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1st Turning Point: Captain’s Log—March 2010
Friday, April 16th, 2010 ♦ One Lonely Comment »

Chassily Wakefield, Author & Pirate Queen

Chassily Wakefield, Author & Pirate Queen

By Chassily Wakefield
1st Turning Point Cabin Girl
www.1stturningpoint.com

Ahoy, mateys! Winter squalls are fast becoming sprightly spring winds wi’ a promise of smooth sailing fer 2010. Put yer Pirate Hat on an’ prepare to parlay wi’ the 1st Turning Point Crew. Get ready fer a purely profitable year of Piratical Promotion, sailing upon the open Seas of Publication.

Fer the uninitiated Pirates ‘n Parrots amongst ye, 1st Turning Point is a place where authors ‘n artists teach, share, and learn all about promotion. Published or unpublished, we don’t care – come aboard, tour the ship and sail away with us while we all improve our promotional skills. Sign on to become a subscriber—or Parrot, as we like to call our motley bunch. To learn more about 1st Turning Point, check out our About page.

Mark your calendars now for Saturday, May 1st, our one-year anniversary! Lots of doings are planned, and you won’t want to miss the fun. It’s been quite a year, but we’re just getting started!

Be sure to note the 1st Turning Point article, Beat the Promotion Learning Curve—Before the Call, in the latest edition of the Romance Writers Report. It’s the latest of many exciting ways Cap’n Jacquie Rogers ‘n Cap’n Ann Charles are getting the word out about 1st Turning Point and all the strategies the site can help you learn for the best methods to promote yourselves and your work. Our venerable Cap’ns also gave their “Get a Jump Start on Your Writing Career” workshop for the Rose City Writer’s Retreat in Portland in February, for writers who have yet to develop a platform.

Read on for an overview of the latest exciting developments on 1st Turning Point:

Our Current Schedule ~ Learn Marketing & Promotion Skills from the Best!

Sundays: Book Video Reviews

Mondays: Instructional Articles

Tuesdays: Featured Artists and Special Guests

Wednesdays: Reviews of Publishing Industry Books

Thursdays: Special Features

Fridays: More How-To Articles

Saturdays: Website Reviews

New for 2010: Make special note of our latest Saturday offering, Website Reviews, which debuted February 13th to wild acclaim. Interested in finding out how your own website rates? Send the following information to crowsnest@1stTurningPoint.com with WEBSITE REVIEW in the subject line:

  • Your author name
  • Web designer name
  • Website URL
  • Plus an optional short paragraph on where you are in your career and a few items about your website that might be of interest.

What else is new, you ask? How about a sparkly new Forum! Cap’n Ann spent hours ‘n hours chained in the bowels of the ship to get the forum up and running January 1st. It’s a place for the Parrots to come together and share their wisdom, ask questions and have some pirating good fun. Be sure to stop in, sign up for the monthly contest, and stay awhile. There are always new topics and new Parrots to squawk with.

We love to share our Parrots’ ‘n Pirates’ GOOD NEWS on our Good News page, such as:

Amber Scott’s entry, Deuce Bigalow: Elf Gigolo, won an Honorable Mention in the Save the Cat! Last Logline of 2009! contest at http://blakesnyder.com!

Laurie Ryan won 1st Turning Point’s January forum contest. Laurie won a CD from January’s guest artist, Fiddlehead; a $5 giftcard to Starbucks; and an article slot for May on 1st Turning Point. Keep an eye out for her article in a few months. Congratulations, Laurie, and thanks for entering the contest! See you in the forum.

Deborah Schneider took part in two big events: a St. Valentine’s Day Victorian Tea at the Bellevue Library, along with Megan Chance and Anthea Lawson, and the Romance Author Mash-Up at Parkplace Books in Kirkland, with Megan Chance, Rebecca J. Clark, Anthea Lawson and Shelli Stevens.

We’ve rounded up some new Crew members over the last several months, including Norman W. Wilson, Ph.D as Forum Moderator, and Diana Coyle for Website Reviews. Christina Arbini joined the ranks as a columnist, and Kris Tualla has been impressed into service –er, has signed on as well. We’re delighted to have them aboard! You’ll be seeing lots more of them in the coming months.

There are now a whopping 35 of us on ship, not counting frequent guests who swing by to share tales of their promotion and marketing adventures. If you’d like to come by and have one of your articles published, check out our Article Submission Guidelines page for instructions. We love new faces! We’re well over 1000 Parrots strong now, so if you’re not a Parrot yet, stick a feather in yer cap and fly on over. This is the best place to roost in all the seas!

