Category Archives: Sensational Saturday’s

Ten Life Savers for Convention Survival

Sensational Saturday

a blog for the moment

Cal-i-for-n-i-a here I come!

Stock Images - Flight 2
I’m off to Anaheim for RWA’s National Convention on Tuesday and I hope I’m prepared. I’m not sure what to expect. There are so many workshops I want to attend, and there is not enough time to get to all of them. Even with five days, there won’t be enough time. My CRW buddies and I are flying in a day early to take advantage of Anaheim’s number one tourist attraction, Disneyland. I’ve been to Disney World many times, but never to Disneyland. In fact, I’ve only been to California once, so I’m pretty excited.

But the big attraction for me is the RWA convention. Disneyland for romance writers. There are more than one hundred workshops. How am I ever going to choose the paltry two to four per day I’m going to be able to attend? Round tables, book signings, panels. It’s going to be a smorgasbord of craft, career, publishing and life topics that I know I will want to gorge on until I collapse.

That’s why I need a plan.Free Stock Photos - Girl

Not a plan for what workshop I want to go to. No, I can decide on the day if I need to. No, I need a plan for taking care of myself. What am I going to eat? How can I make sure I get enough rest? Do I have down time scheduled? And what about working out?

I managed to make it through Rom Con, but I had a killer migraine. And that was only a few days. This is almost a week. My husband is already rumbling at me about taking care of myself. That is usually one of the things he takes on, not that I’m not a big girl and can’t remind myself to drink enough water or to eat breakfast. But he’s a sweetie and worries.

So instead of worrying about which workshops I want to go to, I’m getting my plan in place.

Number one: I’m looking up online to see if there is a grocery store nearby. I’m planning on stocking my room with a fruitbowl, oatmeal and soy milk, so I can have a healthy breakfast before hitting the RWA sweet rolls and coffee.

Number two: I’m taking a water bottle, the kind that has a filter on the top, so I can refill from the water fountains and not worry about spending ten dollars a day on water.Free Stock Photo - Glass of water

Number three: I’m stocking my personal pharmacy so this time I’m not begging for Tylonal from strangers. Not that I didn’t appreciate every one of you who generously opened your purses to me, but I still should be prepared.

Number four: I’m practicing saying NO. I need to make sure I get sleep and that means leaving the party at a reasonable hour.

Number five: I have a plan for what I’m eating, and I need to stick to it. RWA has made a real effort this year to have healthy lunches, I need to make the same effort to not treat every meal as a vacation. If I do that, I’ll be in bed by Thursday afternoon with a migraine, and that is not any fun. No dessert is worth that!

Number six: I’m going swimsuit shopping. I will bring the workout clothes, who knows, I may even work out. But I will definitely take advantage of the double bonus of working out and relaxing that the pool offers. Summer in CA, I’ll be in the pool for sure!

Stock Photography - Floating mat
Number seven: I’m making a packing list. I am not going to stress out on the day of my flight, in the airport, that I forgot my contact solution or whatever. A list will help, maybe?

Number eight: I am pre-printing everything I need for travel and putting it in one folder that I can fit into my carry on. And then I am emailing myself back ups, so I can print them off if I need to. Plan, and emergency plan. Check!

Number nine: Comfortable shoes. I have heard the experts and this is a must to survive the conference.

Last but not least, Number ten: Getting my ducks in a row at home. I’m pre-posting all my blogs. I’m getting the house clean, so maybe it will be clean when I get back? (No, this is not wishful thinking. Jeff usually cleans the day before I get home and has fresh flowers for me. Yes, I am spoiled.)

Well that’s all folks! Wish me luck. Anything that I’ve missed that you can help me with? Any last minute travel advice like your favorite trip accessory?

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Wowza! Pamela Clare’s Defiant

Sensational Saturday

a blog for whatever

As many of you know, I love book trailers. I’m definitely going to have one for my next release, Snow and the Seventh Wolf, when it comes out in 2013. In the meantime I have become a book trailer junkie, scoping out my friends book trailers and sighing enviously over their gorgeous scenery, lovely music, and all those hot men with six-pack abs.

