I’m excited to announce the new release, Cupid’s Mistake, by Chantilly White! Cupid’s Mistake is a Valentine’s Day themed contemporary romance novella of approximately 37,500 words, and is available on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords and AllRomance, and coming soon to Apple, Kobo and Sony. For more information, visit her website at www.ChantillyWhite.com.
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The first worry, of course, was what to wear. No, not the writing or pitching or meeting scary editors/agents (who were completely wonderful, in any case.) “Business casual” is tough to define, especially for someone who has been out of the official workforce for so long. Did I need a suit jacket? What about the shoes? Luckily, the ECWC organizers had a special email loop for conference attendees where every conceivable question could be answered by the organizers themselves or people who’d been to conference before and knew what to expect. They were an amazing resource, and I know that loop helped calm the nerves of more than a few newbies. The fact that we devolved into comedy toward the last few days before conference helped enormously, and also got us started thinking about scheduling for 2010. Sunday morning PJ & bunny slipper sessions were a popular suggestion, as well as Friday and Saturday night workshops in the bar at 1 AM. It turns out I’m not the only writer on earth who is a confirmed night owl and not a morning person. Who knew?
I carpooled with Kate Diamond (check out her posts on Damned Scribbling Women), which was a blast. We went up to the hotel a day early in order to attend a synopsis workshop led by Deborah Cooke (Claire Delacroix), and to help stuff goodie bags for the conference. Kate was a hoot to drive with, full of great advice and book recommendations. As a double finalist in the Emerald City Opener contest, she was also a great resource to pump for info on craft and the business of writing. That’s a girl who is going places. Remember her name.
Deborah’s synopsis workshop included several “AHA!” moments (and what a gracious lady! She was a pleasure to listen to.) I’m confident that everyone who attended will produce synopses much easier, and the results will be far better, thanks to the information Deborah provided.
I had the pleasure of driving Terrel Hoffman (leader of the infamous Eye of Argon annual Friday night reading – that was another first for me, and quite an experience! Google it if you’re unfamiliar with it. I dare you), Monica Britt and Kate Diamond to the workshop, which took place at the Mercer Island Library, and spawned this all important question: “How many romance writers does it take to find a library?” Answer: “Four, if they have gps and a cell to call Kate’s husband for directions.” Thank you for getting us to our location with time to spare, Mr. Kate Diamond! Monica and Terrel kept us in stitches the whole way there and back, and through our several wrong turns.
After that, it was back to the hotel for stuffing goodie bags and chowing down on excellent pizza in the hospitality suite. What an eye-opening experience! I knew, in a cerebral sort of way, how much work is involved in putting on a conference of this magnitude, but seeing those ladies in action was something to behold. Their organizational skills were incredible.
As a bonus, we also got to scope out the raffle baskets, as they were being put together and final touches added in that room. I put my name on several and tried to tell them not to bother wrapping them up for the raffle, just to send them straight down to my car. That suggestion was uniformly ignored, although I did wind up with the one I wanted most of all, The Plotting Princess, which contained a hand-made tiara along with plotting tools. It was put together by Shelly Shellabarger and Celeste Deveney, who made the tiara, and was completely fabulous! I also scored a terrific basket full of signed copies of Julia Quinn’s novels, which I cannot wait to tear into, I love her work! Yes, you read that correctly, I won TWO baskets in the raffle! I never win anything. Never ever. I still can’t believe two fabulous baskets came my way, it was so exciting! That happened for a couple of people over the course of the weekend, actually. One generous soul donated her second basket back to the raffle, since she’d already won one, but I am far too selfish for that. I won two baskets and I kept two baskets!
Friday began with a meeting of volunteers in the hotel lobby, so we’d know where to be/what to do over the course of the conference, then it was downstairs to registration. From the first moment, any lingering nerves vanished. I was immediately among friends, whether I’d ever met the person before or not. To a man (or woman!), every single person I met was a delight. My only regrets were in not having more time to spend and not getting to meet everyone. What an amazing group of people! Truly fabulous, from the brand-newbies like myself to the multi-published authors, who were unbelievably generous with their time and wisdom. I’m not going to list everyone by name because invariably I would accidentally leave someone off and I don’t want to risk that, because absolutely everyone was just wonderful. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard on the conference itself, and to everyone who went out of their way to make us all feel welcome and comfortable.
There were too many wonderful events over those three days to go into them all. That conference had everything! Fabulous keynote speakers (Christine Warren, Deborah Cooke and Lisa Jackson), wonderful agents and editors (Alexandra Machinist, Elaine Spencer, Megan McKeever, Wanda Ottewell, Steven Axelrod and Peter Senftleben), the incredible Cherry Adair, whom I have heard Theresa Meyers, of Blue Moon Communications, describe as “a force of nature” and now know exactly what she means!
I signed up for Cherry’s Write the Damn Book! challenge this year, which means I have one year from the close of this conference to the start of the next to write and finish a book. The requirements are to start a new novel and finish it within that year, and if you do, you are eligible for a drawing for fabulous prizes. Cherry is incredibly generous! But she’ll hunt you down if you don’t finish and you’ll have to explain to her exactly why not. Be warned! Since I am in the middle of one novel already, I have to finish that one first and then write the one for the challenge, which will be the second in my series, so lots of writing for me this year! That’s a good thing.
