Monday, July 28, 2008

Touring and Packing (the redux)

GoogleGoogleI've been in SF exactly 38 hours now. I've brunched at Mimi's Cafe, taken an ethusiastically guided tour of the Google campus in Mountain View, taken a drive-by tour of the famous spots of San Francisco, and supped on haute Vietnamese cuisine at Bong Su in the SoMa (South of Market) area of San Francisco, couple blocks from the RWA conference hotel.

GoogleGoogleThe secret techie inside me was thrilled by the tour of Google. What an exciting place to be. A simple idea. A complex problem. An enormously successful business plan. Et voilà. A dynamic company is born, thrilling users, developers, and investors alike.

Today I'm to lunch at the Samovar Tea Lounge that has it's own Internet TV channel, blog, in-the-news, podcasts, iTunes, in addition to a food-and-tea pairing menu. Sounds üaut;ber delish. Dinner's to be at Chez Papa Bistro. I could eat the menu. Looks très, très magnifique, n'est ce pas? After being in foodie heaven, it's going to be back to packing for my move to the hotel, with the promise of Nepali food next Sunday before I get shipped to the airport and home.

[Edited: OMGosh. My palate's permanently exploded. At the Tea Lounge, I had the Russian Chay Platter with zavarka black tea from the samovar.]

My conference day starts bright and early tomorrow when I meet Diane Gaston for breakfast and a tour of the city, followed by lunch with Amanda McCabe and more touring with them. Then I meet my roomie at the Marriott, check-in, register, and stuff bags for Wednesday's Historical Romance Writers' Conference. Then there are drinks with the extraordinary duo of Waxcreative Emily Cotler and Abi Bowling (recommended by Avon editor Lyssa Keusch, and dinner with Kalen Hughes. At which point, I shall repair to the bar to recoup and regroup before heading to the room to collapse in preparation for four intense days of conferencing.

RomanistasSo, Romanistas: If you're on your way to RWA, are you excited or panicking or both?

What is the one takeaway you're looking forward to from the conference?

If you're at home and reading this blog, what is the one thing you want me to look for and blog about for you?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Packing, part 3 of x: Almost, Almost

By Saturday one o'clock, we'd just returned from a birthday brunch, my bag was totally full, with more clothes to go, and tragically, no business cards in hand yet. Staples messed up the order thrice.

The third time, I had two hours to go before heading out to the airport and more clothes to iron and stuff, er, lay out carefully, into the one suitcase Virgin Airlines allowed me to carry for free. So I made do with the glossy (isn't matte!) photocopying with lighter inks, crammed clothes into suitcase, and sniffled on the ride to the airport.

Now, I've been security-screened and am posting from the airport gate.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Packing, part 2 of x: Panic

Romance Writers of America We're at T-2 days now for me since I'm heading down to San Francisco early to stay with my bro and sis-in-law. Papers are scattered everwhere in the bedroom. Clothing's folded, bags decided upon, but the shoes are still en route from Zappo's. (I know, I know, I may live to regret the shoes, but hey, I'll atleast live and look good, right?). I'm busy printing workshop handouts. It's confusing to know what I'll need, what I can skip. I'm double-booked in some cases. And I'm volunteered up to my eye-balls. Life's très complicated. So...PANIC!

And while you're panicking, do try to avoid these fashion failures, I beg you.

Fashion Failures Fashion Failures

Monday, July 21, 2008

Packing, Part 1 of x: Contemplation

Packing for RWA 2008Uh-oh-oh-oh-oh!!

I can't even begin to contemplate how I'm going to fit it all in one suitcase. Toileteries and sundries, still to go.

Hubby's suggestion was this bag. Hubby was dispatched to purgatory, roaring with laughter all the way.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tag Friday aka Three Things Meme

From TheDiaperDiaries.wordpress.comAll good things come in threes, right?

So, here's this meme (a definition), courtesty of the très fun Lil Bee.

