Monday, June 23, 2014

5 Reasons to Attend a Writers Conference

Con or Con, There Is No Not-Con - Yoda.

Okay, so maybe that’s not exactly what Yoda said. I think we all know what he actually said.

But still, when it comes to the question of whether or not you should attend a writing con the answer is easy: YES.

There are so many wonderful reasons to attend a con. If you are interested in any of the following 5 Reasons to Attend a Writers Conference – I’d say do it. Go.

1. Networking – um hello, has to be the number one reason to attend a con. We spend so much time walled up in our writing caves, deep in our own imagination, that we sometime forget to shower, eat, or otherwise take care of ourselves. Wouldn’t it be great to spend some face time with other people who can relate? (BTW, most people do shower before actually attending a con. Just so you know. And pants ARE required. ) Not to mention the fact that you can fangirl at cons, which, if you are like me, is your idea of networking.

2. Learning – Most writer cons have classes or workshops in which you can learn about craft, industry changes, publisher updates, what editors are looking for, and so much more. There are even cons that include workshop elements where your pages are reviewed by industry pro’s. But here’s where you’ll want to do your research. Some cons are aimed more at readers (so there is less emphasis on educating writers). Be sure you know what you want before you sign up.

3. Free Stuff – And I mean tons of it.

You get a book. And you get a book. And you get a book.

You get the idea. At cons you can snag boxes and boxes of free stuff from actual books to smaller swag, Cons are rife with free stuff. Check out these pics of all the free stuff I grabbed at RWA Nationals last year:

Free stuff day 1

Free stuff day 2

Pretty awesome, right?

4. Inspiration – At RWA National’s last year the entire event oozed inspiration. I felt like Mario getting a power up from some invisible mushroom or something. There were so many wonderful stories being shared. Everywhere I turned another author was telling a tale about how they got their agent or how they sold. The message wasn’t “this is some secret club that only cool kids can join” it was “if I can do it so can you.” And the luncheon speakers were amazing. First of all, they took the stage to speak in front of more than 2,000 people so hat’s off to them for having amazing lady-balls of steel. Second, both of them made me laugh and cry. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more motivated to push forward in my writing career than after I attended RWA Nationals (which is why I can’t wait to go back this year!).

5. Exposure – Okay, going to a con won't turn you into a sexy sun goddess. But, a writer con is the perfect place to soak up industry knowledge. So many writers never query. They toil over their work but never find the last resource of strength needed to get their book baby out into the world. Some of that might be due to fear. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown. And I firmly believe education and exposure can eradicate those fears. At many cons you can attend sessions with editors or publishing executives. Some cons offer workshops where you can spend one-on-one time with publishing pro’s. And still more, like RWA, offer pitching sessions where you actually, live-and-in-person, pitch your novel to an agent or editor. It’s scary. Yes. But it’s also not the end of the world. But it could be the start. A first step on a long path toward publication. And learning to pitch, learning to interact with the business side of publishing, is invaluable (or so I’m told – not that I’m published yet).

But writing conferences aren’t cheap (is anything cheap anymore? Sheesh):

The fact that not all cons are created equal means you should do your research before you drop the big bucks. Know what you’re looking for – if you want workshops and classes on craft a reader-focused event may not be worth your time and money. And if you want a smaller, more intimate setting, with a greater emphasis on critiquing/workshop then a national event like RWA may not be right for you (Remember to check local chapters of writing organizations. RWA and SCWBI have local cons).

I am a huge fan of writing cons and have included in my business plan a commitment to attend cons in the future. I want to stay current and keep improving. Next up, RWA 14 in Texas. I can’t wait. If you see me there, feel free to say hello.

Have you attend any great cons? Share your experience here:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Summer Reading List

I'm officially on vacay which means I'm bout to soak up the sun and sand somewhere fun. I can't wait. And a very important part of my packing involves loading my Kindle with vacay reading material.

In addition to a super secret beta read for a CP, this is what I'm taking with me on my trip:

1. Make it Count by Megan Erickson

Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hotline. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend's gorgeous best friend, Alec... who just so happens to be her brand-new math tutor. Who knew nerds could be so hot?

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends—both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It's safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm's length. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She's adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off-limits. He'd never stab his best friend in the back...

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn that messy human emotions can't be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust that he may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it.

2. Wicked After Midnight by Delilah S Dawson

Only rebellious Demi Ward could be bored with her life as a contortionist in Criminy Stain’s magical traveling circus. But being a cabaret star in the City of Light is dangerous . . . especially for an audacious Bludman.

After Demi’s best friend, Cherie, is brutally kidnapped en route to Paris by a roving band of masked slavers, passionate highwayman Vale Hildebrand shows up to save the day. With his help, Demi rises to the top of the cabaret scene as part of her plot to find Cherie—but what she really discovers is a taste for Vale’s kisses. Meanwhile, wealthy suitors vie for a night of her charms, crowding the glittering club where Demi commands the stage with a host of colorful daimons. She is soon seduced by a smoldering portrait artist whose ties to a secret society could be the break she and Vale need on their hunt. But—unlike the Paris that Demi read about in college on Earth—the Paris of Sang is full of depraved pleasures and deadly surprises. . . .

