Friday, December 28, 2007

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR CAN MAKE!

by Suzanne Welsh
About this time last year a group of us were chatting on the 2006 Golden Heart Loop about our careers and lives since becoming finalists in the Golden Heart contest. We celebrated in the sales of a few of our numbers--Anna Campbell, Donna McMeans, Tawny Weber, and Christine Wells. A few of us had ventured into the cyberspace realm of Public Relations with websites, myspace pages and personal blogs.

I can't remember who exactly first posted about blogs on the loop, but suddenly many of us were asking how to start a blog. Then the conversation turned to suggestions that maybe we should start a blog for writers and readers. Then on March 2nd, Aunty Cindy took the big step and formed a blog for the '06 Packers to practice blogging on. Those who wanted to participate started a separate loop to discuss the process and play with this blog. We knew there were 18 of us who acitvely wanted to form this blog and were willing to put ourselves out there and test the water.


Claiming The Courtesan
About this time, Anna's Claiming the Courtesan, hit the book shelves. We officially had a book to promote with our blog!

Next the discussion turned to what sort of image we wanted. The name Romance Bandits popped up, after a few really bad ones! With the group being in agreement, we talked about the way we wanted the site to look. Classy, but unique. Since my daughter Lyndsey is a concept artist, (she takes people's ideas for pictures and transforms them into actual images), I volunteered her to make us a banner for the site. It would need to meet the approval of 18 people. Quite a feat! When I gave Lyndsey the idea so she could make up a mock banner, she excitedly let me know she'd found "Pirate Font" to write the word BANDIT. The mask and rose were added, and with a bit of tweaking, the top of our blog was created and approved! We were off to a grand start.

We decided to take the colors from the banner and find someone to finish the look. Trish contacted Dawn with Austin DesignWorks, who created the rest of our page design. It's had a few tweaks along the way, like adding new pictures and the "Bandit News" wanted posts, but hey we're a work in progress.

By now we were getting used to taking turns posting to the blog and posting comments. We also had some private discussion regarding finances. One of our banditas volunteered to be treasurer. On May 4th, we officially went public with Caren's post featuring a large picture of Anthonio Banderas...er...Zorro! (We think of ourselves in a cross between pirates and masked avengers like Zorro.)

Double DareThis was followed by our second Bandita book to hit the shelves, Tawny's Double Dare.

As we morphed into this group of bloggers, we made a few tentative requests of our published friends that they come and be "Guest bloggers". Amazingly, they said, "Heck yes!" We gave away prizes, another popular feature. We started to have regular commenters, many of whom have become great friends.

Then we geared up for Nationals. We came up with the idea of business cards and buttons, using a variation of our banner, to hand out to promote the Bandits. At the National RWA convention, Bandit buttons were a hit! One of the buzz items making the rounds at National was, Romance Bandit blog. Everywhere we turned there was someone asking us about the Bandit blog. And to top the conference off: both Beth and Trish won their categories in the Golden Heart!

After Nationals we rounded out our numbers to include two new members, Susan and Nancy for a final total of 20 Banditas. We figured that was just the perfect number.

Since then, we've had more books hit the shelves: Christine's Scandal's Daughter, Donna's The Education of Mrs. Brimley and Anna's second book Untouched.

We've had new sales among our Bandits: Christie, Beth, Jeanne, Cindy, Trish, Kate, and Kirsten.

And somewhere along the way we gained a mascot, The Golden Rooster, thanks to our loyal friend and poster, Doglady! The prize for the first commenter of each day. It became a challenge for those of us in the States or Canada to beat the Aussie contingent for the coveted gilded fowl!

We finished the year off with Trish being a contestant in the American Title IV contest, Joan a finalist in the Suzannah, and today I bought my copy of Tawny's second book, Does She Dare?

So, now we look forward to 2008. Wonder what great changes it will bring for the Banditas? We're wishing for more sales to our published members and new sales for those As Yet Unpublished ones. Some contest wins? Maybe a spot on a "Best Sellers" list or two?

What would you like to see on our blog? Any ideas? Any requests?

54 comments:

Helen said...

Is the GR staying in Australia for another day.
Have Fun
Helen

Helen said...

I loved the post Suzanne as I have said before I love this place it is like coming home you Guys are just the best and all of the visitors are truly lovely people.
I love it the way it is with the guests and the prizes and the book lauch parties and I love hearing about everyone and their families and traditions.
You Ladies are very special people you are all so positive and such fun to hang out with. Your writing is wonderful and I am sure you will all have sold and be published by the end of 2008 because you all work so hard.
Thanks for a wonderful year and best wishes for 2008.
Have Fun
Helen

Aunty Cindy said...

