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.

Washington DC 2009 RWA 174

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.”

Washington DC 2009 RWA 162

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.

Chocolate

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

Washington DC 2009 RWA 087

Terri Brisbin talks with fan at the Literacy Booksigning.

Washington DC 2009 RWA 091

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

Washington DC 2009 RWA 090

Carla Cassidy signs LAST GASP.

Washington DC 2009 RWA 083

Washington DC 2009 RWA 098

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! 

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!

2009 RWA National Updates

Studio 16 is again bringing their magic mobile photography studio to RWA National.  From Dallas to Chicago, Denver, and Atlanta,  Studio 16 has helped writers attending RWA Conferences achieve their best look. This year, Studio 16 will be in Washington, D.C.  So…

  1. Do you need a new headshot for promotion?
  2. Do you hate having your picture taken?
  3. Are you going to RWA National in D.C.?

If you’ve answered “YES!”  then you’re in luck.

STUDIO 16 wants you to look your best.  Touch-ups aren’t designed to make you look like someone else,  just soften what is often revealed by bright studio lights –  flyaway hair, wrinkles and blemishes. And, if you want, they can even take off 10 pounds!  (Or at least make it look like you have.)

To pre-book an appointment, and receive 20% off your entire photo package, email Studio XVI@aol.com before July 12th.  They’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have about the process.

kodIn other Conference news, the Mystery and Suspense chapter of RWA, aka/Kiss of Death, opened member registration for the pre-conference tours and the Death by Chocolate party.   The main tour will be held on Tuesday, July 14.  If you are a KOD member who will be in D.C. this July, be sure to go on the members only section of Kiss of Death to register.  Registrations for the pre-conference tours, and the Death by Chocolate Party, should be sent in – now.  In my experience, both sell out early.

For more information on this year’s RWA National Conference, click to go to RWA National.org.

→Are you speaking at RWA National?  Is your chapter hosting a member get-together there?  Maybe you can’t attend but are holding an online or an at-home chapter event for yourself and others not attending.  If so, please contact me so I can include it in next month’s update.  Thanks!

RWA National 2009 – DC

It’s early February but July seems just around the corner. Despite the economic downturn, I hear excited buzzing from fellow writers.  marriott-wardman-park Maybe it’s because we’re sick of winter cold and ache for summer heat.  Or it could be because this year RWA gathers in Washington, DC.  I live on the East Coast and, I’m going. 😀 During my lunchtime internet browsing, I find myself pouncing on every scrap of info I find.

Registration for the RWA National Conference opened January 20th. To reserve a room at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, where all events occur, members must first register for the conference. After that, members arrange for a room through RWA National. Planned roommates must register within 30 days. omni-shoreham-dc1Concierge level rooms sold out early prompting rumors of an overall hotel sell-out. I don’t think that’s true–yet.  But they say those coming into DC before the conference may have trouble getting a Marriott room.  Note–there’s a lovely overflow hotel, the Omni Shoreham,  just a block away.   I believe the same rules apply for registering.

Mystery/Suspense (Kiss of Death) Chapter members are looking forward to the annual members’ tour on Tuesday, July 14. With the national capitol setting, this year’s tour should be intense. As in prior years, members need a current Passport to register for the tour.  Homeland Security requirements. All KOD events, including the tour and annual Death by Chocolate Party, will open for member registration in March.

rwa-national-2008-sf-032Other RWA Special Interest Chapters , including From the Heart Romance Writers, also use National to hold general meetings, parties, and get-togethers.  Lots of planning and arrangements!  Some chapters hold a conference within a conference.  Last year’s Historical Conference sponsored by the Beau Monde and the Hearts Through History Chapters ran all day Wednesday, culminating in a costumed evening soiree.   A highlight for all of us history lovers!

The 2009 Conference speakers have been announced – Linda Howard (Keynote), Eloisa James (Awards Luncheon), and Anne Stuart (RITA & GH Ceremony).  🙂  Sensational choices!   Workshops will soon be announced.   RWA Literacy Autographing, Moonlight Madness, Volunteering, Annual General Meeting (aka/AGM), Agent and Editor Appointments, the RITA and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony, networking….and so much more awaits July 15-18, 2009.

Want to go but just don’t have the money?  Valley Forge Romance Writers is sponsoring their 2nd Annual Writers’ RafflemaniaGo to RWA National for free! Or you can start saving for a future RWA National Conference (This link lists RWA conferences through 2016.)   The ladies of The Writing Playground offer a practical article titled Penny Pinching Your Way to RWA.

