Tuesday, July 31, 2012

RWA Highlights


Available August 1st!
I got home very late Sunday night/early Sunday morning from the Romance Writers of America conference in Anaheim, California. I had a great conference, but am feeling seriously jet-lagged.  I got called in to teach early this morning and my brain was still in a fog (poor students--who knows what Mrs. Miller said? ;)).  But... no rest for the busy.  I've got two projects to finish up in August, plus a book coming out tomorrow (KANSAS CITY COWBOY) with several blog appearances to make this month.  And, I want to watch at least a little bit of the Olympics since I'm a lifelong fan.  So, with my brain on overload and my body too tired to function without caffeine, I'm opting to just share a highlights list.

But please, ask questions and I'd be happy to elaborate.  Or share comments.  And, of course, if you were lucky enough to be at RWA, I invite you to share some of your highlights, too.


So, in no particular order, here are some of the highlights of my RWA conference experience:

1.  Networking.  Hands-down, the best part of a conference to me.  The chance to get face-time with my editor and agent, plus connect with other writer friends to share the latest scoop/discuss issues/create strategies/have fun in invaluable.

Daphne Winner!
2.  I won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Best Series Romantic Suspense!  The finalists were all Intrigue books, so I knew it'd be tough competition, and I'd be happy with whoever won.  Of course, the pewter sculpture I won makes it doubly cool. 

3.  The workshop I presented with my buddies BJ Daniels and Delores Fossen went really well.  We were nervous that no one would come since it was scheduled for the very last time slot of the conference.  We had standing room only!  It was fun and info-packed and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  Thanks to everyone who came to see us.  And a special shout-out to Lena Diaz who moderated the workshop for us!

4.  I got to meet several online reader and aspiring writer friends.  Some of the regulars here, in fact.  I'm a hugger, so it was a treat to put a face to some familiar names and trade a hug.

5.  So many people asked me about our dog, Maggie.  I guess I've blogged and tweeted about our smart, sweet little toodle, that folks feel like they know her as well as my books.  btw, she has appreciated enormously all the tummy rubs and treats I was asked to share. ;)

6.  I roomed with fellow Intrigue author Jan Hambright. I've met her before, but it was fun to really get to know her.  We brainstormed some story ideas and career strategies, traded horror stories about snakes, and shared all the latest news on our kids.  Be looking for Jan's next book in January 2013.

7.  I tried sushi.  Actually, it was barely! seared ahi tuna tacos. To be honest, texture-wise, it wasn't my thing.  But now I know it isn't my thing. Loved everything else about those tacos, though. I believe Delores Fossen tweeted a lovely (not!) photo of my taking my first bite.

USA TODAY Bestseller
8.  I was humbled and flattered and psyched to have so many people (industry professionals, fellow authors, aspiring writers) congratulate me on hitting the USA TODAY Bestseller list.  Harlequin even featured my book in their Spotlight workshop, illustrating the kind of success an author can achieve writing series romance.

9.  The whole place was air-conditioned to my liking.  In fact, the main ballroom where the RITA's/Golden Heart awards were held, and we listened to keynote speakers, was a tad on the chilly side. But since this summer has been hot-flash heaven, I'll take the chill!

10. I ate some awesome food! (okay, not the tuna) Authentic Italian with my editor (I would have finished every last raviolo if I knew I would be dancing at the Harlequin party later) and delicious Chinese with the folks from eHarlequin.com.


So, those are some of the highlights from my conference. Leave a question of comment, and I'll put Maggie to work (she needs to work off some of those treats!) picking out a winner sometime tomorrow.  I let the winner choose her prize--either my current release, KANSAS CITY COWBOY, or something from my backlist.

Julie Miller

31 comments:

  1. Congrats on the Daphne award! Sounds like you a have fun time.
    Denise

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    1. Thanks, Denise! I did. So tired, but so fun!

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  2. Sounds like you had a great time. I am glad that your workshop was well attended. Tracked down the tuna pictures posted by Delores Fossen, of Jan Hambright not trying tuna, and you - very fun.

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    1. I need to track them down, too. Yes, Jan was very certain she wouldn't like the raw fish. ;) She claims to be a meat and potatoes gal. Very down to earth and funny.

