I'll be in Houma, Louisiana for the JAMBALAYA WRITERS' CONFERENCE on March 22nd! Love this conference...Huge bang for the buck! Any readers in the vicinity, I'll be participating in the book signing, so come on over for a chat with me!
I'm STILL hoping to make it back to Vegas for the Jimmy Thomas RNC...I had such an awesome time last year! ANOTHER chance for Readers and Authors to connect in a fabulous location...Vegas is such a blast and so is Jimmy and his crew!
So...how many of you can stand the heat of New Orleans, LA in August? If you can, come "Pass a Good Time" with me and a flock of other authors in the heart of the French Quarter. We'll have cover models, book signings, and parties to entertain you, the reader.
Vegas was DA BOMB!!!
Well, I flew to Vegas and back (with connecting flights to Houston) and LOVED it! Met a lot of people, made lots of new friends, our Christmas Anthology earned a First runner up certificate, spent the week with a bunch of HOT guys who were all just as sweet as could be, and spent five days with my soul sister of nearly 37 years, something we'd never done before. Jimmy Thomas and his RNC staff, all the hard-working volunteers, the wonderful ladies from InD'tale Review Magazine...everyone pulled together to create a fabulous convention. Had so much fun...Check out the video by clicking on the icon above and you'll see.
If I get the chance to go again next year, I'd like to bring my hubby. I think he'd love the Fremont Street experience as much as I did.
UPDATE ON VEGAS TRIP!!!!
It's just over two weeks until I board a plane...for the first time ever! I know, right? I usually drive to these things, and after spending money to mail books, bookmarks, and raffle baskets over there so I don't have to worry about luggage weight overages, I'm beginning to think driving isn't so bad after all. Can you relate?
But, I have my wardrobe, costume for the ball, jewelry, etc. and as the time draws nearer, I'm getting more excited and hopeful about the Rone' Award Ceremony. The first anthology published through my own publishing house, Cajunflair Publishing, is up for an award in the short story/anthology categories. Hearts, Hearths & Holidays is a joint venture between myself and six other wonderful authors. I published this book, as well as contributed a short story about a couple in my La Fleur de Love series, Bill Broussard and his wife, Gwen. I'm cautiously hopeful for a win, but I know it'll be tough. I've read some of the work of the competition and they are also wonderful stories. Fingers crossed!
July 13th, 2013 - 1:00 pm
Reading, Q & A, and Book Signing at
Java Joltz in Jennings, LA
with Trish F. Leger
Update on the book signing: It has come and gone and was a HUGE success. Several times I looked up and the line to purchase our books was to the door! Trish and I were both thrilled at the turn-out! Thanks to all who bought my books. And thank you to those who sat through my voice-quavering reading of scenes from my WIP, MEAGAN'S MARINE. I keep hoping that if I force myself to read in public, I'll get better at it, and it will terrify me less as time goes on. So far, it hasn't helped, but my parents didn't raise a quitter. :)
August 7-11, 2013: I will be attending book cover model, Jimmy Thomas's
Romance Novel Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada with hundreds of other authors and readers. The first book in my SEASONS OF LOVE anthology series, Hearts, Hearths & Holidays, is up for an award. In the event that it wins in its category, I, along with one of the other six authors, will be there to accept our award.
I'm truly psyched about this trip, as it will be my first visit to Vegas. I'll be attending with people who've been several times, so I'll be in excellent hands. I'm prepared for the heat of Vegas in August...I don't plan on venturing out much in the middle of the day, for sure.
March 26, 2011
2011 Jubilee Jambalaya Writers’ Conference
Another conference – another adventure! This time my DIL Trish and I had the company of fellow Bayou Writers’ Group member, Linda Faye Todd.
Set in beautiful Houma, Louisiana at the gorgeous Terrebonne Parish Library, this conference was packed with excellent workshops and talks lead by talented and capable authors, editors, playwrights, business women, educators, etc.
