At Last: Very Interesting News, Unveiled!

Thank you all for waiting so patiently (*cough* Bill *cough*) for the Very Interesting News.

I am pleased mega-thrilled to announce… I now have agent representation! Yay! Squee!!!

Agent Lauren Abramo from the Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency will be representing Trevor & the Tooth Fairy!

I am so ridiculously excited to be working with Lauren! Yay! Squee! Double-squee!!!

Off to the Manuscript Maven blog to tell the tale of how I Rose From The Slush!

Costa Rica: Just For Fun

This week, I am in Dallas, Texas for the National RWA Conference. If you’d like real-time updates on the writing conference, please check out the Manuscript Mavens blog, where all four of us will be posting updates all week, throughout the day, to share our thoughts, impressions, and ah-ha moments with you.

In the meantime, I’ll be sharing a few of my Costa Rica photos with you here on this blog. (Link: my Costa Rica Thursday Thirteen post)

Today’s Costa Rica photo theme is: JUST FOR FUN.

Here’s me out caving in Venado. I had several pictures taken of me–unfortunately, they all came out super-blurry. This one is the least blurry. Fetching boot-mask-hat look, no?


The photos *I* took of the cave are beauteous, of course. *g


I went ziplining through the rain forest canopy a couple times. Here’s me heading off into the tree tops, right-side-up…


And here’s me, upside-down. Yep, flew across the cable line that way–you gotta try it! So fun!!! (If you’re nervous, no fear: You can zip line by yourself if you go right side up, but local guides accompany you for any tricks that require you to not be able to use your hands as brakes.)


Here’s me doing some sort of superman “flying” maneuver on the zip line. No comments from the peanut gallery as to the suggestive nature of the guide’s body position in relation to mine.

Costa Rica: Wildlife

This week, I am in Dallas, Texas for the National RWA Conference. If you’d like real-time updates on the writing conference, please check out the Manuscript Mavens blog, where all four of us will be posting updates all week, throughout the day, to share our thoughts, impressions, and ah-ha moments with you.

In the meantime, I’ll be sharing a few of my Costa Rica photos with you here on this blog. (Link: my Costa Rica Thursday Thirteen post)

Today’s Costa Rica photo theme is: WILDLIFE.

Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: crab at Venado caves Here’s a crab scaling the wall inside the caverns at Venado caves.


Horses graze in the pasture on Villa Paradise land. I rode a few of them in the countryside and through a neighboring macadamia farm. Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: horses at Villa Paradise


Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: lizards Almost missed this guy! Lizards are so *fast*.


Monkey! Costa Rica has several monkey types, but the only ones I ran into this time were the Congo monkeys and the howler monkeys. Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: monkeys


Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: monkeys More monkeys! Gotta love ’em…


Freaking giant moth. Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: giant moth on leaf


Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: giant moth on leaf Humongoid, I tell you!

Costa Rica: Waterworks

This week, I am in Dallas, Texas for the National RWA Conference. If you’d like real-time updates on the writing conference, please check out the Manuscript Mavens blog, where all four of us will be posting updates all week, throughout the day, to share our thoughts, impressions, and ah-ha moments with you.

In the meantime, I’ll be sharing a few of my Costa Rica photos with you here on this blog. (Link: my Costa Rica Thursday Thirteen post)

Today’s Costa Rica photo theme is: WATERWORKS.

Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: Beach Playa Langosta y Playa Tamarindo One weekend, we went to the beach and I got to hang out on Playa Langosta and Playa Tamarindo, kicking back oceanside with a book. *sigh of contentment*


Here’s a view of the volcano from across Lake Arenal. Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: Lake Arenal and Volcano Tenorio


Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: hot spring at Rio Celeste Here’s me hiding beneath some foliage at the point where a hot spring runs from the volcano into the icy cold Rio Celeste. What an odd experience to have my feet toasty warm and my back covered in goosebumps!


Here’s a waterfall view from a trail I hiked in a national park. Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: Waterfall


Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: Waterfall We sat on the rocks at the foot of this volcano and ate a PB&J sack lunch.


Here’s a waterfall well off the beaten path along the route to the Libera airport. Icy, icy water, but if you swim to the other side, a tiny hot spring trickles down across a rock big enough to climb up on to relax. Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: Waterfall


Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: Waterfall Here’s me clowning in front of said waterfall, after having dog-paddled to the hot spring (where I busted open my shin on a rock) and hiked back to the sand the long way (on slippery rocks around the perimeter of the water).