1. What are the last three things you purchased?
- Plum-colored purse
- Littlest Petshop toys (no, you may not ask me about this at National)
- Self-sticking bandage to tape fore and middle fingers (nope, not about this either)

2. What are the last three songs you downloaded?
- None, because I'm the last person on earth who doesn't own an i-something. My sis-in-law is so horrified, she's going to gift me her iPod Shuffle (w00t!)

3. Where were the last three places you visited?
- Great Wolf Lodge (indoor water park and magical themed resort)
- Portland (family)
- North Carolina (see earlier blog)

4. What are your three favorite movies?
- Pride & Prejudice
- My Fair Lady
- Kolya

5. What are your three favorite possessions?
- Cell phone
- USB memory stick
- Laptop

6. What three things can you not live without?
- Books
- Books
- Books

7. What would be your three wishes?
- Clean drinking water for everyone
- Compulsory vaccinations for all children
- Happiness

8. What are three things you have not done yet?
- Sold a book
- Met a writer with a burr up her backside
- Read a book that changed my life profoundly

9. What are your three favorite dishes?
- Nutella (what? that's not a dish? I challenge you prove otherwise!)
- Princess cashew chicken with tons of broccoli
- Roast chicken (yes, I'm a choco-carnivore, contributing to the 1.5 billion chickens consumed, according my dad the encyclopedia)

10. What three celebrities would you want to hang out with the most?
- Judi Dench
- Helen Mirren
- Angelina Jolie

11. Name three things that freak you out.
- Heights
- Public toilets
- Crunchy cockroaches

12. If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
- (A?) Loyal Friend

13. Name three unusual things you are good at.
- Laughing at every joke (don't believe me? try me!)
- Putting both feet into mouth at the same time
- Meeting the most wonderful people everywhere (not that I have anything to do with it; they just appear)

14. What are three things you are currently coveting?
- A small pocket camera with the resolution and ease-of-use of The Brick
- Trip to Tibet
- The first sale

15. What three bloggers would you like to tag?
- This blog does not discriminate against, nor does it distinguish between, commentators. All are welcome.

Aaaaand, go!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

RWA: To Do or Not To Do

Everybody in the universe is writing about what you should definitely do once and many times over and what for heaven's sake you shouldn't do ever. The passing of your manuscript under the stall door to the editor while she's doing her business falls in the latter category. Hiding in your hotel room by your lonesome also falls in that group. However, hanging out at the bar and being the life of the party (so long as you don't dance across the table-top or accost an agent in the restroom) is very much in the former category.

If any of the following pictures apply to how you feel about National, then my super sekret tips, that you'll find nowhere else, guaranteed, are for you.

1. Spanx, Body Glide, and you are going to be close intimate friends by the time the Awards Night is over. Body Glide will prevent bandaged, blistered feet you have to hobble on. If you must use a band-aid, use moleskin. It stays on better and will not cause another blister. Spanx and Flexees for the obvious reason—containing those bulging pounds you'd written into your new year's resolutions.

2. The bathroom becomes the bottle-neck to getting you to events on time, if you're sharing a room. So, if you can fit it in, bring a hair dryer, or a dry shampoo for those events when you don't have time to wash, blow-dry, and style hair.

3. Hotels set their air-conditioning to stun to prevent the proliferation of body odor. Weather in San Francisco is changeable and on the cooler side. So, prepared to be dressed in layers. A jacket, sweater, or a shawl works well in most cases.

4. Carry a small water bottle. The air-conditioning can also dry out your eyes, sinuses, and throat. If you wear contacts, carry a spare pair and your glasses. Wearing the latter is better than not seeing.

5. Don't forget an under-eye concealer and an acne buster, if you have the tendency to break out from stress, lack of sleep, and make-up.

6. Attend a workshop given by an agent or an editor. Don't approach them at the close of the workshop when every person sitting on the panel gets mobbed. Wait for an opportunity to present itself later. When that happens, walk up to her and say, "I attended your workshop this morning." Then you can follow it up with a "thank you for giving it" or "this is what I learned" or "I have a question that I hope you could answer." This gets the ball rolling, allows you to connect, and then the opening is there if you want it. I used sentence number one. It didn't get me a contract, but it got me over the fear of this agent as an entity. She was warm and personable.

