Tuesday, October 19, 2010

GET READY FOR THE 2012 DESERT DREAMS CONFERENCE

We have a date:April 27-29, 2012 - at the Chaparral Suites - Scottsdale, Arizona

Good news, we're going to be back at the Chaparral Suites, which is undergoing some major remodeling right now.


Desert Dreams Writers’ Conference provides authors of all skill levels – from beginner to multi-published – with the tools necessary to take their writing to the next level. Sessions will include general writing, career development, genre-specific, agent/publisher spotlights, as well as an agent/editor panel. There will also be one-on-one appointments with editors or agents, a book signing, and keynote addresses. Check back for a full list of editors, agents, speakers and workshops.

Registration opens May 2011.

Hope to see many of you there.

Vijaya Schartz
Award-winning Sci-Fi, Guns, Swords, Romance with a Kick
http://www.vijayaschartz.com/

Friday, May 7, 2010

It was a great conference

Thank you to all the participants, the organizers, the speakers, the many authors and volunteers who gave their time and energy to make this conference an all around success.  Writers found inspiration and professional guidance from the numerous best selling authors, editors and agents.  Smiles brightened the mood, and the weather cooperated. Of course, in Arizona in spring, you can always count on the weather.

I particularly want to thank our organizers for their selfless dedication over the past two years.  Yes, it takes two years to organize such an event.  They deserve their rest.

I hope everyone had a great time in Scottsdale this April.

We shall have another conference in 2012, probably in April.  The new information will be posted on this blog as it trinkles down from the new committee.  But we already have a super experienced team assembled for the 2012 conference, so it will be fantastic, as usual.

Vijaya Schartz
Desert Dreams Conference Publicity Chair

Award-winning Sci-Fi and Romance with a Kick
http://www.vijayaschartz.com/

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A visit with Harlequin editor Kathleen Scheibling

Kathleen Scheibling has worked in book publishing for over 15 years, with occasional forays into film development and production. She has worked as a literary agent, a book promoter, a freelance editor for publishers such as Random House and Harper Collins, an in-house editor at a small press, and joined Harlequin in 2001. Kathleen’s focus is on contemporary romance, and she has worked on Harlequin Superromance, Silhouette Special Edition and Harlequin Everlasting Romance. She is now Senior Editor of the Harlequin American Romance series.

Thank you for joining us, Kathleen. You have quite an impressive biography. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a lawyer. As I got older, I realized I might bore myself to death, or have an early heart attack due to stress. So naturally I went into a low-stress career in publishing (insert maniacal laughter here.)

What or who influenced you to become an editor?

My senior year high school English teacher confessed to me that she read Hemingway and Shakespeare during the day, and steamy historical romances at night. There was something about this confession that made me realize I wanted to work in publishing—that being a book lover didn’t mean marginalizing your taste.

What books do you read for pleasure?

Um, everything? I read other genres of romance (besides contemporary), lots of non-fiction and literary fiction. I just finished American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld and am starting Jon Krakauer’s Where Men Win Glory. I also love magazines—Vanity Fair is a favorite.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Puppeteer. A highlight of last year’s RWA National conference was visiting Kermit the Frog at the Smithsonian.

What one word would you use to describe yourself?

Hungry.

It’s said you can tell a lot about a person by their surroundings. What does your workspace look like?

Like my mind, it is cluttered. But I still know where everything is.

Do you have any hobbies?

I watch tons of movies. I’m very physically active and like to hike, box, run, cycle, canoe, etc. But not all at the same time.

If you were stranded on an island… what four things would you want with you?

1) A gorgeous, intelligent, interesting man.

2) A stocked refrigerator.

3) A stocked bar.

4) Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen.

What was the most dangerous or scariest thing you’ve ever done? (such as bungee jumping or alligator wrestling.)

Kayaking in the freezing Atlantic Ocean with whales coming up all around me, no land in sight. And I DID once wrestle an alligator. Piece of cake.

If you could have lunch with anyone living or dead, who would it be?

Cary Grant. It would be the wittiest darn lunch, ever.

If you could live in another time period, when would it be and why?

No way. Women have the most freedom now—why go back?

What is your favorite word? What is your least favorite word?

Fav: Cookie. Not so much: Empty.

Flash Round:

Favorite Ice Cream flavor?

Chocolate mint chip.

Favorite Food?

Shellfish.

Favorite flower?

Iris.

Favorite Sport?

Cycling.

Guilty Pleasure?

Watching movies over and over and over. I must have seen The Godfather 50 times.

