Monday, October 18, 2010

Houston, We Have a Problem!

On Friday, I packed my car and headed out the door (without my make-up…argg!!) for a four–hour drive to Houston to meet with my agent. She was the luncheon speaker at the Northwest Houston RWA Lone Star Conference and had talked me into coming down to see her. Initially, I had planned on having dinner with her Friday night, and then hanging out in her room all day Saturday and having dinner again before I left to drive back home.

I’m at a place in my career where I have finally come to realize I am not a romance writer, but I’m unwilling to give up the friendships and camaraderie of RWA, especially my own DARA chapter. So, I have been cutting back on all things romance, and I had no desire to actually attend the conference, concentrating instead on my own genre conferences (mystery.) I’m actually going to my first one next month in Boston – the Crime Bake.

Anyway, I changed my mind since the program for the conference was not romance related and sounded interesting. Best money I ever spent!

Randy Ingermanson, author of Writing Fiction for Dummies, gave an all-day program that started with craft, and then the Snowflake Method of plotting, and ended with marketing. Wow! Although I was totally exhausted and my brain fried at the end of the day, I had learned so much. I would recommend his courses to everyone. And if I was exhausted, imagine how he felt! Since I am an OCD (or DCO as my new Houston friends refer to it..private joke!) plotter, I was happy to hear I already practice most of the techniques of his Snowflake Method. If you’re a pantser, it would really be valuable for you to check it out.

Anyway, this blog post isn’t about how wonderfully informative the program was…it’s about Houston and the Northwest Chapter.

I have always known that writers are a great bunch of people willing to share their expertise with fellow authors. I've always known writers knew how to laugh and to party. What I didn’t know was how easily they would take me under their wing and make me feel like I was a part of them.

Now remember, I was an outsider who was basically like the younger sister whose mother insisted she go everywhere with her older sister. (No, Christine, I am not calling you older!!) You get the picture. Yet, I was welcomed with open arms as if I really wasn’t the fifth wheel wherever Christine went.

It started Friday when Elizabeth Simmons picked Christine up from the airport and met me at Luby’s to guide me to the hotel. And then Tess Grillo welcomed both Christine and me with a surprise package (cookies and a loaf of homemade pumpkin bread – husband loves you, BTW!) Friday night Jaye Garcia chauffeured us to Stacey Purcell’s house where she and her lovely hubby…aka kitchen slave..Peter, along with the rest of the attendees wined and dined us.

As I mentioned, the conference was wonderful. Christine gave a rousing speech at lunch about how to get published and stay published in today’s world that gave hope to all the writers there. Christie Craig followed with her as-usual, hysterical self telling the mattress story that had me laughing as soon as she stood up. She followed up with her “don’t give up” presentation that included TONS of rejection letters. Christie won’t brag about this, so I am --- she just sold an as yet unreleased YA series to a German publisher for six figures!! Take that all you stupid people who rejected her!!

Anyway, Saturday night, the chapter’s officers and workshop planners took Christine, Randy, Amy Boggs of the Donald Maass Agency and Naomi Hackenberg of the Elaine English Agency to dinner at a really nice seafood place. As the drag-along younger sister, I was invited and I had a wonderful time. I sat next to Randy and the two agents, and I have to tell you, if I didn’t love Christine so much, I would have no problem submitting to either of the agents. They are both adorable.

After dinner, we were invited to Ruth Kenjura’s room where she had a potload of wines, cheeses, and chocolates. Seems this is a tradition for her. In Orlando this summer, she even shipped her wineglasses! What fun that was, and as always when women get together, the conversation turned to sex!! You had to be there!!

Anyway, what does all this have to do with writing? Nothing, except that once again my belief that writers are some of the most generous people on this planet was proven to be true, big time. I loved meeting all the people, especially Jaye, June, Jan and a slew of others whose names escape me. Those of you from Texas know there is always a little competitiveness between Houston and Dallas in everything, especially sports, so I was prepared to be treated like an outsider.

And therein lies the problem.

They acted like they had known me all my life, even made me an official chapter member.

So, today is officially Houston NWRWA Chapter Day at M & M. Take a bow, ladies. You’ve earned it.