7. And here's the lucky seventh tip: Have fun. Sounds obvious doesn't it? But, is it on your schedule? No, I didn't think so. Last year, I was so grimly determined to make every possible workshop I could, I trotted to and fro rooms missing people everywhere. They later reported, I was being a devoted student. Perhaps. But I was being a poor networker. After all, what's more important? You can buy the tapes. You won't have the chance to relax and share a few laughs with people for another year.

Cinderella's ShoesHow many pairs of shoes (22, if you're Tawny, pounds that is) are you taking? Do you think everything that you need to take and bring back will fit in one suitcase? How do you recognize an agent or an editor at the bar? Most rarely choose to wear their badges?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Grandfather and his Chimney Rock

After a long hiatus, here's a blog about an old man smoking a rock. I'm teasing. Grandfather and Chimney Rock are mountains in the Blue Ridge Range of the Southern Appalachians, which is where I was over the long weekend (and week) in May.

Every Memorial Day weekend, we get itchy feet. Spring semester's almost at an end. Winter's over even in Seattle, though wet gray days won't be over until after the Fourth of July. So we flee to warmer, sunnier climes. Along with the natural beauty, Charlotte and Blue Ridge promised a chance to meet dear friends from college and a dear, dear friend I would be meeting for the first time.

First the mountains...

Blue Ridge RangeGrandfather has the distinction of being home to a privately-owned biosphere and a swinging bridge that's more than a mile above sea level. Imagine yourself standing on swaying, creaking wooden slats, like a boat at sea, with spaces in between the slats and merely two horizontal bars on the sides. Blue Ridge RangeNow, imagine the bridge suspended between two rocks. Finally, imagine looking down and seeing the tops of fir trees 100 feet below. The experience is surreal, as is the view of the slate gray-blue lines of the Blue Ridge mountain range. For 65 years old (if one human year is akin to one million mountain years), Grandfather sure is a spry host. Sixteen different natural communities, seventy rare and endangered species, 200 types of birds, and 12 miles of backcountry trails ensure that visitors are suitably entertained.

Chimney RockChimney Rock was privately-held by the Morse family until two years ago. "Chimney Top," "Groundhog Slide," "Inspiration Point," Nature's Showerbath," and "Exclamation Point" are some of the places along the Skyline Cliff Trail that you would recognize, if you'd seen Daniel Day Lewis (ooh!) in The Last of the Mohicans. First, we had a chance to ride in a 26-story elevator blasted through the center of a solid granite mountain. Then we stumbled from rock to rock, panted over steep steps, and squeezed through the Wild Cat Trap. Phew! for ice-cream that turns your tongue electric blue.Chimney Rock

Sierra Club founder John Muir wrote to his daughter Helen about his summit climb of Grandfather: "I couldn't hold in, and began to jump about and sing and glory in it all." Fear of starting an avalanche kept me from acting in kind though I sure wanted to.

[Chimney Rock, NC Hwy 64 Exit 71-A,
Grandfather Mountain, NC Hwy 221 & Blue Ridge Pkwy,]

Now on to the reason for this post...

Our heroes and heroines always have friends. It's through these friends that, as readers and writers, we get to know our main characters better. In doing so, we also explore the nature of friendships and their essential importance to our very being.

I enjoy corresponding with friends, be it hand-written letters, postcards, blogging, texting, or twittering. My first pen-pal (a rather anachronistic word, isn't it?) is now a 27-year-old friendship. I'm still in e-mail contact with my kindergarten friends. I'm just (ouch, Diane) so not a phone person!

I have made some of the most wonderful friends in the romance community since my first entrée via Squawk Radio in 2005-ish. Most of these people I haven't even met yet.

PJ and her famous chocolatesPJ and her famous chocolatesSo, when a chance came up to meet one such amazing friend in person on our trip to Charlotte, I jumped at it. She's PJ. She drove across state lines. She hand-crafted chocolate that's far superior to Godiva's and brought it with her. And the three hours that I spent in her company were over in an instant. I have missed her ever since...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Historical Conference 2008

[Edited 7/17: I replaced the former tentative schedule of June 26, with the newly released one of July 16.

