Jilly: Dreaming Big in Texas

2014RWAEverything really is bigger in Texas.

Last Sunday I wrote about my plans and expectations for this week’s RWA National. I borrowed a quote from the 2013 conference in Atlanta, where Jennifer Enderlin of St Martin’s Press encouraged us to dream big and have unrealistic expectations, because if we don’t, who will?

I set out my Big Dream, which is to follow the traditional publication route – find an agent who loves my writing and buys into my career goals, an editor who will help me make my books as good (and as marketable) as they can be, and a publisher with the marketing know-how and commercial clout to help me develop a readership and build a career. Sounded pretty ambitious to me.

I don’t know whether it’s something in the water here or the inspirational speeches from industry megastars like this year’s Keynote speaker Sylvia Day, but I’ve decided I wasn’t dreaming nearly big enough, so I’ve added a few RWA-related, Texas-sized wishes to my shopping list.

Here goes, y’all:

I want to win a Golden Heart
Along with several of the other Ladies, tonight I’ll be going to the conference grand finale, otherwise known as the RWA awards ceremony. The Golden Heart is awarded to outstanding romance manuscripts written by unpublished RWA members. RWA receives about 1,200 entries each year and awards eight Golden Hearts, so this is shooting high.

I want to win a RITA (well, truthfully, more than one)
The RITA s are the Oscars of the romance writing community, awarded annually for the best published romance novels and novellas in each of twelve categories. Last year’s winners included megastars Eloisa James and Kresley Cole. This is a s-t-r-e-t-c-h goal worthy of the most aspirational romance heroine.

I want to present a workshop at a future RWA
I went to so many interesting, educational and fun presentations – some by authors I admire, like Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jayne Ann Krentz and Courtney Milan, others by agents, publishers, marketing experts, software gurus, and a host of others. It’s hard to believe the open and accessible way in which the biggest stars of the industry share their know-how and expertise. One day I won’t be the new kid on the block any more, and I would love to be able to follow their example.

I want to be behind a table at the RWA Literacy signing
This year I helped to unpack the books and set up the author tables for the RWA’s annual “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing, a signathon open to the general public at which nearly five hundred romance writers sell signed copies of their novels to raise money for literacy charities. It was good to help, but when I went book shopping for my friends back in the UK, I knew right away that I wanted to be on the other side of a table, signing and selling books as well as buying them.

I want to be behind a table at the edge of the room at the Literacy signing
The RWA organizers have the literacy event down to a fine art, and they leave the tables at the edge of the room (where there is more space) for the authors who are expected to have the most traffic. I stood in line for 45 minutes to get a couple of Sylvia Day books signed for a friend. Nora Roberts’ line was even longer, and SEP was doing brisk traffic at the other end of the room. I spent most of the time looking around at the people waiting in line and drinking in the atmosphere. Nobody was cranky. Every single person looked happy and super-excited to be there. I would LOVE to inspire those feelings in an army of people I never met.

Very little of this is within my control. Many of the things on this list are about as likely to happen to me as a meteor strike or a major Lottery win, and yet …

Unlike the lottery, where the only thing I can do is buy a ticket and hope, there are things I can do to give my wildest dreams a better chance of becoming reality:

  • I can pitch an agent or an editor I believe is right for me, learn from their feedback, and keep pitching until I get the result I want or decide to try something different. I made a start on this yesterday, and I’m delighted that my pitch resulted in a request for a full and blurb for the following two stories.
  • I can polish my manuscript until it’s as good as I can make it, and I can enter it in next years’ Golden Heart contest.
  • In the current ever-changing environment, I know I can self-publish if I don’t succeed by following the traditional route.  So a place at the literacy signing could be mine; hopefully the other Ladies would stop by to keep me company, or maybe they’ll be at tables of their own 🙂 .
  • Whatever happens, I’ll learn from the experience, and I will be in a position to offer something helpful to future conference greenhorns, maybe in conjunction with my fellow bloggers on 8LW.

Everything else is in the lap of the gods.

What’s your wildest, craziest dream? Care to share? Is there anything you can do to get yourself a step closer, or maybe two?




9 thoughts on “Jilly: Dreaming Big in Texas

  1. Dreaming big is a great motivational tool, Jilly, and I have no doubt that you can accomplish these things (-:! Fame is one of those accomplishment markers — and it can be a rewarding one as well as an exhausting one. But, happy-tired is a good thing (-:. Other accomplishments just include having a great time while writing, and having a dear friend say nice things about your beta draft.

    • Definitely feeling happy-tired today, Michaeline! Oddly enough, none of the above is about fame. Lots of the speakers at RWA talked about the way their books have touched the lives of their readers, and some of their anecdotes have been incredibly moving. I would love to develop a readership and bring pleasure to people, the more the better.

      This post was about having unrealistic expectations and shooting for them anyway. Even if none of the above happens, I will always take great joy in writing and in sharing with my writer friends 🙂

  2. You can do it! Go, go, go! Reach for the stars! I met Michelle on the bus at the airport on the way home from RWA and she told me about your group and how you are all so supportive and helpful of each other. That is so important. Let me know if you have any questions about the biz. I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned. The best thing about romance writers is that we are always willing to pay it forward. Good luck! 🙂

    Julie Moffett

    • Hi, Julie, and thank you! I love being part of 8LW and RWA. The romance writing community is the most generous and supportive professional group I have ever been a part of, and I’m looking forward to the time when I have enough experience to give back.

      Thanks for your kind offer of information / answers – very much appreciated and I’ll take you up on that when I hit a bump in the road. Love your website, btw – your books look like a lot of fun!

  3. I love these goals Jilly. I’m so glad that you had a great time (all of you) and that you got a request for a full. Fingers crossed for you with that? When do you get back to London? It looks like the heatwave has come to an end with mega-rain storms and flash floods today (in fact, hope you weren’t flying in this afternoon.

    Looking forward to hearing more from all of you about the conference.

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