Conference Aftermath

Before I segue into the topic of this post, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who purchased, shared buy links, and reviewed our anthology, The Resistance: United in Love. I get that people are filled with political fatigue because POLITICAL DISCOURSE IS EVERYWHERE. But we appreciate you supporting the ACLU

We were also mentioned in the Huffington Post! Sooooo rad! 

The weekend of March 18th, I attended my first conference of 2017, Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference aka Create Something Magical. This was my second year attending, and it was also my second year being on a panel. On Sunday I sat alongside Damon Suede, La Quette, and Taria Reed while we moderated a discussion titled, “In Loving Color: Diversity in Romance.” The setting tends to be informal, and we leave all the Judgey McJudgeyness outside. We want people to feel comfortable enough to ask questions they may not typically ask because they don’t know who to ask or how to ask what it is they wish to know. Basically, we allow people to be un-PC (uh, with limitations of course). 

We started the panel off with a few questions about reading habits and whether those who read romance tend to flock to their usual faves, or do they actively seek out books written by someone who is of a different race, religion, sexual orientation, than them. We also discussed their thoughts about publishing and how the book world incorporates diversity. 

Diversity. It’s the buzzword we can’t get enough of lately. *buzz buzz buzz*

But that’s not what this post is about; this post is about how networking can help you reach your goals. Didn’t see that coming did ya? 

You see in my profesh life; my current full-time gig is the first job I’ve ever attained on my own. What do I mean by this? No networking! I saw a position that looked appealing, and I applied. In the past, every job I have ever held was because someone saw a listing and thought I’d be a perfect fit for it. Or… someone I previously worked with had a colleague who was looking for someone to fill a gap in their roster, they thought of me, and passed along my resume. I knew someone who knew someone etc. These scenarios are what led to new ventures in my professional life. Because of the opportunities, my jobs have presented me, I’ve learned to use that to my advantage. 

Networking helped me advance my professional career. Although I was hired for my current position without “direct” networking, my references still helped to seal the deal. And those awesome references? Aside from doing a great job, I made it a priority to introduce myself to people I admire. I aimed to make myself memorable. Well, I aim to always be personable in one on one interactions. I always aim to be funny and empathetic. These are traits needed for what I do Monday-Friday 9-5. It brings me so much joy to know my face comes to mind when people get a call about me and they’re thinking, “You should hire her! Boy is she memorable, personable, funny, and empathetic!” 

Since I make it a habit of getting to know people who are doing phenomenal things in my professional life, it makes sense that I would carry over the same mentality into my author life.

In the literary world, I want to know all the people! What makes my professional life different from my author life is social media. I don’t interact with people I work with on social media. People I’ve collaborated with in the past, sure. And that’s only a select few. Social media is a ruiner. You can hold someone to an extremely high standard, and all it takes is one social media post to essentially kill the perfection bubble that surrounded them. 

Networking means striking a balance. It’s not about what people can do for you (although the perks are nice when that works out to your advantage), but it’s about what you can learn from individuals who have been playing in the sandbox longer than you. Who has the success you hope to attain some day? Who is willing to be a mentor? Find yo people! Those authors who’ve reached the milestones you want to target in your career? BOND WITH THEM! Much like in the professional world, not everyone you look up to is going to want to play the role of mentor. Sometimes it’s a dog eat dog world. Sometimes people want to see you fail. Sometimes people are elated to see you sweat. Sometimes the person you held in high regard is an asshole. It happens. 

That’s life, though. An ongoing obstacle course of trying to avoid a shit-show and climbing over the wall to success. You hit a lot of ditches filled with mud along the way, but you jump over those suckers and move onto the next station. 

At Liberty States, I networked my ass off. Not literally. The bum is still there and looking mighty fine. Heyyyyy #teamswole #romancefit I see you! 

