18
MAY
2016

Whatcha Lovin’ Wednesday: Writing Conferences!

Helloooooo! Long time no post. My apologies. It’s nearing the end of the school year here which means an all around clusterfuck as I try to balance last minute school projects and trips with working and figuring out summer plans for the hellions. I’m also leaving tomorrow for four days away, which means I’ve been busy trying to get everything ready for that. But that also brings me the guts for this post!

What I’m loving this week (and what I’ll be thankful for next week once I get back) is writing conferences! As I saw recently in an author group I belong to on Facebook, there are a lot of thoughts on whether conferences are good for you, for your business, or if your time would be better spent writing. And that question? Honestly, it’s one you have to answer for yourself. I don’t know you or your situation. I don’t know where you are in your career, what your personality is like, or if leaving the house makes you break out in hives. What I’m saying is, it’s going to be different for everyone.

But for me? Conferences are where it’s at.

I went to my first conference in July 2013, and I didn’t just dip my toes in the water. I dove straight in the deep end by starting off with RWA Nationals. It was huge and overwhelming and completely and utterly amazing. I had a ball there, and vowed to go every year (sadly, that vow will be broken this year because they moved the timing up a week, and it just doesn’t work with my husband’s work schedule. I’m legitimately teary about not being able to go). If you’re interested to read about my past experiences at Nationals, I posted a recap on my first year in 2013, as well as 2014.

Since 2013, I’ve been to a few different conferences—from big ones (RWA and RT) to smaller ones (Moonlight & Magnolias, and the upcoming Spring Fling). And while I definitely have my favorites, I think there’s something to be gained from each conference. Now, whether or not all those conferences have a positive ROI (return on investment), that’s another story all together.

For the record, I thought RT was the biggest money suck of all the conferences I attended. I loved meeting readers and bloggers and getting to hang out with them. I would just like to not spend three thousand dollars to do it. And while I can’t necessarily point to my sales post-RWA and say, yes, I’ve made back what I’ve spent, that’s not what RWA is for me. Those are business conferences—ongoing education for writers. And, to me, they are absolutely vital to continuing to grow as a writer.

Let me just put a caveat to everything: I am an extrovert. I live off the energy of others. When my conference wife and I go together and she’s drained by the end of the day while I’m bouncing off the walls, this becomes perfectly apparent. That said, here’s a lowdown on some of the different conferences I’ve heard about or attended.

Large conferences

2014-07-26 16.16.52RWA Nationals: The Mama Jamma of conferences. For learning conferences in the romance industry, this is the biggest. It normally has about 2500 attendees, hundreds of workshops, editor/agent pitch appointments, publisher parties (if you are traditionally published), vendor parties (if you are self-published), an awards night, keynote speakers, book signings, and lots of socializing with all those writer friends you’ve met online. And also, you get to meet authors you’ve read and loved for years (cough Jill Shalvis cough).

2015-05-13 14.33.14-2Romantic Times Convention: One of the largest reader oriented conferences, again for romance authors. Many of the events are geared toward readers and/or bloggers. There are still workshops for writers (though far less than at RWA), publisher/vendor parties, an awards night (full disclosure: I did not attend this. But I did get dressed up, because it was an excuse to wear a tiara, and if there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I will always wear a tiara if possible.), book signings, themed parties every night, and way way way lots of socializing with friends and authors.

NINC: As I’ve not attended one of these I won’t be able to give info on what happens at one of them, but they do come very well recommended. Bonus: They are for all novelists of all genres, not just romance.

Medium sized chapter conferences

For these, I’m talking about Spring Fling, Moonlight and Magnolias, Emerald City, NJ’s Put Your Heart in a Book, Florida’s Fun in the Sun, and many more I’m probably forgetting. Each one will have something a bit different, but for the most part, it’s going to be like a mini-RWA. The only exception to that is the publisher and vendor parties—those aren’t at these (or haven’t been at any I’ve been to yet).

