looked at 99 cent books and although they were worth the money, they weren’t worth my time. I’m more likely to spend a little more on trusted authors or based on a recommendation. Chuck Wendig talks about ebook pricing. And then Jenny Hansen talks about the value of a story.

Kat Latham has a post about why an agent has to love your novel before they can sell it. I’ve talked about this before when I talked about getting an offer for my book. A lot of people have a list of “dream agents” that would like to work with. I can understand that, but really, I think the most important thing is to have an agent who loves your work. Although it’s a business partnership and you may become friends with your agent, you will have someone who is willing to fight for you if he or she really cares about your book.

I met Tonya Kerrigan at the Chicago Spring Fling conference last week. She has done a fabulous write up for a lot of the workshops she attended. She obviously took much better notes that I did. Here’s her post about why a story isn’t selling. Poke around her blog and you can easily find a ton of other information.

Speaking of conferences, I mentioned in my Spring Fling recap that for me, the conference was more about being around like-minded people that anything else. Janet at muffintopmommy, went to an Erma Bombeck conference and walked away understanding a lot more about herself. She’s really funny and although it’s a long post, as a writer, you’ll get it.

Finally, Stephanie Ben wrote about why romance and erotic romance is more than porn. With 50 Shades of Gray getting the attention is has, I think a lot more people will be coming to read romance and erotic romance, which is good. The thing that bugs me is that everywhere you look across the media, you see “mommy porn.” That term bugs the shit out of me. As a mother and a romance writer, I cringe.

And on that note … is there any term or misconception about a genre that drives you bonkers?

Chicago Spring Fling 2012

As I mentioned last week, my RWA chapter, Chicago-North hosted its bi-annual conference this past weekend. Chicago Spring Fling 2012 was a huge success. The conference ran from Friday through Saturday night. I didn’t attend any workshops early on Friday because I was on transportation duty and had to pick up an editor from the airport, but from what I heard people started early and the information was great.

Our headliners were Simone Elkeles, Susan Elizabeth Phillips (both C-N members), and Dianna Love. These three women are funny and entertaining and offered great advice.

We had an agent panel and an editor panel and I think one of the most surprising things I heard from both panels is that the vast majority of requests they make at a conference never get sent. Something like only 30% of the people they request pages from send in the pages. Personally, I don’t get that. The book is supposed to be done before you pitch, but I suppose there are people who pitch without a completed manuscript, so that would account for some. But really? Why wouldn’t you send? If they asked, they are obviously interested.

image courtesy of zimbio.com

Friday night I moderated Hot Night, which is something we do at a chapter meeting at least once a year. We are a critique chapter and at every meeting, we are critiquing someone’s manuscript, usually the first 20 or so pages. Hot Night is different in that anyone who wants to read brings a love scene (sweet, sensual, or spicy) of about 5 pages to share. Then we offer critique. A chaptermate, Melonie Johnson, and I moderated the sensual Hot Night group and it was a ton of fun. The session was supposed to last an hour and we went for more than an hour and a half. We had a great time and quite a few people came up to us afterwards or even on Saturday to talk about how much they got out of the session even if they hadn’t read.

Simone Elkeles did a great workshop where she shared all kinds of personal information. She laid it all out there: the advances she got for her books, the promotion efforts she tried that worked and those that didn’t, print runs, you name it. She said that it pissed her off when she was a newbie and wanted information and no one would give specifics, so she decided she would.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips did a workshop on using character to drive plot and I’m so glad I attended. The more I hear her speak, the better I feel about my own process. Our writing styles and methods are similar and although I do try other things, it always comes back to be being a pantser and writing until I figure out my characters. Some of the exercises she had us do got me thinking about my WIP (on which I’ve been a little stalled) and I now have new ideas about how to fix it.

Blythe Gifford offered a workshop on how to write it without being there. Blythe writes historical romance, which is not my genre. I’ve never been a fan of historicals, but I’ve always said that there are a few people who can lure me in with their beautiful words and stories. Blythe is one of those people. In addition to sharing how she does her research for her books so that they can be as historically accurate as possible, she talked about the role of setting, which isn’t something I’ve given a whole lot of thought to. My books are set in Chicago and especially for the first one, Chicago plays a role. I couldn’t turn it into a small town romance because it wouldn’t suit the story or the characters, but I never thought about how the setting influences my characters and shapes who they are.

I also attended Kensington’s spotlight, and although my editor wasn’t there, I met with another editor, Martin Biro. After the spotlight I had a bunch of people stop me to talk about my experiences with Kensington. People were very interested in the new digital first division that will be launching soon.

There were so many more workshops and panels I went to, I can’t even wrap my head around it now and it’s been a couple of days. The one thing I’ve learned to love about conferences, besides meeting people I only know online, is the energy and buzz you get from being around people who understand.

As writers we spend a bunch of time by ourselves listening to voices in our heads. Our friends and families for the most part, don’t get it. They see all the hard work for little or no pay and question why we do it. At a conference, everyone gets it. They understand why and they understand the struggles and they can commiserate. And you come away from it dying to get back into your own writing.

I would highly recommend finding a conference that is affordable for you and go. I had a migraine for 2 days before the conference and then I was away from my kids for 2 days. By Sunday, I was woefully behind in everything in my life, but the time I spent with other writers was well worth it.

Friday Favorites – the Quick Edition

I’m writing this Thursday night with a bit of a migraine hangover (at least I hope it’s totally gone) because I’m going to be busy all day tomorrow at my chapter’s conference Chicago Spring Fling. It’s going to be amazing, assuming I can keep the migraine at bay.

