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Monday, July 29, 2013

Shocking your World to Life by JC Hay

You’ve seen the arguments on-line, so I won’t bother going into the details. Certain entities have accused writers of science fiction romance (SFR) of being light on the science, to the point of leveling the term space opera (as though that were some kind of insult). Despite my pride at being lumped in alongside such luminaries as E.E. “Doc” Smith and George Lucas, I also felt a bit of sting. Could we create better science fiction worlds to contain our heroes and heroines? Could we, in a sense, bring issues out in our fiction, to better illustrate what happens to the human condition when the world changes?

I found a possible answer in an independent but much loved role-playing game from Joshua A.C. Newman – Shock: Social Science Fiction. I realized that a similar method to the one developed by Newman for creating science fiction settings with meaning could be adjusted to world-build better issues and characters into my SFR. Even better, it was generic enough that Fantasy and Paranormal Romance writers could also employ it.
Step 1: Define your “shocks”

Shocks are the “key concepts” that make your setting different from the modern world; Colonies on Mars, Vampires exist, Faster-than-light travel. You don’t have to think about how these pieces work right now. Indeed, your characters might not have any idea how they work, because the shocks are inherent to the world. Like a car, or the Internet, they are omnipresent. Because of this, they are also your “Free Pass” items. You don’t have to explain them, they just work. While there’s no limit, two or three shocks work well, and more than five stretches the reader’s belief. Write your shocks down across the top of a piece of paper, making each shock a column:

Step 2: Choose your “issues”

Here’s the part where we inject meaning into our setting. Come up with two or three issues you want to address (directly or indirectly) in your story. Issues are the hard questions – the things we can’t easily answer that directly impact your characters’ stories. These can be philosophical issues, such as ‘what makes us human?’ or they can be specific social issues from today (just looking at the news for 60 seconds gives us ‘is the Nobility relevant?’, ‘Are stand-your-ground laws moral?’, and ‘Is it acceptable to reveal government secrets?’)  Note that these are always worded as questions, and while you are likely to have an opinion, they shouldn’t be something that is easy to answer. Write your issues down the side of your piece of paper, creating rows that intersect with the columns:

Step 3: Place your characters

The real key to this method takes place here – pick an intersection between an issue and a shock. Your character exists where these two pieces interact. In the sample, I’ve put our hero, Navigator James Wellington, at the intersection of FTL Travel and What makes us human? This already sets up conflicts for him as a character – navigating at faster-than-light means being modified to be more than human, but is the gift worth what it has cost him? Other characters will view him as different from human, either greater or lesser, and his character arc is shaped by that interaction.

 For another example, in the film “Blade Runner” Rick Deckard exists at the intersection between “Human replicants are nearly indistinguishable from humans” (a shock) and “what defines us as human?” (an issue). The arc of Deckard’s story explore both sides of the argument, contrasted between the two (other) replicant characters Roy Batty and Rachael. Think about how the issue and the shock interact, and about your character’s relationship to both. This gives them an underlying connection to the world, and makes the issues meaningful to the story.

Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Paranormal Romance all deal with worlds that are different from the ones our readers inhabit. By tying our characters firmly into the underpinnings of our stories, we can increase the depth of our characters and make the world we’ve created for them more real to our readers. We increase our ability to add meaning, and give our stories the kind of impact that brings readers back again and again.

BIO:   JC Hay writes romantic science fiction and space opera, because the coolest gadgets in the world are meaningless unless you have someone with whom to share them. In addition to Romance Writers of America, he is also a proud member of the SFR Brigade, and FF&P. JC is steadfast in his belief that knitting is relaxing, that kilts are always appropriate, and that Deckard is a Replicant. You can find JC Hay on Twitter (http://twitter.com/j_c_hay), Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2915850.J_C_Hay), and on his (currently being re-designed) Web site, http://jchay.com.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Murder, She Writes—Kill Those Characters by Suzanne Johnson

Every author, early in his or her career, hears the old adage to “murder your darlings.” Generally, it means being willing to kill off favorite scenes when they don’t serve to advance the plot of one’s story.