Edited 7/18: Kalen Hughes is leading a museum tour to Lacis Textile Musem.]


Lacis Textile Museum outing on Friday, Aug 1. Kalen Hughes says, "Meet in the lobby of the hotel after the Connie Brockway luncheon. We will walk up to the train (BART), buy tickets ($6.60 round trip), and head over to Berkeley's Ashby Station. The shop/museum is right across the street. Note: This place is amazing. If you like books or do needlework of any kind, be prepared to take a hit in the pocket book (the museum is free though)."


The Beau Monde and Hearts Through History chapters are holding a joint conference on Wednesday, July 30, a day before National 2008 swings into full gear in San Francisco.

Schedule of Events

7:45 – 9:00AM
Breakfast & Registration & Annual Meeting
Golden Gate A2-A3

9:00 – 9:40
Keynote Speaker: Jocelyn Kelley (aka Jo Ann Ferguson): The Quest for the Holy Sale
Golden Gate A2-A3

9:45 – 10:40
Workshop Session One

10:45 – 11:10

11:15 – 12:10
Workshop Session Two

12:15 – 1:15
Golden Gate A2-A3

1:15 – 2:15
Workshop Session Three

2:15 – 2:25

2:30 – 3:25
Workshop Session Four

3:30 – 4:30
Tea and Silent Auction
Golden Gate A2-A3

8:45 – 11PM
Soiree with Dancemaster
Golden Gate B2-B3

Workshop Session One
9:45 – 10:40

Sierra F
Medieval, Tudor and Elizabethan Clothing
with Jessica Cohen and Cathie Berte
With over 70 years of re-enacting experience between them, these ladies know their stuff. Join them for an interactive clothing demonstration and discussion of just how the clothing of these eras worked.

Sierra E
My Lady's Boudoir
with Candice Hern
Join author Candice Hern for a show and tell with her collection of fabulous Georgian-era antiques.

Sierra C
Women of Ancient Rome
with Judy Ridgley
What was it like to be a woman in Ancient Rome? Judy Ridgley will take you on a trip through the sisterhood of Roman wives, mothers, daughters, and priestesses.

Sierra G
Black Powder Weapons Through the Ages
with black powder expert Gordon Frye
Re-enactor and film consultant Gordon Frye with share his expertise on the history of black powder weapons, and he'll be bringing in actual guns and swords so you can see how they worked!

Sierra H
Sell that Historical
with Kensington editor Hilary Sares
& Michelle Buonfiglio from Romance: B(u)y the Book
Where the genre is and where it's going! If anyone knows, it's these two women. So if you're looking to sell or interested in what is selling, this is the workshop for you.

Sierra I
Women's Property Rights in England (~1770-1900)
with Courtney Milan
Is the will your plot hinges upon legal? Explore this important and obscure topic with the Beau Monde's resident legal eagle (and bring along your own scenarios for vetting!).

Workshop Session Two
11:15 – 12:10

Sierra F
Georgian and Regency Clothing
with Kalen Hughes
Join author Kalen Hughes for a live demonstration of clothing of the 18th and early 19th centuries (if we're very lucky she'll even have a male model in full regimentals!). "Officers!!!" Kitty and Lydia vibrated with excitement in P&P.

Sierra E
Characters of the Wild West
with Paty Jager
Meet exciting characters of the West: The Rancher, The Soiled Dove, The Lawmen, The Gunfighter, The Entrepreneur.

Sierra C
Historical Medicine and Illnesses
with Scott Moore
Join medical historian Scott Moore for his presentation on all things medical, and how to research this topic for yourself.

Sierra G
Medieval and Renaissance Food
with Cherylyn Crill
Join re-enactor Cherylyn Crill for a tasting workshop of period foods (must be pre-registered).

Sierra H
Life as a Roman Centurion
with Robert Garbisch
See the empire through the eyes of a citizen. Re-enactor Robert Garbisch will share with you his unique perspective of life in the Roman Empire as a centurion.

