Nancy: Traveling for Story

Some interesting things happen when you take up writing as a profession. One of them–at least for me–has been that traveling is now rarely something I do for vacation or relaxation or merely bonding with loved ones and friends. These days, when I’m catching a plane or hopping on a train, I’m probably traveling for work.

October 2019 (my third trip in five weeks): Snoopy, unamused that I am packing to leave him AGAIN.

Since writing can be done anywhere and since I actually produce the most words when I have my butt in a comfortable chair in my own house, the three trips I took in the past five weeks might seem excessive. And just two months before that, I spent a week in NYC for RWA Nationals. But each of these trips fulfilled specific requirements of the writing life, so I bought my tickets, rearranged my word-production schedule, stepped over pouting kitties, and left my well-worn writing digs for some on-the-road adventures.

The True Retreat Trip

October 2019: Perfect conditions for a fall writing retreat: cool, wet weather outside, hot coffee and tea inside.

This one is my favorite of all the writing trips I take, because I have a bi-annual retreat date with four writing buddies whom I’ve known IRL for more than ten years (I met the first of these ladies 22 years ago!). This is more than a chance to sit and write all day in the company of others who are doing the same thing. This is also a chance to catch up with real-life friends’ lives, discuss industry news, trade titles of books and movies and must-watch TV, and eat WAY too many calories.

In other words, this is the kind of writing excursion that feeds more than page-count goals and a sweet tooth. It feeds this writers’ soul as only time with like-minded friends can. Continue reading

Jeanne: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Jeanne Oates Estridge, author

Photoshopped Taken by Vernice Dollar-Kappell/Studio 16

Well, technically it wasn’t a summer vacation, it was the RWA National Conference in NYC, but it’s as close to a summer vacation as I’m likely to get this year.

Here are the highlights:

  • Scored a double win in the Booksellers’ Best Awards with The Demon Always Wins, for Best Paranormal Romance and the Patti Shenberger award for Best First Book. (Woo-hoo!)
  • Received offers of help with promotion from several people. (Yay!)
  • Had someone tell me The Demon Always Wins is “the best f*cking book I’ve read in five years.” (I’m still swooning.)
  • Got to see the first African-American romance novelists ever win RITA awards. (And about damn time.)
  • Did a book signing and gave away all the paper copies I had with me and had some folks sign up to receive free ebooks.
  • Got to see a couple of plays–Drunk Shakespeare, an off-Broadway presentation of Macbeth with one slightly hammered cast member. and Ain’t Too Proud, the story of the Temptations, complete with great music and Tony-award-winning choreography.
  • Checked out the Guggenheim Museum.
  • Got slightly lost in Central Park with Jilly, accumulating 21,000 steps on my Gear before we got back to the hotel.
  • Attended some great workshops:
    • How to turn a premise into a plot.
    • How to do a successful book release with Skye Warren (Best quote: “You’re either everywhere or you’re nowhere.”)
    • How to create audio books. (The other Ladies were interested in that topic, too, so expect to hear a lot about audio books in the coming months.)
    • Instagram for Authors aka Bookstagram
      • Pick 3 topics and post on them regularly
        • One should be pictures of your book(s), hanging out with flowers or coffee or pastries or whatever.
        • Two other topics related to your brand.
        • One of mine will be flowers, not sure about the other.
    • How to get your books into libraries:
      • IMG_0003

        Not photoshopped Taken by Vernice Dollar-Kappell/Studio 16

        Paper books

      • eBooks
    • Facebook for the Marketing-Minded Author
      • Too
      • Much
      • Information
    • Implicit Bias training
    • We’ll talk more about the workshops in the coming weeks.
    • Got a new headshot taken..
      • Proceeds went to ProLiteracy, a charity RWA supports that helps women achieve literacy.
      • They gave me several different poses.The two in this post are the best. The tech guy erased all my wrinkles from the first one–and didn’t give me a copy of the undoctored version. I actually happen to be okay with my wrinkles. I earned them honestly and they’re mine.
      • Which do you prefer?


