Lessons from RWA’s National Conference

This past month has been a whirlwind of activity – professional development, a family wedding, Babycakes’s third birthday…

Oh yeah, and a trip to Disney World for RWA2017 (AKA National).

About five years ago, I informed my husband that I was going to the National Conference in 2017 – yes, because it was being held in Disney World. Plans to attend the 2014 conference in San Antonio were scuttled because I would be eminently due to give birth. NYC in 2015 didn’t happen because we’d just moved to Charlotte, and 2016 in San Diego wasn’t doable for a variety of reasons.

So not only was attending this year sort of a goal-met moment for me, it was being held in the Happiest Place on Earth and we could roll a fun family vacay into the whole deal.

I cannot express what it felt like to walk into the conference center. The energy was through the roof – inescapable when so many creative minds gather under that roof. Because of said family vacation (I mean, I didn’t want to miss ALL the magic of Babycakes experiencing Disney for the first time), I gave myself Thursday and Friday, the two “full” days of the conference. And I jammed them full.

Prior to leaving for Florida, I read the very wise advice of fellow Soul Mate author Rebecca Heflin, regarding the challenge introverts face at writers’ conferences. I can’t say I followed her advice well, but I definitely learned some lessons for myself – and maybe for others – that I can take to heart the next time I have the opportunity to attend RWA National.

  • Do not try to do everything. I planned to attend three sessions each day, plus the Golden Heart and Keynote Luncheons. By the end of the second day, my head was pounding. Not sure if it was from being inside all day or from the sheer amount of fantastic information I’d been digesting. But if I had to do it again, I’d pace myself better. Many of the handouts/resources are available at RWA.org, as are the recordings (for a price).
  • Stay hydrated. I brought a water bottle with me, knowing the importance of fluids during a marathon day. I consistently forgot to drink from it, and by the end of the day I was definitely feeling it.
  • Bring snacks. The luncheons were a fabulous way to meet other authors and editors, and snag a “free” meal (technically I paid for it with my registration). But I should have brought some things to munch between sessions.
  • Decide on one method to take notes, if any at all. I tend to be one of those note takers who can jot down a few key phrases and then just magically remember what the presenter said about those phrases. The first day I lugged around a spiral notebook, the second day I used a small pocket notebook, and all the while I thought about how much easier it would have been to just bring my Surface and type. I can’t read my chicken scratch anyway.
  • Get people’s names and contact info. I was fortunate enough to run into several colleagues and friends, but I also met some new people. At my first session, I sat beside a woman who also worked in education. I remember she lives in Houston, but that’s it. I wish I’d gotten her name, or at least given her my card. We could have connected on multiple levels.
  • Coordinate with people you know, so you aren’t alone (applies mostly to introverts). I am a painful introvert in new situations, especially when surrounded by a LOT of people. It was really hard for me to introduce myself, even if I got into small-talk convos. And after running into several colleagues from my local RWA chapters, I felt like an idiot for not coordinating better with them to meet up. I think when you’re with people you know, as an introvert, it’s less scary to be introduced to someone new.
  • Just make it be about the conference. While I wouldn’t give up Babycakes’ first trip to Disney for anything, it was hard not being immersed in the conference full time. I mean, there was a write-in! People were meeting up for dinner! I totally skipped the RITAs in favor of a little couple time with my Romantic Hero of a Husband out at the parks. I did tell the hubs that the next conference, I should really just go on my own and do the conference properly. Stay at the conference site, with other conference goers, and be immersed in the amazing experience that is RWA.

If you’re not an introvert like me, maybe these lessons don’t apply to you. We all have different professional needs, and finding your stride, figuring out what your conference mojo looks like, is valuable.

HE TAKES THE CAKE Cover Reveal and Release Date Announcement!

Hey all!

I know I’ve been really incommunicado the past couple months. It’s not on purpose, I promise. And I do have lots of things rattling around in my brain that I would like to talk about at some point in the near future.

BUT luckily for you, I do have something to share this evening,

Something . . . sweet.