What can you tell us about the workshop you’re doing for the Desert Rose conference?

On Saturday afternoon I’m sitting on a panel with three Harlequin authors, talking about how writing category romance can exponentially boost your career.

Thank you again, for spending the day with us.

If you want to learn more about Kathleen, you can visit with her at the Desert Rose conference April 16-18.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Meet Multi-Published Author Jodi Thomas


A fifth generation Texan, Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state.

The stories Thomas has committed to paper have earned her an impressive list of distinguished awards. Her first book, BENEATH THE TEXAS SKY (1988), won the National Press Women's Novel of the Year in its category. Book two, NORTHERN STAR (1990), was named best novel by the (Texas) Panhandle Professional Writers and the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc., an organization of writers' groups from several states. Book three, THE TENDER TEXAN (1991), was Thomas's first national bestseller and won her the first of two Romance Writers of America RITA's, the $1.5 billion romance publishing industry's equivalent of an "Oscar." Book twelve, TO KISS A TEXAN (1999) was her first novel to score on the USA TODAY Best-selling Books list. For THE TEXAN'S WAGER (2002), sixteen was the magic number. As Thomas's sixteenth novel, the book scored number sixteen on the NEW YORK TIMES extended bestseller list. FINDING MARY BLAINE, (2004) received the National Readers' Choice Award in 2005. Thomas was inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame in 2006 for winning her third RITA for THE TEXAN'S REWARD (2005). She also won the National Readers' Choice for TWISTED CREEK (2008) and TALL, DARK, AND TEXAN (2008).

With a degree in Family Studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A & M University campus, where she currently serves as Writer In Residence.

When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, Tom, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo, and “checking up” on their two grown sons.

DRose: Welcome Jodi, it's great to have you here. Let's start by telling us a little about yourself. Where are you from? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I grew up in Amarillo, Texas but a few weeks of every summer was spent in Hollis, Oklahoma where several sets of aunts and uncles lived. I know I lived the other 50 weeks of the year but sometimes I think I remembered every detail of those summers in a small town. My Uncle Leroy always brought me a horse into town so I could ride around during the week of the rodeo.

DRose: How long did it take for you to get published and what was the journey like?

Like most writers I started it working a few hours a week almost like a hobby and got hooked fast. Soon I was writing two of three hours almost every night. The first year I thought I’d sell my first book for a million any minute. Five years later, I was still working on trying the sell. Then, I went to a conference, talked to an editor and sold. It all seemed so easy…if you don’t count the years of trying.

DRose: With so many books under your belt do you find it easier to plot your before you write it or do you sit and let the words flow?

I usually have a few pages of ideas, but my characters never listen to me. I like to meet my characters and get to know them as I move though the story.

Once I had great characters but didn’t feel like I had a plot. I brought my chapter every week to critique and would say, “here’s my story without a plot.” I finished the book thinking I didn’t really have a big plot to go with this book. TWO TEXAS HEARTS was in 11th printing the last time I checked. No plot maybe, but great heart.

DRose: What is your favorite book or series?

My new book WELCOME TO HARMONY was so much fun to write. I knew I had a great story, but I wasn’t sure I could write so that the readers saw it the way I did. I love this small town and the people in it. I can’t wait to take readers home to Harmony.

DRose: Tell us more about your book. What's it about and what inspired you to write it?

I wanted to create a town that everyone wishes they were from. Harmony was founded by three families who don’t always get along, but when trouble comes will fight for one another’s rights. It’s a story about loving others and about seeing the heroes in us all.

DRose: Any current projects you're excited about and can share with our readers?

I just finished the second in the series about Harmony. New characters blend with the old. I had a great time watching characters grow and learn from one book to the other. Readers will be able to return to Harmony with Nov. release of SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY.

DRose: Most people see writers as hermits, closed off in a room, clacking away at the keyboard until the final page is typed. Do you consider yourself this disciplined as a writer?

I’m the Writer in Residence at a small university. I have people in and out of my office all day. I give between fifty and a hundred talks a year to everyone from writers to clubs. I rarely write in the day, but after dinner when the house is quiet I climb the stairs to an office framed by windows and write until about midnight. When I get behind, I sometimes disappear for a week to a cabin in the mountains, but most of the time my family helps me.

I went to lunch with my son one Sat. when I’d been writing all morning. Halfway through the meal he said, ‘Mom, you can’t pull out of the story, can you?” He was right and very understanding. I don’t write for a living---I am a writer.

