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July 2013

Better Know A BadGirl: Jeanette Grey

What do you write?

I write erotic contemporaries and futuristic romances. Nothing is off-limits; while most of my books involve heterosexual relationships, I also write male/male and even the occasional ménage. What I hope ties them all together is emotional writing and memorable stories of self-discovery and love.

I’m published in novella-length fiction with Samhain and Dreamspinner.

Take What You Want Unacceptable Risk Letting Go

What’s your favorite genre to read?

I love variety more than anything. I read contemporary, futuristic, paranormal, and even the occasional historical romance, but rarely more than one or two from any given genre in a row.

What’s your signature drink?

Red wine. Always, always red wine.

What movie scares the bejeezus out of you?

I am the biggest wimp in the world. I don’t watch scary movies anymore. The last time I did, it was The Sixth Sense, and I didn’t sleep for a week.

What movie makes you bawl?

This is so corny, but anyone who doesn’t sob at the end of The Notebook isn’t really human.

What’s your fave pair of shoes?

jgshoes

These may not be my most stylish or sexiest pair of shoes, but they’re my favorite. I bought them a year or two ago, and at the time I was on a mission to finally act like a girl and find some cute flats, maybe with flowers on them or something. What did I end up walking out of the store with? The pair with the rivets and chains. It was an important moment for me, when I finally decided that rivets and chains were just the kind of girl I was—and that there was nothing wrong with that, no matter what my mother or the fashion pages might prefer for me to believe!

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National Conference – It’s a thing!

Originally, I was going to have today’s post be something I wrote a month back and pre-scheduled. Then I thought, “The first post back after RWA Nationals? And you’re not going to blog about it? That’s pretty weak.” So I scrapped the other plan and decided to blog what’s on my heart:

Stuff I learned about myself and others, but mostly about myself, at RWA’s 2013 National Convention.

Firstly, most of what I learned was outside of workshops. The match-strike of knowledge may have occurred within a workshop meeting room, but the flame of understanding came later. Realizations were fully formed while sipping over-priced martinis near the bar (not at the bar, because the place was crawling with creepers from another con). Understanding and epiphanies dawned while wandering the halls and finally finding the ice dispenser kept hidden in the depths of the mother ship hotel. Honesty with myself about my writing and the industry finally occurred when standing at the wrong bank of elevators that only go to floors 2 through 17, when I was trying to get to floor 25.

Allow me to explain. This may reveal the odd way in which my mind works, but that’s not really a secret anymore, so what the heck…

  • I write (WE write) what we write and it’s defined not by topic or even genre, but by our voice. I may pay $17 for a Grey Goose martini, served in one of those trendy glasses with no stem, and sip it while standing in 5 inch heels OR I may pay $6 for a Goose ‘tini and sip it from a short while sitting at a beach bar in flip flops – but I still know it’s a Grey Goose martini. I know it’s got a twist and not an olive. I know the flavor and voice of that drink, regardless of how it’s mixed or stirred, the presentation or the setting. If Sydney Carroll wrote a historical, I’d still know it was her. If EMichels wrote a rom-com, I’d still know it was her. Genres may change for writers, and often they do (hello, successful JR Ward)…but the way that writer tells a story, any story, is what her readers know and love.

drinks

  • Sometimes, not really knowing where you’re going or what you’re doing, results in you finding what you didn’t know you were missing in the first place. I’ve been at a crossroads – no, honestly it’s more like a stalemate – with my writing lately. A combination of too many ideas, too little time, a little too much rejection, and a whole lot of real life crap has left me floundering. I had to admit to myself that I am lost and struggling. This is hard for an alpha female (no longer in denial about my alpha female traits) when I normally know exactly what I want and where I’m going. But you know what? I’m nothing if not keeping it real, so yeah – I’ve been friggin lost! However, I figured that out last week. I realized why I’ve floundered and what I’d lost that makes writing fun and very much therapeutic for me. I hadn’t even realized I’d lost it, until I found it again. Now I am working toward fixing this err.
  • You can keep trying to get to the 25th floor at the bank of elevators that only go to 2 through 17, but it’s not going to happen. Not unless you know a special trick about going to the 10th floor and switching elevators up there. In more writer related terms: you may want to get your dystopian YA published next month, but unless you’ve already written and polished the next great Hunger Games (yet totally different of course), it’s highly unlikely to happen.  It’s not impossible, but almost. I had a very honest, open, refreshingly frank discussion with an editor from one of the big 6 (now 5?), not about trends, but about what’s not happening.