It also should mean to be willing to take risks in plot and character. Burn it down. Kill them off. It’s like reader crack, addictive and water-cooler discussion-worthy. You think people are nuts over George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series and its TV spinoff “Game of Thrones” because characters look good in medieval wear?

No, it’s to see which character gets slaughtered next.

(Well, okay, it’s awesome storytelling, but GMMR is NOT afraid to murder his darlings—or ours.)

I always like to say that the only person in your novel you can’t kill is your point-of-view character, because then there’s no one to tell the story. In a romance, it’s your hero and heroine, even if you have other POV characters. And technically, since we write fantasy, futuristic and paranormal fiction, we can even kill off our hero or heroine as long as we still figure out a way to get the happily-for-now in there. (Vishous and Doc Jane, anyone? Although I still say he was robbed.)

Here are some places to consider killing off someone you love:

The climactic, epic turning point. This is the most common POD (point of death) in novels. Your main character has had that inevitable black moment—an epic battle when it looks as if all is lost, an ultimate betrayal, a final ramping up of emotion that will be turned around by the final, climactic turning point. It’s a really good time for someone to bite the big one—usually the villain or the person standing in the way of your happily-for-now. But if someone else gets taken down in the process, the stakes get ramped up even more.

The great swampy middle. You know…that eighty thousand words between your opening scene and your ending, what novelist Jim Butcher calls “the great swampy middle.” It needs a few turning points to get your plot from beginning to end; killing off a character is a great way to make story turns. And it shouldn’t be just any random character (that is true for all these examples—you’re killing darlings, remember, not nameless bit players). It needs to be someone the reader is invested in to some degree. I went on a corpse-count through my published novels, and in seven books, I killed nineteen characters. Two of them were strangers we got to know posthumously. Several were major characters. Two of them kinda got resurrected. There were about eight unnamed dead folks I didn’t count.

The red herring. If there’s a mystery involved in your story, as there are in many novels of all genres, you want to set up some false leads along the way. One way to turn your plot around (as well as your reader’s brain) is to kill off one of your chief suspects, preferably the one you’ve set up as the biggest red herring. The reader gasps, certain that Mr. Zippo was the murderer—but Mr. Zippo has suddenly gotten whacked in chapter fifteen. It’s why murder mysteries are so addictive. Readers love to try and solve whodunit, so kill off someone to keep them on their mental toes.

The inciting incident. I mentioned those two dead people in one of my books that the readers got to know posthumously. Their deaths set up the action for the rest of the book as the heroine tries to figure out why they were killed and what killed them (because she could tell it wasn’t human). And the part of the Mississippi River where they were found had been poisoned. And they were both wizards. And the mermen were involved. Lots of problems to solve, beginning with those two deaths.

Character growth. We do horrible things to our characters. I’ve burned mine with acid, impaled one through the shoulder with a sword, injected one in the stomach with poison, had another shot with poisoned-coated buckshot, burned down a town and forced all the characters to move underground, and branded a heroine—you know, like with a branding iron. (Now that I read this list, I’m thinking therapy might be called for.) Torture makes for good character growth. So does death. Losing someone a hero or heroine loves or feels responsible for is a great way to have a character make an emotional turn, whether it’s a sudden, unexpected loss, a slow, painful loss the character has to work through, or a guilt-inducing death caused by your protagonist.

As you write or revise your next book, think about death: how can it be used to help your characters grow? How can it advance your plot? Whose loss would really shake things up? Remember, no one but the hero and/or heroine are un-killable.

Everyone else is fair game to be a game-changer.