We started the day with marvelous Molly Bolden, of Bent Pages bookstore, giving us the conference overture. I heard agent Cherry Weiner give suggestions and tips for the next hour. Cherry is a tiny, tightly-packed parcel of dynamite, well-known in the world of agents, editors, and writers.
Anyone who’s read my manuscripts knows how much I love to write dialogue. I may not have perfected my form yet, but I’m constantly working on it. Because several people have suggested that I’d be good at script writing, I couldn’t pass up New Orleanean-turned-New Yorker, Rosary O’Neill’s All the World’s a Stage: Drama Workshop. WOW! I thought I’d sit in for the first hour then slip out to attend either Deborah LeBlanc’s Becoming a Novelist, or Ken Wells’ Selling the Home State. Good plan, right?
Major roadblock…the drama workshop was so compelling, I couldn’t tear myself away. Rosary turned out to be a wealth of information, as well as a blazing, ball of fun, and energy. The class was small, so we got to know each other fairly well in two hours. Anyone who brought work was welcome to ‘have it performed’ by others at the front of the class. That was the key – not reading your own work, but having someone else read it for you. Apparently, I have no shame when it comes to reading other people’s work. I volunteered a couple of times, and got volunteered after that. I was privileged to participate in a few pieces of work, in particular, a manuscript by author Pamela Kopfler, and one spectacular poem, called Addicted, written by a seventeen year old (fifteen when it was written) by the name of Brandi K’Lynn Armstrong. I know this, because Brandi thanked me profusely for reciting her poem with ‘attitude’. In return, I asked for the hand-written, signed copy of her poem, which I’m convinced will only become more valuable as the world recognizes her for the talented poet she is.
Ms. Armstrong, hold your head high, young lady! You are entirely too talented to be a part of the back drop. You should be in the spotlight…front and center. Keep me posted.
After lunch, we had the Keynote Speech by acclaimed mystery author, Lisa Jackson. Note: Lisa really knows how to dress-down in front of an audience...as in nightgown, robe, slipper socks, and other items of everyday, comfortable attire. She wanted to assure us all that there is nothing glamorous about writing, even when you’re on the New York Times best seller list. She, just like most of us out there, can’t be bothered with trivialities like getting dressed, putting on make-up, fixing her hair, cooking, cleaning, or grocery shopping, when she writes. As for myself, when I’m in the throes of writing a good scene, I can barely stop to refill my coffee cup, much less shave my legs.
Next up, I attended a wonderful presentation by Deborah LeBlanc on how to create memorable characters. That was my second meeting with Deborah and she was as funny, creative, and delightful as ever.
The last session was difficult to choose because there were at least three I wanted to attend at the same time. I finally settled on a presentation on Self-Editing given by Jackie Jackson. I filled a notepad with some of Ms. Jackson’s helpful suggestions and rules. Learned some things I didn't know and remembered some things I'd forgotten. Great job, Jackie.
At one point, I found my way to the book-fair for more purchases to top my ‘To Be Read’ pile of books.
“But they’re personally autographed,” I tell my hubby.
To which he replies, “Mmm...hmm. Just how many personally autographed books does one woman need?” DH grumbled and grouched a bit longer. “I’m just warning you. When you run out of space, I’m not adding another room onto this house.”
I hear you, babe.
Although I missed out on signing up to pitch my novel to agent Cherry Weiner, she was gracious enough to sit and talk with me a few minutes. In my defense, I didn’t plan to do that. If I had, maybe it would have made a difference. Seriously folks? I doubt it. The woman who’d recited poetry and spoke with such ease in front of fellow work-shoppers less than an hour before…the woman Rosary O’Neill called “a true artist”…vanished. In her place, was a bumbling, tongue-tied, lunatic with shaking knees, who couldn’t remember the ending of the manuscript she pitched. Honestly, it was a disaster. My only hope is that next time will be easier. My prayer is to be accepted on paper, but I know that won’t happen. Sooner or later, I’d have to speak to someone about my own work, right?