hotel

What did I learn? If you have a shiny new adult, historical, or erotic contemporary tale ready to submit – NOW is your time to shine baby! Y’all better get out there and submit, submit, submit! If you have a paranormal romance or dystopian YA…good luck and bless your heart. Again, it’s not impossible, but it may be beat your head against a wall impossiblaaaah. And hey, I’m right there with ya, so I say bless heart without any condescension. Plus, markets change all the time, so chin up!

At Conference, I gained invaluable insight into my writing, writing in general, other writers, and the industry over all, but not in the ways I’d expected. I encourage every romance writer to attend the National Conference – at least once – because it’s an experience not to be missed. Besides, you won’t know what you’re missing until you attend and realize what you’ve missed!

Thank you for all of it #RWA13!

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Bad Girl For A Day – Candice Gilmer

Summer Time Writing

by Candice Gilmer

School’s coming, school’s coming, school’s coming!

Yeah. I’m excited. Been waiting for this day since school let out in the spring.

You see, I’m a stay at home mom during the day, and I take care of my kiddos (11 and 5) while my husband works. This way we won’t have to pay for day care, and I can stay home during the day and write my books.

Bawhahaha!

I know, stop laughing.

On paper, it sounds awesome.

In real life–not so much.

You see, I’m working on the last of my new series, Guys and Godmothers. The first book, Under His Nose, came out this month from Samhain.

It’s a very fun series–fairy godmothers taking on men instead of girls. Book one follows fairy godmother Christy as she tries to bring her charge, Roark, together with his best friend from kindergarten, Stephanie.

The second book, Before His Eyes, is slated to come out early next year. And I’m hoping for a mid-year release for book three.

If I can get it done.

This summer, it’s been harder than expected. Of course, on paper, I figured I’d whip right through this book like a hot knife through butter. I mean, I had it pretty much plotted out from the beginning.

Haha… Oh, Real Life, how you torment us writers.

I could blame a lot of it on the kids, the crazy activity schedule, or my postage-stamp sized house, where I’m writing at the kitchen table because there literally is NO OTHER PLACE to write. (I even tried the bathroom once.) And it would sound like good excuses.

But most of it boils down to me finding the self-discipline required to put in my time hitting my word count.

Yeah, it’s harder when I have constant “Mom, can I _______?” bellowing at me. Or the fact that we’re also looking for a new house, and I do have a job, which I get numerous calls about on my cell phone.  (And why is it always when I’m in the middle of writing that all the calls or child bellows start? Or texts. Let’s not forget the texts!)

But it still boils down to me hitting my word count, come hell or damnation. And instead of hitting it, by about 7pm, I wind up throwing in the towel, and going “Shoot, I quit. I’m playing Candy Crush.”

I’m trying to do better. I am. I’d really like to get this book turned in before school starts, so I can work on other projects this fall. Stuff that will require some serious focus to get where it needs to be. And hopefully, with school being in session, I’ll actually have time to focus on that stuff.

This summer, it’s not quite working for me.

I’ll have to remember this for next year–don’t schedule any major projects for the summer months.

 

CandiceHeadshot72LG

Candice Gilmer leads a dangerous double life as a mommy and a writer. In between boo-boo healing and fixing broken toys, she writes stories usually to the tune of children’s television shows.

