Sunday, July 24, 2011

Adult Read Blogfest hosted by Heroines With Hearts!

When I saw a few posts on my blog dashboard about this awesome little blogfest, I had to participate.  It's being run by the lovely ladies at Heroines With Hearts from July 24th /25th.  The rules for this blogfest are simple. All you have to do for this blogfest is fess up on the first adult book you picked up and read: whether a classic, a racy novel or that of unusual content, then post your entry on own blog July 24th/25th.  If you're interested in joining in the fun, please click the "Heroines with Hearts" link above.  

Let's see.  The first romance novel I read that had what could be considered "unusual content" would have to be Spoils of War by Kari Gregg.  The book involves a male/male pairing, so it won't be for everyone, but damn, is it hot!  I've read plenty of romance novels, but, despite writing my own M/M story, I wasn't sure which ones would make for good reading.  

I was lucky enough to meet Kari Gregg at the RWA 2011 conference at one of the workshops, and she not only gave me some fabulous recommendations but convinced me to check out her book as well.  I'm glad I did. 

The blurb is as follows: 

Enslaved during the invasion of the rival King of Herra, Micah cut off his emotions and adapted to his new life in servitude. Xerxes, the Herran King, abuses his captive to keep the neighboring kingdom of Alekia under his yoke, but after Micah nearly dies when plague sweeps Herra, the Alekian King sends Eli to bring his beloved son home. Institutionalized by his slavery, unable to cope with his freedom, Micah seeks to please the new master he's found in Eli throughout their harrowing journey to a homeland he no longer remembers. Eli protects the young man and introduces Micah to the pleasures denied him as a prisoner. Will Micah accept his noble birthright when they reach Alekia, and more importantly, can he accept Eli as the devoted slave his father has given him rather than the master he's come to love?

It's saved on my Kindle now, and though I'm sure I will enjoy reading many more romance novels of all kinds in the future, this one will likely remain a fun favorite.  

Do you remember your first romance novel?  Perhaps one that was racy, or had content a little out of your comfort zone?  Please share!

p.s. I suppose that if you define "adult reads" as any novel not geared specifically toward younger children or teenagers, then The Hobbit would likely take that prize.  I was about ten when I read that one.  

xoxo Sarah

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Parties and Cheesecake! Om nom nom... RWA Conference Pt. 4

Back to the conference!

In between workshops and (possibly) breaking delicate body parts, there was everything else.  

And this constituted a lot of socializing, eating, drinking, and dressing up.  Yeah.  It was awesome.  

Let me clarify...

Being my first RWA nationals conference and Shelley's second, we wanted to check out a lot of what was offered.  And since neither of us are published (preferring the title "PREpublished" instead of "UNpublished" because of the more positive connotations), there were certain things that we naturally wouldn't get invited to, but might possibly attend in the future.  Example: one of the publishers held a black-and-white ball at the Waldorf Astoria.  Yeah, that place in the picture.  I'm still jealous, and it's been nearly a month.  If we published with that particular publisher, then we'd be invited.  

The same goes for belonging to other chapters or specialty chapters of the RWA.  Example: the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal (FF&P) chapter held a party where the party-goers wore super-hero (or super-heroine) costumes.  Passionate Ink held one where a lot of dominatrix gear was worn.  I'm not sure what it was for, but it made for some interesting people-watching, I'll tell you that.  

Not too many looked like Angelina, but who cared!  It looked like a fun party!
So, we attended events that were open to all, such as a fun PJ party that Harlequin was throwing one night.  Sadly, neither of us brought PJ's we wanted to wear out of the room, so we just wore regular clothes.  It was a fun night, and we met a lot of wonderful people!  

Shelley and I also enjoyed the Atrium Lounge, where we were often joined by other writers and people we met along the way.  It was a great way to network, and I think I gave out more of my cards this way than through any other socializing I did at the whole conference.  It was great to meet other authors who were letting their hair down after a nice long day of workshops.  Conversations ranged from talking about the workshops we'd attended, to what our books were about, to where we were from and more.  I even had a chance to meet a couple that I'd met on Twitter.  That's kind of a surreal experience, meeting someone you've met only online, but I had a lot of that going on on this trip.  