Suzanne Johnson writes the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series for Tor Books; as Susannah Sandlin, she writes the award-winning Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series for Montlake Romance. A longtime New Orleanian with a passion for gators and Garden District architecture, Suzanne currently lives in Auburn, Alabama, surrounded by cows (which are not nearly as interesting as gators). For imformation, please visit www.suzanne-johnson.com, find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorSuzanneJohnson, or on Twitter @Suzanne_Johnson. You can read the first chapter of her upcoming release Elysian Fields free at tor.com.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Art of Self-Actualization by Tigris Eden

Self-actualization, according to theorist Kurt Goldstein, is the motive to realize one’s full potential. It could be in your quest for knowledge, spiritual enlightenment expressing one’s creativity, or the desire to give to society. You don’t have to obtain all to reach this stage in your life. A self-actualizer is a person who is living creatively and fully using his or her potentials. I think it’s very important to do what makes you happy. Every day, I strive to reach my full potential in whatever activity I’m currently pursuing. Self-actualization means to me is I have to be willing to take my goals and aspirations to their fullest potential.  Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

With that being said, I’m repeatedly working on honing my craft until it becomes second nature, habit. That was my moment of self-actualization. Seriously, the light bulb went off for me. I had to remind myself that I couldn’t be a part-time writer, but a full-time writer. (Write something every day) That’s not to say I don’t have a day job, because I do. Everyone has their own goals, each goal is different. Your goals will not be the same as mine. Full time for me, means different things. Example, every day for the past year and a half I’ve made it my mission to write something every day. That for me is fulltime. It’s my habit, it’s my way of meeting my goal to become the best writer I can be.
Writing is a creative process, it’s an art form. We blend, shape, and control the process and flow of words. If done the right way, we can elicit emotion in our readers
When I think back to the beginning of my journey, I’m reminded about all the times I stopped to reflect on what was important to me. Reflection is key, and I think that being brutally honest with one’s self is important to that process. Another fact is what I’ve come to learn is self-fulfilling prophecy. No, I’m not going biblical on you, but one’s conscience can make or break a person. Positive reinforcement is key when wanting to become the next best thing. I hear people tell me all the time how hard it is to get into this business and to stay there and be productive. To that I say, bring on the challenge. Is it hard work? Yes. Are you going to doubt yourself at some point in the process? Absolutely. We’re human. Emotions can be our worst enemy or our best friend. The thing to realize is you must constantly strive to break the mold on yourself. Set goals, reach them, and then set new ones.

Creativity is genius. Literally. We all have a fantastical story to tell. We’ve all had true life experiences that was can draw from. Apply what you know and be receptive to learn more. Rinse and repeat. Be self-aware, and above all have fun.

My art of self-actualization is simple. Create, create, create, and create some more. Our stories are our creations, we mold them from the ground up and make them beautiful. When I go to my day job, if the muse hits me, I oblige it and write it down. I talk to my writing buddies it’s good to stay connected. After work I drive home in Houston traffic and think of ways to improve what I’m currently working on. I try and set a mini-goal every day. It could be something simple as edit 10 pages or write 10 new pages. I try to think of positive things to reinforce in my life. Work-life balance is important to me, and because I have two jobs, the day job and the writing, sometimes I get lost in the story and have to explain myself to my family. For the most part they are pretty understanding, but we have our moments. I know you all can attest to that. My questions to you are when did you become self-actualized and what are you doing to meet your dreams?

Tigris Eden, described by Ty Langston, is beloved mother, friend, cook, accountant, author, wife and weaver of stories long and short. Family, writing, music, and movies are her life. She aspires to be the best at what she does, inside and outside her circle of crazy. You can find her stalking her author friends on Facebook and twitter. You can also find her on her website at www.authortigriseden.com .

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My First Reader’s Conference, Ever by Terry Spear

I learned that a book seller wouldn’t be on site so we had to bring our own books. I had already paid $50 in shipping costs for prizes and book giveaways so I didn’t think that was a good idea to have to do the same for books for the book sale. So then it was: take clothes to wear to conference…or books to sell.

