Unsolicited Advice: Attending Conferences

cropped-leavemelostfrontcoverweb.jpg
Last week, I had an amazing opportunity to attend the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference. I had gone before, but not for about three years. Coming back was like coming home, in a writers-bonding-with-writers kind of way. It’s a community like no other, and there’s nothing quite like talking about writerly things with people who have been there, who understand the struggles and the wins just as you do. I thought of a few things that I learned, and whether you’re a writer or not, they should apply to situations related to your own career in which you might find yourself:
1) Follow Directions/Read your handouts: It may sound like a no-brainer, but be prepared. Know where your classes are, and how to get there. Bring the materials that the instructors want you to bring, and in the manner that they told you to bring them. There’s nothing quite like missing out on some valuable information that could change your career because you didn’t double space your sample pages (which I’m certainly glad I did!)
2) Don’t be an A-hole: A good life rule in general, but definitely applies to the conference scene. The last thing you want to do is sit down to a pitch session and stare wide-mouthed at the person in front of you, thinking to yourself, “Oh (insert expletive here), this is the woman who I couldn’t be bothered to hold the elevator for this morning.” Remember, no matter how brilliant your work is, nobody likes a jerk, and more importantly, nobody wants to WORK with a jerk. Would you?
3) Read, Read, Read: Would it kill you to read a book about your craft? Nope. I admit, this is a rule that I’m trying to get better about following. Hence why I bought books by all the master class speakers whose workshops I attended. Which brings me to the next rule…
4) ATTEND THE MASTER CLASSES: Yes they cost more money. There’s a reason for that. I learned more in those half day sessions than I learned in the vast majority of my college classes. GO! You’ll be glad you did.
For more information, email me at authorreneenmeland@gmail.com. Happy reading! 

Guest Post with Cynthia Sax, USA Today Bestselling Author

So excited to have Cynthia Sax, author of Releasing Rage, stop by for a guest post today! Read her take on killer heroes, and learn more about her exciting book!

Releasing Rage_Compressed

Killer Heroes With Cynthia Sax

We, romance readers, love the bad boys, don’t we? (grins) There’s something about heroes who have their own sets of rules and don’t follow anyone else’s. They’re willing to do anything for their heroines.

But what about REALLY bad boys? Could a hero be a killer and still be a hero?

In Renee’s The Extraction List, Cain is a cold-blooded killer. He wouldn’t hesitate to end a life to save Riley’s. In Releasing Rage, my most recent release, Rage is a cyborg warrior. He was designed to kill and he enjoys it. Killing is part of who he is.

But like any bad boy hero, these killers have their own set of rules. Rage prefers that his opponents be armed. He gives his enemy a dagger so he has the ability to defend himself, so he can have some dignity at the end, die fighting, with honor. If his opponents are honorable warriors, he kills them as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

Rage’s ability to kill comforts Joan, his human heroine. They’re living in a violent world and she likes having a violent male to protect her. She’s not a killer herself. Her skills lie in other areas. But she knows Rage and his cyborg brethren will safeguard her.

Because when a bad boy, especially a killer, falls, he falls REALLY hard. Rage shows a vulnerability, a softness to Joan that he doesn’t show to anyone else. He’s still a killer. That won’t ever change. But he’s more than that with her. We see his human side.

He trusts her, a rare thing for any killer. He might be her sword but she is his heart, his conscience. There are no limits to what he would do, what he would sacrifice to shield her from harm. And that’s very romantic.

What do you love about bad boy heroes?

***

Blurb

Releasing Rage

Half Man. Half Machine. All Hers. Rage, the Humanoid Alliance’s most primitive cyborg, has two goals–kill all of the humans on his battle station and escape to the Homeland. The warrior has seen the darkness in others and in himself. He believes that’s all he’s been programmed to experience. Until he meets Joan. Joan, the battle station’s first female engineer, has one goal–survive long enough to help the big sexy cyborg plotting to kill her. Rage might not trust her but he wants her. She sees the passion in his eyes, the caring in his battle-worn hands, the gruff emotion in his voice. When Joan survives the unthinkable, Rage’s priorities are tested. Is there enough room in this cyborg’s heart for both love and revenge?

Buy Now (Note: This story is meant for adult readers only. If you are under the age of 18, please do not buy Releasing Rage):

On Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Releasing-Rage-Cyborg-Sizzle-Book-ebook/dp/B00ZOL1DRO

On Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00ZOL1DRO/

On ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-releasingrage-1850041-340.html

On B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/releasing-rage-cynthia-sax/1122455646

Bio

About Cynthia Sax

USA Today bestselling author Cynthia Sax writes contemporary, SciFi and paranormal erotic romances. Her stories have been featured in Star Magazine, Real Time With Bill Maher, and numerous best of erotic romance top ten lists.

Sign up for her dirty-joke-filled release day newsletter and visit her on the web at www.CynthiaSax.com

Website:  http://cynthiasax.com/

Newsletter:   http://tasteofcyn.com/2014/05/28/newsletter/

Facebook:  facebook.com/cynthia.sax

Twitter:  @CynthiaSax

Blog:  http://tasteofcyn.com/

Writing While Pregnant- A Musing of Watermelon-like Proportions

I figured writing while pregnant would be a little different. Of course typing with a numb hand (baby decided to settle on a nerve) has proven to be difficult. Trying to find a position to type in that doesn’t kill my shoulder hasn’t been a picnic either (again, baby curled up right on top of a nerve). But there have been some other things I’ve noticed that I didn’t expect.

