Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Takeaways From RWA 2011!

By Debby Giusti

Although I have eight books in print and two more contracted, there’s so much more I need to learn about writing. That’s the reason I attend conferences. The workshops provide tips and information that help me improve my craft and, hopefully, create better stories. Networking with industry professionals is invaluable, as well, but what I treasure most is time spent with Seekers and Seeker friends!

As most of you know, the Romance Writers of America National Conference was held three weeks ago in New York City. I flew in early to see the sights and met up with Grammar Diva Darlene Buchholz. My editor Emily Rodmell had suggested seeing the New York skyline from the Top of the Rock so we started with a panoramic view of Manhattan from the Observation Deck, 70 stories above the city. From there we visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral and had a late afternoon snack at Rockefeller Square.

Janet Dean, Debby Giusti and Darlene Buchholz tour New York!

The next day, Darlene and Janet Dean and I climbed onto a chartered van and toured the city and the harbor. O’Nell, a Brooklyn native, was our guide and gave us an up close and personal look at Manhattan, its history and people. The most memorable sights were Lady Liberty and the World Trade Center.

The World Trade Center Memorial under construction.

On Tuesday, Janet and I braved the subway and headed for the Love Inspired offices located in the Woolworth Building. Commissioned by five and dime mogul Frank W. Woolworth in 1910, the 57-floor skyscraper—one of the oldest in the city--is a National Historic Landmark and sits across from Park Place and City Hall, not far from the Brooklyn Bridge. The lobby, shaped in the form of a cross, has a vaulted ceiling with inlaid mosaics that reminded me more of a gilded ballroom than an office building. Entering the narrow wooden elevator that was state-of-the-art in its day, we headed to the 10th floor.

Executive Editor Joan Marlow Golan greets Debby Giusti

and Janet Dean at the Love Inspired Office.

Executive editor Joan Marlow Golan gave us a warm welcome and Senior Editor Tina James showed us around the suite as she explained the steps our manuscripts take from submission to publication. My hat's off to the entire Love Inspired team and the fantastic books they publish. Seeing their small offices and the piles of manuscripts waiting their review made me appreciate how hard they work.

The “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing was Tuesday evening. The line of fans waiting to buy books snaked out of the hotel and down Times Square. More than $47,000 was raised for literacy thanks to everyone who participated.

Wednesday morning, I attended the Oklahoma Romance Writers award ceremony and was thrilled to receive the National Readers’ Choice Award in the traditional category for KILLER HEADLINE. Contest coordinator Silver James presented a plaque to me and had plaques for my agent and editor, as well. Thank you, Oklahoma Outlaws!

Silver James presents Debby Giusti with the National Readers' Choice Award.

At eleven A.M., the LI editors hosted a Meet and Greet for their authors. Some tips if you’re submitting to LI, remember the hero and heroine need to meet in the beginning of the first chapter. Include their goals, motivation and conflict and give the reader a sense of where the story is headed by the end of chapter one. Currently, the editors are looking for historicals, including Regencies. For LI, they’d like to see more medical stories. LIS is well stocked at the current time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t submit. LI accepts unagented submissions. See their website for guidelines,

Harlan Coben is so tall!

Wednesday afternoon, I attended “Up All Night,” a workshop with suspense authors Harlan Coben and Lisa Jackson. Coben shared aspects of his writing life with tongue-in-cheek humor that kept me smiling. “Part of my job,” he said deadpan, “is to convince my wife that I have one.”

Talking about suspense stories, Coben said he doesn’t “do murder.” Instead he prefers disappearances because there’s always hope. When and if that hope is dashed, the characters—and thus readers—experience gut-wrenching pain.

Lisa Jackson and Debby!

Jackson writes a 35 to 75 page synopsis, which she calls the “bare bones skeleton of the plot,” before she starts a book. Harlan doesn’t outline and, at the onset, only knows the beginning and where the story is apt to end up.

Calling herself a “fat writer” because she's wordy, Jackson admits she can’t spell and doesn’t have a big vocabulary, but she is a storyteller.

Coben says fear motivates writers. If you’re comfortable with your work, you’re dead. To be a real writer, you need "perspiration, inspiration and desperation."

“Don’t let anything get in the way of writing,” Coben challenges. Not even research, which he calls an excuse for not writing. “I’m always trying to look at things at a different angle and do the unexpected that fits.” More advice from Cohen: “Never chase the dollar, chase the reader’s heart.”

“The best way to improve,” according to Jackson, “is to write the next book.” She revises as she writes in what she calls a two-steps forward, one-step back fashion. After typing The End, she sends the manuscript to her sister, who tells her what works and what doesn’t.

Coben also uses a forward-back pattern. He writes 75 pages and then edits his work. At the end, he reads the entire manuscript out loud!

Bright and early Thursday morning, I attended Nina Bruhns and Kieran Kramer’s workshop on the late Blake Snyder’s system of story structure. I had the privilege of hearing Snyder speak a number of years ago and highly recommend his book, SAVE THE CAT. Nina and Kieran said, “Keep it primal.” Write about universal themes or needs or desires that resonate with readers.

