Join us on Fridays as we spotlight various members in the Savvy Authors Community. We'll introduce you to volunteers, members active in the Savvy writing community, recently published authors from Our Authors community, editors, and agents.
This week we are spinning the Spotlight around and turning it on another of our very own Volunteer Divas, Susan Jessen. She is one of the many people working behind the scenes to help make your experiences here at Savvy Authors the best they can be. Susan has just returned from attending the Authors After Dark convention, held in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans. She's going to give us an inside peek on her experiences so pull up a chair and join us as we chat about beignets, pub crawls, masked balls and ...eating alligator??
As noted above, you are one of our busy volunteers here at Savvy. Can you touch briefly on what types of things you do here and tell us, what's the best thing about working here?
I assist with the coordination and moderation of the Wednesday night craft chats as well as working on advertising for workshops and special events. Oh and speaking of chats, don't be surprised if you see some authors from the Authors After Dark convention hosting chats in the future.
As for the best thing about volunteering with Savvy, hands down it’s the community of writers helping each other.
Ah yes, the Authors After Dark convention! As with all events like AAD, there always seems to be more things to do, then time to do them in! Were you able to fit in any of the field trips to the Big Easy?
Well here is a lesson to those wanting to attend next year: field trip openings are very limited and I wasn't lucky enough to score a place in one. I do know each trip had a different author going out with the group and they seemed to be fairly structured tours. Honestly, the programming was so fantastic that choosing between offerings in very tight time slots was already difficult. I don't feel like I missed out on anything. Having a ton of great activities to choose from really is a good problem to have!
What workshops did you take and can you tell us a bit about them?
I loved Leanne Renee Hieber's workshop “Using Stage Techniques for Writing”. It gave me a whole new perspective on my writing. Also, Nicole Peeler and Carolyn Crane's workshop, “Get 'Er Done” offered great tips on finding time to write and inspiration to power through the first draft. Who doesn’t need that?
I heard several people raving about Kristen Painter's “Worldbuilding” workshop, which I unfortunately missed to attend the Zombie panel with my hubby. The panel featured Lia Habel, Mark Henry, Diana Rowland and Li & De Beaumont. How can you pass up a Zombie panel?
You also attended the fabled Masked Ball, tell us about that, did you wear a costume?
The Masked Ball was unique. It began with dinner and the food was delicious, followed by great music and dancing. We also had lots of face time with the authors. AAD encourages you to dress but only if you want to, there are no dress code requirements for any of the events. This allows each attendee to truly be themselves. The Masked Ball included people in elaborate costume (zombies, steampunk, etc.) people in fancy dress, and jeans and a t-shirt. I didn't wear a costume, but I didn't feel at all out of place in a Gap skirt and patterned shirt.
The convention swag was awesome and plentiful. I'll be donating some AAD goodies to the Summer Symposium giveaways so be sure to sign up for that.
What was the pub crawl like, any authors in the group and did you visit any famous drinking establishments?
The pub crawl took place on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. I have to mention the Red Dress Run which was going on the day of the crawl. The street was absolutely packed with women and men in red dresses. For a visual think: Overly interactive drunk guys in tutus! It was a blast and everyone was very friendly. I had so much fun chatting with Cat Johnson and Tilley Green at "The Bourbon Cowboy"; I didn't make it to the three others. I swear that was the only reason!
You were just chatting, on Saturday night in New Orleans, at a bar in the French Quarter. Like we’ve never heard that one before!
No visit to New Orleans is complete without mentioning something else the area is famous for: food! Did you have the opportunity to try something you've never eaten before and please tell me you got in some genuine beignets, which happen to be my personal favorite food!
Just to make you happy (ha!) we went to the famous Cafe du Monde for beignets three times. I am addicted to their frozen cafe au lait. The place has been in existence since the 1800s, so there is a lot of history there. Since my hubby's favorite dessert is Bananas Foster, we also had to go to Brennan's, in the French Quarter and Commander's Palace in the Garden District. My hubby preferred Brennan's version, which is the original Bananas Foster recipe. I liked Commander's Palace bread pudding soufflé, with whiskey sauce, a tiny bit better than Brennen's Chocolate Suicide Cake.
Oh, we ate alligator for the first time! For the record, it was darned yummy.
You are welcome to the gator, I will stick with the beignets!
You had a one on one with our very own Liz Pelletier, what did you do and how did it go?
I couldn't help but gush about how much I love Savvy Authors and Entangled Publishing. The Covet line just launched and I've been devouring it. Liz was very encouraging about my WIP and another project I'm hoping will be a fit for Entangled's Ever After line. Conventions like AAD give you unbelievable opportunities to have scheduled time with editors, it’s a great way to get your name and work out there.
Authors After Dark showcased 80 authors, so now it's time to drop some names and spill their games! Who did you meet and did anyone give you a "fan girl" moment?
One of the main reasons I wanted to attend AAD was to meet some of the authors who have taught workshops at Savvy. I've been reading Jaye Wells since her first Sabina Kane novel was published. It was her tweet about a chat that she was hosting at Savvy that led me to this phenomenal community.
Louisa Bacio, Jessa Slade and Suzanne Johnson are just as lovely in person as they are on line. Each of them has helped me become a better writer and I am in love with their work.
Melanie Card and Tilly Greene listened to me talk at length about my WIP and gave me valuable advice. I can’t thank them enough.
Hildie McQueen and Cat Johnson immediately made me feel welcome. I discovered so many new authors to explore. After the young adult reading, I had to have all of the books, starting with Melanie Card's Ward of Death.
Now that you've been there and are back home, with time to process it all, what do you take away from the convention that resonates most with you?
Stella Price, the Convention Director and her staff worked magic and did everything in their power to make the event an enjoyable and memorable event for each and every attendee. Every single author was friendly and accessible. AAD is an absolute blast, whether you are a reader, a writer, a blogger, or a friend or spouse who got dragged along (ask my hubby!).
I would definitely recommend it for everyone and I can't wait for the 2013 convention in Savannah, Georgia. I might even get a corset and a tattoo next year.
And we can't wait to see you in both! Thank you Susan for joining us this week and for all the great information on the Authors After Dark convention.
If you’d like to connect with Susan you can follow her on Twitter and if you'd like the chance to score some of her AAD swag you can find out how by going to Savvy Authors Summer Symposium 2012.
For more information on our Spotlights, feel free to leave a comment or private message me from my profile page.
Susan Jesson enjoys long walks around the mall (where she can scout out characters for her writing), craft beer and kicking zombie butt on XBox. She also enjoys playing poker, especially in Vegas. She is owned by no less than three cats who are still not speaking to her for leaving them behind when she went to New Orleans.
Ria Boulay, Spotlight On Editor, writes paranormal romance and young adult. A former paralegal now working as a judicial secretary, she previously spent six years as the general manager of, and writing for, a large, metaphysical website. With her husband and two utterly impertinent Italian Greyhounds, she divides her time between New Hampshire and Cape Cod. When not writing, she spends her spare time rescuing homeless gargoyles and relaxes by riding her Harley.