Monday, July 20, 2009

I Survived Nationals

I did it. I survived my first National RWA Conference. It was exhausting but it was definitely an experience I’ll never forget.

Wed, Day1:
The 3 hour train ride up was well worth the $44 round trip ticket cost. No DC traffic headaches to deal with, no overpriced parking. I did get hit on by a George Costanza clone which was both oddly flattering and a little weird at the same time. Hey, I’m a 44 year old mom – I’ll take what I can get. Thank heavens my chapter mate Stephanie was with me and my roommate. She guided us Metro virgins through the system and got us to the hotel with hardly any trouble. Okay, so one of my suitcases did tumble down the escalator – luckily, no one was seriously hurt and the wine was in the other suitcase so it didn't break.

After a speedy check-in (the Marriott staff was awesome) we ate an early dinner and then went to the Readers For Life Literacy Signing. A packed house is an understatement. It was shoulder to shoulder from one table to the next. I think I got a little claustrophobic for a minute or two so I made bee-lines to my friends’ tables, bought their books and escaped with only minor damage to my credit card.

After a very expensive, very strong beverage at the bar, we went back to our room, which was very nice, if you discounted the split personality AC – it was either arctic blast or nothing – but the weather was so nice (no humidity in DC, go figure) that it wasn’t too much of an issue. My roommate snoring, the ladies next to us chatting into the wee hours and the frisky newlyweds above us made for a 1st sleepless night for me, but after a purchase of earplugs, I was good to go for the rest of the week.

Thurs, Day 2:
Janet Evanovich’s opening speech was very entertaining and for the first time, I got an idea of how many people were attending this thing. I now know why RWA has to find hotels with gianormous ballrooms to hold everyone. Someone said there were between 2500-3000 people registered for the conference. I believe it.

I skipped the AGM because by the time I got there, it was standing room only. Instead, I relaxed with friends, then went to the luncheon where Linda Howard regaled us with tales of her insane family, then attended the PRO Retreat workshops in the afternoon. That night, my roommate and I went to the FF&P Gathering where we had dinner and applauded the Prism Award winners. I was a little disappointed because afterwards there was supposed to be an agent/editor panel, but I guess there were scheduling conflicts so there was an author panel instead. Still informative. Later, we cruised through the Moonlight Madness Bazaar where I only intended to browse but ended up buying 2 beautiful necklace and earring sets from Lisa Arlt. At least they didn’t take up too much room in my suitcases.

Fri, Day 3:
Workshops, workshop, and more workshops. Then it was off to my agent pitch, which I almost missed because I didn’t hear them call my group and was chatting away with other nervous pitchers. I’ll have to say, I think my interview with Roberta Brown went very well. She said she hoped I write as well as I pitch, because she thought my book sounded fantastic. I’ll be emailing the 1st five chapters to her this week. *fingers crossed* Another enjoyable luncheon where Eloisa James spoke, then more workshops. After a quick dinner with friends, we hit the sack early.

Sat, Day 4:
More workshops, one interrupted by a fire alarm complete with sexy firemen. They can rescue me any time. *G* Throughout the week, I attended many of the Spotlights, including the one with St. Martins. I wanted to get a feel for the editor who requested my full manuscript off the Merritt Contest. Afterwards, I gathered my courage and introduced myself to her, wanting to put a face with a book. She immediately knew which book I was talking about and said that she was reading it right now. That took me a bit by surprise and I got a little tongue-tied. I didn’t want to put her on the spot and ask what she thought of it so far, so I couldn’t tell if she was liking it or not. I guess since she’s still reading it, it must be a good thing. At least I hope so. She said she’d be in touch with me next month. Guess who will be jumping every time the phone rings in August?

