Welcome newbies and seasoned travel veterans to Authors Dish. With only thirteen days until Romance Writers of America 2019 I’m curious what authors and industry professionals always include in their suitcases, what they stash in their conference bag to avoid hunger pains and the things they forget once and hopefully never again.
While some of the authors contributing are not attending, we love they want to hang out and play. We hope their words of wisdom help to ease any anxiety you might have getting all the things in your suitcase.
May these posts inspire you to shop early, make your lists, and triple check so you are prepared for just about anything. If you’re heading to #RWA19 soon comment below so we can meet up in NYC.
Thank you to all who have dished and those who are still sharing their wisdom. Stay tuned for more comments and follow the blog so you don’t miss these posts.
Today in the cafe are USA Today Bestselling Author and 2019 RITA Finalist Tawna Fenske, USA Today Bestselling Author Robin Bielman and Author Lori Ann Bailey.
Rae: What five things do you have to pack when attending a conference?
- A mini electric skillet. Food is expensive at conferences, so being able to cook my own meals saves me a bundle. It fits neatly in my carry-on (I NEVER check luggage!), so all I have to do is find a nearby grocery store as soon as I arrive to stock up on things like eggs and fresh veggies.
- A Tide stain stick. I spill food CONSTANTLY, so this helps keep me stain-free.
- A cardigan. For some reason they air condition the conference rooms to sub-zero temps, so this keeps me from freezing.
- Comfy shoes. You spend a lot of time on your feet getting from place to place, so leave the toe-pinching heels at home.
- My HydroFlask reusable water bottle. I keep it in my purse and chug water all day to stay hydrated.
Robyn Bielman: A sweater (because I’m always cold inside the hotel and conference rooms), my laptop, comfortable shoes, a cute notepad for taking notes, and my glasses.
1. I keep a spreadsheet of everything I need for conference. It’s super easy to print out and I update it as needed so I don’t have to start over each time I pack. Here are my top five must haves.
2. My twisty towel – shower towels are too big to wrap my hair in, plus if you have roommates, you don’t want to hog all them.
3. A water bottle – sure, you can take a cute one like a Swell, but a used plastic one works too. There is usually water provided at the back of meeting rooms where you can refill it. Trust me on this one – the last NY conference was my first and I was so desperate for a drink that I purchased the $6 bottle in the gift shop. I will never do that again.
4. Female sanitary items – even if it’s not “that time of the month” – I was so nervous at my first conference that my friend came to visit me early and I was not prepared.
5. Band-Aids – and keep them in the bag you have with you! – As you can see, my first conference was filled with rookie mistakes – the worst being that I wore uncomfortable shoes. They were so bad that the day of pitch appointments, my feet were bleeding, so I sat in the pitch room waiting for my time. I was so nervous I missed the appointment with the agent I wanted to pitch to even though I was sitting in the room waiting. Still shaking my head over that. But good news, I was able to pitch to her later and she is now my agent, despite my poor choice in footwear.
Which leaves me with probably the best thing to take with you – A positive attitude – sometimes things happen for a reason. (my manuscript was not where it should have been that first year) Please enjoy conference and make the most of your time there. Remember that all workshops are being recorded this year, so don’t stress if you can’t make it to everything. Have a great time enjoying your journey
Rae: What is your snack attack must haves in your day bag?
- Nuts, dried fruit, protein bars, jerky, and tons of water.
Robin: Usually some type of granola bar or small bag of almonds.
Lori Ann: Beef jerky, peanuts, trail mix, and breath mints.
Rae:What’s the one thing you forget to pack and swear to remember next time?
- Last year I forgot my eyeglass cleaning cloth, which is ridiculous for someone who wears glasses and constantly smudges them. Fortunately, there were a number of authors handing them out as schwag.
Robin Bielman: Hmm…I can’t think of anything I forget. Usually I overpack and bring way more than I need/wear!
Lori Ann: A corkscrew for opening wine bottles. 😉 Adding this to my spreadsheet now.
