Whadd-Updates: 2/9 Name-Dropping Edition

I have been somewhat absent from the blogosphere as of late. That’s because, in the last three weeks, I have done a lot of things.

  • Spent a few days in Georgia, visiting friends
  • Facilitated a Shenandoah Writers meeting
  • Met with the fabulous people of the Arts Council of the Valley, who are helping me and the Write-Brained Network put on our WB Workshop
  • Gone to the dentist—not all that time-consuming, but it did take me away from work
  • Gotten my hair cut (not a pixie—sorry to disappoint)—ditto from above note
  • Traveled to Front Royal, Va., for a mini writers’ retreat with Sara McClung and Cristin Terrill
  • Gone with Jodi Meadows to an author reading/signing of debut literary novelist Hannah Pittard (The Fates Will Find Their Way)
  • Gotten sick

Here’s what I’m currently doing:

  • Trying not to be sick
  • Writing interview questions for both Wendy Toliver and Meg Cabot (I’m interviewing them for an article for the 2012 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market [Writer’s Digest Books], and I need to send the questions, um, Nowsville, if I expect to meet my March 1 deadline.  Wha??)
  • Contacting potential speakers for the WB Workshop
  • Building a Web site for the WB Workshop
  • Oh yeah—and I also started querying (in a *tiny* round) my latest YA manuscript, so this is why I have to distract myself with all the other stuff.  So I won’t go nuts.

I was going to write a post about how wonderful and ooey-gooey it made me feel to see my former students and my Georgia be-fris, but decided I don’t have the brain power to dedicate to that this week.  All my energy needs to be focused on interviewing those two awesome authors.  And I definitely think the urge to clone myself and stick one Ricki clone back in Georgia would overwhelm me, so I don’t even want to go there.

I also wanted to write about how much fun I had at my writers’ retreat this past weekend, but Cristin did a great job of it here.  I agree with her wholeheartedly—that getting together with other writers and realizing you all think you suck is really important for a writer’s sanity.

I will say, however, I would recommend a get-together like this to anyone.  I felt completely recharged come Sunday morning, and I actually wish we’d had another day, since we all seemed to be much more in work mode—you know, at, like, 11 p.m. Saturday night.  Next time, we vowed we will add at least a day or two more.

NEWS

We now have a date for the Write-Brained Network’s workshop.  We have a title, too.

Drumroll, please . . .

The One-Stop Workshop

for the Serious Writer:

A Roadmap from

“How to” through “I Did”

 

Mark your calendars for 9.10. 11, folks—for a full day of tips from the pros as well as writerly camaraderie.

Okay, well, that’s it for me at the moment.  I hope you can bear with me through all this craziness.  I promise to be back with a super awesome “In the Blogosphere” this Friday or Saturday.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

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RWA Freaking Rocked – Part 2

**DISCLAIMER:  There is an obnoxious amount of exclamation points in this post—but that is how RWA made me feel, so get over it.**

To see part 1 of my adventures at the Romance Writers of America national conference in Orlando, click here.

FRIDAY

  • I woke with a shot of adrenaline. “OMG—You’re teaching today!” So, I went over my PowerPoint again, fixed my links (don’t ask), and set out toward my designated room.
  • When I got there, I realized I forgot the one thing they specifically told me I needed: a Mac LCD projector hookup thing-a-ma-jiggy.  Fear not—I had left it in my room—however, I had to sprint down the escalator (you never realize how slow those things really are until you’re in a hurry), across the ginormous lobby, back to my wing of the Dolphin, up to the fifth floor, and then back again.  In my adorable, but not-if-you-have-to-walk-in-them (and especially not-if-you-have-to-run-in-them) 3″ black heels.

So much fun!