Smaller, reader focused conferences

Full disclosure, I haven’t been to one of these, though I’d love to. I’ve heard great things about them, and it’s on my radar for 2017/2018. These include: Barbara Vey Luncheon, Lori Foster’s RAGT, Apollycon (I’m one of the attending authors in 2017!), Rom Con, and probably a crapton more I don’t know about/am forgetting.

Bottom line? There are a ton of conferences out there and more popping up every year. What you get out of one will totally depend on who you are, where you are in your career, what your mentality is before you even step foot at the conference, who you go with, the organizers, and about a gajillion other things. My advice? Try out a couple and see what size/style you like best. Don’t schedule so many that it interrupts a great deal of your writing time, but also don’t bail on them if you want to go but instead feel like you should write. (Also, who says you can’t write at conferences? I was on deadline with CAPTIVE when I went to Moonlight & Magnolias, and I spent many an hour pounding away at the keyboard.)

Do you know of and love a conference I didn’t mention? Do you have experience with any that I did mention? I’d love to hear about it, so drop me a comment or pop over to Twitter to chat.

04
MAY
2016

Whatcha Cookin’ Wednesday

Hello, all you pretty, lovely people! It’s hump day, which means it’s time for another Whatcha Wednesday! I wasn’t planning on going in any sort of order, but I haven’t done a recipe in a while, so I thought I’d tell you what I’m loving to shove in my piehole right now.

I’m a granola addict. Like, I loooooooove the stuff. My favorite was Erin Baker’s granola (fruit and nut) and it was OMG SO GOOD. I’d have it every morning on my greek yogurt with bananas. And then we started paleo and found out that while EB’s granola was pretty good on the crap-to-good-stuff ratio, there were still ingredients totally not okay for paleo. So I moped and I womped and I cried and then I went to Pinterest and went digging for a paleo recipe. How you do.

And what did I find? This glorious, glorious recipe. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “An all nut granola? No. And not only no, but hell no. I need oats!” Not so, my friend. Not so. I promise you will not even miss the oats.

I made some adaptations to this recipe because I’m a lazy baker and whatever I have on hand is whatever I use. So here’s mine, as adapted from The Roasted Root:

IMG_6941Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw (or not) walnuts
  • 2 cups raw (or not) cashews
  • 1 cup raw (or not) almonds
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons extra light tasting olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon finely ground sea salt (I omit if I’m not using raw nuts and they’re already salted)
  1. Preheat oven to 300°F and dress up a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toss all your nuts in a food processor and pulse those babies a few times to get smallish pieces, but not finely ground bits. Some larger chunks are okay, so don’t freak out when you pull out that mostly-whole almond.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whip that egg white and water mixture until foamy. Whip it real good.
  4. Add oil, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and sea salt. Mix that shit up.
  5. Toss in your chopped nuts, then add your coconut and raisins (or dried fruit of choice). Stir well until everything is coated.
  6. Pour this glorious mixture onto your dressed up baking sheet and pop that baby in the oven for 30 minutes. Stir/flip granola mixture after 10 minutes, and keep on eye on this, because it goes from perfect to over-done lickety split.
  7. NOW THIS IS IMPORTANT. Don’t touch the granola once it comes out of the oven. Don’t you do it. You’ll ruin it. And you don’t want to be a granola ruiner, do you? Let it sit for about 15 minutes so it can cluster up and become glorious.
  8. Stuff your piehole.

That’s it! I store mine in a ziploc baggie in the fridge. I’m not sure how long this would stay good for, as we’ve never had it longer than a few days.

Now go and make it and then come back and tell me how you didn’t even miss the oats.

29
APR
2016

Friday Round-up

Friday Round-upHappy Friday, you lovely, gorgeous creatures! It’s time for another Friday Round-up over here, where I show you what I’ve saved from the Interwebs over the past week. I swear, every week I go into my Pocket account and think there’s not going to be anything there, and I’m always shocked that I have a dozen things saved.

First thing I saved was this craft book called Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels. I’ve seen lots and lots and lots of mentions of this one in my different feeds, and I’m pretty excited to dive in and check it out.

