Heather Graham’s Writers for New Orleans

Barbara Vey -- December 17th, 2012

I’ve never gone to a writer’s conference in December, but if you want to attend one in an amazing city, head to New Orleans.  Heather Graham always did this conference over Labor Day weekend, but constant worry about hurricanes had her try a change in the date and I’d have to say it really paid off.

New Orleans in December is a sight to behold.  Gorgeously decked out in all the Christmas glory, the shops even have Christmas vampire and voodoo stuff.  I guess I never thought of the two items in the same sentence.  I’m glad I had a chance to experience it.

If you’ve never attended Heather Graham’s Writers for New Orleans event, you are in for a treat.  While it’s a smaller conference, the intimacy is what makes it so special. She hand picks her special guest and they all have something unique to offer.  There are the usual panels, but there are also interviews with the big name authors.  The questions and answers are are sometimes surprising, but always entertaining.

David Morrell, James Rollins, Cherry Adair, Jonathan Maberry

David Morrell, James Rollins, Eileen Dreyer, Jonathan Maberry

James Rollins is a New York Times bestselling author, but did you know he’s also a veterinarian?  He still volunteers his services and has found a special place in his heart and books for dogs used in the military.   Jonathan Maberry most notably writes horror, but has been writing a YA series about Zombies (the good kind).  Did you know he was a body guard earlier in his career?  Eileen Dreyer started out writing medical suspense books which would explain her nursing background.  David Morrell, best known for his Rambo series explained why he wanted to stretch his wings and try writing a western.  David feels that it helps the author to stay fresh when he/she tries new things.

Paula Eykelhof, Connie Perry, Joan Schluhafer

Cocktail party time with Paula Eykelhof, Connie Perry, Joan Schluhafer








Our audience

Our audience

I was on a branding panel with Joan Schluhafer, Don Lucey from Harlequin and Tony and Tori Eldridge.  Joan is a publicist, Don is the head of publicity for Harlequin, Tori adapts books into tv and movie as a screenwriter and Tony is a movie producer who’s next film The Equalizer will feature Denzel Washington and start shooting in spring.  All very fascinating and I felt out of my league.  They had so many interesting things to say that I was up at the table furiously taking notes to I can pass them all on to you in future workshops and panels I do.  Don explained that Harlequin is serious working with authors to give them everything they need to be successful and Joan (who is the very organized one of the group had meticulous notes and made us all look good.  Me, I stumbled my way through, but was well received which always makes me feel good.

Heather Graham and Shara Waas

Heather Graham and Shara Waas

I met Shara Waas , 2012 winner of Heather’s contest, Giving Back to Your Community.  Shara wrote about working and volunteering with therapy dogs for twelve years and the satisfaction and joy she received from it.  Shara was in awe of the authors and the whole event.  She told me she was thrilled to win and experience this once in a lifetime opportunity.


Time for the Vampire Ball

Time for the Vampire Ball


Heather Graham doesn’t just sit back and let others do the workshops, she is the driving force behind the shows put on during the event.  This year’s theme was Vampires on the Titanic.  It was a clever take on the idea that Jack could have been saved if 1) Rose would have just moved over on that plank or 2) the vampires had only made him a vampire and they turned everyone on the ship into vampires, it could be a happy ending.  The show was also dotted with Christmas songs that strangely fit into a doomed ship filled with vampires.

Also attending the conference was Heidi, one of the WW Ladies.  She won the trip from Heather at my Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Luncheon last April. Here’s her take on the event:

Cherry Adair and Heidi

Cherry Adair and Heidi

Heather Graham and Heidi

Heather Graham and Heidi







I was really impressed by the variety of panels scheduled during the entire weekend It was really hard to pick one or two to attend. The kick off of the welcome party was amazing. I was overwhelmed by all of the writers, publishers, agents and editors. PLUS to be able to meet Heather Graham, James Rollins and Eileen Dreyer, I think I said WOW a million times. But it was so fun to see them and have a regular type of conversation even though I was gushing like a school girl. James has a special place in my heart now being a Chicago boy! :)

On Saturday, I had the pleasure to hear Jonathan Maberry during breakfast, and it is truly amazing to hear what a unique background he has had. His sense of humor I enjoyed most of all. It made me feel right at home. He asked me later in the day what kind of writer I am. I never looked at myself as a writer, but technically I am now, so that was a really cool revelation.

The panel of speakers later in the morning were so awesome because you really got to hear all of their journeys into writing. I loved that is isn’t all cookie cutter writer stories of their beginnings. Eileen, James and Jonathan had me laughing quite a bit, I had a hard time taking notes. I kept thinking they are like secret agent writers: “trauma nurse by day, romance writer by night.”