Later that day, I attended Michael Hauge’s “Uniting Plot Structure and Character Arc” workshop followed by “From Identity to Essence: Love Stories and Transformation.” I’ve attended a number of Hauge’s workshops and took a weekend-long class with him last year, but I never tire of hearing him speak. His book, WRITING SCREENPLAYS THAT SELL, is a great reference. Mine is dog-eared. I also recommend his DVD, “The Hero’s Two Journeys.”

A few Hauge highlights:

The hero’s outer journey needs to be visible. Romance is inner conflict heavy. A story is stronger if there are visible obstacles. What does the hero want? You must be able to picture what it looks like.

Conversely, the hero’s inner journey is invisible and is an inner journey of transformation. That inner journey is the change from living in fear to living courageously.

The Woolworth Building and Love Inspired's NYC home.

When discussing characters, Hauge asks the following questions:
What is the hero’s longing or need?
What is the hero’s wound?
What is the hero’s belief?
What is the hero’s fear?
What is the hero’s identity?
What is the hero’s essence?

Hauge says, “The identity is the false self the character presents to the world to protect her from the fear that grows out of the belief created by the wound that occurred before the story begins.” (That’s a mouthful! LOL) Take away the emotional protection to find the person she really is. The inner journey is the transformation from living fully in her identity to living fully in her essence.

The New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street.

The Award Ceremony Friday night was a gala event. Lucky me, I got to sit with Seekers Tina Radcliffe and Cara Lynn James. After the ceremony, I joined Janet Dean and Mary Connealy at The View, a revolving restaurant at the top of the Marriott Marquis, for a last look at New York in lights.

Debby, Janet and Mary at Times Square!

The conference was great, the city was fun, reconnecting with friends was special, but by the end of the week, I was ready to head to the airport. I agree with Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.”

L to R: Debby Giusti, Lenora Worth, Missy Tippens, Janet Dean and Camy Tang at the Harlequin Party! Check out Camy's cute shoes!

So good seeing many of you in New York. Share your highlights of the conference or information you’ve picked up at writing workshops around the country so we can all benefit. Leave a comment and your email to be entered in the drawing for THE OFFICER’S SECRET, the first book in my Military Investigations series, and THE OFFICER'S SECRET T-shirt, which features my Prayer for Our Military. Size XL, it's perfect for a pool cover-up or nightshirt.

Breakfast is on me and we’re eating New York style: bagels and lox. First one to comment starts the coffee, please!

Wishing you abundant blessings,

Debby Giusti


  1. First up, so here's the coffee pot. all set for 3 a.m.

    Enjoyed reading about your NY experience.

  2. Okay, Debster, you owe me big time.

    Great photos and funny how we all saw different stuff during our trips. NYC is that big.

  3. Love the pictures, Debby. I didn't see HALF this stuff. It's not FAIR.

  4. What a great run-through of the speakers and the sites and the people! I clicked because... well, I like to read as many posts as I can. But I wasn't really sure what could be so interesting about someone ELSE'S visit to NYC.
    You should write guide books... for writers! :D
    Very fun!

  5. Really great run down. Interesting that Harlan Coben and Lisa Jackson revise as they go. I like Harlen's 75 pages then go back and revise method. As an aspiring writer, I'm open to new ideas!! Lovely photos, too.

  6. love the photo and info on the trip. Looks like it was a great time. Is Black the colour people have to wear for the meetings? I notice the 5 LI writers all in black. and Yes I do like Camy's shoes. I like the idea of a character disappearing rather than being murdered.

  7. Well, that was great! Thanks Debby!
    Another prerequisite is that you all must look stunningly gorgeous as well.
    (well, you all do!)

    Harlan Coben and Lisa Jackson,huh? that one must have been packed.
    I appreciate all the tips. Reminds me to pull out my Michael Hauge notes again. He's amazing.

    I hate eating breakfast this early so I'm going to wander off...

  8. Oh, I loved this virtual tour, Debster! And you went to classes...

    I'm so proud of you!

    (wiping a small tear, just a wee one...)

    And how gor-geeee-ous you all looked. Didn't you love New York? I mean, it's so... New York. I love going there, hanging out, pretending I know things.

    Thank you for this awesome tour AND the Michael Hauge lessons. And I think Colban's shared thought about not doing murder, keeping hope alive, then letting the reader suffer the consequences is brilliant.

    Drag the reader into the story, no matter if it's funny (Out of Control) or tragic (The Officer's Secret). That full immersion invests the reader. That's huge. In those two classes, the price of your trip became minimal in Ruthy-standards.


    Grabbing coffee, getting more work done... back to annoy innocent people later!

  9. Hi Helen,
    Thanks for plugging in the coffee.

    I have to give a shoutout to wonderful Tina Radcliffe who came to my rescue on this blog. For some reason, blogger is doing crazy things on my computer in the "create blog" mode. If you stopped in during the wee hours, you may have seen pics without text or text without pics.

