Archive for August, 2008

Impressions of Conference

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

Better late than never?

I really enjoyed National this year. Aside from getting sick, that is. I couldn’t find anything about the hotel to complain about. Excellent location, the elevators didn’t get clogged up, and I had an excellent roomie. The only thing I found weird about the hotel itself was how some workshops were held on the fifth floor, was it? I wasn’t paying that much attention due to the illness, but I seem to remember a hall of hotel rooms as well as the meeting rooms. I couldn’t help feeling like I was infringing on the guests of those rooms. Or did I get that wrong? Were there guest rooms on level 5?

I’m used to seeing a lot of signage at National. Bulletin boards with announcements, placards pointing the way. We didn’t get that this year. I kind of liked not having the placards and bulletin boards, but it did make the first day or so of conference a bit confusing.

My favorite workshop? That’s a tough one, because I attended very few workshops this year. I didn’t attend any on Thursday because of meetings and other functions, and then Friday I had editor/agent appointments, plus by then my sickness had invaded full force. I’m not even sure I attended a workshop on Friday! Crazy, huh? Well, not so much. The more conferences I attend, the more the conference becomes, for me, a networking and business meeting environment. I can only attend so many workshops on similar themes. I understand the Eric Maisel Creativity workshop and the Save the Cat workshop were divine. However, both were two hours, and I didn’t have the energy to sit there that long. (Yes, I’m pathetic.) I must seriously consider ordering the podcasts for these two workshops, however. 

Attended a lot of Spotlights, including the Sourcebooks Spotlight. I also had an opportunity to meet the Sourcebooks editor one-on-one Thursday before lunch. I just love putting a face to a name.

Thursday afternoon revolved around meetings with Penny’s Red Sage editor and publisher, then the Red Sage Coffee Mixer, which was packed!

Friday, more appointments. Met with two agents, one outside of the official RWA appointments. Both meetings went well, however, I was quite dizzy during the official appointment, and I’m not sure how I came across. Like a ditzy brunette? I warned the agent that I wasn’t feeling well and for that same reason I decided not to shake her hand. We hit it off on a personal level (well, I did—maybe she thought I was nuts!), but, as they say, it’s in the writing.

My second agent appointment went swimmingly, if you don’t count that I had a hard time figuring out the message she left on my cell phone about where to meet her, both because there were voices in the background and because my ears were blocked. I scampered up two or three escalators while re-playing the message until I figured out that she was waiting for me at the top of the escalator for the Terrace Something restaurant. Again explained about the illness.

With all these explanations about the illness, I’m now realizing I didn’t actually pitch to any of the agents. We talked about my and Penny’s careers and what single titles I had going for both personas, but only in general terms (ie., erotic romance single title and contemporary romance with a mystery sub-plot). The editor, however, did ask me to read the pitch for the contemporary romance. And read it I had to do. I’d had it memorized, but no way was I relying on my memory with my brain so befuddled by the cold, so I read from my index card, lifting my head every few seconds to make eye contact. The result was the editor asked me to re-send the full of the erotic, which she saw last fall pre-revisions when it was a very hot contemporary, and she asked me to send as much as I have polished of the contemporary with mystery subplot. That’s about half the book. I need to finish a chapter, and then I’ll send her both books in the same package.

Fulfilling the editor and agent requests is my goal for this week. All in all, I received a request for one full and one extended partial from an editor, and requests for 5 partials from 3 agents (two wanted partials of both the erotic and non-erotic story while one agent wanted a partial only from the finished book, which is the erotic). Looking back, I can’t complain.

How about you? Any gripes or raves about conference? How did your editor/agent appointments go? I had grandiose plans to haunt the appointment desk Friday and Saturday and snatch up any skipped or cancelled appointments, however I felt bad enough putting the scheduled agent and editor through my disastrous “pitches” without exposing more industry professionals to my germ-laden self.