  • I cursed myself as I threw my computer bag this way and that, in search of the stupid plug (“Great—now, you’re going to be late, sweaty, and out of breath for your session!”).
  • But all was well.  Just got some blisters, but that’s it.
  • And get this: People actually showed. A good amount of them—to see me!  Or to see my session!  Even though the Harlequin book signing (where NORA ROBERTS was signing), the Avon book signing (where MEG CABOT was AGAIN signing at a time I couldn’t see her—boo!), plus a ton of other fabulous sessions were going on at the same time!  (All grammar nerds, no doubt!)
  • And people wanted to hire me to edit their manuscripts!  (Not that I don’t already do this—I do!—but it was great that folks liked me and what I had to say enough to want to entrust their babies to my care.  That’s a huge deal!)

  • So, I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening riding my session high—relieved things had gone well and ready to relax and enjoy the rest of the conference.
  • We (Cambria, Kaylee, and I) went for sushi, and I had eel—unagi! Kaylee and I referenced the episode of Friends where Ross has “unagi,” and I fell in love just a little more with her.  😀  I ate California rolls (mmm!)  with roe (<—ew, but whatever).  I ate dragon rolls—with spicy tuna in them.  Translation: I really lived on the edge that night!

Pic #1

Pic #2

Pic #3

  • We took a hundred of pretty much the same three pictures (see above), in attempt to get the perfect one, and we ended up hanging out with Wendy Toliver again (yay!) and awesomesauce women’s fiction/nonfiction author Jenny Gardiner.  During said hang-out, I revealed my not so secret fangirl crush on Meg Cabot and how I was super excited for the next morning, when I could finally meet her at her “chat” session.
  • More pictures.  More fun!

SATURDAY

  • I danced out of bed (yeah, not really), so thrilled about my first chosen session of the day—the moment I’d been waiting for (well, other than my session) was about to commence: “Chat with Meg Cabot”!
  • I got to the room, and she was late . . . and I seriously thought to myself, God does not want me to see this woman for some reason.  Woe is me! But then, we found out she was just doing her make up outside the room, and she arrived shortly before a panic attack ensued.
  • She was fabulous.  I don’t know how she does what she does—I really don’t!  She basically talked and answered questions for an hour, and after that . . .
  • . . . I got her to sign my Princess Diaries!  And I took a picture with her!*

Chat with Meg Cabot!

Meg Cabot and ME!

  • I was dying.  And all my friends made fun of me (in a loving way, of course) the rest of the day.
  • Kaylee and I had a mound of fries for lunch and went to some fantastic sessions—I can’t wait to blog about them!—and publishers’ book signings (including one, where two agents, an editor, and an author simulated what happens in an acquisitions editorial meeting.  Very eye-opening!).
  • Exhausted, I thought I’d have a few hours before the 2011 RITA & Golden Hearts Awards Ceremony to pack up all my newly-acquired books, relax, and get ready.  This was not exactly to be*, but I did eventually get my books packed and shipped.
  • The RITA & Golden Hearts Awards Ceremony was inspirational. I teared up a lot of times, listening to the acceptance speeches, and it really made me feel like I was a part of something big. And important.  And, most of all?  It made me feel like this is really . . . possible.

TWITSOM & M.G. Braden

Cambria, Leia, Kaylee, and me

Us with Shawntelle Madison

  • Afterward, I hung out in the lobby, took a million more pictures, and said my goodbyes to all the amazing folks I’d met throughout that week.
  • And Cambria, Kaylee, and I made plans to room together next year. 🙂

*And then, some thing really sad happened, but that is for the next post.

RWA Freaking Rocked – Part 1

I have been on a blogging hiatus for the past week (I’m sorry!), but it’s because I traveled to Orlando, Fla., to speak at the 30th annual Romance Writers of America conference at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.

I took 22 pages of typed notes (yes, I am a freak), so I will definitely be posting lots of installments of “Pointers from the Pros” (like, probably for the next six years!)—and I still have a few from the SWA conference to roll out as well!

