Sitting in Tucson, waiting to return to wintry Virginia. Got lots going through my mind. . . . the festival was packed with readers and the most incredible authors in the business. I was able to cement old friendships and develop new. Here is what I gleaned from the event:

– Social media is becoming more defined. It is still the Wild West but we are starting to see pathways—and there are some people doing it very well. Kristen Lamb gives a great overview in her book RISE OF THE MACHINES: Human Authors in a Digital World. Her presentation interested me because of the marketing statistics she gave. Well, worth your time to hear her if you get the chance.

And then, for a new contact, I was introduced to Jesse Petersen’s husband Michael Petersen who runs Killer Marketing for Authors ( Good site. Loads of info, and from a man who understands the business of commercial fiction. No, la-dee-dah here. Just good, straight talk. Between Kristen, Michael, and the course I took from Lisa Pietsch, I should be a social media commando. Stay tuned!

— If you are a writer, and you want information, attend a panel of romance authors. I was on a plotting panel with Cathy McDavid and Sharon Sala. It was a primer on how to layout a story. Spot on.

Then, I participated in a workshop on writing commercial fiction set in history with AmyLynn Bright and Jess Michaels/Jenna Petersen that once again was direct and full of info and energy. Jesse and I are Avon writers but AmyLynn is relatively new to both the genre and writing . I loved both of them.

Finally, I ended the festival on a panel on building characters with Sharon and Nancy Holder. Holder writes tie-ins for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other television series, Young Adult, and teaches creative writing and Sharon is always forward thinking and true. I was struck by the intelligent generosity of my fellow panelists. What a gift to both readers and writers.

The festival gave me the opportunity to sit in the presence of Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and to have my fan girl moment with Larry McMurtry.

I also met neat, neat people. I loved that both AmyLynn and Jesse’s spouses attended the panel we were on. I had a good time with the members of the Saguaro RWA who helped organize the romance track of the festival. Patricia Knoll spearheaded much of the event and she was patient, kind, and lovely to be with (which is a miracle cause I know how much work goes into these things). I also enjoyed my time with Laura Russell and Theresa Shaw. Their love for Tucson rubbed off on me.

All in all, this has been a grand time.

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