It’s a COVER REVEAL for the final installment of the Sweet Somethings series, HE TAKES THE CAKE!!!!

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Coming June 21, 2017 from

Soul Mate Publishing

Cover Reveal – The One I’m With (Sweet Somethings Book 3)

Since I just sent some revisions back to my editor yesterday and the release date is somewhat set in stone, I thought it might be a good time to reveal the cover for Sweet Somethings Book 3!

Ready?

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In this installment, I’ll be taking readers a little closer to my new home turf, with a setting in beautiful Asheville, NC. And who will be our romantic couple this time around?

Remember Josh Mattingly, the womanizing best man who tried (and failed) to snag a one-night stand with Carmella in BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE? Well, he’s been trying to clean up his act, and that includes erasing his playboy reputation. But his real challenge will be proving to Sweet Somethings newcomer Marissa O’Brien that she can trust him with her heart.

The truth is, letting yourself fall in love means daring to risk heartbreak.

Stay tuned for more updates about THE ONE I’M WITH, including the official blurb and release date. As always, if you want to stay connected on announcements and upcoming releases, email newsletter and follow me on my socials (Facebook, TwitterGoogle+, Pinterest, and YouTube).

And if you’re new to the Sweet Somethings series, don’t forget that BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE and WHEN IN ROME are both available for Kindle (and can be read on any device that supports the free Kindle reading app), and BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE is now available in print!

Love isn't always picture perfect...

Love isn’t always picture perfect…

Three friends. A broken engagement. A surprise elopement. A big secret. A lot of chocolate.

Three friends. A broken engagement. A surprise elopement. A big secret. A lot of chocolate.

BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE is Now in Print!

Being published for Kindle has been a pretty awesome experience. But still, I have always held onto that dream of seeing my work in actual physical print.

(I know technically an ebook is in print. But you know what I mean.)

Now that dream has come true!

BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE is now available in print at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

Three friends. A broken engagement. A surprise elopement. A big secret. A lot of chocolate.

*squeeeee*

This is like, the epitome of awesomesauce for me as an author.

And if you’re of the “I prefer Kindle/ebook” persuasion (because let’s face it, it’s easier to load up on books for a vacation when you don’t literally have to load up on books), and still haven’t snagged a copy of BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE yet, here’s another fun scoop of awesomesauce.

For one week, starting this Friday, May 13th, BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE will be available for $0.99 at Kindle Nation Daily and BookGorilla.

So really, there’s no good reason to NOT check it out. 🙂

On a somewhat related not and as a final announcement, thanks to everyone who entered my Rafflecopter giveaway for the May Fresh Fiction Box NOT to Miss. Congrats to Ryan Summers, the lucky winner of this great box of literary goodies.

When in Rome (Sweet Somethings #2) is Available for Preorder!

Who here is dying for more Sweet Somethings? Well, you’re in luck!

In just three short weeks, WHEN IN ROME can be automatically delivered to your Kindle or Kindle reading app (on any supporting device)! And if you’re signed up for my newsletter, you’ll get first crack at the info on my release day giveaways.

And of course, don’t forget to follow me on my socials and Goodreads:

This is exciting. This is big.

Let me let the cover and blurb speak for themselves.

When in Rome (Sweet Somethings #2)

Love isn't always picture perfect...

LOVE ISN’T ALWAYS PICTURE PERFECT…

Atlanta-based photographer Kate Miller doesn’t believe in fairytale romance or relationships of the forever kind. She’s determined to build her own happiness through hard work and professional success. So, when the opportunity arises to join an exclusive fashion photo shoot in Rome, she jumps on the chance to gain international recognition. But she’s not counting on an instant attraction to the charismatic, sexy, and irritatingly arrogant director of the shoot.

World famous, Domenic Varezzi is used to calling the shots. His clients trust his instincts and they’re willing to pay for the best. But while his career is thriving, his personal life has been lackluster at best. Hoping Kate could be the answer he’s been looking for, he’s determined to win her over. Every challenge she sends his way drives him to break through her tough-as-nails exterior to reach the vulnerable heart that matches his own.

