RWA National – July 18

Hard to believe that a week has passed since our return from Washington, D.C.   A whole week but memories of 2009’s RWA National at the Marriott stay vivid – the speakers, workshops, booksignings, the RITA & GH awards, and chatting with old friends and new.  To wrap up this sensational event, I’ll post several of my remaining pictures.  (Click the photos for links.)

Christie Craig, Faye Hughes, and me - just after their dynamic workshop "Make It Happen: 10 Tips to Breaking In or Breaking Back In."Christie Craig, Faye Hughes, and me, just after their dynamic workshop “Make It Happen: 10 Tips to Breaking In or Breaking Back In” on Saturday morning.

Ballantine & Bantam Dell Autograhing Session.

Ballantine & Bantam Dell Autographing Session.

Author Deeanne Gist "Unveiling the Mystery of How Book Covers Come About"

Author Deeanne Gist “Unveiling the Mystery of How Book Covers Come About” at Bethany House.

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Fire engines showed up just after lunch on Saturday.  False alarm but it emptied the hotel for about a half hour.  Pleasant breeze.  During the break, I enjoyed meeting a fellow WisRWA member.  (Click pic to see who.)

Author Lauren Willig signs at an autographing session.

Author Lauren Willig signs at an autographing session.

Author Heidi Betts shows her latest title.

Author Heidi Betts shows her latest title, TANGLED IN LOVE.

Shipping books home at the Marriott packing center.

A writer sends books home at the Marriott Hotel shipping center.

Screenwriter Victoria Johnson discusses "How to Use Screenwriting Techniques to Add Passion, Depth, and Immediacy to Your Novels."

Screenwriter Victoria M. Johnson discusses “How to Use Screenwriting Techniques to Add Passion, Depth, and Immediacy to Your Novels.”

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As in past years, Bill Stephens Productions offers recordings of RWA National’s workshops.

A gathering of WisRWA friends, after the RITA & Golden Heart Awards.

A gathering of WisRWA friends after the RITA and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony.

What a conference!  Here’s looking to RWA National 2010 in Nashville – Where Legends Are Born

RWA National – Friday, July 17

Saturated.  That’s how I feel.   RWA National has that effect. There was just so much happening, every hour.   Long drive home, and work today . . . and all I want to do now is write.   So here are some pictures and captions of a few Friday events.   Doesn’t the old cliché tell us that one picture is worth a thousand words?  (Please click photos for important links.)

Jennifer Bray-Weber at the Hearts Through History Breakfast on Friday.

Jennifer Bray-Weber at the Hearts Through History breakfast & the chapter's AGM on Friday.

Meagan Hatfield at Hearts Through History breakfast and AGM.  She just sold DRAGON FIRE to Harlequin Silhouette Nocturne.

Meagan Hatfield at Hearts Through History breakfast and AGM. Meagan just sold DRAGON FIRE to Harlequin Silhouette Nocturne.

Michele Young, w/a Ann Lethbridge at the Hearts Through History meeting.

Michele Young, also writing as Ann Lethbridge, at the Hearts Through History breakfast. It was a great morning. So nice to meet and celebrate successes!

One of many workshops I attended Friday.

One of many workshops I attended Friday.

Overview of the lobby bar, mid-day.

Overview of the lobby bar, mid-day.

The Chart House in Old Alexandria, along the river.  Great seafood!

The Chart House in Old Alexandria, along the river. Great seafood, and wonderful company!

More to come!

AGM, Workshops, & Death by Chocolate

RWA's Annual General Meeting

RWA's Annual General Meeting

Thursday, 8 am. My volunteer assignment had me counting proxies for RWA’s AGM (Annual General Meeting).  The actual meeting started at 10:30 am.   RWA’s Board has met over the past few days and worked late to resolve several issues.  Members are urged to log on to the member section of the RWA website to review the Hot Sheet for changes in contest rules.

NY Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich started the Conference with a rousing opening session at 9 am.  Keynote Speaker Linda Howard had the whole room in stitches as she described her position in her family as the Keeper of the Nuts.  And then came the first workshops.

