It’s About Me. Oh, Really?

A friend and I were talking  about the writing life and got on the subject of pitches.  You see, aspiring authors can sign up for a pitch-practice session with various “published” writers before they go into their real pitch with an agent and/or editor.  I think it’s a great idea of an aspiring to get some pointers before they put their best foot forward with their hopes riding high on their pitch.  HOWEVER, I also think it’s a waste of time to have your pitch shot down by someone who has their own agenda in mind. 

I’m not sharing any names, but stories like this perturb me because it happens more than you think.  You see, some authors have this idea that they think they’re doing aspiring authors a favor by tearing their work apart while elevating theirs at the same time.  But yet, they think they’re judging your work as an editor would. 

Maybe I’m naive.  Maybe it’s because I don’t know anything about working with editors despite having work with them for the last five years.  But if telling someone “that will never sell” when they’ve only gotten four words out of their mouths is supposed to help, then I’d rather get a critique from a one-eyed monkey who’s slinging shit due to it being their nature than out of maliciousness.  But that’s just me.

Whenever I critique someone’s work, I do my best to give both positive and negative criticism.  Trust me.  If you’ve worked your butt off and love your story to pieces, then I’ll find something I love about it and will be sure to point it out.  That’s how I believe in critiquing.  The things that bug me about your work, you’ll know about those, too.  Now whether something is unpublishable or not, I’m not one to say because I’m not an editor and I don’t pretend to be.  Perhaps those “it’s all about me” authors should remember that the next time they think they’re doing an unpubbed a favor by gracing them with their presence.  They need to leave their diva at the door when they’re facing your readers, too.  

Have you ever encountered any divas in your reading/writing travels?

Ins and Outs

Ins.  I’m officially PAN now.  Basically, that means I’m a member of RWA’s Published Authors Network.  Strangely enough, I had considered myself published since the day I sold my first book.  I find it even more fascinating that people used to say that I wasn’t “really” published because it wasn’t by RWA’s standards.  I’ve learned a few things since then with the most important being, only YOU are allowed to define your career.  Not an organization.  Whether you’re a garbage collector or a neurosurgeon, if you’re happy with your job, then you’re successful.  At least, that’s how I’ve always seen it. 

So why did I bother?  Well, that’s just it.  I should’ve sent my application in a long time ago, but life and pregnancy had gotten in the way.  Plus, every time I thought about it, something more important always came up.  I decided just before Nationals in Orlando to send my application in before the RWA Board decided to change the rules again and have the loops in an uproar.  After all, as Beth Williamson put it, I paid for it, so I might as well take every advantage of it.   She’s a smart chick and a great PAN Liason.  🙂

Ins.  Have you seen the Magical Musing blog?  Go there.  Now.  I’ll wait.  Have you gone yet?  Did you notice the new faces?  SWEET!!  I had no clue until I noticed the changes earlier this week.  I sent an email to Edie because I was nosy like that and she told me about the blow our party happening today.  Prizes, cyber champagne, and confetti to go around.

Outs.  Have you guys heard the news about Barnes and Noble being up for sale?  Man, I feel like buying it…assuming I had that much money hanging in my closet.  This news had brought about some serious thought for me.  For instance, it’s a well-known fact that NY pubs pay for prime placing in book stores.  B&N is one of the biggest brick and mortar stores out there.  If they go away, where will they pay for spacing next?  Borders?  But aren’t they on a thin line, too? 

I don’t think print books are going anywhere, even if there isn’t much of a brick and mortar store left to place them.  There will always be Amazon and other independent bookstores that will make sure of that.

Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if both big brick and mortars fizzle at some point, not that I want to see that happen.  But if something were to happen to me like it did with Kalayna Price, I might wish hellfire and brimstone on them.  She’s a much better person than I am.  😉

So what’s been going on with you?  What are you reading?  What are you writing?  Nosy people like me want to know.

It’s Conference Time! Um…Okay.

Every year around this time, someone will bring up the illusion that you’re not serious about writing unless you go to RWA Nationals.  That jug head usually gets a slew of responses from writers who are happy to e-roast the moron to ashes. 

But this post isn’t about RWA.  It’s about conferences in general.  As Nina Pierce asked in her blog, are they worth it?  Whether it’s RWA, RT, or anyone else for that matter who’s hosting, for me, I can honestly say no. It’s not.

Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we? For the average big conference where there are around 2000 people, you can expect to spend about $2000. Funny how that math works, right?  But think about it.  If you have to fly, pay for hotel costs, food (because they rarely give you anything, assuming you can choke it down), and the registration fees.  For these reason alone, I’ve decided to start investing more in the cons (ConCarolinas and StellarCon for now) that are in my neck of the North Carolina woods.  Not to mention, this is my home.  This is the place where I can make a mark that can stretch elsewhere.  There’s little traveling fees, which leaves me only the hotel and food to worry about.  And if you want to talk registration, paying less than $40 for an entire weekend isn’t bad.  Oh, and did I mention that there are really worthwhile writer’s panels that just get better and better every year?

The main reason why a lot of people go to is to network, meet their favorite authors, and to pitch to an editor or agent.  First, you can network online.  Second, I’d rather spend ~$500 on their books than to spend it shaking their hands.  Third, you can pitch to an editor or agent in a query letter for a lot cheaper…and still get the rejection that’s meant for only you.  A face-to-face meeting isn’t going to change whether they like your book or not.  The story has to stand on its own.  And chances are, most editors and agents have found a huge percentage of their clients via regular, old query anyway.

Now don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t a post to bash anyone in particular.  It’s a post about the honest reality and cost of going to conference.  They’re great!  Seriously.  That’s why I’m getting my one and only “writer” conference on by going to Moonlight & Magnolias in October.  But with the ways things are shaping out, it might be the only “writer” conference I attend annually.  It’s one of the cheaper ones that I can actually drive to in six hours.  RWA Nationals isn’t going to happen for me until possibly–I’m about 50% sure at this point and easily swayed in either direction–is in 2013.  RT might happen for me in 2012, if New Orleans becomes to “official” host city.  As you can see, that’s planned way out.  At the price of these things, it needs to be. 

In the mean time, I’m sticking to my NC conferences.  If anyone knows of any in South Carolina or Virginia, I can be talked into venturing out.  😉

Which conferences do you find worthwhile and why?

RWA Has Spoken

You recall the RWA craziness that was going on a few months back with Harlequin, right?  The new self-pub arm that delisted them as an Eligible Publisher?  Well, this is the newest hand-down (via the Hot Sheet) from RWA to its members.  It should come at no surprise:

Taking into account emerging trends in publishing that may offer opportunities to writers, the task force recommended that RWA adopt methods used by other trade shows and conventions and to shift its method of evaluating publishers as a whole to evaluating publishers by divisions, imprints, or lines.

Given the Harlequin Ho-rizons (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days) thing, it doesn’t take a crystal ball, a tarot card reading and some tossed chicken bones to know that RWA was going to break down the recognition–excuse me, I meant “Qualifying Market”–criteria by imprint.  They didn’t have much of a choice, considering Harlequin, their star publisher, pulled a Bernie Madoff on them with their new self-publishing venture. 

So what does this mean for publishers?  Well, RWA already speculated on that, too.

Under this revised method, RWA will extend invitations to a wide pool of publishers. Invitees may only represent their non-subsidy/non-vanity publishing programs (imprints, divisions, or lines) at RWA’s conference. Space for spotlights, workshops, and booksignings will be allocated to lines, imprints, or divisions that best meet the requirements for “Qualifying Markets.” This new process of evaluation will likely increase opportunities for small presses and e-presses that previously have been excluded.

I especially like that last part, so I bolded it.  🙂  Anyway, if this is what truly happens, then it’s a good thing.  I could be wrong, but it sounds like RWA is opening their eyes to epublishing.  But on the other hand, it also sounds like RWA is giving Harlequin an excuse to exist in their Qualifying Market schema. 

Can you see where the arguments are going to unfold?  I can.  😈 

First, outsiders are going to say that RWA is filled with a bunch of saps who can’t live without their glorious romance publisher.  Second, other organizations are going to stand their ground until Harlequin dumps Dellaharte, -core, or whatever they’re calling themselves and not give in like the saps.  Third, some epub authors are still going to find beef with this because it took a giant like Harlequin for them to get their proper recognition by RWA.  Fourth, RWA isn’t ripping into Harlequin for referring rejected authors to their vanity press stink locker.

In the end, you can’t please everyone.  It’s a lesson I had learned a long LONG time ago.  You’d think everyone else would, too.  But alas, that’s not the case when the cats bear their claws.  The most you can do is the best you can and hope you won’t crap bricks in the process. 