Costa Rica: Homebodies

This week, I am in Dallas, Texas for the National RWA Conference. If you’d like real-time updates on the writing conference, please check out the Manuscript Mavens blog, where all four of us will be posting updates all week, throughout the day, to share our thoughts, impressions, and ah-ha moments with you.

In the meantime, I’ll be sharing a few of my Costa Rica photos with you here on this blog. (Link: my Costa Rica Thursday Thirteen post)

Today’s Costa Rica photo theme is: HOMEBODIES.

Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: Villa Paradise This is the house I stayed at: Villa Paradise


This is a view from the front–my bedroom window is the one on the top floor, to the left. Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: Villa Paradise


Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: bobbing for apples One day we had the neighbor kids over for some games. They’d never bobbed for apples before, but they caught on in a flash!


We tied a piñata to a tree and the kids had a blast smacking it with a stick and collecting all the candy. Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: hitting a piñata


Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: pool party Here are the neighbor kids in the kiddie pool and heading to the slide for the bigger pool.


We rounded out the day with sack races and whipped cream fights. (One of my friends had to drive to a German bakery an hour away to purchase whipped cream at $5 a can–not a common item here in Costa Rica!) Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: sack races

Costa Rica: Creepy Crawlies

This week, I am in Dallas, Texas for the National RWA Conference. If you’d like real-time updates on the writing conference, please check out the Manuscript Mavens blog, where all four of us will be posting updates all week, throughout the day, to share our thoughts, impressions, and ah-ha moments with you.

In the meantime, I’ll be sharing a few of my Costa Rica photos with you here on this blog. (Link: my Costa Rica Thursday Thirteen post)

Today’s Costa Rica photo theme is: CREEPY CRAWLIES.

Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: spider at Venado caves Just for those of you arachophobes, here is a lovely spider we found crawling up the wall.


Here’s a bat-covered ceiling at the Venado caves. See those holes above? They’re a few feet deep, and are created by the bats, who apparently secret some kind of oil in their sweat that eats away at the cave’s surface while they hang upside-down. Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: hanging bats at the Venado caves


Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: coral snake As I was walking back home from the neighbor’s farm, I ran into a snake on the path.. I was unsure whether this was a true coral snake or one of its cleverly disguised non-poisonous brethren. I later learned you can identify the more dangerous coral snake by its stripe pattern. If the colors spell RANA (rojo, amarillo, negro, amarillo) you should run away screaming. If not, no worries. As it turns out, this one *does* have the red, yellow, black, yellow pattern, and I maybe shouldn’t have followed it down the road, snapping photos in my shorts and flip flops.


Some neighbors found an even bigger prize and brought it over for our viewing pleasure. Here’s a lovely boa constrictor, stretched out in the grass. Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: Boa Constrictor

Costa Rica: Exploring

This week, I am in Dallas, Texas for the National RWA Conference. If you’d like real-time updates on the writing conference, please check out the Manuscript Mavens blog, where all four of us will be posting updates all week, throughout the day, to share our thoughts, impressions, and ah-ha moments with you.

Also running on the MM blog is a Tooth Fairy comment contest–play to win! =)

In the meantime, I’ll be sharing a few of my Costa Rica photos with you here on this blog. (Link: my Costa Rica Thursday Thirteen post)

Today’s Costa Rica photo theme is: EXPLORING.

Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: Arbol de la Paz This is el Arbol de la Paz (tree of peace) on the route to one of the national parks. It’s super-tall, and 22.55 meters in circumference.


Here’s me out hiking the afore-mentioned national park. Aren’t those boots fetching? Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: hiking a national forest


Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: La Fortuna rain forest canopy and waterfall This is a view of the rain forest canopy from La Fortuna. You can see a waterfall in the distance.


Costa Rica is full of single-car bridges like this one, made of wooden planks, which we had to share with a local man as we crossed in opposite directions.Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: sharing a rickety bridge


Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: storm clouds and Nicaraguan countryside Since it’s currently the rainy season in Costa Rica, you can see the storm clouds rolling in on the horizon. (If you squint really hard, you can even see the outline of Nicaragua in the background.)