DRose: Do you consider yourself eccentric as a writer? Is there something you must have or do before writing?

Of course. We all are, but we have to adapt. I love building my nest as I sit down to write. A Diet Coke, a few M&M’s, silence, a game of solitude and I’m ready to go. But like gets in the way so sometimes I’m writing away in a corner of an airport with people passing and noise everywhere.

DRose: Do you write to music or the TV?

No.

DRose: When you're not writing, do you have any hobbies or interests?

I love people. I belong to lots of clubs and love going to art shows and movies. We love eating out with friends and traveling.

DRose: They say you can learn a lot about a person by their surroundings. What does your work area look like?

At home, it’s clean, usually only a few papers and my computer. At my office it’s cluttered. I like having things around me that mean something to me so I would probably be a decorator’s nightmare

DRose: What do you consider your guilty pleasure?

Movies!!! When I’m feeling down I go rent five movies, pop popcorn and watch one right after the other.

DRose: Can you tell us about the workshop you’ll be doing for the Desert Rose Conference?

In WRITING IN TWO GENRES I talk about the advantages of writing for more the one market and how to stay sane while crossing into two worlds. We’ll explore the possibilities in writing and learn to find the heartbeat in a story that makes readers keep the book to read again.

In SELLING HISTORICALS IN TODAY’S MARKET—we’ll look at ways to show a profit in the historical market. We’ll also see how charcters come alive in any time period.

Thank you for spending the day with us Jodi. We’re looking forward to seeing you at the conference.

To learn more about Jodi and her books, visit her at www.jodithomas.com.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A visit with Carla Neggers

Carla Neggers is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including The Mist, The Angel and Cold River. Her work has been translated into two dozen languages. Carla is a founding member of the New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America and has served as president of Novelists, Inc. She is currently a vice president of International Thriller Writers.

Carla and her husband, Joe Jewell, live on a hilltop in Vermont, not far from picturesque Quechee Gorge.

DRose: Thank you for joining us, Carla. Let’s start by telling us a little about yourself. Where are you from? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I grew up in rural western Massachusetts, with a Dutch father, a Southern mother and six brothers and sisters. I always wanted to be a writer and wrote my first stories up in a tree! But I also was a musician, and for a while I thought it'd be fun to be a plant pathologist.

DRose: How long did it take for you to get published and what was the journey like?

"How long" depends on when we decide to start the clock ticking! I submitted a manuscript to an agent a few months after my first child was born. The agent took me on, but I was writing first-person romantic suspense, which wasn't selling at the time. I tried my hand at category romance—which was hotter than hot!—and discovered I could write funny, sexy books with no murders. I ended up writing one of the launch books for the highly successful Bantam Loveswept series.

DRose: Do you plot your story before you write it or do you sit and let it flow?

Yes. ;-) I do 'big picture' plotting before I write. Then I sit and let it flow—I still love to write longhand.

DRose: Tell us more about your book. What's it about and what inspired you to write it?

THE MIST, my 2009 hardcover, is just out now in paperback. It picks up where THE ANGEL leaves off—these two books are tightly connected, although the series starts with THE WIDOW. I was inspired to write THE ANGEL and THE MIST on trips to Ireland. Although primarily set in Boston, the stories also take us to the southwest Irish coast. I remember walking into a remote, ancient stone circle at dusk and just knowing I'd set a scene there at some point. THE MIST opens with Lizzie Rush, a hotelier and amateur spy, taking on a would-be killer in just such a stone circle!

DRose: Any current projects you're excited about and can share with our readers?

I'm very excited about THE WHISPER, my July hardcover, which picks up where THE MIST leaves off. Boston detective Scoop Wisdom has been in Ireland, recuperating from the injuries he sustained in the bomb blast in THE MIST. He wants to find out who planted the bomb, and he thinks it's another cop. Enter Celtic archaeologist Sophie Malone, who is fighting her own demons. And right now I'm finishing up COLD DAWN, the next book in my series set in the fictional northern New England town of Black Falls.

DRose: Musicians often note the musicians who influenced them. What authors have influenced you and your work?

I read and read and read as a kid—anything I could get my hands on, from Jane Austen to Alistair MacLean and The Hulk. I learned early on that I love adventure, action, romance and a satisfying (happy!) ending.

DRose: Most people see writers as hermits, closed off in a room, clacking away at the keyboard until the final page is typed. Do you consider yourself this disciplined as a writer?