The special dinner on Saturday was the most unique experience of my life. I never imagined vampires on the Titanic, but I sure can now!! To know that Heather had her band there, and wrote the play that went on during dinner really showed how much she loves her life. I have such respect for that.

Watching Barbara from the sidelines, talking to everyone at the event, as well as bringing in strangers from the hotel to meet authors, with such a passion and love of reading, was really a hoot. Barbara is truly gifted in her element and it was really fun to witness it.

All in all, it was such an honor to be able to attend this event, thanks to Heather Graham. To be able to meet so many people who love what they do, makes me want to work harder in my life, because I love that I do. I have been blessed to come to New Orleans and it will be an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.

Oh, by the way, did I mention the food??? YUMOLICIOUS!!!

It’s obvious that Heidi enjoyed herself and together we explored some of New Orleans including the famous Cafe du Monde and it’s famous beignets.  I looked like the abominable snowman from the shower of powder sugar that loads down the pastry.  Of course, I’d do it again in a heart beat.

The conference ended with a book signing.

Kelli Stanley

Kelli Stanley at book signing

Kate Poole at book signing

Kate Poole at book signing






Bottom Line: I’ve already been invited back for next year and I hope to see you there!

Weekly Giveaways

From Marilyn Baron:  FREE SWEET ROMANCE ANTHOLOGY WITH LOVE STORIES FOR EVERY SEASON PLUS TWO WEEKS OF FREE READS & PRIZES. Petit Fours and Hot Tamales bloggers have published a FREE anthology called SEASONS AND SEASHELLS just in time for the holidays.  You can read it here.  As a bonus, from December 17-Dec. 28, we will publish all or portions of each short story of our Group Novel on our blog. Author prizes awarded daily plus three great prizes to be announced on December 31. Visit our blog to find out more. Here’s what we’re giving away this year: A $5 Starbucks gift card; A PF&HT cookbook and the grand prize: A lovely pair of sterling silver seashell earrings from Nature’s Jewelry.

From Kristie Cook First, the first book in my series, Promise, is FREE (no end date as of right now) for all ebook formats:  Kindle:   Nook  Also on iBookstore, Kobo and Smashwords

Secondly, 13 other authors and I are doing a Holiday Hullabaloo giveaway with 155 prizes over 12 days, including a $200 gift card at the end. People can start at my website, where it’s going daily until 12/21 (started on 12/10), and the links to the other authors’ giveaways are at the bottom.
Third, I’m giving away a free ebook of any of my books here.
From Katy Lee:  This week I am holding a Goodreads Giveaway of REAL VIRTUE! It’s just one click to enter, and you can find the link on my website. 
From Pam, Affaire de Coeur Magazine: 3 contests! Spread the word. Links can all be found on our main page.
2. Kaylin McFarren’s — The Inspiration Behind the Story, Click here
3. Pambling Roads~~DC — have a story you want to share about a trip you have made or your visit to Washington, DC. You could win a “I Can’t Live Without Books” T-shirt purchased from the Library of Congress Gift Shop in Washington, DC. Click here.

17 thoughts on “Heather Graham’s Writers for New Orleans

  1. Liz Talley

    Wow, what a wonderful event. I wish I would have known about it – I lived in Louisiana :) I remember her doing one in September, but I didn’t realize it had moved. Sounds like a fantastic conference, and with it being in a city known for good food and good times, it’s a no-brainer. Think I’ll check into this for next year. Thanks for the recap of the festivities :)

  2. Marilyn Baron

    This sounds like a great event. I love the idea of the Titanic show and the guest speakers sounded amazing. You are never out of your league. In fact, you’re in a league of your own. I loved Heidi’s take on the event. Whenever you attend an event, we feel as though we were there. Thank you.

    Marilyn Baron

  3. Eileen Dreyer

    I’m with Marilyn. You definitely are in a league all your own, especially if books are involved. I have never met a better ambassador for books in general and specifically romance than you. It is always a pleasure to share your wisdom(and fun). And honey. You are always kick-ass when you speak of the world of books. Never tell my publishers, but I’d rather listen to you than any of them. You really keep your finger on the pulse. See you in April at your lunch!!!! I’m so pumped.

  4. Dawn Chartier

    As always it was great seeing you again :-) …. Plus I got to meet the lovely, Heidi too. (Hope your feeling better.)
    Heather always puts on the best writers conferences. The panels were awesome.
    The editors and agents were super informative. Loved every minute of it. Except when I had to leave.

    See everyone next year!

  5. Tami Brothers

    “shops even have Christmas vampire and voodoo stuff”

    How cool is that??? I am so there. This sounds like an awesome conference. I will definitely be adding this one to my wish list.

    Thanks a ton for sharing the experience with us. :) :):)


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