That body of water behind me is Lago Arenal, the half-empty lake in charge of providing the surrounding area with electricity and drinking water. Boy do we need the rain–especially if the touristy beach towns get their way and pipe their coastal drinking water in from the already-depleted Lake Arenal. Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: Laguna Arenal en Nuevo Arenal

Costa Rica: Dancing

This week, I am in Dallas, Texas for the National RWA Conference. If you’d like real-time updates on the writing conference, please check out the Manuscript Mavens blog, where all four of us will be posting updates all week, throughout the day, to share our thoughts, impressions, and ah-ha moments with you.

In the meantime, I’ll be sharing a few of my Costa Rica photos with you here on this blog. (Link: my Costa Rica Thursday Thirteen post)

Today’s Costa Rica photo theme is: DANCING.

Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: native children performing typical dances
I walked to a local school (Escuela Mata de Caña) to watch a performance of the native children performing typical Costa Rican dances.
Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: native children performing typical dances


Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: native children performing typical dances
I admit: I thought they were the cutest things on the planet.
Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: native children performing typical dances


Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: native children performing typical dances
Especially the two really little ones–how adorable are they??
Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: native children performing typical dances


Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: native children performing typical dances
I love local culture stuff like this!
Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: native children performing typical dances

Costa Rica: Good Eats

This week, I am in Dallas, Texas for the National RWA Conference. If you’d like real-time updates on the writing conference, please check out the Manuscript Mavens blog, where all four of us will be posting updates all week, throughout the day, to share our thoughts, impressions, and ah-ha moments with you.

In the meantime, I’ll be sharing a few of my Costa Rica photos with you here on this blog. (Link: my Costa Rica Thursday Thirteen post)

Today’s Costa Rica photo theme is: GOOD EATS.

Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: Pineapple Truck As we were driving to a national park, we passed a field where workers tossed pineapples into a truck for juicing. They were nice enough to give us a few for the road!


Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: Mashed Potato Volcano Note to self: Be more inventive in the kitchen! Here is a mashed potato volcano with sliced red peppers for lava. Cute, no?


Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: Homemade Tiramisu My pal D asked me how it was that I gain weight when I go to Costa Rica. Here’s one answer: homemade tiramisu! (Other answers include mango cake, macadamia nut pie, caramel ice cream, chocolate fudge brownies, homemade flan, fresh cheesecake… detecting a pattern? *g)


Erica Ridley in Costa Rica: Beer Ice Cream By popular demand, here’s a photo of me at the heladería featuring cerveza-flavored ice cream. (The sign I’m holding lists the flavors.) Beer ice cream tastes like… well, beer. And not milk-ish, either–more of a frozen beer snow cone effect. Not bad, not good, just… odd. But as they say, when in Rome… =)

Conference Series: Networking

Before I begin, thanks to everyone who congratulated me on my triple-final. Also, check out Carrie Ryan’s post on the Manuscript Maven’s blog and win some free autographed Diana Peterfreund books. Last but not least, today is my first ever Romantic Inks post. Check it out, and please leave a comment to let me know you dropped by!

CONFERENCE SERIES DAY 4: Networking
[Day 1 link] [Day 2 link] [Day 3 link]

Real quick, I’d like to offer up a terminology disclaimer. Several people I know hate the word and/or concept of networking. I’m going to continue to use that word for lack of a better term, but as it applies here, be aware of what networking ISN’T.

Networking is NOT: lying, pestering, bothering, being annoying, being two-faced, pretending to be something you’re not, being “fake”, etc.

Networking IS: getting to know other industry professionals, meeting other writers, putting agent/editor/author names to faces, reaching out to the community, making contact with people who may become close friends with you.

Think about it. How did you become friends with, well, anyone you happen to be friends with? Networking, right? You might not have thought of it that way at the time, but a rose by any other name…

So, now that we’re on the same page with the human interaction we’re calling networking, how do you go about doing it?

Step 1: Go where the action is
Step 2: Make eye contact. Say hi.
Step 3: Ask questions about the other person. Listen.
Step 4: Be personable. Takes a friend to be a friend.
Step 5: If appropriate (and amenable to both parties), exchange contact info.

You can’t network if you’re closeted in your hotel room by yourself. Go to breakfast. Turn off your cell phone or leave it on vibrate. You’re here to interact with the people you meet. Make eye contact with people, remembering to smile and say hi. If someone attempts to engage you in conversation, join them. If not, it’s your turn. Look for a table with an empty seat and ask if you can sit there. Or look for someone standing by themselves and go and introduce yourself.

