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Conferences: Costs, Convenience & Confusion

Honey Creek Writers I met at conference!

Many writers new to the concept of conference-attending ask me, “Should I go?” My knee-jerk reaction is to say, “Yes, go. Definitely go.” But the truth is nothing’s that simple. I mean: Who will watch the kids while you’re away? Can you get the time off work to go? How much will this shindig cost you? And I don’t mean the registration fee. I mean, the whooooole thing. Conference fees are only a launching pad into hunderds, possibly more *cringe* for some authors to attend a conference. There are travel costs, airfare, gas, mileage on your car, rental car costs, a couple nights at a local hotel, and any meals, snacks, drinks not included in the registration fee. Oh, and the bar. The bars at the hotel locations make a mint at every conference. Not because the writers go lush it up, but because the hotel bar is the perfect spot to mingle and talk in a casual setting. Agents and editors don’t have to be “on” after hours the way they do while presenting or taking pitches. The bar is the place to be after the day is done. Trust me.

Conferences come in as many shapes and sizes as writers. They’re are the huge-humongous national events like RWA Romance Writers of America Nationals every year, RT Romantic Times annual convention, or Thrillerfest for crime junkies. Those conferences are gonna cost you several hundred dollars just to get in the door. If you live too far to drive like me, you can add several hundred more dollars in gas and airfare. See what I mean? But those aren’t the only shows going. National writers groups like RWA, Sisters in Crime (SinC), Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and others have regional and local chapters who throw a pretty great conference too. The costs are lower and the amount of one-on-one opportunity is higher. No, you might not rub shoulders with 37 NY agents, but maybe the 3 or 4 attending will actually have time to talk with you. It’s a trade off. Plus, attending an event close to home means meeting other people in your area you can network with. That’s important in such a rejection filled industry. Keeping your head up ain’t easy. I know.

If you’re still not sure a conference is for you, consider attending a local writer’s guild meeting, or a small workshop at a community college in your area. Take a chance, choose your level of investment and see what you think. I hope you will. And I hope every writer gets the opportunity to attend many many many conferences in their writing years, preferably at least one national show. It’ll be a trip you won’t forget.

Feature Friday: Grin & Barrett by Ruth Hartman

Grin & Barrett by Ruth Hartman

Remmie Grin is a self-sufficient dentist who has her life right where she wants it.

That is, until handsome, flirty Dr. Victor Barrett moves in next door. He constantly bugs her about selling her practice to him—but she’s not budging.

How can she convince him to leave her alone when all she really wants him to do is kiss her again?

Available on Amazon

A sweet romance with a feisty heroine. I’m a huge fan of feisty :) If you’re looking for a quick (under 200 pages) summer read to make you smile and remind you of all the fun and awkwardness you love about getting to know someone new…this is it. It’s adorable. And, I learned the author works in dentistry, so the details were spot on. Uber-super-cute story.

About the Author

Ruth J. Hartman is a romance author as well as a licensed dental hygienist. She writes sweet, humorous romance novels. Often times they revolve around dentistry, cats, or both. She lives in rural Indiana with her husband of 29 years, and two extremely spoiled, fat cats.

Where I Find Inspiration

I get inspiration for my stories from shows, music or other books I like – and sometimes a location I love. My sweet romances are inspired by romantic comedies and then placed into the delightful little town of Honey Creek. Bloom, for example, came from the fabulous Sweet Home Alabama. Written on Her Heart (March 2013) came from You’ve Got Mail. My first YA (releasing in April 2013) was inspired by a vacation I never got over. We spent a week on a tiny island off the coast of Virginia. An island off of Virginia. Did you know such a money existed? I didn’t, but I found it while googling, went straightway, stayed a week and it never left me. I loved the island so much, the YA didn’t get it out of my system. I just finished my first cozy mystery this year based on the same town. The Katy Perry song, In Another Life, came into play there too. I love that place! LOL My love of Stephanie Plum has inspired sassy characters. My love of Superman inspired my latest YA. Yeah. Superman. The once hit television series, Heroes is pricking at my brain lately too. I’m trying to put that one off. My husband thinks it’s too soon to go there. I don’t know. My mind is back in Honey Creek at the moment, so that’ll buy me a couple months, then I’ll revisit the Heroes inspired idea.

