I've decided to toss my laptop into the ring for National Novel Writing Month. Nothing like making a last minute decision at the midnight hour :)

I started to over think it. Should I focus on a new story? The second book in my series? Where should I start? Then I realized hey -- don't screw with creativity. Just do it.

So that's my plan. I already have a rough outline for my new story. It's a contemporary romance. I'm just going to let my little pantser fingers fly. Well it won't be too crazy. I will have some structure.

So what are your plans this month? Will you join the fun?

Oh! It's midnight! Time to get started!

Good luck to all the other NaNoWriMos! Thirty days and 50,000 words. Ready. Set. Go!

when you realize that someone actually read a part of your book ...AND LIKED IT!

Not your critique partners or your beta readers. But someone of note. Say...like an editor of a big publishing house?

Last night I found out that I was the winner in the Fantasy/Urban Fantasy category for On The Far Side Contest for Unpublished Writers hosted by FF&P RWA.  I had to read the email several times before it REALLY sunk in. I won. HOT DIGGITY -- I WON!

My entry was read and ranked by an actual publishing editor and for this one, brief moment in time, I was the winner. How awesome is THAT?!

Pretty freaking awesome, I'd say. Pretty. Freaking. Awesome! Go me!

 Animated Gif on Giphy

I'm over here dancing wildly! Madly! Insanely!

Sorry that's a lot of "ly" words but it's okay -- I'm allowed.

In June I found out the Hidden One finaled in two great contests - On The Far Side, a contest hosted by the Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal Special Interest Chapter of RWA and The TARA, hosted by the Tampa Area Romance Writers. I'm giddy beyond belief!

So, yeah. This is a shout out to myself. GO ME!!
Since I posted links to help you figure out what to do, what to wear and how to enjoy RWA Nationals, I figured I'd share a few tips I've picked along the way too:

1. You'll Need Power: Buy an external battery pack for all your electronics. In prep for RWA13 I purchased this charger from Amazon. There are smaller and cheaper versions but this size will work for my entire family when we're on the road. There are two charging ports and I can charge a cell phone and a tablet at the same time. I'm ready!

2. Know Where You're Going: Once you pick up your registration packet, map out the locations of your selected workshops against the hotel map. Knowing where to go when you leave your room will help save time and frustration if you're running late.

2.1 Load Up Your Calendar: If you have a Android phone - put all of your workshops in Google Calendar and set reminders. This way you'll have the same info at your fingertips. It will save you from flipping through the booklet every hour. :)

3. BYOWB (Bring Your Own Water Bottle):  I would suggest that you bring a CASE of water to the hotel -- but that's not  "green." Just pick up a 32 oz water bottle and carry it with you. Use the water stations that will be set up all over the hotel to replenish as you need. Make sure it's a "slender" style bottle that you can slip into the side pocket of your Registration bag for ease of transport.

4. EAT BREAKFAST!: I know this sounds weird. But really. EAT A GOOD BREAKFAST every morning. Even if that means getting up at the butt-crack of dawn to head down to the hotel restaurant or walking across the street to the local fast food joint. Just do it. You will be running 100 miles an hour the moment you leave your room. You'll need the calories to sustain you.

5. Bag It Up:  Free books will be tossed around like candy the entire week. I'm serious. FREE BOOKS. Don't think that you'll be able to fit the books in your Conference bag. They won't fit. Don't believe me? Look at the photos below.

Books collected during first wave of Book Signings at RWA11.
More books from RWA11
Pack a few of the reusable grocery tote bags to help carry your loot. The collapsable kind that you can carry around in your Conference Bag would be helpful. You can pick up several at your local grocery for less than $2.00 in most places. Or better yet. Connect with a good friend who's at the host hotel and ask for "storage rights" for your books. Meaning you can stash your books in their room periodically throughout the day so you don't have to carry them around everywhere.

