Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 3- RWA Conference

Day three started early. Up at 7, out by 8ish to head to the Rogue Digital Meeting. Kai and I stayed a bit then slipped out early to go to the Opening Session with Janet Evanovich. I've read a couple of her books, I'll admit I haven't read a lot by her but her speech was heart warming. She told us about how she was unpubbed for like 10 years... and had a crateful of rejections before she got a contract. It was here, when Kai and I were looking for a table that I noticed someone who look familiar.

Who might that Diva be that was passing right by us?

Sam! So of course we flagged her down. And might I say that she's adorable and nice? Because she is. Oh and this is just aside because I didn't put it in before but apparently sweet tea is what I usually know as Iced Tea... and ice tea down there is unsweetened blahness.

The three of us decided to go to the general meeting. Yes, we went, sat down to listen and show our support to RWA Change. Um yeah, that was a flop. Everyone expected it, were waiting for it but no one had the Resolution in hand. Genuine surprise amongst everyone on the board it seemed. So the meeting turned to regular questions... ten mins or so the Resolution is found, sent to someone's phone. Yeah... didn't go over well. Although it was read clearly, there needed to be a hard copy. In addition, it apparently needed to be handed in 120 days prior... and things had to be specified what they wanted to change. So yeah, no vote.

Lunch followed at the keynote luncheon with Linda Howard as the speaker. Can I just say that all of the speakers were awesome? Because they were and way too motivational.

2:00 started the workshops. Kendal and I took off to go to Honing your Pitch. It was great. We got some good information out of it that helped me when going into my pitch session on friday.

From there it was the Avon book signing and one thing I should have figured but didn't, was how many people would be crammed in a small room. And I don't mean authors. I got claustrophobic after so long of being jostled around and having no room to get around. It was... crazy but I got a lot of books and saw some authors I love, others who I've never read but sound interesting. At this signing in particular I noticed a LOT of historical writers.

Then up to the room Kai and I went cause it was changing time into evening dress clothes. Black dress. Strappy gladiator heels... We headed off site to go to the Passionate Ink party and then after that the FF&P party. The night didn't end there however, and soon we were headed off to a gay cowboy karaoke bar with the rest of the divas... where... there were drag queens putting on a show. I'll admit I didn't quite know what to think. I wasn't too comfortable when they went up into the crowd of people. Some divas got brought up on stage to dance. It was interesting. Upstairs was where a bunch of divas already were. And might I say divas can SING?! Cause yeah.

At 12:30am it was time to go back. I needed to work on my pitch because my appointment was that morn at 9 and I wasn't ready. At all.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

RWA Conference: Day Two

The moment the conference began, there wasn't much, if any free time. The only free time really was on Wednesday, with the Literacy Signing starting at 5. I was at Kai's still, worrying about my pitch. I was just getting around to what would be the first pitch revision. We left in time to gather a few things and do a bit of shopping before getting to the hotel to change and get ready.

Up in the room we were met by the lovely Cambria and the awesome Teresa. The six of us (Kendal, Chrissy, Cambria, Teresa, Kai and moi) headed to the lit signing, where we stood in line for what was like 30 mins or more. Probably closer to 40. In the meantime, while we waited, the lines gathered and gathered... and did loops around the room. And then... they let us in and the frenzy began. It was literally push and shove to get anywhere. At one point I was going to follow Teresa around but lost her in my fan squee moment at Cherry Adair's table. I had to get a book... and by then I had found Kai (who I then latched on to).

There was no cell reception. I knew that. I'd tried to text a friend, Maya, earlier about what books she was interested in and if there was a particular author she wanted one from. But it didn't go through so I knew if we all were separated and the fact that there was no reception... well yeah that wouldn't be good.

So I went around with Kai, getting some photos, finding Eden Bradley, Jax, Kate Pearce and a few other divas, as well as some members from my Toronto chapter.

After 3 hours or so it was time to leave and we headed back to the room to dump our books before heading off to Mediterra for the Diva dinner. When we first go there it was quite full as was. By 9 or so we had to add more tables to add in more divas. I met Lori there and ran around the table to see Chi and MG and... it was great to see everyone.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Thursday Thirteen

Back from conference. It was great. Awesome. I loved being there and meeting everyone and in the end, was sad to leave so I decided that this week, I would talk about the things I learned at the RWA conference.

