New York!

By Allison Brennan

First, for the fun part of this blog: winners. When I swapped blog days with David Corbett, I said I’d send five people a copy of my digital novella – in print because of a promotional thing I did for RWA and ITW. The winners are:

  1. Sandra K. Marshall
  2. Malcolm R. Campbell
  3. Karen S.
  4. Paty Jager
  5. Reine

If you live out of the USA or would prefer a digital copy, I’ll send you one. If you want it in print, I have one for you! Either way, I’ll take care of it when I get back from NYC on July 11. Email me at with your preferred format and snail mail address, if applicable.

Now, for the rest of the blog.

Again, Alex and I are connected by an unseen psychic chord because I, too, wanted to talk about e-books. (Alex, just stop getting inside my head! It’s getting REALLY creepy.) I could write thousands of words on this topic but decided that because I’m in New York City and in a fabulous mood, I’ll postpone it for another day.

So instead, about the Romance Writers of America conference.

No conference is perfect, but RWA comes pretty close. With over 2,200 published and unpublished writers in attendance (total membership tops 10,000, with 20% published,) RWA has been putting on huge conferences for years. We usually have a fantastic speaker for opening session (this time THREE fabulous authors in a panel—Steve Berry, our own Tess Gerritsen, and Diana Galbadon.) I missed it because I was having breakfast with my friend and mentor Carla Neggers, who’s among the smartest people I know.

I rarely go to workshops anymore, though there were some I wanted to hit—like my friend Candace Haven’s “Fast Draft: Writing the First Draft in Two Weeks” which MANY people told me was the best workshop they’d attended this year. (I used to write fast drafts, then would go back and edit. Now, I try but can’t. If I know there’s a problem, I can’t move forward. It’s driving me crazy.) We had authors from #1 NYT bestsellers down to aspiring writers giving workshops on pretty much anything, mixing genres, the business, e-publishing, craft, contracts, you name it. I missed them all. Time to order the audio disks for the car!

But the one thing I have always loved about RWA is the literacy signing.

This picture is less than half the room. 500 published authors selling books donated by publishers where all the proceeds go to a national literacy organization. The event is open to the public, so the authors usually send notice to all their fans. It’s vibrant and exciting and really neat to meet readers in the different cities RWA has their conferences. Thousands of readers waited in line for hours before the doors even opened. Until this year, we’ve raised over $690,000 for literacy. I suspect we raised over $75,000 this year alone.

I have always wished that ITW had a public signing event at Thrillerfest. Currently, we have small singings twice a day with the speakers/panelists from the morning/afternoon panels and events. That’s great—but no one from the public is allowed. (Largely because they’re generally pretty crowded.) A public event would not only give exposure to ITW and the attending authors, but promote the genre as a whole. Whether they model it after RWA or come up with their own unique program doesn’t really matter, I’m sure they’d do something equally as fabulous.

I’ve mentioned this desire to different people, and there have been differing levels of interest, and I’ll once again bring it up to someone, sometime next week as I roam the halls of the Grand Hyatt. Thrillerfest does a lot of things right and I love the conference; someday, I hope we have a signing open to the public.

Speaking of signings, as a mass market author I don’t do a lot of signings. Publishers rarely (if ever) pay for a mass market author to tour, and it’s not really cost effective to do it ourselves. But on occasion I sign locally, or with groups of authors. Or, sometimes I just attend author events, like when my daughter Kelly begged me to take her to San Francisco (2 hour drive) to hear three of her favorite authors (Libba Bray, Meg Cabot, and Maggie Stiefvater) speak and sign. She brought her favorite books with her, and bought a couple there, and even though Kelly is very shy and hates having her picture taken, I got her to pose with Libba Bray with the promise I wouldn’t post it on Facebook. So I’m posting it here:

Yesterday, I spent nearly five hours at the Algonquin Hotel—three short blocks from the Marriott where Toni and I stayed for the RWA conference—where I worked on my copyedits, had a bite to eat, and drank a glass or two of wine. I can see why it was a popular spot for writers–I could write at the Algonquin every day. Matilda is the resident cat—this is Matilda the Second.


After I posted this picture to Facebook, my cat Nemo sent me an email, hurt that I didn’t post a picture of him (even though he’s home and 3,000 miles away) and instead cooed over Matilda, so this is Nemo on my research shelf before my mom came over to organize my bookshelves:


And finally, here are a couple pictures from my field trip as a role player for SWAT training. Yes, we were tackled by SWAT. Yes, it was fun. Yes, I can’t wait to go back. But in addition to the “covered-pile” hostage exercise I was part of, I was able to observe live ammo drills/hostage rescue and close quarter drills from a catwalk, which was nearly as much fun. 


Toni and I are moving over to the Thrillerfest hotel today, but I’ll be back tonight to answer any questions you might have about RWA, Thrillerfest, book signings, or role playing with SWAT. Or anything else you feel like chatting about!

13 thoughts on “New York!

  1. Catherine

    Allison you sound as though you are having a great time even if you've missed workshops.I had to laugh that in the midst of the variety of things you mention here, is that you had breakfast with Carla Neggers. I've been bingeing on her backlist with e-books this week.

    You do know that not everyone thinks it's fun to be tackled by SWAT teams don't you?

    I've been adopting a codger attitude lately. As soon as I read your comment, I was thinking damn that would make you walk funny. Being tackled by a SWAT team = walk funny for days…surely?

  2. Dudley Forster

    Sounds like you're having a great time. So how do you write a draft in two weeks? I barely made 50K in a month. Nice lawyer like reasoning regarding the posting of you daughter's picture. If you wrote at the Algonquin everyday I imagine Nemo would get his tail in a knot over you spending so much time with Matilda.

