Posted by Kate Carlisle Jun 25 2011, 4:01 am in bibliophile mysteries, conferences, Kate Carlisle, National Conference, romance writers, RWA conference, RWA National
by Kate Carlisle
I did it! I met my deadline for ONE BOOK IN THE GRAVE, the next Bibliophile Mystery. Pretty good, considering that I’ve been working in the midst of a total kitchen remodel and my family visiting. When I reached the final sentence of the final scene, I paused, took a deep breath to savor the moment, and then slowly typed: T. H. E. E. N. D.
Moment savored, moment gone… and instant panic set in.
The Romance Writers of America conference is mere days away, and I have done nothing – nothing! – to prepare. I have nothing to wear. My nails have suffered the double mutilation of hammering away at the keyboard and of being gnawed at while I tried to work my way out of plotting quagmires. My scalp has little bald spots from me tearing out my hair, trying to get the book done in time.
Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. If you’re going to conference, promise me you won’t look for bald spots!
The truth is, I have a lot of work to do to get pretty enough for conference. Because you know that we all want to look good for each other. It doesn’t matter that 98% of the attendees are female. It’s soooo not about the men. We want to look fresh and relaxed so that when we reunite with friends we haven’t seen for a year, they’ll tell us how great we look, and we’ll be able to believe that they’re not just being polite.
(Yeah, I dream big.)
We also want to look professional so that when we see our editors and agents and other industry professionals, they will get the impression that we easily handle the stresses of this writing life. In the hopes, of course, that they’ll pile on more stresses by giving us more, bigger, and better contracts.
(I do actually dream big.)
Which means, of course, that I must go shopping. And I can’t rely on the internet this time. There’s no time to have clothes shipped to me, try them on, realize I ordered the wrong size, return them, and get a second outfit to try on in the comfort of my own home. No, I will have to brave the harsh light of the dressing room.
And don’t get me started on shoes. Ack.
I can’t possibly visit the clothing stores until I get a mani/pedi. Otherwise the sales clerks won’t take me seriously. Getting a manicure is an exercise in patience for me. It’s hard to sit still long enough for the polish to dry. Almost invariably, I end up with at least one ding. So I repair the ding by adding a glop of polish, which leaves a little raised bump on my nail that looks like I have some sort of medical condition.
If you’re going to conference, promise me you won’t look for deformities on my fingernails!
My hope is that all the panic and craziness I’m going through now will pay off in the end. That I’ll arrive at conference looking polished and chic precisely because I am worried about it now. Which means at conference, I’ll be able to relax and enjoy the experience without giving a second thought to how I look.
That is, perhaps, the biggest dream of all.
The RWA conference is part professional networking event, part high school reunion. When is the last time you attended a big conference or reunion? Did you stress about what to wear, how your hair looked, how your nails looked, whether your shoes were scuffed… ? When you look back on that event, what sticks out most strongly in your memory?
Posted by Beth Andrews Jul 20 2009, 12:38 pm in Beth Andrews, GH, Jo Robertson, National Conference
I’m back from DC and loved spending time with my fellow Banditas, BBs and other writing friends I only get to see once a year. I miss you all already! I especially enjoyed taking my niece Blaire with me to the RITA/GH awards ceremony. Blaire, sweetheart that she is, said afterwards that she wished she could’ve seen me accept my GH when I won two years ago which reminded me of how far of I’d come since my first National Conference.
I attended my first RWA National Conference in 2002 in Denver. Having never been to National before I was excited, nervous, and a bit overwhelmed. I’d completed one book and had attended a regional conference the year before but being at National, surrounded by so many aspiring authors, published authors and editors and agents was thrilling. I attended as many workshops as I could, taking copious notes and soaking up the information my fellow authors so generously shared. I met many new people, some of whom have since become dear friends. I saw some of my favorite authors in the hall and in the bar. I even got to sit in the reserved seats at the RITA/Golden Heart ceremony. Oh, not because I’d finaled in either contest–heck, at that time I didn’t even know what either award was about–but because the published author who’d generously sponsored the conference scholarship I’d won was up for a RITA. And since she couldn’t attend, who did she ask to accept on her behalf should her name be called?