Next up is a Crossfit journal discussing blocks of food. I saw someone (Juli Bauer, maybe?) post about this resource and wanted to check it out. We switched to a 90/10 Paleo diet at the beginning of the year (though if I’m being honest, the last four weeks have been more like a 40/60 Paleo diet…), and it really is a whole new beast. Learning to eat again—the right way—when you’ve gone decades doing it totally differently is hard. I’m not sure that this will work for us, but it’s something I want to at least educate myself on. Side note: can we talk about who counts out 24 peanuts to eat them? Not this girl.

I am always looking for awesome bookish things, so when I saw this post on Fiction Fare, I knew I’d want to save it forever in my Pocket. I have an obsession with book related items, especially jewelry. *heart eyes*

And then not at all related to book things, but totally related to healthier eating: local, grassfed beef. I’ve been thinking about ordering this for a while because A) organic, grassfed beef is fucking expensive in the store and B) I like knowing exactly where the stuff I’m putting into my body is coming from. So my friend Ellis and I started chatting, and we just might share a cow. Just like the olden days.

Lastly, I saw this awesome post on time management and color coding. The approach of organizing tasks by the time increments they will each take really clicked with me, and I can’t wait to start implementing this in my planner.

And speaking of my planner…did you see the peek I posted of it on Instagram? That’s my Rhodia Webnotebook and we’re getting married. I hope you’ll all come to the wedding.

See you guys next week! Have a fabulous weekend!

27
APR
2016

Whatcha Lovin’ Wednesday

Helloooooooo, lovelies! I’m sorry I missed Monday’s #ListifyLife post. This week has been crazy busy (hubby’s birthday, school projects, field trips, physical therapy, blah blah blah), and I hadn’t even been able to glance at the prompt until 3 minutes ago. And it’s a thinker, so posting will have to wait. Luckily, the challenge runs all week, so I’m good to go.

For today’s Whatcha Wednesday, I wanted to talk… *sparkly font* makeup. For those who have zero interest in makeup, you’ll probably want to skip this post. No hard feelings, and I’ll catch you again on Friday. For those of you who do love makeup, grab a chair and settle in.

Full disclosure: I was a late bloomer in my makeup obsession interest. I mean, I started wearing makeup in 7th grade, but I never really got it. I wasn’t ever interested in it. It was there and I would wear it and it was fine. And then sometime after I turned 30, I started carving out more time for myself. And also spending more money on myself. It was (is) really an amazing and awesome thing (though my wallet would disagree), and something I completely support and encourage fellow women to do because we have a tendency to put ourselves last.

So there I was, early-thirties with a thirst for this stuff. Face products, body scrubs, serums, eyeshadow palettes…you name it, I wanted to try it. In the past several years, I have amassed a ridiculous tremendous collection of all that stuff. As such, I’ve been through dozens of different foundations. MAC, Urban Decay Naked, Laura Mercier Silk Creme (yes, creme, not cream. They’re not monsters.), Tarte Amazonian Clay, and BareMinerals, just to name a few. And while they were all fine, they weren’t it. (<—-heh, I made a pun. You’ll see.)

UNTIL NOW.

(Before I go any further, let me say that there are no affiliate codes in this post and no one is paying me anything to say this. (Although if someone wanted to, I’d be totally cool with that.) This is just my opinion on a some awesome products I think everyone should use.)

So a few months ago, I went into ULTA to buy…something. I can’t remember. It’s not important. While I was there, a consultant offered to do a makeover on me, and, me being me, I took her up on it. Free makeup to try out? Hells yeah.

Now, I should also tell you that while I was working my way through all those foundations, I was also going through as many primers and/or setting sprays, looking for the perfect combination so my makeup would stay where it was supposed to stay, and I wouldn’t have this weird feathering/streaking and/or pockets of color that showed up after a few hours of wear. And for the love of God, would someone tell me how to keep my foundation from getting on everything else but my face?

Right. So. Makeover. There I am, getting probably $300 worth of stuff tried out on my face. And while everything she used was nice, I wasn’t sold on any of the “extras” she showed me (I prefer my Urban Decay primer and Naked palettes, my BareMinerals Around the Clock gel liner, and my Laura Geller blush). But I did fall head over heels in love with the face products.

