You tell us: What con have you always wanted to attend? (includes pics from #rt12!)

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Carina Press table at Ebook Expo

Okay, I admit it, this is a bit of a copout post. I’ve just spent the last week, Monday to Sunday, at the Romantic Times convention in Chicago. I’m exhausted, my brain is total mush and I had a great time. Since I spend so much time traveling to cons, they don’t always hold the same appeal and excitement for me as they do for most fans, authors and attendees. But I can still appreciate a good conference, a conference team who works hard, and the opportunity to see old acquaintances and meet new people.

James Rollins & Angela James

This year, I was fortunate to meet a LOT of Carina Press authors. There were over 40 at this conference! We had a fantastic cocktail party for authors and staff on Friday night. Food and beverage was consumed, lots of book talk–and even more non-book talk–went on and a good time was had by all (I think!). Then on Friday we held a cocktail party for all conference attendees and holy cow, the turnout was even better than we could have hoped for. It was only one hour, but we had an easy-to-participate activity that gave authors and readers an excuse to talk to each other, and that provided one lucky attendee with the opportunity to take home an iPad. Reception to that party was very enthusiastic and we look forward to doing it again next year!

This year, I also spent quite a bit of time with Harlequin and Berkley author Nalini Singh. If you haven’t read Nalini’s books,

Angela James & Nalini Singh

you really should check them out, she’s amazing! And, on top of that, she’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever have the chance to meet. I also did a bit of a fangirl moment with thriller author James Rollins, which made me happy. He’s one of only a few authors I had my photo taken with this week.

Anyway, at the bottom of this post, I’m going to include a few more pictures, but I’d love to hear from you: You tell us, what author or reader conference have you always wanted to attend? Mine is ComiCon in San Diego. I want to go and be a total geeky fangirl all week. Some day! What’s yours? Or, alternately, what’s a conference that you already have attended and absolutely loved?

Vivian Arend & Zoe Archer

Christine D'Abo

Julie Rowe

Nico Rosso

Calm before storm at Carina #RT12 cocktail party

RWA Nationals: Let me tell you something important!

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Next week is RWA Nationals, and we have some special events going on that I’d like to tell you about–and not just for authors, but for bloggers as well. Read on.

First, on Tuesday from 9a-4p (with a one hour break for lunch) all Harlequin authors (for anyone out there who’s a doubter, Carina Press authors are Harlequin authors. Their contracts even say so!) are invited to attend a digital-training workshop. We’ll have stations set up to help teach you about things such as Twitter, Facebook, and the different digital devices. We’ll tell you about Calibre, and do website evaluations (if you’re brave) and give you a chance to test drive various digital readers. No extra cost to you, it’s all part of our author program! You don’t need to be there at any set time, you can wander in and out as you need to. Location information is on the email sent out to all Harlequin authors. If you didn’t receive one, please ask your editor for the location!

Wednesday at 3:15p is the Carina Press spotlight. I have a feeling you might want to attend this one, authors. We have a presentation packed full of marketing and promotional information, and will be answering all of your questions. I just have this feeling there will be some very specific questions…and no, I won’t say more!

Wednesday at 4pm is a special tea, just for bloggers and reviewers. Do you run a reading and review blog or site? Then we’d love to meet you. We have gifts. We have party favors. And not to mention the tea and tasties.  Join us for a Book Blogger Tea on Wednesday, June 29th from 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the Times Square room at the conference hotel. Join us for tea & scones and “fascinating” conversation! Fascinators, hand-made by the Digital team, will be provided to set the mood – or bring your own tea-party appropriate headgear

Thursday at 4:30 I’ll be moderating a panel/Q&A on reviews and reviewers. My special guests are Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Rose Fox from Publishers Weekly and Elissa Petruzzi from RT Books Magazine. They’ll be sharing some insight about their respective sites and publications, and we’ll also be discussing reviews, including this question: Can you be friendly with an author and/or publisher and still offer a critical review. I hope you’ll visit the panel and hear what they have to say!

Friday at 11am is the Harlequin PAN session. PAN authors will have an opportunity to see presentations and do a Q&A with top Harlequin team members. There are some interesting developments afoot, so you won’t want to miss this.

And if you’re at RWA, I hope you’ll stop me and say hello. I may be speeding in one direction or another, but I’d still love the opportunity to put faces to names and know who’s out there.

See you at RWA!

Fun in Pictures

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I didn’t get a chance to do an RWA recap, and the weeks are getting away from me, but I thought I could share a few of the pictures from our time there.

First, here’s a picture of me at a character breakfast (remember, we were in DisneyWorld for RWA this year!) hosted by 3 Seas Literary Agency. It was a fantastic breakfast and I’m glad I could attend.I’m in the front right, in the turquoise dress, kneeling in front of editor Heather Osborn from Tor.

Next up are a few pictures from the Harlequin Party on Friday night. Harlequin always throws THE party of the conference, and this year was no exception. The theme was “Picture Perfect” and, as such, there were photographers there to take photos, both staged and candid. It was fantastic!

This picture, from left to right: Rosie from Nobody Asked Me, Malle Vallik and new Carina Press author LB Gregg.