Cost of the conference: $120
Miles Driven: 540
Time with Christine: Excellent
Finding new friends in Houston: PRICELESS

Oh, congrats to all the Lone Star contest winners and fingers crossed for Jaye who's a finalist in the NJ contest.

Now, since I want comments, tell me any good stories about writer generosity that you might have.


Cassy Pickard said...

Liz: I can't imagine anyone anywhere not taking you right into the fold, little sister or not. You are so right. The group of writers I have met have been beyond helpful and supportive. It's pretty amazing. My husband can't believe some of my stories, for it does't happen that way in the architectural world.

And, are you ready for CrimeBake?? I think we have a number of folks from this list attending. I'll be there on Saturday. Can't wait to see everyone. Plus this will give us a chance, Liz, to show you that we New Englanders aren't as cold as many believe- .

Edie Ramer said...

I'm glad you had such a great conference! We had our chapter meeting on Saturday. One person sitting alone and I hadn't seen her before. I knew she must be new, so I went up and chatted with her before the meeting started. I know how it is to not know anyone in a room full of chattering women. Not a good feeling.

Donna Cummings said...

Liz, that sounds like a wonderful conference -- I'm envious of how much fun you had. :)

I agree about writers being a generous bunch. Maybe it's because we all know what kind of struggles go into creating books, but you'd think it would make everyone more competitive -- it really does seem to be just the opposite though.

I'm looking forward to meeting you at Crime Bake. :) I'm not attending the conference, but I figure I should be able to keep the bar stools ready for those of you who are attending. LOL

Tiffinie Helmer said...

I love Christie Craig! I met her in person at the National Conference in Florida. I'm so thrilled over her YA deal. Good for her.

Every writing event I have attended has opened their arms to me. Writers are the best people. I've never been around a more giving lot. My experiences are so many that there isn't time to list them.

I also have to give a shout out to my chapter mate and cp who finaled in the Lone Star Contest, Cindy Nielsen huge congrats!

Sylvia Rochester said...

Liz, it's always good to hear uplifting stories, and you, my friend, are one of the most generous and giving persons I know. Thanks for being a friend.

Liz Lipperman said...

Cassy, you are always so sweet and so right about a lot of professions not being so giving to their competitors.

And I can't wait for Crime Bake and the New England hospitality.

Liz Lipperman said...

Edie, it doesn't surprise me at all that you reached out to a new member. We have a greeter at all our DARA meetings who guides a new author or a visitor to a table full of seasoned ones and makes the introduction.

Thanks for commenting and Happy Belated Birthday.

Liz Lipperman said...

Donna, it really was a great SMALL conference where you could get really cozy with the visiting agents.
I think most of the attendees were able to pitch to all three of them.

And I am just as anxious to meet you at Crime Bake. Are we doing shooters?

Liz Lipperman said...

Tiffanie, I share your opinion of Christie Craig. I had heard her tell the mattress story in Dallas(she will always be famous for that one.) and I started laughing before she even reached the podium to tell it again. She is one funny lady and deserves kudos for giving back to the ones who loved her even before she hit it big.

Congrats to all the finalists of the Lone Star competition, especially the winners.

Liz Lipperman said...

Sylvia, thanks for the kind words. I;m sending them right backatcha!

I'm so glad I found you in the bayou!!

Mary Martinez said...

Aren't conference's fun? I had a great time the weekend before last at ours. Sounds like almost the same thing, except it was our room where everyone came to chill and have wine.

I'm glad you had a great time and I can't wait to hear about the Crime Bake. I'm so jealous!

Donna Cummings said...

Eeek! Shooters. I better do some training first. LOL

Anita Clenney said...

What fun, Liz, but then anywhere you are is guaranteed to be fun. I agree that writers are really generous of themselves. You know, I actually bought the Snowflake method but I haven't used it. I started it, then got distracted with something and stopped. I'll have to take another look at it. It seemed like a good method from what I remember.

Christie Craig said...

Hi Liz,

Love the post girl. Thanks so much for touting my home chapter. North West Houston gals are fabulous. They know how to throw a party and a conference. And it was so much fun to see you again. Your books sound so fabulous, too. I can't wait to get my hands on them.

Like you, I have found most every RWA chapter I've attended to be extra friendly. I swear my first national conference felt like a family reunion. Family I didn't know I had, but people who totally got what it was to be a crazy writer.

Thanks again. Great post and great blog.

