It's Monday and frankly I am exhausted. That's not a great way to start the week but I am tired for a good reason. I spent from Thursday to Sunday at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference. I really love the conference. I find it overwhelming, exhilarating, exhausting and inspiring.
Musical Monday today is an old school choice. The conference has a great after party where we dance the night away and so for all those writing queens and goddesses I have chosen this classic.
So this week I'm off to the RWA in Sydney. I'm really looking forward to this year, probably more than any in the past simply because I feel like I have gotten to know people over the years and so I'm far less worried about being a Nigel-No-Friends this year.
That's of course a common fear for anyone attending a conference like this and has more to do with oneself than anyone else. Most people on the whole are very friendly and welcoming at these events. There is the odd frosty type, and of course you get that in any crowd. Sometimes those people make for the funniest stories but I'll never tell because "what happens at conference stays at conference as they say". Anyway, I just figure those people are shy and don't want to make friends so it's time to move on.
Anyway, to help out anyone new to the whole conference whirlwind here is an old Conference post on Pitching and the Conference.
And of course if you are attending please come and say hello if you recognise me.
Here are two of the hilarious and confusing things about meeting people at writers conference:
1. Authors don't look like their author pictures in real life. In fact they often look like the best version of themselves in author pictures (or even the best version of themselves ten years ago) and that person who introduces themselves in fancy dress at a cocktail party isn't going to be looking like that.
2. Lots of authors use pen names (especially romance authors). So the person you know as Melody Smith online might be called Melissa Smythe-Jones in real life. Confusing much?
So people look different, have different names and may be in fancy dress - it's not at all confusing now is it? Having said that after one leaps those hurdles (did I mention the Have Chick Lit Will Travel Box set is racing up Amazon in the Sports category) everyone is extremely friendly and welcoming.
And for Musical Monday because it's the Romance Writers Conference here is a song about kissing. I've loved this song since the day I heard it.
Today I'm going to provide you with some chat and then some links to places I've been mentioned in cyber space this week or places I think might interest you.
As you know I was at the Romance Writers of Australia conference on the weekend. One attends a conference like that for a variety of reasons including professional development, the opportunity to pitch to agents and publishers and as well as networking with other authors.
I did pitch on the weekend so I need to get busy preparing my submission while busily prepare to launch my next indie title.
It is a wonderful opportunity to meet people who want to talk about writing and books. (What could be better?) It's also a chance to put faces to the many writers you meet on twitter, Facebook and via blogs.
Now I'm home it's time to link up. I need to e-mail people, find their Facebook author pages and follow them on twitter, before I do what I did last year and misplace all those lovely business cards I've collected.
Speaking of linking up here are a few links where I've been mentioned around the web this week.
The lovely Cindy Roesel wrote this lovely piece about Mr Right and Other Mongrels on her blog today.
My friend Pamela Cook who I travelled to the RWA with did a great blog post yesterday about our travels.
And I understand my novel Hearts Afire has been nominated at Indie Author News for favourite indie book for September here. If you liked it and would like to vote for it this is the link.
Today it's a sunny Saturday in Sydney.
This time next week I'll be at the RWA Conference in Perth. I'm so looking forward to it. I'm helping with the newbies a couple of times so you may see me wandering about in a Pirate's hat. If you do, come and say hello.
One think people can do at Conference is pitch to a publisher or agent so I thought I'd bump this blog post from last year that explains the pitch process.
I think I'm about ready for conference...I have my fabulous new postcards. I almost have my outfits planned. I'm going with my writing buddy the wonderful Pamela Cook so it's going to be a whole lot of fun. it's Pam's first conference and my fifth I do believe.
I'm looking forward to catching up with some lovely authors I've met at previous conferences and also online.
There are lots of great workshops - let's see if I can finally master Scrivener. Fingers crossed.
Meanwhile I'm just plugging away on Building Attraction which will be out soon. Have a great Saturday (I have to take my daughter to netball and then we have her birthday party - what fun!)
One of the great things about going to a writing conference such as the Romance Writers of Australia Conference I attended on the weekend is that you get to go to some really wonderful workshops.
You have the opportunity to look at the craft of writing and how you structure your writing, your time and stories. A bit like choosing from a menu sometimes after you've chosen you reflect and wish you'd ordered the chicken and not the steak. At this conference for the first time ever I think, every workshop I went to was spot on for me and wheere I'm at right now. I did indeed order correctly! (If I could only apply the same strategy in choosing the right check-out at the supermarket my life would be almost perfect.)
So since Saturday when I went to my first workshop I've been thinking hard about books I've written and books that need editing and revisions and how I can apply all that I gleaned to my writing.
Somehow, despite there not being a workshop on this topic I decided one of my biggest issues is my Pollyanna complex. In real life I just honestly want everyone to be happy. It's not a platitude and it's not that I'm an especially optimistic person. In fact I think part of it is pure selfishness, other people's misery and sadness seeps into my life and makes me sad.
