Tag Archives: RWA

Do You Believe in Second Chances?

Second Chances

A Romance Writers of America® Collection

Do you believe in second chances?

Romance Writers of America brings together seventeen of today’s hottest authors in an anthology of never-before-published tales that reveal true love always deserves a happy ending. One of those seventeen “hot” authors is none other than Mermaid Kerri Carpenter, aka: moi! I’m absolutely thrilled that my short story, HOMECOMING, is included in this anthology. With so many stories in one place, there is definitely something for everyone who reads romance: contemporary, historical, young adult, etc.


“I came to Cherrydale for a second chance. And I know just where to get it.”

Homecoming Blurb

With only two weeks until she starts law school, Lana Greene has one goal. She’s returning to her hometown of Cherrydale for a second chance at hooking up with her high school crush, Wesley Givens. After all, Lana almost hooked up with Wes after their senior prom. Too bad her lifelong best friend, Ford Campbell, has other ideas. He wants to show her that he’s the second chance she’s been waiting for all along.

Interested? Buy links are below. But first, my fur-baby, Harry, has something to say:

Buy Links


Barnes & Noble



RWA Page


I’m giving away one copy (Kindle or Nook version – winner’s choice) of Second Chances. Simply leave a comment and tell me who your BFF was in high school and if you’re still in touch today. I’ll randomly pick a winner on Friday, September 15. Good luck!

Packing for Nationals – NOW? Why not?


Susan-Mermaid-avatarI know, I know – the RWA National Conference is in July. So, why am I getting all het up about packing already?

Because the finalists for the Golden Heart and RITA awards are being announced on March 26th. And I am pretty sure there are some writers who, after jumping up and down, screaming, crying, calling everyone they know

and some they don’t, will suddenly have that dull, ugly lump of dread blooming in their innards: WHAT IN THE WORLD AM I GOING TO WEAR?

Back in the day (1986, to be specific) this finalist/winner wore a chic white cocktail dress she found in a bridal shop, and some very nifty gold-and-black jewelry. The dress is long gone – thank goodness shoulder pads went out of style – but the necklace still lives in my jewelry box, a beloved and respected treasure. The medal has changed since I received mine, and the Modess rose is replaced with the organization’s pensive author.

goldenheart86Nice change, huh?  And, no, I can’t find the photograph.

Do folks still wear cocktail dresses when they final? I wouldn’t know, since that hasn’t been a blessing for me since re-activating my membership in 2009. What I do know is, you’d better get your Oscar vibe going as a finalist! You’ll be expected to be wearing some serious flash when you’re at the awards – and before! Still, let’s not forget: New York is a shopping capitol of the world (if not THE shopping capital). I know it’ll be late, late, late to be thinking of which dress to wear. But we can dream, can’t we? Which is why you want to browse this list before you land in the Big Apple.

New York Magazine lists the drool-worthy shopping destinations. I know you’re going to be super busy chasing down editors and agents and making appointments, and maybe you can fit in one more session (thank goodness for Starbucks!), but seriously: make time to hit just one of these icons. Personal favorites: Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany. Not like I go buying things there all the time, people. I mean, really? I can look, though. And you can, too! (Another FYI I heard from a cabbie: New Yorkers take cabs. Tourists walk. Don’t be shy, take a cab.)


Now that you’ve had to stop off in some going-out-of-business dive somewhere off Broadway to buy a second suitcase, let’s not forget the ultimate Mecca of all that is good in the pursuit of loveliness: Sephora After all, you’ve been selected as a finalist – stop doubting me! I know you will. So, hie thee to this website when we are closer to your magnificent appearance in the GH/RITA pre-awards reception: http://www.sephora.com/stores/new-york-times-square

And make youself an appointment for a glamming up. Or just head over at some odd moment to admire the wonders of everything that is promised – to make you a sultry vixen or a stylish know-it-all or just… you, but better. And, just an FYI, makeup with SPF doesn’t photograph well, as all my RWA Atlanta photos include happy people and one ghost.

Finally, what do I *wear* at Nationals?

