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.
I’ve recently returned from the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in Perth. Even though I’m Australian Perth still is a long-haul. (Did you know it was the most isolated city in the world? Probably not.)
And do you know what is more isolating than being in Perth?
The answer is -being a chick lit author at a romance conference where ‘everyone’ says chick lit is dead, especially when you don’t believe it is.
Especially when you must answer the women at the conference, not the publishers or the powers that be, but other authors when they ask you what you write.
“I write chick lit but that you can’t call it chick lit that you have to call it women’s fiction,” said I.
And they said “Why?”
And I said. “Apparently no one reads it anymore. I was told that last year and the year before too.”
And to a one they say “But I love chick lit.”
It’s a conundrum to be in a room where you’re being told what you write is out of fashion and yet you’re surrounded by people who say they like it. It’s harder still when you love it yourself.
Chick lit was like the French onion dip of the conference. It’s not very trendy, you won’t see it on a menu anywhere because it’s been pushed aside by hummus and guacamole and even beetroot dip but still there’s barely a woman who when left alone with some French onions dip and crackers won’t take a bite. Not only that she’ll have another dip. She may even find herself embarrassed by the fact that she ate the whole bowl and loved it.
She may even find herself grabbing a small tub at the supermarket next time she’s there because she forgot how much she really enjoyed it and how much she had missed it.
Now she may not serve it up on Saturday night (or in the case of the book, recommend her whole book club reads it) but she will enjoy it.
I think that’s chick lit right now. It’s not widely available or celebrated but people do like it. It’s not trendy but people still read it.
You know why that is? To my mind at least, it is because chick lit books are about women trying to find themselves in this crazy world with the help (or hindrance) of friends their friends, family, co-workers and lovers.
That’s also the story of every woman who was at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference. They were an amazing, wonderful, vibrant group of women who were busy making new friends, building careers while trying to balance family and work. They were trying to find their way, where they fit in and how they could move forward on their journey.
I didn’t hear anyone talking about their own boyfriends or lovers or needing men to complete them. They were talking about their jobs, balancing that with their families and trying to become their full and happy selves (or happier because there were some gloriously happy people in that room).
That’s why I believe chick lit (and French onion dip) can both survive because we enjoy them and they are a part of our own stories, even if we may not always admit it.
(If you would like to come over for a Jatz cracker, some French onion dip and to boorow a book, do let me know!)
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!)
It's Friday afternoon here and absolutely pouring with rain. I mean bucketting down.
I had an author Q&A planned for today but I did something dumb and popped the file somewhere safe on my computer so I woudn't lose it and then...lost it.
So you get a little ramble from me.
My writing efforts this week have been a bit dismal. A long weekend and my daughter starting high school (Yr 7 for you American readers) just threw me off kilter. I did also have some of my day job to catch up on.
If it rains all weekend I might easily make up all that lost time.
The program for the Riding the Waves, the Australian RWA Conference came out today. It's in Perth. Flying from Sydney to Perth is alot like flying from NEw York to L.A. It takes about as long. I've never really been to Perth. Well, I did go for a work induction once but all I saw was the inside of an office building.
I was planning to skip RWA this year and go to L.A on a research trip for the sequel to Mr Right and Other Mongrels but somehow after lunch with author Pamela Cook on Wednesday to discuss our writing year I came home having agreed to attend. That means I will now simply have to do both trips.
I guess I better get working on my day job with greater ferocity (might need to get some extra clients) and get some more books out into the universe as well!
Have a lovely weekend. It's good reading weather where I am, I'll say that for the weather.
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!
Do you have certain months of the year that you know will just be plain old busy, busy, busy?
We all know December is manic but for me the other really busy month of the year is August. July ends and August lands with a great big thud. It should probably arrive with a loud-speaker announcement to 'get moving'.
It's a birthday month here...my daughter, myself and heck, even the dog celebrate birthdays. (It's not as bad as when my daughter was little and we were in a mothers' group with seven or eight kids all with birthdays within days of each other. That was a lot of parties...although I must say I do miss those days. I guess that's a different post on nostalgia).
Plus it seems to be a month where there are kid-related extras I didn't forsee - a band concert, a dance performance, school athletics carnival, school fundraiser (which I am happy to say I'm not working at or running for the first time in 7 years!!!), inter-school debates andthe list goes on. (Not to reference the un-written nostalgia post again but time is moving so fast it's a shame to miss these events which will be a dim memory soon.)