1. When going to the Literacy signing, it will be packed. People will be jostling you everywhere because there will be NO room to walk. At all. No personal bubble allowed. Lining up, you will want to get there early. We arrived early but there was still a line up that'd already gone all the way down one hall. You'll want to bring a bag for your books. Although I only bought 4, a bag was still useful and after almost tripping and falling, the bag a random woman gave me was much appreciated (thanks to whoever you were!)

2. Expect line-ups for food in the morning at the little shop down below to have at least 50 other women waiting at 8am.

3. When meeting other divas, pouncing and screaming is sometimes appropriate, if not expected. Although I wasn't a pouncer, more of a stay in my quiet corner nibbling on my chicken and fries, it was amusing to watch everyone and meet them. I honestly, wasn't sure what I expected, but it wasn't the immediate bond that was felt. I -knew- these people, these awesome writers and friends. But I didn't know it'd be so easy to meet them.

4. Really, there is no time to see the city. I wanted to see the Smithsonian and whatnot but the moment thursday started, it was go-go-go from the get go. On the drive to karaoke, you may see China town... and that was interesting in itself, seeing Subway, for instance, spelled out in Chinese letters.

5. No matter how much I packed, I still didn't have enough tops. I ended up buying one shirt from the gift shop to wear on the drive back. Kai also was great and washed one of my shirts, thus allowing me to wear it saturday.

6. When there are drag queens dancing with the crowd, sometimes, they go right up to your face and get in thus personal bubble. Ok, I kept back. I'll admit it.

7. The divas can SING.

8. My friendly termed 'hooker boots' lasted about 4 hours before my feet started to hurt and I had to sit down. I think 6 hours or so in them is enough in any sitting.

9. Authors at their signings were awesome. I had some fangirl moments (Cherry Adair, Jim Butcher, etc). I didn't exepect them to be all personable. I mean Cherry Adair took time to talk to the ppl in her line about what they were writing and to tell them to email her when they were done with their book. A few others said similar things.

10. Janet Evanovich, Eloisa James and other keynote speakers could reduce a simple lunch to something motivating. I'll admit at times I teared up.

11. The workshops, while soooooooo interesting, the rooms were cooold so bring a sweater. And a good thing, is that the workshops were taped. Therefore, that gave more options, especially when book signings went on at the same time or when there were parties involved.

12. From what I'm hearing, you can go up and ask an editor/agent if you can pitch your idea to them. I didn't. I don't have the guts for that. I know they are there also to acquire new authors but it surprised me at how many ppl received requests from going up to an agent.

13. Agents/editors aren't all that scary. Ok, they are, in the 'we hold sway over what happens to you' kind of way, but they are there to find new writers as well. I worried about my pitch all week. I rewrote 10 times. I had panic attacks. What it came down to, was that the moment I sat in front of him, I didn't use what I'd written. I told him about my story and went on from there and eventually forgot what was going on. (The room btw, was huge, one room with like 20 tables with the agent/editor behind. No one pays attention to you because they are too worried about their own pitch to think about how you are doing).

And bonus 14: You will need to take breaks. It's a given. So take them. Don't put pressure on yourself to try and get everything done because you know what? It's not possible. I thought I could, thought I wanted to, but there are only so many things you can do and unless you can clone yourself, you won't be able to be everywhere. I'm not a bar person, but next time, I think I will hang out there a bit more to see everyone more. Be more social.

RWA Conference- Part 1

I've been debating how to go about this, not because it's difficult by any means, but because of the vast information that came out of this. It was crazy. I'll say that right off. It was overwhelming and go-go-go, and OMGAGENTS/EDITORS!, but in a nutshell, it was an experience that I wouldn't have turned away. It was great and near the end, did not want to leave.

We drove down on the tuesday (July 14). We being Kendal Corbit, Dayna Hart and moi. Kendal and I began our journey tuesday morning at around 9am. Leaving hedgie with her husband, we packed up the car and headed out to pick up Dayna (stopping first to grab breakfast at Tim Hortons). It was a two hour drive or so when we got to Dayna's home and met her adorable children and husband.

After one small detour (ok we took the wrong road and got briefly lost a moment) we were on our way and soon arrived at the border. This was the second time crossing the border for me, and my first experience hadn't left a dazzling impression, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Would they make us get out of the car? Would they take us separately and interrogate us about where we are going? Would they go through our bags? They did none of this. Nothing but ask us where we were going, for how long, etc. I felt relieved, even moreso when we crossed the bridge and was off through the interstates of New York, stopping in Pennsylvania at Arby's for lunch.

