Conference tips

A friend who’s never been to a writing conference is headed out at the end of October, and she asked for tips from conference veterans. I haven’t been to a huge con in a loooong time, but I have enough experience to be dangerous. ;) So I gave her my own con-hacks.

Bring a sweater. Not kidding. Hotels are freaking freezing all the time. I don’t care if the conference is held in Houston in July, I always bring a sweater or wrap of some kind.

Update your blog/FB before you go, but I wouldn’t make any major changes. If you’re just starting out and there will be panels and workshops at the con about websites and social media, try out those tips when you get home.

Tweet the con! They probably have their own hashtag, so use it. You’ll get replies and RTs from other attendees, and boost your visibility.

Bring your own water bottle/travel cup. Cheaper than buying multiple $2 water bottles throughout the day. Plus, they frequently keep the coffee handy in those giant containers. I prefer my travel cup to paper cups with dodgy lids.

Carry one decent sized bag. Not your purse, plus your bookbag, plus your laptop bag… It’s just unwieldy.

Hit the goody/swag room early if you’re into collecting authorial doo-dads, or really want a paper copy of someone’s book.

Dress professionally. Not a suit, but nice business casual. You’ll see everything there – holey jeans to what amounts to feather boas. Unless you want to be remembered as “the lady in the Hawaiian print muu-muu,” just dress neatly.

If you’re a shoe person, splurge on awesome looking shoes and bring band-aids for the blisters, as well as a pair of ballet flats that fit in your bag for doing any real walking. Otherwise, wear what’s comfortable and matches your professional look.

Hang out at the bar. You don’t have to drink at all, but you’ll find TONS of people – editors, agents, other authors – who get together and network and talk business there. Best place to make new friends.

You don’t have to attend every workshop. Obviously, you want to get the most bang for your buck, but if you’re an introvert, take an hour to recharge alone in your room if you need to. You can get notes from someone else on whatever you missed.

Practice your pitch out loud. Whatever you have in your head will tie itself into knots on your tongue if you’ve never actually said the words out loud before. And have an “elevator pitch,” as well as a formal pitch. Pretend you’re in an elevator alone with your dream agent and you have only a minute or two – the length of time it takes to go from the top floor to the bottom – to tell him/her about your story. Boil it down to your genre, your setting, and your MC’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict.

You can find more info on crafting your pitch at Nathan Bransford, Help! I Need a Publisher, and at Pitch U (scroll down for the sidebar).

And my biggest tip? Have fun! Meet new people! Enjoy yourself! And come back motivated to write more!

Love is…

Well, well, well.

What’s this? Three whole blog posts in one month? The sky must be falling! I’m just putting this out there by way of information that I do have a short story in the upcoming LOVE IS… anthology from Romance Divas.

On August 5th, the LOVE IS… anthology will release at e-tailers near you! A collection of 300,000 words, and more than 40 authors, covering all heat ranges and genres, there’s something in here to appeal to everyone. And all of the proceeds are going to charity — specifically, to:

Reach out and Read which prepares America’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.

Love is… …forty stories of first loves, friends to lovers, and the heat of the moment. Join forty authors, including multiple New York Times and USA Today bestsellers, as they take you on a romantic ride through time and space. From the dazzling ballrooms of Regency historical romance to contemporary love from sweet n’ dreamy to kinky n’ steamy, to the wide open frontier of science fiction romance and magical worlds of far away fantasy realms, sample the best that romance has to offer! Every short story is the perfect candy-sized nugget to read over a cup of coffee or before falling asleep at night.

My contribution is a sci-fi romance short called “A Wolf to Watch Over Me.”

Photo: A Wolf to Watch Over Me<br /><br />
in the upcoming Love is... Anthology!</p><br />
<p>Love is...giving your all and living to tell the tale.</p><br />
<p>In a future Earth, sometimes the Big Bad Wolf is the good guy. Hakon sidUlfr, a wolf shifter from another planet, is sent to make sure that physicist Lauren Ivers lives long enough to complete her project, but one harrowing day will put their survival at risk, as well as their hearts.  </p><br />
<p>Coming Aug 5!

Love is…giving your all and living to tell the tale.

In a future Earth, sometimes the Big Bad Wolf is the good guy. Hakon sidUlfr, a wolf shifter from another planet, is sent to make sure that physicist Lauren Ivers lives long enough to complete her project, but one harrowing day will put their survival at risk, as well as their hearts.

Shapeshifting alien werewolves, y’all. Boom. Game over.

Not Quite Dead is back!

Yes, bloglets, it’s been a very long since I was first published. Now, let me get my cane and we’ll hobble over to the rocking chair on the porch while I tell you a story. I can shake my cane at the neighbor kids on my lawn while I talk.

Lo, these many years ago…about 8 years, in fact, I was on the cusp of seeing my very first novella published by Samhain Publishing, courtesy of the vision of Angela James who took pity on me when she saw how gifted I was at shoving my foot in my mouth.

Not Quite Dead was the story I wrote when I finally hit the wall with The-Regency-That-Wouldn’t-Die. A quirky little thing that unfolded to me day by day until it finished itself back in the days when there was just one trad publisher who would even look at novellas from unknown writers. (RIP Kate Duffy, who wrote me a personal rejection letter that I still have.)

I was on a roll. After Not Quite Dead, I wrote constantly and published several more stories within the next 4-5 years. Then life hit. Hard. DH retired from the military. We moved. He got downsized from his civilian job, but found a better one. My mom moved in with us and had to go through several surgeries. We moved again. One child cracked from the stress, so we homeschooled for 2 1/2 years.

