YeeHaw! A RWA Roundup

It was my first time to attend RWA and it will not be my last. My general impressions were that everyone was lovely and transparent. It was breathtaking to meet so many ladies whom I have adored, some of them for years. To come face to face with someone whose words have grown into your heart is a special pleasure I wish for everyone.

San Antonio Riverwalk

First, the disappointments.

There were a couple people I was unable to meet during the four days in San Antonio. The one who sticks out most in my mind is Rhonda Helms. I took a workshop from her a couple years ago and I wanted to tell her to her face how much I appreciated the way that workshop shaped the way I tell stories.

I so wanted to meet Lauren Dane, who writes the Rowan Summerwaite series, which I love. Sadly, she was unable to come, but I still got a book with a signed nameplate.

Lauren Dane

 

The last disappointment was that the LibraryBox experiment was an all around fail. There was not one download from it the entire time, though it was on for four days straight. I am not sure if it was the wrong venue, people just did not hear about it, or authors just are not ready. I am going to try again next year. I still think the idea has merit.

Now, for something completely different: stuff that was fabulous. Please prepare yourself for the virtual equivalent of “Wheeeeeee!”

I spent more money than you can make me admit at the Literacy Signing, but I was able to meet some authors who have crafted characters and stories which make my heart swoon. A couple times, I was so awestruck, I forgot to take pictures. Here are the ones I was especially excited about.

Catherine Coulter

This is me with Catherine Coulter. I grew up reading her romances and she was a quiet, graceful lady in person. It was an honor to meet her. The book in the picture is for my mom, who loves her new series.

Vivian Arend

Vivian Arend writes about shapeshifters and cowboys. Honestly, I have only read the shifter books. They are a special kind of crack for me and I am afraid to even venture into the cowboy ones for fear I will never return. She also rescued my purse after I left it in front of her table.

Zoe Archer

Zoe Archer writes all kinds of delicious things – scifi, historical fantasy, steampunk – and I love them all. She was on a truly fantastic panel which discussed feminism and romance. It was inspiring to be in a room listening to the panel of smart women who think critically about what they write, where the genre had been, and where it is going.

Nalini Signh

Nalini Signh writes paranormal romance and does amazing world building.

Courtney Milan

Courtney Milan writes regency historicals. She has broken away from publishing and now indie publishes. I love her books. I went to some sessions in which she was one of the speakers or the speaker. She was honest about her road to get where she is now. I appreciated her transparency and the sound advice she gave.

And then this happened:

Jax Garren

 

I occasionally review books on this site when I just can not help but tell everyone how much I love and adore a book or series. Here is the review I wrote for the Tales of the Underlight series by Jax Garren. There is a lot of swooning in the review.

After I read the series, I gushed around online about it and Jax, being the lovely person that she is, was nice back. When I realized she was at RWA, I asked to meet her over Twitter. Her response was that she was in the bar, come on down. I could not breathe, but managed to pull it together to act normal when I went down after the session I was in.

Jax is just as lovely in person as she was to me online. She lives in my state and we talked for a long time. I ran into her a few other times during the conference and I think I made a new friend, which awes me a bit.

There are a few people I forgot to get pictures of: Shannon Stacey, who writes one of the very few contemporary series I read (new book out this week!); Eloisa James, who is whip smart and nice; Danielle Monsch, who gave me some great advice; Sarah MacLean; Tessa Dare; and Julie Ann Long. It was amazing. Without fail, people would see my first timer ribbon, ask me questions, and be ridiculously nice.

Most of the sessions I went to revolved around the business of indie publishing. The panels and presenters were, without exception, transparent and full of information. I have a long to do list of things I need to get in line before I upload my first book. I think there were some in the audience who felt overwhelmed, but I was invigorated by the opportunities available in publishing if you plan, persevere, and treat it like a business.

The last night was the awards. Awards

Pictured from left to right: Michelle Boule (me!), Kelly Maher (my roommate), Stephanie Leary (a new friend from Texas), and Tara Kennedy (another new friend). The ceremony was fun, but it was so because I had great company.

