Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Eleni-fest: Hot August Nights - part two

The Saturday and Sunday of Hot August Nights, the Romance Writers of Australia conference was a whirl of keynote speakers, workshops, pitches, chatting over morning and afternoon teas, & lunches. Also there was some time to browse the book stall (run by Rosemary’s Romance Books).

Saturday morning started with a breakfast with the RWAus Paranormal group. We have been running off and on for a number of years now. But with the coming of this conference our numbers grew and that is wonderful to see. Unfortunately I didn’t get to chat to everyone. But such are these things.

Our official day started with the presentation of members who had First Sales during the past year – this included Bootcamper Nikki Logan! (Go Nikki, Go!) And then there was the launch of the Little Gems anthology – which includes a short story by my fantastic CP, Fiona Gregory. (Go Fi, Go!)

This was followed by a wonderful opening address by our Keynote Speaker, Mary Jo Putney. Goodness I could listen to her talk about writing for hours. And what was even lovelier was how her husband beamed at her and embraced her when she finished. A man obviously proud of his woman – a true romance.

The day was then split into a choice of workshops/chat sessions. Believe me it was so hard to choose.

On Saturday, I attended:

Bronwyn Parry and Bernadette Foley 
with publisher/author relationship
I really enjoyed the way this session was presented with basically Bernadette asking questions of Bronwyn and vice versa. Some points made:
  • Give yourself permission to play to find voice.
  • Needs to produce a book a year to make a living from writing in Australia.
  • In regards to cover, remember cover designers are limited to stock photos, hence why they don’t always look like characters. Eg 'Dark Country' – heroine a redhead, cover blonde but the blonde photo captured the essence of the character. (now darkened her hair with software).
  • Resistance by booksellers to romance books (Australian chain stores).

World building with Rowena Cory Daniells

  • Excellent notes – (ones that I will be going back to and rediscovering once Eleni-fest is over).
  • Workshop split with groups to come up with story using character sheets.
  • So character drives the story and plot.
  • Had fun!!! I found it amusing that the fantasy writers group I was with didn’t progress along with the story elements as fast as other groups (urban fantasy, paranormal romance, science fiction/futuristic). I guess that is why we write fantasy- everything is epic! *grin*

Crime Control from Counter Terrorism to Search & Rescue with Superintendent Shane Chelepy
I missed this session as one of my pitches was scheduled during this time. Though from all accounts, it was a fascinating session. (Oh btw, I did get a request for a partial from Annette Barlow from Allen & Unwin *grin*)

Blogs & Blogging panel

Panel consisted of M.J Scott (pre published), Keziah Hill (erotic romance author, own blog), Christine Wells (historical romance author, part of a group blog) and Paula Roe (moderator and Silhouette Desire author). Each person had their own reasons for blogging the way they did.

Some tips:
  •  Be clear about what you want to achieve from the blog.
  • Keep it regular posts – though your writing is most important, so work to your schedule.
  • Think before you vent.
  • Entering into a relationship with readers, so need to work out how will portray self and how much you will blog about yourself (ie most don’t write too personal details).
  • Group blogs handy when blogging takes up so much time.
  • Opportunity to promote but don’t let it be all about promoting.
  • Drawbacks - Have to manage time. Be available for comments (though pointed out that you don’t have to respond to every blog comment.).
  • Use of RSS readers to consolidate feeds into one spot helps manage time eg Bloglines or Google Reader.

Our luncheon speakers were Mary-Theresa Hussey (aka Matrice -photo on left taken from Harlequin site) who discussed what is happening over at Harlequin, and Melissa Jeglinski from The Knight Agency, who let us know what a day of the life of an agent is like. Both ladies are great speakers and their information was fascinating.

At the end of the day was AGM, and we Bootcampers showed up wearing our caps… that was a laugh. The President’s report (the lovely Kelly Hunter) really highlighted how much RWAus has grown. Thank goodness. Back in 2002, it looked like it was going to fold.

photo by Monique Wood

I will focus on the Awards dinner as part of Friday’s blog post. So stay tuned!

