Q&A: Ruth Seitelman, NJRW Conference Chair

This week, we are thrilled to welcome NJRW’s Conference Chair, Ruth Seitelman, to the blog. Ruth and her team have been working hard on making the prestigious Put Your Heart in a Book conference even better this year.

The conference is October 12-13 at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Iselin, NJ, and speakers include Sabrina Jeffries, Heather Graham, and Susan Wiggs. Registration for the conference is open until September 30, 2012! Click here for more information.

VF: Hi, Ruth! Thank you for joining us this week.

RS: Thank you so much for letting me tell you and your readers about the upcoming NJRW Put Your Heart in a Book Conference.

VF: What makes the Put Your Heart in a Book conference unique amongst other chapter conferences?

RS: Perhaps it’s our proximity to New York, still the center of the publishing world. Or maybe it’s over twenty-five years of building the conference. It certainly is the hard work of previous conference chairs. All have worked to create a quality and prestigious conference that is well know throughout the country as well as internationally. Last year we had speakers from as far away as Australia present workshops. I think our conference is unique because of its breadth of workshops, willingness to tackle new developments in our industry, and editor agents that attend and take pitches and socialize with the attendees.

VF: I’m excited that Lady Jane’s Salon will be hosting a special event before the Book Fair on Saturday. What else will be different about this year’s conference from previous years?

RS: I’m also excited Hope, Leanna, and Ron are bringing Lady Jane’s Salon to our conference. This is probably our biggest change as we begin to look at attracting more and more readers to our conference.

For authors who may not have access to professional photographers, Marti Corn will be available to take head shots. I understand her appointments are filling up fast.

We have two workshops, one from RT Magazine and the other from USA Today, that deal with media exposure past book reviews.

To add to the festivity, this year we will are introducing an Unleash Your Passion cocktail as well as a Lady Jane cocktail. Both will be available with and without alcohol.

VF: What is your best NJRW conference memory? (Mine is the firemen from last year’s cocktail party!)

RS: There isn’t much that could top last year’s firemen. They were certainly good sports. My best memory is about my first pitch ever. The editor asked me for my full. I still tingle when I think about it.

VF: Both NJRW and RWA have recently changed their definitions on published author status to make it more inclusive to self-pubbed authors. How is NJRW supporting and/or incorporating self-published authors at the conference this year?

RS: I applaud RWA with redefining the qualifications to be inclusive of self-pubbed authors. It is the way of the future. This year we have workshops on e-pub and self-pubbing as well as two round tables in our Pub Retreat. In addition, book fair participants will be able to sell their e-pubbed and/or self-pubbed books.

VF: Last year was my first PYHIAB conference, and I had such a wonderful time. What advice would you give to someone attending our conference for the first time?

RS: I would suggest that anyone attending for the first time go to Christine Bush’s first timer workshop. Christine has a great presentation that is easy to follow and gives you everything you need to know. On a personal note, come prepared with business cards and ready to make new friends.

VF: What is your biggest conference pet peeve?

RS: My feet hurt after standing and running around. I love my heels but don’t be surprised if you see me barefoot!

VF: Who is the one person you hope to spend five minutes with at the conference, should time allow?

RS: Ok, get a cup of coffee, this is a long story. I love historicals of any kind, fantasy, mysteries, adventure, and of course romance. One of my favorite authors is Tasha Alexander. She writes historical mysteries with a touch of adventure and romance. She is one of our speakers this year and I can’t wait to sit and talk to her.

VF: What is the first thing you look forward to doing once the conference is over?

RS: Letting my hair down (and taking my shoes off) at the after party! I always feel energized after the conference so I’m looking forward to tackling my writing with a vengeance. But that may have to wait. My daughter’s wedding is two weeks after the conference.

Thank you again to the Violet Femmes and their support of the NJRW conference. Only three weeks to go!

Thanks, Ruth! We know you’re swamped, so we really appreciate you taking time out to do this for the Femmes.