Guess what? 1st Turning Point is looking into offering online classes! The first class is planned for May. Be one of the first to help us launch this new part of life aboard ship.

Upcoming Classes:

How to Build Your Platform

Location: 1st Turning Point Forum

Instructors: Jacquie Rogers and Ann Charles

This interactive workshop is FREE! Attendees will be chosen through a drawing, to be announced soon, so keep watch! To enter your name in the drawing, send an email to crowsnest@1stTurningPoint.com with PLATFORM CLASS as the subject. It is designed for those who are serious about building their platforms. This class involves one-on-one interaction, and each attendee should leave with a plan to help themselves along the journey to publishing success.  Class size limited to 12. Stay tuned for more details.

Are you into podcasts? Meet the Parrots, hosted by Jacquie Rogers, is an hour-long, once a month round-table discussion on topics related to promotion and marketing for authors, musicians, and artists, by those who’ve learned from experience. Our latest podcasts:

You’ve Got It, Now Flaunt It: Creating Website Content

(December 16, 2009)

Rowena Cherry, Robert W. Walker, Ann Charles discuss how they determine the most beneficial content for their websites as they go through various stages of their careers.

Booksignings For Fun and Profit

(January 20, 2010)

Guests include: John Foxjohn, Deborah Schneider, Ann Charles and others.

Co-Promotion: If One Is Good, Is Two Better?

(February 17, 2010)

Guests include: John Klawitter, Eilis Flynn, Wendy Delaney and Ann Charles.

Chassily Wakefield, Author & Her Handsome Pirate Lord

Chassily Wakefield, Author & Her Handsome Pirate Lord

And that’s not all. What else have we been up to? Check out the treasure chest for a listing of all the fabulous articles we’ve published, and see below for the ones posted since December:

Internet Promotion:

Reviews (Books, Book Videos & now Websites!)

Marketing:

1st Turning Point has a new plug-in at the end of the articles, making it easier than ever to Tweet, Facebook and otherwise share article info with your friends and fellow writers. Feel free to help us get the word out!

Looking for more Pirate fun? On Facebook? Join our 1st Turning Point crew there, if you haven’t already. You can also follow us on MySpace, Ning, Twitter, LinkedIn and shop Zazzle or CafePress, where you can find the latest Parrot Gear.

Remember, whether you write novels, short stories, lyrics, or poetry, we’re here for you, and artists in all media, too. Come on board and take a look around, read some of the helpful articles, see what online and live classes/workshops are coming your way soon, check out the beneficial list of resources, and share some of your own experiences and wisdom with others via comments and the new Forum.

We have big plans for 2010! Cap’n Jacquie reminds us: “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” (American poet T.S. Eliot, 1888-1965) Come visit and find out just how far you can go. See you there!

Chassily Wakefield, Author & Cabin Girl

Chassily Wakefield, Author & Cabin Girl

Bio: Chassily Wakefield holds a degree in Creative Writing/English Literature from the University of California at Riverside. She writes Mythic Romantic Fantasy and lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three kids and three crazy kittens. She loves being 1st Turning Point’s Cabin Girl, volunteering as Membership Chair for GSRWA, and staying active in the many writing groups in which she is a member, including PNWA, RWA National, OlyRWA, and several online chapters.

*This article first appeared in the Emerald City Romantic Quarterly Newsletter, the official newsletter of the Greater Seattle chapter of RWA and is reposted here with permission.

Conference!
Friday, October 23rd, 2009 ♦ 4 Comments »
Lesa Dragon, Conference Chair Extraordinaire

Lesa Dragon, Conference Chair Extraordinaire

The Emerald City Writers Conference took place in Seattle on October 9-11, put on by the Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America chapter. I have to say it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. As a conference virgin, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. The only other large-scale gathering of a “conference” nature I’ve attended that even came close was LeakyCon 2009 in Boston last May, which was fabulous, but all for fun, not business. Leading up to this conference, I had a lot of worries, despite knowing that many friends would be in attendance.

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.

Tamara Lynne Smith & Kate Diamond

Tamara Lynne Smith & Kate Diamond

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.

New friend, and fellow Las Margaritas Amiga, Helen Cho

New friend, and fellow Las Margaritas Amiga, Helen Cho

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.

Karaoke!

Karaoke!

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.

Dancing for karaoke

Dancing for karaoke

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.