So it’s no wonder that when I saw that two of my favorite authors had gotten together and put together a book trailer I sashayed right on over to YouTube and got that puppy up and running. But oh, no baby, I was not prepared.

Not prepared for the absolute gorgeousness of the scenery, the sound, the man.

And I really wasn’t prepared for the…da-da-da-da!

 LIVE ACTION!!!!

Yes, you got it right. This is film, baby!

I love Pamela Clare‘s books. Not that I’ve read her historicals, I haven’t. I’ve only read her absolutely amazing suspense series. So I’m unfamiliar with the McKinnon’s Ranger series, but if you read historical I have it on the best authority that these books are just the same high quality as Pamela’s suspense. And of course, they are full of hot Scotsman. What more could a romance reader want?

Well, you might want to see that same hot Scotsman running through the woods in a live action shot. Picture Last of the Mohicans and you’ve got the idea. Pamela got together with Jenn LeBlanc, whose illustrated historicals have made history themselves, and the two of them (and a few other people) got together and WAMMO! a live action book trailer.

Okay, I’ve teased you enough. Enjoy!

And, just for fun here are the covers to the entire MacKinnon series. Check out Pamela’s Books too!

Pamela Clare's Surrender

Defiant by Pamela Clare

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George Orwell Meets Barbie

Sensational Saturday

A blog for fun! Fun! fun!

I don’t read too much YA, but when my daughter insisted I read Beauty Queens, I took the plunge. The cover cracked me up, a bandoleer of lipsticks on a bikini clad girl, but I was still a little leery. Luckily she was right. Beauty Queens is a fabulous book. Author Libba Bray has achieved the impossible, a YA that is both serious and fun, and highly satirical.

Beauty Queens by libba braeThe most interesting thing about Beauty Queens for me is that Libba herself is the narrator. I am listening to it on audio as I drive back and forth to work. I fact I missed two exits on my way to Rom Con because of the book. In audio books the narrator makes all the difference.

I’m usually not a big fan of authors narrating their own books, but Libba does a superior job. She does all the girls in different voices, and the sparkle she adds to the footnotes is amazing. Yes there are footnotes. Forty seven I believe. And Libba does them all in a bright and shiny announcer’s voice that the Corporation (TM) would be proud of.

The Corporation. Here’s where the fun starts.

Lovely girls survive a plane crash, that’s an interesting plot. Brings up memories of Lord of the Flies and high school. But you’ll see I’ve mentioned George Orwell, not Golding. This book is a satire, and one of the ways Libba has worked that is to add in, not just overly shiny commercials and footnotes, not just a culture that mimics ours in a satirical way, but she’s brought in the Corporation. The Corporation controls the world, in other words, our compulsive consumerism has put commerce in charge of our lives. What would your life be like if consumerism was the number one motivator?

We’re not that far from it, and Libba makes her point with ease. At the same time she exposes our cultures obsession with beauty, the lack of respect for girls with brains, and she does it all with flair and fun. I was laughing out loud. You will too.

And I highly suggest reading it in audio. I have yet to read the print book, but Libba has cleverly added bonus features to the audio. Every time the disks changed one of the girls came on and announced it. And then there is Libba herself. I can’t imagine how I would have read this book without her voices. Each girl has her own and they are spectacular.

It’s not paranormal, but Beauty Queens is one of the best books I’ve read all year. And I think it may be one of the best audio books ever.

Want to get to know the genius behind the covers? HERE is an interview with Libba.

Have you had a surprise summer read this year? Ever read a book that is better in audio than in the print version? (Not that I’m saying that about this one, I hear the print is pretty good, but you miss out on Libba.) Who else is making a dent in their TBR pile while driving to work? Or are you all sitting in beach chairs lounging with your drinks, hot waiters and your books?