On top of that, they said we had to take cash or credit and all of this was on our own. Great.
I’m trying to move into the new millennium, but I feel I’m taking a crash course. I’ve been making Photoshopped covers, websites, blog all the time, know some html, create newsletters… publish books, ebooks, print books and audiobooks, yet I had an old fliptop phone and my Highspeed Internet was only .15 Mbps.  How do I know? I tested it.
So I have been paying for “Highspeed Internet” which was slower than the proverbial molasses. And I finally got a new service and it’s so fast, I have to learn how to use it. No more having to visit my kids just to use their Highspeed Internet! And the best part, besides that it is fast, is that it costs the same as I used to pay!
Now, back to unplanned book sales and how to accept credit payments--
Here is an easy way to accept credit payments through Paypal, only from what reviewers said, you can’t do it if you have a Samsung Galaxy phone. Which I have.
Or you can use a Square Register that apparently works for everyone pretty much, including my kind of phone:

So what works with promo? I love having book marks. I offer them on my website and ask for an SASE to send them, have them with me at all times to share if anyone asks about what I write, stick them in books that I’ve autographed at stores, and it just makes it easier to say—this is what I do, my website, and some colorful pictures that tell more of the story. But at least one reader conference told us not to bring paper or it will just be thrown out. So I made up some magnets: A Howl for a Highlander cover on some with “Find Romance in Paradise” on a sandy white beach and aqua water backdrop or “Have wicked fun in paradise” and the cover of Jaguar Fever on jungle background: Big cats need loving too. And a couple of Highland books on a magnet that says, “Hug a Highlander…or two.”

I usually don’t do candy, but I found butter mints that were in animal wrappers, so picked those up for conferences. I don’t know where I’ll be able to use them, but I’ll be on panels and the book signing, and a couple of games.

Here is a great place where you can personalize candy if you like to do that sort of thing. That’s also where I got the animal print covered candy.
I ordered some of the chocolate candy with a brown wrapper, gold print that says “Hug a Wolf! Terry Spear” Just for fun.
I brought along my jaguars to keep me company. Also perfect for branding. When people see me…or my jaguars…they will instantly think of wolves or jaguar shifters.
A fan and good friend of mine made up a jaguar bag and a wolf bag for me to carry all my goodies in! So they will be a great book drop for signings at all the conferences and to take my prizes and game stuff in to games. Oh, and the pot holders came from another dear fan and friend and I’m attaching a sign saying: For jaguars too hot to handle.
Last year at Anaheim, I had a lot of authors/writers oohing and aweing over my vinyl posters that I laid out on the table beneath my books for signings (Vistaprint.com). I wanted something more noticeable than white table cloth, stack of books, stack of book marks. And that’s what we need to do… do something to make us stand out!
Even if you aren’t published yet, always think: How can I brand my work? If I run across something that might be great help in branding the kind of work I write…maybe I should get it for a future venture.
I use these to blog about too. Not just for the conferences, but way before.
But no matter what you decide to do…have fun doing it! Always!


Bestselling and award-winning author Terry Spear has written a couple of dozen paranormal romance novels and two medieval Highland historical romances. Her first werewolf romance, Heart of the Wolf, was named a 2008 Publishers Weekly’s Best Book of the Year, and her subsequent titles have garnered high praise and hit the USA Today bestseller list. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry lives in Crawford, Texas, where she is working on her next werewolf romance and continuing her new series about shapeshifting jaguars. For more information, please visit www.terryspear.com, or follow her on Twitter, @TerrySpear. She is also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/terry.spear .

Monday, July 8, 2013

Conquering Fight Scenes (Part 2) by K.M. Fawcett

This is a continuation from June 20th’s blog post on Conquering Fight Scenes (Part 1) in which we discussed pacing, action-reaction, clarity/word choice, emotion, dialog, and the climatic battle. The following are more points to keep in mind when creating your fight scenes.

Characterization: How a character reacts to a confrontation depends on who he or she is, what’s at stake, and their attitude or philosophy about fighting. Are they aggressive or do they use force only when necessary? Knowing the character’s background is key. Is your character an experienced fighter? What kind of instruction does he have? What is his skill level? Someone with no training might fight back, but he won’t use complicated techniques an experienced fighter might use.

