RWA Nationals Conference Highlights

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Kinley Baker, me, and Lisa Kessler

I thought about doing a recap of what I’d done at the conference, but that’d take a while, and I’m not sure it’d be an interesting read. So here’s a list of some of the highlights from the Romance Writers of America National Conference I went to last week in New York, in no particular order.

+ Flying First Class because my husband is really sweet. I’d never traveled First Class except once as an unaccompanied minor since there was room, but that’s not really the same thing. I had some wine on the flight, and boy, is it easy to get a buzz at high altitudes!

+ Arriving at the hotel from the shuttle and seeing how huge and pretty darn awesome it is.
+ Going to the hotel room and laying on the soft sofa and then bed. Man, I want one of each of those! Plus, we had an awesome view of Times Square from our window.
+ Having my First Sale ribbon and people I meet congratulating me. That was pretty exciting.
+ Meeting up with my critique partners Kinley Baker and Lisa Kessler. It was awesome to see them face to face and talk. I saw Kinley at last years RWA in Orlando, so it was great seeing her again, but I hadn’t met Lisa before, so that was really nice too.
+ Being surprised after putting some pens in the Goody Room to find out that they’ve actually all been taken a little while later. If you’ve find my website through one of my pens, let me know!
+ Sherrilyn Kenyon’s speech during one of the luncheons. It brought most (if not all) of the table I was sitting at to tears. She is so inspiring, and I love that she’s from Tennessee. *grins* Since I am too.
+ Doing pretty well on the pitches I’d signed up and not sounding like a complete blabbering idiot.
+ Going to several very interesting and informative workshops!
+ The hotel’s room service was delicious, and I enjoyed spending time with my husband who went with me (and caught up on his sleep a lot).
+ Having drinks with my husband in The View, which is a rotating restaurant and lounge on top of the hotel where you can see all sorts of tall buildings including The Empire State building. That was really nice.
+ And finally, having a safe, uncomplicated trip home.
Did you go to RWA Nationals? If so, what were your highlights? If not, are you going next year?

And I’m Off…

… to New York for the Romance Writers of America National Conference with a ton of other writers, approximately 2,000 or so. Oh boy! I’m more than a little nervous. Monday was spent packing, packing, and buying some last minute things.

As for some parting news, Jungle Heat, the first book in my The Amazon Chronicles series, is scheduled to be released at the end of July from Changeling Press.

Here’s the blurb…

An Amazon Princess and a weretiger must find enough love to heal their peoples’ painful history.

The Amazon Rainforest still contains a few secrets. One of these secrets is a hidden village of women whose history is filled with the horror of conquering men.

Adara Rukan, princess of the Amazons, ventures away from her village to find something waiting for her. Andrei “Rei” Makarov is a weretiger and a biologist on assignment. Can Rei and Adara find love enough to bridge their two separate worlds?

I’ll see everyone here again next week! Try not to miss me too much, okay?

In the meantime, make sure to add Techno Crazed to your Goodreads TBR pile and buy it now!

Techno Crazed (Hacked Investigations, #1)

P.S. I’ll be tweeting from the conference (or trying to) if you’re interested, follow me on Twitter. @sarahmakela

RWA Nationals (Late) Wrap-Up


I went to Writing the Bestseller: Six Magic Words by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. It was great. I think she had some awesome words of wisdom that really soaked in. One of those is that editors and agents want the compelling story, not the perfect one. I struggle with making my stories perfect before sending them off, but really, we also have to focus on making them compelling.

Next, I went to The Agent/Author Relationship with Jessica Faust and a few of her clients. Most of what they said reinforced what I’ve learned over past few years. I had thought about going to the pitching area during that time, but I decided against it.

I went to the Digital Publishing Q&A. It was interesting, but not as informative as I thought it might be. After that was the Luncheon with Jayne Ann Krentz. It was great. I took a picture of the lunch and dessert on Twitter that day. Chicken, chicken, and more chicken. haha It wasn’t too bad though. The desserts were great.

Went to The Fire in the Fiction: Part 2 by Donald Maass after hearing him talk during the PRO Retreat. Great stuff there. Really enjoyed his workshop and the PRO Retreat. Might have to pick up his books and workbook.

Next was Spinning Straw into Gold. It was by Eloisa James and her editor. It was cool to hear what they had to say about editing and the process she went through with making her book stronger. Would have liked just a little more information about how to apply it to my own projects, but it was good nonetheless.

Active Setting was the last workshop of the day. It was really informative. I felt like I learned a whole lot in it about how to make my settings more active and real and to incorporate them without it being tons upon tons of description.

Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal’s The Gathering was also that night. I went to the Prism awards ceremony, but that was about it. The conference was starting to wear me down with all of the different workshops and things once Friday night hit.