Growing up in the Midwest, Candice stays close to her family, especially the ones with basements when the tornadoes come around. She also works as a hairdresser, which she’s done for over fifteen years, and brings her laptop to work so she can write between clients.

When she’s not writing, styling hair and taking care of her family, she gets together with her girlfriends for gossip and coffee while her husband hunts ghosts with Wichita Paranormal Research Society.  All in all, she stays very busy, but really, she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Well, maybe a little less children’s television.

Website: http://candicegilmer.com

Blog: http://candicegilmer.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/candicegilmerauthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/candicegilmer

Email:   candice.gilmer@gmail.com

UnderHisNose72web

Under His Nose

All it takes is faith, trust, and fairy dust. A swift kick never hurts, either.

Guys and Godmothers, Book 1

Christy is due for retirement from her fairy godmother gig, but she agrees to take one last case. Helping Roark Turner find his perfect girl shouldn’t be much of a challenge—after all, she is a veteran fairy godmother.

What makes this case interesting? She must use as little magic as possible to bring Roark his much-desired Happily Ever After.

Roark’s perfect match is his best friend Stephanie Bowers. It should be simple to bring two people together who have been best friends since kindergarten, and let their free will take its course. It probably would have been, too, if Cupid hadn’t started shooting arrows into Roark, forcing the mortal to fall in love.

Now Christy must use every skill at her command—just not her magic—to thwart Cupid’s meddling and get Roark and Stephanie together without changing their free will or ruining her perfect record. Or she’ll never get her own Happily Ever After.

Product Warnings: Magic, fairy godmothers, a rambunctious god, and two stubborn people who need a kick in the butt to see what’s obviously meant to be.

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Conference After Dark

writersconferences1

 

So you’ve memorized the Dos and Don’ts list from McGovy, weeded through the workshop descriptions and made a plan of action like Jeanette, shopped along side the E. Michels style guide, made-up your Syd inspired packing list, and prepared with Lori for the pitch room insanity.  What’s next?

CONFERENCE AFTER DARK!!

I believe there is just as much benefit from conference afterhours as there is the actual conference.  It’s a golden opportunity to meet other writers, mingle with agents and editors, rediscover what you love about writing, and market your books and your blog.  There are even some folks who can’t afford the $500 conference fee or simply don’t think it’s worth the cash, but still book a room or tag along with a friend to experience the benefits of afterhours.

Here are some ideas on how to spend your time after the name badge comes off, or if you don’t have one at all…

Head to the Bar 

The bar is a great place to meet folks in a laid back setting with the gift of alcohol to calm the nerves, so order a Cosmo, or a Coors, or a Coke – whatever floats your boat – and mingle!  Even if you’re not a drinker there are many people in this industry who are, but remember – this is their downtime too, so don’t come on too strong.  Unless they ask you to pitch, keep it for the pitch room.

Unwind at the Spa

Conferences can be draining – both physically and mentally.  By the end of the day, your feet will ache like the world’s worst root canal, you might sound like a forty year smoker, and your head could feel like it’s going to explode.  If you need a little peace and quiet, head to the spa for a massage and pamper yourself.  You’re worth it!

WRITE!!!

Maybe sitting in a workshop gets the juices flowing, so much so that you have to get it down RIGHT THEN.  There’s nothing wrong with heading to the coffee shop in the lobby and jotting down some notes.  After all, that’s what these conferences are supposed to do – inspire us!

If you haven’t registered, use the time your buddies are in workshops to hang back at the hotel room and catch up on some writing.  It’s a perfect time free of the distractions of home while you’re immersed in the magic vibe that only the presence of other writers can offer!

Meet up with your Cyber Buddies

Most of us are in at least one online chapter or loop.  Before you head to the conference, send out a post inviting folks to a happy hour, lunch, or even a morning coffee so you can finally put a face with a name.  Many chapters organize their own events, so take advantage of it!

I, for one, plan to take advantage of more than one of these next week at Nationals!  So look for me and the other bad girlz around the hotel, living it up in after hours!