Way to GO, Helen!
I thought I might have bagged that wily fowl, but the GR stays Down Under for another day.

Thanx again for saying such nice things. We definitely reciprocate!

And BIG THANX to Suz for the wonderful "wrap up" post!

AC

jo robertson said...

Heck, it's five minutes before the witching hour here in California and an Aussie wins again. Grrrrrr!

Loved reading the recap of our journey, Suz. So well done! It's hard to believe we've come so far in such a short time.

Tawny said...

GO Helen ;-) Way to snag the GR!

Wow -what an awesome year :-) I mean, I knew it rocked, but seeing it all laid out like that just makes it that much more fun, Suz -thank you!!!

Here's to a fabulous 2008 - and a sweep of sold Bandita's :-)

flchen1 said...

Congrats, Helen, on the GR!

Congrats, Banditas! I've only discovered your site fairly recently, but it's such a great place to visit--you've got really interesting and entertaining posts, not to mention really interesting and entertaining books!! You rock!

It's hard to believe you've only been "together" a year or so, because you complement each other so well and the Lair is such a terrific community! There's definitely lots to look forward to in the coming year!

Amy Andrews said...

Woohoo - the bird's still an Aussie!!

Great to hear the background to the blog. I love the banner!!
Nice to feel a part of something dynamic and welcoming.

What do I want to see more of? More bandita successes of course :-)

jo robertson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Helen, how cool are you, girlfriend? Aussies rock!!! ;-)

Suz, wasn't it amazing to look back on the year and see how far we've come. Thanks so much for giving us the trip down memory lane. My hopes for next year are more (is it greedy to say ALL?) Banditas with a publishing contract.

Fedora, I think you're right that one of the secrets for the blog being such fun is that we're all so different and yet we all complement each other somehow.

Helen said...

The GR and I are lazing back reading a book having a cool drink and some chocolates very relaxing seeing as it is rather warm here even though it is 10-45pm.
Have Fun
Helen

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Helen, I envy the GR having such fun with you! Here, I am preparing to venture out into the cold - to work. Argh!

It is amazing to think back to the blog launch and all that has happened since then. Many more wonders will happen in the new year, I am sure! The cream is rising to the top, that is certain.

Have a wonderful day, everyone. I am off to the dungeons!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Good morning everyone and congrautlations Helen! I think the GR likes the warm weather down there.

We're always glad to have you here to greet us every day. And I have to agree, it is a fun place to hang out with some of my dearest writing friends!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Aunty Cindy, it was fun to look back on all that happened. Who knew when first stuck our collective big toe into the cold water of cyber space blogging that we'd form such a great spot to come talk each day? And the men that've made an appearance, or two in the posts have been wonderful, too!!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Morning, Jo. I posted, then went to work on my newest WIP. Now the sun is up and y'all beat me to the posts again!

It was fun to see how far we've come in one year's time, isn't it?

Suzanne Welsh said...

Tawny, you've had two...count them...TWO books out in one year. That had to have made it a Rockin' year!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hello flchen1, we're glad you come hang out with us, too! We're hoping to give you lots of great books to read this coming year and years to come!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Morning, Amy! I love the banner, too! Of course I'm just a little more biased than everyone else. :)

Maureen said...

Your blog is a pleasure to read with a mixture of different topics, authors, books and excerpts. I hope 2008 is a successful one for all of you.

Joan said...

Ok, Helen. I'll make a deal with you. You can keep the GR a bit longer if you send Hugh over to Kentucky. Hmmmm...I think Demetrius has just the right size...tunic for him :-)

Suz, I am so glad that when the subject of a group blog came up last year that I decided to join in the madness. It would gain me a cyber presence, I reasoned. But, oh....did I gain SO much more.

19 friends. 19 writers who "get" what I'm doing. The Banditas support, encourage and cheer me on. They commiserate when I need them to and sound a rousing protest (with rapiers waving in the air) when needed.

And our blog, as wonderful as it is, would be nothing without our faithful readers and our outstanding guests.

Thanks everyone.

Now onto 2008....(Now Demetrius...he'll only wear it for a short time )

Kate Carlisle said...

Good morning everyone! What a lovely walk down memory lane, Suz! Really, who would've thought we'd be having this much fun? :-)

Stopping by the Lair every day to see what my fellow Banditas are up to, to read your hilarious and insightful comments, to soak up the words of wisdom from our guest bloggers, to visit with all of our friends and readers, to see who snagged the Golden Rooster...it's absolutely the best part of my day.

Thanks for a fabulous year. My wish for all of us here is that 2008 will be the best year ever!

p226 said...