From 4:00 to 5:00, a panel of four experts (Heather Graham, Lisa Jackson, Cherry Weiner, and Molly Bolden) read opening pages submitted anonymously by conference attendees. For me, it was a fascinating experience—watching the audience and panel member’s reactions to the first pages of our ‘babies’ being read, without voice inflections, by a moderator. The good news? Both mine and Trish’s were out of the chute fairly early, so the suffering wasn’t prolonged. The really good news? They liked us, they really liked us. We each had a couple of comments, but both the panel and the audience got into our storylines. I was very pleased.
The day ended with a Sunset Social on the top deck of the second floor. I met so many interesting people, including Chere’ Coen, author of several Louisiana based novels, and whose presentation on how to Get Your Mojo Working: (Gris Gris Bags, Sachets, and other good luck charms) I didn’t get to attend. Sweet lady…hope to talk to her more in the future.
In conclusion, this little conference provides a big bang for the buck, and I highly recommend it.
January 15, 2011
SOLA Writers RWA meeting in Metairie, LA / Karen Marie Moning's Arrival for Fever Con in the French Quarter
Trish and I took off on another small adventure yesterday morning. We left around 6 a.m. and made it to the library in Metairie by 9:30 for the chapter's monthly meeting. New York Times best selling author (and friend, I'm proud to say) Shirley Jump was there as a guest speaker and giving a condensed version of her workshop, From Good to SOLD. Attending this meeting gave Trish and I the opportunity to meet up with friends, Dawn Chartier and Debbie Dalme, as well as surprise another friend, Farrah Rochon, with our unexpected presence.
We got to witness as Charlotte Parker, their in-coming president, presided over her first meeting as Prez. The meeting began at 10:00 a.m. sharp, and though Charlotte claimed to be nervous, I didn't see any sign of it. She introduced the guest speaker, Shirley Jump, who spoke to a full house thanks to an advertisement in the previous week's paper. Shirley has a remarkable way of giving you examples that make it easy to get her point across. After an hour of easy to follow lessons on plot, conflict, scene, sequel, dialogue, and showing versus telling, the meeting adjourned. I bought four books from Shirley, and had her authograph them for my soul sister, Arlene, and my daughters. Everyone drove to the Picadilly down the street afterwards for lunch, where I got to spend another two hours talking to Shirley, Dawn, and Farrah, and getting to know other members of their hospitable group.
Le Pavillon Hotel in the the French Quarter of New Orleans
It just so happened that Karen Marie Moning, author of the Highlander and Fever series, was coming to New Orleans for the release of her latest book in the Fever series on the same day as the meeting. So Trish and I headed on down to the historically posh Le Pavillon Hotel in the French Quarter. Thank God Dawn led us there or we'd have been totally lost. While there, we met up with several other Fever Fans, a mother and her daughter, whom I truly believe I'll be hearing from again...What do you say, Suzette and Christine?
We met the absolutely adorable and sexy sounding Phil Gigante, who is the THE VOICE of Barrons in the audible version of the Fever books. He was sweet enough to take a photo with me, and even agreed to record a verrrry sexy message into my I Phone's voice recorder. Unfortunately, after he left the hotel, I discovered that the entire time he thought he was recording, it was paused. RATS! And I was all ready to download the APP that would enable me to transfer it to this site as well as my blog. Let me just tell you ladies here and now that it would have been a wonderful addition to my websites. What a set of pipes that man has to match his fantastic personality.
We both would have LOVED to stay and get to know those women and men better, but we had to leave to make the three hour drive back home that same evening. So, instead of actually getting to meet and speak to Karen Moning, we had to be satisfied with watching her check into the hotel from several feet away. We left by four forty-five, just in time to avoid having to pay another three bucks to keep my car parked conveniently in front of the hotel.