Surrounded by the beauty and magic of Italy’s “Eternal City,” a foundation begins to form that could lead to a lifetime partnership, both in business and in love. Until Domenic’s past comes back to haunt the present and threatens to destroy everything.

Available April 6, 2016 from

Soul Mate Publishing

PREORDER NOW AT

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Reviews are in for BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE

I feel like I’ve fallen off the face of the Earth lately, but in fact, I’m really just up to my eyeballs in boxes and packing material. Casa de Rowan – South is about halfway to feeling homey. Most of my free time on the weekends and evenings of late have been spent either putting things into boxes, taking things out of boxes, or trying to keep Babycakes away from the boxes.

Toddlers, FYI, are horrible assistants when one is trying to move.

But there’s still been a lot of writing going on around here. In fact, we’re only about a month or so away from another Sweet Something – so stay tuned for more info on the upcoming release of Book 2, WHEN IN ROME. In fact, if you haven’t signed up for my email newsletter yet, go do it right now so you can get the news when it breaks!

In the meantime…

For an author, nothing is quite as satisfying as discovering that people are enjoying your work. And this certainly seems to be the case with BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE!

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A number of reviews have come in from various places around the Interwebz, and I’m very happy to share them with all of you.

From “Long and Short Reviews”

“I really enjoyed reading Better Than Chocolate. I recommend it to anyone looking for a sweet romance that is fun and refreshing.”

Read the full review.

From “Aubrey Wynne: Romantasy Through the Ages”

“If you love second chances and falling in love this is a must-read.”

Read the full review.

From “Jersey Girl Book Reviews”

Better Than Chocolate is an enjoyable and lighthearted romance story that will leave a smile on your face.”

Read the full review.

From “Coffee Time Romance & More”

“I love a good “falling in love” story, and this was one of those. I finished the whole thing in two days flat!”

Read the full review.

And my personal favorite….

From “Chick Lit Plus”

“Ms. Rowan grabbed my attention from the first page and kept it through the last page. I love books that make me want to stay up all night reading – and this one absolutely did! …On a scale of 1 to 5, I’d have to give this one a 6.”

Read the full review.

Three friends. A broken engagement. A surprise elopement. A big secret. A lot of chocolate.

Have you read and enjoyed BEtter Than Chocolate? Don’t forget to leave me a review on AMAZON or GOODREADS!

Cover Reveal – Better Than Chocolate (Sweet Somethings #1)

Happy Monday! You’ll notice that the redecorating of my site is coming along nicely. There are still a few things I’m working on, but that’s not why I’m here today.

Since I finally have my ducks in a row, I’m pleased to share the official cover and blurb for my upcoming release, the first book in my Sweet Somethings Series!

Ready? Here we go!

Better Than Chocolate (Sweet Somethings #1)

Better Than Chocolate

Carmella Sannarelli is a people pleaser. She can’t say no to anyone, even when it means putting off her own personal goals in the process. So, when her best friend, Sadie Miller, calls with the announcement that she’s broken up with one fiancé and eloping with another in St. Croix, Carmella can’t stop herself from dropping everything and accepting the invitation to stand as maid of honor.

Jilted fiancé Ryan Wutkowski has been the third member of the Carmella-Sadie trio for nine years. He fully supports Sadie’s new engagement and upcoming nuptials, knowing it’s the right decision and best for both of them. But when he boards a plane to San Juan for a business conference, Carmella is the last person he expects to find occupying the seat next to his.

Two days in San Juan, then a week in St. Croix—Carmella knows her two best friends are hiding something. But can she figure out what went wrong between them as she battles her own tingly, off-kilter feelings toward Ryan, while dodging advances from a womanizing best man, and confirming for herself that Sadie did make the right decision? When Ryan unexpectedly shows up at the rehearsal dinner and gets himself invited to the wedding, will Carmella finally uncover the secret he’s held since the day they first met?

COMING IN SEPTEMBER 2015 FROM SOUL MATE PUBLISHING

Soul Mate Publishing