Oh, Tiffinie. Thanks so much. I love talking about writing almost as much as I do writing. I would not be where I am today if not for all the other writers who inspired and shared their wisdom. Speaking at conferences is the most fun I can have and still be paying it forward.


Liz Lipperman said...

Mary, Utah is on my list of conferences to attend because I hear you and Tiff speak so well of it.

I, too, wish you were going to Crime Bake. We're going to have a blast. Charlain Harris is the keynote.

Liz Lipperman said...

Donna, I talk so big!! I've only done shooters a few times in my life. I am such a sissy drinker..even ask for sissy margaritas. My advice though, is if you're going to practice, use expensive tequila. We tried to do them using the cheap stuff and nearly barfed.

Liz Lipperman said...

Anita, if I remember correctly, you;re a plotter like me. The Snowflake Method is a great way to get a synopsis generated.

Hope Austin is a new man.

Liz Lipperman said...

Ah, Christie, I knew I could lure you here with praises of your chapter. You are really a perfect example of what I'm trying to say in the blog. You are so generous with giving back to all of us who look at your success with renewed hope that it can happen to us.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Love ya!

Lindsay said...

Liz, the only thing cold in New England in the Fall is the weather. The writers here are great as they are across the country and world.Go to a conference and even if you're not published yet you find acceptance even with the most published authors.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Oh mannnnn, I so want to go to another conference! I just got back from NYC and hubby and I stayed at the Marriot Marquis where next year's RWA nationals is going to be held! It's right on Times Square and the lobby / bar / restaurant section on the 8th floor is awesome! Really big and open so you will be able to mingle and network with tons of folks in just one spot! I can't WAIT!!!!!

Bethany said...


I don't believe we got a chance to talk, but thank you for coming down and supporting all of us at Northwest RWA. Glad you had such a wonderful experience. It really was an awesome conference :-)

Loretta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loretta said...

Hi Liz! Lo here:)

Like you, I've always known I wasn't a romance writer, but this group of gals has won me hands down! I don't think anyone could pay me enough to leave them:)
(Eyeing Christie's six figures and having just the tiniest glimpse of what my selling price would be to leave:)

Speaking for all of us I'm sure, we enjoyed meeting you...and found all of the agents outstanding:)

I frequently recommend this group to all of my writer friends:) They're knowledgeable, supportive, and a heckuva entourage to have around you:) The belly laughs alone are equal to at least a dozen sit ups I'm sure!

Loretta Wheeler

Jaye Garland said...

Hi Liz, I miss you already! Thanks for the little Spanish translation. I've yet to find just the right time to use that expression around Hubby Dear but know when I do, I'll be silently giggling with you. I have to add, you're not only fun, warm and generous, you're truly an Honorable Lady in the truest sense. You were so nice to not mention in your blog how I'd missed my exit when Christine asked me about my book on the way to Stacey's house. Poor Elizabeth sat in the back seat KNOWING I'd missed the exit but didn't want to say she said, "because you were PITCHING!" I swear, we wouldn't have gone all the way back to Dallas before I finally figured that out. Ruth's in-room parties are always a hit and I'm looking forward to when we get together again. Love ya!

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Liz. It was great meeting you at the conference. You won't recognize this name, cause it's my pen name, and I went by my real name this weekend. I am the contest chair for NWH. It was a lovely conference and I'm so glad you did join us for it. Randy was great!

I can say that I know first hand that not all RWA chapters are alike and that NWH makes it worth my while to drive an hour one way to their meetings. They are great bunch of writers!

Karin* said...

Your experience is why I love the people in this industry so much!

Liz Lipperman said...

Kari, glad you're back and that you had a great time in NY. Unfortunately, I'm thinking I won't make Nationals this year. We''ll see, though.

And squee on the release dated for Fused in two weeks. I think I'm as excited as you are!!

Liz Lipperman said...

Bethany, I wish we had talked. I have such fond memories of all of you. I wish I could put faces with names since I suck at names.

Thanks again to all of you from the weekend.

Liz Lipperman said...

Ahh, Loretta. I am so glad your tag included a picture. You;re the "Australian" girl with a fanny pack, right?????

It was lovely meeting you. I can picture you with the late great Dixie Carter and the Sugar Baker girls with that adorable accent of yours.