Rae: Thank you so much authors! Readers, what’s the ONE thing you always forget and swear to include next time when you travel? How do you make sure that you remember ;).
I’ll be keeping a running list and will post it a week before #RWA19 so that hopefully no one needs to make a quick run to the lobby market or drug store around the corner. I’ll see you soon for new authors and more ideas!
For more packing ideas if you’re at RWA be sure to check out the following session for more tips and tricks. I know I will!
(Sessions repeated 3 times in an hour: 3:15 – 3:35 p.m., 3:35 – 3:55 p.m., 3:55 – 4:15 p.m.)
Cheapskates Unite! How to Do RWA Nationals on a Budget
Speaker: Tawna Fenske
We’re all on a budget. Learn how to save money on flights to the RWA Annual Conference (or any conference or convention) using rewards programs and comparison websites like Kayak. You’ll discover how not to go broke buying conference clothing, as well as how to save on meals. As a bonus, you’ll learn how to never pay baggage fees again by using only a carry-on or two, no matter the length of your trip.
About Tawna Fenske:
When Tawna Fenske finished her English lit degree at 22, she celebrated by filling a giant trash bag full of romance novels and dragging it everywhere until she’d read them all. Now she’s a RITA Award finalist, USA Today bestselling author who writes humorous fiction, risqué romance, and heartwarming love stories with a quirky twist. Publishers Weekly has praised Tawna’s offbeat romances with multiple starred reviews and noted, “There’s something wonderfully relaxing about being immersed in a story filled with over-the-top characters in undeniably relatable situations. Heartache and humor go hand in hand.”
Tawna lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband, step-kids, and a menagerie of ill-behaved pets. She loves hiking, snowshoeing, standup paddleboarding, and inventing excuses to sip wine on her back porch. She can peel a banana with her toes and loses an average of twenty pairs of eyeglasses per year. To find out more about Tawna and her books, visit www.tawnafenske.com.
About Robin Bielman:
Robin Bielman is the USA Today bestselling author of over fifteen novels. When not attached to her laptop, she loves to read, go to the beach, frequent coffee shops (and by frequent she means daily but she’s trying to break the habit), and spend time with her high school sweetheart husband and two sons.
Her fondness for swoon-worthy heroes who flirt and stumble upon the girl they can’t live without jumpstarts most of her story ideas. She writes with a steady stream of caffeine nearby (see above) and the best dog on the planet, Harry, by her side. She also dreams of traveling to faraway places and loves to connect with readers. Keep in touch on social! xoxo
About Lori Ann Bailey:
Lori Ann Bailey is a wife and stay-at-home mother who realized overindulging in wine was a bad idea. She started reading romance as an escape from everyday stresses only to discover she’d always had her own reality and stories dancing in her head. Winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award and Holt Medallion for Best First Book and Best Historical, she writes hunky highland heroes and strong-willed independent lasses finding their perfect matches in the Highlands of 17th century Scotland.
She has served two years as the Washington DC Romance Writers Program Director and is currently on her second stint of service to Romance Writers of America as a member of the National Workshop Committee.
After growing up and attending college in Mississippi, she lived in Ohio, Manhattan, and London, but chose to settle in Vienna, VA with her husband and four children. And while she loves her life, most days, she’s behind the computer writing or at the sink washing everyone else’s dirty dishes, dreaming of being in Scotland or New York City.
Highland Deception is the first book in Lori Ann Bailey’s historical romance series Highland Pride. In her debut novel there is much to be excited about as the writing is vivid and captivating. The story is packed with bravery, honor, love, and betrayal. It’s an adventure of learning to navigate through family expectations, fighting for what’s right and standing up for those you love.
Margaret Murray is running from what she considers to be a life-sentence, an arranged marriage to a man she doesn’t love. When she falls into the hands of a handsome stranger she will need to win over his trust to survive, ad hold onto her heart if she can.
Lachlan Cameron is a laird who is honest and good but wont’ tolerate deception and dishonor to him or his clan. A highlander you need to meet!