6. Tablet or Paper?: Not every meeting room will have a table for you to set up your Ipad so you'll need to think carefully for how you plan to take notes. In some cases you'll only have your lap to rest your Ipad on so keep that in mind. I recently upgraded to a Samsung Note II cell phone. It has a larger screen and comes with a "pen" for writing. I'm currently testing it out as my sole electronic device for Nationals. We'll see how it goes. I'm bringing my IPad as back up - just in case :)

Well, that's my brain dump of ideas for next week. What are yours? Any tips to share? Will what I've mentioned work for you? Let me know!

It's that time of year again. It's RWA Time.

As many other romance authors have done, I've geared this post to what's occurring in Atlanta within the next two weeks.  Romance Writers of America's Annual Conference. Where over 2, 000 romance writers gather for a week of networking!

This will be my second time attending RWA Nationals. My first experience occurred in my home town, New York, New York. I thought since it was my hometown, I'd blend in like a native New Yorker. Ummmm nope. My mind was blown WIDE open.

Every day started at 7am and ended at 2 am. You moved from your room to the workshops to the meeting rooms to the bar. Not necessarily in that order. Sleep was a luxury you couldn't afford -- because let's face it. TWO THOUSAND romance writers in one hotel creates an energy flow that's impossible to plan for. You simply go with it.

PictureRWA11 Luncheon
I've been debating on whether or not I should do a post on "What to Bring to Nationals" or "What to Expect" at Nationals. But so many authors have done such a great job. I figured it would be easier to list their posts :)

I've pulled these from the latest RWA Conference email that came out today. Several links may require you to log on to my.RWA for access:

What’s nearby?

Need more information?

So - are you ready for RWA? Are you a first timer? A Vet? What are you looking forward to?

To say that I had an absolute blast at the 2013 Reader Author Get Together this year would be an understatement. I had a HUMONGOUS BLAST at RAGT.

Where can you find a gathering of authors and readers so intimate that you truly feel like best friends by the end of the three days?

I'm proud to say that my second RAGT was my most productive conference as as writer --even though I attended as a reader. My goal was not to focus on my writing, but to simply soak in the glow of fangirling all of my favorite writers. Take a peek below and see who I managed to bump into! 

NY Times Best Selling Author, Darynda Jones
Best Selling Author, Robyn Peterman. The "Official" Pitch Queen of 2013
Build your Hero Winners with Authors Ty Langston, XX Virna DePaul and Tigris Eden.
Author Shawntelle Madison
My forever ACES!! Bloggers who turned into life long friends! Oh and Best Selling author, Shiloh Walker is hiding here too!
So let me tell you a little about Robyn Peterman. Remember when I said I was going to attend RAGT as a READER? Well Robyn and her fabulous group of author buddies offered a workshop to help authors with their Pitch. I had no intention on attending. But I did. Robyn welcomed me with open arms...and then proceed to rip me and new one for not having a pitch ready LOL. But as the gracious role model that she is -- she gave me and another lady homework. We were to draft our pitch THAT WEEKEND and find her and run it by her. What? Like This. Weekend?

Well I did it. And Robyn did it too. I can honestly state that Robyn Peterman saved my Pitch life. She worked with me one on one and helped my fine tune my written ramblings into a spunky kick-azz pitch that had me glowing from the inside out! I mean she took my words and gave them life and gave me the confidence I needed to really bring out my story to potential agents and editors. I was on Cloud 9 for the rest of the weekend!

It just goes to show that sometimes - even when you have the best intentions to do one thing - something else comes along and totally flips your world. Thanks Robyn! I'll never forget your kindness!
It's that time of year again! Yes! It's time for Lori Foster's Reader Author Get Together  Conference in West Chester, Ohio! Wooooot!

I was fortunate enough to attend RAGT 2012 last year with my writing buddy and CRW Chapter-mate Denise Leton, her sister Erica and the fabulous Mr. Harris*!  We decided to drive to Ohio and that was its own special adventure!