Breakfast was a quiet one with me and my CP, and it was great chatting in person. We have IM chats, always great with distance, but this was fantastic. So glad to have had time to do a one on one chat.

Sunday Sessions I attended were:

Spotlight on The Knight Agency with Melissa Jeglinski
A really interesting and informative session. I actually sent my notes to Pam Collings for the Market watch column and it’s in the October Hearts Talk. But
here are just a few points:
  • Follow submission guidelines – electronic only.
  • Remember sometimes it comes down to “the right book at the right time.”
  • Agent works for you but be kind.

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Media? with Allison Rushby
I missed this session as one of my second pitches was scheduled during this time. It’s unfortunate but that’s part of the pitching process. (Oh btw, I did get a request for a partial from Mary-Theresa Hussey from Harlequin *grin *)

Trish Morey's Great Beginnings, Big Bang Endings 
& High Stakes in Between

Trish is a fellow SARA member and she had a chuckle when she found out when I was coming to her session – but the thing is I haven't seen her workshop in action even at the Roadshow in Adelaide.  While the information were things I'd heard before, Trish has a way of making you think ‘aha’ yep, gotta remember that or 'now I see'. It’s always good to revisit some craft topics and information, such as:
  • Start in the right place.
  •  Any questions raised for the reader need to be built on and delivered.
  • In category must get Hero & Heroine together on page as soon as possible.
  • Big Bang Ending is a natural result of your story and will spring out of your conflict. 
  • Conflict sustains the middle of the story – external conflict brings together, internal forces them apart.
  • Characters & conflicts arise from premise - avoid the bicker-bonk conflict.

Paranormal chat

Authors chatting were Keri Arthur, Rowena Cory Daniells, Emily Gee, and Denise Rossetti. It was a Q&A type session and it was absorbing, & totally engaging (I couldn't stop yakking and asking questions *grin*). Some notes taken:
  • Publishers place labels on genres.
  • Space Opera – becoming more popular.
  • Urban Fantasies – see more of the continuing series.
  •  Steampunk – fun with Victorian era.
  •  Always good to check out what happening outside of the paranormal romance world to the ‘straight’ speculative fiction community – including Supanova, Conflux, Continuum, WorldCon – Aurealis Awards
  • Vampires need a new twist - harder to sell.

The Pink luncheon on Sunday was for  Breast Cancer Fundraiser organised by the lovely Carol Marinelli. I bid on a number of items - and was lucky enough to win the Barbara Hannay pack in the silent action - go me!! And the delightful Barbara signed the books for me! We SARA gals got together a donation which ended up being the 2nd prize (we were stoked! And congrats to Christine who won the prize). First prize was a wonderful Dell Pink baby laptop donated by Trish Morey, Carol Marinelli and Yvonne Lindsay. Go ladies. (Congrats to Leah who won the prize).

But the best part was that Harlequin Australia matched each dollar raised - so the $5K ended up being $10K for Breast Cancer Research. That is absolutely positively awesome!!

And that concludes the official conference programming but in no way concludes the conference experience as I spent the next couple of days meeting with writers, brainstorming and having chats. Fantastic conference!! Thanks RWAus and everyone who made it possible.

Bootcamp writing lunch (from L - Tracey, Roseanne, Alison, Nikki, Me)

See I told you in my flyer there would be yakking involved. *grin*

Reminder: for your chance to win the Writer’s Pack with extras (as seen in yesterday’s post) make a comment on the below topic to any of the posts on Monday, Tuesday (this post) 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?

Other Eleni-fest activities
Here are two more stock images used for my website banner (That makes 6 so far).


Remember comments are still open over at the Bootcampers 101 blog until the end of the 7th.

Tomorrow, Anna Campbell will be here to chat to us about RWAus conferences. See you then!

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