Tag Archive for conferences

RWA 2012 Photos!

Last week I was at the RWA National conference. RWA is the Romance Writers of America. I’ve been a member of this group since 2003 and love it, even though the last romance manuscript I wrote was in, um 2004.

They’re changing their rules and it’s possible that I won’t be able to be a member much longer–pout–but I learned so much from the organization and it’s members, and the conference is always a fabulous time.

This year I even got to meet some folks from my publisher, which was awesome.

But the best part of the conference is that I got to spend some time with great friends.

Here are a few photographic highlights.

The fabulous Stephanie Doyle with her RITA finalist flag flying. :)

And another of Steph after I caught her attention. This was during the set up for the HUGE literacy signing.

Steph and fellow GLIAS blogger Heather Snow

Steph and I at the vodka workshop. Yes, there was a vodka workshop. I learned that I shouldn’t drink so many sweet vodka drinks in a row. 😉

Later that same night… with YA author Linda Gerber and Harlequin author Liz Talley. At The House of Blues, Downtown Disney.

With the fabulous Molly O’Keefe. We were “getting ready” for the RITA ceremony. We found every tiny (and awesome) Mexican restaurant within a mile of our hotel. Fish tacos! Margaritas!

YA Author Wendy Delsol, and romance authors Megan Frampton and Carolyn Jewel at our table for the RITA ceremony. (We were the girls in the back row.)

SCBWI vs. RWA Cage Match

What are the similarities and differences between these two writers’ organizations’ big national conferences?

I discuss today over at my group blog Drunk Writer Talk.

(Aside) The first manuscript I ever wrote was a romance, as was the second, which I abandoned before revising, having decided that romance wasn’t my genre. And while I made that decision back in 2003, I’ve remained a member of RWA because I love the organization and the friends I’ve made there.

Now I have a new love… SCBWI. (end of aside)

In my post, I compare the two conferences.

Another difference I thought of after I posted is: free books.

At RWA’s National conference you end up with at least 10 free books without even trying (you get them when you register and at each keynote) and by trying you can end up with boxes and boxes and boxes of free books. The big six (and smaller) publishers all host free book signings for their authors. Also the publishers give away at least one title (usually more than one book) for each all of the keynote speakers. (The books are on your chair when you go into the room.)

RWA also has a HUGE author signing open to the general public, where the books are donated by the publishers, and any published member attending the conference can sign. It’s HUGE. Hundreds and hundreds of authors signing. And last summer, when it was held at the Marriott in Times Square, the line started hours in advance, trailed through the entire hotel, snaked around the driveway and down the street. It was my first time signing, with Cinderella: Ninja Warrior and Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer, and I have to say it was quite a thrill. Quite a few of the younger teens who came up to ask me to sign books had clearly been given lists of authors they were allowed to talk to/buy from by their mothers. :) Not surprising given the range of authors signing, from well, me (with a young-skewing YA) to full-on erotica novels.

If my comparison had been scoring based on getting books, or opportunities for published authors to get their books into the hands of readers, RWA would win hands down. But from my perspective as an author and conference attendee, I’m not sure I could pick a clear winner.

While I love the free books I get at RWA… I often end up donating them to a library or hospital, or giving them away to friends, and I kind of liked not needing another suitcase to go home. :)

RWA Home Page

SCBWI Home Page

SCBWI Visual Highlights

SCBWI is the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators. Try saying that three times fast. Or three times slowly for that matter. 😉

I’ve been to quite a few writers’ conferences over the years, but this was my first SCBWI, and I had a fabulous and productive time.

I nearly filled a whole notebook with madly scribbled notes. The full day “intensive” on Marketing for Professional Writers was unbelievably overwhelming. My head was ready to explode by lunch. And that day ended with drinks with my agent and the impressive and witty Jon Fine from Amazon Publishing. Now it’s time to sit back and prioritize. :)

For now, here are some of the fun highlights — just the ones for which I have photographic evidence. :)

Here is the fabulous Mahtab Narsiman, moi and multi-talented Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

Photo taken by Debbie (on the right), also known as @inkyelbows

All of the speakers at this conference were unbelievably high quality, but one fun unscheduled treat was a short presentation by Henry Winkler who writes middle grade novels with SCBWI founder Lin Oliver.

Here’s bad and fuzzy photo I obnoxiously took of him when I accidentally ended up standing beside him waiting for the elevator. I should have said hello and asked permission, but didn’t want to pass up on the opportunity. My apologies to Henry. :)

After the conference, I did a little chill-axing at the MOMA before taking the train to Newark airport for my flight home. Didn’t have nearly as much time there as I would have liked, but stopped for the best cup of hot chocolate I’ve ever had.

What you can’t tell from this photo, was that it was hot in two ways… and spiked. I can’t remember all the ingredients but the key ones (beyond hot chocolate) were tequila, chilli flakes and cinnamon. Yum. That’s a stick of cinnamon sticking out. Talk about spicy. Burned going down, in many good ways. :)

I will talk more about the content of the conference both here and at Drunk Writer Talk soon.


I’m away for a few days… Going to the megatropolis (kidding) of Regina, Saskatchewan for the 50th anniversary of my aunt and uncle. Dad’s younger brother.

Should be fun as all my cousins are going to be there.

When I return on Monday, I’ll have my 8 year old neice in tow… She’s attending “Camp Auntie Maureen” for a while–as my sister likes to call it. So, with entertaining an 8 year old and all… not sure how much blogging is going to happen.

Thought I would tide you over with a few snaps from the conference!

Just a few of the Chick Lit chapter writers who have sold or had a book come out this year. Chick lit didn’t look dead that night! Aryn our wonderful and brave president congratulates Lois Winston, Diana Peterfreund, Nadine Dajani and Marley Gibson. (Nadine, Diana’s right… get that web site up!) Congrats girls!

