Friday, August 10, 2012

Fill The Well Friday : Conferences!

The Pink Heart Society editor Jenna Bayley-Burke has finally gotten over conference brain enough to share a bit of her recent RWA conference in Anaheim. With pictures, because that is what you actually care about, yes?

Michelle Willingham, Fiona Harper & Fiona Lowe
Writers don't get out much. It has to do with all that butt-in-the-chair time we need to get the stories out of our heads and into the minds of our readers. So when we do  step outside the cave, we blink to adjust to the light...and then start talking to as many real people as we can cram into a few short days.

Connections are key. Now some saavy types call it networking. I'm not good enough at it for that. I find people I know (and like) and honey up to them. They'll introduce me to womever they're with and voila, I have more familiar faces to sit with at lunch.
Oh, lunch. Every time I walk into the sea of round tables I have a junior high moment. Will I find any friends to have lunch with me? What if I spill something and ruin my outfit? They really ought to serve wine for the anxious types. It might make the conference chicken taste better (though I joke, this year was better than most)
The conference held such a positive vibe this year, it was easy to get excited about the future of publishing and a writers place in it. Stephanie Laurens gave a dynamite keynote, pointing out that "in the online publishing industry, only readers and authors are essential." She also noted the fundamental shift in our business. "In offline publishing authors sell their services to publishers. In online publishing publishers sell their services to authors." Such a brave and inspiring speech.
I know I say it every year, but the signings were amazing. At the literacy autographing I was visited by two readers who wanted to talk about characters in my books like they were actual people (I was in heaven) and demand I tell the story of beloved secondary characters (will do). I found attending the publisher signings were a great way to find author friends I hadn't seen yet. After all, they were sitting down, attached to the table for as long as the books lasted.

Jennie Lucas, Fiona Harper & Donna Alward
And the parties. I know I mentioned that romance authros don't tend to get out enough. But when we do, apparently we like to dress up, take off our cute shoes, shake it, drink champagne and eat chocolate. I'm not going to lie, it was as fun as it sounds.

Disneyland may have played a bigger role in this conference than anyone (but me) will admit. I managed to spend at least a few hours in the happiest place on earth every day - and always managed to run into someone from the conference. Maybe that's why everyone was so upbeat, we'd all seen Mickey!

By the end of the weekend, nearly everyone has lost her voice and had her fill of conference chicken. We've seen who found the best shoes, who snagged the cutest dresses...and who hit the Nordstrom's half-yearly sale. (The RITA awards had a dress-of-the-night. I'm waiting for someone to do a who wore it best post.)

For those who want workshop details, check out my blog. If you're considering a romance writing conference, I reccomend starting with a chapter conference close to home. All the people and information can get a bit overwhelming. Plus, you'll make connections and have a better chance of finding someone to sit with at lunch.

Another conference highlight for me was finding The Romantic Times review of Drive Me Crazy -- 4 stars and a HOT! They are so good to me.
Bayley-Burke's newest is a crazy and sexy ride from Washington DC to Oregon. Readers will eagerly turn the pages as they wait to see what happens next. From haunted B&Bs and whore-houses to a petting zoo, her main characters are on the road - and the romance - of a lifetime.

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