I cried the whole time I wrote this scene.
This is 60 minutes long, but absolutely fascinating. I hope you enjoy!
At the recent RWA national conference, I joined my fellow historical writers Grace Burrowes, Katharine Ashe, Kieran Kramer and Tessa Dare on a panel called The Do Over. In this conference workshop, we spoke about lessons learned. I thought I would share my part of the workshop here with all of you.
When I began speaking, I gave advice to unpublished writers. The truth is it’s hard to keep your behind in the chair if you don’t have some sort of accountability. I suggested that they might commit to writing at least 100 words a day for 100 days. It may not be the best 100 words you’ll ever write, and you most certainly have to write far more than that once you’re published and on deadline. So what is the point of 100 words a day for 100 days? Habit. That’s right, you develop the habit of writing every day using this simple tool. I did this while writing my first book HOW TO MARRY A DUKE–and I sold it. Now on to the rest of my speech. ~
First, forget the regrets. What you need in this business is:
- A healthy sense of humor
- Fabulous writer friends who understand in a way non-writers can’t
- A damn good agent
In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “You must do the things you think you cannot do.”
- Promote your first book while packing for a move.
- Write a book in six weeks.
- Do 50 blog hop stops while on deadline. (Don’t ask.)
- Finish a book at 4:30 AM & on the same day travel to a literacy event in another city.
- Agree to teach a virtual class and somehow manage to check the ‘homework’ you assigned for all 600+ attendees.
Yes, all of the above really happened.
- Laughter helps, but sometimes a hug is needed. Be there for your friends when the writing life gets tough. They will reciprocate.
- The best advice I can give you is:
- Kick fear to the curb. It is a writer’s greatest enemy.
- Focus only on what you can control.
- If something isn’t working, find a solution. If there isn’t one, move on.
- Be kind to others and share.
- Celebrate your friend’s good news, and she will do the same for you.
- Ring your bell. Sung to Anita Ward’s famous disco song – “You can ring my beeeell-ring my bell.” In other words, you need to promote, and when you do, make sure your editor, agent, and publicist know about it. In marketing, perception is reality.
Finally, for your entertainment I present the Worst Review on the Planet. I happen to be the lucky recipient. I’ll paraphrase the rant since the ‘reviewer’ cursed in almost every sentence: “Woman, you need to stop writing, and stop writing now.” For the record, Goodreads declined to remove it because they didn’t want to censure the reviewer.
Yep, a good sense of humor definitely helps.
This isn’t what I pictured at all!
More Regency Dancing!
It’s summer and the 33rd annual RWA conference will be held this year in Atlanta from July 17-20. Whether this is your first or tenth conference, you know you’ve got to plan ahead of time. By now, you should be registered and have booked a room. I checked on the http://rwa.org website and there are nearby overflow hotels if you are still considering whether or not to attend. Sharing a room with 1 or 2 friends can definitely help with the room expense. If you’re just now deciding to go, you might check the RWA website to see if there are others who need a roommate. Be aware that the room likely will not be available until 3 PM, but the hotel can store your luggage.
You also need to make flight reservations or plan your driving route. If driving, you will need to plan for the expense of parking at the hotel. Call the Marriott Marquis for more information about parking.
Packing is next on the agenda. Even though I’ve attended many RWA conferences, I still find the prospect of packing daunting. Before you put last year’s cocktail dress in the bag, try it on. You don’t want to discover that your only cocktail dress is either too tight or too big. You might bring an extra little black dress in the event you get an unexpected invitation. P.S. No one will know whether you bought it at J.C. Penney or Nordstrom.
So what are the absolute essentials?
- Comfortable shoes for the workshops as your feet will swell from all the walking.
- Dressy sandals or pumps for the awards ceremony and parties.
- Four business casual outfits plus one extra in case you spill something on your clothes. One year, my agent cut into a chicken that squirted grease on her dress!
- A shrug or light sweater. It’s hot in the south, but the air conditioning in the workshop rooms and restaurants is freezing. Brrr!
- Nightgown & slippers
- Cosmetics, toiletries, bandaids (in case you get a blister), OTC drugs, pack prescription drugs in your overhead bag if flying.
- Your laptop or iPAD if you plan to write.
- Don’t forget the charger for your phone!
- Pen(s) and a mini spiral notebook to make notes at workshops.
Plan which workshops you’ll attend now. They’re listed on the RWA site. Input them in your phone now, and then once you get the schedule at the conference, all you have to add is the workshop room name!
There are luncheons on Thursday and Friday with speakers, so those two meals are covered.
There is a Starbucks, but go early as the lines will likely be long. There is also a small M-store with sandwiches, etc. Here’s a link: http://www.rediscovermarquis.com/
Here is a list to nearby restaurants: http://bit.ly/19S3Txn. Ask the concierge for recommendations/reservations.
Appointments: If you’re pitching a book, you’re likely to be nervous. Most of the time, the agent or editor will request the material, but in the event,she doesn’t I want you to think of it as *just not a good fit* for the two of you. I know folks who felt that they wasted money at a conference because they didn’t get a request or because the response was lukewarm. Remember that agents and editors have personal preferences just like we do. Agent A may not be for you, but Agent B might love it. If you need tips on pitching a manuscript, go to the RWR archives, October 2012 and read my article THE PITCH BEGINS WITH PREMISE. Several writers told me they used my process and got requests!
Most of all, make new friends and have fun! Remember we all have the same thing in common. We love romance novels!
What are your tips for the RWA Conference?