For two whole days, I was in a room with authors who have this game down to a science. They write full-time, they’ve been on The New York Times Bestseller list multiple times, they’ve hit the USA Today Bestseller list numerous times, they have movie deals in the works, screenplays are in development, they have advances I could only dream of, and lord knows what else they’ve got in the works. THESE PEOPLE ARE KICKING ASS AND TAKING NAMES! And I wanted to know them. I wanted them to tell me everything. I wanted them to hold me tightly in their bosoms and whisper the secrets to longevity in this business (aside from writing good books because we all know without a stellar product, no one gives a damn about you or what you’re trying to do) and you know what? I went up to everyone I recognized, or I’d seen online, or I wanted to have one on one time with, and I talked. Maybe I mumbled and said something incoherent a time or two, but I talked! I broke the ice and shot the shit with people. I was sociable and vulnerable, and it led to pretty cool things! I pitched a few ideas I had swirling around in my head to a few authors, and they were into it! 

You should also know I wear my heart on my sleeve. What people see is what they get. Harper Miller isn’t a facade. It’s a pen name. A name I use because I want to keep my professional life and my author life far far FAR away from each other, but networking is one thing I definitely want to overlap. When I fangirl over meeting people whose work I love, it’s not a gimmick. I am the person you see online. I do squee in person! I legit lost my cool a couple of times because HELLO, I HAVE THESE PEOPLE’S BOOKS ON MY KINDLE!

Believe me when I tell you there’s power in networking. Because I was sociable, because I was honest, because I speak from the heart, I was gifted with opportunities that will hopefully open new doors for me. My blessings are abundant, and I am grateful. 

So to the author’s reading this post who are apprehensive about attending conferences because you don’t know anyone, or you have social anxiety, or you’re not sure what the hell to do because speaking to strangers is scary, I suggest attending Liberty States. Plan to come next year. It’s a welcoming environment. If you have social anxiety, being at this con won’t send you into a tailspin. It’s full of people who are more than willing to share their knowledge, and outside of RWA, it’s a great conference to hone your networking skills. And the bonus? You get to play Mad Libs and destroy Jane Austen and Kathleen Woodiwiss. If that’s not your cup of tea, there’s Cards Against Humanity. Both panels are guaranteed to keep you in stitches. I pinky swear.   

A Presidents’ Day Release!

A few months ago, I was asked to participate in two anthologies. Each collection would be a combination of essays, poems, etc. in which authors shared their views on the 2016 election. 

The Resistance: United in Love is the first of the two anthologies to be released. I’m quite proud of the project and all the authors involved. 100% of the proceeds are being donated to the American Civil Liberties Union. Not half, not a percentage, ALL. The next four years will be long, and the ACLU will need all of the financial assistance it can get. 

Remember, human rights are civil rights. 

As authors, we create art. We express frustration, joy, sadness, confusion, and love via the written word. We’ve chosen to add our voices to an ongoing conversation. 

We hope you enjoy our anthology.

You can purchase a copy on Amazon:

Add it on Goodreads:


Cool title huh?

LOL, I thought so.

So here’s the scoop, folks. If you’re here then you’ve discovered my new website. YAY! Isn’t it pretty? *twirls*

I thought about doing a formal announcement to let everyone know that after being lax for two years, I finally hired someone to build me a profesh website. I feel like an adult now. A legitimate writer, if you will! I’m blogging. I am a blogger. A long winded blogger but whatevz. Woooo!

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, then you know I’ve been on a social media hiatus since Feb 2. It had to happen. The election, the purging of the friends list, the nonsense of waking up daily to read awful headlines was all too much. My psychological well-being was taking uppercuts like Ronda Rousey in a UFC match. Not a pretty sight.

So I’ve tuned out. I won’t be returning to social media until March 1, but even then, my approach to social media will be different.

When I first started this author gig, I was super friendly. I’d friend any- and everyone. If I did a takeover, I’d encourage people to friend me. If I had a cover reveal or a blog tour, I’d encourage people to friend me. If folks followed me on Twitter, I automatically followed them back. BECAUSE I WANTED TO KNOW ALL THE PEOPLE. Damn social butterfly tendencies. I also wanted to be liked. Who doesn’t? When you’re a new author trying to establish a reader base, it’s best to cast your net wide. I don’t inundate people with promo advertisements (okay, I do when I have a new release, but we all do it). I don’t shove my books down people’s throats. I prefer they get to know me. If they get to know me then maybe they’ll be interested in what I write. If someone likes what you’ve written, you can only hope that they share their like (or dislike, because bad publicity is still publicity) of your work. And so on and so on. Word of mouth is the best marketing for an author.