Many non-writers I know tell me to write about my family because they think my insane circus is funny. This is where writers and non-writers stare and blink at one another. (Memoir and other non-fiction writers aside). I write to escape. I don’t want to think about my family every minute of my life. I need out! LOL. I also write to help others escape, and jumping into my life is not an escape. I promise. It’s full of arguments and name calling, tater tots and juice box spills. Yeah. Spills. Tell me how THAT is an accident? Oh, and my favorite, outings where other moms give me the evil eye for my kids’ antics — not cool. No thanks.

I write because it gives me an outlet for my creativity, a place to hold my imagination. And something of mine. I no longer say “I stay home with the kids.” When people inevitably ask, “What do you do?” The funny thing about that is lemon faced people still pucker. They puckered when I said I stayed home and “didn’t work.” They still pucker when I say, “I’m a writer.” I guess haters gonna hate. *Lemon face* …….I said all that to say, writing gives me an identity and purpose separate from raising the kids. I know they won’t always be here. And then what? Bingo at the local church? LOL. Pass. I like knowing I have something that defines me outside of the kids, plus I hope they see my hard work pay off and learn nothing is impossible if you want it and work for it (Except flying. Jump off a bride and you won’t fly. Sorry kids. Try the roof, then you’ll have better odds. You still won’t fly, but you could get an overpriced trip to the ER and an itchy cast other kids will undoubtedly write rude things on). <– Motherly words of wisdom.

So, this turned out to be a blog post about like four random to barely connected things. That sounds about right. It’s like that in my head. Cobwebs. Bunny trails. Caffeine. Ya know.

What inspires you?

Why I LOVE Damon Salvatore – the TV one

My husband’s out of town and I’m chowing on drinks and snacks I don’t have to share. Am I reading? The obsessive, read a novel a day YA-aholic…am I reading? Nope. The minute I tucked the kids in, I went right to my stash of Season Three – The Vampire Diaries. Yeah, I’m like that. Captivated by man candy and dialogue that makes me alternate squirms and squeals. It’s delish. Love. Love. LOVE.

I’ve read all the books. I have to say it. They don’t compare to the show. The writing on the show is phenom. At least once an epi, I grab my seat and scream “Ohmahgawsh!” before pointing wildly at the screen. The writers blow my mind regularly. And I like it.

I enjoy all the characters for varied reason, even the horrible bad ones. I like them too. LOL. But two of my favorites aren’t the main two, Stephen and Elena. Nope. My top picks are Damon and Caroline. I’m not a Bonnie fan, no idea what’s happening there, I used to really like her – anyway.  I do enjoy the rest quite a bit. Still, no one gets me to LOL or freak out the way Damon does. Since Hubsy’s in L.A. (that’s actual LA I’m not abbreviating Louisiana or anything) and I’m here in Ohio rewatching Season Three, I want to talk about Damon. Yummy. Cuddly, Hope-he-don’t-kill-me, Damon.

I love him because:

1. He’s sexy. Let’s just get that out of the way. You’re all thinking it. They dress and make up and hair him all the way to  make-a-girl-sweat level. Yes. Damon Salvatore is wicked hawt.  Moving on now…

2. He’s the complicated bad guy. Because he is the more sensitive of the Salvatores. He hides behind his wall of bravado and sarcasm…and occasional murder – whatever. But he’s wounded <– I love wounded. Let me save you Damon! “pets sleek black hair*

3. He’s major badass. I said it. He plays the role. Dirty work included. We can always count on him to do what the softer, more “conscientious” characters can’t/won’t. I like that. Get it done. *wipes hands* *cracks neck*

4. I like how he’s written. Rodger Rabbit kick back. “I’m just drawn this way” LOL The Damon dialogue makes me drooool! How do they come up with this stuff?? I want to squeeze the writers. For serious. This is my main reason for Damon love. It all comes down to dialogue envy. What? I’m trying to be a writer!!! Lemme share some of the most awesome Damon lines:

It all started in Season One when he arrived – very dramatically with a crow/raven? As one? IDK but it was way cool and there was fog.

