For the past few days I've been in Nashville Tennessee. I traveled there to attend the UtopYA 2012 Con, a convention designed by Janet Wallace to connect readers of young adult paranormal romance novels with the authors who write them (and vice versa). I didn't know what to expect. I thought I would be participating in a few panel discussions about writing and then I'd sign a few books. That happened, but that was secondary. Here's what really happened: I met the kindest, most generous people and I also began to really understand how absolutely INSANELY fortunate I am to have you as readers of my stories (Yeah, you are so completely awesome, but I'll get to that in a second because I want to try to write this without bawling through the entire thing).
The industry that I have become a part of is a strange creature; just when I think I may understand it, I find out there is so much more to learn (and by that I mean, I have barely scratched the surface of what there is to know.) I used to think that it would be enough just to write a story--a good story--a compelling story. In a way, I was right. That story brought amazing readers into my life. One has but to read the comments on this blog to see just how creative and unique you are. I value you because trust me when I tell you that you are a rarity. In a business as competitive as this one, having you to come "home" to is a blessing.
But, I'm learning that it may not be enough to just write a story that people want to read. I was in Nashville on the campus of Vanderbilt University with a hoard of writers who can write good stories--captivating stories. The difference between some of them and me is that I seemed to have found people to help me along the way. I had friends who read my rough drafts and told me what they liked and what they hated. I have a mom who can go toe-to-toe with any copy editor out there in a grammar contest--and win. I have friends like Volatalistic Phil and Rob Guthrie who followed me on Twitter and helped me figure out the social site. (Thank you, Rob, for letting me know that someone isn't really saying nasty things about me, so I shouldn't blatantly follow that link and give them my twitter password). And I have an incredibly supportive husband who keeps pushing me to learn every technical process I can.
My lucky streak continued at UtopYA. I again found people willing to help me learn what I need to know, not only to be a better writer, but to be more successful at getting my work to you, the reader. I discovered some very valuable tips from this conference; for example, Angeline Kace, author of Descended by Blood, shared that you can get your computer to read to you. This is HUGE when editing! Georgia Cates (my roommate at the Con) and I each sat on our beds with our computers on our laps figuring out how to do that (for directions on how to do it, see * below). Georgia is the author of the Vampire Agape series, if you haven't read it, do.
Abbi Glines, the author of The Vincent Boys & Existence, told us that she makes playlists that her characters listen to by using playlist.com! ENTIRE PLAYLISTS!!! FOR CHARACTERS!! (You know I'm doing that now—as soon as I can—start thinking about it so you can give me suggestions for each character.) Abbi also writes her own song lyrics and has musicians record the music. (She's a rockstar!)
Kelly Simmons of InkSlingerPR gave me some brilliant advice on marketing (which I plan to share in later posts).
And then there's Heather Robbins, "SupaGurl," who taught me so many things, but she mostly taught me about the passion of book bloggers for the stories they read. I'm truly awed by it and by her. (You can check out her blog: http://supagurlbooks.blogspot.com)
I also made a few friends at the conference; to name them all would be difficult (but I will say I'm looking at you M. Leighton, Tiffany King, K.A. Kunz, Raine Thomas, Quinn Loftis.)
Now, let's get back to you again, my readers (and here is where I'm already in tears). It was because of your generosity that the Premonition Series received honors for Best Villain and Best Debut Novel-Inescapable. YOU voted for it. I'm extremely grateful to you because more than the awards, it's like you reached out to me and gave me a hug. So, basically, what I'm saying is: these are ours—this all happened through your generosity. THANK YOU! (I'm such a baby, I'm totally crying.)
I also want to thank Jamie, April, and Susan for all of your help and support at UtopYA. You guys rocked it :D
I won the minute I stepped foot in Nashville and met all of the brilliant people at UtopYA. The awards were icing. I've heard it said that no one gets to the top alone. I'm no where near the top, but neither am I alone.
* In Mac, you click on the apple icon on your toolbar, then "System Preferences," then under "System" click on "Speech," then click on "Text to Speech," then check the box that says: "Speak selected text when key is pressed." Now, highlight text that you want read to you and then press the Option+Esc keys together. BTW, Georgia and I decided "Alex" has the best robot voice.)