Saturday, July 14, 2007
The Welcome Reception
They feed you here! We thought we were on our own for Thursday dinner...but you should have seen all the food at the Welcome Reception. It was just a mix and mingle, no format, just food and friendly ladies. We sat with Sunny.
Next year, we won't panic so much about dinner the night of the reception. Tostadas, veg and dip, cheese and bread...I swear, we are eating our way through this conference.
The Romance Diva's Dinner
After gorging ourselves on the nibbles at the reception, we made our way to the Romance Divas dinner for...you guessed it...more food! It was great to put faces to the names of all the helpful ladies from the Romance Divas forum. Thanks to Kristin, Jax & Lisa for arranging everything. And for not voting me Smart Ass Diva of the Year.
The Eharlequin Pyjama Party
Trekking back to the hotel, we made it to the pajama party...Odd, it seems Trish spells pajamas with a y. No matter. It was great fun, as you saw from our caption contest.
Madame Trish was a bit worried about wearing her pajamas in public, but with a bit of coaxing and a lot of arm twisting, Fiona and I managed to drag her downstairs - with some help from the leprechan stashed in her bra. Once there she was relieved to find out EVERYONE was in pajamas...well, almost everyone. Some people were just stopping by on their wait to the Midnight Madness Bazar, so they weren't in their comfies. Their loss!
At the pajama party we met most of our favorite people from eHQ - Jayne (in the cutest Lucy pj's...not sure why I don't have a picture...), Lorie, Dream, ftworthmom (who is the one-woman welcome wagon for the Dallas conference), lovingu (even nicer in person than she is online)...
We also cozied up to authors like Love Inspired's Terri Reed, Historicals Jenna Kernan (because she has a lovely name, you know), Historical's Michelle Willingham (hiding her baby bump behind Tarzan the blow-up man), and SuperRomance's Cynthia Reese who brought the best guest of all to the party, her daughter Kate! What is a pajama party without a little girl!
I am looking forward to wearing my dress, however. And it'll be great to see everybody dressed up and ready to celebrate. Just over two hours to go. Deep breaths now....
- Protect Your Archetypes - never question the moral integrity of your hero
- Choose Your Scenes Carefully; Every Scene Must Have a Purpose - have the bank robbery, not the news bulletin of it
- Always Keep The Stakes High - More must be at stake than love
- Conflict Must Progress - Always drive twoards the conclusion
- Entrances and Exits Should be Memorable - emotional and heartfelt, not doors closing or faqlling asleep
- Torture Your Characters; The Best Heroes and Heroines are Decisions Makers - create compelling characters and situations. The more trouble characters get into, trhe more they'll have to get out of.
- Use a Variety of Settings - places and activities. DO NOT have every scene be a meal.
- Play Against Expectations
STAGES OF CONFLICT
- teasing hints
- breadth and scope of challenge
- beginning of opinions changing
- glimpse of solution begins to appear
- solution seems more attainable
- solution dismissed or rejected
- alternative solution found
- opinions changed for certain and good
- conflict resolved
More later...Miss Trish must check her email and needs the computer!
XOXO -- Jenna
Friday, July 13, 2007
First up was the Harlequin single title spotlight. An editor from each line talked about what they offer and what they are looking for. Here are my notes ::
MIRA – Literary, not romance, focused. Looking for thriller (can never find enough) and historical fiction. They only accept submissions from agents.
HQN – The home of big romances. Editor Tara Parsons suggests looking at the current list of authors/titles and using that to explain how you would fit into their marketing plan. E.g. My book is similar to _____________ and would appeal to her readers, but is different because ___________. They will look at queries, but prefer agented submissions.
LUNA – Urban and otherworld fantasy, open to sci-fi if the story has a strong female protagonist. Agented submissions.
SPICE – publishes 6 titles a year, looks at their books as sex with a story about the heroine. Doesn’t need a happily ever after, or even a romance. Editor Susan Swinwood prefers to see a full of 90-130 K, but will consider a partial. SPICE Briefs should launch soon. She was hit with over 400 submissions for the e-books of 5-15 K words. The ebooks will be available from eHarlequin and other ebook retailers. She would like to one day do a print anthology of the best sellers, but nothing like that is in the works yet.