In this picture we have two Carina Press authors. On the left is Susanna Fraser, and in the middle is Marie Force.

From left to right: Jenny Bullough, me (Angela James) and Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

On the left is eHarlequin Community Manager Jayne Hoogenberk and with her is Danica, one of the eHarlequin community hosts

I hope Jenny can forgive me for posting this picture, but we had FUN and here’s where you see it.

I also have a few pictures from the Ritas.

From left to right: aspiring author Kat Crouch, me, and author Dawn Chartier (they said I inspired them and wanted their picture with me. I was so flattered!)

Three of the most gorgeous editors you’ve ever seen, from the London Mills & Boon offices. And so nice you can’t hate them. I’ve warned them I’ll be visiting them in London someday soon:

I have more pictures from RWA, so I’ll try to be back with a few more on Monday!

RWA Nationals 2010

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I’ve been working on another post I thought I’d be putting up today, but it’s taken on a bit of a life of its own so I need more time to get it done! Hopefully by next week I’ll be able to share it.

In the meantime, I know some of you will be at RWA Nationals and I wanted to share with you the Carina Press schedule, so if you’d like to meet up with either me, or other Carina Press team members (both Malle Vallik and Jenny Bullough will be in attendance as well) you have a fair shot of hunting us down!

Wednesday July 28:

Digital Clinic–this is for Harlequin and Carina Press authors only. But it doesn’t hurt to let you all know what future authors have to look forward to. We’ll be holding an all-day drop-in clinic on topics like social media, websites, digital reading devices, and other topics.

Thursday July 29:

PRO Retreat panel–Time: 3:45 PM – 4:30 PM
Title: PRO Retreat – Small, Independent and New Presses
Angela James joins other small press executives for discussion and Q&A

Friday July 30:

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM in Americas Seminar Room: Angela James workshop with author Jaci Burton. Q&A: Inside Digital Publishing–we’ll do a candid Q&A about all things publishing digitally–both small and large press

2:00-3:30: Carina Press Cocktail Party in Europe 8
Come and enjoy wine, cocktails and snacks while meeting the Carina Press team members. Enter to win a doorprize of a Sony Pocket Reader!

3:30-5:00: ESPAN tea
Angela James will be guest speaking

Saturday July 31:

2:00-3:00 Carina Press Spotlight

Come and find out more about Carina’s current books, what we’re looking for and some behind-the-scenes marketing info!

Carina at Romantic Times 2010

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Aideen and I attended Romantic Times at the end of April and really had an amazing experience. The staff of RT was wonderfully supportive of us and excited about the launch of Carina Press. Everyone from Kathryn Falk and Ken Rubin to Carol Stacy, Jo Carol, Liz French, Morgan Doremus, Elissa Petruzzi, Faygie, Whitney and all of the other staff members and volunteers we spoke with over the course of the week were enthusiastic about this new venture. Every time I turned around, there was another RT staff member telling us they couldn’t wait to read the Carina books.

And not only were they graciously enthusiastic about Carina, but they put together a fantastic conference. This was my fifth RT and by far the best I’ve ever attended. The Hyatt Regency Columbus was the perfect conference hotel–the staff there was ultra-efficient and the hotel itself has a very savvy person behind the @HyattColumbus Twitter feed, so huge kudos to them. Beyond that, Jo and Carol have much to be proud of in all the hard work they put into bringing this conference together. I know Jo didn’t get much sleep for many, many days but from my end, she made it look effortless at times.

So what about our conference experience itself? Poor Aideen spent much of her time at Club RT manning the Carina Press and Harlequin tables, sneaking out when she could to attend workshops (next year we’re bringing extra staff so she has help!) She was the friendly redhead many of you met, and the whiz behind organizing the Carina presence at RT, including the brochures, the awesome portfolios that were in the registration bags, the banners, and last, but not least, the Carina luncheon. Compared to that, my part was easy!

I arrived early in the week and, as I have for the last four years, gave the closing session at Judi McCoy and Bobbi Smith’s pre-conference writer’s workshops on Tuesday afternoon. I love closing their workshop off, because they have so many enthusiastic new writers with questions to ask. Right after this, I ran up to registration where I got my badge and a copy of the June RT magazine. And this is what I saw when I flipped to page 12:

Of course I knew there was going to be an article, because I’d done the interview with the fabulous Elissa Petruzzi, but I had no idea I was going to have my picture front and center–and in a Kindle no less! I immediately danced around the registration area announcing that I had “arrived” (pictorial proof of that can be found via this tweet). Thanks so much to Elissa for an incredibly flattering article about both me and Carina.

On Wednesday I did a two-hour session with very business-smart author Lauren Dane. We ran a workshop on being an author in the digital publishing age. If ever you’re an author with questions, wondering what it’s like to write for both a digital-first press and a traditional press, Lauren’s a fantastic person to ask. For those who are interested in that workshop, I’ll be doing a similar version (though only one hour) at RWA Nationals with the also smart Jaci Burton.

