NYC Romance Festival: Sat., June 25

Free Romance Event Alert!

Joanna Shupe here. I’m very excited to be one of the speakers at this upcoming Saturday’s 2016 NYC Romance Festival, along with author Rochelle Alers.

What will I be talking about? It’ll have a little something to do with this:

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WHEN: Saturday, June 25, 2016

WHERE: Morris-Jumel Mansion, 65 Jumel Terrace (between West 160th & 162nd Street), NYC

TIME: 2:00 – 5:00 pm

Cost: FREE!

Here’s what you’ll get: speakers, panels, and book signings by some of your favorite romance authors. Plus, a peek at one gorgeous NYC landmark.

The Morris-Jumel Mansion, Manhattan’s oldest house, is an amazing place. It’s full of history (Aaron Burr, anyone?) and beautiful architecture. Want to see it? Tours are only $5.

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If you’re in the NYC area, I hope you’ll join me and some other lovely romance authors at the 2016 Romance Festival, which is sponsored by the NYC Chapter of RWA.

NJRW Conference 2014 Highlights: What Publishers Are Looking for Now

The Editors Panel at the New Jersey Romance Writers Conference, Oct. 18, 2014.

The Editors Panel at the New Jersey Romance Writers Conference, Oct. 18, 2014.

The New Jersey Romance Writers annual conference is a treat I look forward to every October, not just for the chance to mingle with fellow writers and attend craft workshops, but also because it’s an opportunity to get a feel for the pulse of the publishing industry.

Given its proximity to New York, the New Jersey conference traditionally draws a fair number of editors and agents. Our own Violet Femme Joanna Shupe did a phenomenal job coordinating these expert panels, which are always an excellent opportunity to learn what’s going on in the  New York publishing world.

More than one editor on the panel mentioned that she’s looking for more romantic suspense, while another said she’s loving cowboys and Amish romance. One panelist mentioned that shorter, grittier romances are a current trend. All in all, there seemed to be a general cooling off toward paranormal, although one editor still wanted to see young adult paranormals.

As an historical writer, I was thrilled to hear editorial assistant Nicole Fisher say Avon would never give up on historicals.

Lauren McKenna, executive editor & editorial director at Gallery/Pocket books, reiterated her love of the genre, telling writers in the audience that what she’s looking for in historical submissions is something she hasn’t seen before.

The editors also touched on how digital publishing’s fast turnaround allows a new author to release books and build a readership faster than with print alone. They also talked about the importance of signing writers who are willing to work with their editors to make their books the best they can be.

During their panel discussion following the editors forum, agents stressed that  authors, both published and unpublished, should have an online platform and be active on social media because that helps the agents sell their books.

Earlier in the conference, I slipped into the standing-room-only special PRO presentation, “Taking Your Writing to the Next Level,” given by New York Times bestselling author Madeline Hunter. She gave pre-published authors tips on pacing and avoiding that dreaded saggy middle. She also left them with the advice: “Don’t let the rules of writing rule you.”

The Violet Femmes threw a “Ditch the Heels” evening social on the first night of the conference, which turned out to be a great success. Femme Jaye Marie Rome blogged about the bash last week.

Another highlight of the conference for me was the Book Fair. It was my first book signing and it was such fun to meet and talk with readers. I wasn’t sure what to hand out to people who stopped by my table but I eventually settled on candy, custom matches and a post card with a link to an excerpt of my latest release.

At my first-ever book signing and the "swag" on the left.

At my first-ever book signing and the “swag” on the left.

People who signed up for my mailing list had a chance to win a copy of Compromising Willa and a carton of custom tea — the heroine of the book blends custom teas so I thought that would be a fun promotional tie in.

Fellow femme RoseAnn DeFranco gets busy at the NJRW book signing.

Fellow Femme RoseAnn DeFranco gets busy at the NJRW book signing.

On the final evening, the Femmes went out for dinner at Bonefish Grill.

We caught up with each other, gossiped about the industry, and shared details of what we’re currently working on. These gatherings are always special because it’s rare for us all to be in one place at the same time.

We definitely made the most of it!

A rare opportunity for the Femmes to get together.

A rare opportunity for the Femmes to get together.

Having fun at dinner with fellow Femme Michele Mannon.

Having fun at dinner with fellow Femme Michele Mannon.

On Sunday, we all headed home, but the aftereffects of the conference lingered. I came home super motivated to jump back into my current work in progress. In that way, the NJRW conference is the gift that keeps on giving.

I can’t wait until next year!

Best,
Diana

You can find me at:

Website|Twitter|Facebook|Goodreads|Pinterest

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Evening Social

This past weekend, all eight of us got to hang out together at the annual New Jersey Romance Writers Conference. Since our little group was formed three years ago at this event, we decided to commemorate the occasion with a little soiree, which we called The Violet Femmes’ Ditch the Heels Evening Social.