    Anyway, Tina waved her magic wand over it this AM, and it seems to be back to normal. Sorry for any confusion about the mixed-up blogger mess that floated through cyber space. :)

  10. Mary, you were busy with your Awards Ceremony prep, remember? Meetings, etc.

    I was a free bird...and I arrived early.

  11. Virginia,

    I'm laughing. A Writer's Guide to NYC!!! Ah, see as much as you can, trusting that someday you'll use it in a book.

    Believe me, I saw more than I wanted to on Times Square. I'm still praying for some of the folks.

    But the city was fun, and the weather was perfect, which evidently isn't always the case.

  12. Jane O...

    I've been thinking about Harlan Coben's 75-pages-and-revise method, as well.

    On my current WIP, I'm doing 25 pages and then revising. I type my first draft on an AlphaSmart, and a file runs about 25 computer pages. This time I'm trying to get a more finished product before I go on to the next 25 pages.

    I used to spend a long time on the first 3 chapters for my proposal. Then I typed the majority of the book in draft. Once I revised that big bulk of text, I wrote the climax and ending.

    After listening to Harlan (we're on a first name basis--LOL), I decided to revise as I go.

  13. Ausjenny,

    Most of my conference clothes are black and white. Maybe with a splash of color here and there. Black pants work with a number of tops so I can mix and match.

    Also, black and white is "in" this year so lots of folks were sporting the same look.

    The big party for Love Inspired authors on Thursday night was a Black and White Affair so everyone was in all black or all white or a mix. Thus the pic of all of us in black...the pic showing Camy's fun shoes!

  14. Ausjenny,

    I love Harlan Coben's work, and like you, I have been intrigued by the idea of a character disappearing. Looking back over the books of his that I've read, I realized he has a number of character who have disappeared.

    Something to think about for my next story.

  15. Hi Deb,
    Yes, Lisa and Harlan had a packed house!

    Another suspense favorite, Tess Gerritsen, was at the conference. She sat on the opening session panel but didn't have any workshops of her own.

    The awards ceremony I attended was held WED morning at the same time as the panel so I didn't see Tess. (Not that I'm complaining, mind you! Winning the National Readers' Choice Award was totally unexpected and such a thrill!)

    If anyone picked up tips from Tess, please share them with us today. BTW, the television series "Rizzoli & Isles" is based on Tess's books. She started out writing for HQ Intrigue and then quickly went to single title.

  16. Ruthy,
    You're so right about the tips picked up at conferences. Often, it's the little tidbit of info that resonates and helps me become a better or more productive writer.

    Certainly, disappearances and the 75-page-write-revise method are keepers.

    Also, seeing Michael Hauge again brought home the wealth of info he has provided to the romance industry. I'm planning to break down my current WIP into his Six Stage Plot Structure and see how it matches up. Maybe a little tweaking will tighten the story.

    I do use his identity to essence model for my characters, which provides the inner transformation and a solid character arc.

  17. Nice recap, Debby. I love all your pics as well.
    The Coben saying was great--perspiration, desperation-I agree. My fear is I won't have anything to say-anything for my characters to do.
    Thanks for sharing.

  18. WOW, Debby! What a dream trip! You really packed in the sights AND great inspirational and learning-the-craft info into only a few days' time! Thanks for sharing!

  19. Hi Lindi,

    I could relate to Coben's comment about author desperation! Middle of the night, deadline approaching, brain won't work...

    Been there. Done that.

    Not the best part of the writing life.

  20. I heard you were all really nice to Mia yesterday. I appreciate that, since she was a little nervous about being in the spotlight that way.

    Debby, this tour of NYC and RWA was awesome! I liked reading that even though you've had so many books published, you're always looking for ways to improve your craft. It's a good lesson for us newbies :)

  21. Hi Glynna,

    Wish you and everyone in Seekerville could have been there. At least, we can all share tips those who attended picked up in the workshops.

    I hope historical writers are considering Love Inspired. As I mentioned in my blog, the editors are looking for new authors to fill their lineup!

    That new author could be YOU!!!

  22. HI Andrea, I'm still a newbie! Especially when I'm starting the next book. :)

    Really, I do feel like a beginning writer. Coben said fear motivates writers. Amen to that! :)

  23. Some of the things (of many) I like about this blog are how the writers don't take things for granted, appreciate living in the moment, and want to learn for the future. Your blog embodied those things and much, much more. Not only did I enjoy your words, but your pictures spoke to me as well. Thanks so much for sharing!

    As for your draw, I have been blessed to have already won your book, and it is coming up soon in my TBR pile. Can hardly wait.... If I might, I would still like to put my entry in towards the T-shirt. I wear T-shirts when I play competitive badminton (five nights a week, eight months of the year; two nights a week for the remaining hot summer months), and I always get comments like, "Where did you get this one?" "Is that from an author?" "If you won this, how did you win it?" I consider T-shirts great forms of advertisement for authors, and I do my best to wear them often. I have one from an author already and I have others from various companies (like Irish Spring), but a girl can never have too many (at least in my humble opinion, LOL!).