Vicki and Nora on Author Talk

Monday, August 11th, 2008

I love Jill Monroe and Gena Showalter’s Author Talks, but this one takes the cake! Make sure to watch all the way to the end.

08-08-08 — And Conference Pictures

Friday, August 8th, 2008

Oooh, I think I’ve mentioned before that I love eights. I know my blog defaults the date to August 8, 2008, so I had to bring attention to the triple eights in the blog title. Note that I also set the blog to post at 8:08 a.m.! Yes, I’m obsessive, but only in a nice way, I assure you.

Today, as promised, I’m posting pictures of Conference. First up, the ChickLit party, held Wednesday night at Annabelle’s Bar and Bistro in the Mosser Hotel across the street from the Marriott (the conference hotel).

Left to Right, Heather Roth, Kelli Estes, and Christina Arbini.

I first met Heather at the ChickLit party in Dallas last year. However, she was Heather Dodge then. Now she’s wearing a bunch of sparkly on her finger that has transmorphed her into Roth. Why is Heather so memorable, you ask? Because she convinced myself and Lexi Connor, among others, to imbibe in Lemon Drops at the bar in Dallas last year until the ungodly hours of the morning. I stayed up way too late and had to wake up at 6 the next morning for a group breakfast. Heather did not get me in her clutches this year, although I was tempted. The tiredness from this damn summer cold was already creeping in.

Kelli is a new ChickLit chapter member and Christina is a member of the Dancing Divas, from way back in Reno (you had to be there).

Thursday Pictures:

Moi and Kathleen Irene Paterka

Kathleen was nice enough to buy a copy of Penny’s first book at the Literacy Autographing for a friend. Kathleen and I have known each other in email for years—how nice to put a face to a name.

 With my Red Sage editor, Theresa Stevens, at the Red Sage Coffee Mixer.

Fellow Red Sage authors, Leigh Court and Mia Varano.

Mia Varano with publisher Alexandria Kendall at the Red Sage author dinner held at Roy’s. Yum!

Mia and I also had dinner together on Tuesday night, plus she made me walk all the way to the Coit Tower Wednesday morning, earning Moi a tiny blister on my pinky toe of right foot that required band-aids for the duration of conference. Bad, bad Mia. However, I must confess, it was my idea to visit the Coit Tower. But! It was her idea to walk. ;)

Friday:

Amber Quill Author Dinner: Karin Story, Natalie Damschroder, and Karin’s mom!

Karin is my editor at Amber Quill. Yes, she’s responsible for the brilliance of my books! Actually, I’m responsible, but she keeps me on the straight and narrow (you didn’t think I’d let her hog all the credit, did you?). Natalie is a fellow Amber Quill author I’ve known on the loops for years. She’s also a fellow Capricorn, which naturally endears her to Moi.

Fellow Amber Quill authors Linda McLaughlin and Caitlyn Willows.

Note that I sport the same squishy-eyed grin in every photo!

I really missed catching up with my buddy, Jamie Sobrato. We were supposed to have dinner Saturday night, but she fell ill and had to cancel. Sob. I did run across her a few times during the conference, but I’m used to seeing her a lot at conference, so now I’m suffering Jamie Withdrawal. Anyone have a cure?

Thanks also to my roomie, Natale Stenzel, for putting up with me (or was that the other way around?) Heh, heh. 

Penny’s First Booksigning

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

In case my faithful (snark!) readers haven’t figured it out by now, “Penny” is my new nickname for my Pen Name, previously known as “Alter Ego.” Alter Ego is two words, and Penny is just one, and my fingers are tired because my brain is exhausted because I am still sick (and, apparently, the master – mistress? – of the run-on sentence), so Penny it/I shall be from now on.