I also try to go away to the Romance Writers of Australia conference so that's another spanner in the works. There's the logistics of being away (my lovely husband does not have a simple 9-5 job with any rhythm to it so I'm always juggling child-minding as I race to the airport) as well as planthe what to pack, what to wear and of course the pitch preparation.
This year as well i'm working on finalising that paperback version of Mr Right and Other Mongrels and the final edits of Hearts Afire. That flu last week just sucked my brain dry and depleted my creative energy....I had planned to release Hearts Afire in August but I'm now pushing it back to September. I'd rather wait and have it right than race it out and have it below par. When you put your name on the front of something you have to be happy with it.
I am a freak for a deadline...even if it's just one I created myself but sometimes you have to see reason.
Now I had better go do my day-job so I'm not behind in that as well.
I was just over on Facebook where a friend was talking about pitching for the up-coming Romance Writers of Australia Conference.
The first time I pitched I had no idea what to expect. I felt sick. I was anxious. I was out of my depth.
Why do people pitch? The reason is simple. There are very few ways to sit down with an agent or a publisher and tell them about your book. Many publishers won't read manuscripts that aren't submitted to them by an agent and many agents have closed books. This is a golden opportunity for a writer.
Pitching, for the uninitiated, is like doing a very quick job interview. Well, I think conference pitching is a cross betweeen speed-dating and a job interview actually.
A conference pitch session is usually 5 minutes which is a lot shorter than any decent job interview. I think if your job interview only lasts five minutes it is safe to say you didn't get the job. I believe speed dating is usually less time at the table closer to 2-3 minutes. (I am happy to report I've never been speed dating which is lucky because I would have stunk at it. I'm flirting impaired. It's a fact.)
Like speed-dating lots of conference pitches take place in a group environment where several agents and publishers are in the same room but each at their own little table. When your time comes the door opens and you go and sit opposite the person you have been allocated and then at the end the bell rings and you say your good-byes. Just like speed-dating!
The job interview objective is get the job or get a second interview. In speed-dating you want the person you like to choose you and ask you on a date.
At a pitch you have an objective as well. You want them to ask to see your manuscript. Some agents/authors ask for a partial (manuscript) some ask for a full. You want to be asked for a full. If you're asked for partial that's great but it's more like you've been asked out for coffee than dinner and you want dinner! Either way though you dance out of there happy and full of hope (See why it's like dating?)
On a side-not I have also done group pitching. I would equate that to being asked on the group date on The Bachelor. It's pre-set and some publishers/agents only do group pitches. For the pitchee it's actually more nerve-wracking because on top of the usual fear and jitters you have to worry about the other people at the table. You're not really competing against each other but it can feel that way and you certainly feed off the energy of the others. It's awkward and afterwards if one person is asked for a partial and another for nothing, well, there's less dancing your way out of the room.
Just like in a job interview you want the interviewee to like what you have to offer. You want to appear competent and knowledgeable. You hope the time you've spent developing your skills will shine through and you will be selected. You understand it's a pragmatic business like interaction. They may not choose you and it may have nothing at all to do with you or your ability. (They're looking for rural women's fiction and you are pitching romantic suspense for example. They're list is full in your area. They just published someone similar to you.)
However, I think it crosses over into the dating realm again because so much of your heart and soul goes into a book. You love your novel. You want it to be loved. You want the person across from the table to "get you" and want to know more about this great love. You want it to be a shared passion and so the rejection feels personal and so does any success.
That's what pitching looks like and feels like. Each time you do it I think it gets less scary. I would say I'm still not great at it and my nerves are evident each time but I keep going back and people keep reading my work which of course is the objective.
I'll do another post with practical tips on another day.
So it's a very sunny Sunday morning in Sydney. I am being a sloth. Well, not really, I'm doing stuff here on the computer but I feel like I should be walking in the sunshine, or you know, if I was someone else entirely I should probably be going for a run.
Anyway here is a link to a wonderful review I got on Friday on smittenwithreading for
Mr Right and Other Mongrels.
I now have 19 reviews on Amazon if you're interested in what other people think of the book.
I need to get the edit finished on Hearts Afire so I can hand it to some readers this week so I have time to make the changes that need to be made before my chosen publishing date in late August. Having said that if it's not ready i'll just wait and put it up in September. Quality is important.
This week the lovely Lisa Kelly is going to get started on design ideas for the cover. That's so fun! I loved all the designs she came up with for Mr Right so much so that it made it REALLY hard to choose one.
In other writing-related matters I really must think about what I am wearing to the Romance Writers of Australia conference. It's only a month away now.
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.
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