3. An American Girl in Italy by Aubrie Dionne

An Italian paradise is the last thing she wants... but the one thing she needs!

Surely any girl would kill for the chance to tour Italy's most famous cities for the summer? To experience the warmth of the Tuscan sun, the culinary delights of the pizzerias and caff├ęs and to stroll along the cobbled streets of the City of Love itself...

Any girl apart from ambitious oboist Carly Davis that is! For her, the Easthampton Civic Symphony's latest European tour is one massive inconvenience. She can't even put her smartphone down long enough to snap a picture of the Coliseum.

Only, there's one Italian attraction that Carly hadn't quite expected to be a part of the tourist route...
Tour guide Michelangelo is as dark and delicious as Carly's morning espresso. And when she needs a few lessons in the language of love to land her an important gig, he's a more than capable tutor.

But with her promising career back in Boston, can Carly really afford to lose her heart in Italy?

4. Solving for Ex by Leigh Ann Kopans

1 crush on your best friend + 1 gorgeous, scheming new girl + 1 Mathletics competition = 1 big mess SIMPLIFY. Ashley Price doesn’t have much in life after being bullied so hard she had to leave her old school to live with her aunt and uncle in Pittsburgh. But the camera she borrowed from her best friend and secret crush Brendan, and her off the charts math abilities, make things a lot more bearable.

Plus, since Brendan is the captain, making the school Mathletes team should be easy. But when gorgeous new girl Sofia rolls in and steals Brendan, Ashley's place on the team, and her fragile foothold on the Mansfield Park Prep social totem pole, it’s on. Sofia is everything Ashley left her old school to escape. The only thing Ashley didn’t count on is Sofia’s sexy twin brother Vincent. Vincent is not only the hottest boy in school, he’s charming, sweet, and he’s got his eye on Ashley. He’s also not taking no for an answer. There's no real reason Ashley shouldn't like Vincent, but with the battle lines being drawn between her and Sofia, Ashley’s not sure which side he’s on. Or which side she wants him to be on. She does know Sofia is trouble with a capital T, and she’s determined to make Brendan see it.

SOLVING FOR EX is a YA contemporary romance that remixes Mansfield Park as Clueless meets Mean Girls in a crazy mix of high school society, mathletic competition, and teenage romance.

5. All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

Dallas Cole loathes football. That's what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn't always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It's obliterated.

Dallas doesn't know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn't know that Dallas is his new coach's daughter.

And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.


So that's what I have to look forward to.

What are you reading this summer?

Monday, June 9, 2014

It's Done: Celebrating Even Minor Victories

The test is done. Over. Finished.

Or, as my father would say, slayed (as in I slayed the test). Yep.

I beat the crap out of that test.

After four months of prep classes totaling 184 classroom hours (and countless more homework hours) I have conquered the test.

Now, that’s not to say I aced the test. I won’t actually get my score for at least thirty days.YES. Thirty. Days.

A wait that long should constitute cruel and unusual punishment in this instant-age where we get everything we want on-demand. *sigh* I guess I’ll have to put my grown-up panties on and be patient.

But regardless of the score, I know I did my absolute best. And that’s a good feeling.

Hmm, similar, I’d say, to the feeling you get when you query a novel you’ve poured your heart into, edited for days/weeks/months, and polished to a blinding sheen. Regardless of the rejections that come, knowing you did your best is a good feeling.See what I did there?

Time to celebrate! Because any victory, no matter how minor or intermediate, is worth celebrating. Because doing something, actually doing it (and not just talking about it, or planning it, or thinking bout it, or dreaming about it) is a BIG deal. Feel good about it. Celebrate it.


What accomplishment are you celebrating?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I Can Haz Productivity: May 2014 Month in Review

I don’t know what to say about May. Managing priorities is tough. I’ve had to cut back in a lot of areas, including here on the blog (check out the amazing post about cutting back by @CatMScully on how You Can Do Anything, But Not Everything). I couldn't say it better, and I won't try. Let's just say I agree with Cat and you should totally read her post.

My trimming and realignment has been good. This month saw more words than last month (which is always nice). And overall, I was less stressed. My class is wrapping up. In fact, my final class session is over. Now I’m focused on a little bit of self-directed study before the big test (which is less than 6 days away as I write this post!!!).

(Check out my calendar obsession. The busier I am the more calendars I use...)

But enough yammering about the month. Let’s take a look at the stats:

4 Novels read for fun

2 Beta for a CP

1 out of town trip for the Day Job

0 races (but several gym workouts)

And words, not many words but I don't want to lose sight of the fact that any words are better than no words *does happy dance *

For a grand total of 3,014 words. This brings my total ‘tracked’ word count to 34,680 for the year! My writing goals are off the mark. And as a result I needed to adjust down my targets.

And as for miles ran, I am happy to report, 18.4 miles logged. Which brings my total ‘tracked’ mileage to 62.4 miles this year. I’m happy to be falling in love with running again.

All in all, it’s not a bad month. Looking to make improvements next month. #NeverGiveUp #NeverSurrender

How are your writing goals coming along?
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