Take a journey to the highlands in this slow-burn romance that kept me captivated the entire time. I didn’t want it to end and lucky for you dear readers there are four books so far in this series! Tonight I’ll be dreaming of men in kilts, the scottish highlands and a love that lasts forever.
This spicy read is best enjoyed with your favorite iced-beverage, a cozy chair, and maybe a fan. I received this book from the publisher for a fair and honest review.
Get your copy here:
Rae: Thank you for hanging out with me. First, if we were meeting at a coffee shop I’d be drinking a spiced Latte with Coconut Milk with caramel drizzle, what would you order?
Lori Ann: Black coffee and an ice water.
Rae: First, the Olympics were amazing. In my house we DVR’d everything else, it was all about the Olympics. What about you, did you catch any amazing sports events? What about the opening ceremony?
Lori Ann: I always enjoy the opening ceremony. This year, I especially felt emotional when the Korean artists sang Imagine and the people around them formed a dove. I tried to record the events I enjoy watching, but I didn’t go out of my way to see the rest. We did have it on it the back ground each night as we got ready for bed. I’m so impressed by all the amazing athletes.
Rae: Did you sit and watch any of the events as a family?
Lori Ann: With four kids, it’s hard to coral them all to watch at one time. We had moments with all of us watching at different times.
Rae: A few months ago you had your first Facebook live and took us inside your writing lair, are there plans for another video? I loved the peek inside your writing corner and sharing with fans where you sit so your characters can come to life.
Lori Ann: I have plans to do another Facebook live video soon. I want to do a reading because I’ve not yet had a chance read a passage from one of my books in front of others. I’ll probably do it in my office too, I just have to build up the courage, although I am finding it easier to put myself out there now that I’ve done it a couple times.
Rae: How has writing full-time changed your life?
Lori Ann: I’ve had to learn to let go of control of a lot of things. My dishes aren’t always done right away, the laundry sometimes sits in a basket for a couple days before I can fold it, but I think the biggest change is positive. My children are learning to take on more responsibilities, something I realize now, I should have encouraged earlier on.
Rae: Can you tell readers a little bit about your Highland Pride series?
Lori Ann: Yes, the Highland Pride series is centered around the clan Cameron and a few characters outside the clan who have direct contact with them. The series takes place around the English Civil War and involves the political dynamics of the time and how Scotland was ripped apart and forced to choose sides, those loyal to King Charles or those faithful followers of the Protestant Parliament.
Rae: How many books do you have planned for the Highland Pride series?
Lori Ann: I am contracted for five books, but there are endless possibilities for new stories running around in my head.
Rae: What is next in your writing world?
Lori Ann: I’ve already started a new series, but I can’t tell you much yet. I will say that it will be called the Highland Misfits and will be around the time of the clearances in Scotland.
Rae: How many research trips have you made to gather all the bits to give the readers all the real feels in your stories?
Lori Ann: I’ve only been to Scotland twice, but money is an issue or I’d go every time I needed new information. I took lots of pictures and have great memories, but I do have to look up videos and other information to get some of the details I need. Youtube and Wikipedia are always helpful. I can’t imagine how much time it would take to do the proper research without the internet.
Rae: What was it like to walk along the same path as your heroes and breathe the same air? I hope one day to travel to Scotland, for now I will enjoy the pictures and videos from those who have shared their experiences.
Lori Ann: I had been to Edinburgh and fallen in love with it before I started writing. One of my favorite places is the abbey ruins by Holyrood Palace. It was a magical place for me and I included it in, Highland Temptation, book three, which comes out June 25th.
Just before Highland Deception came out, I was lucky enough to be able to go back to Scotland, this time to the Highlands and my husband and I made sure to tour as much as we could of the Cameron lands.
Rae: We’ve chatted a bit about your next trip this Spring to Paris, I hope you have a fabulous time. I loved my honeymoon in Paris and hope to travel back one day soon! Be sure to see all the museums, walk the streets, eat the foods, drink the wine, and take it all in. It’s truly a magical place and life-changing. We walked everywhere and made sure to travel out to Versailles and Chartres, two of my favorite day trips!