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Blink, and the Tipping Point- Great Summer Reads

Sensational Saturday

a blog for whatever I want

I love reading in the car. The trouble is, I don’t get to do it very often. Or maybe that’s a good thing. I have a funky work schedule. A few months during the year I work at a temp job scoring papers for standardized tests. You know the ones. It’s very hush, hush, so that’s about all I can say about it. But it keeps me in convention spending money, so I work full time off and on during the year. A month in the fall, a few months in the spring, half of summer. And I have to drive to get there, so I listen to audio books.

The Tipping PointLast year I had a disastrous read with Nora Roberts first book in the Bride series. The narrator was terrible and the book itself turned out to not be Nora’s best. I wasn’t sure I wanted to listen to anything after that. But Kristen Lamb had been talking about Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point, and it sounded fascinating. So I took the leap.

Love, love, love the book. If you are interested at all in how anything becomes a movement, how smoking is contagious, or even how disease spreads, The Tipping Point is for you. I even love Malcolm reading his own book. His dry voice became a guide to the curious world of how we make decisions.

And when you read The Tipping Point, go back to Kristen’s posts of last fall. She goes into all the selling aspects and how it applies to writers and bloggers and anyone who is interested in any kind of promotion. I figured out that I am a maven. Okay, not a super maven like Malcolm Gladwell features in his book, but I am a know-it-all who people ask for information. I’m the person who strikes up a conversation in a grocery store with complete strangers and shares my information on carpet cleaners, just because I overheard them almost buy a brand I hated and I can’t stand to let them make a mistake.

Blink, by malcolm gladwellThis year I decided to read Blink, another Malcom Gladwell book. This one is about those split second decisions we all make, and we have no idea how. You know the ones. When you meet someone and really dislike them, but can’t put your finger on why. Or the time you just knew not to step off that curb and the bus ran the red light and would have crushed you.

Malcolm’s familiar voice guided me through the world of decisions made in seconds. A darker world of liars, art forgery, and accidental shootings.

Blink is fairly short, and I had to fast forward through a tedious list of facial movements, all numbered and described till I wanted to pull my hair out, but I still enjoyed it. In fact, I’m recommending it. Despite it’s flaws it is an amazing subject. Once you understand how you think about things like marriage and racism, you will never be the same.

Next week on Saturday I’ll let you know about the book I’m reading now: a combo of George Orwell meets Barbie. That should get your attention!

What are your summer reads. Are you an audio reader? Have you read anything by Malcolm Gladwell? Are you a MyWana fan and love Kristen Lamb, like I do?

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Filed under About the Author, Sensational Saturday's, writing craft

Editing is the Pits

Sensational Saturday

a blog for whatever…

Stock Images - Four cherries close-up
Whenever I think I have a handle on life my bowl of cherries turns out to have pits. It’s normal and natural and not what I want in my teeth. But there they are. Pits.

Life lessons.

When I was younger I had no clue about life lessons. I didn’t know why things happened to me. I bounced from event to event, not learning what the universe was trying to teach me. Picking seeds out of my life.

But now I know. This is our class room and those pits are there to teach us lessons. And when you learn that one, there is another and another and another. Maybe some of you have achieved perfection, but not me.

Even though I figured out a few years ago that life was like that, I had to extend it to writing. When you edit, you tend to focus on what you’ve just learned, what’s fresh at the time. You are looking for raspberries in your manuscript, so you don’t see the cherries. Till you are happy with it and send it in, then suddenly, those cherries stand out.

<Stock Image - CherrypieLuckily there is usually another chance. And your editor is happy to sit down at the kitchen table with you and get out the hardware and cut out the landmines waiting in the cherries. All the pits will be gone. Or not. Don’t forget, your editor is human too. She has her own issues and might miss a few. So don’t be surprised if you think you have a perfect pie, but when you bite in, there are pits.

It’s just the lessons you have to work on next time and you can take the time to figure them out and apply them to the next manuscript. Or you can be like me and go to the dentist.

Hope you are all having a wonderful beginning to your summer. I’m off to Rom Con in a few weeks, getting excited! Hope to see some of you there!

