RWA 2013 wrapped up on Saturday, July 20, with attendees looking increasingly bleary-eyed as we stumbled from workshop to workshop. In the morning I had a chance to visit with a number of friends, and even met someone from New Zealand who had read my Golden Heart entry–that was a thrill!
I went to a workshop on Key Writing Skills, giving by agent Jill Marsal and Starcatcher (and now multi-published author) Robin Perini. This was an excellent hour; I have a whole page of notes. Four main areas: Develop Great Characters (characterization means observable traits, while character is true nature revealed under pressure; goal and motivation always important); Create a Compelling Story (braiding plot and character, internal versus external conflicts); Focus on Story and Pacing (show character changes in every scene, while turning points change the story’s direction); and Revise and Polish (watch out for backstory, telling rather than showing, overwriting, etc.).
The rehearsal for the awards ceremony, a precaution against someone falling off the stage, accompanied by a plea not to drink beforehand, only took about half an hour. Then I caught a sandwich with fellow Firebird and Lucky 13 Oberon Wonch and her roomie.
I went to two more workshops on Saturday afternoon, “Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts,” by Margie Lawson (I’ve been to Margie’s workshops in the past, but she’s always interesting), and a really terrific presentation of Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! methodology by Jessica Brody. I’m reading Snyder’s book now, and I’m going to see if that helps me plot the new novel I haven’t been making much progress on.
The last event of the conference, on Saturday evening, was the Awards ceremony for the Golden Heart and RITA winners. Cheryl Bolen, my long-time friend and conference roomie, and I went downstairs about 7 PM and had a glass of champagne (in spite of that warning) while we waited for the VIP door to open. We made out way to our table near the front and found it full of West Houston RWA folks: Lark Howard and I as Golden Heart finalists (both in the paranormal category), Sophie Jordan as a RITA finalist (novella), and Sarah Andre standing in for a finalist friend, Krista Hall (romantic suspense) who was unable to attend the conference. Cheryl, Susan Breeden, Tera Childs, and Sophie’s husband were our guests. As it happened, the only one of us to accept an award was Sarah, reading a thank you from the absent Krista. Rounding out the West Houston participation were Colleen Thompson presenting a RITA and Christie Craig, the evening’s emcee (entertaining the audience with her usual humor and standing on a box to reach the microphone). Winners, finalists and audience all had a wonderful time.
Sunday, and time to go home, came all too soon. Somehow I managed to stuff all the free books I’d picked up (yeah, I need more books. But, she added virtuously, some were for my neighbor who looks after Nutmeg when I’m away) into my suitcase. Cheryl, Colleen Thompson, and I caught the shuttle to the airport, where a Skycap who had clearly been dealing with ladies from RWA all morning, cheerfully told Colleen that if she could pull “one hardback and one paperback” out of her suitcase, it would slip through under the fifty-pound weight limit. He was right.
Even with a stop at the grocery store, I was home in time for dinner. Nutmeg the cat was glad to see me (and the roast chicken I’d picked up on the way home) and I was glad to sleep in my own bed. But I’m still processing all I learned at the conference, getting in touch with new friends, and catching up in general.
And definitely looking forward to RWA 2014 next summer in San Antonio!