Monday, July 20, 2009

Whew! I Made It Out Alive!

It's Monday, July 20, and I'm still shaking from head to toe. How can I describe the RWA 2009 National Conference? I'm not sure it's possible! Thank you, thank you, for all of your support and prayers while I was away. Your well-wishes make such a difference in my life. Although we have not met in person, I feel we are all kindred spirits. I appreciate you all so much.

Here are a few conference highlights and lowlights:

I met Stephanie Laurens. I met Stephanie Laurens. Yeah. I did. And I almost cried. I could barely speak. I was a complete idiot, grinning, babbling, and here's a picture of the two of us!! She's one of the coolest, classiest, nicest women I've ever met, and I would have loved to ask her a million questions. Yet, I stood there like an imbecile, just basking in her presence. It was awesome!!

Stephanie Laurens and I. I'm the one grinning like a fool on the right! Meeting her was like meeting a movie star. I'll always cherish this picture!

(Funny story. My roomie met her the next day and told her about me. My roomie said, "Stephanie, I'm going to tell Jill you remembered how weird she was," and Stephanie said, "I don't remember anyone being strange. Oh, no, don't tell her that!" Guess what my roomie did? She told me, "Yeah, Stephanie remembered what a spaz you were." I was laughing, yelling, "I know! I was a spaz!" and then she came clean. We laughed so hard!!)

Let's move on. Pitching. Wow. Both of my appointments were on Friday. I woke up with a horrific migraine. I barely made it out of bed, but after a few Motrin tablets and a coffee, I could speak without sounding like a head wound victim. I'm pretty sure my eyes were not focusing properly, though.

My first pitch went well. The agent was professional, friendly, and I was very impressed. I then went straight back to bed with more Motrin and repeated the process later in the afternoon, when I pitched to my target editor. She also was very professional, very honest, and later that evening I processed things both the agent and editor told me. I could see myself working with both women. (And yes, I got two requests for partials, although my book may not work for the editor and she was up front about why, which I appreciated.)

I spent hours in workshops. It's one thing to read guidelines online and another to hear what an editor is looking for from her own mouth. After listening to agents, editors, authors, and publicists speak, I felt like I took a crash course in publishing. I met many warm, inviting, and generous writers. Some were best-selling authors. Some were on the cusp of being published. Some were not entirely certain they want to write for a living. And everyone I met amazed me.

I dare any writer at any level in his or her career to not feel elated and humble in a room of two thousand writers. Talk about inspiring. I can't even express.

What did I take away from the conference?

1. I'm refocusing my energy on what I write best: category inspirational romance (aka: Steeple Hill Love Inspired). I'm not edgy or gritty, and I think targeting suspense is not appropriate for me right now.

2. I can write more. Stephanie Bond gave an incredible workshop on making a living writing romance novels. She broke down how to make money, how to keep your money, how to squeeze out extra pages every day, and how to make annual goals and keep them. If any of you get a chance to take one of her workshops, do it.

3. Steeple Hill authors are genuine, welcoming, and extremely inviting. They went out of their way to include me and I am very thankful to them all.

4. I will not even dream about sight-seeing when I go to another conference. There simply isn't time!

5. Free Books!! I bought tons of books at the Literacy Signing (proceeds go to charity) but I also got plenty of free books. In a few days, two boxes of fresh books will arrive and I can't wait to touch them all.

Again, thank you all for your comments, prayers, and thoughts while I was away. I can't wait to catch up with you all and see what I missed.

Have a wonderful Monday!


  1. Sounds like a blast! Please post on how to write more lol!

  2. I am so glad your conference was so wonderful. Though, having migraines myself, I cannot imagine you getting through 2 appointsments with one! Oh are my hero!

    I'm with T.Anne, please post on what you learned with Stephanie Bond! I'd love to learn more about that too!

  3. What an exciting time you had! I look forward to hearing more about what you learned in the future. I totally feel for you re: the migraines. That could not have been fun. That's great that you still made it through your meetings.

  4. How incredibly exciting!!! I'm glad it went so well for you. I hope the partials turn into fulls and representation!!! :)

  5. Oh, this sounds like an awesome conference. I've never considered attending RWA National, even though I'm a member, but now I wonder if I should. 2000 writers together at the same time!!! WOW!!

    I'd love to learn more about writing to make a living. Is that actually possible as a category romance writer? I'm aiming for Steeple Hill LI, as those are the stories I generally love to read. Did they say if they are many new authors these days?