Last but not least: The books.

Books

This is the haul I brought home. As I heard in many panels, “It’s all about the books.”

Amen. I am off to write. Thank you to RWA for a great conference.

Author List for RWA LibraryBox

This is going to go live as I am driving to San Antonio for the fun. I am packed and I wish I was leaving right this moment.

I wish I could tell you I had dozens of people sign up to join this experiment, but I did not. It is very easy to add content so should you be at RWA and see me, feel free to come up and ask me to add your content. I will have my laptop and LibraryBox handy.

There is a ton of other free content on the LibraryBox too. If you have a wireless device and see LibraryBox as an option, connect to it, launch a browser, and download whatever you want. I will have it with me everywhere I go at the conference starting Thursday.

That being said, I did have three ladies who opted in. I was especially tickled that Sandra Schwab, who y’all know I adore, sent her new book just out this past week! Here is the list of books on my LibraryBox for RWA, complete with blurbs.

Nicky Penttila – The Lunchbox
A surprise reunion on Valentine’s Day at New York Public Library’s main branch offers former high-school sweethearts a second chance.

Sandra Schwab – A Tangled Web
Lawrence Pelham works as a comic artist for Allan’s Miscellany. A chance meeting with a young woman dressed in mourning changes Pel’s whole life, and without his even knowing, he is thrown into a world of mystery and intrigue, where nothing is as it seems to be - especially not the woman he has given his heart to.

Her whole life Sarah Browne has been told how plain she is, how nondescript, destined to become an old maid. For years she has been her family’s dutiful nursing maid, but now a secret inheritance and an encounter with the charming Mr. Pelham seem to offer her a chance to break out of her life of duty and drudgery - if she dares to take it. Yet how could such an interesting, witty man be possibly interested in her boring self?

And so, Sarah soon find herself entangled in a web of lies and deceit, which might cost her the love of her life.

Mia West - Initiation
Bryn Talbot knows who she is: a time-traveling art thief with a list of lovers seven millennia deep. Seduction is part of her job, something she enjoys in the moment – whenever and wherever that may be – and then leaves behind. Until she gets a hot new colleague.

Bryn knows him only as Doc, the man who must keep her fit to travel, and give her the orgasms that launch her into the past. But this Doc is nothing like his predecessor. He’s younger. He’s as scarred as she is. And when Bryn pushes his buttons, this Doc finds hers and pushes back…with skill.

When Doc’s initial effort lands Bryn practically in the lap of the Roman-era blacksmith she seeks, she suspects her once-routine job is about to be reforged with white-hot intensity.

 

The Best of San Antonio from a Native Texan

With RWA this week, I thought I would write a few of my favorite things about San Antonio down for all the people coming in for the conference. I am a native Texan and these are the things I never miss doing whenever I am in town.

Eat some TexMex and other local flare while you are here. In fact, eat it every day, for more than one meal. TexMex, or what we just call Mexican food, has a lot of cheese and meat and is sure to make you smile. I recommend a margarita while you eat your chips and salsa. If you have never had a breakfast burrito, do yourself a favor and eat one. Other fun Texas foods include kolaches, both the fruit and meat varieties, and BBQ.

There are a ton of places to eat on the Riverwalk, but if you are looking for great TexMex and want something more local, my favorite places in San Antonio are La Fogata and Rosarios. La Fogata is off the loop and will require a drive. It is family owned and started in a gas station. The food is excellent, the margaritas superb, and the atmosphere original. Rosarios has absolutely amazing food and cocktails and is within walking distance of the conference center though it is a bit of a hike.

I love craft beer, but if you are looking for a variety of brews along the Riverwalk, you will be disappointed. There are some fun nightspots, though they are almost all loud in the evenings with live bands. My favorite bars on the Riverwalk are MadDog’s British Pub, Durty Nellie’s, and Pat O’Brien’s. Out of all of these, MadDog’s has the best beer variety and their porch is nice. It is usually where I end up at the end of the night.