I hate conflict and avoid it at all costs. When tensions rise I try and smooth them over. If there are people in my life who upset me it's a rare thing that I will discuss it with them...it's just not my style. If you've met me, you probably know this about me already.
So what does that have to do with writing? Well when you write a story you need conflict. You need obstcales and secrets and drama and tragedy or it's not much of a story.
They all lived happily ever after is a pretty short novel...
Some people I know say characters who are too happy and too nice are unrealistic but in reality I know lots of happy, kind, well adjusted people who are funny and also have interesting stories to tell. In fact some of the least tortured people I know have the best stories because they embrace life and opportunity and take on challanges with enthusiasm. The truth is stranger than fiction, as they say.
Because I like my characters I find it painful to put them in painful situations. Some writers love this...I'm sure you could name many...but it goes against my nature, I suppose.
So now it's time to get over that in the name of writing. They say the first step is admitting you have a problem...I'll try to be less nice to my characters...
I'm sitting at the Gold Coast airport waiting for my delayed flight home after and exhilirating and exhausting weekend at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference.
My goodness it was full-on! Then again it always was.
The highlights were many and varied and frankly I'm a little bit too tired to remember them all clearly right now.
I think it was my favourite conference so far. There was a really wonderful energy in the place and people were so very friendly. I met loads of lovely new people (a low-light was there were people I've met online that I really wanted to have a proper chat with in person who I missed!) I also met a women I worked with twenty years ago and another girl who was a journalist reporting on the conference who recognised me from 25 years ago at University. It's not a bad thing to be told you look exactly the same now as then. (I know she was being kind but I'll take it).
There were some really wonderful sessions and maybe I'm getting better at picking and choosing because everything I went to was really useful for me where I am on my journey. I felt like I got lots and lots out of the sessions. I'll be sure to post more details of some of the sessions and useful resources once my brain recovers. (I couldn't sleep last night as I was re-working some plot problems in one of my manuscripts).
It was a wonderful experience all round. So..more to follow....Time to go home!
Gosh it's been a busy weekend here...Life is like that sometimes. Some weekends I seriously do nothing but this weekend wasn't like that.
Massive storms in Sydney on Friday knocked two trees down in our yard and in unrelated storm damage we had no internet Saturday.
We had social events both Friday and Saturday nights and today was my daughters 12th birthday so that brought it's own round of activity. That of course was lovely. I'm not sure how she can be 12. How is that even possible? It just is I guess. That's the way life goes isn't it?
Luckily the internet is back today! It's funny how used to reliable internet connection we are. Remember dial up? It wasn't that long ago!
On book and writing news I have a couple of lovely guest author's this week and the Mr Right and Other Mongrels paperback should be available.
I also really need to get myself organised for the RWA Conference on the Gold Coast.
Busy week ahead.
As a writer one of the hardest things to do, I think, is put yourself out there. Lots of writers are quite unassuming types who enjoy
spending time at their computer or keyboard creating imaginary world's full of wonder, torment and delight. Of course that's not an easy task but it is a far easier one than taking that finished work and sending it out into the universe.
Once a book is written it needs to be read by others initially this is simply for quality control. In your own writing you can't see the wood for the trees. You need objective eyes to tell you that you accidentally changed a minor characters name half way thought, that you used a certain word way too many times or that there is an enormous plot hole in your book. This process can happen more than once and usually happens several times before you are happy with a book.
Next up you need the work to be word perfect. Again despite your best efforts you really do need someone objective and with "fresh eyes" to read through your work for you. Of course publishing houses have editors that help with this but nobody wants to send in shoddy work, even established authors are laborious about these steps.
For an unpublished author the next step is sending your work out to an agent or a publisher. This is a very scary step or most people who hit "send" on the email or journey to the post office with their heart in their mouth. Then all one can do is wait.
Other ways people can try and get their work out is through entering writing competitions. This is a great way to get feedback on your work, of course not all feedback will be positive so you have to be ready to take the constructive criticism given and consider its merits. I have entered several competitions and been a judge on a couple. I found both experience really helpful for my writing.
If you do well enough many times you will be read by someone with influence. Competition judges in the final stages are often publishers or agents. This can be a great way to get your work in front of the right people.
What got me thinking about this today, however, was conference pitching. That is where you sit down one on one with an agent of publisher and pitch your book to them. This is a rare event and usually takes place at a conference. Today the Romance Writers of Australia has opened their pitch requests for their 2012 Conference. There are an impressive list of agents and publishers there from both Australia and overseas so it’s important to make the most of an opportunity like this. (They are a great organisation and you can learn more about them here http://www.romanceaustralia.com/index.html)
I have pitched at conferences twice now and while it is a scary process it is also very worthwhile.
I’ll write more about the process in the coming weeks and ask other writers to submit their tips and thoughts on the process.
Meanwhile this event - So You Think You Can write - is taking place at this week’s Sydney Writers' Festival for anyone interested in public pitching which is definitely putting yourself out there.
I am a writer of light-hearted contemporary women's fiction.