I was one of the lucky 350 attendees of the Romance Writers of Australia’s conference, held in Melbourne on 12th-14th August. The organisers did a fantastic job, and everything ran smoothly and professionally, allowing us writers to sit back and enjoy the event.
This was my first writer’s conference, yet I felt like part of a family, and was never without an interesting person to talk to. It was great to meet many of my online writing friends face to face, and I’m sure they were surprised to see that I am in fact a real person and not the cartoon avatar they’ve seen online!
I’m incredibly grateful to have met many wonderful authors, and the support and encouragement they gave me was amazing. There was no ‘us and them’, or ‘published and unpublished’, we were all united as writers, no matter what stage of the journey we’re at.
The venue (Hilton on the park, Melbourne) was lovely, and simply being child-free for four days without having to think about housework or real life in general was absolute bliss! I always love the feeling of arriving home, but I also love being able to think solely about writing and publishing for a few days without the distractions of daily life. Is it too early to book for next year’s conference?? 😉
I took as many notes as possible. Some information was new to me, some reinforced things I’d already learned but needed to be reminded of. Most importantly, I left feeling inspired, empowered, and dedicated to this path I’ve chosen.
The speakers were all fantastic, and I enjoyed listening and learning from Bob Mayer, Susan Wiggs, Lisa Heidke, Nikki Logan, Jane Porter, Christine Stinson, and all the authors, agents, and editors who enlightened, informed, and entertained.
Here are some of the key learnings I got from various speakers at the conference:
- Writing is an entertainment business – emotion & numbers
- Always stay one book ahead of your contract
- Have SOP’s – standard operating procedures, for organising your writing time, social media, emails…etc
- Write about what scares you most – the emotion will show through
- Write what you WANT to know
- Get ideas by thinking, ‘What if?’, ‘What if something is not what it appears to be?’
- Dissect plots in movies by looking at ‘scene selection’ and scene titles on DVD’s
- Show a character’s true nature through crisis
- Find time for writing by tracking how you spend your time over one week – where can you cut back on time wasters and devote that time to writing?
- Use twitter hashtags to attract target market, eg: ‘If you like #nameofsimilarbookormovie, you’ll like #nameofyourbook
- Characterisation: Consciously communicate subconscious behaviour that the reader will subconsciously get
- A book series can be unified by concept, theme, characters, setting
- Sell a few .99c ebooks as ‘hooks’ to introduce readers to your other books
- Women’s fiction for the 40+ age group is a hot market
- Self help books can be useful for researching character issues and how they overcome them
- Children in books – must bring something out in the characters
- Technique for endings – try mirroring the opening of the book, unites beginning to end
- Don’t wait until publication to think about a ‘brand’, do it now
- A brand is a promise, a symbol, and triggers an emotional response and recognition
- Can brand yourself as an author, or your books, or a character
- When stuck with the writing process, do something else within the story – research setting, visual prompts, write a letter from your character to an old friend in first person
- Content is king, promotion is queen
- And much more!
Apart from the conference sessions, the social part was memorable too. The 1920’s themed cocktail party was a lot of fun, as was the awards dinner (congratulations to all the award winners!), and I was happy to do my bit for the fundraising for the Otis Foundation, a charity I hadn’t heard of until now, who plays an extremely valuable role in providing retreats for women and men going through breast cancer.
Thanks to the RWA team, my fellow writers, the speakers, agents, editors, sponsors, and hotel staff for making it a conference to remember.
I’m looking forward to a successful lifelong writing career – from here… to eternity.
Yesterday, July 24th, saw the birth of the first ever ‘Global Read In Bed Day’, an initiative of mine to raise funds for literacy charities (and give participants an excuse to spend a relaxing day curled up with a good book!).
The GRIBD Facebook group has around fifty members so far, and I hope this will grow as word gets out, so the next time we have another ‘Read In Bed Day’, even more people can participate!
But what’s this about reading in bed being an extreme sport? Well, throughout the day, injuries, exhaustion, and obstacles were reported.
Injuries: I fell down the stairs on one of my ‘reading breaks’, resulting in a swollen wrist and aching leg muscles (I have been hobbling around today as though I’m ninety-five!).
Exhaustion: Some participants reported almost falling asleep, and one (yours truly) actually did.
Obstacles: Some participants had to navigate around work committments, taxi duties, parenting responsibilities, and the dreaded ‘that-which-must-not-be-named’ (aka: housework), in order to have a few minutes here and there of reading time. One participant even had the distraction of being in the beautiful South of France. Talk about difficult!
Who said Reading In Bed was easy? If you’re planning on participating in the next event, do so at your own risk!
Some of the books read by participants included:
Just Breathe, and Lakeshore Christmas, by Susan Wiggs.
Sushi For Beginners, by Marian Keyes.
The Bet, by Jennifer Crusie.
Nadia Knows Best, by Jill Mansell.
Alice Bliss, by Laura Harrington.
The Good Girl’s Guide To Getting Lost, by Rachel Friedman.
Something Borrowed, by Emily Giffin.
Even the Sunday newspapers and a writer’s work-in-progress got some love!
To join the Global Read In Bed Day Facebook group, click here and log into your Facebook account.