If you want to go shopping and have a real San Antonio experience, try Market Square. The restaurants here are pricey, like the Riverwalk, but there is a Mexican bakery in Mi Tierra which is well worth the extra pounds you will gain after visiting. I suggest forgoing actual lunch or dinner and skipping right to dessert. If you do not have a car, you can ride the local streetcars or take the bus.

We are extremely proud of our history here. The Alamo is free to visit and will give you a good overview of how Texas won its independence. The Alamo is close to the Riverwalk and worth an hour of your time. I have been there enough times I could give tours and I still go for a peek when I am here. There are also many local Spanish missions which you can do on a walking tour.

Overall, Texans are a friendly bunch and San Antonio is as nice as it gets here in the summer. Translated for all the visitors coming in: It is darn hot, but less humid than the coastal areas, where I am from.

Howdy, y’all. Welcome to the Lone Star State.

Distribute your eBooks at RWA

If you are an indie author or a small publisher, I have a cool free way to get ebooks into the hands of RWA attendees in two weeks. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if you could offer a free ebook to RWA attendees only and then promote it to people online? It would!

I spent a week looking at this

Silvercliff Sunrise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and I realized I had made two fundamental mistakes as I started out with my LibraryBox RWA experiment. I forgot two things.

Thing one: Most authors are very careful about how they handle their digital content (as they should be) and I am used to the more open approach of librarians (information wants to be free).

Thing two: As a librarian, enough people know who I am that I unlikely to be considered “that crazy lady.” In the author community, I am not well known enough to be kept out of that category on my name alone.

I am asking for authors to trust me with their digital content and experiment with me using their own content. I am asking for this and then I did not give an expiration date as to how long the material would be on my LibraryBox. Originally, I figured I would just leave all the digital content on the LibraryBox forever.

This was not a good plan. I will now be deleting the folder on my LibraryBox I create for RWA. That means, unless you tell me otherwise, the content you send me will be freely available to the people at the annual RWA conference for three days and then, poof, gone. I hope this makes a difference to some of you on the fence about whether to participate in this.

I do not attend a ton of conferences anymore because of family constraints but I will be doing this again at RT in Dallas in May, but you do not have to attend either event to be included.

I hope that some other authors will join Mia West and Nikki Penttila in this adventure to give out some ebooks at a conference filled with people who love to read.

p.s. Happy Monday.

LibraryBox at RWA

My amazing friend, Jason Griffey, has made an amazing little thing called LibraryBox. From the website:

LibraryBox v2.0 is a combination of a router (a variety of hardware will work), USB drive, and software that, when combined, give you a small, low powered webserver. The webserver acts like a captive portal, and delivers files that are stored on the USB drive.

In “captain dummy speak,” it is a device which creates its own wifi signal, allows users to log on to the signal, and then download any content on the device. It is completely open source and completely awesome. Libraries and educators around the world are using it to distribute books and class materials and to reach students in new ways.

I wanted to find a way for authors to use LibraryBox and I think I found a darn good one.

At the RWA (Romance Writers of America) Annual Conference in San Antonio starting on Thursday, July 24th, I will be walking around with a LibraryBox. I am starting on Thursday so it will not interfere with the Readers for Life Literacy sale on Wednesday.

Why should you care?

