Thursday, May 4, 2017
Exhaustion does make you sleep like a rock, don’t it? I sleep, not like a baby (a metaphor created by someone who did not have an infant that woke up every 15 minutes demanding a nipple, btw), but like the dead, and wake up at the crack of 8:15… and stay in bed for another hour. And miss the Make a Date With Harlequin event that starts the morning—which means I miss meeting Tiffany Reisz, Jennifer Armentrout, and Heather Graham, among others, but you know what? This is day three, and there are three days to go after this, and something’s got to give.
Besides, I’m pretty sure I’ll run into one or all three of them in the elevator at some point.
Speaking of the elevators, I’ve got to show you what RT did to the Hyatt elevators:
On my bucket list: to have a publisher spring the coin for an elevator door for one of my titles at a future RT Convention. Not, you know, next year. But… let me think… 2021. Yes. Intention set.
This morning, I meet my first set of fab people in the lobby:
Lydia San Andres writes historical romance. The title of her current release is The Infamous Miss Rodrigues—infamous is a great word to have in a title, innit? I make her pose with her book postcard, but I totally fuck up the shot, so you have to endure this collage instead. Please imagine that the rest of Lydia’s face is as beautiful as her eyes.
JR Gray writes queer romance–no, wait, let me get this right, “suspense lightly sprinkled with kink”–and his business cards are coasters, which is a brilliant idea I’m stealing. His latest release is Clouded Hell, and it looks… dark and fascinating. (Also, he’s a Slytherin, but I think that didn’t even need to be stated).
And the gorgeous Pixie Gibney reads and reviews queer lit. I threaten to stalk her on GoodReads, and she takes it in stride.
Then I fall in love. Repeatedly. The topic is newsletters, the presenters are Mel Jolly of Author Rx and Sarah Wendell—the Sarah Wendell—the mistressmind (hee hee hee) behind the SmartBitchesTrashyBooks blog + podcast—and the entire hour I howl with laughter. And learn a shitload.
There are the types of notes I take (this is a slideshow, btw… don’t scroll down too quickly):
…they make perfect sense to me. Really. If they don’t make sense to you, email Sarah at email@example.com with the subject “Newsletters” and she will send you the workshop notes and key take-aways.
I happen to sit down beside Laura Stone and Lilah Suzanne, who are both published with Interlude Press.
I tell them I just discovered Interlude Press this past year, through Alysia Constantine’s Sweet—amazing read, here’s my GoodReads review of it, READ IT. (Sweet, not my review of it. I mean, you can read the review, of course. But the only point of reading the review is to find out why you should read the book, and I think you can just skip that part.)
“Alysia’s here! I have to connect you too!” Laura squeals. Ok, she just says it, I’m the one who squeals.
Laura’s most recent title is And It Came to Pass–it’s releasing on May 18, here, have a quick peek:
and Lilah Suzanne is the author of the LGBT+ romance novels Burning Tracks, Broken Records, Spice, and Pivot & Slip, all of which sound enticing. She has a new novel slated for August:
…and I guess in order to read it, I need to read books and one two first, OMG… I realize that after this conference, I’m going to have about a hundred books I will need-want to read NOW, all the while writing my next one and marketing Consequences and Cherry Pie Cure, and goddammit, why are there only 24 in each day?
Having a lot of good books to read should not be a cause for panic. Right?
Next, I want to go a workshop on Building and Keeping an Audience, but I pop by the editor/agent appointment table on the off-chance that Stephanie Philips of SBR Media might be available. Remember Stephanie? I attended a panel with her and four other fabulous women yesterday, and she impressed the hell out of me. I’m a bit… agent-skittish at the moment, but I could see myself working with her.
And she’s got a spot available right now! Woo-hoo!
She likes, wants me to email her a one-page synopsis and the full ms, and set up a call for after she has a chance to go through them.
I decide that telling her that writing a synopsis is harder than writing a novel—and could she just read the damn manuscript, please?—would be a little bit unprofessional and smile and nod and tell her, “Sounds good.”