Trends in the marketplace
Paranormal expansion beyond vampires and werewolves
Different formats and lengths
It took two hours for the Harlequin Series Spotlight. Each line took a turn explaining how they defined themselves, what they were looking for…and discussion word count. Everyone had questions about word count. Please, can we put this one to bed? Use your computer count. Get it in the ball park. It all works out in the edit. ‘nuf said.
Here’s the basics every writer needs to know to sell to HQ series.
Desire – 50K – escapist, guilty pleasure read. Powerful, passionate, and provocative. The hero is very successful, the pursuer. Set the scene with international vacations and luxurious parties. The stories need to be sensual, but need not be overtly sexual. Only one love scene is required. Conflict needs to move the plot, not just the characters. They are looking for career authors to produce three titles a year.
American – 60K – signed two new authors this year, and found them in the slush pile. Western settings are popular, but branch out of Texas. Open to a range of ages in the hero and heroine. “The only thing standing between you and publication is sending in your manuscript.”
Romance – 50K – interested in cosmopolitan settings, stories must remain couple focused.
Silhouette Romantic Suspense – 55-60K – love stories with a hint of suspense. Be sure to get to the heart of the romance and conflict in the first few pages. Must be driven by the love story. Subtle paranormal elements OK (ESP). Two new authors in the last two months.
SuperRomance – 60-65K – Holding a writing contest which runs through Halloween. 1st chapter, sunopsis, conflict moment. Want all stories to focus on interesting conflicts. http://www.superromancecontest.com/
Nocturne – 70-75K – dark, very sexy, complex paranormal world. Mission oriented, life and death situations. Strong level of sensuality. They like werewolves, vampires, shapeshifters, demons. They do not like a light voice or a heroine who is stronger than the hero. Lately, they’ve seen people try and stretch the plot too thin to try and work one book into a series. DON’T.
Presents Collections – 50K – (These are the Modern Extra books Trish, Ally, Nicola & I write). Quarterly, Presents releases six book groupings. Think of these books as Presents younger sister. (This worried some people in the room who thought it was YA…but no, not Presents daughter, just her kid sister) The heroine has an urban outlook and lifestyle. The hero is uncompromising and confident, yet he hasn’t quite reached the pinnacle of his success. Sparky, sensual, smouldering, with a hint of humour.
They took a break here…and so am I. The wrist is healing, but needs a break. More later!!
But in the meantime just to amuse you all we have some of those pictures that caught a moment in time we're not quite certain of... or happy about from a dignity perspective...
So let's see what captions you can come up with for these and the funniest one's will get a book posted to them from the great pile I seem to have gathered since I've been here... deal??? And in that pile I have everything from Historicals to Paranormals to Erotica to Fantasy to Action Adventure to... well, let's just say there's something for everyone shall we? AND IT'S OPEN TO ALL - AUTHORS AND READERS AND BLOG VISITORS ALIKE... If you know me you know I'm all about the funny. So c'mon - make me giggle...
First up top right we have our very own Fiona Harper with her hands in the air at the Welcome Reception (more to come on that too...)
Then middle left Fiona and I at the Eharlequin Pyjama Party...
And finally bottom right another guest who we'll be telling you about tomorrow at the Eharlequin Pyjama Party...(remember to keep the captions for this one rated for public viewing now!!!)
Right - c'mon then - whats the caption???
One of the reasons we were so late posting last night with Literacy Signing pics and why we're a little dead on our feet and slower than normal today is that last night a group of Mills & Boon authors got together and invaded the very very lovely Sandra Marton's room...
Thursday, July 12, 2007
1…. Books! Some publishers were obviously VERY generous...yesterday Warner and Red Sage had lots out. After the literacy signing, some authors took the opportunity to buy their books and placed them in the Goody Room today. Thanks to Fiona Harper, Linda Barrett, and Dianne Drake
2…. Navel lint brush - for the person with everything from Desire author Michelle Celmer.
3…. Bookmarks. There was the standard bookmark, but my favorite came from Blaze author Tawny Weber - they are magnetic!! I chatted her up, she's just as nice as you'd think! In fact, she made the bookmarks herself while watching the Food Network!
