Friday, August 1, 2014

The RWA National Red Carpet

One of the best parts about attending the RWA National Conference is the chance to see romance writers shed their usual attire (yoga pants, tee shirts, and pony tails) to glam it up for such events as the Harlequin party and the RITA/Golden Heart awards ceremony. As you can see, the Super Authors were very well represented at these festivities!

Here is Holt Medallion winner Cathryn Parry in her classic (and beautifully classy!) black and white awards ceremony finery. She's posing for us in front of the desk where attendees could order flash drives containing all of the workshops that were taped during the conference - one of those spots that gets increasingly busy as the conference progresses!
 Jennifer Lohmann (who won the National Readers Choice award for Best First Book!) went with this adorable silver (platinum? I suck at color commentary) dress for the awards. The flash of bright red from the shoes adds such a lovely whimsical touch!
Not only are these ladies gorgeous and talented, they're related! That's new-to-Supers (but well-established-in-other-lines) author Joanne Rock on the right, posing before the Harlequin party with her sparkly sister-in-law Karen Rock, who writes for Harlequin Heartwarming.

And here we have Jeannie Watt, totally rocking a dress that - are you ready for this? - she made herself. Yes indeed, folks. Jeannie loves to make clothing from vintage patterns, and this, from the 1955 Vogue collection, is stunning proof that the classics never go out of style.

Congratulations to our Super Six-Pack Winner...

Congratulations Penney W.
You are the winner of a Super Six-Pack!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Savoring San Antonio

As many of you know, the national conference for Romance Writers of America just wrapped up yesterday in San Antonio, Texas.  I was lucky enough to be there, and today I am reveling in my memories and recovering from several days of not-enough sleep and a few too many delicious Texas margaritas!  These first two photos were taken at the Alamo, which was a short walk from the conference hotel.  I loved the grounds even more than the interesting museum.  Just beautiful!

The conference hotels were right along the River Walk, a lovely path that follows the San Antonio River as it travels through downtown.  It was extremely hot out during the day, but dining or strolling along the walkway in the evening was a real treat.

What fun it was to talk with fellow authors, make new friends and reconnect with people I met at the conference last year.  I also got to spend some quality time with members of my local RWA chapter and celebrate their conference successes with them.  I participated in the annual "Readers for Life" literacy signing, in which hundreds of authors signed copies of their books to raise over fifty thousand dollars for charities that promote literacy.  Here I am - it was my very first book signing ever!

I attended informative workshops on creating emotion in stories, using more vibrant, animated language in my writing, and marketing my books.  But I think my favorite event was the Superromance Open House, where aspiring authors came to learn more about the series.  I am so newly published - just one book away from where they are - and it was nice to be in a position where I could encourage them to reach for their dreams, just as others encouraged me.

I'm starting my week filled with gratitude and good memories, and looking forward to the RWA National Conference next summer in New York City.  And if you're thinking of attending too, please let me know.  Maybe those of us who write and read the SuperAuthors blog could meet up for a drink.  It may take me a year to recover from too many Texas margaritas, but I'm sure by next summer I'll be ready to indulge in a few Manhattans!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Question of the Month: The RWA National Edition

This week (as in right now), romance writers from across the globe are converging on San Antonio, Texas for the annual Romance Writers of America National Conference. With that in mind, we posed this question to the Super authors:  
If you are going to National, what are you most excited about? If you're not going, can you share with us a quick story about something fun that's happened to you at a conference?

Jennifer Lohmann: I am going. I love getting to see friends that I only interact with online. I also love dancing, so the Harlequin Party is a highlight.

Joanne Rock: I'm going to RWA and am most excited about the Literacy Autographing as you never know who will show up at your table! I like the excitement of seeing readers and writer friends, some of whom I've only met once before or have only chatted with online. I dole out a lot of hug that night, and I consider it a great success if I've knocked over my book display at least a few times during the hugging! I won't be able to sign a Superromance yet, but I'm excited to show off my new cover, which I've already printed for a table stand.

Pamela Hearon: I always look forward to the time spent with other writers at the conference--it gives me another year of validation that I'm not nearly as odd as the people in my small town think I am :-)  But this year, I'm MOST excited that my second Harlequin Superrromance THE SUMMER PLACE is a finalist in the National Readers' Choice Awards, which will be announced Friday afternoon!