    Not don't delay, send in your partials!!! If you want a last minute proof reader, I'm here.

  6. Hooray for partial requests! (and for awesome conferences :D)

  7. Jill,
    Thanks for the nice rundown. Sorry about your migraine, but it seems like you had a wonderful experience anyway. That story about you and your roommate was hilarious!

  8. It sounds like you had a wondersul time and that you got a lot done. That's a great picture of you with your "movie star." I hope you will be able to remember and use all the things you learned.

  9. Jill, I'm so glad your adventure went so well. I hope everything works out wonderfully with all the new information you received. Can't wait to hear how it went in person.

  10. Wow! What a weekend! I heard all of the twitter about it and it sounded busy! Oh, I'm excited to hear all of the details! I'll be praying something comes from your meetings!

  11. How wonderful! Sorry about your migraine though! That's NO fun. Thanks for sharing the experience! Are you going ot ACFW?

  12. T.Anne: Oh, yes! I will post about squeezing out more words! She was awesome!!

    Sherrinda: I felt like death, but I kept telling myself "you can fake it." And I did!

    Heather: Welcome! Migraines, unfortunately, are a part of my life. But I made it through and that's all that counts!

    MaryBeth: Thanks!! I'll FB you about it!

    Eileen: Oh, I've got great news for you. I'll e-mail you in a minute!

    Tess: Yes! My hopes are not high on selling my current book, but I have a terrific feeling about my future.

    Davin: You would love my roommate. She's hilarious! And I know she's going to be an amazing success.

    Nancy: Brad Pitt couldn't have gotten my attention the way Miss Laurens does! I love her!!

    Me: Welcome! I can't wait either!

    Jody: Thanks! It was busy. So busy I don't remember little things like if I ate lunch on Friday. Ha! Who cares about food when you're with writers, right?

    Katie: Yeah, the migraine stunk, but it worked out. And no, I won't be able to swing ACFW, although I would LOVE to go to it!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!!

  13. It sounds like you had an amazing experience. There's nothing like listening to the professionals, is there? So much to learn and absorb. Thanks for sharing it with us here. And best wishes on your partials :)

  14. Yay! I'm so excited for you. Good luck with the partials. :D

  15. Free books! Eek, I love it. :-) Wow, I love your breakdown. It sounds like you had an amazing time. I agree about LI authors. I've only cyber-met them but so far they've all been so nice and helpful.
    Sorry to hear about the migraine. :-( But glad you got partial requests! :-)

  16. Yeah, but did you have fun? LOL. So glad it was such a great conference, and that your fire's lit. Wheeeeee!

  17. How wonderful! I am so glad you had such a great experience. I remember being very emotional during the entire thing, but thought it was pregnancy hormones,LOL. Can't wait to hear more:)

  18. Joanne: Yes, listening to professionals is an experience I won't soon forget. I took 8 pages of notes at Stephanie Bond's workshop!

    Danyelle: Thanks!

    Jessica: They are amazing. So kind, so welcoming. And again--free books!! I can't wait till they come in the mail (I had to ship them since I flew!)

    Angie: Ha! Ha! Did I have fun...You're cracking me up!

    Kara: I was an emotional explosion and trust me, there were NO pregnancy hormones!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  19. I was eager to hear how you made out! Thanks for sharing all of this with us--and hay--they asked for some partials!! That is great!!
    Glad you made it back home safe and sound and ready to get back at it!

  20. Thanks Terri! My excitement level will probably be at DefCon 5 for weeks!

  21. Jill - "Me" is really Brandy White. I don't know what the setting is on that my name didn't come up. Duh.

  22. Oh, no, a migraine! Glad you recovered in time. :)
    Sounds like a blast! I'm so happy your agent appointments went well. :)

  23. Hey "Me" I figured it was you when I saw your pic. I got a signed copy of "Where the Heart Leads" for you, but Dalziel's story wasn't there--the horror!!

    Jennifer: I'm glad I made it through the appointments too. I tend to look and sound like a disoriented hobo when I have a migraine.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  24. So glad you had such a meaningful experience and that you are sharpening your vision b/c of it!
    ~ Wendy

  25. Wendy: Me too. It's hard to know the exact direction to take sometimes, and this conference along with the past several months showed me the path.

    Thanks so much!

  26. Oh, I'm so sorry about the migraine, but so elated that things went well for you.

    One of the big steps in crafting a career in writing is to find out what you don't write.

    Yay for getting a request from the agent and editor!


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