Lori Ann: I can’t wait. My husband and I lived in London for a little bit and had the opportunity to go for a long weekend once, but we are thrilled to be able to take the kids and see everything we missed the first time. Thank you for all the Paris advice and I can’t wait to share my pictures.
Rae: There has been a lot of chatter on social media about planning and organizing to stay focused and succeed in personal goals for 2018. How do you keep it all from spiraling out of orbit between the family life and writer life?
Lori Ann: Funny you mention this because some friends of mine informed me that they come up with a “word of the year” each year, so of course, I had to do it too. My word for 2018 is “Succeed.”
First, I try to keep work to the week, so I can spend time with my family on the weekends. I’ve been a stay at home parent for seventeen years, so it’s been a challenge learning to juggle my responsibilities as a caregiver and accomplishing what I want as a writer. As a result, my children have had to learn to become more independent. I think in the long run that will be good for both them and me.
Rae: Are you a planner girl or digital calendar queen?
Lori Ann: I used to use a Franklin Planner, but over the last few years, I’ve used Google calendar. I recently purchased an Erin Condren paper planner to attempt the switch back. I think I’ll need to keep up both for a while, but I’m still working on figuring it out. I’ll let you know at the end of the year how it goes.
Rae: You also blogged about the importance of lists, do you use post-its or paper and do you have separate lists or keep it all on one sheet?
Lori Ann: Lists do keep me on track. I write them on paper and keep them all over the place, sometimes having to add from one to the another. But I find the more often I write something down, the sooner I’ll get it done.
Rae: When you sit down to write, do you write the old fashioned way or type away at the keyboard? Writing all the words is a challenge, do you have a writing ritual or secret location to get the work done?
Lori Ann: On the computer, although I’m tempted to try out the Dragon speaking software. I download an album from an artist each time I start a new book. I only listen to it when I’m writing that particular book, so that helps me to focus. Other than that, I can write almost anywhere and sometimes it helps to move around to a new location. When I’m stuck, I go to the quiet room at the library. There, I’m forced to focus and can’t be distracted.
Rae: Are you the writer who has a notebook for all the words that flow while driving or do you dictate into your phone?
Lori Ann: I carry a notepad everywhere because you never know when inspiration will strike. I also keep one by the bed. There have been a couple nights that I’ve had to jump up, sneak out of the room and jot down something.
Rae: How do you tackle plotting your series? Is it on a massive board, sheets of paper or just write as you go with a simple outline?
Lori Ann: I was using three pieces of poster board and taping them together, but my parents bought a white board for me for the holidays and my husband recently hung it in my office. It’s a huge help. I’ll admit though, that I’m a little protective of it and don’t want people in my family to read what I’ve plotted out. 🙂
Rae: A lot of authors use Pinterest and make awesome boards to tease readers, are you one of them?
Lori Ann: I do use Pinterest occasionally, but I find the time it takes to find perfect pictures is better spent writing. I currently have a secret board for another series I’m working on, but that’s because it’s in a new time period and I have more to learn about it.
Rae: When you are not busy writing, you keep readers updated on social media, what are your favorite types of posts, pics, or tweets?
Lori Ann: Anything with kittens or positive uplifting messages.
Rae: Where can readers find you in 2018?
Lori Ann: I’ll be doing the Literacy signing at RWA Nationals in Denver, Colorado
Rae: What can we expect in 2018? Do you have other projects in the works?
Lori Ann: I have a secret project in the works. I’ll make an announcement as soon as I can, but I may not be able to until March or early April. If your readers want to stay tuned for updates, they can friend me on Facebook.
Rae: Thank you for hanging out in the cafe today.
Lori Ann: Thank you for having me.
1. What is a must read book and why?
Scottish Historical Romance – Sweet Revenge by Lynsay Sands – I laughed out loud so many times my husband had to know what was going on.