It was an amazing five days, though.  Here is a rundown:

WEDNESDAY

  • I missed the “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing (where about 3,600 attendees bought books and got them signed by 500 (yes, you read that right) authors—RWA raised $55,000 for ProLiteracy Worldwide, Orlando’s Adult Literacy League, and the Nashville Adult Literacy Council—all in two hours!) because I had made my travel plans too late in the day (a.k.a. *before* I knew MEG CABOT was going to be there!!!).
  • Thank God for Twitsoms (Twitter soulmates!!!), because mine (Cambria Dillon) not only bought Runaway for me, but she also waited in line and had Ms. Cabot herself sign it—and all before we’d even met IRL (in real life, for all your leet-speak impaired).

Here is my Twitsom (left) getting my book signed by Meg freaking Cabot (right). How lucky am I??

  • Okay, so after I threw my stuff into my room, I hightailed it to meet Cambria in person—pretty much immediately.  We went to dinner with three other super-cool chicas: paranormal romance writer Kaylee Ruddle, debut YA novelist Gwen Hayes (please check out her Web site—it’s beautiful!!), and the newly-agented and fully awesome Leia Rice.
  • Cambria and I classed it up with some Sam Adams, while everyone else drank pink champagne and other equally dainty drinks.  The five of us had a faboo dinner, complete with a free tiramisu and lemon shallot (<—is that that it was, ladies?  I’d never had it before), since there was “a problem” with my order (I believe the problem was that one of our THREE servers forgot to put it in . . . )
  • Then, we went off to karaoke, where I chickened out, like I knew I would.  Still a karaoke virgin.  But at least I got to meet YA author Wendy Toliver (with whom I’ve been exchanging e-mails for the past two years)!  She was awesome, and we all took some pics to commemorate the night.

Wendy & me!

From L-R: Kaylee Ruddle, Leia Rice, Cambria Dillon, me. This was before Kaylee & Leia's *awesome* rendition of "Don't Stop Believin'."

THURSDAY

  • We had a lovely lunch, where, gee—who was it again?  Oh, that’s right—NORA ROBERTS gave the keynote address!  One of the highlights of her speech?  When she said, “You know, people always like to tell me that I had it easier than they do today, because it’s so much harder to get published now.  You know what I say to them?  ‘Bullshit.'”
  • Ms. Roberts’s speech was quite quote-worthy that way, and had I not been scarfing down delicious key lime pie, I might have taken copious amounts of notes.  Alas, I opted for fat.  But I got chills several times, as she talked about her great love for all things RWA and how she met some of her very best, life-long writer friends there.  It made me get the warm fuzzies for my new BFFs, Cambria and Kaylee. 😀

Aw, TWITSOMS!

  • I went to the RWA PRO Retreat pretty much all afternoon, where there was not only an editor panel, an agent panel, and a talk by novelist Stephanie Feagan, but agent and author extraordinaire Donald Maass (or, as I like to call him: The Donald) spoke!  (More to come on all that in “Pointers from the Pros.”)
  • Between the afternoon workshops and dinner, I kind of freaked out for two reasons: 1) MEG CABOT was there—and I saw her in the lobby!!  And I was so afraid I wasn’t going to get to meet her, it was like torture!  2) As you can see, there were people like MEG CABOT and NORA ROBERTS and THE DONALD speaking at this conference . . . and then . . . ME!  So, the weight of just how awesome it was that somehow *I* was going to be speaking on Friday morning started inching up my esophagus, and I felt crazytown with excitement (and, also, nerves).
  • We (and by “we,” I mean Cambria, Kaylee, and I) kept it low key for dinner and ate with some other cool chickadees, including December Gephart and Bria Quinlan—where Bria, Kaylee, and I discussed everything from Buffy to Firefly.  True soul sisters!  Then, we met Romance Diva M.G. Braden for drinks before turning in pretty early.

I ❤ you guys!!!

More to come in Part 2!

In the Blogosphere: 1/4-1/8

“In the Blogosphere” is a weekly series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week.  Most posts will be from that week, but if I find some “oldies but goodies,” I’ll throw those up here as well.

I never find as much time to read blogs as I want, but here are a few posts that struck me this week.

