the event was jam packed with fun social events and wonderfully educational sessions. Listing everything I loved about the event could take a while, so I’ve condensed it down to a list of my Top 5.
Now, feel free to call me shallow, but I dare anyone not to love the amazing book bags from Penguin and Harlequin. Penguin held a party on the Thursday evening to celebrate the 1st birthday of Destiny Romance, and along with lovely drinks, food and a hot pirate handing out long stemmed roses (sigh) all guests were given a cute Penguin bag filled with books.
At registration I discovered that all delegates received a lovely ‘Riding the Waves’ bag filled with fabulous Harlequin books, Baci chocolates, a pen and a ‘Riding the Waves’ coffee keep cup (the perfect gift combo for
writers!) Then after the closing speeches, there were more free books up for grabs. We got spoilt. And I do believe many of us had to pay for extra baggage allowance on our flights home!
After a day of working diligently in Kim Hudson’s ‘Venus on the Half Shell’ workshop, it was time to let our hair down! The effort that people went to with their costumes was amazing. Pirates, wenches, mermaids, sea witches, a seal and even a tropical island with palm tree filled the Harlequin event on the Friday evening. The whole night was a great success with plenty of drinks, finger food and a chance to catch up with friends, or if you were a newbie like me, finally meet the people you’d been talking to on Facebook for some time!
3. Socialising & Networking
Who knew that the range of people who read and romance was so vast? Not me. There were so many different personalities among the delegates, and as someone who is usually quite shy around new people, it was great to feel so welcomed. The Esplanade Hotel where the conference was held is huge, yet everywhere I looked I saw small groups of conference attendees chatting in between sessions. Others nipped out for coffee at a local cafe or restaurant. If sleep hadn’t been necessary, I think most of us would have happily stayed up the whole weekend, just to fit in more social time.
Whether it was just a quick chat with a stranger, making a new friend or building up existing friendships, there was no shortage of socialising to be had. I met some absolutely terrific people at the conference and have built
supportive friendships that will carry on into the future.
2. RWA Gala Awards Evening
What a night! The room, which during the day held enthusiastic and studious romance writers listening intently to guest presenters, had been transformed into a gorgeous heaven on earth for those with a sweet tooth. Tables
contained a delicious variety of desserts as well as bubbly for those inclined to have a drink or two... or three.
To begin, the ‘First Sale’ ribbons were presented, and I was amazed at the large number of talented writers who had achieved this particular milestone. Talk about motivating! The award presentations were exciting, and as I’ve come to expect from the romance community, the feeling of joy and genuine pleasure at the success of others was obvious.
I may be wrong, but I believe the noise level may have been slightly higher over on the right hand side of the stage where MRWG members cheered on loudly for a number of our members who were nominated, or had already been announced as winners of awards. We were proud of them all.
After the awards, the music began and we danced the night away... including a kick-arse display of ‘The Nutbush’ from our very own Emmie Dark and Ebony McKenna. Oh, and who could forget the chocolate fountain, to keep up the energy levels through all that physical exertion?
As fun as it was drinking, eating, catching up with old friends and making new ones... the best part of the conference for me, was all of the knowledge I gained from the workshops. I wish I could have attended all of them. Here is a quick rundown of my favourites:
Save the Cat presented by Nina Bruhns
I’ve heard people rave about this book by Blake Snyder and after attending this session, I can see why. As a pantser, it was great getting a glimpse at how I could strengthen the premise of my story, how it fit into the major themes of storytelling, and how I could plot my story effectively. I purchased the book after this session and have been using it to plan my latest story. I love it!
There was also a particular point that Nina made which really resonated with me:
The worst possible hero for the worst possible heroine in the worst possible situation equals the best conflict.
More information on ‘Save the Cat’ can be found here: http://www.blakesnyder.com/
Scrivener presented by Alison Stuart and Sasha Cottman
These two authors are passionate about this program! After a quick rundown, I could see why. The potential of what this program can do for you is enormous. Some of the features include:
Allowing you to move your scenes around on a virtual corkboard (for those who love this visual method)
Saving all of your research including webpages in your Scrivener file for easy access,
Setting word counts and goals for your entire project, or just for a particular writing session
Adding labels to scenes and chapters to help keep track of things like point of view changes etc
Using short scene descriptions to help compile a synopsis of your story and my favourite thing of all – you can’t accidentally delete your work!
More information on Scrivener can be located here: https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php
Getting Your First Chapter Off The Gound presented by Annie West
This very practical and interactive workshop was informative and a lot of fun. Rather than just telling us how to approach the beginning of a story, Annie had created a number of fun exercises for us so that we could learn from practical experience. The main points I took away from this session included:
You MUST hook your readers from the beginning. Make them want to keep turning the pages.
Start your story in the right place. Too much back-story can slow the pace and may cause a reader to put your book down.
Sexual Tension: The Undertow of Romance presented by Rachel Bailey
I have a feeling that the RWA may have underestimated the popularity of this particular workshop with many people forced to stand at the back of the room, or sit on the floor. It was packed... and as I soon learned, for good reason. Rachel Bailey knows her stuff!
Despite a few technical difficulties (and a rather embarrassed male AV tech, who had to sit through sexy video clips from Dirty Dancing, The Vampire Diaries and some tension filled Jane Austen scenes with requisite giggles and sighs from the audience) the session was fantastic.
There were many great points made about bringing sexual tension to life for characters including the need to evoke the character’s feelings as well as include their visceral reactions. I read one of Rachel’s books on the plane home and was astounded by how well she created that tension. She’s a master.
If you’re an RWA member and haven’t read Rachel’s craft article on Sexual Tension, I recommend logging onto the RWA website to find it. Immediately. It is located in the October 2010 edition of ‘Hearts Talk’ newsletter.
In summary, I had the time of my life at the conference and have already started planning my trip for 2014 – ‘Romance Rocks’ to be held at Olympic Park, Homebush, Sydney. I hope to see many of you there!