For those not familiar, RAGT is a special conference put together by authors , Lori Foster, Duffy Brown, Linda Keller. It's a con focused on bringing authors and readers together for a casual weekend of fun, frolic and socializing. Check out RAGT 2013  for additional information.

This is also my annual time to see my favorite Twitter Buddies and Authors. This year author, Darynda Jones is attending and I promise not to Super Fan Girl her to death...too much. Another fav, Virna DePaul will also be there. I'm attending as a Reader this year and fully expect to Fan Girl the hell outta the two above mentioned authors. I have to. I feel it's my duty. As a Reader. 

I'll take plenty of photos and promise to share all the fun details with my next post. But for now...it's Ohio or Bust!

* Mr. Harris is the special Travel Monkey companion of Erica S. You can follow his adventures on Twitter at https://twitter.com/travelmonkeymrh
I've been on this writer's journey "officially" for about three years now. I'm editing my very first novel. I'm a part of several fantastic Romance Writers of America Chapters and I have an abolutely fabulous Critique group at my back.

But even with a powerful arsenal like this, I still doubt myself. In some cases, I'm my own worse enemy. Sound familiar?

But on April 2, during my monthly Carolina Romance Writer's chapter meeting. I experienced the most humbling-jaw-dropping-kick-in-the-pants-you-go-girl moment ever. I'll keep it brief.

The fabulous Martin Biro, Assistant Editor at Kensington Publishing was our guest speaker, and he was taking pitches. I wasn't ready. With my book. With a pitch. Nada so I had zero intention of pitching my book. (It doesn't help that I'm a total spaz during my pitches.) So while everyone ELSE in my chapter was pitching, I participated in Elizabeth's Michel's presentation on Elevator Pitches. She totally rocked it by the way!

Long story short - Beth was a miracle worker and within 15 minutes I had a pitch that felt "right". At that point, two chaptermates urged me to go pitch to Martin. I was surrounded by "Why not?" and "What's the worst that could happen" statements. Jeni and Natilie would not tolerate my excuses. At. All. Then Jeni did something that changed the game. She wrote a little note on the back of her business card and said "Take this with you." She'd written four little words:

"I'm rooting for you!"

I stared at it for a minute before gushing with thanks. I'd only recently connected with Jeni the previous night at the dinner outing with Martin. This meeting was my first real interaction with Natalie as well. Yet within the span of an hour, they became my rock and hard place for kicking my tail and pushing me towards my goal. How incredibly freakin' awesome is THAT?

Okay, I promised to keep this short. So... I pitched. Martin was glad I pitched. He really wanted me to pitch. And...wait for it....wait for it....He liked my story and wants to see the first three chapters. BOOM!

It really does take a village -- of writers to keep you motivated. To keep you encouraged on this incredible journey of written words, characters who really talk to you and rejection. The best part about it...you don't have to be born in the village to get that support. You only have to show up. Show out. Keep writing.

I can't believe it's really over! My whirlwind weekend at Georgia Romance Writers 2012 Moonlight and Magnolias conference was absolutely fantastic! There's no way to describe how it feels to be surrounded by men and women who are just like you! Writers to the core!

This was my second M&M and it was definitely better than the first. I had the honor of attending as a Maggie Finalist for the 2012 Unpublished Maggie Award for Excellence contest and received so much support and words of wisdom from my fellow writers, I was almost numb with joy! 

Huge kudos to the 2012 M&M committee for pulling  together such a wonderful lineup of authors and workshops this year. My brain (and tote bag) are full of new ideas that I can't wait to get started on.

My pitch appointments were a huge success. I received three requests for my full manuscript from two editors and an agent and to top it all off I placed third in the Maggie's for in the Paranormal Category. How cool is THAT?

So I'm doing some final edits before I hit "send" and shift into the "waiting to hear back mode" of a writer's life. Ah... the writer's life. 

Til next time!