Thurs night, I tagged along to a Florida/New England dinner at Aunt Pitty Pats. Amazing food. Even more amazing fun. Too bad I didn’t frame this better. Sorry Kelly! Cheryl is holding my drink, the red one, which was called an ankle breaker. The menu didn’t have a description of the ingredients, just a testimonial that some general or other had broken his ankle after drinking a few. Luckily, I only had one and my ankles stayed in tact–barely. Thanks to our great waiter for selecting the drink for me. I told him to surprise me. :-)

Yes, that’s the amazing Betina Krahn sitting across from my vacant seat. What a fun person! Great sense of humor. So glad I had the chance to meet her. (To see another version of this photo, check out Diana’s blog.)

Would love to post a few more snaps, but a car is coming to take me to the airport in an hour and I still have to vaccuum my bedroom, make the bed, finish packing and shower. YIKES!!! I am the Queen of Last Minute Land.

Too many conferences…. too little time

Okay, too little money, too…

Eileen Cook, whose novel, IN THE STARS, hits shelves in February 2007, just told me about a great conference today, the Surrey International Writers Conference. (Surrey’s just outside Vancouver.)

What a great sounding conference. And I like to mix things up with some non-RWA events. Interesting to actually have male writers around, not to mention writers of other genres. Since I’m not writing romance right now, it’s nice to attend workshops that aren’t so focussed on the genre.

Hmmmmm… It’s a lot of money. Hmmmmm… I already committed to the New Jersey Romance Writers conference that same month for no good reason except that my friends are going. Hmmmm… I made a rule that I wouldn’t go to any more conferences unless I was either a speaker or had a book to promote.

Well, it was more of a guideline really…

An Ode to the Praline

I was a bad conference blogger. (Bad blogger! Bad blogger!) I had great plans to post every night to keep those of you who couldn’t make it to Atlanta at least partially up to date… What is it they say about best laid plans?


I simply had too-too much fun and was wiped every night when I got back to my room. You could probably smell the drink on the posts I did manage to make. I loved the chance to hang out with other TKA clients (my new sistahs)and got to know many of the New England Chapter members, through Marley Gibson. What a fun/friendly group of writers! So, while I was only partially successful on my stalk Emily Giffin goal… I did do pretty well on my meeting-new-people-instead-of-falling-into the-comfortable-trap-of-hanging-with-friends-from-home goal. Yay, me!

Anyway… this post was supposed to be an ode to the praline, and I have seriously digressed before even starting. Oops. (Premature digression?)

Back to our regularly scheduled program:

On Tuesday evening, The Knight Agency threw an amazing party to celebrate their 10th anniversary. Great setting, great food, great drinks, great music, great company, amazing hospitality AND PRALINES!

My favourite ice cream has always been pralines and cream, so I’d heard of the southern US version of pralines before and assumed I’d like them… (Minor digression… Don’t the Belgians–masters of all things chocolate–call all fancy prepared chocolates pralines? Must do some research. Here’s a start.) But until this week, I’d never experienced a freshly made southern praline.

Let me tell you… You haven’t had a praline until you’ve tried one made seconds ago in a copper kettle right before your drooling eyes. (can eyes drool?) Who knew butter, brown sugar, a squirt of lemon and some fresh pecans could combine to make such a delectably orgasmic treat?
Okay, now that I type out the ingredients, the whole tasty thing seems kinda obvious, but man, they were good!

Here in Canada, we have this treat called a butter tart, which I love (a little too much) and greatly missed during the 10 years I lived in the US. Butter tarts are a bit like like melting a praline into a pastry shell. (Mental note: Must make sure the TKA staff get to try some butter tarts in the future!)

Thanks again to everyone at TKA! I will be dreaming of pralines for months and someday may forgive you for getting me hooked on the hard stuff. Just what I needed–another sugar monkey on my back! (But seriously, thanks for an amazing evening.)

As a stalker? I suck!

Okay, I did forgo the Nora talk at the PRO retreat this morning in favour of Emily Giffin’s talk, (not a hard decision for me) but I totally missed some major stalking opportunities. An aside… the moderator of the presentation called her Emily Griffin 3 or 4 times… Cringe-worthy. Emily was pretty cool about it though.

While I was a total failure in my kidnap-her-for-lunch conspiracy, I did manage to ask the main question I wanted to. In a nutshell, “What was the major thing (other than a really great book) which made SOMETHING BORROWED break out?”

I was simultaneously relieved and disappointed to hear that it probably wasn’t anything in her control–other than writing a really great book (a relatively crucial ingredient ). Sounds like it boiled down to her editor’s whole-hearted belief in the book, and her editor’s ability to make things happen publicity-wise. Man, the kind of thing new authors dream of–and from what I’ve seen (and read!) it couldn’t have happened to a nicer, more deserving writer than Emily.

But even though I did get the last question of the workshop in and she (I think?) remembered meeting me in Toronto, I didn’t talk to her after her presentation. I did hang around a bit… but there were so many people waiting to see her and, well, I went all shy. I didn’t find her at the Literacy signing on Wed night, either. My excuses that night were equally pathetic: it was about 400 degrees in the room; and (this part isn’t exaggerated) over 500 authors signing. Seriously. Who were all those writers? It was crazy! I hope RWA raised a heck of a lot of money for literacy.

My new friend Nadine Dajani, whose book FASHIONABLY LATE comes out in 2007, was bold, though! She talked to Emily and gave her an ARC. You rock, Nadine! Diana, too. A little authorial bonding. Good job girls!!! I bow to your superior stalking–I mean networking–skills.