The luncheons, of which there were two, were good as well.  The food was definitely good for the staff having to feed 2,000+ people, and the speakers were motivating, especially Sherrilyn Kenyon, who is a well-known author of many paranormal and fantasy romance novels.  

Yeah. She's that awesome.
The RITA and Golden Hearts ceremony which was held on the final night (Friday), was pretty interesting.  Normally I can't stand awards ceremonies.  They're boring, and the people who win go on and on and on and no one will shut them up, yadda yadda yadda.  But, I quickly discovered that if you get a bunch of writers in one spot, even if they suck at public speaking, the speeches will be interesting.  Because we're writers, bitches.  We can come up with something appropriate, be it short-and-sweet or funny and amazing at the drop of a hat.  Meg Cabot, the lovely writer of many novels, including The Princess Diaries, and who was wearing glasses at the ceremony and looked uncannily like Tina Fey, was the MC and hilarious.  I officially add her to my growing list of people I want to be when I grow up. 

Additionally, we ate mass quantities of cheesecake at Junior's, which was right across the street from the Marriott Marquis.  I'm surprised I didn't gain a ton of weight on the trip, because the cheesecake was to die for.  

I will end with a picture that will make you run to your refrigerator and sob because this is not in there on a shelf.  

Junior's Devil's Food Cheesecake. The white layer is regular cheesecake and the other parts are regular chocolate cake and thick chocolate frosting.  This was in my tummy.  You're welcome for the jealousy.

xoxo Sarah

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I'm a lazy ass...

Well, it's almost been a month, so I figured I'd better put up an album of pictures from the RWA conference.  If anyone is interested, you can check them out on my FaceBook author's page, which can be found under the "Contact Me" section.

Or on the right side of the screen in the side bar.

Or here, because I'm feeling benevolent today. 

Kindly click "like" when you check out my page, and I just might love you forever!

p.s. I promise that there is a Pt. 4 to my RWA posts...I've been a lazy ass about getting that out, too.  Keep your pants'll be up this week.  I think.

xoxo Sarah

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lions and tigers and workshops, oh my! RWA Conference Pt. 3

First off, it's effing HOT out there.  So hot, in fact, that it required capital letters for me to properly emphasize the hotness.  But, it just makes me more thankful that I'm in here, in my air conditioned house with a fan on full-blast.

Now then.  Workshops.  A huge reason why we went to RWA11 in the first place.  Though some were two hours, most of the workshops ran about an hour each with a 15 minute break (or so) in between to get to your next one or use the bathroom (they actually converted some of the men's restrooms to women's using a high-tech sign...a sheet of paper labeled: "Ladies Room").  In each time slot, anywhere from, oh, seven to twelve workshops were going on at one time, more or less.  So there's no way a reasonable person would be able to get to them all and learn anything, or even half of them and learn anything, without having access to a time turner.  Don't know the reference?  Let's just say I have Harry Potter on the brain.  Look it up.
The Time Turner. The only way to see all of your workshops in person.

Workshops were categorized in the following areas: Career, Publishing, Writer's Life/Muse, Craft, Research, Special, Chat, and Spotlight.  Because we were worried about not getting seats, Shelley and I made first and second choices for each time slot, which worked out extremely well.  We also tried our best to take good notes; we sometimes went to the same ones as our interests were/are similar, but sometimes we'd each go to one and make sure we took down a lot of details for the other.  Copy machines are a wonderful invention.  We were also thrilled that the entire conference (minus the workshops that were not recorded, which were very few) will be available on DVD/CD to buy, which was great.  There isn't really a substitute for being present, because being there allowed you to participate and ask questions, but after hearing other attendees chatting about the awesome workshops they'd been to as well, it will be well worth the buy.