The drive had an amazing view of the hills and trees. All the way down. It was quite scenic and surprising but then again, we didn't go through the cities. It was nice and with TomTom directing us, we made it to Washington DC in one piece around 9pm. I'd like to say something eventful happened, but really, it was a smooth drive in which our discussions went all over from grammar to our pitches to what we expected would come out of the conference.

So we get to the Marriot Hotel. It's huge. Dayna meets up with Crystal and Kendal and I head up to our room. Our room 5-066. We expect to be coming into a double. But oh no, double doors. So we step inside and see a sitting area, plus a bar. This doesn't include the bedroom that is a bit off to the side with doors to close so that those in the sitting room don't bother those in the bedroom. It's huge. Apparently they double booked and our other roomie, Chrissy, managed to get them to upgrade us to a suite for the same price as a double.

The room, was awesome. Granted we didn't spend a whole lot of time in there except to sleep, but all in all, it was a room that made the whole trip just a bit more comfy. Hungry, Chrissy, Kendal and I went down to check out one of the small restaurants (Harry's Pub I believe). There, we are eating when all of a sudden a group of women approach and one of the women stops, looks at us, and asks "do I know you?"

At this point, I'm floundering. Um... maybe? The woman looks familiar but unsure, I go with a quizzical look and a "I think so? Not sure." Oh yeah, I'm so great with my words. I'm not a writer or anything... really. (add sarcasm) pffffffft.

Good thing her brain was working because she then asks if I am on the Divas (Romance Divas if you don't know). Um... yes! That woman was Diva Lisa or Eden Bradley for those who've read her books and although she looked familiar, I have a thing where if I'm not sure, I get this stupid quizzical look and don't say anything with fear that I'll put my foot in my mouth. Although I know I look just as stupid. Really.

With her was Christina Cross and Vivienne Westlake and another whose name, I apologize, escapes me. After dinner we all went to the bar, where we met other divas such as Jax and Kristen and Kat...etc.

That first night I didn't stay there. I went to a friend, Kai,'s house where I met her dogs December and Robin. Take into account that by the time we got there, it was about 1am. Suffice it to say, I still hadn't prepared my pitch. A pitch I was supposed to deliver on friday. More on that later.

Friday, July 10, 2009

What's your clothing brand?

There's so much talk about finding your brand as a writer lately. I'll admit I'm a bit intimidated by that notion, because your brand as an author encompasses everything about how you look and present yourself at conferences, your website, business cards, Twitter, facebook, bookmarks... so many different things that need to be thought about. I keep hearing that your brand needs to work with your writing style and I can understand that.

At the Romance Divas chat last night, we were discussing at one point what to wear at conference and a wonderful diva and friend, Sela Carsen, pointed out how we should dress as we write. This took me off guard, I'll admit. But the more I thought about it, the more what she said made sense about what we write shining through to how we lean toward certain clothing attire and whatnot.

Therefore, if you write darker romance, suspense-like tones (like me), dark colours in clothing could work if it's a more classier sexier dark top. Your cards and website would also have a darker appeal to them. You may wear jeans and a ragged top or sweats while you work on your novel but how you present yourself at conference should be clean and professional. Perception is everything.


So how are you going to dress? What's your brand?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thursday Thirteen

Ok Nats is coming up next week and yeah, I need to figure out everything I'm bringing. I'm kind of thinking I'm missing something so I'm going to do my Thursday Thirteen on 13 items I need to remember to bring.

1. Clothes: so far 4 dresses, jeans, capris, a few tops and a skirt. underwear... duh.
2. Shoes: 3 pairs (sandal wedges, gold heels, black strappy heels). Debating running shoes just in case. We'll have to see how much I can pack and let this be known that this is the most shoes I've ever packed before.
3. Passport. Can't forget this. Must. Not. Forget.
4. Toiletries: makeup, hair stuff, advil...etc. Hair straightener because I don't want just curly hair.
5. Camera! Cause I want to take a lot of pics.
6. Notebook: in case the muses decide to pipe up. And to jot down notes from workshops.
7. Remember the pitch! Note to self: WRITE the pitch!
8. US cash on hand. That said, must convert cash.
9. I know there will be books... but... a book to read on the ride there?
10. Phone and phone cord.
11. Emergency numbers. Cause you never know when you might need it.
12. Those recycling bags you can get at the grocery store to put books in.
13. ...anything I'm missing?