Michille: Preparing to Attend a Writer’s Conference

RWA2019_FINALLOGORWA National Conference is fast approaching. So it’s time to start prepping for it. Well, for many of our readers, anyway. Unfortunately, this is not my year to attend (sigh). But for those of you who are, now is the time to get the conference schedule, a top priority, and deciding which sessions to go to or which to avoid. If you’re pitching this year, add ‘preparing the pitch’ to your to-do list. I suck at elevator pitches and tag/log line type descriptions so creating those is torture. In order to make sure I’m not forgetting anything, I googled to find some internet advise. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Conference Time

Although if look closely enough I can probably find a stray Xmas decoration or two hiden around the house, we’re actually half-way through the year already.  That means, among other things, that the annual RWA Conference is a mere three weeks away.


The conference registration, plane tickets, and hotel are all booked and ready for arrival, but I don’t yet have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing once I’m there.

One of my primary reasons for attending the annual conferences is to network and spend time with people I don’t often get a chance to see in person.  My very first conference – which coincidentally was in New York just as this year’s conference is – involved meeting not just Jenny Crusie (*swoon*) but also meeting up with a group of friends and authors I had only known through the distance of the internet.

Top of the list for this year’s conference is getting to spend some quality time with the other 8Ladies who will be in attendance, and to cheer Jilly on during the Golden Heart awards ceremony.  We’ve already been busily trying to coordinate schedules to find some time when we’ll all be free. Continue reading

Jilly: Visiting the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood

Will you have a moment to spare on Wednesday? I know that’s three days away, and I expect you have a million things to do between now and then, but I have a favor to ask. If you remember, and if you’re willing, when Wednesday comes around please drop by the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood blog and say hi to me over there. I have a guest post and I’d really like to avoid looking like Jilly No-Mates 😉 .

The Rubies are the RWA Golden Heart Class of 2009. They’ve been writing, publishing, and blogging for the last decade and they’re still going strong. They have an annual contest, a winter writing festival, and every summer they schedule a series of guest posts for the current Golden Heart finalists. This year’s GH selection has been great fun (see below), and there are more posts to come over the next three weeks.

On Wednesday I’ll be talking about my GH finalling story The Transformation of Alexis Doe and the prequel I’m planning to publish first—The Seeds of Power, otherwise known as Christal’s book. I think I’m the only fantasy writer among the paranormal finalists, so my blurbs sound quite out there compared to the others. I’m more than a bit nervous.

To whet your appetite, here are the interesting and varied guest bloggers so far, and thumbnail descriptions of their stories based on their posts: Continue reading

Justine: Conference Fun

calidreaminI’m currently attending the Orange County RWA’s California Dreamin’ conference and am having a great time, learning a lot, and connecting with other great writers. I’ll have more to report in the coming weeks about such things as ACX/Audible, great ways to advertise your books for free, and other marketing and selling ideas. For now, though, my best takeaway is this, from Caitlyn O’Leary:

Consider your book a brick-and-mortar store

  • Your cover is the storefront
  • The blurb is looking in the window
  • The sneak peek is going into the store to make a buying decision
  • The ads get the reader to your store. (yes, the ads come last, because if your store is a mess, there’s nothing to get your reader in the door)

I’ll have more on this soon.

What are some of the best conferences you’ve attended?

Elizabeth: Golden Heart® Public Service Announcement

RWA’s Golden Heart necklace, awarded to each Golden Heart winner.

As you may have noticed if you’ve been reading the blog recently, several of the 8Ladies buffed and polished up manuscripts and entered them in this year’s RWA Golden Heart Contest.  It’s the last year of the contest, which may been just the extra motivation they needed to get those words flowing and stories finished.   Best of luck to all who entered the contest.

I have been a Golden Heart contest judge since my earliest days in RWA.  In addition to supporting the organization, contest judging can be a learning experience for the contest judge as well as the entrant.  I have often found that mistakes I don’t see in my own writing, or concepts that just don’t make sense in my own head, can be startlingly clear when reading someone else’s entry.  Plus, you get the chance to read some really good stories that you might otherwise never have seen. Continue reading