Five things I learned about at the ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA conference

DSCN4710I was thrilled to attend the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Annual conference in New York City this year. I was on a panel with some fabulous mystery writers—Sheila Connolly, Linda Johnson, Maggie Sefton, and Denise Swanson. We didn’t get much of a crowd—but we were up against some very big names (Suzanne Elizabeth Phillips, anyone?).   Here’s a little something about what I learned. (Okay, some of it really is more of an affirmation of what I already knew.)

  1. Romance writers are passionate about writing. When they get together they talk about craft, marketing, and offer one another much support, sharing resources, names, and so on. Wow. I felt the love.
  2. Having two pen names is hard. Yep. I know that. But I went to a panel, which was really not a panel. It was one woman being interviewed on how she made the two names work. Her answer didn’t work for me because her two writing selves are more closely aligned than mine. She cross promotes herself now. The two blogs, two Twitter/Facebook accounts, and so on? She gave it up after about a year. I’ve been doing it for about four years. Rather successfully on one, not so much the other. Am I giving up romance? No, but I will be either using my own name or able to cross promote in other ways. But it was great to see that there were several other writers like me, writing in a variety of genres. That matters.
  3. I love having a publisher and I love my publisher. I heard the way other people were talking about Kensington–without knowing I was a writer for them–and they came off well during the conference. You’d think I’d know this right? And I did–and I do. But sometimes it’s easy to dream about making a lot more money self-publishing, for example. We hear about all the success stories, and I am happy for those folks. I’m always happy to hear about other writer’s success. But hearing Rebecca Zanetti express why she chooses to remain with a publisher was an ah-ha moment for me. I want to be writing. Self publishers write, but they spend much more time on the business than what I want to. I’m not saying I will never self-publish. what I’m saying is that for now, it’s not for me in my current life situation.
  4. Romance readers are voracious. At a book signing sponsored by my publisher, where they were giving away books, my cozy mystery went as quickly as the romances. This was the experience of my cozy-writing friends who were there, as well. I’m not sure mystery readers read across the genres like that. I tend to think readers read across genres. But I can’t see straight-up romance writers at a mystery conference, but I may be wrong. There ARE a lot of romances within mysteries.
  5. The layout of a conference hotel matters. I hated the Marriott Marquis and will never go back. Usually I say never say never, but in this case it took away from a lot of the conference. The elevators were freaky and sometimes very slow. And the escalators were arranged in a weird way. Like sometimes you had to cross a the span of the hotel to go up or down on the things. Not good for the foot weary conference goer. Also, the meeting  rooms were not large enough. Some of them were standing room only and some had people in the hallways spilling out of the rooms. Not cool. The conference is very expensive. If you can’t get to your session early enough for a seat (because of the escalators and elevators) that is more than too bad, it really egregious and poor planning.

So there you have it. I’d love to go back to another RWA conference. I highly recommend it—just not at the Marquis. The best part of the conference was catching up with friends that don’t live near me and seeing my editor, who I adore.  It’s always good to see your editor in person once a year or so–if not more.

Have you been to any writing conferences? Which are your favorites?

“Death of an Irish Diva” Pre-Launch Promotion

Death of an Irish Diva Mech.inddGreetings, friends!

DEATH OF AN IRISH DIVA will be out next month! February 4, to be precise—but who’s counting? (Raising my hand!)

I’m so excited about this book that I want to offer a pre-launch special prize for you. From now until February 4, pre-order the book, send me proof of purchase, or a screen shot of the purchase, and you are automatically entered to win a $30 gift card from Amazon or B & N. Your choice! You can also order the book and Tweet about your order–from Amazon–instead of the proof of purchase. I’ll be looking for those Tweets daily.

The address to send that proof of purchase is molliebryan@comcast.net. My Twitter account is @molliecoxbryan.

May the luck of the Irish be with you!

 

Living the Dream: New York, Kensington, and BEA

Just back from a trip to New York City. I met with my agent, my editor, and attended Kensington’s BEA party, which was fabulous.  These moments are fleeting for us writers, we who sit in front of the computer day after day in isolation. But it inspired me so much so meet the wonderful folks at Kensington who work hard to make the magic happen. And they were all so incredibly enthusiastic about my books! Amazing! (I kept pinching myself–really!) I won’t mention them all by name in this post for fear of forgetting someone, but let’s just say that Kensington rocks, most especially my editor, Martin Biro.

I also met with my agent, Sharon Bowers on Thursday and we discussed how things are going and what is next on the horizon. I picked up an advanced copy of Dawn Eastman’s “Pall in the Family,” which I can hardly wait to read. I met Dawn at Malice Domestic and am so excited about her debut mystery.

On Friday, I attended Book Expo America and wandered around looking for books and stories. I found the Mystery Writer’s of America’s booth and caught up with some friends there. Maybe next year, I will sign books with my friends at BEA. For those of you who don’t know what BEA is— it stands for Book Expo America and it’s the largest book industry gathering in the U. S. and I do mean large, as in OVERWHELMING. Because it’s industry-related, there are countless free books and advance books, with the idea, of course, of creating some buzz among readers, editors, the press, and so on. I picked up a few books—not as many as I could have. But I was careful because books are heavy. I could not take all the books I wanted. I just could not.

I checked out Soho Press’s books—a publisher I admire for many reasons. And I picked up a book that I think both my daughters and myself will like:  “Dancer Daughter Traitor Spy,” by Elizabeth Kiem. Like many young adult books, I think adults might like this one, too.

I also found a British publisher—Accent Press— churning out cozies that look very good, though I’ve not had a chance to read them yet. I picked up “Something in the Blood: A Honey Driver Mystery,” by Jean G. Goodhind and the first book in a highly successful series. I also picked up “Murder by Magic,” by Lesley Cookman, who is lauded as the “Queen” of British “cosies.”

I also grabbed “Forever Chic, Frenchwomen’s Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style, and Substance” by Tish Jett, published by Rizzoli Ex Libris.

Also, I had a lovely conversation with Brad Brown, author of “Term Limits, an Evolutionary Fix for Marriage.” This books sounds fascinating and Brad is all too happy to chat about it. Once again, keep your eyes open. He may be visiting the blog soon.. All is all the trip was fruitful in terms of mining a few potential stories and making some great connections. But it took on a dreamlike feel when I was spending time with my agent and all of the Kensington folks who are so enthusiastic about my books. Sigh. Now, back to work!