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.

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.

Retreating

Retreat: v. – (of an army) withdraw from enemy forces as a result of their superior power or after a defeat.

Retreat: n. – 1. an act of moving back or withdrawing. 2. withdraw to a quiet or secluded place.

I have always wanted to go on a writer’s retreat. It sounds romantic, to be able to move away from the world and surround oneself with the creation of words and nothing else. A writer’s retreat is something real writers do, the kind of writers with books on the shelf and a room of their own in which to write.

Hogwash, all of it.

This past weekend, I went to my family’s lake house with four other women who write. Three of them write Christian genre fiction and one of them is working on a Christian nonfiction. I was the odd woman out, writing fantasy romance, but we had an amazing time.

For me, the weekend was a withdrawal from enemy forces. My enemies being two large dogs, two small boys, and one wonderful husband.

They allow me to write often enough, sometimes every day, but their demands are many. Even now, I am writing at the table with one boy eating a meal I prepared and one demanding to sit in my lap. Previous to this paragraph, I was interrupted by poop (not mine), an argument (in which I was called in to referee), and a consultation about clothing choices for the day. It gets wearisome.

I am not a part of a f2f writer’s circle. I have friends online to which I pose questions on craft or business, but I have never shared my work in real time. It was eye-opening.

Humans are, at our base, social creatures who desire community. Though writers create in isolation, is was nice to create in a shared space for a short time.

We would work on our own, then come together to read paragraphs, read openings, work out sticky plot points, and discuss the publishing industry. During meals, we shared our lives and got to know each other.

My goal for the retreat, which was only about 26 hours long, was 10,000 words. I was a couple hundred words shy, but I ended in a great spot.

The retreat reinforced that we all feel inadequate, we all juggle complicated lives, and a room of one’s own may look more like a corner of the couch or family table and less like a writer’s hut. Of course, if anyone would like to re-purpose an old Airstream, cabin, or train car into office for me, please, feel free to do so.

–Jane, writer of magical things

 

A Classified Ad for a Publisher

I am taking a class on query and synopsis writing. Most of the class is basic marketing with a publishing spin. The package sent to a publisher is, in its essence, the author marketing themselves and their work to an editor or publisher. We all know this, but it is nice to hear an editor’s POV when they are reading the stuff we send them.

Thinking about how I sell myself and my work has forced me to think about what I want from a publisher. A query is like any job hunt and any interview is just as much about how much they like you as how much you like them.

There are many flavors of publishers out there, from the big behemoths to tiny e-presses. There are benefits to the different choices and disadvantages to others, as there is with all things. Going through this process, I have created a list of things I want and look for when searching out places to market my work.

Here is the general list:

I want a publisher who emphasizes ebooks. I know electronic format is the future and I want to be somewhere this idea is valued. I like and read print books, but they are not the future of the industry.

I want a place I can grow as an author. I am not looking for an opportunity to publish the next blockbuster, though I would not turn that down. I have more realistic goals. I want a place to stretch my wings and I want an editor who can guide me on that path. Behind every great writer, is a brilliant editor. Developing a cooperative, trusting relationship with an editor is one of the things I am looking forward to the most in this process.

I am halfway through a cross genre series, a traditional fantasy with strong romantic elements, and my next series will probably be a scfi/space opera with strong romantic elements. I need a publishing company that is not afraid of cross genre work.

I want to be a marketing partner with my publishing company and I evaluate their webpages accordingly. No matter what size or prestige of a company, if their social media links are hard to find or contain terrible content, that is a huge red flag for me. In fact, this is a red flag for any company with which I want to do business.

That is my list. Short. Sweet. Not too complicated, I think.

Jane, searching

 

Humans vs. Zombies, an Internet Librarian Presentation

Come see me in the flesh Monday at 1:15 in the DeAnza 1&2 in the Portola.
Added: Grab the Handout. View the slides.

The track I am in for Internet Librarian, Track D: Library Issues and Challenges, is a special one where the speakers are encouraged not to talk much and to let the participants do most of the talking. Meaning: It is my kind of presentation. Because I will be speaking for less than 10 minutes and have only 5 slides of a PPT, I wanted to write a post on the content of my talk instead of posting just the slides online which would be meaningless without context. The slides can be found here.

The title of the session is Engaging and Inspiring Staff. I am speaking with Lisa Hardy, who is going to give some real world examples after I talk about the big picture. My segment is called Human vs. Zombies: Organized Survivors vs. Mindless Horde.

When you are only speaking for a handful of minutes, you really only have time for one main idea. My main concept is crowdsourcing only works when you give people a purpose.

Crowdsourcing without a purpose is like unleashing zombies on the human race. Things will get done, but it is going to be very, very messy.

Using crowdsourcing methodology is a fabulous way to engage and inspire staff because it forces them to participate in the process from start to finish. Once people start investing time and resources into something, their heart will eventually follow.

You should want your people to have heart in what they do for the organization. People who have heart give more, believe stronger, and work harder. They give because their heart compels them to do so. Not only that, but people who have a heart in your organization will then tell other people why your organization is so great.

Crowdsourcing can be done many ways. I have a handy hand out that I am giving to the participants and that you can download here (link is to a Google Doc). It is similar, very similar to the one I used at Computers in Libraries last spring. The handout includes some quick and dirty facilitation style and pointers. I do not discuss the handout in the presentation. It is just a resource.

But how do you organize your mob? How do you take a bedraggled group of humans and outfit them to face the future, even if the future is a teeming mass of zombies?

To give your mob, your humans, the means to organize, to create, and to find their heart in your organization, you need to do three things.