Yes, Penny had her first book signing at the Literacy Autographing at RWA National in San Francisco last Wednesday. I, Cindy, have previously signed at the LA, but this year was Penny’s year to shine. Here she is, putting on a brave face while hoards of fans descend upon the much-more-popular author sitting to her left: 

Note how I unintentionally color-coordinated my blouse to my blog! Now how I also unintentionally color-coordinated my blouse color to the RWA bags, which, may I go on record as saying I did not like in the least (color aside). Every year I save my RWA bag to re-use for other purposes. Not this year. Because, while I admire RWA’s decision to use recycled material for the bag fabric, the result was not what I would term “nice.” My roommate’s bag ripped before the conference was over, so I gave her mine. Can’t remember if she took it home or was just separating stuff for packing. Really, did anyone like this bag? I don’t see the point in supplying bags constructed of recycled material if the bag itself winds up in the garbage.

However, I totally loved the conference name tag holders, so there you go. I’ll live with the bag, which isn’t too difficult seeing as it’s not in my possession any longer.

Faithful blog readers, note that I did not Photoshop out Penny’s name card. I assure you, I have the tools to do so. Most of my faithful readers already know my pen name, anyway, but, for those who don’t, consider this photo a little Easter Egg of sorts. A surprise just for you! So you can, you know, go to Amazon (or your vendor of choice) and order my book! Can’t see the title, you say? Well, I’m not about to give that out, although I will concede that “Volume 21″ and “Secrets,” perhaps even “Primal” and maybe “Heat” figure predominantly…

Why am I trolling for readers to buy Penny’s first book? Because I only had two copies available at the Literacy Autographing. My publisher had sent a full box of books to the hotel for the signing and then had (thank God!) tucked two more copies into a box of another volume. If not for those two copies, I would have been sitting at my station with a “Sold Out!” (snicker) note on Penny’s name card a heckuva lot earlier than I did. Yes, when I sold out of my measly two volumes, I decided to spin it. Technically, I had  “sold out.” And, I tell you, I could have sold more than double the amount I did, I was that popular. Maybe even triple. Yes, maybe six sales might have occurred had I all the books in my possession! At least five sales, that I know for sure.

Anyone reading this who is not an author, believe me, selling five books at a signing is respectable. Unless you’re a much bigger name, like the lovely author to my left (if you were me sitting in this photo), Roxanne St. Claire. She sold out, too, but I think she started with 30 times the copies I did.

Those who missed me or couldn’t find me (you know who you are and that I love you anyway), check under S next time. That’s after you check under P or K in the event I’m signing as Cindy. If I’m ever signing as Cindy, I should be with the P’s, but you never know what might happen. The one year I did sign as Cindy, I was put with the Mc’s. Go figure.

If you’re still reading (don’t I test your patience sometimes?), did you attend the LA? And did you like it? If it was your first time at the LA, what did you think? Pretty overwhelming, huh?

ChickLit party pictures tomorrow. Tally-ho!

Eight Hours Later…

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Yeehaw, my months-old-problem with Windows XP updates refusing to install is now solved! It only took eight hours with two different levels of Windows technicians to fix the issue yesterday. My computer must have been a mess. However, thanks to Priya and especially Ronnie I am now a happy camper with Service Pack 3 installed after the techs first cleaned up the mess that was preventing the install of SP2 updates.

Poor Priya. She tried her best for two hours, but then had to upgrade me to Ronnie, a senior service technician. At about the four hour point with Ronnie, I was losing hope that my issue could be resolved without a reformat. Everything reached a happy conclusion 30 minutes before Ronnie’s shift ended. All in all, a satisfactory result to a day packed full of energy depletion. Yes, I am still sick, feeling quite groggy and dizzy, so I couldn’t write yesterday, anyway. Might as well sit at the computer for eight hours while it gets fixed. Ronnie began communicating with me through Notepad while he fixed the issues from his end, so I managed to clean up all the mail and other various household thingies that had accumulated in my absence. My desk is still a mess, however. Grocery shopping and bill payments today, then I’ll tackle the desk tomorrow. I’ll also start uploading conference pics tomorrow plus give my impressions of conference along the way. Yes, I know I’m late doing so, but it can’t be helped. I must regain some semblance of health.