**This week’s blogosphere post is going to be a bit longer because next week’s might be shorter—or nonexistent.  I plan to go a bit MIA starting tomorrow so I can get my YA manuscript out by Friday.  WISH ME LUCK, PLEASE!!!

YA AUTHORS

My virtual friend, Wendy Toliver (author of The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren, Miss Match, and the forthcoming Lifted) is the newest member of Buzz Blog: “where YA authors from Berkley JAM, Flux, Dutton, Puffin, Delacorte, HarperCollins, Harlequin Kimani-Tru, Houghton Mifflin, and Simon Pulse discuss writing, promotion, and of course, hot guys…” Check out her first post in which she talks about her famous “Fave Fives” that got her on track to being published.  As well, if you comment on her introductory blogs (there are seven this week), you have a chance to win a $10 Borders gift card!

New York Times bestselling author, original Nerdfighter, and Printz Award recipient John Green (author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns as well as collaborating author of Let It Snow and the upcoming Will Grayson, Will Grayson) offers an optimistic view on the future of reading—complete with quirky footnotes and all—on School Library Journal.

STAY ON TOP

According to David Carr at The New York Times, Twitter is it.  I believe I’ve discussed the usefulness of Twitter and its hashtags in terms of writing and publishing before, but the folks over at What the Hashtag?!, the user-editable encyclopedia of hashtags, break down what these valuable Twitter tools are and how to effectively use them.

Greg Pincus, a guest blogger over at Writer’s Digest editor Alice Pope‘s CWIM blog, talks online audience optimization: you blog, vlog, tweet, and comment, but how do you reach your target audience?

THREE AGENTS & AN EDITOR

Here, you’ll find FinePrint Literary‘s Colleen Lindsay‘s take on word counts and novel length.  According to her and other agents’ tweets, 2010 has already seen its share of this kind of faux pas.

However, the aforementioned post will be one of the last of its kind, according to Lindsay’s last post of 2009Side note: I’m actually interviewing Ms. Lindsay for the Guide to Literary Agents blog, so look for that interview in the coming months!

Nelson Literary Agency‘s Kristin Nelson advises writers to wait a week before querying over at Pub Rants.

In the style of FinePrint Literary agent Janet Reid‘s post from last week’s blogosphere roundup, Del Rey Books‘ editor-in-chief, Betsy Mitchell, examines her manuscript rejections of 2009.

PEP TALKS

Writer’s Digest‘s Chuck Sambuchino uses Superman IV to say there’s no such thing as selling out on his GLA blog.

In this post, the good people of Writer’s Relief explain that even a few minutes is enough time to write.

YA author Dawn Metcalf says, “chill, baby, chill,” on her blog, Officially Twisted.  Publishing comes to those who wait.TRUTH & LIES

Grammar nerd that I am, I love the book Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English.  Over at mental_floss, WII author Patricia T. O’Conner debunks five grammar myths.

On his Web site, science fiction writer, photographer, Web designer, and editor Jeremiah Tolbert dispels five lies writers believe about editors.

SOMETHING MY HUSBAND WOULD LOVE

Run Leia Run‘s Adam Bertocci, an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter, shows the world what would have happened if Shakespeare had written The Big Lebowski.

The Dude abideth.

JUST FOR FUN

I, for one, forgot most of what’s been going on the last two seasons of LOST.  Don’t want to sit through those annoying “pop up” episodes ABC is sure to unleash in the coming weeks?  Thanks to Holy Kaw posting this YouTube link, here is a recap of the entire first five season in eight minutes.

A QUESTION OF QUERIES

As I mentioned, I am sending out queries for my novel next week (yeeks!), so these two posts are of particular interest to me this week.

Author and WordServe-Literary-agent-Rachelle Gardner-client Jody Hedlund talks queries and their aftermath.

I am perhaps most interested in posts of this nature.  On her Web site, Kimberly Pauley, a YA author, shares two of her original query letters for her popular vampire series Sucks to Be Me—both of which she says got her partial and full requests and led to her eventual publication.