4…. Temporary Tatoos. I've decided, PHS must get tatoos of the jumping man. I love these things. Susan Mallery did cherries to coincinde with her latest HQN release, Tempting.
5…. Book thongs. Kind of like a bookmark, but made out of strings and beads.
6…. Keychains. Superromance author Elaine Grant tagged her postcards with cowboy keychains to highlight her Cowboy Country release, Make-Believe Mom.
7…. Post-it Notes. Some authors had their names printed on them, others got together and did it as part of a blog group. Yet another way to spend money...if only PHS made some...
8…. Candy. Not nearly enough in my opinion. Though, it did seem that the erotica authors had the best...
9…. Pens. Really, come here and you'll never have to buy another again. Some are quite plain...others...not so much.
10…. Band-aids. What better way for Medical author Molly Evans to promote her books?
11…. Notepads. Linda Warren highlighted her Superromance Cowboy Country release, Adopted Son, with cowboy boot and cactus notepads.
12…. Magnets. Lots use magnets as either a business card or to advertise their book cover.
13…. Buttons. Sometimes, these are a great idea. I have one about chocolate I just adore...but....while I wanted to pick up the shirtless cowboy, really, where could I put it?
Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)
My one and only fear was that no one would come to my little table and ask me to sign a book. I arranged my books and my little pot of clotted cream fudge to entice the readers and sat down to wait...and wait...and wait.
Forty minutes later I was definitely in a gonna-go-and-and-eat-worms frame of mind. Especially as I was sitting next to Kim Harrison, New York Times bestselling paranormal romance author, who had a steady stream of vistors ever since the crowds has stampeded through the doors.
But, eventually, as the people made their way to the middle of the alphabet, I got some visitors and the rest of the afternoon went really quickly as I chatted to people I'd met online, people I'd met at the conference and complete strangers (bless 'em for helping me not to feel like Billy no-mates!). I had a really great time. The Readers for Life signing was in keeping with its Texan setting - larger than life and on a scale that had to be seen to be believed!
First, I caught up with some friends from Romance Divas. Cassidy Kent invited me to a drag queen kareoke show...but I had to decline in lieu of a Mills & Boon author get together...doubt there will be drag queens.
Then I fould Eden Bradley, whose career has exploded in the last year. She has books with Bantam, Berkley...I mean...fantastic. And to think, we had our first releases together with Phaze at the same time.
Next I found authors from my local RWA group. Stephanie Rowe tried to hide behind her RITA sign to get away from me. Chicken.
There were lots of books to be bought and fun to be had. The Romance Divas had a treasuer hunt where readers collected signatures from signing Divas. Other groups had similar things. I'll let you know if I win anything...
Speaking of winning, gift baskets were raffled off at the event. HUGE baskets. Since nearly everyone travled to get here, instead of whicker, most of the 'baskets' were carry on luggage! Quite clever.
Of course I met as many of the authors from eHarlequin and PHS blog guests as I could manage. For some reason, Blaze author Lori Borill calls this her sexy author pose. LOL. I love you Lori! But, I did tell you I was going to use that picture.
While I was teasing Lori about mocking me, Tracy appeared. Tracy sold to Everlasting...two months back? She's been trying, and trying, and trying...so this was one of those sales where half the eHQ board cheered! It was great to put a face to her name! And soon, we'll all have a book cover to go with it as well.
I have to tell y'all, Hope Tarr is friendly AND adorable in person. The chic can write an eerie book (seriously, read The Haunting), but she is as sweet as they come.
My advice for those coming to the Literacy Signing next year? Two words - comfortable shoes. No, three words. Cash & Comfortable shoes. Those lines were LONG and there were so many great people to chat up!
XOXO -- Jenna
When the doors opened the folks were let loose on the innocent prey that was over 450 authors all ready to sign their books, give away gifts, hug old friends and greet new ones. Naturally the queues for some of the bigger names grew rapidly... whereas some of the less known names got to watch the queues for famous people and just people watch in general... We did spy many interesting promo items mind you - bookmarks with little silver hand cuffs - bags with sparkly lettering - pens - bookmarks - more pens - huge printed cover flats.... and so so so much more. It's a bit like Christmas in Dallas - in JUNE.