Personally, I don’t feel one way or another about this because an organization can’t put a value on my writing.  If I didn’t feel that way, I would’ve joined PAN (their published-author network) a while back.  But that’s just me.  Anyway, let’s face it.  Until we really know what “Qualifying Markets” means and entails, it’s too soon to make assumptions and start a heatwave across the blogsphere about this.  Everyone needs to chill. 

What do you think about this latest decree?  If you don’t belong to RWA, then what would you like to get out of a writer’s organization?

RWA Registration-less Conference Review

Boy, did I have fun!  I met so many old friends and new friends while hanging out at the bar/lobby of the Marriott that I wished I had another day.  I’m still kicking myself for not finding Leanna Renee Heiber or Isabo Kelly to congratulated them on their Prism awards.  At least I hooked up with my lovely BFF, Nancy Haddock for dinner and good times.

Friday.  I left at 8:30am and didn’t get to my hotel until 5pm.  Why?  Because traffic sucked.  But it REALLY sucked every time I wanted to turn into the hotel but couldn’t because a damn fire truck or police car was in the way.  I spent 3 hours trying to get to my hotel because the fucking streets were laid out like spaghetti. 

By the time I finally arrived at my hotel, I had missed the Samhain wine and cheese fest.  Boy, was I bummed about that.  Even worse, some jackass pulled the fire alarm at 5:30.  So that means I was in my hotel for only half hour before I had to leave it again.  I was tired, pissed, and ready to torch my room to make sure the fire trucks didn’t waste their time.  Anyway, I headed over to the Marriott and the first person I ran into was the amazing Kimberely Kaye Terry and Jean Marie Ward before meeting up with JT Bock and Karmela Johnson.  In the process, I got a chance to make a new friend, the lovely CatMarsters/Kate Johnson.   Not only does she have a cool British accent, but a wicked sense of humor.  Did I also mention how stylish she is?  🙂  After dinner, we retreated back to the hotel where I met that fabulous and very beautiful Elizabeth (didn’t get her last name) and the endearing Alix Rickloff.  Boy, is she a sweetheart.  At 12:45am, it was time to call it a night.  Besides, Baby Girl kept kicking up a storm with all of the loud voices in at the bar. 

Saturday. I had time on my hands and had good intentions to go to see the sights.  Didn’t happen.  Instead, I went to the Marriott and kept running into more friends.  I hung out with the amazing and incredible Samantha Kane and Mari Freeman.  By the way.  I owe Samantha big time!  She had an extra ticket left for the awards ceremony so I could hold my buddy, Elizabeth Langston’s, hand when they were announcing the finalist for the Golden Heart.  Without the extra ticket, I wasn’t going to be able to go.  So go buy Samantha’s books because she’s a fantastic writer and a great friend!  Anyway, by hanging out with them, we ran into the beautiful Eden Bradley(gotta love this woman) and sweet-thang Jax Cassidy.  BTW, Jax will be doing my next website redesign.  No way am I doing that shit again.  😆  Anyway, shortly after they left to do their panel, the fire alarm went off.  I kid you not.  It was like a fire alarm a day in DC.  Anyway, I then ran into the fun-loving Emily Rose and her beau, some more authors whose names escape me, and finally, dinner with the beautiful Nancy Haddock.  Gosh, I love this woman to pieces!  Also, I bumped into Margie Lawson, Jenna Black, several times, in fact, Jeri Smith-Ready (such a sweetheart), Ms. Lady Jane’s Salon herself, Maya Rodale, and the very cool Virginia Kantra.  Did I mention I bumped into Karin Tabke, too?  I blame it on the chocolate covered strawberries for bringing us together.  😉  Finally, I closed out the day hooking up with JT, Cat, Elizabeth, and Alix again.  And just when I thought that was the end…I run into Nancy again and she introduced me to her amazing editor.  No, I didn’t pitch a book at her, but we had a great time coming up with a fantastical story of how Nancy got published.  😉

Sunday.  I left at 8:30am and got home just before 1:30pm where I crashed.  No excitement there.