A voice unheard

I first noted this article circulating around Twitter. As a writer, it touched a spot in me because for a person to be a writer, you need a voice. You need your words. It makes you who you are, to be able to communicate and get out what you want/need to say. So when I read the article about Albert Borris, I had to wonder what I'd do in his shoes.

For those who don't know, Albert Borris is a debut YA novelist who this past December suffered a stroke that left him unable to communicate his thoughts, either vocally or written. Doctors told him that he was lucky to be alive, and he has since made a full physical recovery. However, one thing hasn't recovered yet and that his is words. They are there, but because of the stroke, he was left unable to get them out.

A group of friends and other writers (22 middle grade and young adult novelists) are now focusing to get word out about the novel, Crash Into Me. As a full time teen counselor, Albert Borris' work can clearly be seen in the content of his novel. It is not something light but a dark (possibly controversial) tale of teens finding themselves and figuring out if life is worth living.


When Owen, Frank, Audrey, and Jin-Ae meet online after each attempts suicide and fails, the four teens mak e a deadly pact: they will escape together on a summer road trip to visit the sites of celebrity suicides...and at their final destination, they will all end their lives. As they drive cross-country, bonding over their dark impulses, sharing their deepest secrets and desires, living it up, hooking up, and becoming true friends, each must decide whether life is worth living--or if there's no turning back.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

So what came first...

the writer or the characters?

I've been thinking about this lately. Why, I'm not entirely sure. (Just like I started to question the meaning of time, but I digress.) A lot of people, if you were to ask them would probably tell you they started to write early on, maybe even was born to write. Then there are others who started later in life, they decided they wanted to try it out and... there we go.

I was always a daydreamer. It's why I like silent vehicle rides because it gives me the chance to slip out of reality and dream up stories in my head. I can't recall a time when I didn't just stare out of the bus window, dreaming up scenarios of suspense and whatnot; and yes, romance. If someone were to ask me where these thoughts came from, I couldn't say.

I didn't start writing until public school, when I was in grade seven or so. Oh sure we had to do short stories (can't for the life of me write that short, btw!). I once wrote (with my mom's help) a story in grade five or something about a cat (Cue- modeled off our huge white male cat called Cue) that was catnapped. I can't recall if he was a show cat or something but either way, the story was spun out and I think the neighbour was the culprit but I cannot be sure now. Anyway, we had an author come in and he liked it and gave me my first praise. I remember thinking, oh, I can do this but I didn't do anything more. I didn't write.

I read. Oh did I ever read. But I didn't write.

Then grade six came along and we had to write a short story (I think 5 pages or so but mine no surprise, turned out to be a cramped 10). This story was spun on suspense once again where I was the main char and I was going off too BC to meet my cousin but the train derails and it goes from there about me finding my way back. Teacher read my story in front of class. I was...embarassed.

Still didn't write. Not on my own. I was too busy dreaming. Grade 8 would be the year I decided to put my pencil down on paper. I remember my friend writing. She had started a novel and for some reason, it clicked at that moment. It was a 'oh why didn't I think of that' kind of moment and so I began. I've always loved the supernatural. We'll talk about Diego (the ghost that up to last Christmas I thought was gone I'm not so sure) another day. It wasn't a surprise that my first attempt at a novel was about a boy named Devon who was a telekinetic. He moved to a new town after his parents were murdered to live with his aunt and uncle and was just starting highschool. There he meets Kirby, who will then become his crush throughout even when the killers follow him and whatnot. Turns out his uncle was the killer and had done some psychic testing on the boy or whatnot.

I got 400 pages into the book (400 written pages that is) before I stopped. Why? Not because I lost interest. Oh I loved sitting in the chair by the window with my discman and writing in the sun. No, didn't lose interest in that story, but I had then started reading Kathy Reichs and so my love of forensic anthropology began...and thus, my muses. I started a story about a murder... and my main char an anthropologist. I didn't get far into that one.