Good question! I’ll leave you with this list – an incredibly kind post on www.makeupalley.com by a kind and organized (and fashionable!) member named Asphalt. Her words:
Makeup  Board Bath & Body Board Fragrance Board Skin Care Board Hair Care Board Fitness Board Nail Care Board FOTD Photo Board Cosmetic Procedures Board Cafe Board Fashion Board Wedding Food & Nutrition Home & Garden Board Entertainment Board Travel Board Work & Money Board Go Green Board Pet Board Family Board 40+ Board Technical Support Board Testing Board

i would bring +

  • bright pencil skirt
  • white jeans
  • pretty silk blouse
  • nice t-shirt graphic t-shirt
  • button down (chambray, cotton, whatever)
  • cocktail dress (2 of them)
  • linen blazer
  • scarf
  • sandals
  • neutral heels (or flats)
  • evening heels
  • and whatever fun jewelry you have

then you could wear:

  • day 1: bright pencil skirt, pretty silk blouse, scarf, neutral heels
  •  day 2: bright pencil skirt, nice t-shirt, linen blazer, neutral heels
  • day 3: white jeans, button down, neutral heels
  • bar: white jeans, pretty silk blouse, neutral heels or sandals
  • party 1: cocktail dress 1, evening heels
  • party 2/dinner: cocktail dress 2, evening heels
  • bar: white jeans, pretty silk blouse, neutral heels or sandals
  • playtime 1: white jeans, nice t-shirt, scarf, sandals
  • playtime 2: bright pencil skirt, graphic t-shirt, sandals
  • playtime 3: white jeans, button down, sandals
There. Change out one of the cocktail dresses for an evening gown, and you’d good to go. PS, I used this list for Anaheim and Atlanta, and had a blast. Only, in Anaheim, I broke down and visited a Skechers shop to replace some incredibly impractical sandals. On the big day, after all, we want to still be fresh enough to look like this:
In another post closer to Nationals, I’ll share the rest of my suitcase. I have lists of lists for conference packing!
(Share your rules, mores, shibboleths, must-haves and DoNotPlays for Nationals – we want to know!)



Romance is Everywhere

Three Mermaids walk into a bar…

I just had to start out that way because back in July three Mermaids were in a bar. Alethea, Denny, and I were at a bar in San Antonio for a publisher’s party during the RWA Annual Conference®. When the party started dying down, we decided to walk back to our hotel. Because walking in the late-July Texas heat was our best idea? Turns out, we didn’t even notice the heat.

Scene of the Romance

Scene of the Romance

As we made our way along the festive, color-bursting River Walk, a young man dressed in military uniform rushed by us. He was on a mission. And if the big bouquet of beautiful flowers said anything, it was that this mission was of the romantic persuasion.

So Alethea, Denny, and I did what any normal person who writes romance novels would do. We hiked up our fancy dresses and started following him. It didn’t take long for us to realize we weren’t the only people who took notice. Heads turned left and right. A man sidled up to the soldier for part of the walk. And before we knew it, there was a huge mass of people following us. If you’ve ever seen Love Actually and are familiar with the final scene when Colin Firth is walking through the village to propose and the whole town follows him – that’s pretty much what it was like.

As we neared his final destination, he picked up the pace. So did the rest of us. We weaved in and out of restaurants, around chairs and tables set up next to the canal, as the passing boat tours pointed out the sights and yummy wafts of Mexican food met our noses.

Finally, we reached a restaurant. As if the entire crowd was in on it, we all dispersed to different places and waited anxiously for whatever would come next.

The soldier didn’t miss a beat. He ducked around a couple tables, flowers still clutched in hand. Then he approached a table with an older couple and a young girl. Tapping on her shoulder, she turned, took him in. Surprise turned to shock turned to tears. And then they were embracing, flowers forgotten. Large crowd of cheering spectators forgotten. Hot, humid weather forgotten.

Romantic Mermaids

Romantic Mermaids

But romance. That was very much not forgotten.

It was really nice to think that during this big romance conference we actually got to experience an amazingly romantic gesture. And I hope that whatever happens with the two of them will involve many, many retellings of that magical, romantic night when a whole bunch of strangers followed a man in love.


Hot and Humid

In 2011, I went to the RWA® National Conference in New York City and pitched a manuscript. I remember the pitching room was filled with like 427,000 agents and editors. The waiting area outside was commandeered by a mean woman who yelled at us like cattle. Really naughty cattle who had used her toothbrush. She detested us! Kerri Carpenter

I walked up to a very well-known editor wearing my specially chosen flouncy polka-dot skirt and coordinating hair accessories, which she did comment on. Yay! I knew we would be best friends. I pitched my manuscript, she liked it, and asked me to send the whole thing. Then she said the words that rocked my world.