Jenna P.

4 Comments

Surviving the Pitch Room!

writersconferences1I’m going to talk to you today about that all-mighty pitch room. Actually, I should probably call it the prep-for-the-pitch room. It’s the room you gather in order to register and wait for your pitch appointment. If you’re pitching for the first time, or maybe you’ve pitched before but still a little unsure, here are some tips for survival. A few Do’s and Don’ts.

 
DO talk to people/DON’T always take their advice.
If you like to talk to people and talking calms your nerves, than this can be a great place to do that. However, be careful what you talk about. I’ve seen this happen many, many, times. You’re sitting around the pitch room, a nervous wreck, reciting your pitch over and over in your head, when someone starts a conversation with you. It goes a little like this:
“Hi, I’m Carol.”
“Hi, I’m Lori.”
“Are you pitching today?”
“Yes.”
“Practice on me. Let me hear it.”
You nervously give her your pitch. She gets a fearful look in her eyes and starts shaking her head back and forth . . .then she proceeds to freak you *the blank* out.
“Oh no, that’s all wrong! You need to say this, or drop that, or add this. You should say this instead.”
DON’T LISTEN! At this point, it’s too late to rework your entire pitch. This kind of late advice will only make you crazy. We both know you’ve worked hours on that pitch. You’ve rehearsed it with your fellow writers (that you trust) and tweaked it to the best it can be. Don’t let someone you’ve just met, make you second-guess yourself. MAYBE you’ll luck out and they’ll give you something productive, but as for me, I make it a habit to never discuss my pitch with anyone in the pitch room.

 
DO be kind and generous/ DON’T obligate yourself to do something that can screw you up.
You’re in the pitch room when someone you’ve been chatting with, gets called in line for her pitch. She looks at you with pleading eyes. “Hey, do you mind watching my things?” You glance down and see a bag full of important stuff. Laptop, binders, purse, cell, whatever she could cram in her bag. She’s put you on the spot! You want to be nice and help out your fellow writer, but before you say yes, think about it first. If you’re just sitting around waiting on a friend, and you don’t mind, then sure, be nice. However, keep these things in mind. Is it almost time for your own pitch? Are you waiting for a cancellation with your favorite editor whom you weren’t able to get an appointment with originally? If yes, then remember, they can call your name at ANY time. Don’t miss the opportunity for an extra pitch because you’re babysitting someone else’s things. Besides, you’re at conference. Editors and agents are expecting people to be toting their things. She can take it with her. They don’t mind.

 
DO be compassionate and friendly/ DON’T mess with someone’s Mojo!
I had a friend who almost didn’t make it to conference one year because of some personal issues that came up unexpectedly. However, she put on her brave face and attended anyway. She was waiting in the ‘your next’ chair in the pitch room, and I could see her from a distance. Her lips moved with her words as she practiced her pitch to herself. It was obvious; she was getting in the zone. Then I saw a fellow writer (who was just being friendly and concerned for her) go up to my friend and tell her how sorry she was that she was going through these awful personal things. My friend’s brave face disappeared and was quickly replaced with “my life is falling apart, what made me think I could come here and pitch,” face. Though the lady was just trying to be nice, there is certainly a place for that, and the pitch room isn’t it.
Remember this: The pitch room is not the place for bringing up bad, sad or disturbing things. Keep it light and positive.

 
DO dress nice/ DON’T wear your Walmart-grocery-shopping outfit.
This is a business. It’s a job interview. Look nice. Wear dressy-casual or business attire. I’m not saying you need to walk in there wearing a business suit-carrying a briefcase, but don’t wear your booty shorts and a tank top either. They are looking for the whole package. A package they can market.

 
My last tip is this:
DO pitch/ DON’T stress yourself out about it.
Stay calm. Editors and Agents are just people. They are looking for you as much as you are looking for them. I’ve gone in there and totally blown my pitch and still gotten a request. The important thing is to get that precious chair-time in front of them. Take advantage of the opportunity available at conferences to tell them your story. They could take you places you’ve never dreamed.