I’ll report updates as I learn of them,  now through July 18th.  I look forward to your comments and shared info.  For now, I need to get back to writing the book.  That’s what it’s really about.

Are you going to RWA National this year?  What other conferences or workshops do you plan to attend in the near future?  What do you appreciate most about conferences?

**P.S. I’ve added a section to my sidebar – to the right between “Blogroll” and “Essentials” – called “Blogs & Info About 2009 RWA National.”  It includes several links to other blogs on National, including a few workshop speakers.  If you are blogging on National, let me know so I can add your name to the list.

RWA National – Revisited

Today I received a package in my mailbox. It held the MP3 CD-ROMs I ordered this summer at RWA’s National Conference in San Francisco. Each year, Romance Writers of America arranges to have many of the sessions recorded by Bill Stephens Productions so members can purchase them.

And here it is!

Even though I paid for them, somehow these recordings feel like a gift. The speakers – those writers, agents, editors, and others who give so generously to speak at RWA National, whatever their reason – present a precious gift to all who listen. No matter what our skill level as writers we always have something to learn – about craft, career, publishing, the writing life. The speakers make that happen.

A few minutes ago I put a CD into my computer and pulled up the index. In front of me was a multi-page list of workshops I didn’t attend. Here, too, were many I did attend but eagerly want to hear again. Many interesting hours ahead.

Often, RWA Chapter libraries purchase these CDs for their members to borrow. Sometimes critique groups buy them. I do urge you to seek them out. Not quite as good as attending a workshop in person, but close.

Things I Learned in San Francisco – RWA National

As you may have guessed by previous postings, I LOVED touring San Francisco and my experience at 2008 RWA National. Here are a few things I learned while there.

  • Chinese take-out tastes a whole lot better in California than it does in Pennsylvania.
  • All major cities are NOT alike.
  • San Francisco’s culture is unique, undefinable, and exhilarating.
  • The temperature of a city does make a difference. To me, San Francisco’s is heaven on earth.
  • When going to a conference, check in early (but try to avoid those pesky power outages).
  • A hotel lobby filled with women’s voices is very loud.
  • Quiet spaces are available, even in a hotel filled with 2,000 women (and a few men) in a city the size of San Francisco.
  • Every conference has a different mood.
  • The San Francisco Marriott has the best staff I have ever encountered in a conference hotel.
  • Conference lunches may taste the same everywhere, but extraordinary service, good company, and a great speaker can make you actually enjoy the chicken dish.
  • Late night and early morning talks are the best.
  • Networking is little more than talking and listening to other professionals – a whole lot of listening.
  • An author’s name is her brand (thank you, MH!).
  • Opportunities for success don’t come around that often. When they do, be ready.
  • Holding your published book takes persistence and raw grit, but if you want it and are willing to work for it, it will happen.
  • Getting published is only the beginning.

and finally

  • While it may true that there is no place like homeI left my heart in San Francisco

What did you learn at RWA National, or at the last conference you attended?

RWA National in San Francisco – August 1 & 2

Friday and Saturday posts slipped away in a flurry of conference bustle. After the sensational awards ceremony (see August 3rd), this wrap-up summary may be anti-climatic, but I wanted to post before the memories slip away.

Both days opened with continental breakfasts outside the Yerba Buena Ballroom. Tables of pastries, juice, fruit, coffee and tea helped jump-start our day. We sat at the ballroom tables with our plates and cups, planning, chatting, or just zoning out.

At some point early on Friday, I discovered that the Marriott had a rooftop garden on the 5th floor, a haven of rest amid the bustle of the conference. Multi-published Regency Author (and fellow WisRWA member) Victoria Hinshaw wandered out there as I was contemplating the palms and the sky. We had a very nice chat. Part of the pure joy of RWA National is the unexpected conversations with other writers.

There were some incredible workshops this year, held over the three day conference. Somewhere I saw there were over 100 to choose from. Here are a few of my favorites:

Brenda Hiatt gave an update on her popular presentation called Show Me the Money, compiled from anonymous surveys, showing how much publishers really pay for romance novels. In addition to dollar amounts, she gave advice on what to do when you get the call, about rights, contract clauses and a myriad of other helpful facts. Her updated Show Me the Money survey is available on her website (click her name, above).

Integrated Marketing was a panel presentation by Saturday night’s RITA winner Madeline Hunter, marketing specialist Shannon Aviles, and media specialist Trish Claussen. They discussed the importance of using media to create an integrated marketing plan and create buzz for your name, thereby increasing your sales. Since I first heard her speak several years ago, I’ve been wowed by Ms. Hunter’s professional knowledge and business savvy. This workshop was no exception.