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  3. Major Congrats on winning the Daphne! :)
    I am not brave enough to try sushi... my sister recently did and now enjoys some of the stuff.

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  4. Thanks, Colleen!

    I was pretty sure it wouldn't be my thing--I'm kind of funny about food textures (taste-wise, no problem). But I also have a thing about people being negative about something they haven't even read or tried. So now I can speak honestly. It was a really pretty dish, but not my thing.

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  5. Eek! Apologies for the grammar mistakes in the blog post. Definitely a by-product of foggy brain syndrome. ;)

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  6. Congratulations on your win!
    Sounds like you had a good time at RWA. Would love to attend sometime.
    I have tried sushi. I can take it or leave it.

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  7. I'm very curious about the Spotlight Workshop - any yummy tidbits to share?

    Congrats again on the win!!

    MarcieR

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  8. Thanks, Estella!

    You know, I'd eat those tacos again if they cooked the tuna! Loved the crunchy won-tons they used.

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  9. Congrats on the award!!! And for my part you deserve another for trying the fish taco....no way could I do it!

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    1. Thanks, Lilsis! I like expanding my horizons. Try to learn something new every day. But that's a lesson I probably won't need to repeat. ;)

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  10. Well, let's see, Marcie--there's a ton of info, but maybe I can share some highlights here. Also, if you want more detailed info on some of this, look on www.Harlequin.com. Especially under "Writing Guidelines" at the bottom of the page.

    1. All Harlequin covers will be rebranded in 2013. (aka changing cover design) Some starting in January; others throughout the year. Some lines are getting major overhauls; others, just a tweak. No word on Intrigue covers yet, although the rumor my editor heard is the fingerprint will stay.

    2. Blaze will be going back to 4 books/month.

    3. Superromance is going back to its original word count (85,000 words), making it the longest/most mainstream of the HQ lines.

    4. Carina Press will focus on single title stories. Harlequin Digital First is a new thing where anything from 10,000 words to ??? will be considered. Right now, they're looking to produce ebooks only.

    5. Harlequin Romantic Suspense is expanding back to 75,000 words, and the focus will be much more on the romance.

    6. Intrigue is staying pretty much the same--why mess with success? ;) They're looking to buy some new authors who can write 2-3 or more books a year for them.

    7. HQ is launching a new line called Harlequin KISS, which is pretty much Harlequin Temptation reborn. Not as steamy as Blaze, but certainly hotter than straight Harlequin Romance. Flirty, sexy fun.

    8. Harlequin Heartwarming is looking for submissions. Keep it sweet, but not Christian fiction (that's for Love Inspired). 70-75,000 words.

    9. They've bought Heartsong books (short, Christian romance) and will be producing those books DTC only (direct to consumer, not retail, so readers must subscribe) for now.

    10. They addressed what they can offer authors, as an option to self-publishing (i.e. years of editing experience, cover art, publicity/promotion, branding, etc.) although the royalty percentage wouldn't be as much as if you self-pubbed. Trading royalties for services. Plus, you get an advance.

    Not sure what else. There's always a lot of info to process.

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    1. That is a lot of info! Thank you so much for taking the extra time to answer.

      And true - why mess with success with the Intrigue line!

      MarcieR

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  11. Congrats on your award, Julie. I enjoyed Nanny 911. I love Mexican food, but I just can't wrap my brain around fish tacos, BUT I have never tried them. Ditto with sushi--just the look of it does not appeal to me. It sounds like you had loads of fun, but I'm betting you really enjoyed laying your head down on your own pillow in your own bed. That is the best part about coming home for me.

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  12. Too true, Kathy! My own pillow is my favorite. It's good to go away for a while (helps hubby and son appreciate me ;)) for a change of pace. Plus, it's vital to my career in many ways. But coming home and relaxing in my own space is great, too.

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  13. Julie, congrats on you award for Nanny 911. I really enjoyed that story. Maggie deserves all the hugs, belly rubs and treats. Glad you had a good time at RWA and enjoyed dining with your friends. Have never tried sushi and I don't plan on it as I just don't care for raw fish.

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    1. Thanks, Ruth! I suppose that's why there are so many different types of chefs and cooking styles--so there's something for everyone to love.