For those who know me, the situation was laughable to say the least. I’m what you might call…unassuming. Quiet. Watchful. And definitely not someone who’s comfortable accepting an award in front of two thousand people. Unfortunately, my benefactor didn’t win that night so I didn’t have to leave my seat. A fact for which my nerves were mighty grateful, but by the end of the night, after watching so many talented, gracious women accept their awards, my viewpoint changed and I was certain of one very surprising fact:
I wanted to be up on that stage. And I wanted to be up there accepting my own award.
So, naturally, I did what anyone would do in my situation. I wrote a book (my second) and entered it in the next year’s Golden Heart contest. It didn’t final. Neither did either of my two entries a year later. Or the year after that. I wrote more. I revised. I entered chapter contests and seriously considered each and every comment given. I found some fabulous critique partners. Most important of all, I found my voice. And I entered the Golden Heart once again.
That year I was lucky enough to be a double finalist in the GH. I had a blast at the National conference in Atlanta, meeting my fellow finalists for the first time, proudly wearing my GH ribbons and buttons. I joined The Golden Network and attended their wonderful dessert reception and famed Boot-Out ceremony as well as their informative retreat. There was a champagne reception for both RITA and GH finalists, rehearsals and finally, awards night.
I honestly didn’t expect to win and therefore didn’t experience more than a twinge of disappointment when my name wasn’t called. After all, it was an honor just to final and I was determined not to be eligible for the GH again. I was ready to sell.
Yeah, I hear you all laughing out there.
I knew it didn’t really matter that I was ready to sell, what mattered was that an editor was ready to buy me (or in this case, my story). But I thought my story was good. Really good. Alas, while the editor I was working with agreed my story was good, it wasn’t good enough to buy.
Not one to let a bit of bad news get me down, I forged ahead, entered the 2007 GH, and hoped like the dickens that lightening really could strike the same place twice. It did.
With that third final came the same excitement as the year before, along with healthy doses of relief, gratitude and, to be honest, a sense of validation that perhaps I was going in the right direction after all. I truly thought that this story, a story I’d worked so hard on, a story I’d received an eight page revision letter for, a story that had been sent up to the senior editor with a recommendation to buy, was THE ONE.
And then, a week before this year‘s conference, I was rejected.
It hurt. Oh, did it hurt. But, since rejections are a part of this business, I didn’t let it get me down (the hot fudge sundae I had for supper that night helped too). Instead, I focused on making this conference the best ever. I was going to network and take workshops and enjoy being a finalist. Like the other year I’d finaled, I met my fellow finalists, enjoyed the retreats and receptions and even had a productive meeting with the editor I’ve been working with these past few years.
I was inspired by stories of authors who wrote for five, ten or even twenty years before selling. Awed by their persistence, determined to achieve my own success and unable to imagine doing anything else but writing, I vowed to work harder, write better and to never give up.
But by Saturday, the combination of too little down time and way too little sleep caught up with me. Mid-afternoon, I sat down waiting for a friend when the doubts hit. What if I was fooling myself? What if I never sold? How many times will I be able to push on after the door’s been slammed in my face again?
It was pitiful. I was pitiful. And I hate being pitiful.
That night at the award’s ceremony, I had no hopes of winning. So when the presenter announced my title and my name, I was shocked, humbled, and a bit breathless from the bear hug Tawny gave me. I learned I can speak in front of 2,000 people and not make a total fool of myself. A partial fool, maybe, but not a total fool. Back at my seat, staring down at my shiny new Golden Heart necklace, I knew I would defeat those pesky doubts that had invaded my brain earlier in the day. Not because being a GH finalist or winner guarantees I’ll get published, but because I realized that no matter how hard this career might be, no matter how disappointing, I don’t want to do anything else.
My GH win gave me a boost, an ego stroke if you will, and the realization that while I was still anxious, maybe even a bit impatient to sell, I needed to take the time to appreciate the steps along the way.
A month later, I received The Call for that GH winning book. And the rest, as they say, is history
But I learned to celebrate my successes and mourn my failures (for short amounts of time). And I’ll never stop writing, believing or dreaming.
How about you? What dreams have you achieved?
Posted by Guest Jul 31 2008, 5:37 am in kirsten scott, National Conference
By Kirsten “I’m tired already!” Scott
Day Two of the Conference and I’m already pooped! Too many parties, too little time, right my little chook? Er…chook? Chook? WHERE IS THAT DAMN ROOSTER NOW?! What? Jeanne has him? And Cassondra? At the same time?