Non-Fiction – The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker – This book changed my life and the way I look at my surroundings. I highly recommend it.
Suspense – Books by Greg Iles – Most of them took place not far from where I grew up. It’s enjoyable having a connection to the places and events that happen in his books.
2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown? Windsor Ruins. A Southern plantation house that survived the civil war only to be burned down by a guest not long after. The magnificent columns are the only things left standing on the house.
3. Do you take-in or cook? If so, what is your “go-to” dish? A combination, but we try not to order out more than twice a week. My “go-to” would be spaghetti and meat sauce.
4. What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? When my kids have all made their own lives, I would like to move back to New York City. Although I grew up in small town, Mississippi, I miss the convenience of living in the city.
5. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist? I’ll listen to almost everything, but my favorite is Country. 😉
6. If you had an all expenses paid trip anywhere in the world for research, where would you go? All of Scotland. I’ve been to Edinburgh and a portion of the Highlands, but there is so much more I “need” to see. I can’t wait to go back.
7. What is your guilty pleasure? Cheez-It Hot and Spicy Grooves. They are so addicting.
8. What are you afraid of? Spiders and ventriloquist puppets.
9. Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one? Not for me, but if you want me to go cheer you on while you get one, I’m happy to do it.
10. Organized or Free Floating? I thrive on organization.
11. Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)? Binge watcher. I just caught up on Netflix with Supernatural. I’m thinking about The Marvelous Mrs Maisel next but I haven’t had a chance to start yet.
12. What’s on your playlist? I have a different playlist for each book I write, but the playlist that keeps me motivated is my gym playlist. My favorites on it are Fight Song by Rachel Platten, Hall of Fame by The Script, Brave by Sara Bareilles and I Lived by OneRepublic.
13. What play or musical do you want to see next? I still haven’t seen Hamilton, even though my whole family knows the soundtrack by heart. I’d love to see it, but we are still waiting on the prices to come down.
14. Are you a crafter? I tried, but I failed miserably. I settle for appreciating those that are crafty.
15. What’s your favorite TV show and why? Mysteries at the Museum. I love the tidbits of history and I can have it on no matter what child is in the room and they all learn and are drawn in with me.
16. If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be (besides yours 🙂 )?
The Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare
17. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why? Romancing the Stone. I love the combination of comedy and romance. This one was one of my favorites when I saw it growing up and I watched it again recently and fell in love again. The hero and heroine are both flawed and their character growth makes the end rewarding.
18. Would you rather see a movie in the theater or at home on DVD and why? In the movie theater, because my kids save their questions and comments until the end of the movie and I can actually watch it.
19. What is the one thing you can’t live without? I’m assuming family is a given, so I’m going to say cozy socks.
20. If you could invite 5 people to dinner (not friends and family – that’s too easy) who would be at your table? Where would you eat? Johanna Lindsey, Hannah Howell, Paula Quinn, Lynsay Sands, and Karen Marie Moning. A tapas bar – I love the variety and the intimacy of sharing with others.
21. If you could try any career for a day, what would it be? Quality control taste tester at the Lindt/Lindor chocolate factory.
22. Person you admire and why? Eliza Knight – She’s an amazing mentor, author, and friend, who gives her time to help others, but somehow manages to juggle multiple publishing projects at one time, all while raising, caring for, and loving her three children and husband.
Welcome to Authors Dish where your favorite authors share what they are reading. In addition, if you enjoy reading their books they have suggestions for similar book adventures by other authors. It doesn’t get better than that!
Today in the cafe are MK Meredith, Kimberly Kincaid, and Lori Ann Bailey.
Rae: Who are you reading?
MK Meredith: I just finished Best Man Under the Mistletoe by Jules Bennett (so cute!) and I’m currently reading Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck. Of course, you can’t go wrong with Catherine Bybee, Gina Maxwell, or Harper Kincaid! And if you love historicals like I do, check out Victoria Alexander, Lori Ann Bailey, and Margaret Mallory. So many happy ever afters to fuel your love tank!