In addition to conference duties, Ruth also writes as Ruth A. Casie, and she has a smoking hot book out with Carina Press, KNIGHT OF RUNES:

England, 1605

When Lord Arik, a druid knight, finds Rebeka Tyler wandering his lands without protection, he swears to keep her safe. But Rebeka can take care of herself. When Arik sees her clash with a group of attackers using a strange fighting style, he’s intrigued.

Rebeka is no ordinary seventeenth-century woman—she’s travelled back from the year 2011, and she desperately wants to return home. She poses as a scholar sent by the king to find out what’s killing Arik’s land. But as she works to decode the ancient runes that are the key to solving this mystery and sending her home, she finds herself drawn to the charismatic and powerful Arik.

As Arik and Rebeka fall in love, someone in Arik’s household schemes to keep them apart, and a dark druid with a grudge prepares his revenge. To defeat him, Arik and Rebeka must combine their skills. Soon Rebeka will have to decide whether to return to the future or trust Arik with the secret of her time travel and her heart.

Here’s the link to buy Knight of Runes on Amazon, and please visit Ruth on her website at http://www.RuthACasie.com.

Preparing for a Conference

You’ve registered for a conference. Hopefully its NJRW’s Put Your Heart In A Book Conference. Now what?

If you’re like me, it’s been months since you registered. Life moves on and you forget. Suddenly, you look at the calendar and realize it’s almost here. Here are some tips on how to prepare for a conference.

Finish that manuscript!

Are you 90% done with your book and haven’t found the time to finish or edit it? Maybe your kids were home all summer and you couldn’t find ten minutes, let alone an hour, to put two intelligent sentences together. Sound familiar, anyone? Or maybe your day job was so crazed you fell into bed exhausted each night (this one is really familiar to me). Whatever the reason, now is the time to push to get that manuscript as complete as possible.

This year, NJRW is sponsoring a first ever “Push to Pro” event. Over the course of six-weeks, members will work to achieve a writing goal they’ve established to get that manuscript pitch (and PRO) ready. Kudos to NJRW PRO Liason, Marlo Berliner, for coming up with and running with such a great idea. May all of you who entered meet your goal!

Agent/Editor Appointments

Be sure to look at the chapter’s website and see which agents and editors will be taking pitches. Do your research to know which are most suitable for what you write. SIGN UP! Don’t forget to register for the pitch sessions and provide your list of agents and editors you want to meet. If you haven’t already, read Femme Michele’s post on “Writing the Perfect Pitch” to help you prepare.

Business Cards

Regardless of your publishing status, get business cards. You can print them yourself or get them fairly inexpensively at Vistaprint. If you find it difficult to initiate a conversation with people you don’t know, they’re great ice breakers. People naturally look at your card and will ask questions about what you write, whether or not you’re represented by an agent or are published. It’s a great way to network.

What to include? People have varying opinions on this. I try to keep it simple so I don’t have to keep getting them printed. Here’s what I have on mine: Name, Pseudonym, “Writer” (although some people have Contemporary or Historical Writer, etc), email (please make sure it’s a professional email), website or blog (if you have one). I get cards without the shiny coating so I can write on the back if I want to give out my phone number or share any other information.

What to Bring/Wear?

My favorite topic…clothes! I love clothes and shoes. I love getting dressed up. Not every day, mind you, but I like putting aside my yoga pants to put on something that makes me feel feminine and well…sexy! Why not? We’re writing romance novels, many of which are sexy, so why not feel it? I feel confident when I’m a little more dressed up. I may not be published yet, but I’m going to act and project the image of what I desire to be…PUBLISHED.

That being said, pack practical. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Most conferences are business casual, meaning slacks and a nice shirt or a skirt or a dress. Wear layers in case the workshop rooms are warm or cold. When pitching, you don’t need to wear a suit, but I’d wear something appropriate for a job interview. First impressions are important and do you really want to make your first one while wearing a stained NY Giants sweatshirt and ripped jeans?

Some conferences, like Nationals and NJRW’s Put Your Heart in a Book, have an award ceremony that’s dressier. Personally, I’d go along the lines of fancy party/wedding attire, although I’ve certainly seen people wearing more casual clothes. A dressy pant suit is nice, too. For PYHIAB, prior to the ceremony there’s a cocktail hour where you can and should network. Another great ice-breaker is to compliment someone’s attire.

