I spent the weekend at the NJ Romance Writers' Put Your Heart in a Book Writers' Conference and, boy, what a great weekend!
Disclaimer: Two of my books were 2/3 of the finalists in the Best Paranormal category of the Golden Leaf contest, so I was already hyped when I got there. ;) And, yes, as you can see, one of them won. But more on that later.
The fun started in the lobby. It's so nice to walk into a hotel (even if you've been there before) and see people you know who hold open their arms for a big hug with a big smile on their face. Then come the "catch-up" stories because, even though we're all wired in and see each other posting on FB, blogs, loops, etc., nothing beats that one-on-one personal time to catch up on the day-to-day stuff, and, of course, the "oh my God, you won't believe" stuff. :)
Roommates arrive, room keys are gotten, suitcases unpacked, and the workshops begin. I gave one on contests. Unfortunately, I was up against the published author retreat so the turnout wasn't fabulous, but the people who attended said I gave them a lot of things to consider when entering contests. Since I was clueless when I began entering contests, without any thought other than winning (oh, how naive!), I spent my money willy-nilly. In the days of pre-electronic contests, postage was as expensive as the entry fee and let us not forget ink and paper.
Then came the reception for the awards. The ladies of NJ pulled together an AMAZING amount of giveaway baskets. It would have been nice if I'd remembered to bring my raffle ticket, because I'm fairly certain my number was called. Of course, if I'd thought to thoroughly check my name badge holder, I would have found out that I'd actually planned ahead and put the ticket in the badge holder, but silly me thought I'd left it in the room. sigh...
Then the highlight of the night - the awards. NJRW has the Put Your Heart In A Book Contest for unpublished authors and the Golden Leaf contest for published authors, complete with a great slide show like RWA does for the Golden Heart and Ritas. Even with a stage and podium. I love watching people win awards. We all work so hard at our writing that it's nice to celebrate with the winners.
For the Golden Leaf awards, they show the 3 finalists and then the wonderful Ann Walradt (who I think is a thespian, and if not, definitely could be) reads an excerpt from the winning book. My category was second to last to be announced and there were about 8 or 9 of my chaptermates in my row. When Ann read the first line of Catch of a Lifetime, they all turned my way. "You won!"
Yep. The award is beautiful and makes a really nice bookend with the Prism Wild Blue Under won at National. But I think the absolute best part of winning was hearing Ann read the beginning of the book to the audience and hearing their laughter.
There was a naked woman on his boat.
Logan Hardington shook his head and rubbed his eyes, but the picture didn’t change. Lady Godiva was sprawled over a pillow on his deck, a navy blue blanket draped over the bottom half of the curviest ass he’d seen in a long while.
Long, blonde—almost yellow—loose curls tumbled over creamy shoulders all the way down to that blanket, the ends pooling in the dimples above her ass, some strands twirling along the visible portion of her cleft near the light blue markings of a faded bruise.
Shapely legs, one slightly bent, only a shade or two darker than the fiberglass boat deck, trailed from beneath the blanket, one small foot flexing in the soft morning breeze. A hint of upturned nose peeked from beneath the blonde jumble, pink lips pursed in sleep, slender fingers disappearing beneath her cheek. He wondered what color her eyes were.
And why she was naked.
On his boat.
Hungry gulls cawed overhead, but she didn’t stir. The wake from McKye’s charter jostled the Mir-a-Mar as the day’s fishing tour set out, but that didn’t rouse her either.
Oh hell. She was probably a drunk co-ed who’d followed some “sailor” home. He’d seen that walk of shame many mornings. Didn’t these people think of the repercussions?
Logan looked back down the pier where his son, Michael, chatted with Tony as the wizened old salt chopped chum, and Logan smiled. Ah, the things he would have loved to have seen as a boy. The things he should have been able to show Michael from day one—
And would have if his ex-girlfriend had only mentioned a little thing like a pregnancy…
Logan tamped down the anger at Christine—who, according to his son, now went by Rainbow for God-only-knew-what reasons—and focused instead on the next female to make him wonder what men ever saw in women.
Then Lady Godiva moved and the blanket slipped to the side and Logan knew exactly what men saw in women.
The fun continued on Saturday with great speakers, informative workshops, and having the chance to sit down, face-to-face with my agent and get some business done. I did some chapter business, issuing invitations to the editor/agent panel we have in March, and meeting new people.
And then came the karaoke party. No, I did not sing. I wanted to, but I am aware enough of my deficiency in that area to know better than to pick up a microphone. Others, hysterically, do not have that same realization and I thank they for a really fun evening!
It's so nice to get together with other writers and industry people. I envy those who can do this full time and make a living at it. I'm still in the day job which recently went full time, but one of the conditions was that I can take enough time off to do my writerly things. That would have been a deal-breaker for the job, and I'm so glad they came through.
Now, it's only about 3 months until the next conference... sigh.
What do you have coming up "writerly" wise?