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

 

Plagiarism rears its ugly head again

Well. Butter my butt and call me a biscuit. I thought I was a slow learner, but I figured that by now folks would know better than to just outright lift books written by other people, change the names, and call it theirs.

I was wrong.

Aside from the personal betrayal I feel that yet another person has stolen right and left from some prominent Harlequin authors, there’s a huge element of intellectual WTF-ery that’s going on in my head.

It keeps going back to two things. First, who steals writing? Who thinks that’s okay? Who thinks that just slapping your name on something gives you the right to count yourself a writer? The writing community has gone over and over this – Do Not Steal Words!! It’s not that hard a lesson to learn. There’s a thick, sticky film of moral turpitude all over this woman’s actions. A general sense of “ewwww” that’s usually reserved for people who have unnatural relations with farm animals.

Second, her original excuse when caught out: “I forgot I didn’t write it.”

There are no words to explain to someone who isn’t a writer that this Simply Isn’t Possible. Sure, you may have forgotten you wrote a piece you stashed in a file on your computer. But when you read it, it comes back to you. You remember not just the words, but the voice, the decisions you made over every turn of phrase, you remember where you were sitting and what phase of life you were in. But whole stories do not just pop up out of nowhere, and leave you with no memory of having sat down and put in the hours.

It’s BS anyway. She later wrote an apology and posted it to Dear Author, basically stating that yes, she’s a thief and she’s sorry.

I’m of two minds about that (I seem to be very multiply minded today). I’m glad she apologized. We don’t get that from most of the people who plagiarize. But after most of the day with the “I forgot I wrote it” thing flinging around the internet, it falls short of solving anything. Apologies don’t usually solve situations to begin with, but coming as it did after multiple offenses were uncovered, it feels a lot more like she’s sorry she got caught.

Is it a question of wanting the cachet? Because yeah, being a romance author is so often well-regarded in society.

And the time spent running a blog and participating in writer’s groups and just generally being out there as an author – why do that if you don’t write?

I never will understand what drives people to do this, and I suppose that’s a good thing for most of us. That our brains are simply not wired to steal things that don’t belong to us.

It wasn’t what I wanted to deal with yesterday, but I’m glad it’s out – like lancing an infection. An ugly business, but once it’s done, the healing can begin. I don’t know if this story will serve as a cautionary tale to prevent anyone who’s already bent like this from plagiarizing, but it’s at least some comfort that this individual has been exposed.