But still - that wasn't bad for a spur of the moment trip to the French Quarter we hadn't planned on making. Many thanks to Debbie Dalme for calling her friend, Jennifer Zeffer and having her introduce us to everyone in their group. It was a blast and a truly enrichening addition to our trip to the SOLA Writers meeting.
Mais, chere, where I come from, we call that LAGNIAPPE! (lon-yop)
The Heart of Louisiana's Luncheon with Keynote Speaker, Sherrilyn Kenyon
On Saturday morning at 8 a.m., my daughter in law, Trish and I headed to Baton Rouge for the luncheon. We arrived at the Crowne Plaza at 10 o'clock, thankful that we didn't have to suffer too badly from traffic pouring into the city for LSU's football game with Alabama's Crimson Tide. Imagine our surprise when we arrived at the hotel to see droves of Bama fans, as well as the entire football team and entourage! We passed ballrooms with signs like Offensive Line Classroom, Defensive Coordinator's Meeting, etc. Trish and I went to kill some time in the gift shop and watched as fans of the Crimson Tide came in for various items. We even saw one or two of their players come in while we were in there, all of them preparing for the 2:30 match up at Death Valley.
The time drew near for the luncheon and we entered the room with plenty enough time to hobnob with authors. Before long, we struck up conversations with Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dianna Love, and Dianna Rowland. As I walked around the room looking at all the author's tables, I discovered that the author D.B. Grady had his own table. Being a member of the Bayou Writers' Group in Lake Charles, La., I'd heard our president, Jessica Ferguson extol the virtues of D.B. (David) many times, but had not had the pleasure of meeting him yet. As a matter of fact, I hadn't the slightest idea what he looked like. It wasn't long before he arrived, luckily wearing his name tag. When I introduced myself to him, as well as Barbara Colley, and Christie Craig, their eyes lit up as they realized I knew Jessica. We had a wonderful conversation and they all had nice things to say about her.
It turns out that Christie is a member of West Houston's RWA chapter which hosts the annual Emily Writing Contest. As it happens, I have a manuscript entered in the Emily this year, and volunteered to judge several manuscripts in a different category. Judging is a great learning experience and I highly recommend it to any writer if you haven't yet had the experience. It's a great way to see in other work what you miss in your own. When you go back to your own manuscript--BAM! There it is, staring you right in the face. Great way to see where your own work needs tightening up. This is a learning process, people. The large majority of writers don't push out one book and have it ready to go. It takes months, sometimes YEARS of editing, re-writes, and other sets of eyes to help you get it into shape.
As the morning progressed, I met up with several ladies I'd met at the RWA conference in Orlando. Farrah Rochon, a lovely lady as crazy about Saints and LSU football as Trish and I are, Dawn Chartier and Debbie Dalme, both of the SOLA RWA of New Orleans. It was great seeing all of them again. We met three lovely ladies who drove all the way from Houston to attend the luncheon, Monica Beishir, Toni Strack and Kristine Berger. (Thanks Monica!) I met Deborah LeBlanc, a wonderful, friendly writer (of course she is - she's a Cajun) from Lafayette, La. who sets her stories locally. I bought three from her and can't wait to read all three of them.
Mr. Leo Honeycutt, the man responsible for writing the Authorized Biography of our illustrious, albeit incarcerated, ex-governor Edwin Edwards spoke on what it was like to meet the man. He found ways to keep an entire roomful of women, as well as several brave males, laughing with delight over a subject matter that was deemed questionable, at best. He told us about his first meeting with the man to discuss whether or not he'd take on the awesome task of his biography. Leo told EWE that, first and foremost, he'd have to hear the truth, from start to finish. He said Mr. Edwards was quiet for a moment then asked, "Who's truth?" Well, isn't that the entire problem condensed into one tiny question?