If you haven’t done so, registration for NJRW’s Put Your Heart in a Book conference has been extended until September 30th. You can register by going to http://njromancewriters.org/index.php?/conference/put_your_heart_in_a_book_conference/.

It will be a great conference. Stop by and say “hi” to the Femmes. We’d love to see you. Be sure to check out the goody area, where we’ll have some special treats for you.

In case you hadn’t noticed, you no longer have to enter ‘wordpress’ as part of the URL. You can reach us directly at http://thevioletfemmes.com. As our 1-year anniversary nears, we’ll be sharing some more exciting news and have a special contest. Come to the conference and stay tuned to the website for details!

Hope to see you at the NJRW conference in October!


Seriously Obsessed with Series

I wanted to start with a huge CONGRATULATIONS to Femmes Joanna and Michele for their recent contest finals in NJRW’s PYHIAB contest and The Catherines. Check out our ‘Recent News’ page for details. Best wishes, ladies, in the final round. We’re rooting for both of you to win!!

Has a series ever entranced you so much you’ve become obsessed with the characters, the town? In some cases, you get so attached to the story the characters feel like real people—or people you’d like to know. My kids suck me into this scenario all the time. They’ll go on and on about a bunch of people and all of a sudden I’ll ask “are these people you know or from a TV show?” and I’ll get “they’re from XYZ show”. It drives me crazy. But, imagine living in Jill Shalvis’s town of Lucky Harbor with its abundance of hunky men. For me, from a fictional world perspective, it doesn’t get much better than that. Sun, beach, small town, eye candy, all wrapped up with great characters. I don’t recall a lighthouse, but if there was one, I’d buy me a one-way plane ticket.

One of the more recent series I’ve fell in love with (pun intended) is Marie Force’s McCarthys of Gansett Island. The first book, Maid for Love, is a great buy on bn.com. I’m only two books through the series and am itching to read the rest. If you’re getting a sense that I have a thing about beach settings, you’re spot on.

When I started writing, I hadn’t thought my beyond my first story. But as that story evolved, I found myself thinking of the supporting characters and ways to insert teasers of subplots that would eventually amount to their own story. I figure as much fun as it is to read many stories about a town and its various characters, it’d be just as much fun to write about them. As a reader, when the questions raised in those tiny subplots aren’t answered, I want—no need— to know what happens. That’s the kind of interest, as a writer, you want to spark in your readers. A passion to want to know more…to need to read your next story. It’s what builds your readership.

Here are some other series/sequels I’m obsessed about:

  • Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books – Joe Morelli—need I say any more? This series was about twelve books in when I discovered them. I spent months going to the library and reading them in order. It was a sad day when I caught up and had to wait for the next one to be released.
  • Jill Shalvis’s Animal Magnetism
  • Susan Elizabeth Phillips – I recently finished The Great Escape and although it’s not part of a typical series, it has characters from several of her other books. I loved the way she tied up the loose ends from Call Me Irresistible.
  • Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s Chicago Stars
  • Susan Mallery’s Fools Gold
  • Rachel Gibson’s Chinooks Hockey Team – I’m not a huge sports fan. But I AM after reading these books.
  • Rachel Gibson’s Writer Friends – I recently picked up a book on the unread shelf of my bookcase (I’m In No Mood For Love) and realized it was Book #2 in this series. Unknowing that it was part of a series, I’d already read the last book, Not Another Bad Date. So, of course, I had to reach the other two books.
  • Tina Gabrielle’s Barrister Series – I just picked up In The Barrister’s Bed at this month’s NJRW meeting. What a fabulous cover. I loved the first book in the series and can’t wait to read this one.
  • Robyn Carr’s Virgin River
  • J.D. Robb’s In Death series and Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters – I’m slowly going through these because I’m listening to them when I drive to work. Now, I’m SO hooked in the character’s voices, I HAVE to listen to them vs read them.

How about you? What series are you obsessed with? What is your writing style? Do you plot a few books in your head or write completely separate stories?

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

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