Wednesday, August 18, 2010

RWAus Conference: Nikki Logan

Romance Writers of Australia celebrated their 19th annual conference at Coogee Beach, Sydney, over the weekend of 13-15 August.

Like the US, conference is a big date on the Australian calendar and anticipation starts building from new year. So the first day of conference was thrumming with energy.

I've cherry-picked a few of my favourite workshops to highlight.

Well known Australian radio/television presenter, standup comedian and now author, Wendy Harmer, gave an inspiring presentation for the published author group about writing romance/rom elements within Australia's east-coast literature scene in which her work has been simultaneously derided and applauded and the extra scrutiny of her as a popular, public figure. Funny, fast-paced and entirely irreverent.

Wendy was preceeded by Dr John Barletta, an amazing and engaging psych professional who analysed the state we all aim for with our writing. We call it being in 'the zone' but in psych terms it's called 'flow' - that place on an aptitude continuum where skill and challenge and engagement hover in perfect harmonic suspension and allow us to fully immerse in our work and be uber-productive. The good news? You can
train yourself to get there.

The screenwriter of Australia's massively successful television drama series 'UnderBelly' chatted to us about her scriptwriting process but more particularly about the challenges of fictionalising 'true crime' - not the least managing the expectations of research subjects who come from Australias leading violent crime families.

Debora Dixon held a full house of pubb'd and unpubbd writers enthraled with all things GMC with a Heroes Journey chaser. Deb is a fantastic presenter and her talk was informal and comfortable.
Vicky Lewis-Thompson spoke on the virtues of 'feeling fear but doing it anyway' and forcing yourself out of your comfortzone with an hilarious range of OMG bad-dream moments in publishing. It was a wonderful equaliser for everyone in the room who'd ever said something dopey in a lift or walked into a pitch session with their dress bundled into their knickers.

We enjoyed a ten strong panel of US and Australian publishing reps and agents and compared their opinions of the status of the international industry, then split down into individual workshops.

I'm always a particular fan of specialist sessions at conference - where you can see and hear things that you normally wouldn't have access to. One of my favourite sessions was by a forensic specialist from the New South Wales' coroner's office; while graphic, it was very honest and open and took participants through some of the most familiar and shocking parts of being a coroner.

Right afterwards we had a fantastic session by a weapons and defence specialist and his team of 'meat-men' who came along to teach us everthing we wanted to know about staging fight-scenes. He showed us how you can make a weapon from nothing, what kinds of blades work best for different situations, how to strangle, buckle, take down an assailant. Amazingly eye-opening (I may never go outside again) but wonderful for our stories.

Every year RWAus runs a charity fundraiser lunch on the final day of conference. This year it was a Silver theme for ovarian cancer. 250 women (and one man) managed to raise over $10,000 for development of an early detection system for Ovarian Cancer thanks to an amazing $5K donation from Harlequin Australia.

All in all a fabulous conference with a high level of new participants. RWAus conferences just go from strength to strength. All speakers acknowledged the very high level of support, comraderie and positivity at Australian conference and this year was no exception.

Roll on 2011...

And a big congrats from the PHS to all the R*BY award winners:

Short Sweet:

Sharon Archer 'Marriage Reunited: Baby On The Way'

Short Sexy:

Amy Andrews 'A Doctor, A Nurse: A Christmas Baby'

Long Romance:

Sophia James 'Mistletoe Magic'

Romantic Elements:

Tracey O'Hara 'Night's Cold Kiss'


  1. Sounds like a fabulous conference, sorry that I missed it, a little bit too far from Scotland!

  2. I'd just reiterate that it was indeed a fabulous conference! Vicki-Lewis Thompson was hilarious, but my favourite of all was Jessica Hart's A to Z survival guide. Everyone who went to that is now dying to visit City Screen in York. ;-)

  3. Good post :) I agree - it was a fabulous conference! I enjoyed all my workshops as well as socialising with my CPs, writing buddies and lots of other pub/ unpub writers! :)

    Jackie - I agree, Jessica Hart's A-Z survival guide was hilarious.

  4. Sounds like a fab conference, and I knew Jessica's session would be good :o)

    I don't usually do Twitter, but I did watch the R*BYs on Twitter and it was just like being there - really exciting! (Thanks to those who took the time to post.)

  5. Great post, Nikki. I'm kicking myself for missing Jessica's A-Z talk, but she was on against Kate Forsyth, a fantasy author I've only just discovered and am hooked on. That was a great talk, too. Pity we can't film them — or clone ourselves.

    And I LOVE that photo of Tracey O'Hara through her RBY trophy. Very clever and stylish.