2014 National Book Festival

For the first time (ever?) the National Book festival was held not-on-the-mall. So we traveled extra Metro stops up on the new Silver Line (this is probably only significant if you live in the DC area: we have been waiting FOREVER for the Silver Line to open!) to the Washington Convention Center.

Washington Convention Center

The new venue seems to work. Here’s a summary of what appealed to me.  Please bear in mind I am transcribing these ‘quotes’ from my scribbled notes in combination with juggling a camera. If I don’t have the wording exact, don’t hate me! It’s the good intention I’m aiming for.  If you’d like to see the recordings of the author video webcasts or audio podcasts, go to the Library of Congress website.

Kate Dicamilo, the Library of Congress’ 2014-2015 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, kicked off the Teen ‘pavilion’ (I could not get that word out of my vocabulary!) to a full house.

Kate Dicamilo

Her MG book Flora & Ulysses stars a squirrel! She’s writing squirrels, too, (see under my name in sidebar if that nut fell too far from the tree –>) and I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know it. *hangs head* But seriously, it’s because the bookstore closed in my town and I now have to travel to get to one. But back to the event. I was right on an aisle, and the dance in the kids’ line-up for questions is so fun, and funny, to watch.

line 1line 2line 3

They are all so nervous, and patient!

 

Because the teen and children and picture book ‘pavilions’ were located on one floor instead of across the mall from each other, I popped in and out of the three, easily seeing the authors on my list.

Peter Brown

Loved Author/Illustrator Peter Brown’s talk, especially his aside answer to a question about networking; He attends the KidLitGroupTherapy meetings in Brooklyn.

Brian Collier

Brian Collier was so strong and emotional in presenting his wealth of work. I’m paraphrasing, but this struck me: “The best of me still lives in you if you do your best.”

Susan Stockdale

Loved seeing the process on Susan Stockdale, nature picture books. Featured art included pages from Bring on the Birds:

Susan Stockdale 1Susan Stockdale 2

Susan Stockdale 3Susan Stockdale 4

 

 

Makes me want to paint!

  Meg Medina

Meg Medina – “We’re every age we were before.” And, how she writes: “Not with an outline. Ever.”  Here I’ll give a shout out to the ASL Interpreters. I’m not hearing impaired, but I have a guess they are pretty accurate.

Meg Medina and ASL interpreter

Also, Meg’s an advocate of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.

Anne Ursu

Anne Ursu was a new fantasy MG/YA author to me. “I feel like I was created by children’s books.” And “I don’t see the point of limiting what kind of stories you can tell.”

I now have Breadcrumbs on my TBR list.

Kendare Blake

Kendare Blake! I love Anna Dressed in Blood, perhaps one of the only horror stories I’ve read and I read it by mistake. I told her that afterwards and how much I enjoyed her horror books and she was good with my confession. Kendare knows her writing is going well when it scares her when she is safe in her chair.Her reaction to a teen asking her: “What is it like dating a horror writer?”

Kendare Blake 2

She’s married and doesn’t date much, but advised”If your date isn’t troubled by your choice of discussion topics, then you should be troubled!”

And lastly, in a change of genre I popped in on the Culinary Arts ‘pavilion’ to see Carla hall. I love The Chew, and Carla was every bit as on and real in person as she is on the show.

Carla Hall 2

She was funny and wise: “People are afraid to fail. Unless you are willing to fail at something, you aren’t going to get good at it.”

Carla Hall

“Follow your heart. Sometimes that changes. The world will conspire against you. You make a way to do it. Don’t let anyone tell you no. There is power in the yes.”

NatBookFest poster

Great day. Great inspiration!

My RWA14 Conference Round-up

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What’s it like to attend a conference with 2500 other writers? I can only speak from my experience with the Romance Writers of America National conferences:

Exhilarating, educational and exhausting.

San Antonio, TXThough a week has passed since the latest—the 34th—held in San Antonio, my head is still reeling with new ideas. Most writers leave very inspired to implement learned skills and techniques. Because I followed the conference with visiting relatives, I’ve experienced more of a reflective period. I’ve caught up on sleep and listened to additional recorded workshops—ones I couldn’t get to because so many are offered—and thought about what I heard, rather than diving into writing again.