Two Thursday Workshops of Note:

Brenda Hiatt gave her annual talk “Show Me the Money.” Throughout the year she surveys authors confidentially obtaining their advance figures then averages the numbers and presents the results at RWA National, and on her website.  In her workshop, she also summarizes what happens financially after a writer gets the CALL.

In “Got High Concept?” Lori Wilde pulled us through the steps needed to create a high-concept story.   Another Wow! presentation that included 25-word High Concept pitch examples.  fyi – Lori’s workbook is available for sale on her website.

Washington DC 2009 RWA 116Thursday, 8 pm. The Kiss of Death/Mystery & Romantic Suspense Chapter held their annual DEATH BY CHOCOLATE Party & Awards Ceremony.  Members were treated to tables of delicious chocolate and other desserts.  The awards ceremony for the Daphne DuMaurier Awards ceremony followed, coordinated by Donnell Ann Bell.

2009 Unpublished 1st Place Winners in the KOD Daphne Awards

Category/Series – SEE JANE RUN – Angela Platt

Historical – THE DECEIT of DESIRE – Pamela Bolton-Holifield

Inspirational – ESCAPE to TERROR – Sandra van den Bogerd

Mainstream – MOONLIGHTING in VERMONT – Kate George

Paranormal, Time Travel, Fantasy – UNDERBELLY – Tammy Hoganson

Single Title – GUARDIAN’S GIFT – Sharon Wray

The overall winner was Sandra van den Bogerd for ESCAPE TO TERROR.  Congratulations, Sandra, and to all the winners and finalists!

2009 Published Winners in the Daphne Awards

Category/Series – TERMS OF SURRENDER- Kylie Brant – Silhouette Romantic Suspense

Historical – SEDUCED BY A SPY – Andrea Pickens – Grand Central

Inspirational – SUSPICIOUS MINDS – Christy Barritt – Kregel Publications

Mainstream – THE TENTH CASE – Joseph Teller – MIRA

Paranormal, Time Travel, Fantasy – APHRODIASIC – Allyson Roy-Berkley – Penguin

Single Title – VICTIM – Gayle Wilson – MIRA

The Overall Winner was Kylie Brant for TERMS OF SURRENDER – Silhouette Romantic Suspense.  Congratulations, Kylie, and to all other winners and finalists!

Kylie Brant

Kylie Brant shows her gold award for Best Overall.

Crystal KOD Skull

Kiss of Death's Skull.


Death by Chocolate.

Winning KOD (& NJRW) Member Carolyn J. Coles with a KOD Raffle Bag.

KOD (& NJRW) Member Carolyn J. Coles won one of 12 Raffle Bags.

More on Friday! 

RWA National – Kick-off!

Wednesday, 7 am. Registration for RWA National.  Volunteers distributed badges, nametags, ribbons, schedules, and books!  Along with 5 paperbacks and a hardcover, we received a flash drive from Harlequin that holds conference handouts, a 14-page pdf file of Harlequin covers from 1949-2009, and 3 more complete books.  Cool!  At registration, I saw some old friends and met a few new fellow writers.  Some will sightsee today.  Some will be busy with board matters or other events.  Today is Librarians’ Day and the Chapter Leadership Event.

After a pleasant breakfast at the Stone’s Throw Washington DC 2009 RWA 079 Restaurant in the Marriott, my husband and I left for the Metro and more touring.  Out the back service door, down the hill, then across 24th Street and we were at the entrance.  We bought our fare cards and were carried down, and down, and down the escalators.  Mind the GapThe last time I rode the subway (aka/underground or tube) was in London a few years ago.  While Washington’s system is just as efficient, I sorta missed the sultry British voice reminding me to “Mind the Gap” as I stepped aboard.

The Library of Congress was our first destination.  Washington DC 2009 RWA 054My goal was some genealogy research and learning how the system works.  Before accessing books, I had to register for a Reader Card in the Madison Building of the Library, then walk back through the tunnel to the Jefferson Building.  Interesting.  The Jefferson Building is gorgeous, inside and out.  The intricate paintings and carvings on the ceilings are awe-inspiring.