I've been asked before where I got my ideas. In grade 9, I began writing Fatal Visions. Why? Not because of a book. Not because of a show. But because of a video game. I was hooked on my brother's playstation Medal of Honor game. It was about the war and it just...intrigued me. Add Final Fantasy with Squall and Rinoa to the mix and *poof* instant muses and J.C., Amy and Stefan were created. Really, aside from them and Broderick, no other chars from that time stuck. Gone was the doctor known as Josef. Gone was Karen, the motherly figure that tended to J.C. when he was little and when he broke from conditioning (another thing that changed). Gone was two baddies and a fatherly type teacher. Oh one other guy did stick, but his role changed, from bestfriend of Amy to baddie.

So what came first? Did the writer or the characters? I'm not really sure. To a point, the framework of the characters have always been around. But for me, I needed that push, the drive, the 'oh why didn't I think of that' moment to get me to put pencil to paper.

So where do you come in? Did you need a small push in the right direction or did you just 'know' and it was the only way to close off your characters' voices?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Not Going to Conference Conference

So, you can't go to the RWA conference this year? Well, don't fret for long. Romance Divas is hosting their annual NGTCC (Not Going To Conference Conference) and it's going to be fun-filled. Already they've got great guest spots lined up, including: Josh Lanyon, Rowan Mcbride, Jet Mykles and Shayla Kersten, Carrie Jones, Marley Gibson, Linnea Sinclair, Patti O'Shea, Ona Russel, Steve Hockingsmith, Joey W. Hill and Sasha White.

There will be workshops for just about every genre, from Young Adult to Erotic to Historical. Plus, a workshop on Deep POV, one on going from e-publishing to NY, and a Q&A on how avoid and deal with burnout. And there's bound to be a few surprises, too. icon_wink.gif

The NGTCC kicks off July 14th and runs until July 18th. If you're not already a member of Romance Divas, all you have to do is go to the website and register! Best of all--it's FREE!

NGTCC Banner

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thursday Thirteen

In lieu of Canada Day post, I decided to list thirteen facts about Canada for the Thursday Thirteen. In no particular order, thirteen facts:

1. Canada became The Dominion of Canada on July 1st, 1867. We officially became a country in 1982.
While Canada does acknowledge the Queen, (represented by the Governor General) and under law we need "royal assent' for our bills to become law - Canada is it's own country. We are a "Constitutional Monarchy" - that is we have our own constitution and we acknowledge the Queen as a figurehead - but that's where it ends. Canada makes it's own laws and it is in no way dependant on Britain for laws or governing the country.

The National emblem is the maple leaf and has been associated with Canada since the 1700's. The flag of Canada has two red bars and a white center - within there being a maple leaf. It was adopted as the National Flag in 1965. (Before hand Canada used the Union Jack - the British Flag for its flag.)

The name "Canada" is derived from the Huron-Iroquois language and means settlement or village.

The National Anthem for Canada is "O Canada" - proclaimed on July 1st 1980 - a century after being sung for the first time. (Before hand Canadians sang God Save the Queen/King)

Leading Industries: automobile manufacturing, pulp and paper, iron, steel work, machinery and equipment manufacturing, mining, extraction of fossil fuels, forestry and agriculture

Leading exports are: automobile vehicles and parts, machinery and equipment, high technology products, oil, natural gas, metals and forest farm products. Imports are: machinery and industrial equipment, (communications and electronic equipment, vehicles and automobile parts, industrial materials (ie: metal ores, iron, steel, precious metals, chemicals, plastics, cotton, wool and other textiles) along with manufactured products and food.

7. Five pin bowling was invented by T.E. Ryan of Toronto in 1909.
Basketball was invented by James Naismith in 1891.

8. Two words: Avro Arrow.

9. The lowest temperature recorded in Canada is -63 degrees Celsius at Snag on February 3, 1947. The warmest temperature ever recorded in Canada was 45 degrees Celsius.

10. The most extreme change in temperature took place in January 1962 in Pincher Creek when a warm, dry wind known as a chinook, brought the temperature up from -19 degrees Celsius to 22 degrees Celsius in an hour.

11. The total area of Canada is 9 984 670 square kilometres. Canada's area is the second largest in the world (after Russia which has a total area of 17 075 000 square kilometres).
With 2 Million lakes, Canada has the largest amount of freshwater in the world.
12. The Trans-Canada Highway length (using the Perth-Peterborough-Parry Sound route) is 7604 kilometres. It is the longest national highway in the world.

The word Canuck originated in about 1850 as a term for French Canadians. During the Great War it was applied to all Canadians.