Sierra I
Another Time, Another Place: Transporting the Reader with Your Historical Romance
with Terry Irene Blain
Historical romances should transport the reader to another time and another place. This workshop will cover a discussion of all the elements that make a historical romance historical, including research and how to integrate your information in to the frame work of you story.

Workshop Session Three

Sierra F
Victorian Clothing
with Moira Knowlan
A live demonstration of Victorian clothing (with and emphasis on understanding the layers and undergarments).

Sierra E
Great Estates of Britain, Part I: Roman to Elizabethan
with Victoria Hinshaw
Have trouble picturing just what your hero's estate looks like? Join author Victoria Hinshaw for a tour of the great estates of Britain.

Sierra C
Sex Through History
with Delilah Marvelle
Join debut author Delilah Marvelle for the a frank discussion of the naughty side of history from the Middle Ages to the Edwardian era.

Sierra G
A Gentleman's Tipple: Georgian, Regency and Victorian Beverages
with Kalen Hughes
What's the difference between Whiskey and whisky? Sherry and sack? What does Raspberry Shrub taste like? Join author Kalen Hughes and find out (must be pre-registered).

Sierra H
Q&A about Ancient Rome
with the Members of Legio X Fretenis
Have a question about Ancient Rome that nobody seems to know the answer to? Now is your chance to ask the experts. Members from Legio X Fretenis.

Sierra I
Arms and Armor
with Steve Moffat
Join re-enactor and professional armorer Steve Moffat for a reprise of the armor workshop he gave to DreamWorks for Shrek III. Steve will be bringing along example of armor from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. What to know just what happen when your hero falls wearing full plate? Here's your chance!

Workshop Session Four
2:30 – 3:25

Sierra F
Paranormal Historicals: How to Make Them Work
with Traci Hall
Join author Traci Hall for a look at the ways Christianity absorbed Pagan beliefs as a way to draw the people into the `new' religion.

Sierra E
Great Estates of Britain, Part II: Jacobean to 20th Century
With Victoria Hinshaw
Have trouble picturing just what your hero's estate looks like? Join author Victoria Hinshaw for a tour of the great estates of Britain.

Sierra C
Panel on Historical Horsemanship
with Sophia Nash, Shannon Donnelly, Kathrynn Dennis & Gordon Frye
Join our panel of experienced riders, authors, equine veterinarians and historical cavalry consultants for a bit of lecture and a lot of Q&A on this important topic.

Sierra G
Kickshaws: Regency & Victorian Refreshments
with Kalen Hughes
Quaking Pudding and Blanc'mange ahoy! Join author Kalen Hughes for a taste of Regency and Victorian era refreshments (must be pre-registered).

Sierra H
Roman Hand-to-Hand Combat
with the Members of Legio X Fretenis
Members of Legion X will take you through hand to hand combat and answer questions about what works and what doesn't when describing close-in fighting.

Sierra I
Making Your Historical Characters Come Alive
with Megan Frampton, Amanda McCabe & Andrea Pickens
Just because you're writing in a distant time period doesn't mean your characters should be distant to your readers. Make your characters come alive through dialogue, attitudes, description and actions, while still remaining true to the period.

Workshop Tracks

Ancient Rome
Time Line
An Overflow Track

Please note this is a work in progress and is still open to changes. If you have questions, please email The Beau Monde president kalen (at) kalenhughes (dot) com.

Scriptscene RWA Conference

Scriptscene RWA presents a Mini-Conference

Wednesday, July 30, 2008
10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
at the San Francisco Marriott (the RWA conference hotel)

DON'T miss this special opportunity to meet and learn from Hollywood professionals. Register now, seats are limited! Three incredible speakers will share their experiences from many years in the Hollywood trenches.

10 a.m.
Registration & networking

10:30 a.m.