At the time, I was quite nervous and somewhat flustered from above mean lady yelling at me like cattle. I didn’t take the time to process her question. If I had, I would have realized she meant, do you have anything else that is finished that you can pitch to me today because you are slotted to talk to me for ten minutes and we are only a minute and half into your session. Instead, I took her question to mean, Have you written anything else…EVER?

With a big smile and imaginary glitter, I shouted a resounding, “Yes!”

Editor stared at me. Shit! The reality came crashing down. She wanted me to pitch another story.

So with an adorable smile, I made up a story off the top of my head. It involved four sisters who had been adopted by two people who died at the opening of the first book. They lived in a quaint Virginia town called Blue Lake. The love story was about reunited high school loves.

The editor’s eyes lit up. “Send it to me immediately.”

Double-shit. I hadn’t written it yet. Hell, I’d just thought it up.

When the conference ended, I visited my brother out on Long Island. I sat on the sand of a beach in East Hampton and started writing this mythical story by hand in a legal pad.

That story is called The Best Kind of Love.

It is going to be published tomorrow.

It’s taken many names and many shapes over the last three years. The editor I pitched it to in NYC did not acquire it. I almost gave up on it multiple times. But it was that crazy story I thought up on the spot that eventually won two contests and brought me together with my agent. It’s not just a story I made up off the top of my head. It’s been my story for the last three years. And I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

And if you’re wondering about the title of this post – Hot and Humid – well, that’s a story for another time….


Learning the Hard Way

Nov 14 RWRI received my issue of the latest Romance Writers Report yesterday (the November issue), and was thrilled to find inside its hallowed covers not only an article featuring our very own Kerri Carpenter, but a mention of the Waterworld Mermaids blog as well…WOOHOO!

The article, by Laura Kaye, is called “Getting the Call, Despite Ourselves.” Kerri, along with other seasoned romance authors such as Mindy Klasky and Jill Shalvis, volunteer some of the mistakes they made on their road to publication.

It is never easy, this thing that we do…even when it seems like we’re getting cake, we know that we’ll be running marathons to work those calories off somewhere down the line. Some of us get lucky on that first break, but even those of us who did still pay our dues at some point.

Kerri explains in the article that her path to publication took seven manuscripts and thirteen years…and that she wished she had known more about the writing community and what it could offer her before she tried doing it all on her own.

But that’s not every writer’s tale. Your mileage WILL vary.

My first publication was a Cinderella story–the manuscript that someone else submitted for me on my behalf, without me really knowing, the call I almost didn’t get because I had included zero contact information on the document. Thanks to years of being Teacher’s Pet in school I had at least been intelligent enough to put my name in a byline.

But it’s been an uphill battle ever since, one that includes economic collapse, government shutdowns, lost orders, unrenewed contracts, publisher bankruptcy, and Maurice Sendak dying on the day my first novel was released.

Oh, yeah…and then there was that time I accidentally responded to a forwarded email instead of the person who *sent* the email, and I accidentally told an editor exactly what I thought of her editing style. (It was not kind. It was, thankfully, brief, and fences were carefully mended after an overseas delivery of very expensive chocolates.)


Writers, if you haven’t screwed up yet in publishing…don’t worry. You will. One of the most poignant–and to me, the most meaningful–quotes I took away from the RWA conference this year in San Antonio was Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ comment: “You WILL embarrass yourself at least once, at every conference.”

And WOW is that so true. I’m here to tell you that right now. Nobody is perfect. It’s what you do after the gaffe that defines who you are.

Like all the other mistakes, you just have to own it, embrace it, forgive the person you may have injured in the process…and above all, forgive yourself. Then move on, because if we don’t keep moving, we die. Like sharks. It’s just the Way of the Lagoon.

So, I’d love to hear if you’d like to share…what are some of the publishing mistakes YOU’VE made?

Kerri Carpenter, RWR Nov. 2014

Congrats, Kerri!



The Waterworld Mermaids are flipping our fins, pouring some delicious cocktails and getting the party started in our magical lagoon today. We have a lot to celebrate!

We want to congratulate 3 (yes 3!) of our very amazing, talented, beautiful Mermaids for being finalists in this year’s Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® contest. Congrats to all – well done!

Denny S. Bryce – “Chasing Damn” in Romantic Suspense

Kimberly MacCarron – “Chasing Fireworks” and “To Feel or Not to Feel” in Young Adult Romance

Pintip Dunn – “Carlie in Crisis” in Young Adult Romance and “Fit to Die” in Paranormal Romance

We’ll all be cheering you on this July when they announce the winners!!!

Who You Calling Crazy?

