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

Justine: No More Excuses

6490798 - classic glossy black chair, isolated on a white background

Last year at this time, I attended RWA Nationals in NYC, including the awards ceremony on Saturday night. This year, I watched the ceremony via live stream from the comfort of my living room. No high heels. No tight dress. No edgy excitement. Just my rainbow cozy pants and a tall glass of milk.

I debated whether to attend Nationals this year and ultimately decided not to for one important reason: Continue reading

Nancy: Have You Heard There’s an Upcoming Conference?

RWA Nationals 2015Unless you’ve been living under a rock or missing your 8LW posts – you wouldn’t miss your 8LW posts, would you? – you know several of the Ladies are on our way to New York City next week for the annual RWA National Conference. Kat and Jilly have been perfecting their pitches, Elizabeth’s been making introvert contigency plans, Jeanne’s been practicing her Golden Heart award acceptance speech (at least she’d better be!), we’ve all been trading cab and hotel and wardrobe questions and ideas. As for my conference preparation…well, about that…

The truth is, beyond some wardrobe planning, I haven’t been preparing. And while I still have more than a week to get my act together, realistically, I probably won’t. It’s not procrastination or conference phobia or avoidance. It’s the day job. I client called with an emergency and with less than a days’ notice, I jumped into an important project for them. The bad news is, I worked 78 hours this week and will probably work something similar this week. The good news is, now that I’m a consultant, I get paid for every one of those hours (not the case for a direct salaried employee, at least not here in the good ol’ US of A). But all is not lost. I have a plan. Continue reading

Justine: Setting Goals for National Writing Conferences

rwa, national conference, writer's conference, eight ladies writing, justine covington

I’m already thinking about what to do before RWA® Nationals.

So today, many of us romance writers will be registering for the 2015 RWA® Nationals conference being held in July in New York City. Even though it’s only February, it’s a good time to begin thinking about what I want to achieve before then and what steps I need to line up to make it happen.

The “steps” part of my plan will come next week, but first, I need to identify what I want to do.

The biggest goal I have is Continue reading

Justine: Five Reasons Why New Writers Should Attend a National Conference

rwa 2014, rwa conference, justine covington, eight ladies writingI just returned from my second national RWA Conference and like last year, it was amazing. However, the 2014 conference was a little different from 2013. My first year out, I was overwhelmed, star-struck, and giddy with the craft things I was learning at the various workshops. I was inspired by the keynote speeches and a little intimidated watching those amazing women writers accept either the Golden Heart or the RITA.

This year I was a bit more focused on the business side of things, of how to work (write) better, I was a little less star-struck, and now I’m a little more determined to be one of the women who take home the Golden Heart (RWA’s contest for unpublished manuscripts) next year. Hey, aim high, right?

After these last two conferences, there are five key reasons why I think every new writer should attend a national writing conference Continue reading

Nancy: Now That the Party Is Over

Post-Conference Organization

(Sorry for the late post on this lovely Monday morning. In our neck of the woods, yesterday was not so lovely as we rode out Mid-Atlantic storms and a nearly 20-hour power outage. I am happy to report that I now have electricity again, which brings with it Internet connectivity and air conditioning, so to quote our 8LW mentor Jenny Crusie, nothing but good times ahead!)

Last week, as I’m sure you know, most of the 8 ladies were in San Antonio at the RWA National conference. While I couldn’t join them this year, I did think about them often and can’t wait to see their pictures and hear their stories about the week. Several of the ladies are seasoned conference attendees, business travelers, and networkers, so now that they are back home, they’ll organize their contacts and information and start building on the connections they made.

But maybe some of you who attended Nationals or who plan to attend an upcoming conference are more like I was at my first few conferences: Continue reading

Justine: The Evolution of an Elevator Pitch

eight ladies writing, elevator pitch, RWAWell, it’s nearly conference time (I’m likely en route as you read this…or getting ready, anyway) and I’m eagerly looking forward to RWA Nationals. In preparation for my agent appointment on Friday (and the inevitable question from strangers, “What are you working on?”), I’ve been honing my elevator pitch (also knows as “describe-your-book-in-about-45-seconds-or-less”).

The (dreaded) elevator pitch (also called a log line) is a short blurb about your book that you can spew out in the time it takes you to go from the 35th floor to the lobby, and that’s not talking like a radio announcer who does all the legal jargon at the end of a car commercial. Your elevator pitch should be short, descriptive, and include the basic GMC for your main character, as well as setting and, if you have time, what sets your book apart from others. Save the discussion of your other characters and subplots for when your new elevator friend invites you to join them for a drink at the bar.

While my pitch may not be perfect, I thought it’d be helpful to show you its evolution. (Ya’ll know I’m not afraid to show you my work in progress — see Continue reading

Jilly: Dreaming Big, Planning Small

Dreaming Big, Planning SmallFor me, RWA National is a natural time to take stock and set a plan for the next twelve months. A year ago I’d almost completed the McDaniel Romance Writing Program and had decided that my manuscript needed re-writing rather than revising. In Atlanta I was thinking about the changes I planned to make, and I charged my batteries by attending lots of great writing craft workshops and inspirational talks by my favorite authors.

I also went to a Spotlight presentation by St Martin’s Press, and I made a particular note of the introductory remarks by Jennifer Enderlin, who said: “Dream big. Have unrealistic exectations. Think as big as you possibly can.” I took that advice to heart, and it’s locked in there. After all, if I don’t believe in my abilities, why should anyone else?

The last twelve months have whizzed by more or less according to plan. On Friday morning, I’ll Continue reading

Jilly: An Introvert’s Plan for RWA14

An Introvert's Plan for RWA14Yesterday Michaeline introduced the concept of the Stay-Con, a time and cost-efficient, individually tailored one-person conference held at home or a convenient location of the writer’s choosing. I’m a fan of this idea for many reasons, not least of which is that it doesn’t require interaction with other people.

I’m not shy or anti-social, but I’m definitely an introvert according to the Jungian or Myers Briggs definition. I get my energy from ideas inside my head, in my own inner world. I enjoy the company of others, but I much prefer to know a few people well rather than a wide range of people casually. So it goes without saying that a conference made up of half-a-dozen friends (thank heavens) and more than two thousand complete strangers is not my natural milieu.

The least stressful way to approach RWA14 Continue reading

Nancy: Books + TV = Yay!

RLTV Bookmark Logo

Over the years, one of my favorite weekend TV escapes has been C-SPAN’s Book TV. The series includes interviews with top non-fiction writers discussing their current releases and bodies of work, and I’ve discovered some new authors and books I’ve loved reading from the show. And for years I’ve thought how wonderful it would be if there were something similar to showcase fiction authors and books.

So imagine my delight when, after validating my NaNoWriMo word count and settling down for some stress-relieving mindless channel surfing, I came across a show called Bookmark. Continue reading