kiss of death

I’m having a battle of conscience with my membership in Romance Writers of America. On the one hand, there is nothing they offer that I use. I don’t read the RWR (for various reasons that are really dumb, still, I don’t). I don’t visit their website. I can’t enter their writing contests because I am considered published and can’t enter their Golden Heart, but my e-books are only “sorta” published and don’t qualify for the RITAs. I don’t go to National convention, but this has to do with finances and health issues, otherwise I would go there. I’m not part of their PRO loop because I wasn’t “fed” by things that went on there.  So, I know, you’re wondering why I bother.

Well, this is where the dilema kicks in …

I LOVE going to conferences, most of them sponsored by RWA chapters. I adore the writers that belong to the Maine chapter of RWA. And I am also part of the suspense chapter of RWA, Kiss of Death. These small chapters support and feed me… replenish me when I think my writing has sucked the marrow from my muse. And an agent mentioned that belonging to writing organizations (not necessarily RWA) shows you are serious about writing as a career.

Now RWA is very smart. You can NOT belong to any of their chapters unless you are first a member of their organization. Okay, that makes sense though it really irks me. Which means I fork out big bucks so I can hang with some local romance authors who totally understand how difficult it is to become and remain an author.

This weekend I am hanging with my homegirls at the MERWA writer’s retreat. Boo-yeah! Really, I can’t even begin to tell you what these conferences do for me. They are worth every penny as I chat about writing and learn from authors who have walked this path before me. It’s refreshing.

I am really hoping to return refreshed and rearing to start a new project which has kind of stalled. So for now, RWA gets my hard-earned money so I can enjoy the company of some amazing authors.


So I’ve been laying back for the last couple of weeks. But it’s back in the saddle this week. I don’t post goals for the coming year … avoid it like the plague. But I thought I could open 2009 with my favorite moments of 2008. Here’s the top 13 in no particular order.

1. Road trip in the summer to go visit Beautiful Girl. (We saw lots of other people during that weekend, but seeing number one child topped it off.)


2. Getting my contracts. Each and everyone of them made me smile. Okay, and a couple of times I wept with joy. But I’m queer that way.



3. All the new friends I’ve met online. I can’t believe how much the internet has opened up my circle of friends. Hugs to everyone. You know who you are.

4. Speaking at the library luncheon for seniors (as in retired). Those ladies were a hoot. I brought PG excerpts of my books and they wanted to know where the heat was.

5. Going to the Highland Games in Canada. We’ve been wanting to go for a really long time and finally just bit the bullet and made the reservations. DH and I would totally do it again. Baby Girl and Little Boy Blue … not so much.


6. Every month I made it down south to be with my home girls. The Maine Writer’s chapter of RWA is a kick-butt group of writers. I’m so happy I found them.

7. Picking up Little Boy Blue from engineering camp. He got to spend 3 days at the state university where he wants to go to school and learned all about the engineering profession. Riding 3 hours home from the camp was a chance for us to have a nice visit and I think I learned all the naughty things those high school seniors did. (My lips are sealed!)


8. The record breaking winter of 2008. More snow than northern Maine has seen in … like ever! I didn’t say I enjoyed it. I simply said it was memorable.


9. Spending 3 days with my critique partner at her house just talking writing and brainstorming plots. I was in heaven! Hugs, Jen!

10. Having a chance to ride a hot air balloon. DH insisted. I’ve always wanted to do it and it was beyond what I expected! After skydiving, it’s my favorite flying (or is it falling) activity.


11. Snowmobiling with DH. Okay, so if you look at my blogs from last winter there was more downs than ups. Still the Maine woods in the middle of winter are beautiful. And one always needs good stories about your significant other. Those trips totally added to my repetoire.

12. Visiting with my family. My sister (in-laws), my mom (and in-law), my dad, my brothers (in-laws), nephews, neices, you name it … I love seeing them all. It’s the best part of making the looooong trip home.

SExpressions 8/08
Oh, that’s not my family. It’s just a lovely summer picture … don’t you think?

13. The Kiss of Death writer’s retreat in Oct. Now that was an awesome retreat that I enjoyed from the moment the valet parked my car until I had to say goodbye. I can’t recommend this retreat enough. It’s in New Mexico next year. And if I can afford it, I’m going!


Last weekend I went to Portland, Maine to attend the Kiss of Death writer’s retreat. The KOD chapter of RWA is focused on the suspense and mystery aspects of writing. It was in my backyard … how could I not attend?

Now, I gotta tell you, it was wonderful. I don’t do conferences well, they often effect me in a negative way. But I walked away feeling motivated and with a better understanding of how to persue my passion … writing. Here are 13 reasons it was so amazing.

1. It was held at the Regency Hotel in the Old Port section of Portland.

2. I got to experience the international aspect of RWA. My roommate was from another country! Okay, so she was from Canada, which is just up the road from me. I’m just saying …

3. Mary Buckham and Diana Love did several of the workshops. They are amazing teachers. If you ever have a chance to take a class from them … DO IT!

Nina and Mary Buckham

4. There was valet parking. Okay, this was just kinda weird. They took your car to some undisclosed location (one guest asked more than once and they wouldn’t tell her), but it was okay, I didn’t need anything from my car and there’s absolutely NO parking available anywhere in the Old Port.