I'm disciplined but not regimented, and I have the good fortune of being able to write anytime, anywhere—which means I could write on a two-week personal retreat to Ireland last September. I'd write, walk, write, hit the pubs, write some more…it was a wonderful experience! My husband gets to go with me next trip, though. That'll be fun, too. ;-)

DRose: Do you consider yourself eccentric as a writer? Is there something you must have or do before writing?

Oh, how funny! Hm. No, I guess not. I do like having a lot of pens and pencils around me when I'm writing longhand. I once was hand-searched at the airport, and the TSA agent told me, "You have a lot of pens." I did—twelve!

DRose: Do you write to music or the TV?

I can do either, depending on where I am in the book. I particularly love to write to the Dropkick Murphys.

DRose: When you're not writing, do you have any hobbies or interests?

Definitely—I love to hike, kayak, garden, travel. I'm thinking about going back to karate. I've been on hiatus since a neck strain. Probably a good idea!

DRose: They say you can learn a lot about a person by their surroundings. What does your work area look like?

I write longhand on a project table by a window overlooking our backyard and woods. You can actually see the view on my photo blog—check out the Vermont sunrises.

DRose: Can you tell us about the workshop you’ll be doing for the Desert Rose Conference?

I'll be doing two workshops. One is on writing as work/writing as play…how to create synergy between "work" (craft) and "play" (inspiration). We'll have fun. The other is on romantic suspense—figuring out what it is, where you might fit on the continuum between romance with a touch of suspense to flat-out suspense with a touch of romance. We'll have fun there, too.

DRose: Is there anything we didn't cover that you'd like to mention?

I'm looking forward to being in Phoenix again. I'll never forget how incredibly warm and welcoming chapter members were when I was in town for a signing in 2007.

For more information, please visit Carla at her Web site, www.carlaneggers.com.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Countdown Begins

The Desert Dreams Conference is only days away and we hope you are all as excited as us.
The Desert Dreams Conference has always been considered one of the best RWA Chapter conferences around and this year is no exception. The committee, headed by Cathi Lombardo and Patti Osback, have been diligently working to bring you an experience you will not want to forget.

You can find all of the information about the conference by following the link on the sidebar.

After opening the conference on Friday night with several wonderful workshops we will meet at the main dining room for a "genre-themed" dinner. All guests and attendees are welcomed to dress in character. The dinner tables will each be set up to represent a genre and will be hosted by some of our wonderful speakers. Below is a list of the tables and host/hostesses.


Table Hostesses for Genre Dinner

(DR Members in Red)

1. Category Carrie Weaver/ Linda Style

2. Category Kathleen Scheibling (editor) / Cathy McDavid

3. Contemporary Beth Kendrick

4. Contemporary Carla Neggers

5. Erotic Laurie Rauch (editor) / Calista Fox

6. Erotic Cassie Ryan

7. Historical Jodi Thomas

8. Inspirational Pam Tracy

9. Mainstream Connie Flynn

10. Mainstream Eileen Rendahl

11. Mainstream Peter Senftleben (editor)

12. Mystery/Suspense Sharon Sala

13. Mystery/Suspense Miriam Kriss (agent)

14. Regency Jennifer Ashley

15. SF/Fantasy/Paranormal Erin Quinn / Kathryne Kennedy / Deborah Werksman (editor)

16. SF/Fantasy/Paranormal Deborah Leblanc / Vijaya Schartz

17. Sweet Romance Annette Mahon/ Kim Watters

18. What’s My Genre? Laurie Schnebly Campbell / Susan Yarina (these ladies will answer all questions about writing)

19. Woman’s Fiction Kate Seaver (editor)

20. Women’s Fiction Robin Lee Hatcher

21. Young Adult Janet Reid (agent)

For the past two months we have been featuring many of our speakers on this blog. In case you missed any of the interviews you can click on their names below to read more about them.

Stop back by in the coming days for more interviews or information about the conference.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Visit with Vicki Lewis Thompson

Vicki Lewis Thompson’s romance writing career has given her many wonderful things –New York Times bestseller status, an appearance on LIVE with Regis and Kelly, the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award from Romance Writers of America, thousands of readers, many dear friends, and the cutest little yellow convertible in the world. Her career has also given her work she loves.

Although she’s written more than 100 books, she continues to be fascinated by the many ways that a man and woman fall in love. The age-old story remains a challenging puzzle to be solved anew with each book. That makes her a very lucky person, indeed.

