Conference hangover is a thing, and it comes in stages. Today’s stage, after an involuntary two-hour nap, is the second half of the recap, which brings us to Saturday, when things actually happened. Not breakfast, however, as we were on our own for that meal, usually my favorite of the conference, and Melva and I, despite our best attempts, found nothing around the hotel, so settled for Starbucks. There’s a picture of that, but my computer won’t let me post it, so we will move on to the big stuff, like my first conference workshop as a co-presenter.
I did not manage to get a photo of this workshop’s mastermind, Corrina Lawson, because she is a ninja, but I am sure there was a photo of the three of us taken at some time. For now, moiself and the fabulous Rhonda Lane. I think this was the most picture-filled conference yet, which I take as a challenge for next year. Speaking of which, I take you now to the room where it happened:
Actually, the room where two things happened, because my first and last workshops of the day both took place in the same room. Corrina, Rhonda and I had a decent turnout, alert and attentive women (no dudes in this workshop, at least not this time) who had specific questions about blogging, and made the whole experience fun for presenters and attendees alike. Fingers crossed that the pitch to NJRWA is successful, because I would love to do this again. The fifty-minute hour was over all too soon, and we capped it by giving away an analog blogging starter kit. Here’s what one lucky person took home:
If you missed out on the workshop, or are curious about what actually went down in that magical hour, we have a PDF of the PowerPoint presentation, which you can download here: BloggingIsntDeadHandout
The other thing that happened in that room was that Damon Suede presented a compressed version of his workshop on character building. This was a surprise addition, as the presenter who had been scheduled to be in that room for the last workshop, had a flight delay, and Damon graciously stepped in. Despite back pain, I made tracks the second the previous workshop, across the hall finished, because there was no way I was missing this one. No regrets. The room was packed to capacity, and well worth it. If you ever get a chance to hear Damon talk about anything writing related, grab it. We learned the difference between activity and action, and I love the idea of a defining verb for each lead character, preferably verbs in opposition to each other, because friction is what makes, ah, things, feel good.
In between our workshop and Damon’s , there was a lot of learning -from neurophysics to the art of the novella, to the ins and outs of writing with a partner…which I had to leave early (still salty about that, too) because it was pitch time. The newly-named Chasing Prints Charming had three pitch sessions, one from me, and two from co-author, Melva Michaelian. Swing and a miss from me (hint: when pitching your romance novel, do not choke and make the hero a footnote) but two hits from Melva; both of her pitches resulted in requests to see more.
While I did have the obligatory “what’s wrong with meeeeeeeeee?” whinge, the answer is: nothing. Though this pitch got a pass, the person to whom I’d pitched said they’d totally read it for pleasure (I have heard this before, on another pitch, but that’s another story, both literally and figuratively) and the no was based on that particular person placing that particular book. Discussion of how my pitch session went had to wait until after lunch, as the person who had passed on the pitch ended up sitting directly behing me for that meal. Not every work fits with every editor or agent, but two others nibbled, so Melva and I are still calling it good. Time to get the requested material in shape and send it on its way.
As for that lunch, Zoe York, our luncheon speaker, put the text of her speech on her website, so those who want to relive the magic, or those who weren’t able to attend, can get a small taste. Zoe talked about some of the cold, hard facts of the publishing business, and the importance of writing the books we want to read, and how this is not a business for the faint of heart. Like, you know, people who had their pitches turned down and then sat in front of the person who did the turning down. By now, I’m more amused by this particular turn, and, who knows, Melva and I might put it in a future book. As Chasing Prints Charming was born at a prior incarnation of this conference, we also began our pre-writing on Drama King, our next collaboration.
The big event, for me, besides our workshop, and Damon Suede’s workshop, was being in the same room with Joanna Bourne. Not only being in the same room, but hearing her keynote dinner speech, which would cap off the whole experience. Though there were still some breakout sessions after dinner, Melva and I had miles to go before we slept, so this was our grand finale. For those who haven’t had the pleasure, Joanna Bourne writes amazing historical romance, set in the French Revolution, with all the deep emotion and dark places of the heart, and all that other stuff I absolutely love to find in a historical romance. Did she talk about writing outside of the drawing room? Finding the emotional center? How she encapsulated the entire French Revolution, from both sides, with two people surveying a trashed greenhouse? Nope. Squashed hamster, a vet’s waiting room full of falcons (no worries, hamster was fine) and the difference between greatest adventure and “being well traveled in Concord.” For those, like me, who still wanted to hunt down some words on writing from one of the grand mistresses, there is this tidbit, found on her website’s blog.
After dinner, it was pictures and hugs and cheek kisses and promises to email, gathering tote bags and turning in neck wallets, and stepping back into the ordinary world. As much as conference hangover is a real thing, so is the inspiration that travels home with us and spurs us on as we sit back at our desks, open a notebook and boot the computer. This week, it’s back to work on Charming Prints Charming, back to work on Her Last First Kiss, back to whittling down my Goodreads challenge debt, and all the rest that comes with the time in between conferences. I had a great weekend with my tribe; now time to do the work once again.