Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My Dallas Experience

My 1st goal was to be more outgoing. I accomplished it. My other goal was to not make a fool of myself. I'm happy to report I accomplished that one too!

My roommates and I got there Monday. Tuesday I registered, went through my bag and then went to play tourist. I walked down to where Kennedy was shot, took some pics and went through the Sixth Floor Museum. Very interesting and tragic.

As for RWA National, here's my take. I met a lot of wonderful people, heard a lot of good inspirational talks and ate a lot of good food. I decided not to try to go to a workshop in every time slot. I picked the events that I absolutely couldn't live without and went to those. They included the Heartbeat luncheon, the literacy signing, the PRO Retreat, Midnight/ Moonlight (I can never remember the right name) Madness, the Harlequin pajama party, my editor appointment, a couple of workshops and of course the Rita/ Golden Heart Awards.

The Heartbeat luncheon- The Heartbeat chapter is the medical romance chapter of RWA. You don't have to write medical stories to be a member. The president, Julie Rowe, was kind enough to invite me to the luncheon as her guest after we exchanged a series of e-mails. The food was good and the company was even better. I got a chance to meet 3 editors from Harlequin's London office, all lovely ladies, and I sat with the agent who currently has one of my manuscripts, another lovely lady. I also got the chance to meet a writer friend I've been chatting with for a couple of years now, Laura Iding. It was great to finally meet her! She answered a few medical questions for me way back when I was still writing suspense and we've kept in touch ever since.

The literacy signing-Tons of people, tons of authors, tons of fun! I was good and only bought 7 books.

The PRO Retreat- A good time! Although, the two ladies sitting next to me both fell asleep for a while. Luckily neither of them snored! I really loved the presentation done by Colleen Gleason about web presence as a promo tool and tracking device. No, not that kind of tracking device. Being able to find out how people are getting to your website or blog.

The Celtic Hearts Meet & Greet- This was really cool because we got presents, which I hadn't expected, and I got to put faces to the names I'd been chatting with for so long. I slipped out for a while to watch my CP get an award for taking 1st place in the Finally A Bride contest. That was awesome! Yay Jenna! Then I went back to the Celtic Hearts party and listened and laughed for a while more.

Midnight/ Moonlight Madness-I saw lots I wanted to buy. I restrained myself. In the end, I bought a magnet for my office that says "Shhh...my characters are talking" and a keychain I just couldn't pass up. On 1 side it says "How to finish a manuscript" and on the other side it says "Puke it out and pick through the peas and carrots"! It's worth noting that the background color to the keychain was mashed pea green.

The Eharlequin Pajama Party- I passed by the room after the Madness, peeked in and then read the announcement on the door. Evelyn Vaughn (I love her!) waved to me and came out to invite me in. Now I must say that my roommate Jan Hudson introduced me to Evelyn on Monday, so we'd been exchanging hellos all week. Anyway, I hung out, listened, met people, and then decided to leave. Oh! Mary Teresa-Hussey was able to help me pronounce part of the Gaelic on my "Where's My Pint?" T-shirt! Of course, I went to the bar after, had a Guinness and promptly forgot what she'd told me! I thanked Evelyn before I left and she said anytime I was on my own and I saw her I had an invitation to join her. How cool was that?

My editor appointment-Friday was the special day. Friday the 13th, mind you. But it went very well. The editor was very kind, very encouraging and very helpful. She was interested in my story, my characters and my setting. She's going to read the beginning of book #1, get back to me and we'll go from there. I'll keep you updated!

The only workshops I actually attended (I think) were on Saturday. (Jeez, what did I do the rest of the time?) Oh, and I went to the Harlequin/Silhouette Spotlight on Friday too.

The H/S Spotlight did something very important for me. It helped me see exactly where I want to be. Eventually, YEARS & YEARS down the road, I think I'd like to write single title romantic suspense, but for the foreseeable (sp?) future I want to be a Harlequin writer. More specifically, I want to be a Harlequin Romance author. (See next section for more on that.)

My Saturday workshops were Exposing the truth About Writing Short Contemporary Romance and Brenda Novak's Overcoming Discouragement and Other Obstacles to Success. Both were EXTREMELY helpful and exactly what I needed.

The Short Contemp one featured 3 Mills & Boon Medical Romance authors and 2 Mills & Boon editors (I'd met them at the Heartbeat luncheon and one was the editor I had my pitch session with). I took 3 pages of notes. As I listened to the ladies speak and answer questions, in my heart I realized the Harlequin Romance line is the line for me. I got all fired up between the info from Friday's spotlight and this workshop. It may not be with book #1, but I feel in my gut that Mills & Boon Harlequin Romance will be my first home in the published world.

Brenda Novak is an EXCELLENT motivational speaker. I came out of there recharged and geared up for the battle with the current manuscript, which is getting quite an overhaul as we speak!

The Rita & Golden Heart award ceremony was good, but none of the people I rooted for won. Bummer. The reception after was a little crazy, but soon people started filing out and of course I stayed until the bitter end, hanging out with my Austin chaptermates and 2 ladies from Florida who talked about joining the Austin chapter.

Sunday was uneventful and all I did was read when I got home. Yesterday and today I've been torturing myself into working on my revisions and now I'm revved up to do them, to make book #2 the best it can be. Then a few friends and I are going to tackle some tough revisions on book #1. Even if the editor comes back with a rejection on the partial, I have to fix the rest for me-just to prove to myself that I can. I've made it part of my learning process and I REFUSE to start writing book #3 until #1 is beaten into submission...er, revised. (Of course, I can still plot and plan out book #3...)

Okay, I'll leave you alone now. Come back in the next couple of days. I'll either have pics up from Dallas or I'll restart my vacation journal, this time in Scotland!


Cat Schield said...

You were smart to set some goals for yourself. Mine were to hit as many workshops as I could and to conserve my energy as much as possible. I too hit the spotlight on Harlequin and the short contemporary workshop. They were both very interesting. Wish I could have seen you there. For sure next year.

Bonnie Ferguson said...

Sounds like you had a fabulous time!!! :)

Lexi said...

Cat, DEFINIELY next year! Did you have a good time and get a lot out of it?

Bonnie, only now am I realizing how much I truly learned! I can't wait for next year!

Cat Schield said...

I had a great time. I attended a couple eye opening workshops and met some really cool people. I had a group appointment with Mary Theresa Hussey and she totally rocked. She put us all at ease and took the pressure off by being so understanding. Michael Hague did a fabulous workshop on Character Arcs and the 6 states of plotting structure. He mostly works with screenwriters, but since I'm a movie junkie, what he said about plotting made light bulbs go off in my head. The workshop was packed. I sat on the floor in the back corner and couldn't see a thing, but it was still great.

It sounds like you had a great time meeting people too. It really was a positive experience.

Vonda Sinclair said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time! I enjoyed reading about it!

Lexi said...

Cat, I'm actually using the handouts from Michael Hauge's workshop for my current WIP. I wish I'd gone!

Vonda, Scotland was still better! :)~