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Announcing Winner of Rom Con 2012 Tickets

Sensational Saturdays

a blog for wherever I am

rom con 2012 imageAnd the winners of the tickets to Rom Con 2012 are: Connie Kline and jovialvampyre! I’ll be sending you an email. Congratulations!

Good thing my kids are older, or I’d be in trouble! My house is filling up with mysterious cardboard boxes and crinkly brown paper bags. Rom Com is coming soon, very soon, and I’m accumulating goodies for treat bags. Sometimes the authors let me know they’re sending them, and sometimes they just arrive, a wonderful surprise gift.

Free Stock Image - Fat santa claus

It’s funny how none of this is for me, but I feel like it’s all for me. I get the fun of the arriving package, and the joy of opening it. I love pulling out the various books and chatzkes and anticipating how the readers will enjoy going through the bags when they open them. It’s like Christmas and I get to play Santa Claus.

And then there is deciding what I’m bringing to the party. I’ve already got my goodies for the Paranromal Freebies Treat bags, but Rom Con gives out bags at the door. Should I put something in those? What? And I’m dealing at Monte Carlo Night. What about then?

Free Stock Photography - Carnival mask
Actually I have a very special surprise planned for the first fifty people who drop by my table at Monte Carlo Night. Want a hint? They have feathers!

And as for my donations to the main Rom Con bags? Well I think I’ll donate what I love to do best. Write. So if you’re coming to Rom Con look on the back of those Jessica Aspen Little Red Riding Wolf promo cards and log on to your computer or smart phone to find a special gift. A piece of flash fiction, just for you.

And what if you’re not able to make it to Rom Con? Well, soon I’ll be doing another round of blogs and giving away more copies of Little Red Riding Wolf, so stay tuned and follow me around the internet! And I hope to see many of you next month at Rom Con!

Do you love giving things away? Is it better than receiving gifts? What kinds of things do you do on the spur of the moment? Or are you a long term gift giver, planning for months?

UPDATE: Unfortunately one of our winners can’t go, so I will be emailing a back up winner.

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Announcing CRW Bloghop with Prizes Galore!

Sensational Saturday’s

a blog for now

Colorado Romance Writers Mystic Month of May bloghop
Colorado Romance Writers is having it’s first ever blog hop, And I get to be the first guest!

We have prizes at each stop, and some grand prizes, so be sure to stop by and leave your comment to enter. And if you haven’t gotten a chance to read Little Red Riding Wolf  I’ll be giving a copy away at the first stop, so come visit!

Our Schedule:

May 14: Helen Hardt with myself as guest

May 15: Jessica Aspen guest Hillary Seidl

May 16: Hillary Seidl guest JL Bowen

May 17: J.L. Bowen guest Lori Corsentino

May 18: Lori Corsentino guest ML Guida

May 21: M.L. Guida guest Lizzie T. Leaf

May 22: Lizzie T. Leaf guest Marie Sexton

May 23: Marie Sexton guest BJ Hayes

May 24: B.J. Hayes guest Lia Slater

May 25: Lia Slater guest Jenn Le Blanc

May 28: Jenn LeBlanc guest Clare Austin

May 29: Clare Austin guest Holley Trent

May 30: Holley Trent guest Elizabeth Haysmont

May 31: Elizabeth Haysmont guest Helen Hardt

Come meet the published authors of the Colorado Romance Writers. We have a diverse group who write across many genres. And they all are fun and interesting women. (No guys yet, but we have one male in our group and I expect him to be published anytime!)

rodeo queen by helen hardtstripped defenseless by lia slatercinder by marie sextonexecutive decision by holley trent

Little Red Riding Wolf by Jessica Aspen

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Knights, Werewolves and Witches, What to Write First?

Sensational Saturdays

a blog for whatever I want

Writers have a terrible problem, they have too many ideas and not enough time. I would love to write three books this year and three novellas. I have the plots swirling around in my  brain. Diverse characters waiting to get their stories told. It’s a little bit like being the Little the little old woman who lived in the shoeOld Woman in the Shoe, but with attention deficit disorder. “Pick me! Pick me!”