I don't know what suggestions I could possibly offer. You guys have managed to keep my attention for some time now, and your genre is NOT my thing. Though, my wife has read (and really enjoyed) two of your books now, so my presence here is keeping her happy. And, if she's not happy, I'm not happy - or so she tells me anyway.

Honestly, I guess I'm here because you guys tend to write genuinely interesting posts. I get to see the world through a lens I normally don't. Plus, some of the best value I've gotten from hanging around here has come in the form of inspiration. Many of you Banditas, and certainly some of your guest authors have really had some interesting and reproducible motivational ideas. One example among many is the "egg timer discipline." What an odd idea. But, what a good idea!

I don't know that I really have any suggestions for you guys. This blog is busy, and you guys taking your time and attention to respond to every commenter gives it a personal feel and connection you just don't see everywhere else.

I think you're doing a great job. Otherwise, the time I spend reading here would definitely be spent on some gun forum or manufacturer's website.

You can't see it, but I'm giving you all a thumbs-up.

jo robertson said...

Awwww, p226, them was mighty sweet words!

Sounds like you've learned the basis of marital bliss: if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy LOL!

Honestly, readers, we're not kidding when we say you make our blog so much fun. It's like our little family of 20 has expanded to include so many more of you. I love hearing from you.

The only things I wish for us, Suz, are more sales in 2008, more readers who enjoy our books, and having all 20 Bandidas published!

Donna MacMeans said...

P226 - Just wanted to say that I think you add that extra (I hesitate to say...) bang to our blog *g*. I always enjoy your viewpoint as well as those of so many of our regular posters. I feel a friendship with you guys even though in many cases I won't know you if I saw your face or heard your real name. How weird is that?

Helen - I'm jealous of your warm weather. I've had enough chocolate over the holidays to carry me on a sugar high quite a ways into the new year - but warm weather, not so much. *g*

Suz - thanks for the wrap-up. It has been an amazing year, hasn't it? I think maybe our next challenge will be fitting all the awards and new releases of ALL of the banditas on the blogsite. What a wonderful problem to have!

Beth said...

Great wrap up of a wonderful year, Suz! I'm so glad to be a part of this group. Like Joan, I started with the intention of getting my feet wet in the blogging world and ended up with much more *g*

Here's wishing 2008 is even better with more sales, more new friends/readers and many more wonderful times with you all :-)

Jo Davis said...

Suz,

Great post! It's so cool to look back on 2007 and see all of the successes everyone has had!

I enjoy visiting the Banditas when I can and hope to sneak by more often-- you guys have the warmest, most welcoming group of ladies. :)

Here's wishing you all even more success in 2008!

Happy New Year!
Jo

Jennifer Y. said...

I just wanted to say THANK YOU for starting the blog and a big thanks to Suzanne for telling me about it. I have enjoyed getting to know all of the authors here and look forward to reading books by all of you!!! ;o)

This blog is wonderful and I love what you do! Keep it up!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Anna, it has been great getting to know the Banditas and all our guests! And I couldn't agree with you more. I'd love for everyone of us to have a publishing contract this year!!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Oh Caren, I hate that you have to leave us to go to work...I get to do that tonight. UGH! But just think of all the fun you'll have when you get home. :) (Don't hit me too hard!)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Joan, I think you and I talked privately about joining the blog and what it would mean to us without a contract, yet. We did gain so much, didn't we? And of course you brought not only your lovely self, but all those hunky gladiators,too!

If Hugh is wearing Demetrius' tunic, uhm, is Demetrius now naked?

Suzanne Welsh said...

Kate, I, too start my day out reading the blog and seeing what everyone, especially the GR is up to.

Another fun thing has been seeing exactly what our authors sell. We're Romance writers, but Kate sold a mystery series. How cool is that?

Suzanne Welsh said...

P226, you crack me up on a daily basis! It's nice to have a testosterone presence among all this estrogen. :)

And yes, I agree with Jo, you've learned the basis for all marital bliss, keep the wife happy! And we're glad she's enjoyed our books so far. Hopefully that will continue into 2008 and beyond!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Donna! Waving madly towards Ohio here. I have to tell you that Donna and I got together when I traveled home in October. It was just like sitting down with a long lost sister. We talked and talked and took up the booth seat at the restaurant for like 3 hours! Donna even gave a bookmark to our waitress, who was impressed she was serving two writers!! It was great fun.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Beth, it was my pleasure. It was nice to see when the blog actually started, and when the actual "launch date" was! Hmmm...maybe we'll need to have some anniversary parties?

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hello Jo Davis!! Glad to see you popping up here today. :) I see you have your new book cover as your icon! Check it out, a sexy firefighter series in the works for us to read!!