Stephanie Bond gave another practical, down-to-earth presentation – How to Make a Living Writing Romance. She talked about forming strategies to make a business plan and determining your writing goals. Writing five new pages a day for 350 days a year, she said, will generate 1,750 pages – the equivalent of two single titles, 3 categories, and 2 novellas. FYI – Ms. Bond has a link to her writing articles on her website.

Multi-RITA finalist Virginia Kantra gave another helpful workshop – Voice: What are they Talking About? By using examples from best-selling authors she talked about factors influencing voice and how to define and refine your own voice. Very helpful.

Most of the workshops will be available on CD at Bill Stephen’s Productions, within a few weeks. Currently only 2006 and 2007 are listed. The first ones I mentioned (Money, Marketing, and Making a Living) weren’t recorded but I urge you to seek out the speakers/topics at future conferences.

My compliments to whoever came up with the small, wire-bound RWA Conference Journal. The size and design made it an easy fit into any handbag. The front held a Schedule at a Glance, and the many lined blank pages were more than sufficient for my conference notes. Good, functional design, and well-used!

Throughout the last day, writers lined up for the free books at the publisher sponsored book signings. The Marriott established a special Shipping Center near the Golden Gate Suites to ship books home. In this age of limited allowed luggage on airlines, this shipping center made for a much appreciated convenience.

Later this week I will post about things learned at this year’s conference. Please check back!

RWA National in San Francisco – August 2 Evening

This will be a quick post. The RWA RITA & Golden Hearts Awards Ceremony on Saturday evening was sensational. (Please click the link to see the full list of winners.) Suzanne Brockman emceed and kept the ceremony moving with her witty narration and film clips showing “nerds” who were changed into movie heroes by romance novels. It all led to a special presentation. Vicki Lewis Thompson won the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. In an amusing speech she commented on the unusually high percentage of women who have won such awards have three names. (I recall Mel Gibson making a similar remark in Conspiracy Theory, referencing assassins, but we won’t go there <g>.)

Mega CONGRATULATIONS to Ms. Thompson, and to all the RITA and Golden Heart winners and finalists for your well-deserved awards!!! As a volunteer usher I felt honored to be one of those to see you first as you entered the ballroom with your gorgeous gowns, brilliant smiles, (a few) proud husbands, editors and agents.

I hope to see many of you at next year’s RWA Conference in Washington DC.

I fly home tomorrow. I hope to have a more thorough wrap-up posted soon.

Please check back later this week.

RWA National in San Francisco – July 31

On Wednesday evening I attended The Beau Monde & Hearts Through History Soiree. It was a culmination of the all day History Conference within a conference. Most attending wore Regency styled gowns as they followed the Dancemaster’s instructions and learned the dances of the Regency period. I felt a bit out of place in my slacks and blouse but greatly enjoyed the skill of the dancers as they danced to the sometimes lively, sometimes tranquil live music.

Thursday – July 31 was the first official day of the RWA 2008 Conference. This year’s theme is appropriate to San Francisco: Romance – Bridging the World.

The Hearts Through History Chapter held our general meeting this morning from 7 to 9 am with a continental breakfast and a panel of published historical authors.

Motivational speaker Theresa Behenna gave a dynamic opening presentation for RWA National – speaking, song, and piano. We especially enjoyed her many writer analogies. RWA’s AGM (Annual General Meeting) followed where RWA Board Members conducted the business of the organization.

Upstairs on the 5th floor, author Jill Shalvis and her fellow Blaze authors signed books donated by Harlequin for conference attendees. This year, Harlequin also sponsored the name badges.

At lunch, RWA President Sherry Lewis announced the winner of this year’s Emma Merritt Service award for continued service to RWA – Linda Winstead Jones. She also announced that Wednesday evening’s Literacy Book Signing raised over $58,000 for Literacy.

Keynote Speaker Victoria Alexander delivered a down-to-earth, practical, and incredibly funny luncheon address. Nearly 2,000 attendees viewed the event on four large screens above the stage.

After lunch, we broke for workshops. PAN (published authors) and PRO (aspiring authors who have completed and submitted) held their afternoon retreats. Meanwhile the first 25 or so other workshops were held during three afternoon time slots. So many choices, all of them good! And this is just the first of three days.

Before I left for dinner, I spoke with one of the few male writers at RWA National. Raz Steel is a fellow Pennsylvanian who has been writing for about fifteen years, focusing on romance for the past six. Raz wore a first sale ribbon. His book, LOVE WITHOUT BLOOD, is a paranormal romance scheduled for release from Dorchester Publishing on December 30, 2008. Please visit his website by clicking on his name.