 
Any pitch-room-survival tips you’d like to add? I’d love to hear them. I hope I see you in Atlanta next week. If you need any last-minute advice once you’re at the conference, come find one of the Badgirlz. We’ll help you out. 🙂
Remember to Dream Big!
Lori

11 Comments

Conference Style Guide

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Welcome to Part Four in our six part series on writer’s conferences. I’m super excited because today I get to talk about my one of my favorite subjects: Fashion!

The conference clothes! The conference hair! The conference shoes! *twirls and grins* Now, you may be saying, “Whoa there, E Michels. I’m no fashionista!” Perhaps, fashion just isn’t your thing. That’s okay. You’re a writer. You can wear whatever makes you happy…when you’re at home in front of your computer. (I’m writing this blog post in my Tinkerbell jammies, after all.) But, you registered for a writer’s conference and that involves being seen in a group of thousands of writers. So, take a few minutes and indulge me in a discussion of conference fashion.

What do you want to get out of attending a writer’s conference?

If your objective is to mingle with other writers, meet agents and editors, gain knowledge and pitch your book, then you need to dress the part. Many writers are introverts, and even extroverts, like me, get nervous when the spotlight turns on. So, boost your confidence with your conference look. If you walk in feeling like a million bucks and showing off your new heels, you’re more likely to strike up a conversation with your dream agent while in line for coffee.

So, how do you do this without hiring a stylist?

First, listen to those around you. Mention to your hair stylist that you have an upcoming event and discuss possible hair styles. Text wardrobe pictures to a writer friend also attending the conference and help one another pull your looks together. An extra set of eyes is always a good thing. You can also ask the sales person or a fellow shopper in the store for help. People are usually very opinionated if you ask.

Second, follow the 3 rules of conference style:

1. Be Professional: The dress for a writer’s conference is business casual with zazzle! If you wouldn’t wear it out to a nice dinner with friends, don’t wear it. Put away your stretchy pants and coordinating I heart my cat shirt. You can wear that when you get home. But, don’t worry, you don’t need to break out the sequins either (…unless you’re me then this would directly conflict with rule 3 LOL.) Just keep it classy, bad girlz of the world. Keep it classy.

2. Be Memorable: Conferences are for networking with industry professionals and other writers—lots of other writers. To make the most of your trip the one thing you want to be more than anything is memorable! So be flashy! Walking into a conference, you’re going to be one person in a very large crowd. Stand out from that crowd and people will remember you on Twitter, Facebook and at the next conference. This will mean different things for different people; but whether it’s through statement shoes or some wild accessory, push the boundaries of fashion.

3. Be Your Brand: Let your genre shine through your clothing and accessories. Think of how much more effective your networking will be if you are one with your brand of writing. Be certain of who you are and what you write—it’s sure to catch the eye of an agent or editor. You are an extension of your query letter. Sell it!

For a few examples let’s play a round of guess that genre! What do you think the authors below write?
A.) HR shoes
B.) HM shoes
C.) TM shoes
D.) JP shoes
Answers:
A: Hillary Raymer / Contemporary Romance
B: Heather McGovern / Paranormal Romance
C: Trish Milburn / Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction, Paranormal Romance…okay, so that was a trick question. She writes a lot. LOL Love the boots, Trish!
D: Jenna Patrick / Family Saga Literary Fiction
Are you packed for #RWA13 next week or are you still shopping? Let’s talk fashion!

xx- E. Michels

14 Comments

Syd’s Conference Survival Guide: What to Bring, What to Leave, and Tips for Success

I hope everyone had a fabulous day yesterday full of sunshine, family, friends, red-white-and-blue novelty drinks and fireworks enjoyed with fingers of all participants remaining intact! Now that the dust has settled, your outlook may be “OMG, RWA National is right around the corner! I can’t wait. I’ve already been packed for weeks!” Or, you may be feeling something closer to “oh, crap. RWA National is right around the corner and I am so not ready.” If the second statement describes you more than the first, fear not. Here’s Sydney Carroll’s handy-dandy conference survival guide!