Early afternoon we hopped back on the Metro for a quick ride to the “Federal Triangle” and a visit to the National Museum of American History.  The exhibit honoring the First Ladies held a special appeal, from Mary Todd Lincolns’ tiny waisted gown worn in 1861 to Jacqueline Kennedy’s classic pale sheath a hundred years later.  So much to see in Washington, D.C.!

When we returned to the hotel it seemed it had made a shift from teachers to writers.  A quick change and I was downstairs for the “Readers for Life Literacy Autographing.” Five hundred romance authors lined up at tables to sign, and at least triple that number looking to meet their favorites make a lasting impression.  Washington DC 2009 RWA 084

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Terri Brisbin talks with fan at the Literacy Booksigning.

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Beth Ciotta shows off EVIE EVER AFTER at RWA's Literacy Booksigning.

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Carla Cassidy signs LAST GASP.

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Washington DC 2009 RWA 101

Where to begin?  

RWA National – KOD Tour

My husband and I arrived in Washington, D.C. Monday. We have a grand view from our hotel room window – Washington DC 2009 RWA 009the National Cathedral is stunning at sunset!  We hope to visit it sometime before returning home.

Our first action as tourists (other than prerequisite checking in…tipping the very helpful bellman… unpacking) was a stroll up to the National Zoo.  From the conference hotel, it is a 3 to 4 block walk to the zoo’s entrance.  The pandas all seemed to be eating, or sleeping.   A new elephant habitat is under construction.  Good seeing how huge and natural looking it will be.  Although there’s a cost for parking, like many other national sites in D.C. the zoo itself is free to visitors.  Quite pleasant for strolling.

Tuesday, 8 am. Kiss of Death met in the lobby for the annual pre-conference tour.  I enjoyed saying “Hi!” to fellow WisRWA member, Laura Iding.  Also met other KOD members I knew mainly by name from the loop.   We boarded.  On our way to the first stop, our driver treated us to a drive-by tour of some of Washington’s many memorials.

At the U. S. Department of State, we were greeted with courtesy and security then ushered into the Loy Henderson Auditorium.   Washington DC 2009 RWA 029The next three hours we learned about diplomats, foreign service, and counter-terroism.   Director of the Foreign Press Center, Gordon Duguid, gave a great Overview of the Department Mission and Function.  Michelle Bernier-Toth, Director of Overseas Citizen Services and Crisis Management presented a lively discussion about Overseas Citizen Servies.   The Deputy Coordinator for Programs and Policy, Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, concluded with a terrific talk on U.S. Counterterroism Efforts.   They all highlighted the morning with lively anecdotes while answering many of KOD’s authors’ questions.

We drove south to the National Abortoreum to enjoy a brief box lunch and a little more chatting with fellow writers under the shade in a serene setting.

The United States Postal Inspection Service was our afternoon destination.  USPIS We were met at the door and ushered in like honored guests.  A team of at least twelve Postal Inspectors greeted us with agendas, personalized name tags, and cold drinks.  An enthusiastic introduction was followed by a dynamic presentation by the Team Leader on the Anthrax Investigation.  After catching our breath, our large group was broken up into groups of 12 or so and rotated through five breakout sessions on topics that included Mail Fraud, Mail Theft, and Child Exploitation, among others.  I was awed not only by the Inspectors’ excitement in their jobs, but also the breadth of their knowledge.   They seemed genuinely excited to share their passion with us.  Lots of heroes in that group! 🙂

For a few years I’ve heard about the superb quality of the Kiss of Death Pre-Conference tours but have never been able to attend one.  Today I experienced this tour first hand.  The word “Wow!” falls short.  Thanks to the U.S. State Department and to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  Finally, my sincere appreciation to the organizers of this year’s event – Nina Bruhns and Debbi Ward.   Thank you, ladies!