Everyone knows ARCs and free books are the things we love to give and receive at conferences. For indie authors or small pubs, this can be hard when most of their stock is ebooks. My LibraryBox will be a free, easy way for you to give copies out to people at the conference in real time to read, review, and rave over with almost no work on your part. Anytime I am at a conference event, I will have the LibraryBox on. Anyone with a wireless device (tablet, phone, etc.) can log on to the wifi signal the box creates and download books to read. LibraryBox keeps tabs on how many of each item is downloaded, but it does not track individual users due to privacy. At the end of each day, I will post the top 10 downloads. If you are an author or a publisher and you would like to participate, here are some FAQs you might want to know, be aware of, take heed of:

  • In order to participate in this project, you must be the digital rights holder for the works you send me.
  • This is for traditionally (with a publisher) or indie (self) published works. WIPs or manuscripts will not be accepted.
  • All files received for this project will be on this LibraryBox for the lifetime of the box, freely available. If this is a major sticking point, let’s talk about it. Updated: The RWA file on my LibraryBox will be deleted after the conference.
  • All books for this project will be in a folder marked “RWA2014″ on the device listed in alpha order by author’s last name.
  • Files should be in easily readable formats, like epub or pdf.
  • There will be a page on this blog listing all the participating authors and publishers so readers and attendees can take a peek and so you can brag about it.
  • I will in no way use the books sent to me for profit or in any way not specified in this blog post. Like any digital content, once it leaves my hands, I can not control it.
  • You do not have to be attending RWA to have your book included!

Interested? Send me a copy of your book to mboule at gmail dot com. I will send a confirmation email when I receive your file.

I toyed around with dividing books by subgenre. Any thoughts on that? Opinions?

Questions? Ask them below.

Silvercliff or Bust

I know a week of silence here is not something out of the ordinary, but I will be offline for the next week. I will be at Silvercliff Ranch in Colorado with a bunch of high school kids. No cell phones, no email, no Twitter. It is nice to be unplugged for a few days.

Gideon and Mom

Gideon and Me

I know 24 hours on a bus and then a week of late nights and early mornings with a bunch of teenagers sounds terrible to some of you. I think it is one of the best weeks of my year. I will miss my boys, but I will be in the mountains, which for me is the sum of all good things.

When I get back, I am going to announce an exciting project for RWA Conference at the end of July. Authors, even if you are not going, you will want to know about this. Stay tuned.

Whatever the Circumstance

This is part of an ongoing series of devotionals for writers.

Not that I speak from want; I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. – Paul writing to the Philippians 4:11

I am stuck in the middle of revisions. I have been floundering since I started this step in the writing process. My brain, which normally has no problem with words, has turned to mush. Needless to say, I have not been content in my writing life.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the launch party for Chasing the Lion. This book and its author had a long way to publication. Nancy Kimball is one of the most amazing ladies I know and I am truly blessed to have her as a friend. I smiled all day for her and for many days after. She reminds me that no road is easy, but we still have to make the right choices and be thankful.

At Nancy’s party, I was also able to reconnect with other authors I know and meet some new ones. We are all at different stages in our lives and careers, but we have two things in common: a love of the written word and a love for the Lord. These encounters reminded me why I write. They each, in their own way, encouraged me to persevere. I had forgotten, in my battle with revisions, to be thankful for where I am.

I have everything to be thankful for and I neglected in the past weeks to find contentment in my circumstance. When I pause to consider where I started, how far I have come, and where I have yet to go, I am excited and thankful. I am content.

For you: In what ways have you let daily frustrations rob you of contentment? What can you be thankful for today?

For your characters: When they face a frustration, what is their reaction? How do they handle a situation for which they feel unequipped? What will it take to make your character feel contentment or even joy in their circumstance?

The Very First Time

Yesterday was a day which started with me yelling at the kids to clean their room and ended with me getting hit in the head by a ceiling fan while I looked for the mysterious bug which had woken up my six year old. It was a day of frustrations, tears, and pain, but there was one bright spot. Gosh, sounds like a normal Mom day, right?

Gideon, the six year old, got his first library card yesterday from Helen Hall Library in League City.

Gideon Library Card

Notice how sad Washington is in this picture. He has library card envy.

I remember my first library card. It was from the Pearland Public Library and was light blue card stock. It had this metal bar on it with numbers which they pressed with carbon paper to make the check out slip. I was very proud of it.

I made a big deal about Gideon getting his card. He had to be able to read and write his name, both things he mastered ages ago, but this is the beginning of summer and that means… Summer Reading Programs!