    Wishing YOU abundant blessings too,

    seytype at hotmail dot com

  24. Thanks for the great recap and congrats on winning the National Reader's Choice Award! Love the photo of the Woolworth's Building. Wonder if the people who work there take it forgranted? I think I would come to work early just to soak in the historical ambiance of the lobby!

  25. It sounds like an amazing week! Thanks for sharing your pictures and experiences. I really enjoyed it.

  26. I would've love to been in New York, especially to hear Harlan's talk.

    bcountryqueen6 at msn dot com

  27. Loved hearing about your time in NY. Sounds like some exciting and interesting workshops.

    Jodie Wolfe

  28. Oh Debby, you made me drool over the RWA conference all over again! Great pics. All the Seeker gals (and friends) look stylin' and classy as the tour de New York commensed, LOL!

    Thanks for the updates on Michael Hauge tips. I've attended a couple of his workshops and the man never ceases to amaze me with his insight.

    Great job, Deb!

  29. Wow Debby, I had managed to stay normal during the conference and NOT TURN GREEN. But your post this morning.....sigh. I'm afraid I'm a deep green color now.

    What a lovely time you had and I so missed not seeing you and Darlene. How fun that you were able to tour the town.

    How rewarding to see where your books are processed and meet all the players there.

    New York will happen again. sigh And it will be the right time.


  30. I had to miss the conference this year, but I've already started saving for Anaheim. Thanks for sharing not only your sightseeing photos but the tips from the workshops. I love the tip “Never chase the dollar, chase the reader’s heart.” I've been tempted a few times to try writing XYZ because it's the hot new genre. But my heart isn't really in it and those projects have never gotten too far off the ground. It was time wasted that I could have spent on something that's right for me.

    Great blog!


  31. That was a wonderful recap. I've never been to RWA, or NYC.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing you all in September.

    How many Seekers will be at ACFW?

  32. Hi Laney4,

    You are the Queen of Badminton! Five nights a week, eight months out of the year. I am impressed!!! You must be on a team? A number of teams? We'd love to hear more!

    Yes, you're in the drawing. Great feedback on T-shirts! Also glad you liked the blog. Reviewing my notes from the conference and then putting the tips into blog form helps solidify the lessons in my easily distracted mind. So I learn when I blog! :)

  33. Hi Kav,
    The editors often mention the building and how much they enjoy working there.

    Just a bit of trivia: the building was used in the TV show, Ugly Betty. Emily, my editor, talked about the camera crews shooting when she was going in and out of her office.

    Prior to 9/11, visitors could enter the Woolworth Building and take photos. Now that's not allowed. Guards man a security desk and check that anyone coming into the building is there on business.

  34. Hi Stacey,

    Glad you liked the pics and info. It was nice to combine sightseeing with the conference. I never used to take time to tour the conference cities, but a few years ago, I realized I was missing a great opportunity.

  35. Hi Connie,

    What's your favorite book by Harlan Coben? I loved TELL NO ONE. Still think of the story and how he held me spellbound for the entire length of the novel.

    I was amazed at how young, tall and funny he is in person. Good writing info, but also, lots of laughs.

  36. Hi Jodie,

    Any writing tips you'd like to share? BTW, I love your online tag: Digging for Pearls! Very nice.

  37. Hi Audra,
    Missed you in NYC!!! St. Louis and ACFW is a go, right?

    I've driven through the city but have never stopped to tour. Maybe a little sightseeing would be good. Anyone coming in early for ACFW?

  38. Hi Deb,

    In addition to being a wonderful friend and fabulous writer, you are the best tour organizer ever. My daughter and I had the best time sight-seeing and eating our way through NYC with you!

    Thanks for summarizing these great workshops.

    Cyberwave to Janet and Mary!

    And my ony questions is: Why aren't we in line to get discount tickets at Times Square for another show!

  39. Loved your newsletter and pics, Debby! What an exciting and exhausting trip! :D

    Here are the biggies I've picked up at writer's conferences:
    1) Write, write, write and then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite!
    2) Develop a tough skin. Never stop learning from others.
    3) Listen to advise without compromising who you are as a writer (find the balance).
    4) Never be afraid to try something that seems out-of-the-box for you - you never know what direction God might take you.
    5) Never give up! Take a break if you absolutely need to, but never give up!

    I must say, I've learned lot's from my friends here at Seekerville! Thanks to you all!

    Please include me in the drawing. :D

  40. Sandra,

    I heard a lot about the last RWA Conference in NYC and wished I could have gone. The nice thing is it's held there every 5 or 6 years. Anyone know the exact year when the RWA Conference will be in NYC again?

    Wonder if ACFW will ever pick NY for their conference destination? Actually, my favorite conference city is Washington D.C. Of course, Northern VA was my home for many years, I graduated from high school there and always love going back.

  41. Hi Marilyn,

    Missed you!!!

    Good point about Coben's comment concerning "chasing the reader's heart." That hit me, as well. Good for him to mention what's really important.

  42. A big group of folks from Seekerville will be attending ACFW, Erica.

    Wave to Erica if you're going to St. Louis.

    I'm waving! :)

  43. Oh Debby, thanks for the tour! and for whetting my appetite to go to a conference sometime (my current motto is "next year").

    The comment that struck me most was "Never chase the dollar, chase the reader's heart". I even put it on a sticky note on my computer! That comment reveals the heart of a true story-teller.

    Thanks for the bagels - I'll even try the lox. Maybe.

  44. Hi Darlene,

    We did see the city, didn't we! And had fun. And ate so much food.

    After the conference was over, Darlene and I stayed one additional day. That night we ate at Carmine's, which wasn't far from the hotel. A New Yorker had told me the portions were understatement for sure. We could have fed all of Seekerville with what we ordered.

  45. Linnette,
    You're in the drawing.

    Thanks for providing great tips. Write, write, write!!! So important. The more we write, the more we improve...of course, there's always more to learn.

    Tough skin, learn from others, don't compromise yourself, don't be afraid to try something new and never give up! Fantastic!

    The points you mentioned should hang in every writer's office!

    Thanks, Linnette!

  46. Linnette, be sure to tell us what you learn at the Ted Dekker conference.

  47. Jan, you don't have to eat the lox. Ruthy made me put them on today's breakfast menu! :)

    You and I agree on Coben's "don't chase the dollar" comment.

    Yes, next year!!! Any conferences close to your home? Even a small regional conference can be very productive. Sometimes the small conference are better than the larger national events.

    My local Georgia Romance Writers has a writers' conference--Moonlight and Magnolias--each fall that's excellent. This year, it'll be held Sept 30 - Oct 2. We get a good rate on the hotel, which helps with expenses. I hope a number of Seekers and Seeker friends will be there this year.

  48. Debby, thanks so much for sharing! I feel like I've just visited NY again. :)

    Tina, thanks for fixing the Blogger problems!

    The RWA conference will be in the exact location again in 2015!! So y'all start saving! Of course, I want you to come to Atlanta in 2013 as well. :)

    I'm also really excited for San Antonio (Marriott Riverwalk) in 2014. I've never been there.

  49. Missy, thanks for letting us know the RWA schedule.

    Yes, y'all come to Georgia, hear?

    And the Riverwalk is delightful. We stopped there for a few day when we were traveling cross country. Loved it!

    NYC in 2015! It's a date.

  50. Congratulations on your win Debby!
    I too read my book aloud to hear how it flows, lots of water is needed though :)

  51. Eva,
    You and Harlan Coben! Reading your books out loud! Oh my gosh. Your throat must be raw by the end. :)

    I need to read more of mine aloud. Great advice, just hard to find time to do it.

    Do you find lots of areas that need to be tweaked? Or is it really clean by that point?

  52. DEB!!! LOVE the pics, girlfriend -- you guys ALL look SOOO cute and like you had a blast.

    SUPER CONGRATS on the National Readers Choice award, my friend -- WELL DESERVED!!

    And thanks for the tips from Michael H. and how the other writers. LOVE Coben's comment, "“Never chase the dollar, chase the reader’s heart.” Well ... looks like I'm doing something right, given my very thin bank account ... :)


  53. Love those pictures! I live vicariously through them, you know. :) I've heard alot about Harlen Corbon through Margie Lawson, so it was fun to see a picture of him--must be exciting to meet him. :)

    Sounds like you had a great time, thanks so much for sharing them with us!!

  54. Oh, Oh, BTW, saw the new book covers for several Seeker books (including Ruthy's) they look AWESOME!! :D

    Ruthy, you WILL have books in the ACFW book store right???

  55. LOL, Julie, about your thin bank account comment.

    Everyone's thinking about ACFW! What are the sights to see in St. Louis? The Arch, for sure. What else?

  56. Where did you see the covers, Casey? Online? Walmart?

  57. Margie was at RWA. Always great to see her. She's a doll and such a fantastic teacher.

    It was exciting to meet Harlan...and he was so doggone nice! Just a regular guy.

  58. Hi Debby:

    Did you read the book, “MIA: Missing in Atlanta”? I think I read this way back in ’08, so I’m not sure, but I think it involved a disappearance.


  59. Debby,
    You asked re badminton. Be careful what you ask, LOL!
    I play in our city's club (60+ members) three nights a week, a military base's club 15 minutes away (30+ members) once a week but twice in the summertime, and my hometown's club 30 minutes away (20+ members) once a week.
    I am 52, 5'10" tall, and at least 50 pounds overweight. Do I lose weight because of it? Nope. But I keep my knees and other parts moving (and hurting), plus I enjoy being with my friends.
    This past April, I played mixed doubles with a 50-year-old partner, and we won our local club championships. I played ladies' doubles with my 24-year-old daughter, and we won that event. In the semi-final of the ladies' singles event, I beat another woman's 40-year-old daughter, while my daughter beat the mom, so I met my daughter in the finals. I lost to my daughter, barely, 21-15, 15-21, 19-21. We both wanted to win and we both tried our best. It was the best singles match of my life! (Bear in mind that I have won the singles for several years before, and my daughter won it once before that.)
    I also resumed weekend competitions out of town with my mixed partner and daughter, and I'm pleased to report that I have improved in many ways during the last two years. Other than these events, though, I play doubles with men and women, rather than singles, on club nights. We mix up the teams all the time.

  60. Hi Debby:

    You wrote:

    “Jackson admits she can’t spell and doesn’t have a big vocabulary, but she is a storyteller.”

    Much can be forgiven a writer who is a great storyteller.

    Were there any workshops on the art of storytelling? There are plenty of books on the parts of storytelling but what I’d like to see is a basic, holistic, look at storytelling that reaches back to the cavemen.


    P.S. If you don’t have time to read your books out loud, code them for Kindle and let Kindle read them to you. Kindle has this service for authors.

  61. Thanks for sharing, Debbie. Love the workshop and LI writing tips. Anaheim might be too far, but ATL in 2013 just might be doable.

  62. Debby,

    I'll definitely let you all in on Ted Dekker's conference! There's no way I could keep such good stuff to myself. :D

  63. Glad ya'll had fun! I love pictures. Thanks for sharing!

  64. ALMOST as good as being there, Debby--what a super recap! Though I drove through NYC once and have flown into JFK once or twice, I've never toured the city. It sort of...intimidates me, I guess! I think I'd have to go with a bunch of Seekers to really enjoy it!

    Maybe next time...

  65. Looks and sounds like you had a wonderful time, Debby! I especially like the picture of you beaming and holding your "tombstone." :-) I have mine in my study where I write. It looks pretty nice on my bookshelf!

    I may yet get to see you guys in St. Louis. Maybe I can make the Carol Awards anyway. We'll see. :-)

  66. I'm reading Mary Connealy's Out of Control right now, and I love it! I think it might be her best book yet. And not because I always think that, either!

  67. Wow sounds like a great conference this year. Wish I could have gone. Maybe next time. I always enjoy going to workshops and learning new things.
    cynthiakchow (at)earthlink (dot) net

  68. Oh, Vince, you are so amazing. Yes, I did read that book but not out loud. :)

    So I have written a disappearance story.

    Ever since I read Coben's TELL NO ONE, I've been enthralled with secrets. He's certainly the master on that score.

    Also loved THE WOODS, which has a disappearance and secrets. A great read!

  69. Laney, you are truly amazing. Good for you!!! You're an inspiration.

    I bet your daughter thinks she's made it big since she beat the champ--namely YOU! How wonderful to share that in common. Sounds like she takes after her mom, for sure.

    You are dedicated and disciplined, which is what it takes to do something well, whether it's badminton or writing.

    Thanks for giving us such a nice glimpse into your life.

  70. Great post, Deb

    Sounds and looks like you had an awesome time. Thanks for sharing some great tips it is important to keep learning. Even people who know about 99.99% of everything can still learn lol.

    And now, thanks to Harlan, I have an excuse to curb research some.

    Would love t

  71. You're right, Vince, being a storyteller is a gift. Either you have it or you don't. Everything else can be learned.

    No workshops on storytelling, although it sounds like it could go hand in hand with The Hero's Journey.

    Are you preparing a workshop, perhaps for ACFW? You mentioned one in a previous post. The Art of Storytelling would be very fresh and appealing.

  72. Oops meant to say I would love to be added for a five page critique.

  73. Vince, thanks for the tip about letting Kindle read our stories!

  74. YAY, Patricia! Plan on ATL!

    Have you checked out Moonlight and Magnolias, the GRW conference? You'll find all the info at:

  75. Great, Linnette! I know it'll be a wonderful conference.

  76. Hi Faye! I love pictures, too!

    Actually, I love seeing everyone's thumbnail photo when they post comments. I sit at my computer and have all these people smiling at me, which makes me very happy. So whenever it's my scheduled day to blog on Seekerville, I'm smiling too! :)

  77. Myra, NYC can be intimidating, for sure. But we missed you. Plan now for RWA 2015 when it's back in NYC again!

  78. Mel, congrats on your win!!! You're winning everything, and I'm so proud of you!

    I've got my award on the counter in my kitchen. Eventually, I'll move it to my office.

    Would love to see you in St. Louis! But, honey, you are so close...have you thought about GRW?

  79. I always love Mary's books. Her heroes are so special and they fall so hard for the cute heroines.

    Loved the opening with the cave, an idea she got from visiting the Calsbad Cavern. Wonder if she'll do a book about NY? Times Square Cowboy, perhaps. Ah, we saw one, but we won't talk about him. In fact, he was on TV the other night. I believe the police had arrested him.

    Did I mention you see everything on Times Square?

  80. Hi Cynthia,

    I must admit being a bit distracted this year with so much to see and do outside of the conference. Seems a lot of people were splitting their time between workshops and sightseeing.

  81. Hi Tina!

    As you mentioned, learning is so important and makes life interesting.

    Don't know what I'd do if I didn't have a challenge or a hill to climb or something new to learn. That's why I like writing so much...writers keep moving forward but never get to the end of their journey.

  82. Debby, I would love to go to GRW, but it won't happen this year. When I start hitting the bestseller lists and making scads of money, I'll be there!!! ;-) And I'll be at every ACFW conference too.

  83. Great post, Debbie. Wonderful pics. I loved the quote, "the best way to improve is to write the next book"

    Can't wait for the inspiration in September

    Good reading while waiting in the hospital. My 9 year old daughter was taken back for emergency appendectomy. New experience...she's been so brave.

  84. Bringin' in sweet tea, Deb!

    With lots of ice and lemon, darlin'.


    Dagnabbit, can't you at least TRY to have a calm day, girlfriend???

    Praying for her strength and your calm and doctor's sure hands.

  85. Oh, Pepper, I'm praying for your little one. My son had a ruptured appendix when he was in high school so I know how worried you must be.

    Sending prayers for you, your daughter and your entire family. Keep us posted!

  86. Thanks, Ruthy. Serves me right for liking adventure.

  87. Sweet tea, Ruthy? You are a jewel of the South, honeychild! You need to live in GA!

  88. Thanks, Deb
    Just learned she's out of surgery. We've been at the hospital all day. My MIL was admitted yesterday for dehydration secondary to a virus. Because she has Alzheimer's it gets a little sticky with her health and awareness, but shhe seems to be okay for the most part.

    I'm takin a big ole swig of sweet tea

  89. Pepper, Pepper, Pepper! This is a tough week for you and your family.

    Covering all of you with prayer. So glad your daughter is out of surgery.

  90. Hi Debby:

    I just ordered “Tell No One” in large print from our library. I have never read a Corben book but I can see now that I need to.

    My workshop is an expanded version of “Rewarding the Reader For Success” . I may do it online first with an author and use that author’s works as examples. I really liked the online workshop Missy did with Lindi. I’ve been asked to send an outline of classes with teaching details.

    Then I may be able to get those smart OKC Okies in the OK-RWA to let me do a live workshop. (They really appreciate excellent quality).

    I’m also preparing an hour version that I’ll be able to do at a moment’s notice. I’ll be ready in the event a scheduled speaker can’t make the Tulsa ACFW meeting. I love teaching. (Luck favors the prepared.)

    As far as storytelling goes I like the works of Clarissa Pinkola Estes “The Gift of Story: A Wise Tale About What is Enough” and “Women Who Run with the Wolves”. I have many of her tapes which I don’t think have been turned into books.

    I think a storytelling workshop needs someone who has real experience telling stories to groups (children, teenagers, and adults). This is a real art. You need surprise. You need universal themes – there is not much time for backstory or physical descriptions. While storytelling is a performance art, writing stores for storytellers to tell should be learnable.

    I just think that knowing how to write a great story for a storyteller to tell would be a great aid to novel writers. It would be like getting in touch with the soul of writing.


  91. Debby

    This entire post just made me smile!!!!!!!

    Loved seeing NYC through your eyes. I've never been. Perhaps next year...

    Going to print this off. So much to glean! You are wonderful to share some of the conference session tidbits!

    On a little different note - today was my first book signing!

    May was THE STAR, of course. Before final preparations, I re-checked the Seekerville archives on what to do, what to bring, etc. What a blessing y'all continue to be to we Friends of Seekerville.

    Thank you Seekers, for Seekerville, the blog that keeps on giving! MMWWAAHHH! And special sniffs from the mascot, May the K9 Spy! ;D

  92. Debby, you sure did a lot in NYC! I think I spent too much time schlepping back and forth through Times Square to get to the hotel. It's a great place!

  93. Debby, I really enjoyed seeing more NYC ladies look so stunning! I would love to win your book and T shirt! Keep up the great writing!

  94. DEB!!! I'll be at ACFW ... or at least I better be!! I live here and am co-teaching a workshop with Ruth Axtel-Morren!!

    Sights to see? The AB Brewery is nice, Grant's Farm, the Arch and the museum beneath it, the Science Center, The City Museum, the Old Courthouse (right by the Arch), site of the Dred Scott decision, etc.

    PEPPER!! You poor thing, and your poor baby girl and MIL! Saying one for all of you right now.


  95. loving all the conference talk. I heard a rumor - gasp- that ACFW likes to stay away from the coasts, so people feel they are more centrally located.

    NYC is fun but I'd love San Antonio as well. Dreaming.

  96. Vince,

    Wonderful! You're getting everything ready for giving workshops. Fantastic. I know we all could learn from you.

    Shortly after the conference each year, ACFW puts out a call for workshops. That's the time to submit. They provide a stipend for teachers, which helps with expenses.

    The South has many storytellers. There's a big festival in TN, I believe, where storytellers from all over the South entertain with story after story after story.

    Margaret Mitchell talked about the stories she heard her relatives share about the South and the War. In days prior to air-conditioning, the folks sat on the front porch at night and told tales about the past. Those stories made such an impression on Margaret.

    I hope you enjoy Coben's book. It was his big breakout novel. Prior to TELL NO ONE, he had been writing a series featuring a sports agent. Those books have been republished. I forget the protagonist's name, but folks like them. However, his big book--the one that took him to bestseller status--was Tell No One. As I recall, he had a huge 4 book contract and TNO was the first of the 4 books. Let me know what you think.

  97. YAY, KC!

    So tell us how the book signing went. Bet May loved it.

    Do you still feel giddy? It is exciting, especially with the first book.

    Congrats on your success, KC!

  98. Hi Cara,
    So good seeing you and Fran there. Tell her hello for me! We had a nice evening at the Awards Ceremony, didn't we? And at the Algonquin Hotel!

    Sorry you were in a different hotel.

    Everyone make a note...register and make hotel reservations early. The rooms are filling up so, so fast these days for the RWA Conference.

    Bet lots of people will be attending next year and bringing family since we'll be close to Disneyland. So plan now. Save your loose change. The dimes and quarters will add up to a significant amount over the year.

  99. Jackie're in the drawing. Thanks for the kind words about how we looked in NYC. I doctored the pics, of course!

    Just kidding! :)

  100. Julie, thanks for stopping back with prayer coverage for Pepper and family.

    Thanks, too, for the tips about what to see in St. Louis. You're our Go To Gal for the ACFW Conference. We'll be asking more and more questions as the conference nears.

  101. Good info, Deb.

    The hotels are cheaper in the middle of the country. The big cities have expensive rooms and then add on a hefty amount of hotel tax. Keeping cost down is important so more writers can attend.

  102. Loved the info and the great pics!!

  103. Thanks, Liz, for stopping by Seekerville! :)

  104. WOW!! Great post, sweet Debby - - thank you for sharing the photos and writing tips. Sounds like a wonderful (although exhausting, LOL) trip! And I must looked very nice in all your photos, and not a bit tired (as I would've been). I'm so glad you were able to attend that conference AND sightsee too. Thanks again for sharing with us! Love, Patti Jo :) p.s. I already have (and LOVED) your book, so no need to enter me in the drawing!

  105. What a day! And looks like a great one here, too.

    I'm still tired from chasing cows last night. Okay, I didn't actually CHASE them, but I lost about 2 hours of sleep in the middle of the night. Couldn't go back to sleep after that.

    Going to be early tonight. Right after I finish my chamomille tea.

    Deb, love the RWA Takeaway! Makes me feel like I was there, and I'm itching for ACFW to get here. Barely 8 weeks away!!! Yay!!

  106. HI Patti Jo,
    By the time I got home, I was tired. But NYC was so much fun. Hope you'll be attending conferences before long.

  107. Debby,

    Wonderful retelling of your RWA experience! So glad I finally stopped in today. I can imagine how tired you must have been, with all the tourist stuff and the conference. Wow. Does your hubby ever beg to come along?

    If you come back to see this comment, I hope you'll clarify if LI contemporary is looking for new authors or is it just historicals?

    Would love to win your book or the T-shirt.

  108. Oh my gosh, Pam! Is ACFW only 8 weeks from now! I have a book due about that time. I'd better work a little harder! :)

    Hope everything turned out okay with the cows. Get a good night's sleep!

  109. Cathy,
    I'm sure LI is open since they need 6 books a month to fill the lineup. But the editors did make a point to mention needing submissions for the historical line.

    Yes, submit to any of the three genres.

    Hubby knows how busy I am during the conferences so he stays home and takes care of the homefront!

  110. Wow! That was a great post and recap of your trip. I'm drooling over ACFW in September. But won't get to go.

    The book is the first in a series...AND there's a t-shirt! My motto has always been, "I'm in it for the t-shirt."

    Enter me for either one.

    andeemarie95 at gmail dot com

  111. Ah, Debbie, I feel like I was with you on your adventures! Thanks for sharing tidbits from the speakers--they're really helpful! Loved your last book--looking forward to the next one!

  112. I've read all of Harlan Coben's books. Wow! What an opp to hear him speak about writing. Congrats to you and everyone who attended and made it a commitment to learn more.

  113. Good morning,

    Lovely postm looks like such a great time. Thanks for sharing :D

  114. Good morning,

    Lovely post looks like such a great time. Thanks for sharing :D

  115. Andra,
    Glad to know folks like T-shirts! I get them through VistaPrint online. Once you place an initial order, they send lots of reduced price coupons, which brings down the cost. Their shipping usually arrives ahead of schedule, and I've always been happy with their products.

    You're in the drawing!

  116. Hi Julie,
    So glad to see you in Seekerville, and thanks for your kind words about my book!

    The first book I ever wrote -- which will remain buried in my closet forever -- LOL -- had a heroine named Julia. I love that name!!! Just a FYI!

  117. Hi Kayleen,

    Another Harlan Coben fan! He's great, isn't he? Which book is your all time favorite?

    Do you think Vince will like TELL NO ONE? I hope so.

  118. Hi Leanne,

    Thanks for stopping by the blog! Just read on Facebook that my counsin's wife is planning a trip to NYC. I need to tell her about favorite restaurants-- Mario Barteli's Eataly Gelato, and Carmine's (oh my gosh, so much food!!!)-- the great tour we took -- and the wonderful view from The Top of the Rock!