Well, you’ll have to see if you can find him, ladies. I think he’s somewhere in San Francisco. Let me know if you spot him, okay?
While I’m off trying to find our beloved cock (a-doodle-do), here are some pictures of our Banditas and buddies from RWA nationals.
Here’s Banditas Donna and Beth signing at the Readers for Life Literacy Event, and Joan welcoming all the readers to come visit our signing Banditas!
Can you recognize these Bandita Buddies?
And as promised, some random incriminating shots of Banditas at play:
Cassondra the balloon fairy:
Susan, slow down! Leave some for the rest of us!
So, are you enjoying your week! Any stories to report thus far? Any chook sightings?
Posted by Jo Robertson Jul 30 2008, 4:01 am in Jo Robertson, National Conference, Shoes
by Jo Robertson
Reporting to you LIVE from the Twenty-eighth National Conference of Romance Writers of America in San Francisco.
Word on the streets is that the women are beautiful and the men . . . well, largely the men are absent. This is pretty much Estrogen City this week, aka the City by the Bay.
The city of little cable cars that climb halfway to the stars.
The city that features Alcatraz and Lombard Street.
Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39.
The city where you just might leave your heart.
And you know what? In all those movies set in New York where working girls wear tennis shoes with their designer suits and dresses, then change into their designer shoes when they get to work?
Not so much in The City. People are still crazy enough to drive their cars in San Francisco, one of the cities with the highest insurance rates in the nation. And tourists wear shorts or jeans, sweat shirts and, you got it, some kind of walking shoes.
In fact, I’m not even sure people actually WORK in San Francisco.
Maybe they just buy beautiful shoes and ship them to New York.
Tonight the Banditas gathered at Annabelle’s, a charming bistro across from the hotel and later assembled in the baaaarrrr for their first annual mee . . . uh, part . . . uh, oh hell, let’s call a spade a spade.
The First Annual Wild Bash of Girly Girls and Kick-Ass Shoes.
Our Aussie, English, and Canadian Banditas are here, weathering distance and airline food — or the lack thereof — to join our congregation. We have our Southern Banditas, our native Californians, and our Midwesterners. But the thing we all have in common (besides a whoop-ass attitude and a love of reading and writing romance) is . . .
Drum roll please . . .
Okay, some of the smarter Banditas wore tennies to negotiate the streets of San Fran, but others wore something like the ones below and to the right.
These shoes are a few of my favorites. Now, I don’t actually OWN any of these shoes; the Manola Blahnik eyelet shoes and the Mary Jane double straps below are darling, aren’t they? The Naughty Monkeys — the pink and gray plaid — are fairly inexpensive, but the Manola Blahniks are pricey.
As you know, it’s all about the shoes. Just ask Vrai Anna and Tawny! If we can’t wear them ourselves, we gawk at them and admire them on the beautiful feet of the stylish women who can wear them.
No outfit is complete without the proper pair of shoes, including jeans and walking shorts, dresses and suits.
And for that reason we’ve posted what three Banditas are wearing tonight on their feet tonight. Excuse the fuzzy piccies.
Can you match each correct Bandita with the pair of shoes she’s wearing?
Meanwhile, we’re kicking back, taking in a little wine, seeing the beautiful sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge, and
enjoying our gal pals and their kick-ass shoes!
So, do you have a favorite shoe experience? That perfect pair with the five-inch heels that killed your feet but were so worth it? Your wedding shoes that wore a blister on your heel? The most comfortable pair of shoes that you cried over when they finally fell apart? Tell us all!
Posted by Susan Sey Jul 29 2008, 4:01 am in Golden Heart finalists, National Conference, RITA
Okay, Bandita Buddies. This is it. The Big Ticket. Our Annual Event.
The Banditas have left the Lair.
For the next five days, if you’re looking for us, you’ll find us at the Romance Writers of America’s Annual Conference in San Francisco. We’ll be stalking agents & editors, hanging out with old friends at the bar, attending workshops, hanging out with new friends at the bar, stalking our favorite authors, hanging out with total strangers at the bar…
You get the idea.
Hope we see some of you there! But if San Fran wasn’t in your budget this year, keep visiting us here in the Lair this week. The Romance Bandits have your back. We have cameras & internet access, so check this page over the next couple of days for breaking news, interesting tidbits, the latest gossip & possibly some of the coolest shoes ever. (That’ll make sense in a couple days, promise.)