Personal anecdote: I met an agent this way. I had flown to a conference where I knew no one, and out of pure desperation for human contact, plopped down next to a woman sitting on a couch by herself. After we chatted a few minutes, it became clear she was an *agent*. And I hadn’t screwed anything up by acting like a moron (perhaps in part because I didn’t *know* she was an agent) and she gave me her business card and asked me to send her whatever I was working on.

Okay, so now you’ve met someone new and you’ve had breakfast. Now go to a workshop. You can talk to the people in the audience (not during the presenting, but before/after) as well as the agent/editor/author/bookseller/etc giving the workshop. (Plus you get to learn something!)

Personal anecdote: I went to a workshop Julia Quinn (another fave historical author) gave on Dialogue. Afterward, I made it a point to go chat with her. We ended up sharing a lunch table, and chatting at an agent/author speed dating event. Although we exchanged a couple conference-related emails, we did not become instant BFF. However, a few months later, we ran into each other at a different conference. She was sitting alone, and I went over to reintroduce myself. Before I could do so, she greeted me by name, and we talked for a few minutes. As mentioned above, networking isn’t about trying to “get” anything from someone else, it’s about meeting people and making connections.

After the workshop, there might be lunch. Do attend–aren’t you hungry? (I’m always hungry at these things. It’s either stress, lack of sleep, or some combination thereof.) Anyhoodles, if it’s an RWA conference, typically you will find your seat laden with various free books, often of the keynote speaker. (To whom you can ALSO speak, once she’s eaten her lunch and given her speech.) Plus, you’re at a table packed with new faces! (If you did come with friends or have a large chapter base present, do try to go outside your comfort zone from time to time to meet more people.)

Personal anecdote: I was at a conference where at the lunch table, it came up that I develop web sites for a living. Two of the people happened to have computer questions. We exchanged emails, and when I went back to my hotel room that night, I sent each of them detailed emails on how to fix their problems. What did I get out of it? A thank you, and good karma! They may or may not remember me, but if they do, it’ll be as “that girl who helped me even when she didn’t know me from Adam.” Isn’t that nicer than “that girl who sat there like a bump on a log, arms crossed, shoulders hunched, eyes averted.” ???

Let’s say the next thing on the agenda is the annual meeting. Oh, boy, you say. Those things are more boring than watching bones fossilize. Yes, yes, this may be, but this is where the future fate of your organization is debated and decided! (Plus, you get to put faces with names of the members on the board, as well as voice your opinions and talk to the board members afterward.)

Personal Anecdote: Right now a brouhaha rages over whether or not novellas will be kept or kicked as a RITA category. Some argue that the RITAs are for book-length romance, and novellas by definition are not book-length. Others argue that the RITAs are for book-length romance, and women’s fiction (chick lit, etc) by definition, is not romance, so what’s the difference. Both sides have valid points. I’m not here to argue either way, except to say you won’t know what rules are being added/changed/dropped and WHY unless you’re there to hear it!

Once you’re workshopped out and had dinner with new friends or a chapter group etc, it’s time to address my CP Kel’s advice: “Be the bar.” As mentioned yesterday, whether you drink or not, the bar is the best place to go to find people who are hoping to meet people, and to hear the latest industry buzz. Plus, you never know who you’ll run into!

Personal anecdote: I was at the post-RITA soiree last year at RWA National. I was there with friends, but somehow I was wandering between the tables and the chocolate fountain by my lonesome. The emcee and one of my all-time favorite historical authors–Christina Dodd–was wandering about in much the same boat, with that expression on her face that said, “Crap. Where are my friends? Why am I wandering around between the tables and the chocolate fountain all alone like that chick with the crazy curly hair?” So I went up to her and said hey, and did NOT gush fan girl crazy style over her books, but talked to her author-to-author. We didn’t exchange phone numbers (or even names, but duh, I knew who she was) and so we’re not BFF or anything, but it’s an example of how everyone is approachable. Just do it!

YOUR TURN: If you have any questions about networking, please ask! If you’re a conference veteran, please share your best tips/anecdotes as regards networking. I’d love to hear about your experiences!