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  14. Julie, congratulations again on your Daphne win. And thanks so much for the shout out. Truly, I did very little as a moderator. But it was a total joy to be at your workshop. You, B J, and Delores gave an awesome workshop. I have pages and pages of notes. I hope you give the same workshop next year. It's such a good workshop.

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    1. Thanks, Lena! That would be great to have the opportunity to do that workshop again. It turned out to be a lot of fun for us, too.

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  15. Congratulations on the award! It sounds like you had a great time.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  16. Congrats Julie, you deserve it. Were you anxious about the results, like just before you find out if you passed an exam. It seems nerve wrecking the excitement of it all. I like all the stories you share about Maggie she reminds me about a lot my dog who recently died.

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    1. Yes, AviJ, I was anxious. I knew I was up against 4 other great Intrigues. Sometimes, it's just a matter of what a judge likes, storywise, because they're all well-written. But I'm so thrilled that something in my story spoke to them.

      And hugs on losing your family friend. That's never easy.

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  17. Thank you for sharing some highlights from the conference. Very good information you gave us writers 'hopeful' of being published one day. Congrats on your win!!!! I do have a question. How do you feel about newbies entering their work in writing contest? Worth it or waist of time? Thanks!

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    1. Hey, Brenda--thanks!

      Entering contests works for some writers, but not for others. I think you have to look at the contest and see what it offers to know whether they're worth the time/money/anxiety of waiting for results. For example, if you're looking for feedback on your work, then look for contests that offer written critiques and/or judging by published authors and trained judges. The Daphne unpubbed contest is an example of that. Or, if you think your story is in good shape, then look for contests that get your work in front of an agent or editor. Some contests offer a combination of both feedback and getting out of the slush pile--such as Harlequin's So You Think You Can Write contest or editor/line pitch contests at Harlequin.com.

      To be honest, for unpubbeds, I don't know that being a finalist or winning a contest has much sway with editors or agents, unless it's something pretty prestigious like the Golden Heart, Daphne, Maggies, etc. Those look great on a resume. Many writers have beautifully polished first chapters/synopses/whatever they enter into contests, but the rest of the book may not be there. However, I think if you looks at contests and your particular needs--getting feedback, targeting a specific publisher/agent judging the final round, etc.--then yes, it can be a great thing.

      As a pubbed author, I'll enter contests to get my books in front of new readers and/or to get that prestigious bit of news to add to my website and resume, put in press releases, etc. iow, a promotional tool.

      Good luck!

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  18. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraJuly 31, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    Congrats on the win for Nanny 911!! Thanks for sharing all your RWA highlights and the heads up that the covers are changing for all the lines. I hope they only tweak the Intrigues and all the Love Inspireds lines. I really love the covers as is but maybe this will be a good thing. Say hi to Maggie for me.

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    1. The first four lines they did (showed us samples) were Superromance, Blaze, Nocturne and Romantic Suspense.

      All the lines will have a stripe across the top of the cover (in various colors/styles) with their line name/logo in that stripe. The rest of the covers looked a little more mainstream to me. Of course, they were showing up lead authors/titles for each line, so maybe they won't all have the same gorgeous photography or bleed (the picture fills the entire cover, not just a section of it). But they'll all have the stripe. So I suppose the cover art could remain the same on other lines, but they'd expand/bleed the photograph and add the stripe. We'll see. I'm a little anxious about the new designs myself.

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    2. Thanks, Laura! Appreciate all the kudos, friends.

      And Maggie appreciates them, too! She's at the doggie spa today getting a bath and haircut today. It's too hot to let her curly hair get too shaggy. Not her favorite thing because of the water involved ;), but the staff all says she's a good customer and so easy to work with.

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  19. And the winner is... Brenda Rumsey!

    Congratulations, Brenda--Maggie nosed your name out of the pile and selected you as the winner.

    Send me an email with your snail mail addy, and let me know what book you want (KANSAS CITY COWBOY or a title from my backlist). Or, if you're a Kindle reader, I might be able to gift you a title that way, too. Just let me know.

    Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

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  20. I just seen the contest today ......but it's too late? snaps finger's..... missed it by thiiiiiss much! As alway's , Pam and Jenny!

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