Archive for 'writing conferences'

Writers these days
by Jessa Slade on April 30th, 2012

Currently working on: Filling plotholes
Mood: Asphalty

This last Saturday, I attended Write to Publish, a writers’ conference organized by Portland State University’s Ooligan Press. (Conveniently, the Saturday Farmers’ Market was going on in the park next door, so I was able to stock up on brownies and chocolate chip cookies too. I suppose I could have gotten kale, but…) I had the chance to sit on a writing panel with a handful of romance writing friends and talk with aspiring authors about writing in general and writing romance in particular.

In my four years now as a published author, I’ve done a bunch of panels discussions, and funnily enough, it’s getting harder, not easier. The more I learn, the more I want to tell. I want to talk, non-stop, for days about the mistakes I’ve made, what worked for me, what the future holds. And usually, I have about ten minutes.

So I thought I should try distilling my thoughts down to three (of course three) main points when I talk to aspiring authors:

1. Learn everything you can. Take in information from every reputable source. (Learn from the disreputable sources too, just be more selective.) So much is changing in publishing that you can never know too much. Learning about writing and publishing is a full-time job — on top of the full-time job that is ATUALLY writing and maybe the full-time job that is your full-time job. But heck, nobody said it was easy.

2. Write. Write a lot. So much of writing is… well, writing. Everything you learn in step one is irrelevant if you don’t put words on the page and write write write.

3. Keep writing. There are hella distractions to the writing life. You’re a small business. You’re a promoter and marketer. You’re a public speaker and compatriot to other writers. And that’s just distractions in the writing realm. You’re probably also a friend, lover, spouse, parent, dog walker, whatever. But steps one and two above are irrelevant if you don’t keep writing.

Wow. It looks like this writing thing IS easier than I thought. The devil is in the details, of course. But I think those three points are all you really need. I could relay those is way less than ten minutes, even with a mouthful of brownies.

RT book fun! Plus giveaway!
by Jessa Slade on April 23rd, 2012

Currently working on: Catching up
Mood: Juggling (cue circus music)

I was in Chicago last week at the RT Booklovers Convention and missed my post because I was just having too much fun! (And also because I left the power cord for my netbook at the hotel and couldn’t download my pix. If netbooks could be powered on caffeine and giggling, I would’ve been fine.)


Leaving at o’mg’dark-thirty in the morning, I captured this thrilling shot of the full moon setting at the Portland airport. What? You can’t see the pale, fuzzy circle in the upper left hand corner? I couldn’t either because I was still basically asleep.


But I did get a better shot of Mt Hood which I always take on the way over. What? You can’t see the pale, fuzzy triangle in the lower left side of the photo? I guess I was still basically asleep. You gotta sleep as much as possible before RT.


We stopped at Anderson’s Bookshop in Downers Grove to sign copies of DARKNESS UNDONE which completely woke me up. Most of the bookstores in the greater Chicagoland area probably have signed copies now. So swing by your favorite bookstore.


Since I had a few free days before the convention started, we got to stop by the Chicago Botanical Gardens (which shockingly I’d never visited before) to stock up on some peace and blue skies before plunging into the madness of book world. I took a bunch of pictures that made me want to write a historical romance, with heroines sneaking out to meet their heroes in beautiful gardens. There would be roses tucked behind ears eventually, I’m sure.


When we got to our conference hotel, the architecture made me want to write more science fiction romance. Check out these great levels. Can’t you imagine a Logan’s Run-style adventure, jumping from floor to floor? There was definition a lot of running on my part since our room was located at the farthest possible point from the elevators. But we compensated by having a great view.


Over the trees, we could see downtown Chicago beyond a strange little temple. One night, we had a great crashing lightning-and-thunderstorm, which we rarely see in Portland. The rain reminded me of home…

But we didn’t spend much time in the room, of course, because it was books books books and more books!



There was Linnea Sinclair & Friends Intergalactic Bar & Grille party with treats and games and — naturally — books.

rt-speakersI sat in on a great discussion with (tiny from right) Jeaniene Frost, Charlaine Harris, and Nalini Singh with RT’s Morgan. (The photo is fuzzy not because I was half-asleep this time but because I was fan-girling too hard. That’s my excuse, anyway.) Three vampire writers telling us secrets about their upcoming books; and refusing to tell us secrets too, the teases.


We had themed dance parties every night — hip hop night, Scottish night, Night of Stars and more. I brought waaaaay too many shoes… and wore them all :)


The costuming even applied to mascots, such as Bob the Alien (who escaped from the Intergalactic Bar) and showed up in a kilt at the Scottish party. In case you were wondering what Bob the Alien has under his kilt, if you look very closely, you’ll see that he has anatomically correct candy. Shocking!

