Friday, July 21, 2006

Last minute preparations

Why is it that when you're getting ready to go on vacation - or in this case to a Conference - that everyone and their brother has something that "must be done before you leave."

It's not as though my OWN last-minute preparations aren't taking up about 70% of my brain...

I still have to pick up my suit from the dry cleaners, do laundry, maybe get my nails done and get a pedicure, make sure someone is coming in to take care of the cats, buy new eyeliner, pack, make sure I have hose with no runs, etc. I mean, come on! A person can only do so much in the time alloted to them, right?

That's why I'm taking the Monday before I leave off. I'm NOT going to worry about work and won't even call the office on Monday - I swear. I'm going to get all my last-minute running around done so I can be relaxed and enjoy the flight to I can be in a cheerful frame of mind when I step off the plane into the high-energy atmosphere of National I can maintain that cheer and relaxation through the tiring days to come...well, one can hope!

Actually, I am really looking forward to National Conference - some of my favorite authors have new books out and I also look forward to finding some new favorites. I want to stop by and at least say hello to a few people, even if I've already purchased their latest book before conference.

In any event, it's going to be a fun ride!

I'm going to try to blog from the conference - will all depend on the connection in the hotel room - I'm at the Hilton, not the Marriott - so we'll see.

4 days and counting...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Nerves of Steel

Yes, I have them. Why? Because I do not have either an editor or agent appointment this year. My writing partner does, though, so we'll be practicing a pitch before her appointment.

I remember my first editor appointment. It was with an editor totally unsuited to the story I was pitching. Though she was very gracious and did request a partial on an uncompleted manuscript after hearing my pitch on the completed manuscript and the two of us discussing how it certainly was not right for her. I did send her the first three chapters of the incomplete work, and eventually received a lovely rejection letter saying she just wasn't "in love" with the characters.

How did the mistaken editor appointment happen, you ask? Well, it's very simple, really. I had no idea what I was doing! It was my first conference, my first appointment with ANY editor, and I had no clue who to ask for. I didn't make that same mistake the following year.

No, that year I wound up with an agent appointment - a group appointment. Again, the agent was very gracious, requested the first three chapters from all six of us in the group, and then we discussed our stories, her philosophy on selling our stories, general conference experiences, etc., While a pleasant experience, after she read the first three chapters of our completed manuscript, it turned out that this particular agent wasn't "in love" with our story, so she gave us a pass.

The following year, I again had an editor appointment. This one went VERY well. It was the right editor, the right story, the right time...or maybe not, because again we received a lovely rejection letter.

Are we disheartened? Maybe a little, but not enough to stop writing...not enough to stop seeking the editor and/or agent who will fall "in love" with our characters and our story at the same time and will want to "buy the book." But you see, that's another reason I'm not stressing too much over missed appointments this year.

I'm taking the "GWTW" approach (and if you're going to Atlanta and don't know what GWTW stands for, shame on you! ), I'll think about it tomorrow....or next year as the case may be.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

RWA's Annual Conference

It's nearly that time of year again. The annual RWA Conference takes place in Atlanta, Georgia this year from July 26-29.

It's a time when published and unpublished authors gather to attend workshops, meet & greet, make new contacts, renew old friendships, listen to editors & agents and, for those who are unpublished, a chance to connect with an editor or agent who hopefully wants to buy your manuscript.

The conference is in a different place every year- last year it was Reno (and resulted in the birth of this blog, as a matter of fact), next year it's in Dallas, Texas. The big draw for the public is the literacy signing every year. Over 400 authors in one room, all signing their books and all of the profits go to the Literacy Council.

This is also a time when people begin to stress about going to Conference. Do they have the right clothes, the right shoes, the right attitude, the right manuscript? Will they meet the perfect editor/agent in the hallway and be struck dumb or say something totally inane?

I've decided not to stress (too much) this year. I'm taking fewer clothes so I will wear exactly what I've packed without worrying about whether or not I'm dressed "appropriately." Hey, if my clothes are good enough for work, they should be good enough for a conference! The only sticking point for me is the Gala. For the past three years, I've dressed up - I mean really dressed up...this year, I've decided not to do that. I'll be nicely dressed, but I'm not going the "prom dress" routine. I'm also not going to wear heels. They just do not do good things for my feet!

Anyway...back to conference. This is a time to meet other unpublished authors and talk about something we all have in common - the written word. We all love it, we all strive to perfect it, we will talk about it, share our opinions and our dreams and ultimately, we'll come away from Conference this year renewed in our commitment to the written word and exhausted from all the information we're bombarded with and meeting new people and trying to download all the ideas floating around in our heads.

Now, for some interesting facts regarding romance...

*Did you know that romance fiction comprises 54% of all popular paperback fiction sold in North America?

*Did you know that romance fiction comprises 39% of all popular fiction sold - mystery/detective/suspense novel sales is 29% of popular fiction sold - General fiction is 12% and Science Fiction is 6%...

*Did you know that 64 MILLION Americans read at least one romance novel last year?

*Did you know that 22% of romance readers are men?

*Did you know that RWA has 9,500 members around the world? (No wonder the conference always sells out!)

Friday, July 07, 2006

That Queasy Feeling...

No, I’m not really writing about illness. I’m referring to that queasy feeling writers get when they’re either about to finish a story or about to start one. It’s the feeling that makes you wonder whether you’ve adequately captured your character’s goals, if you’ve managed to convey their conflict, and if you’ve really reached a satisfactory ending to what you’ve been working on. It’s that feeling you get when you sit down to start a new story – it might have been bothering you for weeks, but now that you’re faced with actually putting words to paper (or computer monitor) you’re not sure what you were thinking.

How do they do it? How do those authors who write a book every couple of months and manage to have two books a year published –sometimes with different publishing houses – do it? How do they manage to have a home life and a writing life?

Best selling authors will tell you it’s a matter of discipline. Novices will tell you the same thing.

I think I’m still working on that particular discipline. I tend to write in “fits & spurts.” Refining that discipline can only help in the long run, but one has to get rid of that queasy feeling in order to do that.

Here’s my solution. I’ll sit down once and just write through that feeling. I’ll toss out self-doubt and turn off my internal editor and just write. Who knows, maybe that will be the impetus to unlock the floodgates and let that ‘great American romance novel’ out.

We’ll see…