Then, I pop by RT Bazaar to look at pretty and shiny things, and I see Cameron Allie’s raffle basket, and enter to win it. And then I see that there are 30 baskets. I enter every single raffle. Why am I doing this? I have one suitcase. I can’t take any of this home if I win. Woman! Stop! Filling! Out! Raffle! Tickets!
If I win something, I’ll give it to a local. Or leave it for one of the hotel staff.
Who am I kidding, I’m going to FedEx it home.
This is Iris Bolling’s contribution to the raffle:
The adjective you’re looking for is “fucking fab.” Wow.
Then I remember that one of the perks of a full RT registration is a trip through the Goody Room. A room full of books… and you get to pick two. Any two.
It’s very hard… but there are only two Beth Kery books, with covers that speak to my aesthetics, in one of the languages that speaks to my heart, so I pick them up as gifts for my Spanish-speaking love.
K. I should eat. And something. Eat. Right. Food.
I eat, really. I promise, I eat. More importantly, on the way to eat I pass Sasha Brummer. Again. Did I tell you about Sasha Brummer? I “met” her on Day 1—during the Naughty & Nice mosh pit—I mean, event.
She had the prettiest table:
…and the hardest working PA or PR agent or street team member (which is why, my loves, you’re coming to RT with me next year. I know exactly what to make you do). Anyway, I keep on passing Sasha like dozens of times a day. It’s getting weird.
She looks at me.
“I think it’s meant to be,” she says. I give her a business card; make a mental note that a) I clearly am intended to read her books and b) follow up with her afterwards to find out what plans the damn universe has in store for us.
And then I go into the elevator and meet Xe Sands.
She gives good aural.
She’s an audiobook narrator—get it?
Her group, which you can find on RomanceNarrators.com, is working RT hard, with lots of events. Audiobooks for indies are the next big expansion. We all know it—they all know it. Audible’s here too and working it. Morale of the story—if you’re not releasing your books in audio, your readers are getting aural from somebody else.
(I’m sorry. That was terrible. But I couldn’t resist. And I won’t delete.)
On the way down the elevator, I meet these shoes:
They are attached to this beautiful woman:
…a Southern belle through and through who “lives Southern and writes Southern.” I don’t quite know what that means, so I creep her website later. Her taste in covers pleases me as much as her taste in shoes. 😉
Specifically, it’s about building your newsletter/mailing list. Which is the hardest part about having an author newsletter, right? Really, it’s just like writing–sure, there are challenges involved in writing (finishing, publishing) a book. But compared with the Herculean task of finding readers? Writing is so easy…
Anyway–Lena, Amy, Nana and Ashley know this. And they deliver an organized, on-point session chockfull not just of information, but of specific action items. You know? “Do this shit when you get home, and you will see results with your list building”–applicable even to those of us with a tiny weeny audience and mailing list.
I leave the session pumped up and resolved to stop feeling apologetic every time I think about sending out a newsletter to my mailing list. “They signed up to receive the damn thing! They want to hear from you!” Nana Malone says. About a hundred times.
I know. But I think writers-artists-authors… we’re a little neurotic, right? Me, anyway. I alternate between these really wonderful delusions of grandeur (“This is the best thing that has ever been written and I will sell the film rights to it for a million dollars and never have to work again!”) and traumatizing convictions of utter uselessness (“I am so talentless, pathetic, and useless, I barely deserve to live… I don’t want to draw attention to myself lest everyone else notice how awful I truly am…”)
Invariably, before hitting “SEND” on the newsletter (ditto novel submission to publisher, book reviewer, or agent), it is these latter feelings that surface.
Oh, wait. Here’s something I learned in the class.