5. Raelene Gorlinsky from Ellora’s Cave gave an absolutely hysterical presentation on agent/editor relationships, comparing them to a Victorian marriage, complete with marrying a stranger to paramours. It was a hoot.

(Raelene and Nina)

6. Drinks in the lounge at the Regency. Here’s a shout out to an amazing waiter … Kevin! He dared serve a dozen crazy romance authors (and one naughty erotic author) some alcohol! Not just one night, but two! You know the saying, what happens in Portland …

(Oh, that’s not Kevin, I had to get the eye candy
in here somehow!)

7. We ate at an awesome restaurant … Bull Feeneys. An old renovated warehouse.

(I had pictures of the inside, but margaritas and cameras just don’t mix!)

8. Danny Agan, a retired detective from Atlanta, Georgia did an amazing presentation. He told all kinds of stories from his years as a detective. It was awesome … complete with a crime scene recreation. Then I talked to him at lunch and got even more inside information. I know, that totally surprises you, doesn’t it?

(Danny’s on the right … just sayin’)

9. I got to meet agent, Meg Ruley from the Rostrosen agency. She did another great presentation about being an agent. And no, I don’t have a picture. I have no idea why. *sigh* But take my word for it, she’s just about the nicest, down-to-earth person you could meet.

10. NYT Bestselling author, Lisa Gardiner did a workshop on writing suspense. I am in total awe of this woman and thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her over the weekend.

(Lisa Gardiner and Maine author, Susan Vaughan)

11. I got to do my first book signing!


12. I got to enjoy margaritas. I know this is nothing new, but it’s still one of my favorites!

13. On Saturday, RITA-winning author, and dear friend of the Maine authors, Kristan Higgins, came by the lounge with her hunky firefighter husband (who helped with Shadows of Fire) and had a drink with  us. Let’s just say I laughed a lot and forgot to take pictures. (Obviously margaritas were involved here as well.)

* a collection of various literary extracts or any mixture, esp of unrelated objects or subjects.

So that’s what I’m all about today. Playing catchup with what’s going on with me.

Yesterday was the deadline to submit books for consideration in the 2009 Eppie awards. Epic is an organization that supports authors published in electronic format. I’m not a member, but I know they have a very large contest for electronic books published over the last year. Anyway, I plunked down my hard-earned royalties and entered two of my books. (I’m just superstitious enough not mention which ones.) Of course now I have to wait until January on tenterhooks to find if there’re even going to final. I’m crossing fingers, toes, and eyes that one of them finals. But off to the next …

Today, October 1, is the deadline for another publisher that I’d very much like to break into. They are having an open call for submissions. I waited until the 11th hour to finish a story for them. It’s done. It’s at a friend’s computer to be checked for typos and grammar and of course general … “do you think this story sucks wind?” comments from him. When I’m finished blogging I’m off to put the whole thing together and send it through cyberspace. We’ll see how it goes.

This weekend I’m headed to a writer’s convention. It’s pretty kewl. It’s a national conference of the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA that’s being held here in Portland, Maine. Yay! Maine! As a member living so close, how could I not go? There will be some awesome NYT bestselling authors and plenty of workshops and I’m rooming with someone I’ve never met and … well, it promises to be a wonderful time. Hopefully a nice motivator to move me forward.

But (warning, I feel some whining coming on)…

There’s the whole dress thing going on. I know. I know. I’ve been down this road before. But really, stay with me here. Writing is a totally insular activity, done in the privacy of my home. When I’m chatting on the Internet or working on my latest book, who cares what I’m wearing? I can chat with my editor and my publisher and I really don’t care if they’re also hanging out in their pink fuzzy slippers. We can do business even if neither of us has showered for the day. (Ewww …)

Okay, so I’m not heading out to the convention looking like I do when I’m hiding behind my monitor. But do I really have to wear dress pants and heels? Cause no amount of makeup is going to make me into this …

I’m intelligent, funny and easy to talk to. Aren’t I still all those things in comfortable clothes? Yeah, I know… I can hear you from here. It’s all about the image. *sigh* Anyway, that means trying on several outfits to find the one that’s both comfortable and professional and says “I intend to make something of my writing career.” Because you see, there’s another first this weekend.

I’m meeting with an agent. Da Da Da … Da …. (That was scary music if you didn’t hear it.) Yep, my first ever opportunity to pitch to someone who actually could help me advance my career. And just because I like to buck the system, I’m going in a totally different direction with the pitch.

It is generally accepted that an author pitches a project. A story that will interest the agent. But I don’t have a story available at the moment. Everything I have (that’s fit for publishing) has been contracted (or has just been sent out). So … being the person that I am… I’m pitching ME!

I have no doubt that someone before me has done this and I have no doubt that some maverick coming after me will do the same thing. But it’s who I am and how I roll. So I’m giving it a try. Heck, it’s only 10 minutes. It takes me that long to say “hello”. (I was a teacher in my former life. I could keep a room full of people entertained for an hour. 10 minutes? Pshaw, that’s child’s play.) I have no idea how it’s gonna work. At the moment, I’m not nervous about it. I don’t have an agent right now. And if the woman thinks I’m totally insane … I won’t have an agent next week. But it’ll be interesting if I fall flat on my nose or at least pique her curiousity. I’ll let you know next week how I did.

Anyway, that’s what’s going on with me.

How you doin?