RWA National Travel Tips

Traveling to RWA National in DC? If you are a newbie, or if you just haven’t traveled recently, here are a few last minute reminders to help ease your journey.Flying

Are you flying in? Many of you reading this are savvy travelers but, for those who haven’t flown for a while…

  1. Suitcases – Weight limit is 50 pounds for checked bags.   When I flew to Atlanta in 2006, I brought my 26-inch suitcase.  The weight was ok flying there, barely, but was over by about 25 pounds on my return trip.  I managed to squeeze some of those overweight free books into my tote.   Some I just gave to the guy at the counter for his girlfriend.   I’ve now switched to traveling with a 21-inch suitcase.  Weigh it at home before you leave.   Mine, even when packed full, rarely exceeds 35 pounds.
  2. Extra fee – Whether overweight or not, airlines now charge extra for a checked bag – $15 or $25 on most airlines.  That’s a one-way charge.
  3. Carry-ons – You are only allowed 2 carry-ons, one personal (a purse or computer) and another small bag.  Downsize to a smaller purse, then pack it inside your tote-bag for added flexibility.
  4. Wear slip-on shoes.  You will have to remove them at security so they can be scanned.  Shoes with ties or buckles hold up the lines.
  5. Filled water bottles are not permitted through security.  Empty ones generally are.  For the frugal-minded, bring an empty bottle in your tote.  Once you are beyond security, you can fill it at a water fountain, or you can buy bottled water at a kiosk.   Water bought near the gates is allowed on-board.
  6. Keep your photo ID and Boarding Pass handy until you are through security.  After that, you will only need your Boarding Pass to get onto the plane.
  7. For added tips, read the TSA Guidelines for How to Get Through the Security Line Faster (click).

Or are you driving?

  1. Click this link for the current Washington DC gas prices.
  2. A reminder that parking at the Marriott is an extra $32 (or so) a day.

A few other reminders:

  1. Wear comfortable shoes for the conference and sight-seeing.  Not the time to break in a new pair.
  2. Washington DC summers are sweltering but bring a sweater or wrap for the air-conditioned workshop rooms.  A pashmina is light-weight, packable, and easy to carry in your conference tote.
  3. Don’t forget your business cards. Make them or have them made.  Keep them simple, elegant, professional.
  4. There’s a CVS Pharmacy within walking distance of the Marriott.
  5. Visit RWA National website Conference FAQ’s for added info.

→ Please share your travel tips for RWA National.  Hope to see you there!

Common Craft

The world spins, ever faster. New uses for the computer pop up quicker than I can process.   What is podcasting?  RSS code?  I sort of understand Twitter, but is it useful?  What is a Wiki?  And, while we’re at it, how does the World Wide Web really work?

Enter Common Craft, a delightfully interesting company owned by Lee and Sachi LeFever in Seattle, Washington, USA. They explain things.  Lee founded Common Craft in 2003 as an online community consulting company.  They began making videos in 2007, their first – RSS in Plain English.  Using paper cut-outs, they teach the raw basics of technology, money, and society.  A most helpful source.

So, what is the World Wide Web?   Here’s Lee LeFever’s explanation.  (Click in center to start video. Be sure to turn up your volume.)

As writers, we research.  We need easy-to-understand sources that can quickly teach us a little bit about a lot of things.  To that end, we scour children’s reference books and search travel blogs.  We attend retreats and conferences, and interview detectives.  We peruse websites for valuable links.

But along with needed background information on specific topics, how can we learn a little about the technology available, without spending excessive hours of valuable writing time?   Common Craft’s technology videos give quick explanations about new tools.

Search Common Craft’s website or on You Tube for other simple videos.   And, if you need a laugh and don’t mind a bit of gore, blood not Al, check out their Zombies in Plain English.  It’s a hoot!

Of Conferences & Courage

Last weekend I sat in the golden glow of a hotel meeting room in Green Bay, Wisconsin.   Along with 90 or so fellow writers, I listened intently WisRWA Write Touch June 5-7 2009 004as agents and editors revealed market trends and what they, as publishing professionals, were looking for from authors.  The workshop was part of the grand celebration of WisRWA’s 25th Anniversary.

It started Friday. Registration in the Radisson’s comfortable lobby let us greet old friends and chat with new.  Later, in our first workshop, ever-helpful Publisher Raelene Gorlinsky presented When Bad Covers Happen to Good People – an informative and amusing behind-the-scenes look at book covers.  The evening ended with a gourmet dessert reception.  Amid chocolate fountains and luscious desserts we visited, ate, drank, and visited some more.

