Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Finding Inspiration in the Most Unlikeliest of Places

A few months ago, while on one of my eight hour drives from New Orleans to Austin, I was inspired by a Sheryl Crow song that was playing on the radio. Just the title, My Favorite Mistake, conjured all kinds of yummy story ideas.

When I started working on the actual story, I decided to set it in a fictional Louisiana town, complete with a main street at the heart of it. Problem is, I was having a hard time finding inspiration for my quaint little town. I did Google searches using phrases such as “Main Street” and “Small Town USA” but nothing clicked for me.

Enter the small lakeside town of Marblehead, Ohio.

Yes, Ohio.

I recently visited a friend who is lucky enough to live steps away from the shores of beautiful Lake Erie in the charming lake town of Marblehead.

I had no idea that a small town in Northern Ohio would serve as inspiration for my fictional town of Gauthier, Louisiana, but it did.

Here are a few shots of the sights I found in Marblehead. I can't wait to breathe life into these pictures by bringing my characters into the shops and restaurants.

I'll have to have at least one scene where my hero and heroine have coffee under the awning of the local coffee shop. This one was called Spill The Beans, which I thought was just adorable, but I've got another name in mind for my coffee shop.

I'm not sure if the town of Gauthier will have an art gallery, but this building would be perfect for the salon that will play a part in the story.

This building is the old schoolhouse in Marblehead, but in Gauthier, I think it's going to be the church at the center of the town.

Can anyone say hardware store/bait shop?

Yet another shot that just screams Small Town, USA.

I can't wait to get back to writing this book!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

RWA 2009 Wrap Up

For the past seven years I've devoted a week in July to learning, networking, and just enjoying everything there is to love about the Romance Writers of America. This year was no different. RWA gathered in our Nation's Capitol at the beautiful Wardman Marriott in Washington D.C.'s Woodley Park neighborhood.

As it does every year, the conference kicked off with a bang on Wednesday night. Nearly 500+ authors signed books donated by their publishers with 100% of the proceeds going to organizations that help in the fight against illiteracy. This was the third year I signed, and I had a marvelous time.

This year, I decided to give back to the many fans who spend tons of money at the book signing by giving away super cute reusable tote bags. Here are two of my friends, April and Gabby, posing with their bags.

Readers were very appreciative. Several came to my table to thank me personally, and two got me to sign their bags. They'd also had their bags signed by Suzanne Brockmann and Nora Roberts. I so hope they put the bags on eBay so I can bid on them.

Even though I didn't get a pink bag signed by two powerhouse authors, I did get a chance to sign many books and meet a bunch of great fans. I had tons of fun, as you can tell by the smile on my face.

After the book signing, the real work starts. Thursday and Friday were filled with fabulous workshops. I learned about promotion, how to put fire into my fiction, and so much more. Now I just have to try to apply them.

On Friday night, I had the absolute pleasure of attending my very first Harlequin Party. Not only does the publisher rule in putting out consistently fabulous romance novels, but those folks at Harlequin throw one heck of a party.

Here's my fellow Austin RWA member, Emily McKay, fresh from the dance floor.

People danced all night long, and I have to admit to joining in way more than I usually do at such functions. One of my favorite memories of the night was watching half the room dance to Michael Jackson's Thriller. It was fabulous!

Saturday was another day of workshops and networking. Here I am with fellow Kimani authors, Kimberly Kaye Terry and Celeste Norfleet.

The night ended with the RWA Awards Gala where the coveted RITA and Golden Heart awards were handed out to the best of published and unpublished romances.

This year's conference lived up to all of my expectations, as usual. I am already anticipating a great time in Nashville next year.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Christmas in July

I have a wrap-up of the 2009 RWA National Conference coming soon. I'm just waiting to find pictures since the three on my camera are of the wall at the Harlequin Party. I posed for so many pictures. Why don't I have any on my own camera?

Anyhoo, I wanted to make sure all my loyal blog readers entered my contest over at Fresh Fiction. It's a special Christmas in July contest! You can win a copy of my two holiday anthologies, THE HOLIDAY INN and the upcoming HOLIDAY BRIDES, along with a $25 gift card to Borders to stock up on some of your favorite reads.

Just go on over to my contest page at Fresh Fiction and enter to win!

Good luck!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Taking D.C. by Storm

Greetings from the RWA National Conference!

I'm writing this several days before the conference, but today is the start of this fabulous gathering of authors. I love the camaraderie of RWA's annual conference. There's just something about spending four full days with like-minded people that reminds me that I'm not as strange as most people think I am. Or, maybe it's just 2000+ very strange people. Either way, RWA's National is where I belong!

And so do you! If you're in the D.C. area come on down to the Wardman Park Marriott tonight for the 2009 Literacy For Life Autographing. There's no other place to find 450+ romance authors signing their books just for you! The great thing about this signing is that all money goes to help in the fight against illiteracy. Yes, that's all the money. One-hundred percent!

The first 400 people in line will get a special treat from Farrah Rochon!

Visit me on Friday at Novel Spaces where I'm blogging about the joy of being around like-minded people at places like writer conventions and group blogs.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Slaying The Green-Eyed Monster

I'm at the Readers Rooms today talking about personal and professional jealousy. I'm sure we've all experienced it a time or two. I know I did after selling my first book.

Let me know how you handled jealously from family and friends in your life at Slaying The Green-Eyed Monster.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Novel Spaces

I am super excited about joining Novel Spaces, and brand new group blog featuring a mix of authors from various genres. Novel Spaces will cover a broad range of topics about the publishing life told from our varied and unique perspectives.

Today, I'm blogging about the author/reader relationship. I want to know how much contact does a reader really want with an author in this extremely connected world we now live in.

Share your opinion: Author, Friend, or Both?

Remember to stop in at Novel Spaces daily!