And stay tuned also to RWA’s website on Saturday night, where the winners of the Golden Heart & RITA awards will be posted in real time. Anna Campbell is a double RITA finalist, Susan Seyfarth is a double Golden Heart finalist & Kim Howe is a Golden Heart finalist. Our own Louisa Cornell has a horse in the Golden Heart race as well, so keep an eye on this site: www.rwanational.org
See you all when we get back!
Posted by Kate Carlisle Jul 25 2008, 6:39 am in Kate Carlisle, National Conference, shy people
You’ve heard their advice.
Step out of your comfort zone! Mingle!
Make a new friend at lunch every day!
Smile! Look approachable!
Everybody has an area of expertise! Give a workshop!
Are they kidding?
Have you ever noticed that the people who offer advice to us shy types are often jolly, talkative, outgoing extroverts who have absolutely no clue what HELL we introverts go through at times like this?
I mean, seriously! Mingle? Smile? Don’t they get it? If I smile at someone, that person might actually talk to me! Then what’ll I do? Answer them? Talk? I don’t think so! Spill my guts? It’s not going to happen! I’ll hem and haw and splutter and make a fool of myself – as usual! I might drool. I’m better off hiding in my room. Hey, people will bring me food and alcohol. It’s called room service. You should try it!
I’ve really got to mingle?
Okay, so how does a painfully shy person manage to enjoy a huge writers conference, meet new friends, mingle, impress industry professionals, and come home refreshed, revitalized and ready once again to take on the New York publishing industry?
Well, it helps to have friends in the Lair! Be sure to look for any of the Banditas wherever you go (your chances of spotting us are much higher if you’re in the bar). But what if you truly don’t know anyone?
Well, I’m here to help! I’ve come up with a few helpful hints and I call them…
The Three—no, Four—wait, Five!—Habits of Highly Effective Shy People. Catchy, don’t you think? I should’ve come up with seven but I’m really shy, so give me a break.
1. “You have a pretty smile.” Really? I thought you were kidding about the whole smiling thing. I should smile more often? Yes, you should. People actually respond and appreciate someone who smiles at them. Editors will see your smile and like you. They’ll look at your badge and remember your name and buy your book. This is a habit you could get used to, so try it.
2. “Can I bring you a shot of gin?” Be generous. Offer advice. Lend someone a pen. Show someone where the goodie room is. Better yet, show them where the bathroom is. It’s good karma, and people remember you later. Especially agents. Statistics prove that writers who show an agent where the bathroom is end up signing with that agent and selling more books than anyone else.
3. “Fake it ‘til you make it.” It’s lunch time and you’ve got to face those thundering hordes in that huge conference hall. It’s enough to drive a shy person right back up to her room where she can relax and watch Oprah. But NO! You must persevere! Here’s what you do. Look around for a familiar face. Not really, because you have no friends. You don’t know anybody. But you’re faking it, remember? So look around for someone. Darn it, you think. Where did that person, that fake friend of mine, go? Now find a table with an empty chair and an appealing vibe, glance around the room once more, then shake your head and say to whoever’s sitting nearest, “I can’t seem to find my critique partner. Is this seat taken?” Then sit down and say hello. Voila! You start the meal and the conversation on an even keel, with them knowing you’ve got friends–whether it’s true or not! They don’t feel sorry for you, and you don’t feel sorry for yourself. Everybody’s ready to chat and have a nice meal. Uh, pass the congealed salad dressing, please?
4. “Hi, my name is Marla, and I’m sorry.” Okay, stop it. Don’t apologize. Shy people often feel like they’re intruding or imposing, but it’s not imposing to say hello and show an interest in someone else. It’s friendly! Try it! Without apologizing. Unless you step on their foot. That’s really awkward. You should apologize and try not to do that again.
5. “What are you writing?” Even shy people like to talk about themselves and if someone asks them this question, they’ll jump right in. So ask a question. Then listen to the answer. It’s the best way to keep the conversation going and possibly make a new friend. Hopefully that friend is a multi-published author who’ll introduce you to their agent who will quickly sign you up and sell your books for lots of money!
Good luck, shy people!
Okay, your turn! You don’t have to be going to conference to share today. Are you an introvert? Are you shy? Do you have any hints to share with the rest of us? Any tips to get us out there and mingling?
And you extraverts out there! I know you’re dying to give some networking advice! Please share your best experiences with us!