Saturday. An early breakfast buffet and general meeting were followed by the Agent/Editor Q & A Panel.  Mid-morning, Karen Tabke spoke on It’s Just Business, Don’t Take it Personal. Following Karen’s talk, Executive Editor Birgit Davis-Todd presented Diamond Opportunities–Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Writing for Harlequin.  Throughout the day, authors pitched their books in 10-minute private appointments with attending editors and agents.

Noon lunch was a delicious Slice of Italy. Contest winners for The Write Touch and Fab 5 were announced.  First Sale roses were presented to six WisRWA members who sold their first book since last year’s conference.  WisRWA Write Touch June 5-7 2009 025A special rose was given to WisRWA’s Golden Heart finalist Virginia McCullough.  Special recognition was also given to the five wonderful women who organized this celebratory conference – Donna Kowalczyk, Stacey Netzel, Barbara Raffin, Gini Athey, and Lori Kriescher (see picture).  And, in a heartfelt presentation, Shirley Cayer and Conference Chair Donna Kowalkczyk presented two 2008 Chapter Service Awards – to Mary Jo Scheibl (aka Casey Clifford) and to Sandra Turriff (aka Meg Hennessy).  Both Mary Jo and Sandy had also received roses for their first sales.  What a day!

The afternoon session began with WisRWA’s Got Talent III.  Author Shari Anton read attendees’ first pages while Hilary Sares and agent Laurie McLean WisRWA Write Touch June 5-7 2009 052gave incredibly insightful one-minute critiques.  Author Trish Milburn followed with her workshop Making Your Setting Come Alive. A late afternoon Literacy Book Signing gave us a chance to chat with authors and purchase personally autographed books, including those by best-selling author Sherrilyn Kenyon. (See picture.) At the 25th Anniversary plated dinner, Sherrilyn gave a heartrending Keynote Address that had us both crying and laughing.

Sunday. Following another satisfying breakfast buffet, Ann Voss Peterson spoke on A Word Nerd’s Guide to Pacing.    Barbara Raffin’s workshop, The Story is in the Details showed how critical details are in every aspect of our writing.  Lori Devoti presented the last workshop – Get Where You Want to Go–Setting Goals to Keep You on Track, a most important wrap-up to the weekend.

For the past week, as I returned to my real life – home, family, day job – I’ve been pondering.  I’ve come to realize that it takes raw courage to write a book then strive for publication.  Courage to bare your soul as the authors did in WisRWA’s Got Talent.  Courage to meet face-to-face with an editor to pitch one’s book.  Courage to submit that work for publication, and probable rejection.  Then to do it again and again and again.

Last weekend I was privileged to meet with fellow authors in all stages of their careers, from those writing the first chapter of a first book to a NY Times Bestselling Author whose books are read world wide.   Each one shelters a courageous soul. ∞

First Meeting

The bones of the house are the same. The color is different; it was white when I lived there. Jackson Street 1 I remember a well-tended lawn with shrubs in front, all neatly trimmed.  An affordable residence for two young women on their own.

The second floor apartment on the right side included a living room, a kitchen, one bedroom, and a bath.  Across the hall was another tenant, one we never saw.  Our elderly landlords lived downstairs.  They provided us with a refrigerator, and heat through cast-iron radiators – when they were at home.  We furnished the rooms with two used metal-framed beds, an old oak kitchen table and, for living room relaxation, bucket seats pulled from a junked MG.

December 26, 5:30 pm – After a long day at work, I keyed open our front door.  I wore a rust-colored corduroy dress and heavy wool coat.   I first saw him with a book in his hands, leaning back in the MG’s bucket seat on the living room floor.  As I entered the room, he looked up.  “Hello,” he said.  I returned his greeting.   Much later he would tell me his first sight of me was my legs.

He was a friend of my roommate’s fiancé, a college student, visiting him for a few days.  We saw each other a lot that weekend.  A week or so later he called me from Milwaukee.  We talked for over an hour.  We began dating, often long distance through real letters and phone calls.  No emails then.  Our reunions were magic.

I lived in that upstairs apartment for a short six months yet it brought many changes in my life.  It was where I first really listened to Simon & Garfunkel, and came to love the creative genius of Bob Dylan.  It was where I first read Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings.  It was where I met my one true love. 

Where did you meet your love?