10:40 - 11:10
Annual Chapter Meeting

Workshop Session One

Leighanne Haddock will present "From Script to Screen: The Art of Bringing Your Script to Life." Set Decorator Ms. Haddock studied Interior Design at Southwest Texas State University. Since moving to LA, she's worked as a Production Designer/Set Decorator in the Art Department for indie projects, and as a Buyer in Set Decorating for big budget companies such as Dreamworks, Columbia Pictures, and Warner Entertainment. Her film and TV credits include Alias, Bones, Invasion, Disturbia, Kite Runner, and Enchanted.

12:00 - 1:30 p.m.
Lunch Break (on your own)

1:30 - 2:45
Workshop Session Two

James Dalessandro is an author and veteran screenwriter. Since its publication in April, 2004, James Dalessandro’s 1906, an epic novel of the great San Francisco earthquake and fire, has become “a publishing sensation,” appearing regularly on Northern California Best Seller Lists for nine months. Mr. Dalessandro has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered, The Ronn Owensradio show on KGO radio, and twelve regional television stations. Warner Brother’s Films began production in 2005 on a20$150 million film version of 1906, from a script also written by James Dalessandro. He'll talk about, "Novels, Romance, Hollywood: ADAPTING YOUR IDEAS TO FILM (And Surviving Hollywood)."


3:00 - 3:15
Share the Dream Contest Winners Announced

3:15 - 4:30
Workshop Session Three

Marilyn R. Atlas is an award-winning producer and personal manager. Her topic, "How to Fall=2 0in Love with a Feisty, Voluptuous Dame: A survey of the spunky women in screwball romantic comedies from the 30's... to today's wan, pliant size-2 rom-com heroines" will provide an analysis of the transformations required of the men who win their heroines’ hearts --and how these values are a reflection of the zeitgeist. Also covered in this discussion of the devolution of the rom-com are: the changing prospects of Movies-of-the-Week, the names that greenlight rom-coms, general advice to writers about their relationships with their agent/manager, and what writers’ creative, networking and business responsibilities are.

And if that isn't enough, we have two sponsors for this exciting event. The Writer's Store is our main sponsor, and Final Draft is our co-sponsor — AND both are offering door prizes, discount certificates and more!

The price of admission is:

$10.00 Scriptscene members
$20.00 RWA members (non-Scriptscene)
$25.00 to join Scriptscene AND attend the mini-conference.

Victoria M. Johnson is the mini-conference coordinator. For more information, visit

Please forward to RWA loops.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sneaky Presidential Candidate Bears Watching...

My nomination as presidential wanna-be has worn out its welcome on this blog. So I'm taking the video off. I know, I know. It was über cool while it lasted. But how about something a little more on-topic now?

Friday, July 4, 2008

My Photo

Here's my photo so folks can recognize me at National.

[Edited 7/9: Added one more...]

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Rebounding from Defeat

This is a short follow-up to Monday's Write and Write, and then Write Some More. Thanks to Krista Mercer who forward me the article from Wall Street Journal that talks about perseverance in the face of rejection.

Here are some classic examples: "In her new autobiography, Home, Julie Andrews tells of taking a screen test for MGM studios when she was 12 years old. 'They needed to gussy me up a bit because I was so exceedingly plain,' she writes. 'The final determination was: She's not photogenic enough for film.'

J.K. Rowling's book about a boy wizard was rejected by 12 publishers before a small London house picked up Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Decca Records turned down a contract with the Beatles, saying, 'We don't like their sound.' Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor who said he 'lacked imagination.' Michael Jordan was cut from his high-school varsity basketball team sophomore year. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were rebuffed by Atari Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. when they tried to sell an early Apple computer. It took Thomas Edison 1,000 tries before he invented the light bulb."

"What makes some people rebound from defeat and go on to greatness, while others throw in the towel? Psychologists call it self-efficacy, the unshakeable belief some people have that they have what it takes to succeed. Self-efficacy differs from self-esteem in that it's a judgment of specific capabilities rather than a general feeling of self-worth. 'People need to learn how to manage failure so it's informational and not demoralizing,' says Stanford University psychologist Albert Bandura. 'I've failed over and over and over again in my life. That's why I succeed,' Michael Jordan has said."

Read more about resiliency, determination, and optimism.