I am beyond excited to see how much fun Gideon has reading on his own and how much pleasure he takes from reading books. My heart just explodes every time I hear him reading, an activity which has defined my life since I can remember.

Go to your library today and read a book. Libraries pull out all the stops in the summer with amazing programs on science, culture, and art. Not just for kids! Go find something amazing at your library.

Book Review: The Bride Prize by Sandra Schwab

I started to just write a tweet about this, but then I realized I had more than 140 characters worth of things to say.

Anyone who has been reading this blog long enough to see my reading lists, knows I adore Sandra. Not only do I love her books, but she is a nice, intelligent lady who lives in Germany and has a fantastic job as an English professor. All that to say, this review may be biased but it is all still true.

The Bride Prize is, in a word, delightful. It is the first in a series which centers around a satirical periodical titled Allan’s Miscellany. Robert Beaton, the hero of the story, is an illustrator for the magazine. One of the major conflicts of the novella is that Florence Marsh’s father does not hold with those satirical rags and Florence, of course, is falling for Robert.

Schwab has included some hilarious excerpts from the magazine which made me pull down my own copy of Eighteenth-Century English Literature so I could flip through the section on Addison and Steele. A discussion of literature in The Spectator, issue Number 62 starts like this, “As true Wit consists in the Resemblance of ideas, and false Wit in the Resemblance of Words…”

I sat on the floor for a good thirty minutes thumbing through my lit book and chuckling. I then proceeded to talk Mr. Rochester’s ear off about the cultural force of true satire in the 1700s long past his eyes glazed over. He patted me on the shoulder and said something like, “That sounds nice, dear.”

Back to the book.

The Bride Prize is set a generation after Addison and Steele wrote The Tattler and The Spectator, but the need to drive change in society with the power of a well placed word is a theme throughout this small but fun novella. I do not want you to think The Bride Prize is all about social change, though it is mentioned. I do want you to know that the English major, librarian, geek that I am loved the references Sandra sprinkled throughout the story about history and literature of the early 1800s. If you are really a geek, and I know you are, you can signup for her newsletter and get a 24 page pdf which includes illustrations and historical explanations of all manner of things mentioned in the book. You can also buy a copy of the ebook with the extras for a bit more, see the link at the beginning of this post.

The Bride Prize is well worth your time. I smiled for a long time when it was over. I can not wait until the next installment in this series.

Highly Recommended

 

 

The Best in This Moment

When I wrote Mob Rule Learning, it was the longest piece of writing I had undertaken at that time. Before that, the bulk of my writing had been articles and blog posts. The glory of writing for the web is the constant feedback, discussion, and metamorphoses a conversation can undergo in hours, days, or months. Writing long form non-fiction was painful because it is like writing in an echo chamber. I spent a lot of time wondering, “What the heck do I know any way?” and “Does this tripe even make sense?”

Since then, I have completed three fiction manuscripts and I have one WIP (work in progress). The process of writing the first draft of fiction is wonderful. I love the worlds I have created and I love the process of weaving words together.

I took the next step and found an editor I thought would mesh well with my writing and my goals and who would challenge me. I am now in the middle of development revisions for the first book in a series I want to release next year and I have learned something valuable.

This stage of fiction writing is just as painful as writing long form non-fiction.

The reasons are different for each type, but it boils down to the same questions, “What the heck do I know?” and “Does this tripe even make sense?”

In facing these questions again, but for different reasons this time, I know that no matter what kind of stuff you write, if you are author, you spend time wrestling with these questions. The secret is to get past them quickly because they can mire you in indecision and immobilize your brain.

This morning, when you sit down to do the thing you do (write, teach, cook, lead, or change the world) be the best you can be today, this moment, and keep pushing forward. If we do it right, each moment teaches us something new and wonderful and each moment we improve.

Development revisions are painful and I have spent the last week pulling out my hair, but I want what comes at the end, a better book, and so I persevere.