(Jo is one of my critique partners!)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Jennifer, you've been such a delight to talk with here. Glad you came and pulled up a chair. We love having you and all our other guests in the lair!

Joan said...

If Hugh is wearing Demetrius' tunic, uhm, is Demetrius now naked?

*VBG*

Joan said...

p226 I join Suz and the others in saying we enjoy your friendship too. And the testosterone viewpoint aside, you would make a GREAT writer. You don't have to write romance fiction (though, I, um..Tawny Depp DOUBLE DARE you)but a thriller or mystery.

Think about it.

Helen said...

Joan that is a big ask but seeing as how we are all great friends and I like to share thats not a problem I will put Hugh on a plane for you and I can't wait to see him in Demetrius's tunic.
Have Fun
Helen

Tawny said...

You don't have to write romance fiction (though, I, um..Tawny Depp DOUBLE DARE you)but a thriller or mystery.

heeheehee...

Does He Dare???

Nancy said...

Suzanne, what a great summary! This really has been a banner year.

I wasn't sure what I was getting into when I joined the banditas, but it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I've made. Aside from the networking and mutual support, it's great fun.

Thanks to our visitors who've said such nice things and who pay us the ultimate compliment of coming back again and again. I hope you all have a wonderful 2008 and keep coming back.

Helen, take good care of the rooster. I hope his weather sense doesn't get skewed from spending so much time where it's nice and warm. *g* Sooner or later, he'll be coming back up to the northern hemisphere--maybe not until the world turns to summer up here, at the rate he's going. He seems to end up in Australia a lot.:-)

It's raining here today, a great relief for all of us in the drought-ridden southeast. I've never been so happy to see such a dismal day. So I'm hoping for more rain in 2008! May we all have the weather we need/want in the coming year.

Nathalie said...

This has been a great year for you all... I hope that everyone will get published next year or will get what they thrive for!!

What I like most about this blog is the interaction between readers and writers :)

I would love to see maybe more guest bloggers or maybe some of the banditas' opinion on some books... always nice to have an author's point of view!

Lily said...

I first discovered you in october... and since, I come read the daily blogs!

I love the blog in general... it is very friendly, layout is great :) launch parties and contests are not missing... and most of all, I - as a reader - feel very welcomed... especially that when you blog about something, you are getting a response, which is great!

Kirsten said...

I just have to say that I am so touched by all of you coming out everyday to chat with us and play in the Bandit Lair. We're having so much fun together and can't wait to share it. I know 2008 will be ever better!

Big hugs to everyone!
Kirsten

doglady said...

Congrats to the Bandits on a fabulous year! I cannot begin to tell you how much you all mean to me! My job is so stressful but being able to begin and end my day with all of you keeps me relatively sane! This blog is like the Cheers or local pub of the romance writing world. Everyone is so open, honest and fun-loving I cannot help but smile every time I log on. Your wit, wisdom, encouragement, comedy, talent and diversity make for the perfect community (or a loony bin, I'm not quite sure which is closer to the truth!)I will take a bow for the invention of the Golden Rooster in spite of the fact that he has NEVER visited me. Sniff!!

p226 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
p226 said...

And the testosterone viewpoint aside, you would make a GREAT writer

I don't know if I told you guys this... but two weeks ago, I made my first dollar as a writer. My first paycheck for written words. It wasn't much. But it felt good.

Bad part is, I can't say a word about it.

Such is the story of my life. The best and worst parts will never ever be told.

I have to admit... it's kind of whet my appetite...

Joan said...

Ooooooo...p226! How great!
Congratulations!

Can we come to your first booksigning? Huh? Can we? We'll be good we promise. We'll even make the GR wear a tie.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I personally don't see how you can improve on perfection. The Bandits have a little bit of everything for the readers.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Lily, we're so glad you feel welcome in the lair and start your day off with us. Some days I'm starting my day and on others, I'm ending it!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Nancy, you and Susan were such a great addition to our clan. And you're right, we do get so much out of this blog and our guests and our new friends!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Waving at Inara in the Lair's cave! For our readers, when one of our members has a book or manuscript to finish or edit, they go into the deepest, darkest part of the Lair known as the cave. (Of course a few take a along help, such as a gladiator or Jack Sparrow or Clive Owen---wait he goes with me!)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Dog lady, we love having you here. It is very much like a friendly pub. (Who plays the part of Norm?)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Oh Diana, you are so sweet! (slips her a $20 under the table)

Suzanne Welsh said...

WOW p226, Congratulations! I made a copy of my first check (er wait, my only check so far), and have it framed ready to hang in my office as proof that I earned some cash as a writer!!