Highlights.  Baby Girl kicked on cue for a couple of people.  That was pretty awesome for a couple of folks.  Either BG likes the excitement or she was thumping me to tell everyone to be quiet.  Either way, she garnished me a lot of attention.  Not only that, but I got a lot of kudos for choosing motherhood instead of it choosing me.  🙂

So that was my big RWA adventure.  All in all, I give it a B+.  It would’ve been an A, but I forgot that you can’t get free books at the publisher signings unless you’re a registered conference goer.  Tha sucked.  But at the same time, for all the books I would’ve loved to have picked up, they don’t amount to $475.  So, I’m good.  But because of this fabulous experience, I’ll definitely be attending RWA Nationals 2010 a day or two early and it will be registration-less.  😉

RWA Conference from the Cheap Seats

Many people aren’t going to RWA Nationalsfor various reasons, but so far the biggest has been the cost.  At the rate RWA, RT, and other conferences are going, they should expect attendance to decline in the coming years.  You can’t raise prices while people are losing their homes, jobs, and having to downsize on their children’s education. 

However, I have a solution.  😀  It’s called Registration-less Conference. 

Most who go to conferences like RWA or RT go with a game plan.  They have an idea of what they want to accomplish and set out doing it.  My goals are pretty simple.  I want to meet up with my friends (a.k.a. networking).  Everyone knows that the bar is one of the best places for this.  Not only that, but I had contacted some of my wonderful friends ahead of time and scheduled things like dinner and lunch with them.  More important, I feel good about my writing right now and don’t want any outside influences.  😉

Now keep in mind, this isn’t for everyone.  In fact, it’s probably for less than 5% of the people I know.  Not only that, but it takes a certain state of mind to pull it off successfully.  If you want to meet agents and/or editors, then by all means pay $475.  The same goes for if you’re interested in craft lessons, promo, marketing, attending a panel your favorite authors are on, or getting publishing house insider information.   But don’t forget, some of this information you can also get via the CDs and by ordering the workshop booklet for much less than $475. 

One thing is certain.  I’m not paying full price if I can only be there for the last third of the conference (Fri-Sun).  That makes no economic sense whatsoever.  So the only thing I’m really paying for with regards to RWA is the price for an awards ceremony ticket ($50).  That’s about the same price I’d normally pay for a conference/convention registration, so it doesn’t bother me to pay that much to cheer on three of my HCRW buddies for the Golden Heart awards.  So far, my conference total is $330, which is less than cost of registration alone.  I’m sure it’ll go up depending upon my food, gas, parking, and fun expenses.  Nonetheless, that’s a great deal, if you ask me.  😉

Anyway, that’s my big conference saving tip.  What about you?  Do you have any you’d like to share?

New Website, RWA, and Baby News!

Finally!  It’s up and running.  I’m talking about my new website.  Check it out and let me know what you think.  Better yet, give that sucker a test drive. 

Though I like the work that Stonecreek Media did on my previous website, I needed a change.  Not to mention, the eyes aren’t what they used to be, so reading white fonts on a black background added to my daily eye strain.  The thunder and lightening grew tiresome, too.  It was almost as bad as having music start automatically when you open up a web page.  But I only have myself to blame because Stonecreek did exactly what I asked them to do.  Boy, have I learned my lesson.  🙂

I had my eye expert, Kathy Calarco look at the fonts and background for me to make sure it wouldn’t hurt anyone’s eyes.  Thanks to Dreamstime stock photos for helping me with a creepy looking banner that really accentuates my style.  And last but not least, a thank you to Coffee Cup Software…although I could’ve slapped the shit out of you people earlier this week because you don’t know the difference between a break tag <br> and a paragraph tag <p> when it comes to your text boxes.  What you see is NOT what you get if you’re testing out your website in various displays.  Thanks to you, you’ve made my job of maintaining my website harder, too.  😡  Good thing I know more than I want to about HTML code.

Of course, I can’t have a website change without changing up my My-hardly ever-use-Space page, too.  That’s here.  Nevertheless, I doubt the new layout will make me use it any more than usual. 

And as for some other stuff, I’ve decided to attend RWA Nationals in the cheap seats.  You know.  The ones in the bar/lobby where hundreds of authors, editors, and agents usually flock to anyway?  There’s nothing to stop me from hanging out at the hotel with my friends, so I’m going up there to meet up, have dinner, and probably tear up the town with them.  If everything goes nicely, I might never pay for another Nationals again.  I’ll just show up at the lobby of the hotels and hangout with other writers.  There’s no reason why I can’t be a business professional without it costing $475 a pop. 

Also, I case you haven’t heard me scream from the rafters yet, I’m having a baby GIRL:mrgreen:

So that’s if for now.  Check out my new website and let me know what you think.  Happy 4th of July everyone!