When I first joined RWA, I attended craft workshops to improve my writing, and career Elevator wrapssessions to learn about the publishing business. Over the last three years, workshops targeted at self-publishing have increased. This summer, many well-known names in independent publishing presented, appeared on panels, or offered question and answer sessions: Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, Marie Force. Hugh Howey was in attendance. (I’m going to be very embarrassed if he presented and I missed it!) Three authors, Eliza Knight, Angie Fox and Deanna Chase, presented ‘How to Quietly Make Six Figures in Indie Publishing’ to a mid-sized room packed with women in business casual sitting in every seat and on the floor.

I wish I had taken photos of the audiences. Romance writers, including more men than in previous years, are re-thinking their roles in book publishing.

Industry-focused presentations included: ‘What Good is an Agent?’, ‘Is There a Case for Traditional Publishers and Agents?’, ‘Indie Success with No Publishing History’ and ‘The Hybrid Author.’ iBooks, Amazon, Kobo, CreateSpace, ACX and Audible held open houses.

Jennifer Jakes and Kimberly Killian of the Killian Group

Jennifer Jakes and Kimberly Killian of the Killian Group

I can’t even begin to list the workshops on social media and marketing. I took advantage of sessions such as how to vet an independent editor, formatting, developing your brand, and cover design.

Tiffany Yates Martin presenting 'Get It Edited'

Tiffany Yates Martin presenting ‘Get It Edited’

I talked and questioned and listened. In every venue—especially the bar—an excited buzz about publishing strategies lurked. Not just getting an agent, or submitting to an editor, hoping a story would be picked. But how to manage your work in the clouds of digital press.

It’s a growing publishing world out there, writers. And the instruction book is open!

Finally…Release of Free Agent!

Woo-hoo! JC and I became critique partners after Free Agent’s reads were complete, so I have looked forward to the start of Marissa’s story, especially after reading the next two installments. This urban fantasy is a wild ride of twists and fairytale problems!

FACover

When it comes to crafting happily-ever-afters, the Agency is the best in the land of Kingdom. The Fairy Godfather Grimm can solve any problem—from eliminating imps to finding prince charming—as long as you can pay the price…

Working for Grimm isn’t Marissa Locks’s dream job. But when your parents trade you to a Fairy Godfather for a miracle, you don’t have many career options. To pay off her parents’ debt and earn her freedom, Marissa must do whatever Grimm asks, no matter what fairy-tale fiasco she’s called on to deal with.

Setting up a second-rate princess with a first-class prince is just another day at the office. But when the matchmaking goes wrong, Marissa and Grimm find themselves in a bigger magical muddle than ever before. Not only has the prince gone missing, but the Fae are gearing up to attack Kingdom, and a new Fairy Godmother is sniffing around Grimm’s turf, threatening Marissa with the one thing she can’t resist: her heart’s wishes.

Now Marissa will have to take on Fairies, Fae, dragons, and princesses to save the realm—or give up any hope of ever getting her happy ending…

 ~~~

A Texas transplant to the Pacific Northwest, JC Nelson lives with a family and a flock of chickens near rainy Seattle. Visit JC Nelson at:

Blog | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads | Pinterest | Free Agent on GoodReads

On release day only, JC is offering a Rafflecopter giveaway of 1 Signed Print copy of Free Agent, 4 electronic copies of Free Agent.

But I wouldn’t wait! Buy Free Agent now on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

~~~

Want to read a chapter?  Here’s the first!

Free Agent by JC Nelson

One

The New Year’s Eve countdown told me I had five minutes until the ball drop. That gave me six minutes until somebody got killed. I spotted the shoplifter in line at the theater and worked my way across the street, through the teeming crowd. She had no idea what she was wearing, which made her both stupid and dangerous. Stupid was dangerous enough by itself.

“Marissa, I might remind you of the time,” said a man’s voice. It came right out of the store window beside me, the dry voice with its not-quite-English accent. He watched me with critical eyes.

“I got it, Grimm.” I walked along the theater line, head down.

His image followed me, reflecting from the windows and even the brass banister knobs that held the velvet rope. “I’ll believe that when you actually do.”

Call it women’s intuition, or maybe the slippers she wore tipped her off, but the shoplifter turned and looked right at me. Our eyes met, and she knew why I was there, if not who I was. As the crowd surged forward, she ducked into the theater, disappearing into the throng.

“God Damsel-it.” I spat out the faint taste of soap. “Doesn’t count, not a real curse.”