I'm not going to go into detail of all the workshops we went would take up waaay too much time.  We attended some about the business of writing...contracts, e-books, and the like, because, as fledgling writers, this wasn't something with which we'd had a lot of experience.  One workshop, which was run by a couple of amazing agents, was particularly fascinating.  Brainstorming was another good one, as it's always a good idea how to work yourself out of writer's block or any tight spot your characters get themselves into.  Two more of my favorites were one on social networking and how to use it to your advantage as both a published and unpublished writer, and a workshop on character's point of view and creating a connection between them and your reader.  The speaker in this one was just so good that I can't wait to listen to that one again!

The Spotlight sessions were also good.  They were informal question and answer sessions about the publishers who were sponsoring the conference, many of which I was interested in.  The three I attended were Samhain, Ellora's Cave, and Pocket.  The latter two, Shelley went with me.  After all, when are you really going to interact with the higher-ups of a publishing company and have them answer the questions you want answers to?  Exactly.  I thought I'd better take advantage, especially because these three are among the 15+ I have on my list to query when the time comes.

That's about it for the workshops!  Next up...everything else.

xoxo Sarah

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hold on, one more...

Two posts in one day?  What's gotten into me?!

Don't get too used to it, ladies and gents.  I don't have to be Ms. Cleo to know that a move will be in my very near future, and that will become an even bigger timesuck than it has been so far.  My hope is that Husband will be back to shoulder some of the stress.  Love you, honey.

I didn't want to squash this little post in with one of my RWA conference posts which are a bit wordy on their own, so I thought I'd do a completely separate one.

My critique partner, Shelley, has a new blog up!  I'd appreciate it if you took a few minutes to check it out, and to give her a follow.

In other news, I also wanted to pimp out a giveaway by another lovely lady, author Susan Kaye Quinn.  Her first novel, Life, Liberty, and Persuit, has been out for a while, and as a thank you to people with family members in the military, she wanted to say "thank you!"  The details of the giveaway can be found here, on her guest post on Lisa Sanchez's blog.  If you qualify for the giveaway, don't forget to comment on their blog so they enter you in the random drawing.

Hmm.  I think that's almost it for now.  Two little reminders:  as of very recently, I can be found on Facebook, so please stop by and give me a "like."   It's been giving me a little trouble this afternoon, and I can't see anything I've posted, but I hope that gets corrected soon.  I also joined Goodreads, and I'd love to see what you're reading and recommend, so send me a friend request over there, too!

xoxo Sarah

Thank God it's not a meat locker in here... RWA Conference Pt. 2

We checked into the conference the night before when we arrived, picking up our welcome packets and tote bags and thankfully avoiding the lines to do so the next morning.  We'd also attended a book signing, where all the proceeds went toward a literacy foundation.  I believe over $40,000 was raised, which was amazing.  I also got to meet another author I'd met online, Laura Kaye.  I picked up one of her books for my mother, and had Laura sign it to her.

The hotel was nicely laid out for conferences; several floors were dedicated to conference and meeting rooms, and they were connected by escalators, allowing us to avoid using the ridiculous elevators for the most part.  Also, I was thankful that, unlike most conferences/meetings I've been to in the past, the Marriott seemed to know their stuff when it came to climate control.  Layers were still necessary, but were limited to a light sweater, and I never regretted not bringing my heavy fur coat to wear over long underwear, tank tops, t-shirts, a long-sleeved tee, and a sweatshirt.

"Take a right at the ice burg. The Brainstorming workshop is on the left."

Just kidding. I don't wear fur.

On the first day, there wasn't much to do in the morning (besides inadvertently sleep through the welcome presentation), so we explored and drank coffee.  Shelley had mentioned that quite a few of the Maryland Romance Writers (their RWA chapter) would be there, and she was excited to introduce me.  For a variety of reasons, I don't belong to a local chapter, only the national RWA, though I would like to.  So, I wasn't sure what to expect, and though I knew Shelley would want to hang out with them as well as me, I didn't want to make myself an extra wheel.  But you know what they can never have too many wheels.  Or maybe it's just me who says that.    