Online chapter From the Heart Romance Writers celebrated our tenth anniversary with a special Meet & Greet from 7 to 9 pm. Food, goodies, door prizes and merriment were in abundance.

The evening culminated with the ever popular Moonlight Madness Bazaar, held from 8 pm to 12 midnight. The bazaar provides a marketplace for RWA Chapters to peddle writing related items, jewelry and other fun stuff as fundraisers. From Maumee Valley RWA’s Fairy Muses to Valley Forge RWA’s Paper, Postage, Printing, Selling T-Shirts to Oklahoma RWA’s Diversions Jewelry, I found browsing and chatting a pleasant way to unwind from the busy day. I hope you’ll visit each of these chapters by clicking on their links (above).

Please return tomorrow for more about RWA National!

RWA National in San Francisco – July 30

The San Francisco Marriott is buzzing with the sound of women’s voices. Conference Registration opened at 7:00 this morning and by 8 o’clock the lines were long. RWA is here and in full Conference mode!

Today I attended the First Annual Historical Conference, a conference within a conference, sponsored by The Beau Monde and Hearts Through History Chapters. We started the morning with a continental breakfast after which Jo Ann Fergusen (aka Jocelyn Kelley) gave an emotion-filled keynote speech on The Quest for the Holy Sale. She punctuated her talk with the lines from the movie Galaxy Quest – “Never give up. Never surrender.”

After Jo Ann’s speech we broke for workshops. The many sessions offered throughout the day included Women’s Property Rights in England (1770-1900), Arms & Armor, Selling that Historical (Hilary Sares and Michelle Buonfiglio), and special sessions on historical foods and on costuming in Medieval, Georgian, and Regency time periods, among others.

The historical conference featured both a lunch and an afternoon tea (complete with tea and cucumber sandwiches!) and a silent auction. During mealtimes we talked with old friends, and met new ones. Tonight there will be a Evening Soiree with a dance master.

Other RWA events occurring Wednesday included Librarian’s Day, the Chapter Leadership Seminar, and a first timer’s Orientation. A few other chapters were also scheduled to hold mini-conferences.

This evening, RWA’s annual Literacy Book Signing was held in the Yerba Buena Ballroom. Over 500 authors signed books donated by publishers with proceeds going to various charities. During the book signing, chapter-donated baskets, books, and gift cards were raffled to raise additional money for Literacy.

Despite the wonderful workshops and events today, during the break times I found myself wandering again and again toward the hotel’s front door. The weather was cool with blue skies and sunshine again today…unbelievably beautiful!  Guess I must still be in vacation mode. Either that or I’ve fallen in love with San Francisco’s fair weather along with the relaxed atmosphere of this City on the Bay. Not a hard thing to do.

Thanks to all who continue to read and send comments, public or private. Please check back again tomorrow for more.

Now, I’m off to a Soiree.

San Francisco – July 29

On Tuesday, I woke early and headed down to Starbucks for some needed caffeine, and to post July 28th’s blog. On the way, I met Tina Murray from Naples, Florida. Tina is a member of Southwest Florida Romance Writers. We started talking and I quickly learned that ArcheBooks Publishing has just released Tina’s first book, A CHANCE TO SAY YES. In fact, minutes earlier she’d had a telephone interview with a Naples radio station and was now in need of coffee. We had a delightful talk. Please click on Tina’s name to visit her blog. Congratulations, Tina!

During the next hour as I posted my blog several other RWA members wandered in. Shelley Freydont (aka Gemma Bruce) and Pearl Wolfe sat next to me to have a bite before they left on their Kiss of Death Pre-Conference Tour to the San Francisco Airport U.S. Customs. Other Kiss of Death members began lining up for coffee and a morning muffin. Soon after, Madeline Hunter came in. And the lobby came to life.

A short while later, my husband and I headed west across San Francisco on Bus 38, on our way to the Legion of Honor museum. The museum is set on a hill in Lincoln Park with a spectacular view of the ocean.

Ever since we’d arrived, we had been seeing ads for the Woman Impressionists Special Exhibit at the Legion of Honor Museum. This exhibit featured four women’s work – Berthe Morisot, Eva Gonzales, Marie Bracquemond, and my favorite, Mary Cassatt. We thoroughly enjoyed it all. In addition to the special exhibit, the museum also features several Renoirs, nearly 100 Rodins (including The Kiss), and many, many other notable works of art. World class, and well worth a visit!