“Watch your language, young lady. Only proper women live happily ever after. Now, go get those slippers back.” Grimm appeared in the ticket window, beckoning me on. Read the rest of this entry

Off to RWA 2014

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The Romance Writers of America National Conference is this week and I’m looking forward to workshops, the trade show, meeting with friends, and especially finding new books.

 

Talent To Burn

Today’s the day my friend and writing chapter mate releases her debut novel!

laurawelling_headshot

Please welcome Laura Welling to the ranks of published authors with Talent To Burn, the first in her Urban Fantasy series Hidden Talents. It’s my favorite kind of hero, a con man who’s now on the right side – but aren’t little slips into the past inevitable? He’s determined to help the heroine, they both have paranormal gifts, and best of all, the characters return in book two! I hate letting go of people I’ve come to love. Laura has ingnited a winner of a book!

TalentToBurn72web

TALENT TO BURN by LAURA WELLING

Passion burns. Betrayal scars.

Cat Wilson grew up a misfit among misfits. She couldn’t read minds, see the future, or start fires like the other Talented kids inside the shadowy Grey Institute. Finally she ran, leaving her beloved brother, Eric, behind. She’s been running ever since.

When she learns that Eric has escaped, leaving deadly fires in his wake, Cat is torn between fear for her brother, and unwanted attraction to the messenger, a charming, Talented ex-con who lives for the next adrenaline rush.

Jamie Murphy is sure his group of outcast Talents can help Eric—if they can get to him before the cops or the Institute, and before he kills again. Cat’s aversion to Talented bad boys is like a wall of ice, but to his surprise, he doesn’t have to use an ounce of his own unique gift to find a way through it.