My love for Mary Jo Putney grew exponentially this month when I heard her speak at RWA Nationals. She received the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award and gave one of the best speeches about the writing life that I’ve ever heard. My favorite line? This one:

You don’t have to be crazy to be a writer, but it sure helps.

*Cue lots of knowing laughter.*

Ah, the writing life. It makes us all a bit batty even if we weren’t before. Why? Well for us planners it’s because we work things out in our heads (or our forrest-killing line of Post-It notes) and then this happens:


If you’re a freak like me that makes you do this:



But that never gets the job done, so I suck it up and make a new plan. This is what I tell my characters:



Thank God, they say yes. (Yes, I know the characters aren’t real, but the muse is and sometimes she’s a real diva.) Then the words start flowing and this is how cool I feel:



And it all works out in the end with even the author getting a happily ever after. And if I have to be crazy to make that happen? So be it.



Because the crazy amongst us are in good company. I say go forth and wave your crazy author flag.



I Heart Sherrilyn Kenyon & Super Fabulous Dark-Hunter Giveaway!

Happy Friday Fishy Friends!  I’m completely excited about today’s post because I’m giving away one very special Sherrilyn Kenyon Dark-Hunter novels collection set.  *Giveaway info at the end of this post*Mermaid Carlene

But first I’d like to share a fun story with you.  So, I firmly believe that if you love something, you should love it well.  Just always remember that love is respectful.

So, a few years ago, I was still relatively new to the DC area, settling into my home and continuing to quietly work on writing.  I was so new to it back then that I had no idea about writers groups, contests, or conferences.  But I was VERY familiar with Sherrilyn Kenyon’s books and had become a huge fan since being given “Seize the Night” at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con.   During a regular check of her upcoming appearances in my area, I saw that she was going to be doing a signing in some place called Leesburg, VA.  I could tell by the event details that this wasn’t just a regular bookstore signing because it talked about a retreat and organization that went by the initials WRW.  Well, I was a little skeptical, so I did some research. I fully intended on figuring out how to get to this signing.

That’s when my silly little brain started doing all this crazy-fantastic spinning.  I discovered several things in rapid succession:

1) WRW stood for Washington Romance Writers and they were a local writing chapter falling under the main organization which was RWA.  WRW was indeed hosting a local retreat in the spring where Sherrilyn Kenyon would be the keynote speaker and there would be a signing for the public in the area around the same time.  They also had a writing contest called the Marlene and the winner would be announced at this retreat where Sherrilyn would be in attendance as a special guest.

2) RWA stood for Romance Writers of America.  They had a wonderful website that taught me all about their Golden Heart writing contest and an annual national conference.  And, Sherrilyn Kenyon just so happened to be slated as their Keynote Speaker that year as well!

3) I had to see Sherrilyn Kenyon.  (Being around her is like chicken soup for the soul and I want lots of that.)

Sherrilyn and Carlene

BOOM, BAM, POW (that’s my brain on Sherrilyn Kenyon)

4) I could join these organizations, both RWA and WRW, submit my little (actually quite huge) love story manuscript I’d been working on to both groups.  I could win the contests, be presented my awards and Sherrilyn Kenyon would be in the room watching my acceptance speeches where I would profess my love for her and then everyone would live happily ever after.  And we might even have slumber parties and talk endlessly about Valerius Magnus and Acheron.

Fishy Kisses

Slightly crazy, I know.  But fun, right?  Long story short, I joined both organizations, entered both contests, didn’t win the awards but came away with a few hearts of gold who give great fishy kisses and had the time of my life listening to Sherrilyn speak.  At the WRW retreat, on May 1, 2011, I won the basket Sherrilyn had donated to the raffle! Inside that basket was the wrapped, five-book set that I’m giving away today.  I’ve never opened it.  It has sat beautifully amongst my Sherrilyn book collection.  I own each of the books individually and have read them several times each.

Sherrilyn Prize

I hope that whoever wins these treasures will read them and fall in love even harder than I did.

I would not be the reader I am nor the writer I’m becoming if it weren’t for Sherrilyn Kenyon.

Thank you—Xoxoxoxo

So friends, I’d be oh so happy to hear your stories of fervent love & admiration…pretty please?


*Giveaway details: This giveaway is open until 10:30pm Eastern Time on Sunday, January 27, 2013.  At that time, I will randomly choose one winner from the commenters to this post and announce the winning name in the comments section.  Please be prepared to share your snail mail address with me so I can send this one of a kind gift your way! *

Five book set includes: Night Embrace, Night Pleasures, Night Play, Kiss of the Night, & Dance with the Devil.

