Saturday, August 09, 2008

Conference Wind Down : Hits and Highlights

I missed out on actually attending the conference this year. I did enjoy reading the blog posts and glimpsing the pictures of events...which begs the question...What was your most memorable moment of the conference...whether you attended or not!

Everyone in my local chapter agreed that it was the most fun they'd ever had at a conference, so I'm hoping history repeats itself next year in Washington DC! There were lots of events, as usual, but fewer people snatching books. Those pesky luggage fees must have had a positive effect, darn it.

Some of the best things I found were ::

Save The Cat :: The most talked about workshop (at least in the blogosphere) was Blake Syder's Save The Cat. He's written two books, targeting screenwriters, but romance authors were enthralled. Jessica Hart, Trish Wylie, Melissa McClone, and Clair Baxter were so taken with it, they marched up to a bookstore to hunt down his book!

Shoes :: What authors were wearing was big least what was on their feet! Kira Sinclair, Hope Tarr, Jennie Lucas and more were tempted to show off their latest shoe finds. Which reminds me...shoe shopping is a must before next year's conference!

Gossip :: Historicals STILL aren't dead. Yeah, this was 'big news' last year too. I'm not sure if the people generating rumors realize Historicals never went away... epublishing is on the rise. OK, so New York just NOW seems to be getting keen on this. Anyway, most publishers at conference seemed to talk about expanding their ebook offerings... Straight contemporary is in trouble. Well, maybe. But sales are down across the board thanks to our oh so lovely economy, so I doubt it's a real issue. Or maybe it's because more subgenres that used to be considered contemporary are now their own niche. Contemporary gets smaller, so sales get smaller. Or romanic suspense has just swallowed it whole...

Sandra Marton's Pizza Party :: I think this is the most looked forward to event for all the Mills & Boon authors. Everyone raved about it on their blogs and such. I think it's because it's such a low key event. Just a bunch of girls hanging out with pizza and potions, talking about nothing and everything. Harkens back to slumber party days.

eHarlequin Pajama Party :: Speaking of slumber parties...each year everyone shows off their cutest PJs...but I don't see many picture on the next year I'll have to click a few more than I think the PHS will need...Michelle Willingham did manage to get our Trish...but Olivia Gates is hiding!!

Now do tell...what thrilled you from the conferences?

Jenna is waiting for her Modern Heat editor to get back from vacation so she can get started on a new story. In the meantime, Par For The Course is out, with car sex, an interesting approach to learning to golf, and a love story hazardous to your hankie supply. Oh, plus exploding toads.. Check out Jenna's website, or blog.

And for more conference schmoozing, here's our world-wide correspondent BIDDY in her "Book With Biddy" feature!
Revisions and Refurbishments was the name of the game in July… along with conferences and holidays. Last time I was here I was in the midst of the RNA conference in Chichester… it was probably the best conference I have ever been to. One of those conferences where every seminar and talk was perfectly pitched for me. Lots of wonderful talks on revisions and pacing, I scribbled lots and lots of notes.

This is not me as a) I am right handed b) I’m not married but I was taking notes!

I also got a chance to talk with the editor from M&B I have been working with… and it was extremely helpful. Except that she made some mention of needing really alpha heroes. Hmmm…. as I sat there I thought about Jack, my hero, who is causing me a few sleepless night because you see he just ain’t that alpha enough. I scribbled a note to myself ‘Alphatize Jack’. The editor and I discussed the light heartedness which is needed for Modern Heat and again my mind pinged… had my recent revisions tackled the light heartedness? All weekend I thought about it and realised that although my revisions had reanimated the pesky dead brother they hadn’t tackled the two things I was hearing from the editor.

A flirty way to alphatize your hero… make him Hugh In A Towel!

1) A really alpha hero
2) Light hearted flirtiness

What was I going to do? How could I fix this? And then as I was discussing this with the wonderful Fiona Harper she gave me the key to the problem. I had Jack’s motivation wrong! It was too passive, made him less than alpha. Phew! What a relief! Only problem was I know had to go back to the start. Hurrumph!

Fiona Harper and I discuss motivation over mugs of champagne for inspiration

But I didn’t stay down for long, I was lucky enough to come third in the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy!! And with only one mark separating the top three!! I circled cloud nine for the rest of the weekend! I don’t think I could have been happier if I had won!

And then of course I came down with a bump! Because now I had to restart my revisions (whilst still keeping the brother very much alive) and all this while struggling with the flat refurbishment. Oh and of course planning for my trip to San Francisco (BABY!!).

Because July 2008 in San Francisco is of course RWA National Conference. And it was my first experience of the RWA conference… and what an experience it was. 2000 romance writers all in one place. And all talking at the same time!

There I was thousands of miles from home thinking I would know about five people (including my roommate and the PHS lot) but I had forgotten about the joy of the online romance community. I knew lots more! And I had made many more new friends by the end of it (including dancing with and being introduced to Nora Roberts!!) I went to seminars and book signings and parties and occasionally made it back to my room for a lie down. Some of the photos below show how much fun it all is!

Line for the Lit Signing!! Scary!

Abby Green and Sean getting up close and personal at the Lit signing

Heidi Rice, Sharon Kendrick and myself in a bar looking over San Francisco before the Harlequin party

Anna Louise Lucia, my talented room mate!

But other than realising how much I love this romance community, other than how fab San Francisco is, other than I WANT a pink ‘FIRST SALE’ ribbon soooooooo badly, I realised that what the manuscript was also missing was structure. So now I have a bag of tricks and techniques to apply to the revisions… and I’ll use them just as soon as I leave San Francisco. Honest!


  1. Hi Jenna and Biddy

    Well, I was a conference virgin who is now well and truly initiated... So to speak. So here are a few of my favourite things (which I totally forgot to blog about!)

    Best workshop moment: Definitely Susan Elizabeth Phillips tips on writing the Bestseller. Best tIp: listen to your instincts, but don't get stupid!

    Best frock moment: My Marilyn the Slut look at the RITAs (I can say that with complete certainty because as far as I know there is no photographic evidence).

    Best meal: The dinner Abby and I shared with Sharon Kendrick and Sandra Marton. Those women are awesome!

    Best book-signing moment: Managing to flog a book to a Presents reader who insisted books without virgin heroines couldn't 'maintain the sanctity of the love relationship'. She's promised to let me know if mine changed her mind... Uh-oh.

    Best Harlequin party moment (because Biddy failed to mention we were dancing right next to Nora! Ta very much Biddy!): chatting up the head waiter, who turned out to be a real sweetie - and hearing the massive cheer when Sandra's 75th book award was announced.

    See you in DC ladies.

  2. Well another highlight I didn't mention was meeting Heidi!! Who looked stunning on Rita night (and not slutty at all!)
    I highly recommend conferences, whether RWA or RNA or any of the other out there. Whether a writer or a reader. You get to meet the best people... romance fans!!

  3. Jenna, thanks for posting a pic of my shoes. (Sharon Kendrick dubbed them "daffodil yellow".) We missed you girl! Glad you're coming to DC!

    And Biddy--it was so great to dance with you at the party. YOU ROCK! Really nice to sit next to your roommate Anna at the Literacy Booksigning as well. She's really nice! (And a good dancer as well!)

    Heidi, it was great to finally meet you. I'll have to pour through my camera shots to see if I have evidence of the alleged "slutty" dress. You, slutty? Can't even imagine it! See you next month at AMBA! :)