And they are all great stories. From the knight who finds out he’s still needed, to the insecure witch who discovers her skills are just as important as her sister’s. All of these stories have their own magic. But which one gets put down on paper now? And will some of them never get written?

I hear a lot about writers block. All the NYT bestselling authors say, no such thing, you just need to be disciplined. But for me the problem isn’t writer’s block, it’s too much to write. Sure I have those days where I’m struggling with a scene, but I have so many things to work on I just jump to a different scene, or even a different project. There is no reason not to be writing. If I can squeeze it into my life.

Ah, there’s the rub Horatio.

I have my current stories with Passion in Print. Little Red Riding Wolf does have a sequel and maybe a third book in the trilogy. I have the sequel, Snow and the Seventh Wolf almost done, but it needs just a little bit more. And my life is crazy! And I have the third one partially outlined, so just a little bit more effort and a full outline later and it will be in the queue fighting for a place on my screen.

I’m deep into deep editing Blood Were. It still needs a new title, but it’s coming together. I’m hoping all of these edits will be finished by the end of July. And then I can get down to the prequel for that one. It’s just in the outlining process. Meanwhile I have an entirely new series pushing to get out about kights and honor. When I’m out walking or half asleep almost dreaming these new characters are in my head. They want their story told, but there is no more room on the schedule!

When do I fit them in? In between the prequel and the NANORIMO YA series I want to write? That one has been waiting a year. Oh and I have another YA that wants to be written too. Let’s count them up. That’s two novellas written for this year. One novel edited, actually I have another that I want to revisit so let’s make that two novels edited. The knight book, the YA series and the YA stand alone.

There is no way all of this will get done.

So a writer has to choose. We have to pick and choose what is the biggest priority, or what fits our schedule. Right now Snow and the Seventh Wolf is very high on my list. As is Blood Were. And, if they are my priorities, then I should also make their next books priories. So we’ll move Blood Were‘s prequel up in the line-up. It came next anyway. But what about after that? Will I have more stories pushing for a spot?

As soon as I have one outlined another is vying to take it’s place. And sending them off without supper does not work, I’ve tried!

I used to wonder if a writer would run out of stories, but now I realize the opposite problem is true. Too many stories, all vying for attention. Are you a writer with too many children vying for your attention? Or do you obsess about one book leaving no room for the next until the first is complete? As a reader, I’m sure you all hope your favorite authors are prolific, but does having ideas mean they’ll end up on paper?

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Busy, busy, busy…and loving it!

Sensational Saturdays

Thank Goodness it’s flexible and I can write whatever I want!

Getting excited for the convention season! My friend and fellow author Hillary Seidl has already kicked off the season with her trip to Chicago and the Romantic Times convention. Wow! If you have a chance you should hop on over to the RT site and check out the pictures. It really looks like a party. Maybe next year my friends!

romcon badge
But I am joining Hillary and ML Guida at RomCon 2012. That’s in Denver so it’s easy to get to. RomCon is reader centered, so all the activities are for readers and the authors are purely there to provide the entertainment. I’m looking forward to dealing cards at the Monte Carlo night and playing paranormal games.

RomCon is where I met authors Jessa Slade, author of the Marked Souls series and the author of First Grave on the Right, Darynda Jones. Last year was a blast to attend as a reader and I’m very excited to be attending this year as an author. I’ll have free books and other swag to give away and I think the Paranormal Freebies authors have something in the works right now too, but it’s still a secret.

Perpetual Light by Jordan K. Rose

Perpetual Light by Jordan K. Rose

Speaking of Paranormal Freebies, Tuesday we’ll have guest author Jordan K. Rose and she is giving away a free copy of her very cool book, Perpetual Light, so don’t forget to hop over to Paranormal Freebies on Tuesday and comment to enter and win.

Before RomCon I’m attending the CRW mini-con in May with the fabulous Angela Knight, from Carina Press. We actually get a NY editor helping us tweak our manuscripts! I think there is still room if you want to sign up and work on your manuscript for a very reasonable price. You don’t even have to be a member of Colorado Romance Writers or our co-host Heart of Denver Romance Writers. We welcome guests to our min-con’s, and there’s lunch too. Bring a laptop, your manuscript and get ready to work!