Wanna sign up for my newsletter? It’s really awesome and full of exclusive material JUST FOR YOU. In fact, it’s more of a love letter than a newsletter. Yes. Actually, it’s just an email. A very short email that won’t take very much time out of your day, but will tell you everything you need to know about my newest releases and promos and events…
OK. This pitch needs more work. But while I’m working on it, you could sign up for my newsletter:
So, like… You can stop reading for a few moments, btw, and go sign up for my newsletter… I’ll be right here waiting for you… you won’t miss a thing…
Are you back? But you signed up, right?
No pressure. At all.
Just a little.
Where was I?
Riding in the hotel elevator again… AND I MET LILIANA HART!!
…and then… I end up in a workshop she’s doing. Well, that part is on purpose.
Liliana Hart is this multi-genre, innovative, award-winning, ridiculously high-selling author with 52 titles to her name.
Here are some of her books:
She’s doing a panel on Getting Noticed: Out-Of-The-Box Thinking, with Lexi Blake, MJ Rose, and Liz Berry.
Lexi Blake is another one of those insanely prolific romance authors that put my own “I wrote four novels in four years, all hail me” attitude into humbling perspective. Actually, just let me illustrate it in Lexi’s own picture, snapped from her website, LexiBlake.net:
MJ Rose is AMAZING. So, first, this woman published her first e-book back in 1998. Like, before there were e-books. I remember 1998—we barely had the Internet, really. I mean, we had the Internet, but we had no clue what to do with it, right? MJ Rose did. That first book, Lip Service, was picked up by a trad NY publisher… which I think might make Rose the first hybrid author? Anyway—she’s kept writing and innovating both writing and marketing, and she’s bringing the breadth of those experiences to this panel.
Her latest, but probably not last innovation, is the 1001 Dark Nights project, for which I’ve seen banners all over the hotel. Rose co-founded 1001 Dark Nights with Liz Berry, the final panelist, as an outrageously brilliant marketing project: an unlimited series of novellas based on the Arabian Nights tales, retold through paranormal romance, contemporary romance, and erotic romance stories, with the overt purpose of cross-fertilizing the readership of participating authors. I could go on forever, but I won’t: for more details, check out the 1001 Dark Nights FAQ.
… because I need to pay attention to the panel, which is just so ridiculously good. Here are my notes from the panel:
…and believe it or not, every single one of them is educational and useful. Even the part when MJ Rose spontaneously plots out a really weird novella featuring a squirrel-shooting alpha male, to explain to us how… actually, for that, you had to be there. If you weren’t, just imagine the rest.
Then I want to get into the GoodReads Marketing 101 panel, but I make the mistake of running to the restroom first, and when I get to the panel, it’s not just standing-room only, it’s elbows up-your-nose and hip-to-hip room only, and also about 100 degrees (Celsius, not Farenheit) (really) (it’s boiling), so I go into the Sourcebooks presentation instead.
Sourcebooks is, by 2016 sales numbers of print books, America’s 10th largest publisher–according to Publishers’ Weekly. It started life as a non-fiction publisher, and got into the romance game in 2007 with the Casablanca imprint. It also has a strong non-genre adult fiction line.
It’s not a house I was considering querying for Molly Jones, but quite a few people have mentioned how impressed they were with the Sourcebooks editors’ they’ve met—and Samantha Chase, with whom I am now in love, publishes with them, so I want to give them a listen.
Deb Werksman, the editorial director for Sourcebooks’ romance imprint Casablanca, leads the presentation, with input from a bevy of Sourcebooksians.
I’m… impressed. Also, Samantha Chase, who won creds from me at yesterday’s Book Club panel, is in the room to provide a reference.
And when I ask Deb how Sourcebook works with multi-house and/or hybrid authors, I like her answer.
I make a note to see if I can pitch a Sourcebooks editor before the conference ends.
After the panel, I spend some time studying the other authors’ displays in “Promotion Lane” again, and pondering the “swag” on offer:
I might pontificate on the pros and cons of swag at conferences another time… right now, I’m just collecting data.
And entering raffles for swag prizes. Somebody stop me. Seriously. I don’t even want any of this stuff!
