RT Conference Day 4 & 5

I must admit by Day 4…I was exhausted. I went to a couple of sessions, but I also spent time in the hotel room for quiet and to work on edits for my next book. The view from the hotel room was terrific.

Looking out at the Mississippi River.
Looking out at the Mississippi River from the 27th floor of the Sheraton.

The evening parties were Avon’s Krewe of Muses, where they gave away a ton of books, and Heather Graham’s Mardi Gras Magic and Mayhem Dinner and Dance. I was impressed by the great costumes this year. Even Heather made a grand entrance in a mini Mardi Gras float.

Heather Graham
Heather Graham

Tina and I didn’t dress in costume but we had great masks:

Me and Tina Susedik
Me and Tina Susedik

Two of our friends:

Kate and Amy
Kate and Amy

Day 5
Tina and I walked around the French Quarters and along the Mississippi during the day to get some fresh air. In the afternoon we attended the Eloise James, Lisa Kleypas, and Juliana Gray session of making your own tiara. We helped clean up the room afterwards and then scurried to set up Jade Lee’s session in the same room. Jade’s session had Scott Nova… shirtless. Oh yeah. Not to be missed.

Scott Nova
Scott Nova

To end the night, we gathered for drinks at the Sheraton and then headed to Harlequin’s party… the closing event for RT.

All in all, this RT convention was awesome. I loved getting out and exploring the French Quarters, seeing the Mardi Gras floats, and participating in the pub crawl. The food and drinks were great but the best, as always, was meeting wonderful people who had the same interest… writing and/or reading great romance books.

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RT Convention Day 3

A busy day with sessions and networking. Two tips from sessions I attended:

1. Amazon – be proactive. Amazon sees you as a customer so click on those links and this can help with your ranking.
2. Craft – First pages – engage with a strong compelling character and let the reader know the genre.

A busy night with Pub Crawl down Bourbon Street and then the Saints and Sinners Party at Samhain. I loved watching the faces of those on Bourbon Street as hundreds of RT attendees barreled down the street looking for male models and collecting beads… not to mention a few drinks.

Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street
Enjoying the Samhain event: Diane Petersen and Amy Stratton from Michigan.
Enjoying the Samhain event: Diane Petersen and Amy Stratton from Michigan.

RT Convention Day Two

The conference has started and in full bloom. As one person stated, “The lobby is like a swarm of bees… a lot of bees.” I’ve connected with friends, readers, reviewers, and bloggers.

This year Tina and I are giving away a tote filled with our books and Wisconsin goods. We had some issues with trying to wrap the tote but we managed. Our tote will be raffled on Friday afternoon.

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After the day events of learning craft and social media, we went by busloads to Mardi Gras World. Our first event was the Grand Oaks Mansion for the Pirates, Scalawags and More party.

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Next, we followed a New Orleans second-line band to the warehouse where they store the Mardi Gras floats. One word…. amazing!! We lined up in front of the floats and watched a mini parade with, of course, beads tossed to all of us by the sponsors of the event. We finished at the hall where we sampled different New Orleans foods and listened/danced to a live band before heading back to the hotels.

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Second day was great. I heard a lot of people wonder how they (RT) were going to top this event. Thanks to all the sponsors – what a wonderful night!

RT Conference 2014 New Orleans – Day One

Tuesday I left for the Romantic Times Convention in New Orleans. Six days of fun, inspiration, friends, and lessons. My journey started at 3:30 in the morning to get to the Mpls/St Paul airport. I had a little snag with having the right ticket and no seat number (flight was overbooked), but I did get on the plane and had a smooth flight to Dallas.

The Dallas airport became a “friend” when I looked up at the board to see my connecting flight to New Orleans was cancelled due to storms. In my years of travel, I never had a cancelled flight. I think the person at the ticket counter must have took pity on me. After clicking up a storm on his computer, he got me on the 2:20 flight as standby and then a confirmed seat on the 4:10.

So what do you do when you’re stuck at an airport for four hours? You eat and drink. I had a great dark Texas beer that was actually light in taste called Texas Broc… I’m not sure if that’s the full name. I’ll find out on Sunday when I visit the bar again on the way home. Hopefully my layover isn’t as long.

At 1:30 I was ready for that 2:20 flight. So were 33 other passengers. Bad news, I didn’t get on the flight. Good news, I met Angie Stanton and we headed for the bar to have a drink while we waited. When we finally got on the plane and landed in New Orleans, we were both thankful that our checked luggage was waiting for us.

My feet and suitcases were planted safely at the hotel by 7:00 p.m. Tina Susedik, my roommate, was already checked in. She took me to a restaurant in the French Quarters with great food and great staff. My travel stress was leaving as the light ale and food were welcomed in. Oh yeah….

Romantic Times Convention Pre-Trip

Today was spent packing and getting ready for the 2014 RT Convention in New Orleans. I’m looking forward to the week’s events, meeting new authors and readers, seeing friends that I haven’t seen in a while, and learning a few new things to keep my writing fresh.

This week, my Monday night blog will be delayed. My goal is to post throughout the week on my experience at RT.

Until later….

Fall Writing Retreat

Last weekend was our RWA, WisRWA Chapter, writing retreat for the Chippewa Falls group. Once a year our small group dedicates three days to focus on writing. This includes learning what we’ve been up to, helping each other out, sharpening our skills, and hiding around the hotel to work on our own projects.

This year we shared our successes and presented one author with a framed copy of her first published article in “Tea Time” magazine.

Chip Falls Writing Retreat Oct 2013 007

We also brainstormed ideas throughout the day. If someone had an issue with a character or storyline, we were all there to help. We love getting those “aha” moments, and we had a few of them this year.