After visiting the museum, we bussed back down Geary Street, heading toward Chinatown. As we studied the map, a local businessman assisted us with the proper transfer. We had a pleasant chat.

What can I say about San Francisco’s Chinatown? Well, while there in a Chinese gift shop, I received a phone call from my dear aunt in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. It was a surreal moment. Just a year ago she and I were together in a gift shop in New York City. So, I went outside and on the bustling sidewalk we talked for a few minutes. I wished she was with me. Ah, but what of Chinatown? It’s late and time is short so I offer a picture, and a link to help show you, just a little. Beyond that, I hope you all have the opportunity to visit. One word…it is hilly so wear your most comfortable walking shoes.

This evening we went up to the View, a lounge on the 39th floor of the Marriott for drinks and superb appetizers. It is another place I hope everyone at the Conference has a chance to visit.

No wireless in the hotel rooms, only on first floor, so my husband and I are now sitting in a lounge just off the lobby catching up on our emails and listening to the loud buzz of women’s voices fill air.

RWA is here!

Wednesday promises to be a busy day. Please check back early Thursday morning for my next post.

San Francisco – July 28

Monday was housekeeping day. Early morning I visited the laundromat, followed by repacking. We left our son’s apartment and taxied up to the San Francisco Marriott. Regular check-in is at 4 pm but our room was ready so we were able to get in and unpacked by 1 pm. Friendly staff and a smooth check-in.

We walked over to Mel’s Drive-In, a retro restaurant on Mission Street, less than a block from the Marriott. Burgers, vanilla shake, and a cherry coke. Mel’s was crowded. There is a government union conference going on at the Hilton and at the Moscone Conference Center – thousands of union members.

Shopping abounds around the hotel. I discovered The Container Store, two-stories of every type of container you can imagine. It’s a fun store to browse and is just across the street from the Marriott.

Old Navy also sits across the street, corner of Market and 4th. Walk a few hundred feet more and you’ll find the Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre, home to Nordstroms and many other fine stores. Walgreen’s and Rite Aid are also nearby, both within a block, a less expensive source for conference necessities.

The Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre also has an upscale food court on the lower level. Our son joined us for a simple dinner there Monday night. The San Francisco Soup Company offered hearty bowls of soup. Dessert was at The Melt for mouth-watering gelato.

At the hotel, the RWA Board has had two days of meetings. The hotel is becoming lively as other excited RWA members check in.

On Tuesday, Kiss of Death tours U.S. Customs. Meanwhile my husband and I bus to the Legion of Honor Museum for a Woman Impressionist exhibit then back to Chinatown in the afternoon.

Thanks to all for your comments, both posted and private. I’m glad you are enjoying this.

Check back tomorrow!

San Francisco – July 24

From now until the RWA National Conference ends August 3, I plan to post daily about events here in San Francisco. If the mood strikes, please take a minute or two to comment. To other writers attending – please share a link to your own blog posts about RWA National.

Our oldest son lives in San Francisco. Visiting him was the only excuse I needed to combine a family visit with the 2008 RWA National Conference. This was one National I would not, could not, miss.

Although the conference officially starts next week, like many others my husband and I flew in early. From summer thunderstorms in Newark to the cool blue skies over San Francisco, we flew non-stop for close to six hours. On board I read Madeline Hunter’s SECRETS OF SURRENDER, a great start for any RWA Conference. (BTW, this is one you absolutely must read! Whew!)

We were greeted at the airport by our sandaled, red-bearded son. A happy reunion. He settled us into his apartment in the Civic Center/Hayes region of the city then went into work. Two aging boomers on our own in San Francisco. Delightful!

We started the afternoon by strolling through the neighborhood around his apartment, looking for lunch. Didn’t have to look far. We passed restaurants on every block, eclectic and colorful.

We chose Flipper’s Gourmet Hamburgers, and ate outside on the fenced garden patio. Gourmet barbecue burger, a delicious chicken crepe, both with green garden salad. Fresh, tasty, and superb as only San Francisco food can be!

A park across the street from Flipper’s seemed to typify the relaxed beauty of this city. I’ve learned that it rests on the site an old two-decker highway. Artwork is rotated. The current sculpture near the far end is a monkey or ape, enjoying the park with his human companions. (Click on the pictures then wait for a larger view.)

San Francisco’s temperature today is in the low 60’s but sunny with brilliant skies. The ten-day weather forecast calls for temps in the mid 60’s, sunny to mostly sunny.

Word to the wise if you are coming to National – bay breezes can be chilly. Bring a jacket!

Check back tomorrow evening for more.