DRose: Welcome Vicki, it’s an honor to have you with us. Let’s start by telling us a little about yourself. Where are you from? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

VLT: Because I moved to Arizona as a kid, I count myself as an Almost-Native. I had dreams of becoming a ballerina, but I’m short and the least flexible woman on the planet, so I flunked dance class. Fortunately, I’ve always loved to write!

DRose: Are there any authors who have influenced you and your work?

VLT: I didn’t discover romance until my thirties (gasp, choke!) but I distinctly remember reading D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover at an impressionable and hormonal age and thinking it would be cool to write about sex. I like unpretentious writers. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn was a favorite. Once I discovered romance, I was definitely influence by Nora (who needs no last name). There’s not even an ounce of pretention in her writing. It’s clean and compelling. I admire that.

DRose: Do you have a favorite book or series?

VLT: I’ll always be partial to Nerd in Shining Armor because it was so pivotal in my career, but my favorite book or series is usually the one I’m writing.

DRose: When you're not writing, do you have any hobbies or interests?

VLT: When I’m not writing I usually indulge my hobbies of sleeping and eating. But sometimes I can eat and write at the same time. Sleeping and writing hasn’t worked out so well.

DRose: Tell us more about your book. What's it about and what inspired you to write it?

VLT: If it’s okay to talk about both Blonde with a Wand and Chick with a Charm, I’d say I was inspired by the dynamics of sister relationships. Two sisters, both witches, get into trouble using their magic inappropriately. Their predicaments are similar, but their reactions are not. Anica, the heroine of Blonde, and Lily, the heroine of Chick, are as different as two people could be, just as I’m different from my sisters and they’re different from each other. The interaction of siblings and the effect of birth order are subjects that have always fascinated me.

DRose: How long did it take for you to get published and what was the journey like?

VLT: From start to finish was about a year, which seems fast now but seemed to take FOREVER back then. Soon after I started writing romance I quit my day job, which meant I had to sell within that year or go back to the day job. I was extremely motivated, because I LOVED staying home to write. I still love it and am pretty much ruined for any other kind of employment.

DRose: Any current projects you're excited about and can share with our readers?

VLT: You bet! Thanks for asking! I’m writing a nine-book cowboy series for Harlequin Blaze that debuts in June. Three books will show up this summer, three more in 2011, and the final three in 2012. Currently I’m also writing a series for NAL that features comic werewolves. The first book comes out in February, 2011, and is called Werewolf in Manhattan.

DRose: Do you plot your story before you write it or do you sit and let it flow?

VLT: I plot as much as I need to so that my editor won’t panic. Editors have this crazy need to believe that the money they’re paying will result in an actual book with a plot. What’s up with that? But at heart I’m a pantser and prefer to discover the book as I go along.

DRose: Do you write to music or the TV?

VLT: Definitely not TV. I’m not hooked up to TV at home, although I love watching movies and TV shows that come out on DVD. But a thumbs-up to writing with music. One of my all-time favorites is the score to the first Pirates movie. Love. It.

DRose: Do you consider yourself eccentric as a writer? Is there something you must have or do before writing?

VLT: Someone’s been spying on me. They caught me wearing my lucky sweatshirt with crystals hanging around my neck and my creativity bracelet on, and the music cranked up to jet-takeoff levels, not to mention the glass of merlot and the plate of Seriously Sharp cheddar, plus my favorite spice pillar candle burning.

DRose: Most people see writers as hermits, closed off in a room, clacking away at the keyboard until the final page is typed. Do you consider yourself this disciplined as a writer?

VLT: Yes.

DRose: They say you can learn a lot about a person by their surroundings. What does your work area look like?

VLT: It looks like my living room, because I write there on a laptop. I pretty much hate desks.

DRose: What do you consider your guilty pleasure?

VLT: Reading People magazine.

DRose: Can you tell us about the workshop you’ll be doing for the Desert Rose Conference?

VLT: I’m presenting two workshops, one by myself and one with my assistant Audrey Sharpe.

My solo act is “Just Ask,” in which we’ll discuss how a writer can get what she needs from editors, agents, and even her family.

The duet with Audrey is called “Rescue Me.” We’ll talk about delegating non-writing tasks using both love and money as rewards.

DRose: Is there anything we didn't cover that you'd like to mention?

VLT: My cat Eve thinks she should get a plug because she’s my muse and I couldn’t write a lick without her. That’s probably true.

DRose: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. It’s been a pleasure.

VLT: Thanks for asking!

For more about Vicki and her work, visit her website at http://www.vickilewisthompson.com/