But RT isn’t all fun and games. Well, it’s all fun, but not all games. Authors are there to work! We had the Ebook Expo and Giant Book Fair to meet readers and sign books books book.
I signed books and trading cards and book bags and e-book covers and t-shirts and scrapbook pages, but some other authors found other things to sign…


What could be better than man chest (okay, man belly) signed with your favorite romance authors?

Don’t answer that quite yet.


The end of the party is always a little sad. I thought I’d grab a shot of the aftermath: snapped rubberbands, scattered pens, a few leftover books, empty candy wrappers (or maybe that was just my table). Definitely nap time.

But the party never really ends. I’ll be at Authors After Dark in New Orleans in August, where the party REALLY never ends. But also, I brought home 104 lbs from RT which I haven’t even unpacked — thus ensuring the party continues — and at least some of it should go to one of YOU.

So, if you’d like to get some RT-themed goodies, assorted swag, and — naturally — books, leave a comment about what you’re reading these days and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a bag.

I’ma leavin’ on a jet plane
by Jessa Slade on March 5th, 2012

Currently working on: Packing!
Mood: Yikes!

As you read this, I am probably in an airport, longing for free wifi, or maybe on an airplane in between Portland and New York which are REALLY far away from each other if you consult a map. (It’s also possible that as you read this, I am still packing since I’m typing this sorta late on Sunday night. But there’s no point going to sleep since I’m going to be up at OMG o’clock to be at the airport at 4:30 a.m.)

All this week I’m attending the PASIC industry conference where a bunch of writerly and publishery types get together and talk books. In New York! Heaven!

Darkness Undone Jessa SladeMy excitement is all the greater because book 4 of the Marked Souls DARKNESS UNDONE releases on Tuesday. While I am in New York! If ever there is a place to celebrate a book release, it must be New York. There are COUNTLESS (trust me, I tried Google mapping them) bookstores on the relatively small island of Manhattan; these people love their books. I’ll be stocksigning every copy of DARKNESS UNDONE I can find in Manhattan, so if you live there, off you go.

If you live elsewhere and would like a signed bookplate instead, please contact me.

Shameless plug:

Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
Powells | Indie Bound | Indigo | Blackstone Audio

Since I AM still packing (hey, it’s not even 11 p.m.!) I’m going to cut this short, but you’ll find PLENTY of my words as I’m guest posting all over the blogosphere this week and next, so please come say hey and comment for a chance to win books ‘n’ stuff.


March 5: I’m being interviewed at My Bookish Ways (hopefully sounding erudite and/or readable). And check out the fabulous review!:

“Jessa Slade has created a rich, dark, complex world and populated it with equally complex characters.”
My Bookish Ways

Coming soon:

March 6: Wherein I reveal that I am a terrible liar at Paranormal Freebies.

March 7: Sharing the love for nerd heroes with the Book Reading Gals.

March 8: The important of first — and second — kisses at Romanceaholic.

March 9: “Clothes make the man” (so where are my heroes’ shirts?!) at Seeing Night.

March 12: Seeing the good in bad guys at Good Choice Reading.

March 13: Pull up a chair, a book, and a cup of tea at Tea & Book.

March 14: Delving historically deep with Vanessa Kelly.

And if you missed them:

March 1: I’m at Book Monster Reviews today talking about the visual side of writing.

March 2: Mayhem at SciFi Guy! Choose your favorite weapon!

Overwhelmed & ranty
by Jessa Slade on February 27th, 2012

First of all, congratulations to JenniferK who won last week’s apocalyptic giveaway with a signed copy of Jessica Andersen’s DEMONKEEPERS! Thank you to all who commented. Now, on to the pointless rant:

Currently working on: Keeping head above water
Mood: Gurgly

Sometimes the universe piles on all at once, doesn’t it? Last week, I had an unexpected $500 car repair bill on top of annual car insurance and a DEQ trip with tag renewal coming due all at the same time. I’m thinking about getting a horse. It could eat the grass that is getting long enough to mow and the weeds that are in full bloom even though it is only February. Okay, I know horses are expensive; maybe I’ll get a sheep. People ride sheep, right? I’ve seen it at rodeos and it doesn’t look that much worse than what the mechanic did to me.

Along with “real” life, I have revisions due on one book plus a proposal on a new series intermixed with promotions for DARKNESS UNDONE and HOTTER ON THE EDGE. Next Monday, I’m heading off to New York City (imagine me saying that like in the salsa commercial: Neuuu Yawrk Ciddee!) for a professional author conference (which, unlike reader conventions, won’t have a pajama party — boo!) and I don’t have any shoes suitable for a wet spring walk across the half mile between my hotel and the conference hotel. (See earlier explanation of car bills to explain why I’m staying at the cheaper, farther-away hotel.) It’s possible I will be barefoot.

When I look at my schedule dispassionately, this list of complaints is perhaps worthy of the sarcastic Twitter hashtag #firstworldproblems. Yes, I realize in the grand scheme of things — heck, even in the fair-to-middlin’ scheme of things — my problems don’t amount to a hill of lentils (which are smaller than beans) and yet… I am hyperventilating.