Keep in mind there are many distinct systems of combat practices, and each has unique emphases. A boxer fights differently than a karate man. A karate man fights differently than a grappler. A grappler fights differently from [insert your style of choice here]. Does your character have police, military, or combat training? Are they comfortable wielding a knife, a broadsword, a semi-automatic weapon, a death ray, or perhaps a magic wand?

Understanding your characters and their philosophy, their fighting system, and their skill level will allow you to write realistic fights scenes.
Setting: Location, terrain, lighting, and weather conditions are important to consider when planning your fight scene. Avoid describing the setting in detail, though, or your pacing will slow. Include only what will affect the fight. Your character probably doesn’t care if the dawn’s golden light casts a warm glow on his opponent’s pox marked face. However, he does care if the light--whether too bright or too dim--compromises his vision or depth perception.

Use the location to create unique fights. If your characters are outside a home, they can throw each other into the side of the house, a tree, a car parked in the driveway, the rose bushes, a swing set. This is your chance to create an exciting and unique fight scene. Have fun with it.
Is the terrain rocky, slippery, or wet? Unstable footing may change the way a person fights, or perhaps your characters slip and fall and have to continue battling it out on the ground. The character may also take note of his surroundings as he looks for an exit, added danger, or a weapon to utilize.
Improvised weapons: Just about anything can be used as a weapon. If you’ve watched a Jackie Chan Movie, you’ve observed many unique improvised weapons from ladders to bicycles to jacket sleeves. Why not make your fight scene unique too? Adding a little razzle-dazzle with an improvised weapon can make an ordinary fight scene exciting and memorable. First, think about where your fight takes place. What are some common (and perhaps some not so common) items available in your setting?
Let’s use the good old bar brawl as an example. What’s available? You’ve got all the old standbys: bottles, stools, chairs, tables, and pool cues. Maybe a pinball machine or a jukebox or a window someone can get thrown into. These have all been done before. Now…think of some unique bar items a character can use as a weapon. The glass tip jar, a roll of quarters from cash register hidden in a fist. What about using the neon beer sign’s cord to strangle someone? Think outside the box. Make a list of what might be available in any situation and then choose something interesting. Make your scene stand out.
Choreography: Do you want your fight to be a quick exchange of a few blows or an epic battle? If a character wants to sneak up on his victim and quietly knock him out, he might use a chokehold until the victim passes out. For more action and movement, you can choreograph a fight scene with punches, blocks, kicks, and throws. Or maybe your characters are weapon-wielding gladiators. The specific techniques the battle calls for will depend on the character’s training and skill level.
Pay attention to the characters’ distance from each other. If they are further away, they might use weapons or kicks for reach. When closer they can punch, block, and slug it out. If very close, they can uppercut under the chin, into the neck, or into the groin. Elbows and knees are good for in-close fighting. Maybe a character takes the other guy down and they start grappling (wrestling). Arm bars, locks, or chokes can be used either on the ground or standing. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.
Remember your fight scene must drive your story forward. The fighting must be within character and believable. If you aren’t sure something will work, get out of the chair, find a willing partner, and experiment with your fight choreography together.
 ~K.M. Fawcett

CAPTIVE (The Survival Race #1)

The last thing Addy Dawson remembers is a blazing inferno and freezing river water overtaking her lungs. When she awakens, Addy finds herself on a strange, alien planet, trapped in a cell with no doors, no windows-- and to her horror-- a naked warrior who claims to be her mate.

An alpha gladiator, Max is forced to breed and produce the finest specimens for the Survival Race, a deadly blood sport created by the alien rulers of Hyborea. To rebel means torture-or worse-yet Max refuses to become the animal his captors want him to be. But their jailors will not be denied, and soon Addy and Max find themselves unwilling players in this cruel game. Pushed to the limit, they will risk everything for the chance at a life free from captivity. And though fate brought them together as adversaries, Max and Addy will discover that when they're together, there's nothing in the universe that can stop them.