In the Pilot epi:

Stefan: Stay away from Elena.
Damon: I take that as an invitation. <– HA! It was my 1st Damon moment where I LOLd

Epi 2

Damon: I’m Damon, Stefan’s brother.
Elena: He didn’ tell me he had a brother.
Damon: Well, Stefan isn’t one to brag. *Cracks me up*

Epi 3 – The book nerd in me loves this one

Damon [on Stefan's journal]: Very Emerson, the way you reveal your soul. So many… adjectives.

His tongue -in-cheek style is *perfect*. He is awful and awesome all at once. I cringe and laugh. I like the sweet juxtaposition. I searched a ton of episodes after the first one for quotes to share with you. They were fabulous. Somewhat naughty. All delightful.  But, I don’t know how many episodes you’ve seen, so I can’t give you anymore :) I am soooooo mean! But seriously, the guy tell his true love this:

“You want what everybody wants….You want a love that consumes you. You want passion and adventure and even a little danger.” Uh, yeah I do! I think every line he says reverberates in the heart of women everywhere. I want to write that! Total “I’m not worthy!” moment. :)

But for real. Know the dialogue is rock awesome. I want it. I crave it. It inspires me to create a hero like him. He’s bad, but broken. Smoking hot and needing grounded. My MC won’t be able to resist the urge to fix what’s broken, strengthen what’s weak and work together with him to dominate the world – or whatever their story entails :)

I super-love Damon Salvatore.

Sweet Romance. Loud Woman.

I love a good romance. Who doesn’t? What I don’t love is a heroine who’s too demure. Too proper. Too snorey. When I sat down to write my first sweet romance, I knew I had to create a woman who would make readers smile. I mean, no one was getting nekkid in this book, so I had to amp it up another way, right?

I like exuberance. Big personalities make me smile. I wanted my heroine to have one. I was working up the details of a fun and sassy heroine when a story of Valerie Haight came to mind. She fell over a coworker? Literally fell on them. AT work.  LOL I still laugh. And she and I both get ourselves in messes by speaking first and thinking later.

I couldn’t help wondering what a decent hero might do if faced with the likes of Val and I? It was this course of thought that led to my first sweet romance heroine. Cynthia Potter was born.

In Bloom, my heroine Cynthia says what she means…at the moment… and causes a problem or two as a result. She’s feisty. I like her. She puts her foot in her mouth – a lot. Gets caught kissing someone she didn’t intend to kiss.  (Who hasn’t been there? LOL) And makes an embarrassing discovery of biblical proportions. ß that’s a Bloom joke. LOL Ahhh, she’s a woman after my own heart.

Writing sweet romance has opened up a whole new world for me. There isn’t going to be a big physical consummation to strengthen or solidify the relationship between her and the hero. So, the story has to captivate. The chemistry has to zing! The banter has to Zang! The “Kiss her already!” moments have to get you screaming at the pages. In a sweet romance, the whole book leads up to the all important confession, “I love you.” In sweet romance, the fun is in getting there.

Of all the Honey Creek sweet romances I’ve written so far (Only Bloom as released thus far. Love Blossoms releases in a few weeks and the final novella in December) Cynthia is my favorite heroine. She’s mildly embarrassing - like me. I get her. I love her. They say we drop a piece of ourselves in each MC. Cynthia definitely got the loud part of me.

If you’re in the mood for a sweet & sassy heroine , I hope you’ll visit Honey Creek. It’s a beautiful place where anything can happen. Kick off your shoes, relax into that porch swing and cuddle up to a steamy hot toddy. Taking a trip to Honey Creek is as easy as Amazon : ) See you there!


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