Romance Writers of America’s 2016 Conference was another great year! I figured I would be hearing some of the same old information like utilize Facebook and have a newsletter, which I did, but there was also some new information and new inspiration. Also, it was in downtown San Diego—The Finest City—on the marina near Gaslamp. I’ll post about San Diego later. I want to focus on the conference because so many of my friends didn’t go and sadly they missed out.
I started my first day with author Julia Quinn who spoke about dialogue. I always agree with her when I hear her so I went to listen to her again. She said to read the dialogue out loud. She mouths the words as she types. Whenever someone asks her about a writing rule she will mention she doesn’t follow the rules. She did say, “Know the rules so you know when you can break them.”
In another class, Stephanie Bond spoke about creating a motivational business plan. You need an objective: fame or fortune. You also need a mission: paranormal romance with an ocean theme. What products are you going to sell? Ebook, print, foreign and TV rights. She talked about augmented reality. Characters become animated in a book. It’s so new it’s not in contracts. She said to supplement your income writing non-fiction. She will contact her agent or editor and ask for a project that will bring in money. She didn’t get detailed on the project. I would have liked to have heard an example. As far as branding, I believe she tried to burn it into our minds to write the same kind of book. Be consistent. I would take “same kind of book,” as same subgenre. Staying in your pocket makes it easy for readers to find you. She suggested reading Seth Godin’s blog. As far market analysis, she said the RWA Conference is a good way to stay knowledgeable about the state of the industry. She suggested to subscribe to Publisher’s Marketplace for $25 a month. There is a section that shows recent acquisitions. Do your business plan with your critique partner. Ask each other questions. Microsoft Word has a template. They aren’t quite geared for writers, but are usable. She likes to revisit her business plan once a year around the RWA Conference, maybe so she can talk about her vision with her agent? Now this is what got me. She meets her critique partner weekly! She attributes her massive amount of published books to her weekly meeting. I can’t recall if she has written forty books or seventy. The audience awed. I think it was seventy.
Jeanette Grey talked about the Art and Science of Writing Deep POV. The art of writing deep point of view is how you approach crafting your characters and finding their voice. The science is the technical part. Deep POV are thoughts, sensations and reactions of characters. First, know your character by using a character questionnaire. Who is the character? What do they like and hate? How do they react to stimuli? For a visual create a mind map. You know, those bubbles with words we learned to use in English class. Second, know how your character sounds. How well educated is he/she? Do they have an accent? How quickly does he/she think? Third, know how your character thinks. She gave us an example of her hotel alarm going off and how that made her feel and how she reacted. It was kinda like reading someone’s diary then she took those words and changed most of them into narrative. Fourth, know how your character doesn’t think. No one thinks in backstory.
For lunch, Beverly Jenkins spoke. She had us laughing and crying. She is real. She tells the truth about her life. She also gave us a history lesson about Blacks as authors and romance authors. She doesn’t believe there should be a Black Romance subgenre, but for the culture to be part of romance. I am reading Night Hawk. It’s refreshing to read about diverse characters like a Black bounty hunter and the hero and heroine both being educated. I also got to chat with her in the elevator. All the ladies told her how they were laughing and crying at her speech. When Beverly left one of the writers said, “I’m having a fan girl moment.” She wobbled as if she were going to faint.
In the afternoon, I went to my first PRO Retreat. In RWA, to be considered PRO one has to submit or show published work of at least 20K words. There were many round tables, but I could only choose two. I went to the table about Writing Novellas for an Author Collection with Cynthia D’Alba. Cynthia comes over as a loud and jovial cowgirl and tries to warm over everybody by giving swag. When the talk begins she turns into all business. It sounded like a bunch of authors come together and write to a theme and them publish the collection as a whole, but each book goes live on a different day. Sounds good right? You have one lead author to draw people. Collections are like advertising. And they are digital only. The bad part. One author has to upload all the files and one has to act as treasurer. Someone also has to keep everyone on deadline. That someone sounds like they would handle the entire business end. By the end of the discussion she made a comment that probably no one would want to be part of a collection. I think she would be right.
For my second round table, I had to visit The Killion Group since they are the ones who did my beautiful book cover and formatting. Kim and Jenn are writers themselves who are multi-talented. Kim finds models and photographs them for one of a kind covers. I’ve seen her work with the costumes too. Jenn does the formatting. You would think they are expensive, but they aren’t. They do so much, I have no clue how they are able to run a huge business. I didn’t even think to give them my book, but I made sure I had one in my purse for these moments. They took my book to the trade show that happens during the conference. (I don’t know who gets invited to the trade show. I suppose Trade Show is self-explanatory.)
There was also an author panel with Maggie Marr, Tessa Dare and Debra Holland who spoke about their path to where they are now as authors.
That was just day one.