I just got back from my annual writer’s conference, run by the awesome Romance Writers of Australia. Over 350 writers, editors, and agents were in attendance in Sydney for four days of fun, friendliness, flirtiness, and fabulous… dancing. (Those who listened to Emma Darcy’s Hall of Fame speech probably thought I was going to say something else there) 😉
As usual, lots of photos were taken (some good, some that were maybe best not taken at all), and I’m sharing a few here today along with some highlights from the conference…
- The night before the conference started I went out to dinner with my writing club and critique partners, and then we got comfy in a hotel room for an Offspring party! In other words, we watched the final episode of our favourite TV show Offspring. As a writer, I can tell you that this show is fabulously well-written. We weren’t missing it for anything! #TeamLeo by the way.
- Thursday I went to my first published author day which was filled with great industry advice and media training, followed by the Literacy High Tea fundraiser which had scrumptious food and laugh-out-loud guest speakers, along with a debate that gave politicians a run for their money. Our debate topic was of much worldly importance: Which heroes are better – betas or alphas? (betas all the way, in my opinion) 😉
- And on Thursday night at the Harlequin author dinner… this happened:
What’s a writers conference without a bit of tango dancing? 😉 My critique partner Alli Sinclair forced me to do this (really, she did) and one of the photos will be an entry into her tango pose competition she’s running on her blog, which you can check out HERE to win an original oil painting.
- On Friday there was a very informative and practical workshop by James Scott Bell, and I wrote lots of notes to take back and utilize in my own writing. And he showed some great examples from movies! I like the fact that as a writer, when I’m watching a movie, I can say that I’M WORKING.
- Friday night = Leather and Lace cocktail party. Maleficent, Cher, Catwoman… just a few of the great costumes worn by enthusiastic dresser-uppers.
- On Saturday there were a variety of informative and entertaining workshops (and I must make a special mention of our international guest speaker Cherry Adair who was the life of the party – ahem – conference. Her talks were inspiring, emotional, and downright hilarious, and she blessed us all with her generosity and support, and some touchy-feely-huggy stuff.)
- I had the pleasure of introducing Jenn J Mcleod’s workshop on small town twists and secrets which was fantastic and filled with lots of great ideas on how to make your small town story shine. Thanks Jenn!
- I was very proud to see my critique partner and debut author Alli Sinclair receive her First Sale ribbon, after receiving mine last year and getting rather excited, I told her she had to pull a crazy pose like I did. 😉
- Saturday afternoon I went to my first ever book signing run by ARRA! (milestone moment, pass the Kleenex please). What does a digitally published author sign at book signings? Postcards, brochures, flyers…etc, and the occasional body part or handbag. I’m joking about the body part, not about the bag. Thanks to the readers who came up to say Hi! And thanks to my critique partner Diane who gave me a present: a fluffy little owl writing mascot, who I’ve called Solomon. He joined me at the book signing!
- Then we had all of 20 minutes to get back to the hotel and get glammed up for the RWA awards gala – the Logies of the romance writing world. One problem: my left eye decided to become rather inflamed and bloodshot, uncomfortable and watery, making me squint now and then with the occasional eye-bulge for good measure – I’m sure I looked like Rik from The Young Ones after a bit too much alcohol or a whack on the head from Vyvyan. Luckily, when the Escape After Party began, the weird bluey-purple lighting changed to weird reddy-pink lighting and I thought ‘Yes! Now my eye will match.’ 😉
- But I’m getting ahead of myself, back to the awards night… congrats to all the winners! I was especially excited to see my fellow Escape author Kendall Talbot take home the RUBY award for best romantic elements book of the year for Lost In Kakadu! 🙂
- There was much celebration after dinner with almost two hours of letting loose on the dance floor. Abba, The B52’s, Michael Jackson… nothing beats having some energetic, crazy, slightly daggy fun with some golden oldies (songs, not people… because everyone braving the dance floor was young and hip in my opinion) 😉 Escape had organized a photo booth with crazy dress-ups, and that was a hoot! (Solomon the owl told me to say that). Then we all dragged ourselves off to our hotel rooms to get a completely sufficient three hours of sleep before the Sunday workshops began.