Finding Ms. Wright by ML Guida, Hillary Seidl, Lori CorsentinoCRW is doing a second mini-con in August with the talented Kim Killion of Hot Damn Designs. Kim is not just a photographer, or publisher, she is a graphic designer and has done some fabulous cover art for people. She put our header together for Paranormal Freebies and the original cover art for Finding Ms. Wright too. In fact the model for Finding Ms. Wright, Brooks Johnson will be attending our event, so stay tuned for details on the CRW website and find out what else will be happening.

And last, but certainly not least, I’m heading to RWA Nationals. I decided I wanted to do at least one and since I haven’t attended in four years of membership, this seemed to be the year. It’s in a wonderful location, steps from Disney Land (and don’t think we’re not going!). It should be filled with amazing workshops and I expect to touch base with a zillion people. In fact, one of my goals is to find some quality presenters for our very own big convention.

Yes, CRW will be putting on a big convention again, it’s been several years since we tried. The economy torpedoed our efforts, but with the recovery we feel we can plan again, so watch out! A big romance writer con is on it’s way in possibly 2014. And ML Guida and I will be piloting the ship. That in itself is a very scary notion.

Are you attending any fun conventions this year, big or small? Have you ever tried to put on an event like a convention? Where do you go for fun as an author?

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Wallowing in Karmic Self Recrimination

Sensational Saturdays

my new once a week blog for whatever I feel like

KARMA

That’s right, it’s karma day. A day to seize your comeuppance and enjoy it for what it is, justified.

Whenever I get extra time in my life I think I can do it all. So I sign up for things. And then them come around and I’m handling it. I’m handling my family and my house and my writing and my volunteering. And then I start to work. And then something falls apart.

Then I fall apart.

And I realize that I did this to myself.

Stock Image - CamelI over loaded based on the fact that I was healthy, everyone else was doing great and I could do it all. But when you are at the tipping point and a fat camel comes and sits on your scale, somebody’s back has to break.

And it won’t be the camel’s.

I’m lucky. Okay, I had a rough week. Okay, I’ve had it rough since 2012 began, but none of it is debilitating. None of it will truly set me back for long. And none of it is truly insurmountable.

So what do you do? What am I doing? Well, you already know that! I’m cutting back. I’ve already cut down this blog to once a week. Oh, and I’m forgiving myself. I missed posting yesterday. Why? Well it wasn’t because I didn’t have time, and it wasn’t because I forgot. It was because I just quite plainly needed a day to not do any of this stuff. I needed a day to recover from this H-E-DOUBLE-HOCKEY-STICKS week. And I stole it.

I stole it from myself, and it felt good.

I’m hoping that this week goes better, but facing the last two weeks, I’m not sure. So I need to set the second part of my plan in motion and that is do what I can ahead of time, drop what I can, and not sweat everything else. Because karma has come to kick me in the butt and there ain’t nothing to do about it but hang on and survive.

So that goals sheet I set up at the beginning of the year, this week I’m ignoring it. And I’m facing the fact that come next month it may need total revising. My social media frenzy that I’ve been working on for over a year, this week I’m ignoring it. No Twitter, no Facebook, and thanks be to the heavens I already gave up on Linked In. Anything that makes me feel like I’m having a panic attack is getting ignored.

I’m in survival mode and that’s just the way it is. I should have done this months ago, but I avoided looking at the signs. I kept hoping (because as you may know, I’m an optimist) that my life would get whipped back into shape if I just tried harder. But I got hit on the head this week and I’m listening.

I know many of you have done this to yourselves, over-estimated your time, over-committed your time, or over-estimated your capacity for stretching yourself to the bone. Tell me your stories. Share with me your coping strategies. Did you forgive yourself and move on? Or did you wallow in the mud of self-torturing recriminations? 

Free Stock Photo - Pig

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Filed under Optimisim, Sensational Saturday's, Writer's Journey, writing organization