Are one person’s problems smaller because someone else’s are bigger?

Not when they are MY problems!

Oh man, somebody gimme an attitude adjustment.

Keeping perspective is hard for most people; I think I’m not alone in that. My XY said my problem only seem bigger to me because I’m a writer and I like to have Tension and Escalating Stakes and Multi-Stage Explosions. I said to him that with Dialogue like that he gets no Mid-Point Love Scene. (And if he mentions getting a real job, I will make him my Token Red Shirt and that will be that.)

Still, he is right about me getting worked up to the point I’m no longer functional. So I tried to listen to one of my meditation CDs, but honestly it only made me want to break something. Not exactly calming. When I get in this mood, it’s better to just go with heavy metal rawk god screaming guitar solos so I can scream along.

Here are three phrases guaranteed to set me off (I have no idea why I am providing the universe with more ammo, but whatever):

  • This too shall pass.
  • God only gives us what we can handle.
  • Be careful what you wish for.

Any of those leaves me sputtering so hard my knee-jerk smartypants remark machine goes offline. My own defense is to shriek like a guitar amplifier feeding back. Eventually, I collapse into a angrily sobbing puddle.

I’ve read conflicting studies about whether indulging in emotional breakdowns helps or not. One study found talk therapy that involves the participant reliving a trauma can retraumatize the victim. But another study found  people who swore viciously while subjected to painful stimuli were better able to endure the pain. Ranty blog posts fall somewhere between those two studies, I’m guessing, but I don’t know if the outcome make me better off or worse.

But hey, it got my blog post done ;)

Since it’s Monday, I think you all should vent too. What’s burning you up? Do you have a way of handling life’s stresses, lentil sized or bigger?

Introducing Maggie Mae Gallagher
by Our Guest on August 12th, 2010

[Note from Jessa: I met Maggie Mae at the Romance Writers of America conference in Orlando and fell in love with her logo :)   She was such a powerhouse, moving through the conference like a woman with a mission, I couldn't believe she didn't have a half dozen series published in her wake.  I knew we had to have her here so we could say "we knew her when."  Thanks for guest posting with us, Maggie!  (BTW, all, Maggie told me she's a blog virgin; this is her first guest post. So I do hope you'll say hi!)]

Sunday morning dawned bright and early after the big awards gala. My father drove in from Tampa and met my roommate and I for breakfast before ferrying us off to Orlando International Airport. When he asked the question what did you learn at the conference, my brain was overloaded and hyper-caffeinated. I looked at him like he was speaking to me in tongues. It took a few days for my system to calm done from the experience and truly digest all that happened.

Here’s what I learned at Nationals:

  • Amazingly enough my favorite authors are people too. People who put their pants on one leg at a time.
  • The stupendous solidarity and support offered to RWA members at all levels was overwhelming. It helps validate our sanity when we are having arguments with out characters at three in the morning. Because now we know that other writers do too.
  • That yes, one can have far too much rubber chicken.
  • For writers who are pre-published, such as myself, getting a thumbs up and encouragement from writers we consider our literary gods will be something we  remember our whole lives.
  • Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz and Sabrina Jeffries are just as entertaining in person as their books!
  • That I am entitled to a fan girl moment. Thanks Barbara Vey for being such a good sport!
  • Friends should not let friends shop alone at the literacy signing. During the signing I forgot the bookaholics anonymous mantra, “We do not need to own every book we see.”
  • For next year, ship all my books before the rush on Saturday.
  • That yes, you can have a second fan girl moment when you receive your shipped box of signed books!

So much information, one tiny little brain.

Nationals is unlike anything you will ever experience. I am thrilled I had the opportunity to attend. I applaud the hard work and dedication of the RWA Board pulling off the nigh impossible task of relocating the conference. Whether a newbie or an old pro, it’s worth every cent. I highly recommend attending a conference of this magnitude at least once. I’m already looking forward to Nationals in the Big Apple. A chance revisit the friendships made this year and an opportunity to make new ones.

See you in New York!
Maggie Mae Gallagher

From Maggie’s website, a blurb on her someday-fingers-crossed book:

Born into the nightmare realm Earth has become, Alana Devereaux was raised battling the demons destroying our planet. As a Cantati, it was what she had been bred to do. When humanity’s final defenses crumble, Alana will become the last hope for our survival. Sent back through time, reeling from all she has lost, until she meets the mysterious stranger who fights demons almost as well as she does.

Gaelen Cormac, an exiled Fomorian Fae prince, pulls her into the chess game being played across the globe with the winner taking Earth as their prize. Alana must wage a deadly battle with all the forces of Infernio, even as she wages a dire campaign within her heart.

Alliances shall be forged, ancient enemies shall rise and Alana will be forced to choose. As the last Cantati, she must decide whether she will be humanity’s salvation or its demise. She is…Anointed.