RWA2012 – Workshops, BDSM, and Seriously!

I am not a prude, I am not a prude, I swear I am not a prude, but…I am respectful of all genres, which means I don’t think I’ll write any BDSM anytime soon. I will admit, it would be a spanking new subject for me to explore, and one thing I learned at the fabulous talk at the Passionate Ink Party last night — you can’t fake writing BDSM–it will show:). The Passionate Ink’s RWA conference events are always excellent. They bring in expert guest speakers and in particular, this year, it was the cutting-edge topic (50 Shades of Grey Trilogy sold 20 percent of all books last month, if I remember the stat as stated).  So when The Darker Side of Pleasure author Eve Berlin (aka Eden Bradley, a self-proclaimed mid-list author who is getting better deals said Shades is leading a change in the industry that is very good for erotic romance writers), and an academic (forgive me I didn’t get her name in my notes) launched into their remarks it was one of the most informative, well-presented, sessions of the day. And oh, BDSM stands for Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sadism, Masochism (I didn’t know that).

And oh! Sylvia Day’s NYT Best Seller reportedly had a pre-order of 500,000 books – for Bared to You (number 4 on NY Times Bestseller list in paperback)..and check the best seller list for 1, 2, and 3, it’s still Grey. The Hunger Games and Twilight brought YA to the forefront – if you don’t think 50 Shades and Bared to You aren’t going to have a MAJOR impact on what is being bought by publishers, etc., think again:)…

Okay enough on how I ended the day, I started at 8:30 a.m. in Platinum Salon 2 (where I spent three hours:). The workshops were Deep POV, It’s Showtime (Show versus Tell), and Voice, all expertly presented IMHO. The next time you see me ask me about the red flag words — “when”, “as”, “tried to”, “sound of” and “wondered”. Janice Hardy was the presenter of “Its Showtime”, which was extra-fabulous!

Okay, I’ll announce the winner of  Alma Katsu’s The Taker book giveaway tomorrow.  In fact, let’s just do it again today – commenters will have a chance to win a copy of her first book of The Taker Trilogy! (I got hold of yet another copy:)!

So now take a moment to share your BDSM story – okay, just kidding:), but what do you think about the impact of 50 Shades on what publishers and editors will be looking to buy? Will the heat level in your romance novels go up a notch, or would you hint at a little bondage in your more erotic love scenes? Do tell…

It’s RWA 2012 Week: Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

You know how it goes. You get all excited about attending a conference because of the friends you haven’t seen in a year, or brilliant keynote speakers, or the chance to be a fan girl when you run into one of your favorite authors in the cafe shop, in the elevator, or who knows where. Nothing but fun. Until you sit down and examine the schedule.

I love conferences and I love workshops, spotlights and author chats, and I appreciate tracks – craft, career, or research. But there’s always one day, and one time slot, where I swear the RWA 2012 programmers are plotting against me.

I call it schedule wars, and I have found my Waterloo for 2012 – Friday, July 27 between 9:45 and 10:45. On average there are 10 options for each hour time block, so it’s not unusual to find at least two or three programs you want to attend in the same block of time. But I want to take 8 of the 10 classes Friday morning, seriously. So here’s where you must stick to your original goal (I mentioned my original goal  yesterday, right?).

My goal – add to the my writer’s arsenal, which means learn more about something I already think I have a handle on as opposed to searching out a new topic (or one I just don’t get yet). Using this logic, I can narrow the field…

So, I am choosing between two workshops (instead of 8): Cherry Adair’s workshop (Choreography of Action), I write lots of action scenes as a urban fantasy writer, so that makes sense. Or Michael Hauge’s Using Inner Conflict for Powerful Love Stories (and yes, he was here at WRWDC, less than a year ago, but I could do Michael Hauge every day – oh, whoops, that sounded wrong…)…

But hey, see how effectively that worked, I just have to make a choice between the two! Good planning,  huh!

Whoops:), I just double-checked my calendar. I have an editor appointment that hour!

Anyway, if you are heading off to RWA 2012, what’s the must do workshop on your schedule? If you aren’t heading that way, take a minute to let us know about the online course you recommend we check out!  I love a good workshop. So, share, share, share.

And oh, tomorrow I head off to Anaheim in the wee hours of the AM, so my next blog post on RWA 2012 will be LIVE from Anaheim on Thursday morning when there will be prize giveaways!