I’m sitting here wondering why it took so long to fix my computer. I’ve never had a problem installing updates until this spring. However, I think I know what happened. One Friday night in the spring, around the time SP3 came out for Windows XP, my Norton’s was running and doing its thing while I was either checking email or working in Word. My Liege was downstairs working on his laptop and told me that some huge update was coming in. Was it coming in on my end as well? I don’t know, but whatever was going on, my computer suffered a major crash. I had to use Norton GoBack to save it. Now, I didn’t immediately notice that I was having problems with the automatic updates, so I can’t say for certain that the problems were related to this crash. However, I have heard Norton can bungle the works in some ways (and of course I heard this right after renewing my annual subscription), so I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it had a hand in things. I still think it’s very strange that I could install Office and Outlook updates (I don’t use Outlook, but the updates come anyway), but not Windows updates. Whatever, the issue is now resolved, and I have been assured it will not (um, should not) occur again. We shall see. Cross your fingers for me!

Oh, a note to anyone dealing with Microsoft XP SP3 tech support. The telephone tech support for SP3 issues is free until April 2009, so if you’re having problems, take advantage of it like I did. I now very much regret that I WASTED (yes, in capital letters) at least 4 weeks trying to fix the problems through email support. My email support person vanished a few weeks before National, and I was too busy writing to deal with the problem then. I have no idea where she went. My case was not passed to a new tech, my emails just suddenly started bouncing and then began going unanswered. My tech must have gone on extended vacation. Using the telephone support was MUCH more satisfactory.

Conference Wrap-Up…Sort Of

Monday, August 4th, 2008

I’m back! Unfortunately, I’m also sick. I had a great time at conference, but the tickle that began in my throat during my layover in the Vancouver airport developed into a sore throat in San Francisco. I thought it was just because I was talking too much. And I thought the “swoopy” feelings I’d get walking through the hotel were a result of some don’t-let-the-building-collapse-if-an-earthquake-hits effort. Sometime late Thursday night, after shaking hands with fellow authors, editors and agents at the Literacy Signing, the Golden Network Retreat, the ChickLit party, and various Red Sage events, I realized that something else might have been at work there. Waking up Friday morning, I accepted that I was, indeed, ill. Not so bad that I had to lie in bed all day and miss my editor/agent appointments (you all know how I feel about that), but bad enough that I doubt I made sense during any of them. Fortunately, I was clever enough to let the two agents and one editor know I wasn’t feeling well and probably wouldn’t make sense, and I do believe, between my official and unofficial appointments, and then the speed-dating surprise at the Golden Network Retreat, I came away with several requests for partials and one request for a full. I made sure to jot down the requests on the backs of the business cards I collected, and now I just have to…find the cards.

Friday night was the Amber Quill Press dinner. I was able to keep it together, but collapsed into bed immediately upon my return. Saturday I actually managed to attend some workshops, but the friend I really wanted to see for dinner Saturday cancelled because she wasn’t feeling well. I tell you, good thing the RITA/Golden Heart Awards were wonderfully short Saturday night, or I think I would have fallen asleep during them. I nearly didn’t attend the Awards, but now I’m glad I did, because I really loved the format this year. Because of the giant TV screens, no matter where you were sitting, you had a great view.

Sunday, I fell asleep on the plane before it left the ground! That never happens, doesn’t matter how tired I am. I had a great sleep last night, but now today I’m feeling worse than ever. Managed to unpack everything but the conference notes (hopefully my editor/agent business cards are in there somewhere!!). So this week I’m taking it slow—my high school reunion is this Friday and Saturday night, and I want to feel well. I’ll catch up on laundry, housework, etc., maybe even get my Windows update problem fixed. But I won’t work on the partial and full requests until probably next week.

I took a few pictures and will post them throughout the week. Just not today. Because I’m about to fall asl….