Then it was time to get dressed for the RITA & Golden Heart Ceremony. I had heard it was a big production and it didn’t disappoint. Anne Stuart was hilarious as emcee, everyone’s gowns were gorgeous and I even got to hold one of the RITAs at the reception afterwards. That sucker is heavy! Someday I hope to hold my own. *G*

Sun, Day 5:
We took our time packing. I didn’t have too much trouble since I planned ahead and had left room for books (some bought, most free – yeh!). I was amazed at how many people got so many books they had to mail them back before they left. My roommate’s suitcase was busting at the seams and it took both of us to get it up on the luggage rack on the train. The ride home was slow, but uneventful – no guys hitting on me this time – and I was so glad to see the hubby and kids waiting for me when the train pulled into the station. I think I’ve recovered for the most part. I doubt I’ll be going to Nationals in Nashville next year, but New York is a definite possibility!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thirteen Blossoms From my Garden

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I love watching my flowers bloom -- almost as much as I enjoy blogging with my friends. This summer my flowers are particularly pretty. Please accept this virtual bouquet with my thanks for your Internet visit.

1. Flower arrangements usually have some green so I’ve included one of my ferns.

2. Who doesn’t like roses?
3. This is one of my favorites—an Oriental lily.
4. This is a red peony I saved from the shaded corner of my house.
5. These are Asian lilies.

6. Purple blossoms from my hostas.

7. Queen Anne’s Lace. Lots of people think these are weeds, but I think they’re lovely.

8. More pink Asian lilies.

9. Pink poppies from my pink garden.

10. Another peony. This one I bought from a garden catalog, but I can’t remember what its name is.

11. An orange day lily. The old kind you find growing along the roadsides around Wisconsin.

12. A Stella Dora lily.

13. More hosta blooms.

Happy Thursday Thirteen. I hope you enjoyed the flowers and that you’ll visit again soon.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Frantic and Nervous

Hi all,

I'm going to keep this short because I'm in the midst of packing for the RWA National Conference which is being held in Washington D.C. next week. Due to my tendency to overpack, I'm glad to be driving. I don't have to worry about weight limits or too many bags or what's in my carry on.

I have two suitcases which are chock full of clothes. Did I say I tend to overpack? Yeah. This is not a picture of my actual luggage - this is just an approximation. My luggage is large and it has wheels - thank God. I also have a small carry bag with all the makeup, bandaids, shampoo, etc I might need for the trip. For the first time ever, I have a laptop and I'm bringing it along. I may just get some writing done while I'm gone. Or I may not, but at least I'll still have access to my email. Woot.

I'll have my phone along and have exchanged phone numbers with some of my online chapter mates from PI (Passionate Ink). Unfortunately, I've done very little research about DC as of yet. I know vaguely what I'd like to visit while I'm there, but otherwise I'm going in blind.

This is very unusual for me. I'm a librarian. I live for research. But just not this time. So if you have any suggestions for "must sees" in the Nation's Capitol, please post in the comments section.

If you can think of anything I should pack but might not have thought of...please post that in the comments section too.

The nice thing about driving is that if you forget something you can stop in a town along the way and pop into a store to get something. When flying - not so much. You know the sad thing is that I love to fly. But when I'm nickeled and dimed by the airlines for the privilege of sitting my butt in one of their seats, then it's ground travel for me. At least for now.

Packing and travel suggestions welcome! If you're attending the RWA National Conference, I'll see you in DC.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fireworks Facts

Hope you had a happy Fourth of July. If you’re like me, you probably saw a ton of fireworks. There’s something fascinating about those splatters of light in the sky --something that tugs at the emotions and captures the imagination.

Everyone in my family has a favorite. A nephew especially enjoys the salutes. My aunt likes the ones that twinkle as they fall.
Ever wonder how these displays came about? Here’s what my research turned up:
Header from samulli

