Blogging has taken a bit of a back seat to life lately. Sorry, friends. It’s been a crazy, busy summer, but I’m working my way back to whatever normal is–unless I’m in a new normal, and then I’m in trouble. LOL. (And I just got used to the last new normal…)
In July, I went to the RWA National Conference and experienced all the awesomeness that RWA (Romance Writers of America) offers. While I don’t write traditional romance, there is a strong element of romance in my novels for adults and new adults. Also, RWA offers an incredible amount of support and education for its members–Nationals was the epitome of that all rolled into three days of training sessions and more.
Not in any particular order, here are my top 5 things. (Oh, and all the things that I ran out of room to include, too!)
1. Making Connections
For almost two years (WHAT?!), I’ve been blogging. A few of us Hotel Californians from Kristen Lamb‘s penultimate Blogging for Brand class, were at the conference and another was in town visiting family. Of course, we found each other (despite the lack of cell service in the hotel)!
We’ve been virtually holding each others’ hands online for two years, and I loved meeting them in person. It was like hanging out with old friends. Also, they’ve all been published, so they inspire me!Lindsey Carmichael, Kinley Baker, Joni Hahn, me, Jolene Navarro (and a random guy crossing the bridge)
Then there are Julie Glover (my roomie and fellow grammarian), Tameri Etherton, and Jami Gold whom I met online through writing friend connections. I also met Julie and Tameri in person at DFWCon 2013. They introduced me to their friends (Callene Rapp, Buffy Armstrong, Lori Freeland, and Angela Quarles and more because they knew everyone!) who are the nicest people in the world.
Too many people to list! Even surrounded by 2,000 other writers (OMG, people!), I saw and made friends everywhere I went.
After the first two sessions, my head was ready to ‘splode with great information. And, yes, there were a few sessions that didn’t deliver the goods as described (not that many of them, really!). I bought the recorded audio files, because there were several sessions that I couldn’t get to. (Dang cloning machine wasn’t working!)
A few take-aways:
- Use Pinterest for business. Use Pinstamic to get more out of Pinterest.
- Use Spotify for playlists and interaction. Keeps you from breaking copyrights and gives the artists royalties. Everyone wins that one!
- Focus in one genre and age group first. Expand later. I’m working on that!
- Create a series by using different characters from the same setting.
- Independently published writers are finally recognized as part of the publishing market. Several self-published books were up for the top RITA and Golden Heart awards. Sessions included training on formatting and marketing.
- If you are in a place where you need to put your keys poking out through your fingers, don’t. You might hurt yourself more. Put the keys poking out of your fist at your thumb where you have more flexibility to use the keys like a knife. (This was from a session about self-defense–informative and entertaining!)
- Write. A lot.
- Read. A lot.
- Be persistent.
- And more, so much more!
3. Watching Dreams Come True
RITA Awards and seeing Laura Drake–another friend of friends–win Best First Book for her book was magical. Her story is amazing and gives me hope.
4. Taking Steps to See My Own Dreams Come True
At a writer’s conference, writers meet literary agents and editors from publishers. If you have a finished manuscript, it’s a great place to meet these professionals. I pitched Hunter Moon, my fantasy with romance or is it a romantic fantasy… Anyway this book as been finished for awhile, pitched and rejected a few times, revised and finished again, and now pitched again. Here’s my pitch:
Marce does the one thing she loathes to end her conscription to hunt slaves–she buys a man. She doesn’t expect to fall in love. She’ll risk her life to set him free, but she must save him from the Clan Council before they sacrifice him to their goddess of war.
One agent requested to read the full manuscript! Another agent and an editor requested partials. I very much enjoyed the three meetings, and ten minutes wasn’t long enough. Such wonderfully professional people! Now, I’m working around my crazy work schedule and getting kids ready for school, to rewrite my synopsis (because…yuck) and proofread again (because…no one likes typos). I’ll be sending those requests out very soon!
Then! On the way home while driving North on I35E, Margie Lawson sent me an email to tell me I’d won an Immersion class. WHAT?! I’ve been working on one of her courses for editing. I’ve dreamed of being able to take that Immersion course that several of my friends have taken and raved about. So excited!!! Look out 2015!
5. Fun and Sightseeing
What would a romance writers’ conference be without corsets? Or, steampunk? I’m a member of the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal chapter of RWA. These writers know how to throw a party! Tameri was in charge of the decorations. I helped by making Western steampunk confetti. (Yes, there’s a story in that.) I also helped with the balloons. (The look on the bellman’s face when he realized he wasn’t moving luggage: Priceless.)
The conference was on the Riverwalk and around the corner from the Alamo. Native Texans that we are, Julie and I paid homage with a few selfies, and a few missed ones, too. LOL.
You can see our Alamo selfie over at Julie’s website. 😉
It was a blast and completely worth it, even having to find room in trunk for the 70+ books I picked up. (My sister is very happy to take a few off my hands, I’ve been told.)
This conference gave me new tools to use in my writing path, new connections to support me, and new resolve to keep at it.
Do you go to conferences (for writing or other professional reasons)? Have you ever been to San Antonio? What are your favorite online tools? Did you do anything fun for summer vacation?