To sharpen our skills, we reviewed Michael Hauge’s Story Mastery presentation that he gave at our WisRWA conference last June. We decided to watch “Hitch” and “Shrek,” movies that he used in some of his examples. We were able to identify his six stages of plot structure and the turning points in both movies. This was a great exercise to study plot structure. I’d highly recommend it.

And last, our biggest goal of the weekend was to write. The retreat gave us a chance to write without interruptions, renew our energy, and bond with friends who love to write.
I’m fortunate to belong to my writing group, and I look forward to next year’s retreat. I’m sad that the weekend has ended, but I’m also supercharged to finish my next book.

WisRWA Conference

Yesterday I returned from the three-day WisRWA conference that I attended in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin which is just outside of Milwaukee. The annual event includes sessions given by prestigious speakers, a raffle to help raise money for literacy, networking, agent/editor appointments, and the announcement of the year’s Fab Five and Write Touch contest winners. If you are an aspiring author, I would recommend entering the Fab Five contest.

The keynote speaker at this year’s conference was Michael Hauge, a story and script consultant/lecturer who has worked with screenwriters, novelists, filmmakers, executives, and film funding agencies. He held two sessions on story mastery, how to write the main character’s outer and inner journey. DiAnn Mills, a NY Times best-selling author was another guest speaker, and she spoke to us about emotional conflict. Both were great speakers. I didn’t have a chance to talk to Michael in person, but I did chat with DiAnn on Sunday, and she’s just a little sweetheart…all 96 pounds of her.

I love conferences with great speakers. I drove home on Sunday feeling rejuvenated and excited to write again. To me, that’s a successful conference.

Now I wish I had more hours in the day to vanish into my office to write. I will get there, one day, but for now I’ll take advantage of the spare time that I do have. My conferences are done for the year with only a weekend retreat in October remaining. This summer will be dedicated to writing.

Tina and me, WisRWA Conference 2013

Tina Susedik (on the left) and me with the roses we received in recognition of our first eBook sales at the 2013 Wisconsin RWA Write Touch Conference.

RT Convention – Our Final Day

The RT Convention is now a memory for 2013. Like last year, I really enjoyed the event. Saturday was bittersweet as we packed our boxes of books and goodies into the van (less to lug around in the morning) and then headed to our last day of events.

The Book Expo was the first event that we attended. Holy Moly!!! The people!!! What a great place for readers and fans to get their books signed by their favorite author and to meet them in person! I talked to Yvonne, a reader whom I met earlier in the week. She had a bagful of books ready for purchase. Her daughter had two bags. I went to the corner of the room to snap this shot:
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In the afternoon, I attended one of my favorite and best events of the trip. Jade Lee celebrated her 50th birthday. She had attended our WisRWA conference last year in Wausau, and we had talked about RT and her turning 50. She told us of her plans of having a roast with plenty of cover models to back her up.
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The friends who roasted Jade were hilarious. Her best friend had the birthday girl demonstrate how to eat dark chocolate-coated candies and show us all the pure pleasure of doing so. One of the models helped her. Once the roast ended, Jade gave away prizes. One prize was a large box. She asked if there was anyone in the room named “Beth.” I raised my hand and won. I received a box full of Kathy Lyons and Jade Lee books that she signed personally to Beth. After cupcakes and champagne, I went to thank her and learned the story behind the prize. She had donated the books, decals, and jewelry to Brenda Novak’s auction to fight diabetes. A person named Beth won her gift but never paid. Since Jade had already signed the books she decided that there will be one special Beth at her 50th party.
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And, by the way, I am going to donate to Brenda Novak’s fight for diabetes. If Jade’s gift was meant to be given for a cause, I will be happy to donate for the one Beth who didn’t.

At night was our last cocktail party hosted by Carina Press and dance party hosted by Harlequin. Tina and I didn’t stay out until the wee hours of the morning, but we left with smiles as we walked back to our hotel. We wish we could’ve stayed through Sunday, since RT still had another day of social events, but other duties called. Maybe next year. We’re already plotting.

RT Convention Update

I can’t believe that this is our last full day at the RT Convention. I have been enjoying the people, the sessions, and the social events that bring us all together. For me, this is the place to connect.

For the sessions, I focused on marketing and promotion. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels overwhelmed by all the marketing that can be done and should be done. I will be busy when I get home. In one of yesterday’s sessions, I sat next to Larry Kirshbaum who runs Amazon Publishing. He reminded me of my husband’s uncle, a happy-go-lucky guy who liked to hum. In the session that followed, I sat behind Larry this time. A big surprise was seeing in the session author E.L. James of Fifty Shades fame. How cool that she came to attend the convention.

For people meeting, I sat in the lobby after being overwhelmed with marketing ideas. It didn’t take long before a reader sat in the chair next to me. We began to talk. She came with her daughter and had to sit to rest her worn feet. We had a greet conversation about family, the convention, books, and where we live. Another author, Lina Gardiner, came and sat with us. She invited us up to their suite for an erotica party on Saturday night. Next to sit with us was Laura Kinsale. She’s working on audio books and was excited about the narrator she found. She had us listen to a short reading. The guy has a great voice.

For social events, I attended the formal ball, Heather Graham’s party, the Red Slipper Avon event, the Indie Expo, and other gatherings that were equally as fun. I loved getting new books to read, enjoying the food and drinks, and participating in the games. All events usually start with waiting in line to get in. Some people hate lines, but I enjoy them. It gives me a chance to meet new readers, authors, bookstore owners, and librarians.

For today, it’s the big Book Expo, Jade Lee’s 50th Birthday Bash, Carina Press’s cocktail party, and Harlequin’s dance party. I’m ready to go.

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