Yet locating Eric is only the beginning. In the battle to pull him back from the brink, Cat must find the courage to unlock a fearsome Talent of her own. And pray the psychic backdraft doesn’t destroy everyone she loves.

~~~

When’s she’s not writing, Laura Welling wears a lot of other hats: mother, farmer, and software engineer. She’s Australian but lives in the United States on a horse farm, which she shares with her family, an over-sized dog, and various horses, cats and chickens. She is a compulsive reader of all genre fiction, who started reading before the age of two, and never stopped. She wrote her first “book” when she was five—a spy story, which has since been joined in a bottom drawer by various other early attempts.

Talent To Burn was inspired by some of her favorite stories: Anne McCaffrey’s science fiction novels, Marvel’s X-Men comics, and The X-Files television series.

Laura can be found at her blog, Twitter and Facebook! And Talent To Burn is available pretty much wherever you like to download:

Samhain | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play

Update on The Writer’s Voice

I didn’t get to the next round, but it was a fun run at the start. So many great queries and first pages! I’ve learned lots by reading them and watching what the team leaders picked. Annette T. Dodd has a summation of the picks on her website.

Per past participants’ advice, I’m keeping my query up (next post below) because some folks are being kind enough to offer comments. Next date in the contest is May 22 to see the polished queries and then watch as the agents vote.

I won a spot in The Writer’s Voice!

I’m thrilled to announce my name was picked via a lottery for The Writer’s Voice Blogfest!

Several blogs have posted how the event works, but Mother. Write. (Repeat.) has been a go-to for me for years for agent interviews, and that’s where I read about the contest, so here’s Krista’s link. (Thanks, Krista!)

Per the instructions, today I post my query and first 250 words. Here we go!

Dear Agent:

PASSAGES is a 108,000 word adult science fantasy romance set on a failing planet being revitalized by a population of electorgs—humans with electronic implants.

After an attack scrambles his memories, Quinn learns he’s the ousted electorg commander of the workforce repairing his planet. In his place, an alien look-alike is stripping the planet of a mineral the natives need to survive and deactivating electorgs along the way. To save the planet and his fellow ‘torgs, Quinn needs allies, but the only person he trusts is the soft-skinned, empathetic ‘torg woman who gave him shelter. He installs a bodyguard program in her system, telling himself she’ll be safe, and that he only wants an ally, not a lover.

Becoming the Commander’s guard 24/7 puts Eve’s life at risk—and not only from alien attack. As a community counselor, she became very involved with the natives and broke an electorg taboo: she fell in love and bore children. Her lover is deceased, but if Quinn’s superiors learn of her forbidden relationship with the natives, Eve could be deactivated. Still, her connection with the natives could hold the key to defeating the aliens, and if she doesn’t trust Quinn with the secret, her native-born children will die. With attraction tightening between her and Quinn, Eve must brave physical and emotional danger to save her children, her love, and the air they breathe.

PASSAGES won the NJRWA Put Your Heart In A Book Contest, and finaled in FF&P’s On the Far Side Contest and in KOD’s Unpublished Daphne du Maurier Contest. I have served on the board in my local RWA chapter, and participate in several special interest chapters and a critique group.

Following is my manuscript’s first 250 words. Thank you for taking time to consider my work.

Sincerely,

Laurel Wanrow

 

Chapter One

Quinn

The city of Cavvert

Another morning, another motel room, and my brother was still missing.

I slung my travel pack over my shoulder and shoved the lapels of my field jacket together against the chill mountain air. My cheeks stung beneath my beard, and my eyes watered, reminding me I’d best brace for both the cold and another search of another town. I strode the length of the old motel building to the street, where my grandmother waited, bundled in her tan jacket over travel clothes.

“Morning,” I called. “What backwater town are we off to today?”

Graen wasn’t listening. I followed her gaze past the quaint eateries and shops surrounding the snow-patched green. Across the town square, a line of people waited alongside flatbeds of shipping boxes at the Conducer station.

Four helmeted Blackguards emerged from the station’s door. A fifth waved the travelers aside while the guards in their black polymer armor marched to the nearest flatbed. Each hoisted a box and carried it back inside, their stun swords swinging from their weapon belts.

My gut twisted at the sight of so many electorg guards. “They’ve requisitioned this passenger station for cargo transport.” I shook my head. “Trust a ‘torg to put equipment before the needs of the natives.”

“Quinn, hush,” hissed Graen. “We’ve got to get past those people.”

I dropped my glare from the Blackguard barring the transporter station’s entrance. “Electronic humanoids aren’t people. Not anymore.”

 

Thanks for reading and following this exciting blogfest! It’s being tracked on twitter at #TheWVoice, and I’m @laurelwanrow

So not to bury my entry, I will update all the fun sites here: Brenda Drake has posted The List. Stats have been compiled by Annette T. Dodd at her website. (I am the only Adult SFR!) Happy reading!

#WeNeedDiverseBooks

Back in March I attended the NOVA Teen Book Festival. Ellen Oh was one of the speakers on the identity panel and today I stumbled across the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign she is spearheading. Please check it out on twitter or facebook. What an exciting thing to happen for literature, for people of all ages!

More information on the campaign is covered in this Publishers Weekly article.

How to move a creek

Laurel Wanrow:

I have been MIA for several months on my blogs. In early September a disastrous flood event hit the small Colorado town where I own a cabin built by my Dad in the 1950’s. Since then I’ve spent half my time in Jamestown participating in recovery efforts. Read more about Jamestown and how you can help: http://jamestownco.org

Originally posted on Jamestown Connect:

Here is a handy guide on how to move a creek as documented in photographs by Laurel Wanrow.

Step 1: Place big yellow thing in post-Jamestown flood creek and start digging

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Step 2: Tidy-up post-flood creek

1a

Step 3: Dig channel for new creek

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Step 4: Divert water to new creek

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Step 5: Grade the road where the post-flood creek used to be

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Step 6: Welcome town-folk to the new Ward Road with creek back were it started before the Jamestown flood

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View original

2013 Put Your Heart in a Book Contest

Congratulations to my fellow finalists in the 2013 Put Your Heart in a Book contest! This event for unpublished writers is sponsored by the New Jersey Romance Writers. The winners will be announced at the NJRWA Conference October 18th.

Historical
Sacha Devine – The Ring
Laurie Benson – A Proper Scandal*
Patricia Kratina – The Viscount With a Wicked Wink

Paranormal
Nadine Mutas – Blood, Pain, and Pleasure
Mary Ann Worden – Heart of Atlantis
Laurel Wanrow – The Farm *

Short Contemporary
Leigh Raffaele – Brewed For Love*
Debora Noone w/a Delsora Lowe – The Rancher Needs a Suitable Wife
Catherine Cervantes – One More Time

Single Title
Pamela Gibson – Perfect Balance
Lena Pinto – True Partners*
Catherine Vignolini – Poser

Young Adult
Amy DeLuca – Four Bullets
Caroline Dunsheath – Last Wishes
McCall Hoyle – The Thing With Feathers

*denotes NJRW member

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