Diana reserved a suite, and all of us took on some part of the preparations, including (lots of) wine, chocolate, snacks, and soft drinks. Joanna set up a Facebook invitation. JB designed a small invitation that we circulated to everyone we came in contact with at the conference. We hung violet party decorations, poured the wine, plated the snacks, and waited for our guests to arrive after the Put Your Heart in a Book and Golden Leaf Awards ceremony.

We really had no idea how many people were going to show up. Some had RSVP’d online, but there was word-of-mouth and onsite information available, too. Did we have enough wine and snacks? What if nobody showed?

We certainly needn’t have worried about the latter. Here are some pictures of our gathering:

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JB caught up with Romantic Suspense Author Mary Burton

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Jaye and Joanna

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Shirley Hailstock makes her point.

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Michele, Tina and guest

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Elizabeth John and Maria have a laugh

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Joanna and Amy DeLuca

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We had a wonderful time visiting with all of our guests, and we could have gone on all night. However, we had put a ten o’clock end time on the invitation, since we wanted to be considerate of the people staying in the rooms adjacent to our suite. As it turned out, that was a smart move. A couple of British Airways pilots (with sexy accents!) were staying next door before flying back out in the morning. Those pilots needed their sleep. We didn’t want them crashing any planes.

Of course we hoped to get something out of hosting the party, although we didn’t want it to be an occasion to plug our own books. Mostly, we wanted to meet other authors, hang out with old friends, and raise the visibility of our blog. Sharing time with other authors, swapping stories and offering up support is what makes the romance community so unique. Screenwriter Michael Hauge has remarked that there is no other writing community that is as generous with our knowledge as romance writers, and we Femmes agree.

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Were you able to attend our party? Give us a shout-out and let us know!

 

Hugs,

Jaye

 

Recap of RWA 2014

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Last week, I attended Romance Writer of America’s (RWA) conference in San Antonio, TX. It wasn’t my first National conference and it certainly won’t be my last. For the most part, writing is a solitary job. Authors keep their characters and their stories in their head, sharing with critique partners and beta readers. Attending a conference with approximately 2,000 other writers, agents, and editors is an amazing and inspiring opportunity to break out of that shell and network.

Here’s a highlight from a few of the fabulous workshops I attended:

I was surprised and excited by the number of workshops geared towards the romantic suspense genre. There was one on Guns for Writers where I learned the different classifications of guns and the correct stance for holding a gun. There was another for Writing a Believable Police Hero, Practical Self Defense (which, sadly, I missed), and Homicide Investigation 101. In case you didn’t guess, the hero in my WIP is a cop.

Cindy Ratzlaff gave an engaging talk about social book marketing strategy. Catch the Animoto video I created at the end. Totally cool!

Kristan Higgins, Alyssa Day, and Elizabeth Hoyt gave a fun workshop on Beyond the Alpha Male and Spunky Heroine. They challenged us to get deep into our hero’s character, including things such as knowing their weaknesses, how they’ve suffered, and deepest fears. What don’t they want the heroine to know?

For the heroine, there is a fine line between a strong heroine and a bitch. Be careful not to make her too bitchy and unlikeable, unless, of course, that’s your intent. What are her ambitions and desires that define her? What is her low point and why is the hero the worst person for her? How does he bring her back to that low point? How does she find her own inner strength to overcome it?

“Writers today must be both a writer and an entrepreneur.”Sylvia Day

“Each happy ending is a brand new beginning.”Karen Rose

Random highlights

  • Riverwalk boat tour with Michele Mannon
  • Meeting Joan Johnston in the elevator and gaining some interesting career advice
  • Meeting Nora Roberts and getting my own signed copy of her RITA® nominated book, Whiskey Beach
  • Signing at my first RWA Literacy signing
  • Cheering my fellow NJRW chapter mates, Nancy Herkness, Beth Ciotta, and Marnee Bailey on at the RITA® and Golden Heart® award ceremony
  • Books – I got way more books than I intended. Look for a giveaway soon on my author Facebook Page (Maria K Alexander – Author)
  • Getting my headshot taken at the trade show
  • Cowboys – you’ll have to watch the video link below for details
  • Meeting new friends, including another early riser and co-swag queen, Anabelle Bryant
  • Meeting wonderful Wild Rose Press authors, including editor and freelance designer, Diana Carlile, who designed the cover art for Untangle My Heart
  • Meeting Julie James, whose FBI/US Attorney series covers inspired Untangle My Heart. I even gave her a bookmark!

While I’m back to the grind and the day job today, I’m re-energized to jump back into edits for Forever In My Heart and my WIP.