 

Before I get into specifics, I think it’s a good plan to keep the major points of going to a writer’s conference in mind: getting ourselves (and our own unique writer “brands”) out there, networking, learning, and having fun. Ideally, we want to be the best version of our writer selves as much as possible, because every chance meeting is an opportunity to make a good impression—and people will be watching. Basically it’s a cross between a sleepover and a job interview, so no pressure, right?

 

Now that I’ve got you thoroughly freaked out, let me rephrase it a bit: confidence matters. You are awesome. You are a talented storyteller with a voice all your own. You will make friends and professional contacts. In short, you will bring it. And what you bring will go a long way in helping you bring it, so let’s get started!

 

Clothes: like McGovvy said in her earlier post, you don’t have to be a fashionista if that’s not you. Feel free to keep it simple if you want, or go all out fabulous. Just remember to keep it mostly professional. Not to say that you need to go around in a pantsuit, though. I use this scenario as a litmus test for my conference outfits: would I wear it to a lunch in a fancy New York restaurant to discuss my new book deal with my editor? If I would, I’m probably on the right track. Think neat, clean, comfortable, and well-fitting. The rest is up to your taste. A warning: that skirt or pair of pants you really, really love and will look fabulous in once you lose five pounds? Forget it. Try everything on in front of a mirror and an honest friend. If it bunches, pinches, or sags, forget it. Any garment you have to keep fidgeting with will sap your confidence and make you appear even more nervous than you likely already are. It’s better to bring one outfit that you know you look good in and mix it up with accessories than a dozen things that you have to force. What about jeans? I’m a jeans girl, so I say yes, as long as the outfit as a whole fits into my fancy restaurant scenario. I plan to have three daytime outfits and three night-out ones, plus comfy stuff that will not be seen outside the hotel room. I tend to reuse skirts and pants in the rotation. If you really want to make a splash, the awards ceremony is the place to rock that amazing cocktail dress you’ve always wanted.

 

Shoes: again, they are major confidence-boosters, but make sure they are comfortable or you at least have a pair of ballet flats in your bag for when it all goes south.  Related items: Band-Aids and Blister Stick. If you gotta rock the brand-new stilettoes, and of course you do, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Pharmacy: headache relief, antihistamine, cough drops and antacids just in case. Breath mints are better than gum. Bathroom spray: be a good roommate and don’t assume there will be an adequate exhaust fan—y’all know what I mean!

 

Eats and Drinks: Bring some portable, easy to eat, good-for-you snacks. Almonds are great for this. Meals can be late, spotty, or sometimes nonexistent if you get caught up in the pitch room. You will be much better able to embrace RWA National’s overwhelming nature if you’re not fighting low blood sugar! Also, coffee/tea for your room, and your preferred adult beverage. It’s important to socialize outside the room, but those eleven dollar glasses of twist-cap chardonnay at the hotel bar add up! This way, you can unwind before going down and gracefully nurse that overpriced swill without batting a perfectly made-up eyelash.

 

Downtime: don’t underestimate it. Even the wildest of extroverts will need some breathing space. When I need to unwind, or psych myself up for a pitch, it helps to have my favorite tunes at hand. Earbuds are a courtesy touch for your roommates, whose downtime does not necessarily include Bowie and New Order played at high volume J One thing you don’t need to bring: books. You will have tons of new books by the end of the conference, as well as loads of other swag.

 

I hope my guidelines have helped make your packing list a little easier to handle. Just remember: it’s all about comfort and confidence. If your suitcase contains stuff that will help you in those departments, you’ve already got a great start to a wonderful conference experience. What are your conference essentials? Hope I’ll see you there!