As if that weren’t enough, the workshops truly boggled the mind. It was SO hard to choose which ones to attend. Thankfully, the conference was recorded, minus a couple of workshops, so the CD will be a real asset to have, but I still hated to miss anything.
I first attended Elaine Spencer’s “Always Wanted to Know but Been Too Afraid To Ask?” session, in which she was extremely forthcoming about the business and what to expect out of the submission process. Dinner and the keynote on Friday night was followed by Cherry’s Write the Damn Book! awards for the previous year (congratulations, everyone! I intend to be up there with you next year!), and the Agent/Editor panel, during which all six of them answered quite a string of questions, and conference attendees were able to get a better sense of what each agent/editor was interested in seeing.
Then came PitchFest! We divided up by table, each of which had one published author to help us all work on our pitches and refine our delivery. I was lucky enough to be seated with the lovely Gina Robinson and a group of incredible writers. Everyone’s stories were so interesting and fun to listen to, so diverse. Each person had valuable advice to contribute to the table as a whole. The support and generosity of spirit of writers in general never ceases to amaze me. The hope that everyone there would do well and succeed in their goals was a palpable feeling in that room. Every single person was invested in helping everyone else be the best they could be. It was inspiring to see.
I ended up deciding, rightly I believe, not to pitch at this conference. I am just not far enough into my novel. I didn’t want to burn any bridges by pitching something that wasn’t ready, but the PitchFest experience was invaluable. I know I’ll be ready to knock their socks off when the time comes, and I want to send a personal thank you to the ladies at my table for their wonderful and constructive feedback on my story. Good luck to you all!
On Saturday I started off by working the Hospitality Desk. I very much recommend that conference newbies, in particular, volunteer to help with as much as you can. It was an amazing experience, and because of the volunteering, I got to meet far more people than I would have otherwise. Plus, it was a LOT of fun!
After my shift, though, it was time for the workshops. Over the next two days I attended classes given by Bob Mayer, Linda Wisdom, Cherry Adair, Eileen Cook, Sharron Gunn, and moderated for the incomparable Mary Buckham. My mind has been on information overload ever since, but in a good way! I have reams of notes and every lecture contributed such value.Then there were all the just-for-kicks events. The newbie reception. Eye of Argon reading in the lobby. The fabulous book fair, where I had to practice far too much restraint. It was so hard not to walk out of there with a copy of every book! The Dinner Divas, where I met a fantastic group of women I am excited to call friends. Karaoke! OMG! If only I’d had my video camera! I did get a few pics, all from karaoke night, as you can see, but overall I was just terrible about remembering to take out my camera. Next year I’m going to hang it around my neck or something so it’s always available, and make sure the video camera comes with, because there were many video-worthy moments! Never let it be said that writers are lonely, solitary, quiet-type people. At least not romance writers! These people know how to party, even the shy ones.
What an event! There was so much more, I can’t begin to describe it all, or all the wonderful people. One thing is for certain: ECWC is one event on my “Never to be missed” list. I’m so glad ECWC was my first conference. Any others I ever attend, including Nationals next year, will have a job trying to outdo it. It was a truly memorable, amazing experience from start to finish. I just wish it could have gone on longer! Thank you, again, to everyone who worked so hard to deliver such an exceptional event. You guys ROCK!
Thank you, too, to everyone who went out of their way to congratulate me on this beautiful new website (thank you again, Emma!) and tell me how much you’ve enjoyed it. You guys made my day, everyday.
That is the question. The answer is yes, clearly, because here I am. Blogging. Or pretending to, anyway. This is my first-ever attempt. It may not be pretty.
I spent the better part of two hours reading through the blogging Help articles and have come to one positive conclusion: I need a live instructor. I can write forever, talk longer, but figuring out technology is not my strong suit. It makes me feel stupid, a feeling I do NOT care for, but I’m also impatient with it all. I want to open a screen and have it do what I want, without spending a lot of time figuring out how to make it go. I feel very much the way I imagine some of my characters would feel if they were transported out of the Middle Ages and plunked in front of a computer. You can imagine.
In any case, this first “blog” is about writing something down and pressing “publish” to see how it works, so I won’t continue to waste time and space complaining that it’s too hard. I’ll figure it out, and I hope you’ll bear with me while I do.
If the spirit moves you, leave a comment on how you deal when faced with new technology. Do you dive right in and figure it all out? Avoid it like the plague until forced to use it? Get a book? Get a teacher?
In the meantime, to reward you for stopping by and putting up with my angst-driven blathering for a few moments, enjoy this picture of my oh-so-cute new babies, the three kittens my family adopted from our local Kitten Rescue at the beginning of September. They are just about 12 weeks old now. The black and white one is Captain Jack, very appropriately named as it turns out he’s something of an escape artist and a serious prankster; the fluffy tabby is Mr. Gibbs, and the sleek tabby is Commodore Norrington. Thanks for stopping by!
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