I don’t need stuff. I need… food.
I bump into Cameron Allie—you remember Cameron, right? she of the fabulous interview and smutty books—and her mom, and we all go eat, and sanity returns, along with enough strength to pop into the Kensington Books (my new publisher? maybe? hope is a ridiculously powerful emotion, you know) author party. At which I want to find Sonali Dev, but she is either not there or is swarmed by rabid fans.
I wander. Then go hide—I mean recharge and change—in my room. Because I have to make myself look absolutely fabulous for the night’s Roaring 20s party!
On the way to which I get sidetracked into the hotel bar, because I see the women I will soon know as the T Sisters—Tabitha and Tamara—sitting in the bar in such fabulous gear I have to tell them how much I love it.
And I’m sorry. I did not make them pose for a picture. Just please, imagine, the most perfect flapper outfit ever, and its second variant, and you’ve got it.
They make me look like I’m wearing a garbage bag. But they make me feel like my outfit is just as fab as theirs, because they are awesome. (And Southern-polite.)
On the way out of the bar—I swear, one drink only, AND it was very very weak—I get sidetracked by these arms:
They belong to Sarah Lyons, who’s an editor at Riptide Publishing. The tattoos are quotes from books she’s edited that she’s really loved. I think… wow, does she ever, ever love her job.
Sarah’s arms distract me from the fact that I’ve sat down next to Deb Werksman (–romance editor at Sourcebooks–remember? I just attended a panel of hers earlier). Who is getting a Tarot card reading. Squee. I love Tarot cards.
And then I get a reading of my own:
Except, of course, we’re not talking death here. Just… massive, earth-shaking change. Probably positive. Right?
I’ve got to get my ass down to that party.
OMG, I’m so tired.
I walk in… it’s dazzling. Fabulous. Loud. Crowded.
I am, utterly, completely, absolutely, about to collapse. I can’t even take pictures.
Look, this is all I managed:
…and that’s all you get, because it is very very late and tomorrow is another full day.
May 4, 2017, 11:35 p.m.
Need to catch up?
- Diary of an RT Virgin, Day 1: “What are all these lines for?”
- Diary of an RT Virgin, Day 2: I figure out RT is Disneyland for romance readers
- Diary of an RT Virgin, Day 3: Battle Fatigue
- Diary of an RT Virgin, Day 4: Fan Girl Gone Mad
- Diary of an RT Virgin, Day 5: Fans Gone Wild
Live in YYC? COME SEE ME!
Thursday, May 25: I’ll be talking about my RT experience and highlighting take aways and best practices at the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association’s monthly Thursday meeting/workshop. I’m a surprise last-minute fill in for Swati Chavda, who was going to do be a presentation on how to write humour… so I’ve got big shoes to fill. (Swati is an INCREDIBLE presenter). You’re going to come anyway? Great! ARWA meets at the St Mark’s Lodge (2612 14A Street SW), and Thursday’s meeting runs from 7 p.m. til 9 p.m.
Thursday, June 8: I’ve been asked to participate in Ignite Festival’s SLEAZE night—“an outrageous one night stand of all things sex, excess, gender blender/blending/identifying, 18+, and over the top sex pop flare.” I’ll post more details closer to the date on my Facebook and Instagram, but save the date.
I’m experimenting with give-aways on both GoodReads and on Library Thing. The Library Thing give-aways are now closed, but the Good Reads Give Away for hard copies of Consequences is still hot:
Goodreads Book Giveaway
… but you won’t know if you’ve won until June 30th, so you know what you should do? Buy an e-book of Consequences and read it in the interim. Right? Good plan?
… and, last thing… look what INSIDE ROMANCE did for my birthday:
…and read Sunday’s post, Look what Inside Romance did for my birthday! for details.
Connect with me here:
Rough Draft Confessions (<——–this is the link you want to click.)
Baby? Did you click that newsletter link? Why not? It’s the only FOR SURE way we have of staying in touch: