Photos from RWA and a New Release!

Hi, everyone! Well, I'm back from my fourth RWA Nationals. It was a fantastic trip, and it was so much fun to meet so many people I only know through the Interwebs. First a quick reminder, NOT UNTIL YOU BELIEVE, Part 7 of my e-serial is out today. We're almost to the end! So for those of you waiting to get them when they're all out so you can read them back to back, next week is the week! :)

Here are some highlights from the trip...

On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel with Darynda Jones, Eloisa James, Debra Holland, and Robin Convington at the Golden Network Retreat (a chapter of RWA for Golden Heart finalists). The lineup for teh retreat was fantastic. It kicked off with a great talk from Susan Elizabeth Phillips and then a lunchtime speech from, yes, the Nora Roberts. Here's Nora during her speech:



Then that evening was the HUGE booksigning for literacy. Thank you to all who stopped by and said hi to me or bought a book! :) The event raised over 50k for literacy charities, so it was a great success. Here was my view from my spot. (Isn't my RITA flag pretty? It's now sitting on my desk.)



On Friday, I did my BDSM 101 for Writers presentation with the lovely Tiffany Reisz (and her sock monkey). We had a full room and a great audience. It was a lot of fun even though we had too much info and ran out of time. Here's a picture courtesy of author Miranda Baker:



Then, of course, on Saturday night I was a nervous wreck because MELT INTO YOU was up for the RITA award in Single Title Contemporary Romance. For those who don't know, the RITAs are like the Oscars for romance writing, so it's a big, exciting thing to be nominated. 

Here I was before the ceremony when I still had hope, lol...



Alas, I didn't win, but I truly was just over the moon to be nominated. An erotic romance has NEVER been nominated in that cateogory so that was a huge deal for me. Here was my view from my spot in the audience. My one goal if I won was not to vomit standing up there on that stage in front of 2000 people. o.0



After that, it was time to fly back home with my big pile of new books:



And though I was sad to leave all my friends for another year, I did have a nice surprise waiting for me on my doorstep when I got home. Look at the pretties...



So now back to my normal life of no makeup, living barefoot, and typing away on my keyboard. : )

Does SWAG Sell Books?

Some swag I kept from RTSo it's the time of the year where I start preparing for my trip to RWA Nationals. This year will be my third year attending, but the first time I'll be attending as a published author. (Yay!) It's my fave conference of the year because I get to see so many writer friends I only get to see once a year, so I'm really looking forward to it.

But one of the things I need to tackle sooner rather than later is deciding on what kind of promo or swag (stuff we all get) to create and bring. The standard is post cards, bookmarks, and pens. But when I start looking at the prices of the stuff, I start thinking of that big bag of junk I end up with at the end of conferences. And honestly, most of those bookmarrks and paper swag ends up in the trash or left in my hotel room. The pens I keep, but do I ever really look up that author's name who created the pen? Not really. Same goes for things like post-it notes. I may use them, but it doesn't necessarily make me find out more about the author.

What does work on me is if I see an author give a workshop and I like what they have to say, I look them up and possibly buy one of their books. Or if I meet an author and have a conversation, I may then look for their books. But the free pocket flashlights, stress balls, key chains, cups, etc. do nothing. Even an excerpt booklet usually goes unread.

Even the buttload of free books that I come home with aren't immediate sales tools. I still have so many that are on my shelf that I haven't had time to read. (This, btw, doesn't mean that I will not happily take home more free books from this conference. Let's not talk crazy now. Free books. Free books! That's like waving heroin in front of an addict.)

So that leaves me wondering if I should even bother spending money on stuff people are probably going to throw away anyway. I know I need business cards for people I meet, but other than that, I'm not sure the rest is worth it.

But maybe I'm an anomaly. Maybe other people love that stuff. So I'm throwing the question out to you guys. Has swag ever sold you on something? If so, what was it? And what do you do with all the swag you get from conferences?

*Btw, the swag in the picture I kept because I either already like/knew the author, saw the author give a workshop and wanted to remember to look them up, or I wanted to use their swag to research my own potential swag.