But not even valleys last forever.

The requisite 7 years of my contract passed and the rights to NQD reverted to me. Whereupon I simply sat on the story for several months thinking, “I should really self-publish that puppy and see what happens. Eh. Mañana.” Y mañana y mañana y mañana.

With Shawntelle Madison kicking my butt the whole way, I finally contacted Kim Killion of Hot Damn Designs and she made a gorgeous new cover for me. Then Shawntelle did my formatting while I whimpered in the corner.

I started a DBA and a business account and wrote a business plan. And this week, I finally wrestled Kindle and Nook and Kobo and D2D into submission and started the uploading process.

Everything is finally ready to go.

So after almost 8 years and a hiatus of half that length, I give you…

SelaCarsen_NotQuiteDead_HR

Available at Amazon ~ BN.com ~ Kobo ~ iBooks

I’m not dead! And I’m holding a contest

It’s been a while, I know. And I’m sorry about that.

The good news is that I’ve been writing!

The bad news is that I’m slow. Of course, that’s not news to anyone who actually follows me. ;-)

So. About this contest. I’m a member of a mom’s website called CafeMom. It’s geared towards women and families and all that stuff, but there are small groups that focus on any number of different interests – from healthy eating, to varying beliefs, to writing and reading.

Well, I like hanging out in one of those small groups called The Book Cafe and I’m running the easiest contest ever. Comment on my thread and you’re entered for a random giveaway for an e-copy of one of my novellas.

Boom. That’s it. Simple, yes?

The contest runs through the month of March and I’ll announce the winner on April 1. So stop by – you probably have to become a member of CafeMom (free registration) – and comment to win one of my stories!

See you there!

The Book Cafe Join Us! @ The Book Cafe

 

Why I trust Morgan Freeman

Have you ever noticed that those moments right after your brain realizes it’s awake are a fertile breeding ground for bizarre thoughts? My first thought this morning was about Morgan Freeman.

It occurred to me that it’s no surprise when he gets cast as father-figures or God or god-like figures. We trust him. Do you know WHY we trust him? Because he taught us to read.

I actually remember his voice sounding out words on that long-ago show, The Electric Company. He and Rita Moreno were shadow silhouettes, sounding out phonemes together until they blended and made a word. And for serious? I would totally lay down my cloak for Rita Moreno to walk over a puddle.

But if Morgan Freeman ever runs for God or Guy Who Makes Gotham An Awesome Place to Live or something like that, I’m in.

I can hear them laughing

Ah, those goofy gods. My life is a major yuk-fest. Like the Keystone Kops where I’m the only Kop.

Monkey Boy is on his 2nd day home from school. He has the kind of sore throat that makes breathing an exercise in agony, and a slight fever. But his tonsils aren’t swollen and I didn’t see any white spots or even angry red when I looked down his throat this morning. Still debating whether it’s worth a call to the pediatrician. For now, it’s warm tea with honey and the occasional squirt of Chloraseptic.

But he’s napping now, so it’s time to write!

Homeschooling

I don’t know if I’ve posted about this, but I’m homeschooling my 15yo daughter this year. Long story short, high school is hell, but she’s getting much stronger. Anyway, we’re doing American Lit concurrently with US History and we’re a weee bit behind due to some earlier schedule conflicts. So we’re just starting the Revolutionary War, which has thrown off our Lit studies. We’ve read The Scarlet Letter (I loved it, she hated it), Legend of Sleepy Hollow (she was bored and I kind of was, too), and The Masque of the Red Death (we both enjoyed it).

Since we were supposed to be coming up on the Civil War (I told you we were behind), the plan was to start The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. We’re so not ready. Instead, we’re going to read a different Revolutionary War novel. I’m seriously considering Laurie Halse Anderson’s YA novel, Chains, which is the story of a slave girl sold to a Loyalist household in occupied NYC. It’s got good reviews and there are several study guides and discussion questions available, including some from LHA’s website.

We’re also watching John Adams, the HBO series, and reading Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts, as well as Common Sense and chunks of The Federalist Papers and all that good stuff. Reading novels and watching movies is fun, but unfortunately not enough.

We’ll get to Huck Finn in due time.

NaNo? Please. I’m edjikatin’ my kid.

The gods conspire against me

Seriously?

It’s Nov 3 and we all know what that means. It means that I’m trying NaNo again. My goal isn’t to win NaNo officially. My goal is to get 25K, so I’m doing a half-NaNo. Like a half-marathon, except without the weight loss and increased muscle tone.

The other night, I settled in to write in the kitchen after dinner, which is usually abandoned. The dishes were done, everyone was scattered to their various screens and entertainments, and it was just me and my laptop. And every single member of my family who decided to wander through and try to chat with me, despite the fact that my headphones were in and I was answering in grunts. When the grunts began to verge into snarl territory, they went away.

This morning, I got up nice and early. Before anyone else in the house. Ahhh, bliss.

The dog rolled in deer crap.

I had put him out for his morning snuffle around the yard and he returns ecstatic, covered from shoulder to flank in smears of cervidae feces. Because now, you know, they won’t be able to see him coming. He’s camouflaged. He smells just like them!

So after standing outside in the cold in my nightie, scrubbing him down with a warm soapy washcloth, he’s laying in front of the fire and I’m writing a blog post and not my wip for NaNo. It’s okay. I don’t want to write about deer-reek in my wip and I had to get it out somehow!