And no talking situps. After all that great food I ate this weekend, I don't even want to be reminded of all the hard work I'll need to get back to just being cute and chubby.

Thanks for stopping by M & M. Hope you'll come back.

Liz Lipperman said...

Jaye, I miss you, too. And no one cared that you missed the exit. We were all so enthralled with your pitch. I hope to see that book in the stores in the very near future.

You guys really ought to think about coming to Dreamin'in Dallas in April. It would be a blast.

And let me know how hubby reacts when you spring my expression on him!

Liz Lipperman said...

Anna, I do remember you. That's if you were the one up there with Christie handing out the certificates to the contest winners.

I totally agree about driving the extra miles for a great group like that. I do the same thing.

Thanks for commenting. This is so neat that all of you are stopping by.

Liz Lipperman said...

Amen, Karin. It's a joy to be around other writers.

Thanks for commenting.

Tess said...

Hi Liz!!

Was wonderful to meet you, honey! I'm so glad you had a good time. And I was so sorry to have so much else going on this weekend that I had to miss Ruth's infamous room party!

Hope to see you again soon,

Liz Lipperman said...

Hello, Miss Tessy, wonderful baker and probably excellent writer. I'm sorry you missed out on Ruth's party. There was a lot of laughter going on.

Thanks again to you and your chapter for making me feel special.

Jaye Garland said...

DREAMIN' IN DALLAS. Already on my calendar! How could I miss when I know we'll have a fabulous time. After all, we OWE you for Christine! (omg, I just noticed my word verification to comment this time is 'cents'. Get it? Christine's Book CENTS!)

Now, how do I get my photo to show up here like Lo's does? Tech help!

Ruth said...

Hi Liz
I'm so glad you enjoyed the party. Hope to see you in New York for the next Nationals and the party's always there, glasses and all. I'll have to mark Dreamin in Dallas down, and as long as no babies are on their way, I'm there- wine glass in tow.
Good to see you again.


Liz Lipperman said...

Jaye, doo..doo..doo..doo on the Cents spam word. Remind me one day to tell you about my ghost story and the spam word.

About your pix, go to your Google account and edit. It will let you add a picture. Be sure and save one on your documents so you can browse and find it there. Let me know if you can't do it, and I will talk you through it in a private email or on the phone.

Liz Lipperman said...

Ruth, I now what you mean about the baby on the way. My DIL is due the end of March. When their first child was born 5 weeks early, I had to leave a girls' vacation in Florida to come home.

Again, you are an angel for hosting the wine/cheese party. It was a blast. I love Houston NWRWA!!

Jaye Garland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jaye Garland said...

Okay, I thought I set it up. My photo shows up on the google profile page but it didn't show here when I tried to make a comment. Maybe it will make it this time :)

Jaye Garland said...

3rd time: went to Blogger and set up my account. Maybe this time...

Liz Lipperman said...

Yay! You did it. Nice picture, BTW.

Marilyn said...

I just checked out the website you provided and found the Snowflake Pro software. Anybody try that? How would it work for a pantster?


Liz Lipperman said...

Marilyn, as a published writer, your submissions will now be a proposals - three chapters and a synopsis. I think this is the perfect method for editing a synopsis. A true plotter like me already does all this. IMO, a pantser who submits on proposal could use this and then fly by the seat of his pants when writing the novel. Most of the time, my synopsis changes as I add subplots and layers.

Try this. I think you'll like it.

I have developed my own character profile sheet that I use for every character to keep me straight. I combined several to come up with my own. If any of you are interested in seeing a copy, shot me an email at and I will send one your way.

Wolfgang A. Mozart said...

Hmm...about that mattress story. I think Mme. Moreno would be interested in hearing it.

Thank you, Liz, for another entertaining and beautifully-written blog. We are both jealous that we won't be able to join you at Crimebake this year, but maybe next time.

Liz Lipperman said...

Hey, Mary, I forgot about your mattress story. Fortunately, her story is only funny. Yours could have been disastrous. I'm so glad your injuries weren't worse.

Thanks for stopping by. I'm sorry you won't make Crime Bake, too. We're going to have a ball.

So far, I think we have me, Cassy, Donna, Rochelle, Christine, Pete, Lindsay (a daily commenter on this blog),and a friend of mine from Florida.