Behold, the trifecta of awesome:

IMG_6803For those following at home, that’s IT’s No. 50 Serum Anti-Aging Collagen Veil Primer, Your Skin But Better CC+ cream (mine is illumination, but they have plain, too, which I’m switching to), and Bye Bye Pores Silk HD Anti-Aging Micro-powder. That’s a lot of words for what boils down to The Best Makeup You Will Ever Wear On Your Face.

Let’s break this down into a handy dandy pro and con list, shall we?

Pros:

  • They are all anti-aging. I’m a firm believer that it’s never too early to start protecting your skin. I’m looking at you, twenty-two-year-olds.
  • The CC cream contains 50+ SPF. You should be wearing it every day, even in winter. Are you?
  • It makes your face feel like a baby’s tush. Seriously. Come over and feel my face.
  • Long-lasting (this makeup can last longer than that hero in the romance book you’re currently reading, and that’s a long time.)
  • They smell soooooo good! I get migraines from different scents, and makeup generally packs a punch. IT’s products are really light and fresh smelling…not at all overpowering, and if you don’t have a ridiculously aware nose like I do, you might not even notice it.
  • The serum feels like you’re rubbing the tears of Greek Gods on your face, it’s that amazing.

Cons:

  • Not a lot of colors to choose from for the CC+ cream, so you might have to mix two like I did. It’s a high upfront cost, but I’ve had those two bottles since…November? So, probably an investment twice a year.

Yes, that’s it for the cons. And, hey, maybe you’ll be one of the lucky few who falls right into a color category, so no cons for you!

Another awesome product that I didn’t include in the pic is Bye Bye Redness. I just started using this last week, and whoa, mama. Awesomesauce.

If I haven’t sold you on this stuff yet, good news: you can go to Ulta and either have them try them on you there (then wear for the day and see how it all lasts), or buy, try for a week, and if you hate them, return them for a full refund.

Thanks for sticking around while I totally geeked out on face care. Any questions on what I’ve used/still use and love? Hit me up in the comments or on Twitter. See you on Friday!

 

22
APR
2016

Friday Round-up!

Friday Round-upMan, doing these posts every week really drives home just how fast time flies. And it also drives home the fact that I need to plan ahead some with these posts so I can be on top of them a bit more!

Lettuce see what I saved this week, shall we?

First up, we have this post on Four Honest as Fuck Questions You Need to Ask Yourself. There are a lot of planners floating around that are a little, hmmm, how can I put this delicately? A little too kumbaya for my tastes. Some people thrive on answering soul deep questions at the end of every week and taking those answers and revitalizing themselves or their work or whatever. I am not one of those people. However. I do think we all can benefit from answering some probably uncomfortable questions from time to time. There’s no growth without some growing pains, right?

Next up we have this glorious, glorious notebook. I fell in love with the original Rhodia, but one thing I didn’t like was the plain, boring, black cover. I’m not sure if it’s obvious or not, but I’m a color girl. Bright colors, especially, make me happy. And when I’m happy I’m an all around more awesome person. So when I saw these new options, I about wet myself. The only downfall? They come in lined only. That means I have to choose between my precious dot grid or this glorious color. WHY, GOD, WHY?

And lastly, I saved a program that I didn’t even know existed. One of the ladies in my planning group on FB shared a tip on how to organize that mass of chaos known as your brain upon returning from a conference. The thing I liked most about Boomerang is that you can schedule emails to go to yourself at any point in the future. Mind = blown. Like, let’s say you went to a promo panel at a conference and took some awesome notes. And you happen to know when you or your publisher are planning a sale on one of your titles. You type up those notes in an email, schedule it to be delivered around the time of the sale, and then BOOM, out of your head.

Are you noticing a pattern yet with my Friday Round-up? I tend to save a lot of things that have to do with organization, production, and/or planning. But don’t get too comfortable just yet. I might go super crazy next week and save something along the lines of the create your own shoes site that ruined my life made me so happy. Pop back in and see!