Pre-Nationals: The Golden Network Retreat, Literacy Signing, and More

Update on Nationals:

Whew! Busy so far!

Wednesday was an all-day retreat for The Golden Network, which is a chapter filled with Golden Heart finalists. It was exciting to meet everyone from this year and past years. At the end of The Golden Network retreat every year, there’s a “boot up” ceremony, where anyone who is published that year (and, therefore, no longer qualified to enter The Golden Heart) is “booted up” (and out) of the club — to much applause, of course.

Cherry Adair gave the keynote address to the room of about 80 as we sat at round tables, and she was funny and terrific:

Since Nationals is in California, there was a “Hollywood stars” theme for the retreat this year, with sunglasses for everyone, Hollywood star coasters that you could write your name on, goodie bags of treats, lots of star decor, etc. (The theme along the lines of “Your Future’s So Bright, You’ve Gotta Wear Shades.”) So cute.

There were two great panels, one before lunch and one after: Editors and agents Jessica Alvarez, Laura Bradford, Debra Dixon, and Sarah MacLean joined Cherry Adair on one panel to critique first pages out loud. That was really enlightening, to see how first pages might move them to ask for more or not.

A second panel of agents and editors Alicia Condon, Jessica Faust, Angela James, Kevan Lyon, Alexandra Machinist, Shauna Summers and Tessa Woodward spoke after lunch, answering questions about the industry.

All around, it was terrific. I enjoyed talking to some of the Firebirds at greater length, too, during the breaks and lunch.

From there, I whisked over the Hilton across the street to meet my mom and sis-in-law Denise, and we had a quick early dinner/snack at the Hilton, then walked over to the Convention Center, where the literary signing was.

We saw Susan Elizabeth Phillips:

Nora Roberts:

And so many more (Jayne Ann Krentz, Kristan Higgins, Robyn Carr, Jill Shalvis, Nalini Singh, Christina Dodd, Brenda Jackson, the list goes on and on). It was great. We signed up for raffles, got lots of books signed, took some photos, and just had a great time. (Fellow Firebird Colette was showing us some of her best “stalker” moves, too.)

Then it was back to the Hilton for a refreshment break, and I parted ways with my family (they went back to hear the raffle winners while I hoofed it back to the Marriott for an agent appointment).

I met with an agent informally about my manuscript. She’d read it in the last month, and liked it, but had some ideas and suggestions and wondered if I wanted to hear them. (Of course I did!) So we met at Starbucks and she walked me through her thoughts and ideas. It was great to talk with someone in the industry about how my book might fit in somewhere. She was the third agent I’ve had a real conversation with, and all their feedback has simply been invaluable to me. (I had been so uncertain I was even on the right track, but they’ve been assuring to me when I need to be assured, and have pointed me in the right directions.)

After my meeting with her, I ran over to one of the ballrooms (8:30 now) and went to a “First Timer’s Orientation,” which was helpful to figure out how to navigate all the workshops and events for the next couple of days. And I met a couple more Firebirds who had just flown in — one from Australia.

After that, I was wiped out. I headed to my car, drove home, ate a quick bowl of cereal then crashed.

I needed to get ready for the next day … which is actually the first official day of the conference! (Yikes! Tired! And blisters already. …)


Pre-Nationals: The Golden Heart Finalists’ Meet-Up

(Maybe this should be called “The Firebirds take over P.F. Changs’ patio.”)

Tuesday night before RWA Nationals, The Firebirds got together at P.F. Changs in Anaheim. It was so fun to match Facebook avatars and pen names to real faces and real names! I kept walking up to everyone, staring for about half a minute, and then yelling “Debbie!” like I was some contestant on a television game show. I’m sure I looked like an insane person.

It was great fun, though, and a terrific chance to meet everyone in person.

(Next I’ll try to memorize what category everyone writes. …)

Next up (tomorrow) is The Golden Network, a retreat for all Golden Heart finalists from all years, plus the literacy signing and more. …

The Firebirds Are Landing!

It’s three days before RWA Nationals starts, and Firebirds are landing in OC!

“The Firebirds” is the name we chose for our class of Golden Heart finalists, the class of 2012.

There are about 60 of us in about 10 different writing categories (YA romance, Regency romance, romantic suspense, contemporary, etc.) — all different ages, all different steps of the publishing journey, all different states, and even some from different countries. (One woman is coming from Budapest, one is an ex-pat in India, at least two are coming from Australia, and at least one from Canada.)

We’ve already become close on our email loop, emailing each other every day since we finaled.

We’ve shared stories of what we said or did when we got “the call” that we’d finaled (I especially liked the story of the finalist who answered the phone naked!), where we live, who are kids are, how long we’ve been writing, and where we got the idea for our GH manuscript.

We’ve written every day about agents we’ve talked to, editors who’ve approached us, leanings toward self-publishing, and fears of giving pitches in person. …  Continue reading

Your Place To Recharge

Near Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe, Nevada; photo by L. Sanchez 2012

Sometimes we need to get back to a place to “recharge.” And, for me, Tahoe always feels like that place.

I’ve been traveling there since I was a pre-teen, with my parents and brothers. Chris came with my family once, when we were about 18. And once Chris and I got married, we went back about five times with the kids in various stages of their growing up (from “wearing” Nathan on a backpack and hiking through Eagle Falls, to taking our nephews on river-rafting trips). It’s always been a great place to take kids and family.

For me, though, Tahoe has an additional allure – that “recharging” sense.

I will always remember being a teenager and sitting on the balcony of the place we always stayed at, early in the morning, all by myself. I’d bring a book and a hot cup of tea, and it would be so quiet there on that balcony: with just a few birds chirping and the sun coming through the pine needles. No one would be awake yet, and the only rustling sounds would be chipmunks or birds, and you could sit for minutes at a time and hear absolutely nothing. There would be a cool crispness at that early hour, even in the middle of summer, punctuated only by rays of warming sun coming through the branches, and you’d breathe that crispness in through your nose with the sharp, clean air. That scent of pine trees, combined with kind of a musky scent of sage or some low-growing shrub, along with the smell of the warming pine needles on the ground, would just fill your whole soul with peace. Continue reading