  1. I’ll find myself typing away when suddenly the fantasy of me yelling at the last person to ask me if I was sure I wasn’t having twins will pop into my head, followed by an ultimately unfulfilled promise to myself that the next person to do so will get punched in the throat. Maybe my characters will end up with more pent up aggression as a result. I guess we will see in book four.
  2. As I’m sitting here writing this, I have been pulled away at least 3 times by the adorable yet manipulative faces of our two dogs. I believe I have shared their pictures before, but just in case:DSC01918

untitled Now don’t judge me, dear readers. you know you would have a hard time resisting those precious little faces too. But I’m realizing that if I can’t learn to say no to my fur babies, I’m going to have just as hard a time saying no to my human baby. Probably more so, because eventually she will be able to talk back. The time to take control back is now, before my computer is covered with finger paint and my characters are forever stuck in rough draft limbo. If I’m going to be the best mother I can be, I need to be the best person I can be, and that involves creating worlds and stories. So while I do it for myself, I also do it for them.

I’m sure I’ll think of more little tidbits, dear readers, but for now, I leave you with a question. How have your children affected your writing, routine, content, or otherwise?

Pattern? Magic Pill? Who knows…

TEL FREE promo pic

I tend to be the kind of person who looks for a pattern to solve a problem…I figure if there’s a puzzle, there has to be a way the pieces fit together that makes the solution apparent.

I’m now wondering if I am completely off base.

In my writing journey, I have tried to look at other authors who are doing better than me (yes, I do the thing they tell you not to do, but how else do you figure out how to improve?) and see what they are doing that I am not. In the last couple days, I have gone through several things that made me think “Ooh! This must be it. This must be the thing she is doing that I am not and as soon as I do it the sky will open up and angels will sing.”

But then I will go look at a different widely successful author and discover that she is not doing the very thing the first author was doing. Or that she is, but not doing as well as myself or the first author despite her astronomical sales.

There was only one thing that I found that matched between both authors:

Ready for this?

Drumroll please?

Here it is: they both have written double or triple the books that I have. Which in turn also means that unless they are both crazy writing machines they have been in the game longer than I have.

And unless some writing fairy sprinkled some magical publishing success dust on their pretty little heads, they’ve worked their asses off PRODUCING WORK.

Yes, Twitter and Facebook are important for getting exposure. You can have a great book but if no one knows about it, it can go into Amazon oblivion. But the key part of it all is producing good work, and producing it often. It seems so simple, yet it’s the answer that’s hardest to wrap your head around.

There IS a pattern: write more

There IS a magic pill: write great work

Is the answer easy? No. It’s much easier to think I’m just not tweeting enough, or a Tumblr account is going to send me to the promise land. But in the time I take to do that, I could have written 200 more words that have a way better chance of getting me where I want to go. So in that spirit…

Stop surfing the blogosphere and get back to work!

That’s where I’m going.

The Extraction List is FREE!

TEL FREE promo pic

Exciting announcement! The Extraction List eBook is now FREE on Amazon! A great way to start the series. Pick it up here (why not? it’s FREE!): http://www.amazon.com/Extraction-List-Renee-N-Meland-ebook/dp/B00V8KADEY/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1437501005&sr=8-1&keywords=the+extraction+list

Book Review: Empath by S. Usher Evans- 4 Stars

empath

I picked up this book because I am a fan of the author’s other writing. I usually am not excited by dragons and such but I trusted this author to wow me again.

And I was right.

I could talk about the fabulousness of the writing, the wit of the main character, and the well-fleshed-out minor characters, but this book has such deep and important element to it that I am going to focus on it instead. This book reminded me of the amazing book 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, a book that will stick with me forever. It is one of the highest compliments I can give, trust me on that. Both authors took the horrors and realities of depression and gave them a face and a name. I thought it was smart that she took a problem that, unless you happen to meet the love of your life when you’re eight or something, everyone faces at some point: a breakup. The main character is afraid to tell anyone that she is not, in fact, doing ok after realizing the person she had devoted 5 years of her life to is not the one she is going to eventually call “husband.” She is afraid to give voice to the fact that her heart is broken and, at least until the end of the book, she doesn’t think it will ever be whole again. I wish I could remember something that a secondary character said verbatim, but I’ll paraphrase. Lauren basically said that she didn’t think her problems mattered/were important in the light of other things going on/etc, to which the secondary character replied “but they are important to you, so they are important to me.” There may be bigger problems in the world as a whole, but it’s important to remember that doesn’t make the problem any less devastating for the person going through it. So in the spirit of this amazing book, ask your friends how their doing…and then ask again. They might not tell you the first time. But eventually, knowing you are there when it counts can make all the difference in the world.

Book of the Week: Yesterday by Samyann

I figure when I’m in the blogging mood, I should take myself up on it, so I’m doing two books this week. The next book up is a reincarnation story by Samyann entitled Yesterday. This book put a smile on my face, and I bet it will put one on yours too.

yesterday cover

Here’s the blurb:

A tender love story pulls the reader back to previous lives and a time richly elegant. In modern day Chicago, deja vu draws together a handsome mounted policeman and the beautiful young woman who saves his life. Yesterday is also a harrowing tale of escape through the American Civil War, the heart wrenching love of slaves for their young white charges, and The Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In this historical romance, Mark fights through Amanda’s rejection to prove that she will love again as she once loved – Yesterday.

Purchase it from Amazon here. Happy Reading!