Now Jenna will be back after some sleep to tell you about what it was like to wander round and meet some familiar faces and Fiona will be here to tell you what it was like signing books with a little RITA flag in front of you - but in the meantime I'll tell you about some of the lovely people I MET.... people like the very very lovely lady who was halfway through my book on the plane on the way here and just wanted to say 'hi' - (made my night) - or the reviewer who popped over to say she'd reviewed my first two books and really enjoyed them - (amazingly amazingly sweet!!!) - or Penn who I know from the eharlequin boards and who is a local Dallas-ite (WAVES AT PENN!!!) - or some lunatic woman called Jennie Lucas whose very first Modern title comes out in the UK NEXT MONTH - so A NEWBIE!!! And this is a pic of me and Jennie smiling sweetly for official photographer Jenna... how cute are we????
So all in all my first ever book signing was jolly good fun!!! Even if there were sooooooooo many people in the one room.... Mind you - a part of me really wanted to be wandering round those tables finding my favourite authors too... ;)
Still to coem we have a smorgasborg of authors pictured at the signing - Fiona's impressions of the signing with her RITA flag...and Jenna's THURSDAY THIRTEEN of the best things in the GOODIR ROOM....
Oooh and thanks to Blogging Nationals we've had a great number of visitors to the blog today - so VISITORS WELCOME - and PHS'ers... MAKE THEM FEEL WELCOME BY CHATTING UP A STORM... ;)
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
So Fiona, Jenna and I headed off to our first ever Booksellers Tea this afternoon. This is where writers get a chance to meet with those people who do the important job of selling our work to the reader. And it's interesting to see how many writers were there circulating and how some of the ones with smaller publishing houses were working the room like pro's! Thankfully with all things like shipping and point of sale taken care of by a company as large as Harlequin Mills & Boon this meant we could just chill out a little and listen to what the booksellers we talked to had to say and it's interesting to hear how sales can differ from one store to another...
As part of the meet and greet process, everyone entering the room was given a playing card. It then transpired that booksellers had one playing card and somewhere in the room there were two authors with the same playing card. The aim was to search the room til you found them - making friends along the way and this proved a great ice-breaker!!
By then we had also managed to find the very lovely, very petite and ENTIRELY TOO GOOD LOOKING Jane Porter, so we chatted books and loops and all things wonderfully writerly with Jane and we're now VERY MUCH looking forward to seeing her again on Friday night at the Presents Dinner when Jenna and I get to tag along due to our Modern Extra Hats.... (this is moi with the lovely Jane)
Having socilaized and drank lovely lemonade and eaten some tiramisu it was then time to head off to think about changing and beautifying for the Literacy Signing... more on THAT to follow...
WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR 1st TIME CONFERENCE GO-ERS?
Try your clothes on as you pack to make sure they fit! -- Lissa Manley (Silhouette Romance - 10 conferences, 10th conference
Look over the schedule and use a highlighter to mark the events and classes you don't want to miss. -- Leah Vale (American Romance), 12th conference
Don't be too shy to say hello to people you want to meet. -- Tiana Hall, writer, 4th conference
If you are coming from Australia, take a few days to get to Texas. That flight is LONG! -- Bronwyn Clarke, Golden Heart finalist, 1st conference
Go to the bar early and stake out a table -- Michelle Willingham (Historicals), 5 conferences
More later... and tomorrow...Thursday 13 - 13 best things in the goodie room!!
WELCOME TO THE CONFERENCE!
Well it's just after eleven a.m. here and we're starting to settle in a little. We've even had coffee and visited the Goodie Room! Ooooh sooooo many books and oooohhhh soooo little time!!! And it's just as well there's a service to ship books home otherwise the excess baggage charge would be enough to buy the flipping plane!
First thing this morning Jenna and I went and registered and received our badges and our pin and our bag with books in and our conference handouts and a free pen and a notebook thingie and then had to put it all together. Sean of course registered under L for Leprechaun - cos thats his last name... first name Sean middle name The...
Fiona - being entirely too organized for her own good - did it yesterday!
For those who've never visited the Nationals there are an assortment of badges - with varying different little ribbons across the bottom. So an orange ribbon is a first timer at the conference - a pink ribbon is someone with a first sale - a green ribbon is a Rita finalist... and so on. For instance look how impressive Fiona's tag is!!!