On Thursday, I sat on the editor panel. That’s always an interesting experience because there’s a short amount of time (an hour), a lot of editors (at least 12?) and everyone wants to speak up and get the word out about the fabulosity (yes, I made that word up) of their publisher. I didn’t speak much because others had more to say, but I hope that didn’t lead any authors in the audience to believe I wasn’t interested in their questions. Also, anyone in the audience will probably tell you my sense of humor is fully intact. Editor panels tend to bring out my wicked humor for some reason!

Friday was a busy day for us. First, Aideen and I ran the Carina Press spotlight. We were thrilled to have two guests in the audience to support us: Harlequin CEO & Publisher Donna Hayes and Loriana Sacilotto, Executive Vice President of Global Publishing and Strategy (no, no I wasn’t nervous about that, why do you ask? Heh). We had a full room and a lot of fantastic questions.

From there I was off to a one hour session with Jane Litte of Dear Author and Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. We did a session on reading digital that included an eight-question process to buying an ereader, as well as an opportunity for everyone in the audience to get their hands on the Kobo Reader, a Sony Pocket Reader and Sony Touch, an iPad, a nook, a Kindle, an iPhone and a netbook. And I need to give special thanks to both Kobo and Sony, who sent me devices so I would have demo models for not only RT (where Aideen was also able to demo them at Club RT), but at future conferences. Up next, I’ll have them at the Lori Foster Get Together and my Birmingham RWA Chapter appearance! We were also fortunate to have a Sony Touch to give away, compliments of All Romance eBooks/OmniLit (they also had some of the coolest stickers as swag that said “ebook addict”). I tell you, we have some very generous partners in the digital space and we’re grateful to them for helping us spread the digital love (or, as I always say, drag people to the digital dark side). If you’re interested in more about that session, Jane did a blog post based on some of our information here.

After this session was what Aideen has been working up to for month’s: the Carina Press launch lunch. Our goal for this lunch was always to use it as an introduction to Carina Press without doing a hard sell. We know that people like free food (and goodies) but also appreciate the opportunity to enjoy the free food without listening to a lengthy speech. Especially when they’ve already been attending workshops all morning and would be going back to them again. Thanks to the people at Barnes and Noble, we had a nook to give away at the luncheon. The winner was actually a bookseller (who assured me she planned to use it and had plans for what books she’d be buying–I hope she meant Carina books! ;) ) In addition to the nook giveaway, and keeping in mind our goal of not holding people hostage with a long speech, I gave a short welcome speech:

At the end of the speech we introduce a video. Rather than watching it on the blurry, bouncy (I swear Aideen wasn’t drinking) video, you can view it here:

Whew! It was pretty thrilling to get to introduce Carina Press to the RT attendees, and I’m still coming down off that high!

Friday, as I said, was a busy day for me and I left the luncheon and ran over to take pitches for a few hours before the digital book fair began. I was able to end my conference with a day of “rest” on Saturday, and enjoy both the book fair and time spent with readers, authors and other industry professionals. I gathered a metric ton of swag, which will be part of the Carina Press Countdown giveaway (participate on Twitter, Facebook and here on the blog to win!) and also got a huge bag of signed books from authors, which I’ll be giving away on my personal blog in honor of Carina’s launch at the beginning of June.

Overall, though I had to spend quite a few hours in my hotel room working in order to get the Countdown going and to meet production deadlines for the books, I had a terrific time. As I said, I thought this was the best RT yet, both in terms of my experience, the hotel and the RT staff’s energy and dedication to making it the best. I appreciate everyone who showed us support, stopped me to tell me how excited they are about the launch of Carina and that they can’t wait to read the books. I can’t wait for you to read them either!

Twitter contest: signed book from author of your choice!

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Just to be clear up front, the only way to join in this contest is via Twitter. This blog post is only intended as an explanation and to provide rules for those following along on Twitter. Commenting on this post will not enter you into the contest, you must participate on Twitter. Other legal terms/rules can be found here if you have some extra time on your hands.

This week, I’ll be attending the Romantic Times Convention in Columbus, Ohio and if you’re not able to attend, this is your chance to win a signed book from one author of your choice attending the huge booksigning on Saturday, May 1st. There will be over 300 authors attending, so browse the list and choose just one! In addition to the signed book, you’ll also win your choice of one of the Carina Press launch titles in digital format (list of launch titles to be released Thursday!) Two prizes per winner, an old favorite and a potential new favorite!

You can get two entries per day, from Monday April 26th to Thursday April 29th. Winners will be contacted Friday April 30th.

You must be following @CarinaPress to be eligible to win so we can contact you via DM about your prize and to get your contact information

To enter:

1) Tweet this: Win a signed book from 1 of 300 authors at RT2010 from @CarinaPress. Visit #CarinaRT

2) Tweet this: Hey @CarinaPress I want to win a signed book from [author name) #CarinaRT

example: Hey @CarinaPress I want to win a signed book from Kelley Armstrong #CarinaRT

–in each tweet you must remember to include the hashtag #CarinaRT so we can track your entry, as well as the link to this post so your tweet is eligible!

On Saturday, May 1st, I’ll attend the RT booksigning and get signed books for SIX winners from the author of their choice. The book will be signed to you and mailed out by May 12th. And, yes, I will mail internationally.

To get started, follow @CarinaPress and tweet!