1. Most people trace the invention of fireworks/gunpowder to an unfortunate Chinese alchemist who unintentionally heated sulfur and salt peter (potassium nitrate). It was an explosive discovery.
2. The Chinese call gunpowder "huo yao," which means fire chemical.
3. Early fireworks gave off more bang than light. As they exploded, people saw only a brief golden light.
4. Apparently the Chinese made the first fireworks by shoving gunpowder into bamboo reeds. They exploded them during their New Year’s celebration in hopes of frightening away evil spirits.
5. It’s believed that Marco Polo introduced gunpowder to Europe.
6. Around 1830, Italians began to add trace amounts of metal into the gunpowder, which “colored the explosions.”
7. Copper, for example, creates blue tinted light.
8. Aluminum and magnesium make a golden light.
9. Not surprisingly, other metals make other effects. Zinc creates clouds of smoke and titanium causes sparks.
10. Although onlookers have always enjoyed fireworks, they continue to be dangerous. May 16, 1770, is the date of one of the biggest fireworks tragedies. A fireworks display celebrating the marriage of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette went awry and caused a stampede, which killed some 800 people. Not eight or eighty but 800!
11. Even in recent years, the danger element hasn’t disappeared. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that “fireworks devices were involved in an estimated 8,800 injuries treated in the U.S. hospital emergency departments during the calendar year 2002.”
12. Here’s an interesting statistic. Three times as many males are hurt in fireworks-related incidents than females, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
13. Although I enjoy watching fireworks, I don’t encourage people to set off their own. My suggestion: Consider attending fireworks displays put on by professionals in local parks or on lakefronts.

Correctly handled, fireworks can be a stunning way to celebrate special events. In the United States, we’ve used fireworks to celebrate Independence Day since 1776. That’s when John Adams declared, "The day (Independence Day) will be the most memorable in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. … It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade...bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore."

My Independence Day celebration this year followed John Adam’s intent. I had a really good time, but I’d like to hear about your holiday. Did you see the fireworks? What impressed you most?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Publishers Marketplace

Well, I finally did it. I plunked down the mullah for a subscription to Publishers Marketplace. I’ve been using the free sections for years but now that I’m in high gear in the query process, I wanted to see what the premium side had to offer. After all, the subscription goes month to month, so I figure I can quit once the service has served it’s usefullness.

Now if you’re like me, $20 a month sounds a bit pricey. So what do you get for your hard earned money? At this stage in my career (an actively querying writer seeking agent representation) -- a lot.

While the free to the public sections allow you to browse and search members' Web pages, if you want to view the lastest deals by the movers and shakers in the publishing biz, you have to become a paying member. Here’s what you get:

The latest book deals reported to Publishers Marketplace are posted here daily. Members can also subscribe to a daily e-mail digest of the latest deals so they don’t have to log onto the PM website to view them each day. You get to see which agent sold which author’s book to which editor. Often, there will be a nifty notation of just how good that deal was, from a “nice deal” ($1-$49,000) to a “major deal” ($500,000 and up). I’m hoping to see that listed by my name some day. *G*

Top Dealmakers
This feature uses a database to extract useful lists regarding the most active editors, imprints, agents and agencies over various windows of time, from relatively recent (the past six months) to fairly deep (since January, 2004). You can view lists specific to over 30 subject sub-categories, general sub-sections (such as fiction, nonfiction, and children's), and sales specific to the UK and Canada. When I searched for “agents” and “women’s/romance” I was thrilled to find out the agent I have an appointment with at Nationals is the top seller of romance for Publishers Marketplace -- 38 deals in the past 12 months, 4 of them 6+ figure deals. Woo hoo!

Deal Tracker
This service allows you to specify a list of agents, agencies, editors, and/or imprints to track. Each time you visit this page, you'll be shown all the deals posted since your last visit that involve your tracked entries.

Publishers and Imprints
Here you can track the divisions and imprints (and owners) of the six largest English-language publishing groups, along with many other large publishers. Linked imprints connect you to more detailed Dealmakers data (including acquiring editors and leading acquisition categories). Since I have a full with Rose Hilliard at St. Martin’s right now, I can see that she’s posted 12 deals in the past 12 months. Four of them were 6-figure+ deals and 3 of those were romance. I can also see what other genres she bought and which agents were involved in those deals.

You can also read book reviews and find out who the top book reviewers are.

Unfortunately, Publishers Marketplace is only as good as its industry members make it. I’m sure not every editor and/or agent posts every deal they make. But it’s a good start. I’m sure I’ll be keeping my subscription going for a while -- at least until I see a major deal for Lori Dillon’s debut romance novel pop up on the list. *G*