Now PAN - the line across the bottom of the name tag is the Published Authors Network. And then some tags will have PRO across the bottom which is the equivalent for those trying to become published - both organize workshops of their own during the conference so that people can try and utilize their time the best way possible. How great is THAT???
So the first morning seems to involve a lot of staring at tags to try and find out who people are and then lots of trying to recognize faces from the internet....
In a while we'll start bringing you some of our first mini-interviews with people as we meet them and then Jenna will come tell us about the joys of the Goodie Room and then we'll talk fashion dahlinks....
BE BACK SOON!!!
So, you're here!!! Welcome to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in a hot and humid Dallas Texas!!! Did you have a nice flight? Are you ready to check in to the hotel and get registered for the conference??? Well then get going gals!!!
Now remember those time zones... you can set up a page at Time And Date here if you want somewhere that does the Math for you... If not then a VERY rough guide is:
United Kingdom is six hours AHEAD.
Australia is nine hours BEHIND.
West coast USA is two hours BEHIND.
East coast USA is one hour AHEAD.
Toronto Canada is an hour AHEAD.
And Calgary Canada is an hour BEHIND.
Conference starts at 8AM Dallas time on Wednesday so we should hopefully have some reports for you from lunchtime onwards...
Meanwhile, once you're checked in and registered you might want to orientate yourself with the hotel a little so why not visit their website here for a look around....
And once you've done that then maybe you can pop over to the brand new RWA Website here and check out any reports they have (including LIVE REPORTS from the RITA ceremony on Saturday night!!!)
You can have a look at the list of authors signing books this evening at the literacy signing... Who would you run to get a signed book from???
Then let's have a look at the talks that are on today... What would you go do???
AND REMEMBER TO KEEP CHECKING BACK FOR OUR REPORTS!!!
Right here at The Pink Heart Society!
First Impressions on Arrival the night before Conference....
From Fiona Harper:
Okay, Trish is holding me at gunpoint and making me think of something to blog about, despite the fact I'm still jetlagged. In much the same way Jenna made me have a margherita at dinner tonight. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it...
Anyway, enough of that. I arrived in Dallas yesterday afternoon after a loooong flight. I was expecting to spend hours in immigration and customs, but I zipped right through. The nice customs man even shook my hand and told me it was an honour to meet me! (That was before the margherita, mind) I can't imagine that happening on my return journey. All I'll get at Gatwick is a grunt and a take-a-hike thumb gesture to point me in the right direction.
I'm enjoying my first experience of America. I've had real pancakes at breakfast and a really nice hamburger. The only thing is, no one can understand what I'm saying! I thought when I got here that my accent would fool people into thinking I'm really intelligent, but most of the time they just look at me like I'm deranged. It took me three attempts to ask for a bottle of water to go with my salad at lunch. I'm starting to realise that even though I speak the right language here (just) there's a lot more too it.
Trish and I have had an interesting time comparing notes on all the things that are different that we hadn't anticipated: the up escalators are on the left instead of the right (don't even get me started on crossing the road), the toilets are lower down (Trish can talk for five minutes on the gravity flushes that mean if one toilet flushes down a row, the rest all go as well. It's seriously freaking her out). On the up side, everyone is really polite and friendly, the food portions are huge and the waitresses bring you glasses of cool water without you having to rugby tackle them and without giving you the evil eye because you dared to ask for tap water instead of the pricey mineral water they want to flog you.
I'll probably be over the culture shock in a few days. In the meantime, Trish and I are a constant source of amusement to Jenna as we stumble over seemingly everyday things.
From Jenna-Bayley Burke:
I'm free! No ketchup flying at me as I eat, no one joining me in the bathroom, no one telling me they are bored...but I digress. I was a bit nervy about flying since I hadn't been on a plane since I was large with BigBoy...but you know? It was lovely. Two flights, no issues...
And then I landed in Dallas where I was to meet Trish and trek to the hotel...
I LOST TRISH!!
Couldn't find her, so after a bit I headed to the hotel. Guess who was right behind me? I was terrified I'd lost her and have to do the posts myself! Her flight was delayed...on the tarmac...because of lightning. But she wasn't worried about that, no....she was far more concerned she'd striped herself with spray on tan. Personally, I thought she was polka dotted.