    Oh and I finished LOVE ME TO DEATH – So Noah ended up be an okay guy. I am about a third of the way though KISS ME, KILL ME. I was shocked at the statistics in the book of how many teens say they have posted a nude picture of themselves online. I had to check those stats for myself. Over 20% – I realize teens are short sighted about their futures, but that's scary. I am so glad my girls were adults before the whole social networking thing. Even before I read these stats I have told parents to use monitoring software. I know teens think it's an invasion of privacy, but this isn't a diary, it's the internet and that is as public as you can get.

  3. Reine

    Hi Allison,

    I love hearing about the conferences. I've only been to one similar event, the Tucson Festival of Books. I think it would be great fun to go to a more specialised event, like RWA or ITW. Great that RTW does an event for literacy, my cause of heart and wallet.

    You hit on a lot of topics today, all favorites of mine. Would love to hear more about your role-playing adventure with SWAT. I took part in some DOD police exercises years ago. I found it very exciting and was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed it. I'm sure it wasn't on the level of what you did, however! Definitely not SWAT. Just situations that might come up on patrol at the Naval Weapons Center.

    Happy to see I won a copy of Love is Murder. Thanks!

  4. Barbie

    My question is… how exactly did Nemo send you an email? Technologically advanced for a kitten, he is, I'm thinking 🙂

  5. Tess Gerritsen

    Allison, it was great to see you at RWA!

    And I heartily second your suggestion about a mass signing at Thrillerfest that's open to the public. I've felt that's been a big missing part at Thrillerfest. The signing doesn't have to be charity related, nor would publishers have to donate a thing if a bookseller brought in stock. The Romantic Times convention does something similar, and it's a huge, noisy event with tons of books sold.

    Of course, it requires a pretty big space to hold such an event, but RWA manages to do it every year with 500 writers.

  6. Boyd Morrison

    Allison, I think you and I talked about an ITW public signing event when we were at RT. I'm totally with you on that. A public signing would benefit ITW, the authors, and readers who can't afford the conference registration fee. Can't wait to get to NYC for ThrillerFest!

  7. KDJames

    I attended one RWA conference (in Atlanta) and volunteered as a cashier at the Literacy Signing. It's the kind of thing you have to experience to comprehend. The mass of people, the kaleidoscope of colours and movement, the smell of books, the overwhelming NOISE. But most unforgettable is the energy level. The entire huge space was just kinetic. People coming through the check-out line (readers and other writers) were so upbeat and happy and even grateful. There were readers who gushed about the books they bought and the authors they got to see in person. It was a non-stop blur of people absolutely BEAMING at you and thanking you for letting them spend money on stories. Truly remarkable. It took my poor introverted self two full weeks to recover from it.

    All you ITW members don't know what you're missing. I hope you decide to find out. 🙂

    Glad to hear you're having so much fun, Alison. Good luck on those copyedits. (Your daughter is beautiful — hope she forgives you someday soon…)

  8. JT Ellison

    I adored RWA last year – it's an amazing conference, and I was super sad to miss it this year. But I'll see you next week in NYC, and can't wait to catch up!

    Completely agree about the literacy signing – or any sort of group signing, at Thrillerfest. It's something that just has to happen.

    And yes, please, more about the draft in two weeks!

  9. Allison Davis

    Allison, love sitting in the Algonquin lobby, have done some writing there myself but mostly poetry. Also met some interesting people (and cats). I want to know how you got the SWAT gig. Yes, looks like huge fun. I want to do it. Keep reporting in…all good.

  10. Allison brennan

    Whew! I've finally slowed down today. Toni and I packed up, changed hotels, had lunch, walked around a bit, I went to church at St. Agnes around the corner, then we went to see CHICAGO, then to dinner, then I talked to the kids, and then remembered I have a blog to answer!!

    Carla is fabulous — both personally and creatively! But you must be joking — of COURSE everyone thinks being tackled by SWAT is fun, right? As long as you're not the bad guy.

    Thanks Dudley! And yes, those stats were accurate at the time of the printing of that book. I had read the article on it while I was writing and incorporated the stats into the storyline. Very tragic, because most people don't think that what they put on the Internet will be there forever. But it is.

    Hi Reine: I learn more from observing at the SWAT training as well as listening to the debriefings — the trainer will go through after the exercise to tell the team what they did right and what could have been better. All very fascinating for a writer!

    Barbie, Nemo asked my daughter to send it to me 🙂

    Thanks for the second on the signing, Tess! I think we can make it happen — and I agree, it doesn't have to be a charity event (ITW has charity programs they're involved with.) But I think it would be a big draw.

    Hi Louise: I could post how I'm tired, miss my kids, and am going into debt … 😉

    Hi Boyd! We did talk about it, and I can't wait to see you!

    Next year, Stephen 🙂

    You definitely were there, KD! It is SUCH a rush. I was in Atlanta, but I didn't know you then. Maybe you'll be able to come out again! 🙂

    Okay, the OTHER Allison Brennan is really my daughter, Kelly, on my account at home. Hi Kelly, love you too!

    JT, when I get Candace's tape I'll ask her if I can blog about her process. It's mostly about how to turn off your internal editor with some tricks on how to do just that.

    Hi Allison! The SWAT gig was because I went through the FBI Citizens Academy and they use the alumni for role playing. We've already been cleared, they know us, and I go because there are few people who are graduates who can take off an entire day from work. I just make up my writing time at night.

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