The downside of likability is when you accept everyone into your world, you also get insight into the not-so-nice aspects of their personalities. Things were better when I lived in my bubble of EVERYONE IS WONDERFUL AND INCLUSIVE AND BUBBLEGUM SKITTLES GOODNESS. But sadly, those days are over. I’ve seen some nasty things shared in my Facebook and Twitter feeds. I’ve seen people defend reprehensible things. And I decided enough is enough.

Moral character matters to me. I don’t write for a living (not yet anyway), so I get that not everyone can voice their dissent regarding what’s happening in our world. Authors have this fear that they’ll offend readers. You know what’s offensive to me? Wanting to deny someone’s basic civil rights.

  • Health care is not a privilege; it is a right. Pre-existing conditions be damned. Class be damned. We are all entitled to adequate and equitable health care.
  • The ability to marry the person you love should not be a privilege afforded to certain people, but a right. Love is love. You don’t agree with how someone chooses to live their life? Good! Because you don’t have to agree. That’s why we all get to exist in this world as individuals. Crazy concept, right?
  • The freedom to practice the religion of the god(s) you follow should not be a privilege, but a right. You don’t have to agree with the god(s) someone chooses to worship, but you do have to respect their choice. You cannot judge the actions of a few and apply them to the many. If that were the case … Christianity, I’m looking at you, you deserve a time out! For centuries, religion has been used as a tool to justify heinous acts.
  • The right to speak up and protest social injustices should not be afforded only when you agree with an issue. Our Constitution allows for peaceful assembly.

Speaking to my last point, while people may not enjoy KKK rallies happening in their cities, those involved in the KKK have the right to hold a march. If they have the proper permits, then march on.

If Black Lives Matter protesters hold rallies that highlight police brutality, that is their right, so march on.

Freedom of speech is a cool thing. People have the right to say whatever it is they want, but I also have the right to remove negativity from my life. But please, dear reader, understand that if an author you enjoy is outspoken and goes against the grain by saying something you find highly offensive, then you absolutely have the right to remove them from your life. You control the content you wish to view. You control who you want to read. You control who you allow into your life.

Social media does not change this.

A person should never feel obligated to remain where they don’t feel welcome or wanted. With that said, my circle has become a little smaller, and my readership has likely lessened. I’m holding things closer to the vest. And you know what? I think I’m going to be all right.

Authors get a bad rap when they speak out on social media. Let me rephrase that, authors get a bad rap when they talk about inclusiveness on social media. Too much “race talk” can be damaging to your brand. Too much “feminism” can be viewed as divisive. Somehow it’s now seen as a bad thing to defend civil liberties and promote equality. You’re automatically perceived as being “too liberal.” Wanting everyone to have a seat at the table is being too liberal? Being a decent human being is viewed as too liberal?


So you see why I’ve decided to tune out? I feel like I’m living in the upside down (Shout-out to Stranger Things).

To me, inclusiveness builds a better brand. You know why? Because it shows that every reader has the potential to be YOUR reader. You’re not targeting only a particular demographic. You’re casting a wide net that shows you understand our society is changing and you want to welcome everyone into the fold.

I need to keep reminding myself that it’s a good thing, because if you turn on the news nowadays, it becomes difficult to decipher what it takes to be considered “likable.” Is it being able to relate to a wide range of people? Or is it being exclusionary and targeting only a specific sect of the population to sell yourself?

Things that make you go hmm.

Don’t worry, while I’m tuning out I’m wrapping up manuscripts because I HAZ NEW RELEASES COMING SOON. I’ll be making appearances at conferences within the next few months, so I must be prepared to share new material. And swag. Oh, swag cometh.

Stay tuned! 

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