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Do I HAVE to Go to Every Session?: A Conference-Goer’s Guide to Strategic Workshop Attendance

Welcome to Part Two of our six-part series on writer’s conferences. Today, we’re talking about the business end of conferences: namely, workshops.writersconferences1

I went to my very first writer’s conference about three years ago. It was a smaller, regional conference, and it was not genre-specific. And I made a serious rookie mistake: I went to every workshop session. Every. Single. One.

I don’t know if it was my good-girl, too-school-for-cool mentality, or just how eager I was to learn, or my sense that I was paying for this, goddammit all, I had better get every penny’s worth. But I really felt like I had to go to everything.

Heads up, rookie conference attenders: You don’t. You don’t have to go to every session. You don’t have to go to every meal. Honestly, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do, though even I will admit that hiding in your room for four days probably isn’t a good strategy, either.

Workshops are a great opportunity to learn some new things about the business or the craft of writing. Some involve a lecture-style presentation, while others will be more interactive. Some will be led by authors you’ve been reading and idolizing for years, and you’ll be hanging on their every word just to get a glimpse into their thought processes. Others will be taught by people you’ve never heard of but who have incredibly valuable insights to share about the aspects of our profession they excel in. No lie: others will basically suck, and you’ll be glad you picked up that giant bucket of coffee on your way into the room.

But no matter what, you’ll learn something from any workshop you go to, even if it’s just that you knew more about the subject than you thought you did, or that something you’ve been doing informally in your own practice has a name—that other people are doing it, too, and in a systematic way that can help you refine how you approach it. Just looking at an element of craft from a slightly different perspective has led me to more than one breakthrough on a story idea, and I’ve spent two thirds of a workshop scribbling in a notebook to get down all my awesome new ideas.

Whether you’re a veteran conference-goer or a newbie, here are a few quick tips for strategic workshop attendance.

    • Decide ahead of time what you’re most looking to learn while you’re at the conference. Most conferences – and RWA 2013 is no exception – organize their workshops into “Tracks” that allow you to focus on one aspect of writing, be it promotion, craft, or even just stalking your favorite authors so you can hang on their every word. You’re not limited to whichever track you’re most interested in, but it’s a good place to start in terms of figuring out which sessions you want to go to.
    • Plan ahead. There’s already a list of workshops, organized by time and track, available on RWA’s website. Yes, there will also be a schedule available at the conference, but scoping out what there is to do and see ahead of time will help you stay more focused while you’re there.
    • Know yourself:
      • Are you someone who can sit still and listen to people talk for hours on end? If so, go ahead and load up on as many sessions as you can stand.
      • Or are you fidgety? Do you lose your ability to process after about an hour? Does sitting in an overly air conditioned room for hours oneand make you want to crawl out of your skin? Do you need a nap around one o’clock in the afternoon? Do you expect to be hungover most mornings and wearing your sunglasses to any sessions you manage to drag yourself to? If so, plan a looser schedule. Be nice to yourself, and you’ll get more out of the workshops you do choose to attend. Don’t be afraid to take a break when you need to.
    • Have other goals besides workshop attendance. Plan to spend some time milling around—or, as we like to call it, networking. If you’re pitching to an agent or an editor, you already know the dates and times of those appointments. Leave yourself time to mentally prepare for your pitch, and time to decompress after. Trust me—if you’re any kind of a nervous personality, you are not going to want to sit still and listen to other people for an hour after getting through that pitch session.
    • Tag team it. If you’re attending the conference with a group of friends, consider attacking and conquering. While it’s nice to be able to go to sessions together, splitting up and attending different sessions, then meeting up afterward to compare notes can be a powerful way to get as much out of the conference as possible.
    • Be flexible. You never know when brain overload is going to strike or when some awesome writer you met in the morning session will invite you to go grab coffee with her and her writer buddies. I’d advise having one or two sessions per day that you know you definitely want to try to make it to, and then be willing to go with the flow as your interests and plans change throughout the course of the event.