I went to Writing Fight Scenes first thing in the morning with Angela Knight. It was really informative as well.

After that I went to Finding an Agent as an Unpub, which also reinforced a lot of things I’ve already learned while giving a couple of tidbits here and there.

Next was the worldbuilding workshop, which I started getting really hungry and sleepy in, but it had great information and awesome handouts.

I went to lunch with my critique partner, Marissa, during the short break, but due to it not being a very long break, I missed the next workshop time and didn’t want to walk in late.

After that was Business of Writing with Kerrelyn Sparks and her agent, and that was really fascinating. I learned a lot in it.

The last workshop was I’ve Got a Fever: Taking Sexual Tension from Lukewarm to Hot. It played a few film clips and really went in depth on the different wants to build awesome sexual tension. I really enjoyed it as well.

Then hubby (who had been there all day long in his nice suit, haha) and I (who also had been in her nice clothes all day) waited in the hotel’s lobby until became close to time for the RITA and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony and Dinner. It was really good. We had great tablemates, and watching the awards ceremony was very much an inspiration. Hopefully, one day I’ll be able to count myself among the winners (or at least finalists!).

That’s about it. I’m really looking forward to 2011 Nationals in NYC! I’ve never been to New York before.

RWA Nationals Day Two

So last night with uber-confidence in my ability to not need much sleep, I figured that I would be able to go to the RWA Annual General Meeting this morning from 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM. Eh… didn’t happen. I underestimated my love of sleep. So when the alarm went off this morning, I reset it. (Mind you, since I’m local and not staying in the hotel, I can’t just wake up at 9:00 AM and be bouncing off, that alarm went off at about 7:15 AM. I have to count in plenty of time to drive there as well.)

Once I pulled myself from slumber at 10:30 AM, and after getting ready, I was headed toward the hotel for Day 2. I made it to the Keynote Luncheon with wide eyes and a touch of frustration at the fact that I couldn’t pinpoint anyone I even faintly knew. Got seated and ate, then it was time for Nora Roberts’s speech. It was absolutely fantastic and very timely. She was smart and very witty.

After that was the PRO retreat. I struggled between going to workshops or going to the PRO retreat, but after reading more about what was going to be discussed at the retreat, I went with it. It was great. Donald Maass was funny and gave a great keynote speech. Stephanie Feagan spoke as well, telling her story about how she was the winner of a RITA in 2006 and then orphaned after Silhouette Bombshell closed its doors. Then she had to struggle to get another agent after her agent wouldn’t represent a women’s fiction book she’d written, and she had to query 101 different agents just to find another one who would take her in, which is crazy since she won a RITA, one would think it would’ve been easier for her. Really good timing since I have learned how querying agents isn’t a walk in the park. The editor and agent panels were informative and answered some great questions.

When that was finished, I went to the Cabana Bar and hung out with my critique partner and two other authors for a while until it was time for the Moonlight Madness Bazaar. I parted ways with them and saw what all was going on up there. It didn’t have as much as I’d have figured there would be, but I saw a neat leather bracelet maker that I’ll have to look up online. Then I went downstairs and sat in the lobby for a little bit before going home.

Now I’m off to bed!

RWA Nationals Day One

Okay, so I’m going to blog about my days at RWA as if real-time tweeting about it wasn’t enough, right? *grin*

Needless to say, I didn’t wake up as early as I’d have preferred, but hubby and I went down to the Dolphin hotel in good time. I registered, and then we set about waiting for an hour to get into the “Readers for Life” Literacy Signing. Good thing we got there early, too. Afterward, the line became HUGE. We walked through each aisle. I got my books signed by Shiloh Walker, Christine Warren, and Kelley Armstrong. I also got bought books from Jessa Slade (who was so awesome and very nice!), Laura Bickle, and Anya Bast. I totally froze up when I talked to Anya Bast, but she was great. =) We also put our tickets in for the raffle, but didn’t win anything. Argh… oh well.

We left that at a few minutes before the event ended, then sat in the hallway for a little to recoop. Blissful moments off our feet. After that, we found where the First Timers’ Orientation was (since this is my first time attending RWA). Hubby sat in the hall outside, and I wandered off inside. Seated myself inside and played with my phone for a bit before meeting my critique partner, Marissa Berry (and her mom =) )! It was great and informative. The speaker, which I can’t remember’s name, was so funny and informative.

I also could relate to what she said about how going to your first conference can make you feel like “an outsider who hasn’t gotten the memo” because everyone is around talking with each other and giving hugs while one sits off alone with no one to talk to since I felt that way at RomaticTimes convention in 2009. I didn’t really have anyone to hang out with. With this conference, I’m excited but I guess I don’t have the rose-colored glasses on and feel more secure in doing whatever. I want to network and meet people, but I won’t let it stand in my way of having a great time and learning a lot. But, I digress!