Speaking of migraines, Marianne Hansen has a post about migraines and superstitions. I totally get what she’s saying and I think most migraine sufferers do the same. If we think a migraine is coming, we try to do whatever we can that might stop it. Unfortunately, I’ve found that most of it doesn’t work.

Emma Burcart has a great post about trying things even if you’re not good at them. I have a particular fondness for this post because she talks about singing karaoke even if she’s not a great singer. I like this because although I would never sing in front of an audience (I use my singing to torment my kids), I do make the heroine of my novel sing karaoke as one of her summer adventures.

Marcy Kennedy writes about the fear we all have as writers – What if we don’t succeed? I think for all of us, regardless of where we are on the path to publishing, we have this worry. The what ifs can kill all motivation, so I do my best to ignore them all.

Kat Latham offers suggestions for culling repetitious words from your writing. I like Wordle. It’s fun, but I’ve never used it for my books. I think I’ll give it a shot and see what happens.

Elena Aitken offers her insight into what she’s learned about indie publishing. Although I have an agent and publisher now, I have to admit that self-publishing crossed my mind. For me, it was a matter of not wanting to be in control of everything (weird for someone who’s usually a control freak).

Jennifer Jensen shares her story about landing an agent in an unusual way. The agent contacted her because of her blog. Congrats Jen!

Jillian Dodd offers up eye candy every Monday with her Man Day posts. Right now she has a challenge going with author CJ West. If he can get 5,000 comments on his blog, he’ll pose for Jillian’s Man Day post. Read Jillian’s challenge and then hop over to CJ’s blog to leave a message.

Finally, for anyone still looking for some inspiration… Pink Chocolate Break has a list of 10 self-improvement quotes and a selection of quotes on creativity.

Have a great weekend and I hope to bring more information to you from our conference.

Friday Favorites – Dating, Writing, and TV

Busy week around here again. I’ve been saying that a lot lately it seems. Between Trouble’s birthday and RT and getting my revision letter from my editor, I’m a bit crazed. By the time this posts, I’ll be back at RT for a full day of workshops and fun. I’ll get another post up about it next week (or earlier if I’m really ambitious).

On to this week’s list of favorite blog posts. I bet you’re wondering how I managed to read all of these posts (and maybe even question if I did actually read). I read some throughout the week as I discover them on Twitter. Then I sit down with my Google reader and scan everything I’m subscribed to and pick the best. So really, in addition to these, I’ve read lots of others.

Dating and Love–

image courtesy of recruiterpoet.com

Ingrid Schaffenburg has another post to partner with the one I linked to last week about finding “the one.” This week she talks about finding your type (or not). As I said last week, I married my opposite and it’s worked out pretty well for us.

Jenny Hansen is participating in the A-Z blog challenge, which means she’s blogging every day in April, working her way through the alphabet. This week for H, she wrote about being a hussy and online dating. This is yet more evidence that I should never again enter the dating world. Have a laugh.

Finally, this post is great and it shows exactly why I love Romance Man. He writes about how men have to put in effort to make marriage work. Excellent advice that should be shared with men the world over.

Writing–

Angela M. is also doing the A-Z challenge and has a post about Alpha males that I wanted to include because I love Alphas.

Both Jami Gold and Kristen Lamboffered posts this week about finding your voice in writing. I kind of stumbled into my writing voice. When I started writing romance, I

image courtesy of lifeislifeislife.blog.com

followed the old saying “write what you know.” I read romantic suspense more than anything else. It’s a genre I feel I know and understand well. My first 2 manuscripts are both romantic suspense and will probably never see the light of day. About halfway through the second one, I knew it wasn’t working, but couldn’t figure out why. When I had the idea for my third manuscript, I realized it could be nothing but contemporary romance. I dove into the subgenre and read and read and read. Then I wrote and found a natural fit for my voice. That is the book that will debut later this year.

Chuck Wendig has one of his list posts this week called 25 reasons I hate your main character. Must read.

Elena Aitken has a post about her new release and the soundtrack she made for it. It really makes me wish I had created a playlist for the book I’m working on now.

TV–

As a quick follow-up to my post and link to others about the anti-hero, Sonia Medeiros continues with another post about Dexter, everyone’s favorite anti-hero.

Tiffany White covers Bent, which is a show I talked about when it premiered. I haven’t watched comedies in a long time, but this one attracted my attention (probably after Tiffany mentioned it on her blog). But I am a sucker for a man in a toolbelt. It’s a fun, campy show, but Tiffany brings up some good points.

One of my favorite shows, Justified, ended for the season this week. It seems like it crept on me too quickly and I’m not quite ready to let go. Adam Bellotto has a good recap of the last episode.

Allison Brennan did an excellent post on her hatred for Raylan’s ex-wife Winona. I hadn’t thought much about it, although I never really liked Winona. Allison makes fabulous points about why she hopes Winona is gone for good and I’m inclined to agree. Allison wrote this post before the season finale and it’s probably good because at the end of the show, Winona is so slow on the uptake when Raylan is telling her about all the bad shit, that I wanted to slap her. So clueless (and not good enough for Raylan).

Last, but not least–

Emma Burcart writes about the old adage “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” This expression has always bugged the shit out of me. Yes, I was a teacher. No, I am not less than other people because I chose that career. Teaching is damn hard work and all of you should go out and thank a teacher for helping you get where you are today.

What expression or adage drives you a little batshit?

(I probably won’t get around to responding to comments until this weekend but I will get to them – promise)

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?