K.M. Fawcett writes sci-fi/ paranormal romances, and enjoys stories filled with adventure and strong, kick butt heroes and heroines. She holds the rank of Sandan (3rd degree black belt) in both Isshinryu Karate and in Ryukonkai (Okinawan weapons). She and her husband own Tenchi Isshinryu Karate Dojo in NJ. When not writing or working out at the dojo, K.M. is home with her two children and two cats. 
Contact info:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/km.fawcett?
Twitter: twitter.com/KMFawcett
Attacking The Page blog: www.attackingthepage.wordpress.com
My website: www.kmfawcett.com


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Holding the Line By Laura Bickle

Boundaries are a good thing. They serve to protect things that are new and delicate. We put cages over young tomato plants to keep them from being nibbled by the wildlife. We ask relatives and neighbors to call before dropping in. We learn to say “no” to events that clutter up our calendars and drain our time and energy.

It’s a harder task for some of us than others. I’ve been guilty of being a doormat in the past, allowing the tide of demands to wash over me, until I was thoroughly resentful. Learning to say “no” to people and things was a difficult process for me in my daily life.

Writing is no different. It’s a precious thing that deserves to be guarded from incursions. To be certain, most of the things that encroach upon writing are benign, like that pile of laundry that I really should attack before bedtime. That last volley of e-mails that we ought to finish for work. Facebook updates. The phone. Twitter. Television.

Writing can slide to the bottom of the to-do list, becoming the last thing I hope to accomplish before we fall into bed at night. Days slide into weeks without tangible progress. I let the easier things on my to-do list take priority. And also the ones that are more visible to other people. I’m somehow prouder of a presentation or a freshly-painted room than something that’s for my eyes only. There’s immediate positive feedback, a pat on the back right away. Progress on writing is so often invisible to the world, and it’s easier to mitigate the importance of it.

But it’s vital to protect the work in progress, especially in the beginning stages. A book, or a grain of an idea for a book, is fragile. I’ve got to plant it in a safe place. It needs the right amount of sunshine and water. I have to put it first on the to-do list – first thing in the morning, before it gets a chance to get pushed off.

I’m not much of a morning person.  I always dreaded the standard writing advice of getting up an hour early to get writing stuffed into a day. I’d rather pull the covers over my head and finish dreaming. Even though it’s common advice, it’s good advice. We do first what we deem to be most important. And I was letting writing drop to the back of the list, rationalizing that I’d get to it around midnight because I was a night person. More often than not, I’d wind up vegging in my jammies in front of the TV.

I had to learn to create not only priority boundaries, but also time boundaries. I have to force myself to sit in a chair and not surf the internet, check-email, or mess with other distractions. It’s only then that I seem to get the really good stuff done. And…it feels pretty darn good to have that to-do crossed off my list. The rest of the day feels lighter, sort of virtuous. Charged. Sometimes, I squeeze in an extra session of writing during the day because the momentum is so good.

And I have to defend writing in other ways, too. A new idea may or may not work. I need some time and space to explore it, so I don’t really talk about it. It’s too easily bruised and can wither under too much judgment and scrutiny. When asked, I’ll talk about it in the vaguest of terms: “Oh…it’s a YA story.” “I think it’s gonna be UF.” But I don’t really know. Not until it’s grown up, and I can see if it’ll become animal, vegetable, or mineral. Mostly, I don’t need anybody poking at it. I may decide to go through with the project, or I might not. I don’t know if it has the shiny yet. It may not make it past thirty pages. If so, I want to quietly bury it in the backyard without having to explain myself with a full post-mortem.

There’s a time for editing, critique, and the harsh polish of good scrutiny. But not until I’ve worked with it. Not until it’s grown up under my wing and I’ve had a chance to enhance its strengths and diminish its weaknesses. I don’t want to subject anybody to a first draft. As I work through a manuscript, I keep notes of things that need to be fleshed out or fixed. Once it’s complete, before it goes to any beta readers, I do a round of editing to repair the things I know need work.