Cathryn Parry: I'll be at the RWA conference this year, and I'm most excited that my roommate, Blaze author Karen Foley, is up for a Rita award!  We've been friends since Mrs. Fitzgerald's class in second grade at the Red Oak School, and sometimes I still can't believe that we've been so blessed to have our longtime "author" dreams come true.  I'll be cheering for her--for everyone, actually--and especially for our Superromance author finalists, as well. I'm also excited about seeing the Alamo!  Am I the only one who loved Davy Crockett as a kid?  

Tara Taylor Quinn:  I’ll be at conference and what I enjoy most is the chance to be wholly focused on writing in a place consumed by other writers.  I love the sense of being with people who are like me, who get the strangeness of how our minds work, how we can sit alone and be consumed by the feelings of others, how voices speak to us even when the room is silent.  I love the energy!  And I love seeing, in person, the people I work with all year long.  When I am at conference I always feel that buzz of hope that anything is possible.

Claire McEwen: I am going to National and I am most excited about immersing myself in writing. Like so many of us, I write in the spare bits of time around raising my son and caring for my family, and it never feels like I have any real time to think.  I can't wait to take workshops, practice my craft, talk with other writers and just luxuriate in writing!  And I'm looking forward to spending time with friends, Superromance writers and editors as well!

Mary Sullivan: Unfortunately, I won't be attending National and will miss meeting everyone! :-(

The story that stands out for me from a past conference was my first RWA National. I was a Golden Heart finalist and had booked an appointment with an agent I admired. My book was about a rancher who brought inner-city children who were in remission from cancer to his ranch for a rare opportunity to have fun while they recovered. The heroine was there to close it down because it was losing money. I made a homemade business card with this equation: 

   1 rancher 
+ 1 city girl 
+ 10 children
=a dozen reasons to fall in love

As I looked at the attendees around me with their beautiful professional business cards, I thought I had made a serious error in judgement. I should have gone professional rather than cute and fun. Extremely nervous, I sat down in front of the agent and handed her my poor little homemade card. She glanced at it, did a double-take, smiled broadly and said, "Oh! I really like that!"

After I described my story, she asked to see a partial, e-mailed within a week quoting parts of my first chapter and asking to see the full. In the meantime, a second agent I had also been courting offered representation so I turned down the agent from the conference, but she was extremely gracious and offered me many good wishes for my future.

Sometimes it's not such a bad thing to step outside of the box and be a little funny!
Now readers, you tell us: have you had any fun conference experiences? Or have you ever encountered a romance writer in the wild? 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Grateful for Good Neighbors

I love Durham. If you read my June Superromance, Weekends in Carolina, it should be obvious how much I love my adopted hometown and one of the things I love about it are my neighbors. I have the best neighbors and I live in the best neighborhood.

This is on my mind recently because of a group a couple of my neighbors started: The Village People. It's a neighborhood garden club, but it's not a garden club like you normally think of them. The Village People are a work group. Everyone has those projects in their yard that would take one or two people and entire day to do, but a small crowd could knock out in two hours. This is where the Village People come in. For two hours, several of the neighbors come over and help out. It's a small commitment for them and makes a world of difference for you.

YouDee the chicken explores the newly laid mulch

It may not look like much, but all that area was cleaned out by The Village People. Because of some personal things in my life, my yard got ignored last summer and the last thing you want to do in the South in the summer is ignore your yard--nature (in the form of weeds, many of them invasive) takes over. The whole area under mulch looked like that green portion to the right: i.e. Japanese stilt grass, English ivy, and poison ivy. In two hours, with the generous help of my neighbors, I was able to reconquer most of it, put down a protective barrier and spread mulch. Come fall, it will again be ready for plants I want.

Next on the agenda of The Village People is to help an elderly neighbor clean out a carport full of...well, no one really knows what's in that carport.

Things like this remind me that I'm blessed to live in this neighborhood. I know not all neighborhoods and not all neighbors look out for each other like this. While walking our dogs, my neighbor and I like to joke that it's like living in a Leave it to Beaver episode sometimes. We often make this joke after stopping to talk to other neighbors and sharing the latest in neighborly news. I love it and have a hard time imagining living anywhere else.

Do you live in a neighborhood like mine? If not, would such a helpful (and sometimes nosy) neighborhood drive you crazy, or do you think you would like it?

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