Romancing the Writing Conference
Today’s Brew: Blue Moon Agave Nector Ale.
This is a great time to be a writer.
Yes, you read that right. In the face of the gloom and doom of the demise of the big box book retailers, the self publishing revolution debate, and the frigging recession that just never wants to quit, that was my biggest takeaway from this weekend’s New England Chapter Romance Writers of America conference.
You are only limited by your imagination and the effort you are willing to put into your writing.
We all need to embrace the changes that are happening to the publishing industry. If we don’t, we will be left behind. The small press and self publishing revolution are giving control back to the readers. They are saying loud and clear what they want to read. We need to be ready to deliver. And that doesn’t mean quantity. You won’t get a second chance if you put out crap. No matter what happens, you need to write the best story you possibly can. That is the one thing that will never change.
So what are the things that readers are asking for? Romance. Erotica. LGBT. Male/male romances. When I first started researching publishing, last year, short stories and novellas were dead. Unsellable. Now they are hot, hot, hot. So write what you are passionate about. Don’t worry about trends. They change just that fast.
My brain was so full of information by the end of the conference, it hurt. The roster of great workshops and speakers never seemed to end! Even though conference veterans suggested we take breaks, how could I miss any of this great information??
Julia Quinn spoke to us about writing great dialogue. It never ceases to amaze me even though we all talk (some of us more than others), so many people struggle writing realistic dialogue. Have someone else read your dialogue out loud. Add personality with dialogue. Next was Penny Watson, who talked about workin’ your bad self on social media and turning lemons into lemon martinis. The original cover for Lumberjacks In Love wound up on Lousy Bookcovers. Instead of getting mad about it, she celebrated it. And got a new cover. Instead of becoming a joke, she turned her love of cheesiness into new fans for her writing.
After telling folks the story, everyone wanted to buy the “lousy” book cover edition of LUMBERJACK IN LOVE at book fair.
After dinner, Marie Force, who is truly a force to be reckoned with, told us how after she got seven books rejected by traditional publishing, she self published her books and earned seven figures last year. SEVEN. That’s a million dollars, kids. I am navigating my way through the traditional route, but I did not make a million dollars last year. Or in my lifetime. I want what she’s having.
ATTENTION! If you never listen to another word I say, listen to this: If there is a conference kind of near your house and you think you can save money on the hotel and go home in between days….no you can’t. You will be so much more exhausted than usual because your brain simply isn’t used to all that new,exciting information. Get a room.
The next morning was also chock full of panels. I actually started my Saturday (as well as finished my Friday night) with some impromptu pitches to editors. Aaah! Nothing like flying by the seat of your pants to get the blood pumpin’. Both editors dug my idea, and my manuscript is in their hands. Pray, kids, pray.
Something else heard during pitches…you can never be too young, too thin, or publish too many vampires. Looks like the vampire publishing moratorium has been lifted!!
I started my workshops in the historical research talk. Even if you don’t write historicals, you probably need to do research for your book. Sometimes you have to think outside the box of how things will apply to your work. The big takeaway was to contact experts as well as doing your own research. They can cram years worth of their passion into a coffee date! Also, think of pop culture references: cookbooks, fashion magazines, comics, you name it.
Then I headed to the paranormal chat with Kate Cross. Kate is so fabulous looking I almost fist pumped when I saw she was the presenter. We discussed alpha males, and how to mate humans and alpha creatures. Kate gave me an ARC of her Steampunk Romance, Breath of Iron to review. My very first ARC! It is the third book in the Clockwork Agent series and will be out in August. Keep an eye here in July for the review!
Last up before lunch was Tiffany Reisz’s Erotica 101. Of course, I wasn’t going to miss that. I probably learned the most in this workshop. The biggest marker of a romantic romance, besides the sex being an integral to the plot, is that it doesn’t have to have a happily ever after. Romance needs to have a happy ending. This is also the panel we spoke about fisting and cock. Professionally, of course.
After lunch I checked out Lori Perkins’ Writing Smut for Fun and Profit. Lori’s advice: take your ideas and run with them! A small idea can pay off big. Short stories and novellas are back. And if you play your cards right, in a few years, if you write good books you can make more money than you were making at that god foresaken day job.
NECRWA was my second conference and I’m so glad I attended. I could measure the growth I’ve had since Backspace in November. I met some great authors, who I’m sure we will highlight on the blog in coming weeks, and made some great friends. If you have a chance to go to a writer’s meeting or conference, GO. Get out from behind that computer, meet people, get inspired, and learn something.