Anyway, it was just our luck that, while waiting for the welcome luncheon to begin, we ran into the amazing Sharon Buchbinder, the president of the MDRWA chapter.  She appeared to be a little younger than my parents, and was dressed in layers like Shelley and I were.  When we were introduced and she asked what I write, I responded a little more specifically than I usually do, given that this was a writer's conference.  "Hi, I'm Sarah, and I write contemporary romance and erotica."  She then asked me what my first book was going to be about and my stomach clenched, not sure how she'd take to hearing what my first WIP was about.  "Well," I said nervously, "it's a male/male erotic romance."  Instead of the worst-case-scenario responses I expected, which ranged anywhere from a polite raising-of-the-eyebrows to disgust, Sharon's face broke into a wide, genuine smile, and she congratulated me.  The three of us then chatted about my story and what each of us was writing until the ballroom opened for us to be seated for the lunch.  

"Your story is M/M and has sexytimes? High five!"
As a little side note, writers, particularly romance writers, appear to be some of the most tolerant people I've ever met.  I heard so many different story concepts and pairings while I was at the conference that I would imagine we'd have to be.  So, one thing I'm especially grateful for that I learned at the conference was to revel in your writing.  You write what you want to write, and there will be people who are enthusiastic and supportive of it, no matter what.  This was a big lesson for me, and I'm glad I figured it out. 

I think I'll stop here for today, and talk about the workshops in the next installment!    

xoxo Sarah

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Oh, sh*t, I think I broke my toe! RWA Conference Pt. 1

Yep, I know how Neville feels.
I'm baaaack!  I spent the previous week at the lovely Marriott Marquis in New York City for the Romance Writers of America national conference, and I had an amazing time.  So amazing, in fact, that I'm still recovering; by the end of the trip, I felt like I'd been hit by a Petrificus Totalus and was ready to drop like a stone. But, several nights of 5-6 hours of sleep, plus amazing company, alcohol, a ton of walking, and so much information that Hermione Granger would die of jealousy will do that to a person.  So, I've been trying to catch up on some sleep while I figured out how to post about my experience.

Sorry about the Harry Potter references.  I'm just chomping at the bit for July 15th.


I'll be honest.  The conference was so busy that when I got home, I wasn't really sure where to start when it came to reviewing what went on.  Where to begin?  Should I start from day one and go through the whole thing, day by day?  Should I break it down into categories, like food, workshops, people I met, etc?  But then my inner Tina Fey rolled her eyes at me, and I figured I'd just wing it.

I'll post in a few parts, namely because my attention span rivals that of a toddler who's been given an espresso at the moment, so hang with me.

Last Monday, I was getting ready to fly to Baltimore to meet my lovely critique partner, Shelley, for the first time.  Wait, let me back up a little.  Before I even left, I was so overcome with excitement that I somehow managed to kick a door frame with my poor left foot, leading me to have some fascinating rainbow-colored bruises for the whole week.  For a good chunk of it (the week, not the foot), I was convinced that my poor little toe was broken, but because I can put weight on it, I think I just sprained it badly.  Still, I was pretty gimpy for most of the conference.  Anywho, meeting Shelley could have gone a couple of ways and been super awkward since, despite knowing each other since 2009, we'd never met in person.  What if we weren't compatible?  What if she was a serial killer and I willingly put myself in her path?  What if I annoyed the crap out of her and she couldn't wait to ship me back home on the first plane out?  But, Shelley and her amazing sister, Jen, were very sweet and wonderful hosts (hostesses? That's a lot of "Ss"...), and I'm so glad I did it.  I stayed over at their house on Monday night, and on Tuesday, Shelley and I drove up to Trenton to take the train into NYC.

New York Marriott Marquis
Everything went as planned; no problems or bumps in the way, minus some weird blockage of I-95, which only led us to take a detour of a very pretty, very scenic route.  So, in the late afternoon, we checked into this place.  The Marriott Marquis is right on Broadway in the Theater District, and extremely close to Times Square, so we were right in the thick of things.  It was too bad that we didn't get a chance to get out of the hotel much while at the conference, but next time, I think I will try to stay a few days before and/or after to enjoy the location where the conference is held.  After all, exploring different parts of the country is half the fun!

I'll pick up in the next post with more awesomeness!

xoxo Sarah