Afterwards, Sherrilyn Kenyon spoke about what it was like growing up with eight - yes, I said eight brothers. She didn't have it easy growing up. Her dad left the family when she was young, and subsequently she wore her older brother's hand me down clothes and shoes to school, only to be teased unmercifully by others. But Sherrilyn found a way to deal with her life by escaping into books. She wrote her first work of fiction (thankfully) while still in elementary school - a story about a girl who has eight brothers - and killed them all. She said she did it to terrorize her classmates so they'd leave her alone, and it worked.
This sweet woman could easily have become another statistic - high school drop-out, unwed mother, or married to an abusive husband. Instead she read books that convinced her she could defy the odds in a world where they were stacked against her. Sherrilyn graduated from high school then held down multiple jobs to work her way through college. She met a wonderful man who was destined to become her husband, as well as father to their three rambunctious boys. (That 'boy thing' must be a curse, ya think?) Now a world reknowned best selling author, Sherrilyn is still so down to earth and easy to talk to. She doesn't lead a glamorous life, even though this writer happens to think she deserves one. As a matter of fact, she said after watching the movie "She Devil" she still has a bone to pick with Meryl Streep's character. Sherrilyn can testify to the fact that life is just not that luxurious, no matter how much we'd like it to be. Maybe that's a good thing. Glamour could never make you as nice as Sherrilyn Kenyon.
All in all, it was a long but wonderful day that ended on a high note. A Bayou Bengal victory over Bama's Crimson Tide. Although we missed the first half of the game, we were able to listen to the second half on the drive back home. We made it back to Kinder in time to watch the last few minutes on our 50" large screen.
A hard fought, skillful Tiger Victory.
What a perfect ending to a perfect day!
Romance Writers of America 2010 Conference in Orlando, Florida
I’m back! Okay, I’ve been back for awhile now, but I'm just getting around to updating my site, although I have posted something on my blog. I came home with alot of business cards and have slowly been trying to contact everyone I met to boost up my networking skills. No easy feat when I’m suffering from a severe lack of RAM and slightly challenged by today's technology. I pride myself on keeping up with the technological times but I'm having a problem with my blogging skills. I made need to take a class...or buy 'Blogging for Dummies' or something along those lines.
The trip to Florida was great. Trish and I took turns driving and it was fine until my Garmin, who will forever be called the 'Bitch in the Box', took us on a wild goose chase instead of bringing us to the hotel. We made it, however, and spent a wonderful four days and nights with some of the funniest, sweetest people I’ve ever had the privilege to meet.
It started out with a bang for me. I volunteered my time as soon as I got there on Wednesday and worked in the Barnes and Noble book store from 12:30 until 3:00. The very first thing to catch my eye inside the store was the table full of autographed Nora Roberts / J.D. Robb books. Of course, I had to buy a couple. What’s two little books? I turned just in time to see Sabrina Jeffries and Claudia Dain walk in to peruse their selection of books. These two sweet, funny women both offered to autograph books for me, so of course I had to buy a couple more. And so it began. My two wonderful co-workers behind the register began a pile for me after that. Whenever someone walked in, I’d ask if they needed help finding something in particular. The authors usually needed assistance in finding their books and of course I was thrilled to help them, as well as buy one of their books..which they conveniently autographed for me. Later that evening was the book signing where all proceeds went to programs to promote literacy, an extremely worthy cause.
I ran to Robyn Carr’s table – my first purchase and her first signing of the night. After reading her Virgin River series about all those retired marines, I’m a fan for life. She’s such a sweet and gracious lady. I struck up another conversation with Claudia Dain, Sabrina Jeffries, and Deb Marlowe…and bought more books. Are you beginning to see a pattern here? By the end of the night, I’d conversed with, and purchased books..all autographed..from Debbie Macomber, Shirley Jump, Rachelle Chase, Victoria Dahl, Jayne Anne Krentz, Kresley Cole, Lorraine Heath, and Farrah Rochon, just to name a few. That’s a big deal, right? I thought so too, until I discovered that several publishers would have book signings where you could go in and get free autographed books…if you were willing to stand in line and wait your turn, which I was most of the time. Needless to say, I came home with about 100 books..and yes..most were free.
