In more ways than one, but we’ll get to that. NECRWA’s annual Let Your Imagination Take Flight conference was this past weekend, and while I’d planned to blog about my experience immediately, life reminded me there is more going on than writing – but it does remind me how much I want it, so that’s all good.
Every conference starts with a road trip. Since my move to NY, this now means two hours with Housemate, en route to MA, where I make the switch to my longtime conference roomie, the lovely Melva Michaelian, who writes on the cozy side of romantic suspense. Two more hours on the road, nattering about works in progress and life in general, and then we get to walk the red carpet (only the literal one, more’s the pity. There was a carpet. It was red. No press, though. It was only a color. :hangs head: We strutted anyway, luggage in tow.) Technically no traffic jams, and we did not get lost, so this was a successful journey.
Since we had forgotten (whoops) that the workshop with Lauren Dane was actually the master class and had needed to be registered for in advance, Melva and I ensconced ourselves in the bar, where we ran into Laurie Gifford Adams, who writes YA, and is a former chapter sister to both of us. Laurie brought along her critique partner and our new friend, Dorothy Callahan, who writes time travel and paranormal. Melva, Laurie and Dorothy headed off soon after for the first workshop of the afternoon, but I had other plans.
One of the reasons I was excited about bringing the new tablet to the conference was exactly this; writing. A scene pounced me, and since writing is kind of the whole point of being a writer, I sat out the workshop and settled into this lovely hot spot to dip into story world for the next hour. I like the office program that came with the tablet, except for one tiny omission. No quotation marks. None. I only found this out when I opened the document. Curious, that. A hotel full of writers is probably the only place where one will hear, “oh, are you writing? Sorry, catch you later,” in a genuinely happy voice. I think I could get used to that.
Bringing Robin Sparkles (yes, I name my electronics, so will be using her name and the word “tablet” interchangeably) to the conference was like bringing a new baby. Lots of coos over how tiny and pink she is, what she can do, how we found each other, etc. Some good advice from more experienced tablet users on life with tablet, and a good deal of trial and error, though I think we did all right for our first time out. The onscreen keyboard is a lot easier to get used to than I thought it would be, but my fingers are still gigantic, and there is probably a stylus in my future. If you hear any salty language from this corner of the world, that’s me trying to get Spotify to load.
But enough about me. There was, indeed, swag. Pens, bookmarks and postcards abounded, as well as some other creative ideas. I love the small book of sticky notes, and the stress cube is sure to get some use. Letter opener is always useful (for contracts, checks, fan mail, etc, right?) I will never say no to lip gloss, purse-size pack of Band-Aids is essential, but the star of the swag for this year? Flash drive. I’d needed one anyway, and bloop, there it is. Mini size, so it fits in my coin pouch. Perfect. Honorable mention to the pen shaped like a paintbrush, front and center below:
Just the books:
Megan Frampton gave a wonderful workshop on the changing rules of the romance covenant. I really wish there were recordings of the workshops available, because there was so much information and discussion that I’d love to be able to go over it again. Does anybody else remember when athlete or rock star heroes were verboten? Now they’re hot. Age gaps, in either direction, characters with histories (or without) and persons of color in various subgenres, and more. An hour really wasn’t enough to cover the topic, but “you can’t do that in romance” can usually be rephrased as “depends how you do it.” If stepsibliing romance can be a thing, I think I’m not that far out there with my historicals (which do not contain romances between stepsiblings, fwiw.) Word is that Victorian settings have now overtaken Regency as the most popular era for historicals. I’d be interested to see the figures on that. Non-19th century historicals are still a harder sell (Challenge accepted!) though there was some discussion of medievals being on the rise. :pets Ravenwood:
Keynote speaker at dinner was the fabulous Sabrina Jeffries. I’m always excited when there’s a historical author as one of the speakers, and was doubly so this year. Her tips on writing through the hard times are a huge part of what kept my head above water when caregiving, grieving and settling relatives’ affairs (not the romantic kind, trust me) threatened to engulf everything else. The woman does know a thing or two about this business, and she has a great attitude. Her talk on creativity and how marvelous it is that we can make up stories and people and worlds all from our own imaginations was a lovely boost of encouragement. I had to give back, and let her know, when I bumped into her at breakfast the next morning, that I actually loved her historical set in Siam, lo those many years back. She said she’s looking to reissue it in ebook form, and I told her I hope she does. I’d love to read it again.
Friday evening wrapped with the second annual fireside gabfest in the lobby. Last year, it was me and Jodi Coburn (that’s us from last year, below,) whom I met over a crowded dinner table when we found out we had the same all time favorite historical romance novel. If that’s not an instant bond, I don’t know what is. This year, we were joined by Melva, Laurie and Dorothy.
There was much chatter about what we were all writing and reading. I drooled over Jodi’s story binder (so stealing her spreadsheet idea) and at one point, we all whipped out our mobile devices to share photos of our furbabies. All too soon, it was time to head to our respective beds, because there was still Saturday ahead of us. Tomorrow, as they say, is another day.