Deadly Ever After

The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

The Romantic Side of Weekend Conferences

Today’s Brew: I might have napped. And I might have had ice cream when I woke up. Don’t judge me.

by Kristen

I have more news. I love having news.

  1. I’m on See Brian Write’s podcast this week. We may talk about hairbands. A lot. And not just scraping the surface and talking about Def Leppard (fun fact about me: I don’t really like Def Leppard.). We get down to the nitty gritty and talk about Winger and WASP.  We also talk about how it all relates to my books.
  2. WE OWN THE NIGHT has a release date!  September 1, 2014. All platforms should be available that day: ebook, paperback, and audio book.

Julie wasn’t the only one at a conference this weekend.  I stayed a little closer to home for the New England Chapter Romance Writers of America Conference.  Intern Sara came with me, because the whole shebang ended with a major life event  for me and I needed someone there to rub my back while I put my head between my knees to remember to breathe. Sara is truly an amazing assistant, and a great travel companion as well. If you can get one like her, do it. But you can’t have Sara. She’s ours.

I know we have a great writing community on Twitter, but I encourage each and every one of you to get active in the local chapter of whatever it is that you write. Romance writers aren’t the only ones with meetings. Mystery, crime, science fiction, fantasy, they all have organizations.  Not only does it get you outside of your own head in terms of writing every couple of weeks, but you get to meet a whole difference cross section of writers. In my local chapter of RWA, there are brand new writers who have just started their first manuscript all the way up to people who’ve been writing for Harlequin for almost as long as you’ve been alive. We have guest speakers, and talk about business.  We eat chocolate and celebrate each other’s successes as well.

This weekend was our grand celebration.  I got to hang out with such luminaries as Eric Ruben, Esq. (also known as Julie’s agent) and catch him in action in his native habitat, Starbucks.

We had a ton of great panels, including an editing and polishing workshop with Angela James from Carina Press. I enjoyed the panel about hook by Teri Brisbin (and you thought I was already an expert at hooking), as well how to use interviews to really get to know your character before and after by Audra North.

Two mega successful authors talked about their journey from traditional publishing to self publishing. Sandra Marton published somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 books (I don’t remember the exact number) with Harlequin Presents. Obviously, she was doing well since they asked her for more 79 times.  In 2012, she decided she didn’t want to sign another contract with HP. So she struck out on her own. Like all of us, she learned as she went, and made mistakes just like the rest of us. Mistakes are something to learn from, and she’s landed on her feet. It was nice to hear from someone who was successful who didn’t just wake up and find that she was on the NYT best seller list.  Not everything worked, and sometimes she had to go back and figure out how to make it work.

Bella Andre gave our keynote speech. Bella’s sold over three million books, but she wasn’t an instant success. Bella had a traditional publishing contract in the 2000s, which the publisher declined to renew because they weren’t able to break her out. Instead smashing her keyboard in the middle of the desert, Office Space style, she turned to self publishing. And exploded.  You might say Bella’s been lucky, but she works damn hard at being lucky. I was shocked at the lion’s share of side work she still does herself, like design her own covers.

The speech that spoke to me the most was Cara McKenna’s lunchtime talk. She’s put out 35 books with a variety of publishers.  She’s quick to point out that she might not hit the big lists, but she’s able to support herself as a working writer. Cara spoke about the things in the business that aren’t necessarily writing, but are fucking hard. Dealing with reviews, occasionally making an ass out of yourself on the internet (or as she calls it, “boning shit up”), and how emotionally draining publication can be. I feel like I’ve seen more and more writers talking about this very real part of professional writing, and I applaud Cara for being brave enough to not pretend everything is champagne and roses. I had to give her a hug after her speech as a thank you.

The conference ended with a book fair and author signing. My first signing. I was fucking terrified. It actually wound up being a great experience. I had an amazing tablemate in Samantha Wayland, who writes erotic romance about hockey players. I didn’t need to breathe into a paper bag, and I got to talk to a lot of great people. And some of my books actually went home with people who aren’t me.

Someone told me I looked like a romance author this weekend.

Someone told me I looked like a romance author this weekend.

Next week, I’m off to New Orleans for the RT convention!

 

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