We started Thursday off by meeting Shirley Jump for breakfast at the Dolphin’s Mediterranean Cafe. I’d taken her online class with several other conference attendees, and it was the perfect way to get to know women I’d only met through online posts. The same day, the beautiful Dolphin Hotel provided a delicious luncheon for us. Afterwards, we sipped our Starbuck’s coffee while our first Keynote Speaker, Nora Roberts, gave a delightful and entertaining speech. Immediately after, we had the PRO retreat, a tremendously informative three hours worth of speakers (Donald Maass and Stephanie Faegan), spokespersons from Belle Books, Sourcebooks, Carina Press, and Avalon Press, as well as a panel of agents.
After a wonderful continental breakfast on Friday morning, we began our first full day of workshops, peppered with book signings, trips to the goody room (more free stuff…yay!), and another luncheon with keynote speaker Jayne Ann Krentz. The afternoon held more workshops, spotlights on publishing houses, and yes, free book signings. That night Trish and I drug poor Rachelle Chase out with us to the ESPN sports bar at the end of the boardwalk. It turned out that was her first venture out of the hotel since the conference started.
At breakfast on Saturday morning I sat with others who’d entered Rachelle’s Chase the Dream writing contest. By that time, I knew quite a few of the women seated at the table. It’s common practice to exchange business cards with everyone you meet at RWA, whether standing in line, sitting at tables, in elevators, on escalators, restaurants, workshops, book signings, or seated in the lobby of the hotel. I came home with 87 cards and gave away more than that. It’s the perfect way to keep in touch with everyone.
Workshops I attended:
My absolute favorite was Crime Scene Imagination, in which two women de-bunked the things you see on television shows like CSI and Navy NCIS. One woman, a self proclaimed lab rat, verified several things that my hubby, Mike, and I had long suspected: there are no windows in labs, people (cops) don’t just walk in whenever they want, no food, drinks (Abby’s big gulps in Navy NCIS), or animals are allowed in the lab. It is kept pristine and isolated so that the chain of evidence is never broken.
Another favorite was Doin’ it With Dialogue by Karen Rose, very helpful since my writing is dialogue driven rather than descriptive. She reaffirmed my belief that dialogue is far more effective if it’s written correctly. If you can hear the dialogue in your head…know what the characters sound like…they become a part of you, a part of the family. They become REAL.
I attended one called Humor, Heat, and Hooks that I found valuable. I took several pages of notes during this class and hated to see it end.
Susan Dansby, a writer for As the World Turns, spoke at one called Writing Romance that Snaps, Sizzles, and Pops. Several times I’d stay 20 minutes or so in a work shop and run to try to make it to two others going on simultaneously. I definitely need to buy the CD of the conference so I can hear all the workshops I missed.
The four day conference culminated in the Oscar like gala of the world of RWA, the Golden Heart and RITA awards ceremony. We dressed in our finest attire, and gathered with our newly made friends to attend yet another delicious meal provided by the Dolphin Hotel in one of its huge ballrooms. The Golden Heart trophies went to unpublished authors in several categories, while the RITA trophies were awarded to published authors in the same categories. All participants felt honored to final in such a prestigious contest. The mistress of ceremonies was Ms. Sabrina Jefferies, who stole the show with her antics and humor. As the ceremony ended, there was a flurry of posing and picture taking outside the ballroom, as well as exchanging of business cards with some very well known people. The winners held their golden trophies close to their bodies, always fearful that Sabrina Jefferies would try to steal one if she got half the chance. : )
I spent lots of money, made gads of new friends, spent quality time with my new daughter in law, and learned more from that four day experience than I could have by taking a year’s worth of online classes. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to go, and pray that my first time at RWA won’t be my last time there.