Check out the video below which I made with pictures from the conference.

Hugs,

Maria

 

#NJRW13 Final Conference Round Up

The Femmes are home, in our pajamas and reflecting on what a terrific experience we’ve had once again at the NJRW conference.

Here are the last round of tweets from the conference!

  1. Shiloh Walker@shilohwalker 2h

    Attended Madeline Hunter’s workshop on creating a conflict driven synopsis while at #njrw13

     

  2. Margaret Mallory@MargaretMallory 2h

    Here I am signing in NJ yesterday. TY @NJRomanceWriter 4 inviting me – had great time at #NJRW13 ! pic.twitter.com/dRGvcBX5Le

     

  3. Margaret Mallory@MargaretMallory 4h

    @shoreauthor Thx, I had a wonderful time at the #NJRW13! Such a treat for me. 🙂 @NJRomanceWriter

     

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NJRW Conference Mania

First, our winner! Last week, RoseAnn DeFranco chatted up her new book, Return to Audubon Springs and gave away a $5 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky winner. The commenter who receives the gift certificate is Barbara Bettis. Congratulations, Barbara, and thanks for supporting the Femmes!

This Friday, the New Jersey Romance Writers “Put Your Heart in a Book” conference begins. Keynote speaker will be Diane Cosby, and we’ll have other presentations by Connie Brockway, Eloisa James, and Margaret Mallory.

Conferences can be stressful, especially if you’re pitching. Last year, VF Maria did a FAB post on How to Get Ready for a Conference. Check it out if you need tips.

For my tips, I took the question to the mean streets of Twitter.

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Here were some of the answers from our attendees:
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Writers’ Police Academy: A Romantic Suspense Writer’s Dream Come True

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Bomb Squad and K-9 Demonstration

At the Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, NC, WPA 2013 boasted a DNA expert and forensic anthropologist, a psychologist and scientist, a medical examiner and a nurse, a prosecutor and a judge. The Bomb Squad was there, along with EMS, an ATF agent, a federal agent, undercover detectives, chiefs, sheriffs, captains, officers—I’ve only scratched the surface, the list goes on and on. Suffice it to say, crime scene to fire investigation, emergency room to underwater recovery, felony stops to dangerous microorganisms, they have every topic covered either in class or hands-on.

A.J. Scudiere and I tried handcuffing techniques (no bedposts, people, keep it clean!), and I learned self-defense techniques, then whaled on a dummy. P.A. DePaul got to suit up in protective bomb gear, and other attendees investigated an entire criminal case and then presented it to a judge. Carey Baldwin and some other lucky writers got to “ride-a-long” on real calls with local police.

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Final Thoughts RWA 2013

My apologies for highjacking RoseAnn’s week… but I wanted to wrap up my RWA 2013 posts. As Jaye so kindly posted, I was fortunate enough to win the 2013 Golden Heart® for Best Historical manuscript.

I still can’t quite believe it.

But I guess it happened because I have the video of the speech to prove it:


Thanks to Michele Mannon for the recording.

I honestly didn’t think I had a shot at winning, which was fine. To be nominated was a thrill and a half. I never expected to ever get THAT, let alone a win. This manuscript was a challenge from the word “go” and a bit of a different tone than what I normally write. I questioned it every step of the way. So I feel very humbled by the recognition.

My amazing critique partners went one step further. Little did I know that they were all colluding to present me with the most amazing memento that any RWA conference attendee could ever hope for. Michele and Diana ran around the conference with the matte from a frame and gathered signatures on it. These range from Kristan Higgins, Jill Shalvis, Sabrina Jeffries, Courtney Milan, Susan Elizabeth Phillips (!), Nora (!!), Jude Deveraux (!!!), and so many other wonderful authors and friends.
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BIG NEWS!!!

Congratulations to the Femmes’ own Joanna Shupe!!!

Joanna took home the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® award for Best Historical Romance. For those of you who aren’t romance writers, the Golden Heart is the national romance writers chapter’s award for unpublished authors. It is the highest honor an unpublished romance writer can win, with competition on, naturally, a national scale!

This award confirms what we at the Violet Femmes already knew…Joanna is an amazing writer.

Way to go, Joanna! We are so proud of you! Party when you get home!

RWA 2013: Atlanta Day 4

We had workshops and signings today, broken up by the best speech EVER GIVEN. Kristan Higgins made everyone laugh, cry and cheer with her touching and hilarious words.

Note Joe on the screen.

Note Joe on the screen.

“Don’t strive to be the next Nora or Sylvia. Be the first YOU.”
“There is only one rule that matters: Grab the reader by the heart.”

And to her husband, who was there: “Thanks for all the great sex, honey.”
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