Friday, August 8, 2014


Some of the swag from Behre's book signing

I had a few thoughts this week.

And one year, at RWA . . .” Last week I waxed eloquent about all the fun to be had at the RWA National Conference in San Antonio.  Each conference has its own unique flavor and new ideas to offer, but one thing that is always a feature of Nationals is the opportunity to meet other writers and make lasting connections.

I met fellow bloggers Laurie and Sharon at my very first RWA conference in Washington D.C. five years ago, and look where that has led us!  The three of us have come a long way since that day we met in the lobby of the conference hotel at the beginning of our respective journeys.

I’ve met others at Nationals whose progress I can cheer from year to year, including, of course, my Golden Heart® sisters, the Firebirds.  Many of the members of my cohort have found agents, publishers and sales success.  I made a point of going through the vast ballroom that held the Literacy Signing event in San Antonio looking for folks I knew so I could celebrate the moment with them.  Of the Firebirds, I found Heather Nickodem (w/a Heather Ashby), Terri Osburn, Susan Boyer, Lorenda Christensen and Kim Law signing in the same room as Nora Roberts, Nalini Singh and hundreds of others.

I was also surprised to see my friend Mary Behre, a writer of light romantic suspense who only a year or two ago had been working the Literacy Signing with me as a volunteer usher.  There she was, signing her first book, Spirited, the first in the Tidewater series from Berkley Sensation.  Mary lives in nearby King George, Virginia, but it took traveling to the national conference for us to meet.  As is not uncommon in our state, I attend the Richmond-based Virginia Romance Writers chapter meetings; Mary meets with the D.C.-based Washington Romance Writers.

Mary’s second book, Guarded, just launched last week with a signing at the local Barnes & Noble.  I went out to show some support.  She had a decent-sized crowd, and she was well-received, but reading to a bunch of strangers can be an intimidating moment.  It can help to have a friendly face in the crowd.  Because we have our RWA connection, I know she’ll show be there to back me up when I need it, too.

(Mary describes her Tidewater series as “humor, suspense and a psychic love connection”.  Her writing voice is just as much fun as her own genuine personality. The first book was a great read; I can’t wait to get to the second one.)

Come and get your love . . .  Mary had plenty of goodies to give away to readers at her Barnes & Noble book launch.  Those who bought a book came away with not only the author’s signature, but a pen, a notepad, a goodie bag with the book and author’s name, a drink coozie similarly printed (drink not included), and a bookmark.  Visitors to the RWA National Conference Goody Room  will find all of these items, plus chocolate; rulers; postcards and business cards with book covers on one side, blurbs on the other; keyrings; magnets; calendars; pins; mugs and cups; trading cards.  I’m sure I’ve missed something.  

The purpose of all this swag at book signings is clear:  readers love free stuff and will think kindly of those who provide it.  At a conference for writers, though, one wonders why you’d spend the money.  Yes, writers are readers, too, but do any of those writers go out and buy the book based on what they pick up in the Goody Room?

Stuck . . . According to one of the workshops I attended at the conference, Pinterest is the hottest social media thing going right now.  (Right behind Twitter, I guess.)  I have a hard time seeing the benefit for writers, beyond the obvious example of pinning covers with a link to your other sites.  The only time I’ve used Pinterest is to look at possible hairstyles.  I did notice, however, that when I Googled the hairstyle question, Pinterest literally took over the search, sending me there whether I wanted to go or not.   Hmm.

How long has this been going on . . .?  As if my life wasn’t crazy enough, my husband and I are packing up and moving out of the home we’ve lived in for 18 years.  We’ll be renting a house here in Fredericksburg for a year before we make the big move to Marshall, North Carolina, just north of Asheville.  What this means is, I’m hip deep in the accumulated junk of most of my life, trying to “downsize”.

I came across a few pages of an old journal, started in an aborted attempt to gain control over the chaos that was our life with my oldest daughter in her early years of grade school.  The journaling didn’t last long—I don’t have that kind of discipline—but on the last page I found a note that had nothing to do with real life per se.  

 It was an idea for a story:
UFO abduction on a dark country road. Kids die in a fire.  Woman spends story trying to find out what happened to two-hour memory gap.

That note is the germ of Unchained Memory.  The date is April, 1991.  The bad news is it took me almost 25 years to get the experience that would allow me to do the story justice, to write the book, to find an agent, to find a way to publish it.  The good news is, the story that came to me so long ago will finally be published in February, 2015.  

Hallelujah and amen.

Cheers, Donna


  1. I noticed recently, too, that Pinterest is dominating most of my google search hits. I wonder if Pinterest and Google have struck some kind of deal, or if people are just visiting Pinterest that much, hitting the algorithms and putting it in the top search hits.

    I adore Pinterest. I have some writerly type boards there, but most of the stuff I pin is kid stuff. I'm trying to come up with ideas to post on my website so I can pin blogs/extras to Pinterst. I want to experiment with it.

    It's definitely my favorite time-suck. :-)

  2. What a fabulous thing to find! I loved getting to see you in Texas, Donna. And thanks for the mention. It's funny that we belong to the same chapter but had to travel to another time zone to see each other. :)

  3. I'm really going to have to get a Pinterest account. I resisted when it first became popular because of warnings about copyright violations, but those have apparently been relegated to "not an issue."

    I don't envy you the task of moving--twice!--in a year, but I know how much you're looking forward to living in the peaceful countryside of North Carolina. I hear Asheville is simply a wonderful town. Hmmm, home of future writing retreats, mayhaps? :)

  4. --We definitely see more of each other at National than in Richmond, Terri! And it's always fun. Thanks for stopping by!
    --As you say, Sandy, one of the things I learned in that workshop, is that you can automatically set your blog to link to Pinterest. Think of it, Laurie--some of our fabulous images could be seen by a whole new audience! I'm sure SOMEONE has the tech knowledge to make it so . . .


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