That’s another odd thing about being a writer: defending the process. To outsiders, writing can seem like a really self-indulgent process, where not much seems to be happening. I get to close myself off in a room and stare at a screen for a long time. Kind of luxurious, hmm? Isn’t there a better use of my time? Shouldn’t I be going out with friends or scrubbing my grout with a toothbrush?

I’ve gotten much better about saying “no.” This is work. Just as much as any other. I have to respect the process and respect myself in doing the process. I have no problem turning down social invites by saying that “Gee, I’d love to, but I’m working.” And I am. I have no issues anymore dodging intrusive questions about what I’m working on or when I’m going to share it. “Soon.” “Someday.” “When it’s done.” “Not yet.”

So…boundaries. They’re a good thing. Because that tomato plant needs a cage to protect it from the garden nibblers. The nibblers are many and varied: time, guilt, demands from others. I’ve got to put these boundaries in place to allow the project to produce fruit. And that’s not going to happen if I neglect to water it or let other people pick at the flowers.

Someday, I’ll have tomatoes to show. But not yet.
Laura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science, and when she’s not patrolling the stacks at the public library she’s dreaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs (she also writes contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams). Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and a herd of mostly-reformed feral cats. Get the latest updates on her work at www.laurabickle.com.

Monday, July 1, 2013

RWA Conference…What to Wear? by Rebecca Zanetti

The RWA National Conference is coming up, and I assume there will be a few newbies attending.  This year will be my fourth year attending the conference, so I thought I’d throw out some tips.  Of course, if you’re like me, the first question you have is…WHAT DO I BRING TO WEAR?

Yeah.  There are tons of pitching and networking opportunities but hey, if you’re naked, you probably won’t want to pitch.  Or network. 

RWA has FAQ’s on its website and states that “business casual” is the norm.  I think this is a good start—but what exactly is business casual?  I’ve worked in a large law firm, a small law firm, and a local college.  Business casual is slightly different in all three.

First and foremost, be comfortable.  Based on the last few years, for the first couple days, you will see:

                                    40%     Dress slacks & blouses--slacks/button-downs for men

                                    40%     Skirts-long & knee length – lots of flowing flowers

                                    15%     Capri’s w/pretty shirts - slacks & golf shirts for men

                                    2.5%    Full suits

                                    2.5%    Jeans

A few years ago, there seemed to be more jeans than last year.  Most people seemed to be in skirts/dresses for women and nice slacks for men last year.  Also, if you’re pitching, you dress up more that day.  Skirts or nice pants are fine—the key is to be comfortable so you can concentrate on your book and the pitch.  (Also, have fun with this.  You get to talk about your book!!!)

At night there are publisher parties (you need an invite), chapter parties (FF&P’s is always a great one)—and I wear a cocktail dress. There will be some people in nice pant suits, but most will be wearing simple cocktail dresses.  Men seemed to wear either suits or dress pants with ties.  It seems these days that several of us are writing for more than one publisher, so you’ll see people party hopping…usually on Thursday night.

Then, on the last night there’s the RITA & Golden Heart Awards Ceremony.  This is the fanciest night of the conference.  You’ll see short cocktail dresses, long cocktail dresses, even formal dresses with boas.  Wear what works for you.  If you want to go all out—go for it!  You won’t be the only one, and there’s nothing wrong with a sparkly tiara.

Keep in mind that hotel conference sites often splurge on the AC.  Have a sweater or cardigan with you at all times…just in case.  I froze my butt off at the Washington DC conference—even though it was JULY in DC.  But in Orlando and in California, I was fine.  So, like a Boy Scout or vampire hunter, be prepared.

I hope this helps!

FORGOTTEN SINS, the first book in a new series by USA Today Bestselling Author Rebecca Zanetti, is available July 2nd.  He’s a sexy soldier who can't remember his past...and she's a determined woman fighting to forget. When they're thrown together again...sins from the past explode! Read more about Forgotten Sins here.