RWA National – DC Here I Come

Tomorrow we leave for Washington, DC. Yay!  It’s about a four-hour drive from home so we’re timing ourselves to avoid rush hour here and elsewhere.  (Like that’s really possible along I-95.  :wink:)

Since last week, I’ve been watching DC’s 10-day weather forecastWashington DC 2007 047 It’s changed some since I first looked.  Hotter, more rain than originally called for.  Bring your umbrella!   Tuesday should be warm and pleasant – 87°F and mostly sunny.  Tuesday is the all-day Kiss of Death Tour.  We’ll tour the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Postal Inspectors.  Kiss of Death also is sponsoring special tours to the FBI and CIA on other days.  The timing didn’t work for us but I hope to hear from others who attend.

LOTS to see in Washington. Washington DC 2007 061Our most recent trip was a long weekend in 2007, just after Cherry Blossom time.  Along with a sensational day trip to Mount Vernon, we visited the National Gallery of Art, some of the Smithsonian, and toured all the monuments including the World War II Memorial.  That memorial has special meaning since both our fathers served in that war.  This picture shows only one half.  It sits in a huge circle, with columns for each state.  Like the other Washington, DC memorials, it inspires an awed and reverent silence.

The National Zoo sits just acrossWashington DC 2007 049 the street from the Marriott-Wardman conference hotel.  I expect a fair number of conference attendees will wander over there.  I plan to.  Other places on our list to visit this year are the National Cathedral and the National Museum of American History.  And I’d love to visit Mr. Lincoln again.  Of all places in Washington, the Lincoln Memorial is my favorite.

Not that I’ll have much time, but that’s why we’re driving down early.  As always, the RWA National Conference is packed with events!

Reminder to self, CHECK LIST:  clothing – business-casual for conference; capris and cotton tops for touring; dressy for RITA & GH awards; comfortable shoes; peds/socks; meds; umbrella; hat/s; sunglasses; jewelry; toiletries; laptop; camera; business cards; AGM Proxy; and print-off workshop hand-outs.  For smaller items, I keep telling myself, there’s a CVS near the conference hotel.

Finally, for all of you coming to Washington, you must visit author Jamie Michele’s website (click).  On her links page, she’s given possibly the most complete and detailed directions I’ve ever seen – airports to hotels and using the Washington DC metro-rail.  Take a look.   Thank you, Jamie!

See (many of you) soon! 

Twilight Zone

“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into…the Twilight Zone.” ~ Rod Serling

From a young age, I was a fan. After bedtime, I’d sneak onto the top of the night stairs and sit in silence as Twilight Zoneolder family members watched the program below on our black and white TV.  Down the hall in our shared bedroom, my younger sister slept.  But in the darkness of that stairwell I sat entranced by Rod Serling’s hypnotic voice as he introduced the latest episode.

There was magic in the stories.  In later years I’d grow to appreciate the scripts with their social commentary.  But at age 8 or 9 there was only the wonder of ordinary people being thrown into extraordinary circumstances.   Along with the fairy tales Mom once read aloud, The Twilight Zone best revealed to my young mind the miraculous art of storytelling.

For years now, I’ve struggled with invisible demons.  What has kept me from publishing?  DoorI want my stories to be bound into books, to be read and enjoyed.  I believe I have it in me to succeed.  Yet, like an actor who fears the stage, just when I’m close I step away.  Is it fear?  Fear of the bogeymen that hide in the forest of publishing?  Am I afraid of the doorway I must enter?

Last month I flew home to visit family, and to attend a conference.  While there I talked in depth with my little sister, the one who once slept through The Twilight Zone.  (Just as well; she was only 3 or 4 at the time.  :wink:)  I also talked with a dear friend, a fellow writer who has gone forward, even as I’ve held back.  Both of them chewed me out and both, like others before them, encouraged.

Soon after my flight home, I saw that for a long while I’ve been unhappy with what I’ve been trying to write.  To publish I must change, wholeheartedly and without reservation.  To rediscover the excitement I once knew, I must cross into another dimension, one that calls to me.

My new work-in-progress is more than a new plot, new characters.  Though still technically a romance, it represents a genre change, one I read but have never attempted to write.   Revitalized, I am writing.   And, if my courage holds, if I maintain the perseverance a published author needs, then my journey into this new dimension may mean success.