Kimberly Kincaid: A DISTANT HEART, by Sonali Dev and THE SCHEMER by Avery Flynn
Lori Ann Bailey: I currently have a massive “to be read” pile, which although daunting, makes me very happy. 🙂 Part of the reason is I recently went to a used book store with a group of other romance readers. I found a selection from authors I already love, Lynsay Sands, Lisa Kleypas and Johanna Lindsay, and some I’ve never tried, Janet Capman, Karen Ranney, and Kinley MacGregor, who I was excited to learn is also Sherrilyn Kenyon. In all, thirteen books for under $10.
I also have print copies of Too Scot to Handle from Grace Burrowes and Duke of Pleasure from Elizabeth Hoyt that I’m dying to dive into. On my kindle, I have books from Eliza Knight, Madeline Martin, and Dawn Luedecke that are begging for my attention.
I’ve also been told I have to read “Flowers from the Storm” By Laura Kinsale.
Maybe your readers can help me, where should I start?
Rae: If readers are a fan of your books, who should they consider reading?
MK Meredith: If you’re a fan of MK Meredith (which is an amazing and unbelievable thing…btw) then you love an emotional ride on heated sheets. For stories with a similar feel, you’ll find the perfect happy ever after in books by one of my top favorites…Susan Elizabeth Phillips, the talented Melissa West, and one of my biggest loves…Marina Adair.
Kimberly Kincaid: If you’re a fan of Kimberly Kincaid, consider Erin Nicholas, Kate Meader, and Laura Kaye.
Lori Ann Bailey: If you’re a fan of Lori Ann Bailey consider reading these authors… Paula Quinn, Hannah Howell, Monica McCarty, and Karen Marie Moning.
Rae: Thank you so much authors! Let me know dear readers if you try any of these books. I’ll see you next week – same time for new authors and more fun!
** Author Bios **
MK Meredith: #1 Bestselling author MK Meredith promises an emotional ride on heated sheets. She’s had a lifelong love affair with peanut butter — the only two things coming close in the battle for her affections are gorgeous heels and maybe Gerard Butler…or was it David Gandy? Who is she kidding? Her true loves are her husband and two children who have survived her SEA’s (spontaneous explosions of affection) and live to tell the tale. Her newest series, CAPE VAN BUREN, is set off the atmospheric coast of Maine and made a splash with book one, LOVE ON THE CAPE. This sexy and emotional love story between Ryker Van Buren and Larkin Sinclair will make you laugh, will make you cry, and will leave you feeling happy ever after! Book two, HONOR ON THE CAPE, keeps the light burning with Blayne McCaffrey’s story in March 2018. MK loves to connect and you can find all of her social media platform links atwww.mkmeredith.com. Don’t hesitate to reach out to MK at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One more thing…MK is a lover of happy endings both in her stories and life, so as a two-time breast cancer survivor, she encourages each of you to know your body and go to the doctor when something is different. Your happy ending starts with YOU! #KnowandGo
For all things romance, sneak peeks, and first releases, join her street team! https://www.facebook.com/groups/MKandCO/
Or sign up for her newsletter, The Heat Sheet! http://www.mkmeredith.com/mks-heat-sheet/
Kimberly Kincaid: Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet and hot and edgy romantic suspense. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a USA Today best-selling author and a 2016 and 2015 RWA RITA® finalist and 2014 Bookseller’s Best nominee who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. Kimberly resides in Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters. Website link: https://kimberlykincaid.com
Lori Ann Bailey: Winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award and Holt Medallion for Best First Book and Best Historical, Lori Ann Bailey writes hunky highland heroes and strong-willed independent lasses finding their perfect matches in the Highlands of 17th century Scotland. Writing about the people and places playing in her head helps her live out her dreams and delve into her love of history and romance. When not writing, Lori enjoys time with her real life hero and four kids or spending time walking or drinking wine with her friends. Website link: http://loriannbailey.com/