- When the conference finished, my buddies and I had fun walking around Sydney Olympic Park among the crowds of people there for a big soccer match, looking for food to eat. We ended up back where we started and charged like swarming locusts towards a tiny table when it became available in the bar of the Pullman Hotel, where we squished plates for six both on the table and on laps. There, we discussed goals for the next year, book marketing, and what we want to achieve by the next conference. We also pretended the stretch limousine outside the hotel was ours.
I love spending time with other writers, many of whom have become wonderful friends, and the RWA does a great job at putting on this annual conference and for that I am truly grateful.
Rock on! 🙂
To see all the tweets about the conference, check out the hashtag #RWAus14 on Twitter.
A gourmet dinner at the hotel buffet after the recent RWA conference led to more than just a full stomach. It led to the birth of a new writers club for me and my fellow dining companions. We decided we were committed to being up on the conference stage to collect our First Sale Ribbons as soon as possible, and created a club to help each other achieve that goal – the goal of our first publishing contract.
Our desired outcome comes down to several factors of course, some of which are outside our direct control, but we believe that through commitment to our craft, consistency in action, support of each other, and confidence in our work we can achieve that outcome. And when the time is right for us, we believe we will be on that stage celebrating our first sale.
The club is now in its third week, and already I have achieved more than I would have without the club. Each Monday we state our weekly goals to the group, and share what we achieved from the week before. Doing this makes us focus on the little steps needed to lead towards our bigger goals, and helps us to be more productive.
For writers, life often gets in the way of being consistent with writing, especially when you’re not yet contracted and you feel like you should be doing something else. But having a few like-minded people around you who share your goals is a huge help, and helps you to prioritise your writing and take action towards your dreams.
There is something exciting about writing down your goals and ticking them off as they are completed, even more so when you share these goals with others. Having a writing buddy or a small writing group gives you the power of accountability. No one wants to check in with the group and say they didn’t achieve their goals, so knowing you have to share your progress with the group acts as a strong motivator to get things done, and to stay on the path you have chosen.
If you don’t have a writing buddy or group, I strongly recommend joining or starting one. First of all, join RWA (The Romance Writers of Australia), as they are such a supportive organisation for writers and I have learned so much through them and made great new friends. You don’t even have to be a romance writer to join, we have writers of many different genres in RWA. Then, hook up with a suitable critique partner so you can provide feedback on each other’s work. RWA has a critique partner match-up scheme, or you can find one by asking around online and sharing a few samples of work to see who you click with. I found mine rather organically… we began a conversation on facebook earlier this year and never stopped, and after sharing a sample of work we decided we would like to work together and have been critiquing happily ever since (and our facebook chat is still continuing to this day!). Now through my new writers club I have an additional CP, as it can be good to get two different opinions on your work (plus, I have found the processing of critiquing another writer’s work helps me with my own writing).
So if you find yourself getting to the end of the week and wishing you had written more, learned more, or read more, then consider starting an ‘accountability group’; a group that doesn’t necessarily have to read each other’s work, but exists for the main purpose of helping each other achieve weekly or monthly goals. It makes a huge difference! 🙂
Can you believe how fast the year is flying by? It seems only yesterday I was at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in Melbourne, and now I’m getting ready to go to the 2012 conference on the Gold Coast!
Wow, what a year! In the time since last conference, I have written two more novels, a few short stories, worked with a freelance editor, continued revising a manuscript, found a fabulous critique partner, made new friends in the writing community, and learned so much more about the craft of writing. I am loving this journey, and each day I grow more passionate about the business of storytelling. I think about my stories when I wake up in the morning, and when I go to sleep at night. My mind is always creating stories and characters, and sometimes my fingers itch to write them down as quickly as possible!
I am looking forward to spending several days away at the RWA conference, engrossed in all things writing related. I’m looking forward to seeing friends, meeting new friends, and learning from other authors and publishing professionals. This year I’ll be helping out with one of the workshops, and also handling the facebook posts for RWA so we can keep non-attendees updated with the goings-on and awards at the conference (If you see me at the awards dinner frantically jabbing at my iphone, I’m not being rude, I’m just doing my job, okay?!).
The other thing I’m looking forward to is wearing a dress and heels. Yep, I don’t get out to fancy events much so this makes a nice change from the usual jeans I wear all the time! (Well, not all the time, I do wash them ;))
To see what happened at last year’s conference, read this post.
Okay, time to get organised… Conference 2012 – Bring It On!!
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.