Sunday, August 01, 2010

RWA Conference Updates -- the final one

Pink Heart Society editor Michelle Styles reports on the final day.

First of all, the day after the Harlequin party is fraught with its own problems. The conference becomes a bit of an endurance test. However, it is still as fun.

The goody room is awash with bookmarks, and bits of paper. These do not go. Huge stacks of paperbacks do not necessarily go. Smaller quantities of books do go.

The workshops were informative. After breakfast I went to the one on creating Hot Heroes. I severely tempted to give Sheila Hodgson's (Mills & Boon Medicals editor) mantra -- if you write for Harlequin, you write alpha heroes even if the author thinks she doesn't but refrained. It was interesting to see the Blaze take on things. It was one of the recorded sessions.

I then went and did a pitch session with an agent. It is something that every author should experience at least once in her life. The aircraft hanger, the lining up in rows and then being marched down. Several people were late and refused entry. Their spaces were given to someone else. Someone also tried to muscle in on my pitch for just a minute but the steward moved her on her way. It is unfair to the person waiting to pitch to be that rude.

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever read was to do your homework first. If you are pitching to an agent or an editor who is interested in the type of book you are writing, they are likely to request a partial or if you are really lucky a full. The whole set up took me back to the days when I used to be an insurance agent...unfortunately I went blank halfway through but the agent requested the full of my paranormal romance single title. It has a HEA (Happily Ever After) and therefore is a paranormal romance.

So the stress situation had a good ending!

The workshops later in the day were all business for me. The BIG Takeaway from the conference is social media and trying to get to work for the author. However as there has obviously been a miss of a deadline by a St Martin Press author (mentioned in the surprisingly sparsely attended workshop which featured marketing and publicity people from SMP and a top agent) the important thing is the book! Do not skimp on writing your stories in order to blog or twitter. Know your skill set.

By the end of the Harlequin Author PAN session, I had hit a wall and had to recover before the Rita dinner and award ceremony. It was lovely to see the Golden Heart winners and then the Rita winners. Harlequin Historical authors Julia Justiss and Blythe Gifford were joys to sit next to! I was impressed with the number of conferences they have been to. Blythe is so knowledgeable about the business. And I shall always remember her standing up cheering in her turquoise suit, circling her napkin above her head!

Congrats to all the Golden Heart winners and to the Rita winners. And many thanks for all the hard work that the RWA staff put in to make this conference be so special.

I will be doing another post on Tuesday -- complete with a few pictures.


  1. Michelle,

    Thanks for your posts! It was so kind of you to remember us stay-at-homes! :-) Can't tell you how many times I checked, just to see if you'd found time to drop another line!

    Anna Adams

  2. So delightful to meet you in person, Michelle. You are the font of all knowledge out of the UK. Just to be clear, however, I was cheering for fellow chapter members who took home a Golden Heart and a RITA win. Cause for celebration, complete with napkin swinging!

  3. I thought it wonderful that you were swinging that napkin Blythe. It seemed to me that was the essence of what the conference was about and the joyous celebration that is the ritas.

    Anna -- I know what you mean. I did try to update as much as possible.