Monday, 5 October 2009

Eleni-fest: Hot August Nights - part one

Romance Writers of Australia’s national conference – Hot August Nights - was held in Brisbane in August this year.

I really wanted to go. I hadn’t been to a conference in 6 years. It was time. I have my monthly meetings in Adelaide with SARA group and had a Roadshow last year but this year I really wanted to meet my online buddies, talk to authors, publishers and agents, to experience the thrill of seeing the finalists and winners at the awards dinner, to experience pitching (yes nervous, but exhilarating too).

And the conference didn’t disappoint. What I loved was the hub of people who all love the same thing – writing (romance or stories with romantic elements), who understood what you were talking about, and who don’t think you are crazy because you hear voices in your head! At this point, other people would be slowly backing away....

It was a whirlwind from the moment I got to the Adelaide Airport on the Thursday (meeting up with fellow SARA members), flying and waiting at Brisbane airport to meet in person a few of my Bootcamper buddies who were arriving not long after - Nikki Logan, Alison Leake & Melissa James. It was so wonderful to be able to talk to my virtual friends and not only know what they look like but what they sound like. 

And I gave them some memories they can hold onto – my lack of being able to run for the Air Train, my crashing the trolley, my getting stuck outside the train…oh yes ladies and gentlemen, I am what you call a walking disaster zone. But it was a laugh and it’s a great memory to have.

After a mad dash to the hotel and then after some comedy of errors (I had a shower door incident – this one wasn’t my fault - honest), I made it to the book launch of Heart & Craft, though Greek style I arrived late. Valerie Parv was at the podium talking about the book and how it came about. I loved the idea of having romance writers talk about their experiences with the craft of writing romance since I heard about it from SARA member Elizabeth Rolls (contributor to this book). And I was in awe of how calm everyone looked and how they conducted themselves. True professionalism folks. It really was fantastic.

I thanked my foresight for reserving my copies because they were flying out the door and had the books signed (remember for your chance to win a copy, go to my website for details – shameless plug).

At the book signing I met up with a group of 109 Bootcampers including fellow web team mates Monique Wood and Anita Joy. To say I was still whirling from getting to the book launch is an understatement. We managed to get a cab to go the e-list dinner, organised by our wonderful e-list mum, Tina M Clark. And there  for the first time I met Bootcampers Annie Newton and my fab CP, Fiona Gregory! (Fi is going to be a guest on Thursday the 8th).

It was wonderful to talk to Bootcampers and other e-listers and enjoy a lovely meal. And there were bubbles – yay, bring out the kid in me – thanks to Tina. We had a nice walk back to the hotel yakking away. Brisbane is hilly and luckily it was downhill. I remember passing a fire station but could not see any firemen around. The group behind us did actually meet the firemen. There's a photo on Monique's blog to prove it. 

As you can see it had been a long day and we hadn’t gotten to the ‘official’ stuff yet.

On Friday morning, I met up with Team Hearts Talk members for breakfast. Again it was great putting faces and names to the people behind the emails. I want to thank our fearless and incredible leader (& Bootcamp buddy) Rachel Bailey for presenting us with our ‘RWAus volunteer’ badges. It was lovely. 

And then there were the conference co-registrars, Louise Ousby and Lisa Barry. These ladies were fantastic and had been wonderful to deal with correspondence before the conference. In fact every, volunteer and helper were just great. Thank you to the conference committee team!!

Friday was the day-long optional workshop called The Noble Art of Storytelling with the wonderful duo – Anne Gracie and Mary Jo Putney.  There were so many fantastic nuggets of useful information. We studied the movie ‘While You Were Sleeping’, worked on our own stories, and listened to the wisdom of these two wonderful authors. And in between there was morning and afternoon teas and lunch. Oh people preparing our meals – yay!

Nuggets of info from workshop:

  • Heroism is sacrifice not just survival.
  • Play the opposites in a character – the light and dark traits.
  •  Every word, every paragraph moves the story forward.
  • Conflict arises out of character’s choices and dilemmas and fears and actions.
  • Place character in a crisis or situation that will test their principles or forces a choice that goes against their self interest.
  • Find your hero’s vulnerabilities and then stomp on it via plot.
  • Can use archetypes and mix it up e.g. the Warrior Poet, Warrior Priestess.
  • Heroine has to connect with reader – have empathy and respect her (we have the inner Mother-in-Law that wants a heroine worthy of hero).
  • Show heroine with a small piece of everyday courage – because readers can engage or disengage from the start.
  •  And much more...
It was also great meeting up with Bootcampers Tracey Turner, Jacqueline Wilson & Moya Pennell.

On Friday night, there was the Arabian Nights themed cocktail party sponsored by Harlequin Australia. How thrilling to mingle and talk to people, though I don’t think I made it past the middle of the room until right at the end. My favourite costume was Paula -ala Hussein- Roe, but really there where some wonderful looking costumes and everyone looked fantastic. 

It was a buzz even though I must admit I wasn’t sure how I would go – cocktail parties are usually in smaller rooms (as this one was) and I can get a little claustrophobic. But concentrating on one conversation at a time, one person at a time, and feeling the buzz of chatting, really helped me have a wonderful evening. And meeting Roseanne Smiles was a scream.



These are a few of my photos from the cocktail party. I have started to put some on my site but am not as organised as I would like to be, though I have been organised for SARA and Bootcampers 101.

So that was the first couple of days of my RWAus conference experience! And that was the optional part.

Tired yet? I know I was but I was also hyped up to be there so sleep was abit of a problem. As well as having nerves about pitching, though as soon as I thought of it as a job chat, I felt a little better .

Come back tomorrow for more of my experience at the conference.

I am also giving away a Writer’s Pack with some extras. For your chance to win, make a comment re the topic below on any of the posts from  today, tomorrow or Friday. You have until the end of 11th October to enter.

Topic comments for Writer's Pack now CLOSED. 
Congratulations to commenter Toula.


What was the best part of the conference for you? This includes the Clayton’s conference.

If you didn’t go this year’s conference, comment about a time you did go (again can include the Clayton’s Conference).

If you haven’t been to a conference (either in person or online, what keeps you away)?

If you are not a writer, what do you think the best thing about being a writer would be?

Update on Eleni-fest
I've added a few hints on the H&C competition question form. Here are a two of images I used in my banner...will post more during the month. You can check stock photos on this page but one is missing.


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