On the up side...the shuttle from the hotel was fun...8 RWA attendees, one woman (from Oregon) and one guy who smartly decided to sit up front with the driver. I met the lovely Marion Lennox, as well as Spice author Jina Bacarr.
I dressed for comfort for the flight, so I haven't been very friendly...I am much friendlier when I have clothes that aren't, well, what I wear to work out. Tomorrow I promise to put on a dress and rustle up some good gossip...and hopefully introduce Trish to my friends carmel macciato and dulce de leche frappacino....they'll be as big a hit as the margaritas!
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
This Tuesday at The Pink Heart Society after the chaos of last Tuesday, our very own Trish Wylie brings you a report of her travels so far as she approaches the Romance Writer's Of America National Conference in Dallas which we'll be covering right here at The Pink Heart Society from TOMORROW!!!
Phew! Made it! And believe me when I tell you there were a couple of times last week when I doubted I'd ever be able to say those words....
And yet here I am - an entire ocean away from home - and but one step away from making it to Dallas and my very first RWA Conference!!!! Excited? - me? - you betcha! But maybe I should just let you know a little about how the trip has gone so far in case you haven't been reading my blog...
I left Ireland last Thursday with my travelling companion Sean the Leprechaun (on kind loan from his good friend Kate Walker I should add...) Sean is accompanying me on all the sight-seeing trips and he'll be meeting people at the RWA and helping with a few interviews as well as appearing as a special guest at my table for the Literacy signing... He's jolly excited about the whole thing so far by the way... We flew from Dublin via Shannon to NEW YORK first and can I just say that this country is HOT - I mean seriously - HOT. Face of the sun hot. And although I feel that by the time we hit Washington and the 97 degrees I had begun to adjust a little - Sean hasn't been faring so well and has taken to hiding in the shade of my handbag. He mumbled something about his beard catching fire but to be honest I wasn't really listening.
New York is everything you expect it to be and then some. It's loud and huge and humid and steamy and full to the brim with people and honking fire engines and sirens and tourists with cameras and street entertainers and yelling construction workers and it just doesn't care if you think that's all too much. And there's something so incredibly sexy about that kind of confidence in ones own attraction - I mean what one of us doesn't love a hero with that kind of arrogant self-confidence when it's so fully justified??? Except that a city is always a *she* isn't it. Well I fell for New York I have to say and I think it has every reason to be so self confident - the sights are amazing, the people are fabulous, the food - well - there's no way I'm losing any weight on this trip... And there are so many different memories from my time there that it's gonna take lots of re-capping and a lot more blogging both here and on my Blog in order to tell it all. Maybe I'll do some more when I go there again on my way back??? In the meantime you can see that Sean thoroughly enjoyed the open top bus trip and was very happy when he was able to point out Ellis Island on the way out there by boat.
Now I should maybe point out for the traveller in you at this point that all of this visit barring the RWA portion was booked online and unseen so to speak. I booked most of the hotels through Expedia and was a tad nervous about some of the negative reviews on there. But coming as I do from the romance writing community I should have known that all reviews are subjective, right??? My friend said that people are less likely to write something good than they are something bad and I have to agree with her - though we are a step ahead of that in the romance writing community I feel. However when it comes to hotel reviews my friend was bang on - as both hotels so far have been not even ball-park close to ANY of the bad reviews they received online!!! When I go home I'm gonna break the mould and post GOOD REVIEWS for both. So there! But just remember if you go to book online the reviewing is subjective rule - okay? And another helpful tip - when travelling from International to Internal Flights remember to carry a rucksack in your luggage.... My internal flights will allow MORE than my international flight did - but ONLY if it's in TWO BAGS. In one bag I had an excess weight charge! (thankyou stuff for conference!!!!)
Trish hits us with double releases this month - The Return Of The Rebel (which is a follow up to Breathless!) in Modern Extra - and Bride Of The Emerald Isle (the book she'll be signing at the RWA Nationals this week!) in Romance...
The Return Of The Rebel is available from Amazon UK or from Mills & Boon ! And Bride Of The Emerald Isle is available from Eharlequin or Amazon in the USA & Canada and Mills & Boon or Amazon UK in the UK.