No matter how many workshops you decide to go to, you’re bound to pick up some new tips and tricks, or at least some new twists on your own ideas about how to approach your craft and your career. So grab your notebooks and your conference schedules, and have a great time!

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I Hate To Be Negative, But… (A Few Writer Con Don’ts)

With RWA Nationals only weeks away, I have the privilege of kicking off a two week series for the Bad Girlz Blog:

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We hope you all enjoy!!!

 

Writer Conferences are an amalgam of awesome positivity, information, writer mojo absorption, and enjoyment of all the fun times floating around the hotel/conference center. Far be it from me to shine a negative light on anything so fabutastik. Still, there are a few Don’ts to keep in mind when attending your next writer conference.

1. DON’T be a wallflower.

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A lot of writers are introverts, some are shy (yes, there is a difference), and it kind of fits with the nature of the craft. While I’m one of the extrovert tribe, I love my quiet and introverted peeps dearly. But wise writers know, you gotta get out there. Whether you like it or not, you cannot hole up in your hotel room all con or slink from room to room with barely a whisper to anyone. Sure, I guess you could do this, but if you want to network and learn anything at all outside of the workshops, you must interact with other writer humans. If witty words fail you, compliment a woman’s shoes, hair, make-up, clothing. If you can’t do that, smile. Chances are you’re smiling at an extrovert like me and we’ll break the ice for ya! 

But on that same note…

2. DON’T monopolize a conversation.

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Don’t stand there saying nothing, but don’t stand there and say it all for everyone. I’ve experienced this first hand and it was aaaaaaawkward. I wanted to politely take the lady aside and help her. I could tell she was nervous. Nerves made her prattle on and on and oooooooon about her book, her writing, her life, her hobbies, her everything. She cornered a few of us and there was no escape. It was painful. 

Pause. Take a Breath. Ask a few questions of your new writer acquaintances and listen as they answer.

3. DON’T wear your “comfy pants” and cat sweatshirt with puffy paint flowers.

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You don’t have to be a fab fashionista if that’s not your thing. Not everyone loves to shop and create looks. I do! But I also love women who keep it simple and classy. We writers work in a world of sweats and yoga pants, pony tails, and house slippers or bare feet. This is the one time we get “out in the world” so don’t look like you’re still sitting at home with your laptop and box of chocolates. When in doubt, go black slacks and a top in a color that flatters you (think plum cardigan, turquoise blouse, pink knit sweater. Simple and pretty). I do this a lot for work. It’s comfy and classic.

4. DON’T talk smack. gossiping

About anyone, anywhere, any time. If there’s someone you run into that you abso cannot stand, save it for when you and your best, closest, tip lipped, sworn to secrecy buddy are back in your room. Then you can vent. Otherwise, any negativity you speak will spread and distort like a middle school version of gossip. I’ve seen it, I’ve heard it. One person says, “I love her writing, but that workshop was kind of dull,” to a loose grouping of people they sort of know. Next you hear of it, the speaker hates this writer and swears she’s a self centered b*tch. Y’all know it happens! We’re women. We gossip. That’s just life. So in life, don’t be a hater. If you must, save it for the midnight rundown of events in the air tight vaccuum of your hotel room.

5. DON’T forget to say Please & Thank You.

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Not to be a Molly Manners, but a little gracious behavior never hurt anyone. If a volunteer helps you find your way, if a workshop presenter changes your writing/world/life, if a conference organizer is working her patootie off, if the hotel bartender makes THE best Cosmos you’ve ever tasted, or whatever the circumstance…Thank those around you for their efforts. Trust me, those who plan cons (or any writer event for that matter), work hard for no money. A little appreciation goes a long way.

6. DON’T forget to have FUN!!!

It’s like sleep over camp for writers! *Cue McGovy seal clap* Woo Hoo! We’re going to the Writer Conference!!!!

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