Give them a goal. Without a goal, your people are the zombie horde. The have one things on their mind and that is a selfish thirst for brains (or whatever it is that suits their fancy). Crowdsourcing only works if you give the crowd a goal so they can then work together towards the same goal as a team. It is possible to let the crowd define the goal, but they still need an overarching purpose.

For instance, do not just throw people in a room and say, “Get to it!” Put them in a room and ask them to come up with a product: a new slogan, a new service with a plan to execute the service, a strategic direction, a marketing plan to increase business, a charitable campaign, or an organizational restructuring. They can do anything, accomplish anything. Just point them in the right direction and let them go. You will be amazed at where they take you.

Let the crowd choose their weapons. This seems obvious, but it is one of the worst abused within organizations with robust bureaucracies. Often, more often than not, crowds contained within an organizational structure are asked to perform a task, but are then also told what tools to use and how to complete the task. This cripples your mob of survivors before they have even ventured forth.

Give your crowd the direction and then let them choose the method. They may want to work asynchronously or synchronously on Google Docs. They may want to create a facebook group. They might prefer video chat. They might * shudder * want to use a word doc that they save and forward around on email. Let them work their way. Give them resources so that they are able to choose the tools they want and then step away. Let them know you have faith in their choices and then follow through on that statement by leaving them alone to work.

Celebrate their successes and failures alike. We are wonderful at pointing out successes, but we have to celebrate our mistakes, even the crash and burn ones. Why? Because we learn from our mistakes and we get better. Give high fives for every zombie kill, but learn from the near misses and improve your swing. Do not be afraid to get dirty. Killing zombies is hard work.

After a very condensed version of the above motivational speech, Lisa is going to take over with some examples of things they have done at her library. Then, we will get to the really fun part. The attendees will form groups and talk about things they can do in their own organization to motivate staff. They will come to a consensus about the best ideas from their group and then share them with the room.

At the end we are going to give away some copies of my book, Mob Rule Learning, for people who can answer some of my nerd trivia.

–Jane, do you have a plan for the zombie apocalypse?

Original link to the Zombie pic can be found here.

Around Town at Computers in Libraries 2012

The family Rochester is heading north to Washington, D.C. for the Computers in Libraries conference this week. The boys will be seeing the sights, aka the Air and Space Museum, while I am mingling with book and tech nerds, aka librarians.

I will be making two official appearances:

Wednesday from 10:30-11:15, on Track F, I will be presenting Unleash the Power of Your People, a session on how to use unconference principles for training and other things. This will not be a sit back and sleep session, so come with lots of questions, ideas, and a willingness to share. If you know nothing about the unconference style or you are an old hand at it, you will learn something new. In a room full of intelligent people, passionate about people and libraries, how could you not leave inspired to change the world?

Wednesday evening, 5-5:45, I will be signing copies of Mob Rule Learning in the Exhibit Area. Drop by, grab a book, and come chat!

Other appearances are assured, probably with this guy, but do not hold that against me. I am easily befriended by either complementing me on my incredibly handsome, intelligent boys or buying me a drink.

–Jane, safe travels

unala10 (Un)Official Call for Volunteers

Can there be official announcements for an unevent? Perhaps.

Mark your calenders, oh you lovers of chaos and fun. ALA Unconference 2010 or unala10 will be Friday, June 25, 2010 from 9am-4:30pm in room 207A at the Washington Convention Center.

This year, I am planning the unconference with the amazing Sean Robinson. Last year, ALA was just getting their feet wet with the unconference idea. This year, Sean and I decided to kick it up a notch and give the crowd more power. Between our two brains, we have cooked up an exciting day of unconference fun. For a sneak peek, check out the preliminary schedule already on the wiki.

Announcements about registration dates will be coming in mid-May. Registration will happen shortly thereafter. Keep your eyes and social media feeds open. We will announce it in enough places that you will be unlikely to miss it.

Now to the true purpose of this post. Sean and I would like to have some volunteers for the unconference. These lovely, fabulous people would help us wrangle the crowd during the course of the day. You know how those crowds can get all chaotic and unruly. Volunteers will not have to compete for an official spot on registration day as they will have a special spot reserved. We would like our wranglers to be SLIS students. I know some of you seasoned librarians are a little broken hearted. I still love you.

If you are a current or soon to be graduating SLIS student, please email me at mboule at gmail dot com, DM me on Twitter, or send me a smoke signal. I only need three people so type fast.

–Jane, (un)changing the world

When Politics and Nerds Collide

My friend, who works in Washington, DC, and I were having a nice little chat today and he asked me how things were at Lockheed.

Mr. Rochester, for those of you that do not know, is an actual Rocket Scientist on the Constellation Program which has been canceled by the new NASA budget. That budget is now going to Congress where they have to argue and dither over what will happen next. The bad part is even the NASA admins will not say what NASA is going to do or where they are going to do it. It is irritating for us little guys who have to stay in a holding pattern, life-wise, while the PTBs decide what the heck they are doing.

Nice that we all have a plan, right?

So back to the conversation. When you have conversations with nerds about politics, this is what you get:

[14:20] Friend: How are things at Lockheed?
[14:21] Me: not great, everything up in the air. no news. congress has knickers in a wad over NASA budget. interesting politics. would be better if it was less weiny wagging and more actual decisions however
[14:23] Friend: They get a -5 modifier to intelligence with dealing with knickers. No joke. You should see the roll for that.
[14:24] Me: Well add that roll with a few +7 asshats and whoa are they up to their ears in trouble
[14:36]Friend: That’s a pretty high asshat modifier.
[14:37] Me: well perhaps only +3 then

–Jane, wearing her +5 Browncoat t-shirt