After the First Timers’ event, my husband and I had dinner with Marissa and her mom at a quick-eats restaurant called Picabu. It was pretty good, and we got to talk and get to know each other outside of the computer! =) We finished eating and went out separate ways. Hubby and I sat by the neat fountain for a while and talked, then we went outside and saw Disney’s firework finale. Nice touch to the evening.

And now, I’m off to bed!

7 more days! Ack!

The realization of how close RWA Nationals are just hit me today. Seven more days until the Literacy signing (which I’m going to) and the First Timer’s Orientation (which I’m also going to)! I’m beginning to feel a bit more nervous. I know I’ll have a great time. It’s just that this will be my first Nationals. Eeep! I’ve wanted to go to one for a long time, and now I’m finally taking that opportunity. =)

Well, let’s see… what else has been going on with me? I finished reading Jeanne C. Stein’s The Becoming not long ago. Really good book! I’ll definitely be picking up a copy of her next book.

Also, here’s a fun quiz I just did. *laughs*
The Zombie Bite Calculator
Created by Oatmeal

Now I’m back off to prepare for Nationals!

Counting down the days…

Now that the World Cup is over (Yay Spain!), I have less to distract me from the RWA National Conference on the horizon. Yes, I’m definitely starting to feel a little nervous. My pitch is becoming smooth and ready, so when I have my agent appointments, I think I’ll feel more comfortable than last year’s RT Convention. But it’s my first tme going to an RWA Conference. I hear they’re more business-like than the party atmosphere that RT has. Yikes! Thoughts of what do I wear instantly come to mind. I’ll dress nice but comfortable; although, if I think about it too much, I get urges of going to the mall, which is not my favorite thing to do.

Besides from that, I’m currently reading an urban fantasy, The Becoming by Jeanne C. Stein, which so far is great. I’m also revising with my critique partner and taking the pitch workshop my RWA chapter is holding online.

July! Conferences, Agents, and Pitching — Oh My!

So, as you all probably know, I’m going to Romance Writers of America’s National Conference this month. I was fortunate enough to get a couple of agent appointments, which I’m happy about, but that leaves me with the impending feeling that I’ll be pitching at the end of the month. Yikes! I’m a fairly quiet person, so just thinking about talking with an agent is enough to make me slightly nervous. I did it last year at Romantic Times Convention, which, besides from one appointment where I got completely frazzled and ended up forgetting parts of my story, weren’t too scary.

Right now, I’m taking a workshop by Bob Mayer on pitching. I enjoy his teaching. I read a Writer’s Digest ebook on writing by him, and I took his Warrior Writer class in December ’09. Both were excellent and informative. So far with the workshop, I feel like writing the perfect pitch that bedazzles an agent is just not one of my strengths. It’s hard to look at my own novel and figure out something to write in one sentence. Argh! But it’s only the first day of the workshop, so I’m sure my pitch will work out. =)

Revised query, check!

funny pictures of cats with captions

I hope everyone had a Happy Father’s Day yesterday!

Today I’ve spent some time revising my query letter, which has done pretty good so far. It took me several hours to do, but I’m more content with it than I have been previously. I had some great writing resources to stare at while in the process of revising it too. There’s Query Shark, Jill Corcoran’s Formula For A Query Letter, and Guide to Literary Agents’ How to Write a Query Letter. If you’re looking to write or perfect a query letter, Query Shark is a great place to go, but all of those resources are really good.

Anyways, I can’t believe it’s nearing the end of June. Between writing and the FIFA World Cup, where has the month gone? Not that I completely mind, since I’m highly anticipating next month with the 2010 RWA National Convention at Swan and Dolphin in Orlando, FL. Woohoo!


Woo! I got a lot accomplished yesterday considering the fact that I threw my back out a couple days ago.  Blah…

In the wee hours, I finished reading Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews from the Kate Daniels series, which was such an awesome book.  It has to be one of the best, if not THE best, that I’ve read this year. Then I also finished reading Embrace the Night by Karen Chance from her Cassie Palmer series, which was really good, too. Now I’m currently reading Shadow Force by Linda Conrad.  It’s a little bit of an older book, but it looked good enough to put on my shelf to read this year. =)

I’ve also gotten back on the horse with writing my WIP. I shall finish it by the end of the month. That’s my main goal since next month I’d like to focus on getting myself prepared for Nationals.  I’ve been getting decent word counts each day, and the ideas are starting to flow again.  So I’m going to hang on for the ride.