Wednesday, August 9, 2017

RWA 2017 - The Good, The Great, & the Awesome - A Recap Full of Writing Tips!

Saying there was a lot to absorb from my week at RWA is like saying I use the word kiss a lot in my books (58 times in newest manuscript!). I took pages of notes, and want to share some hot tips with you. Because that is what romance writers do - we share and lift each other up in a way that surpasses every other genre. WE LOVE ROMANCE! (yeah, I came back pretty pumped - can you tell?)

My life's not glamorous. AT ALL. I write in a tiny office under a blanket. Except for the fun that occurs at RWA. Which I am going to crow about to let aspiring writers know that it is possible. Seven years ago, RWA was at the same hotel. I watched a literary agency host a dinner for all their clients and wished desperately that could be me.

Well, it was this year. Back at the same restaurant - and I got attend BookEnds Literary cocktail party. With my talented chapter mate Mona Shroff who just got signed by them, so double the reason to celebrate! 

What made it super glamorous? Going from there to hop on a shuttle to the Four Seasons (which got lost in the seamy backside of Disney) and the Avon party for all their authors. We're talking oodles of champagne. A cheeseboard to die for (watch the video! Watching the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom & Epcot simultaneously from the 17th floor terrace. But BEST of all - it was the chance to personally connect. To chat and network and laugh and knit together into a sisterhood of writers. That is priceless.

Then it was time to get on to the business of learning things. Handy tips gleaned:

  • Do Instagram stories - they get a much higher view ratio. 3-4 panes, 3-4/week. 
  • Add a newsletter sign-up link to your email signature block
  • Try Buffer instead of HootSuite
  • Try Periscope for live Twitter
Personal Connections:
  • Make 'em. Get out of your comfort zone  and just do it. 
  • I met with both my editor and my agent, and had conversations that were more productive and deeper than anything we'd done over email in the past year.
  • LOVED the PAN keynote speaker, Faith Salie, so I made a point of stopping her in the hallway to compliment her speech. She was warm and we chatted for a while before she took down my name to use in a future episode of Wait Wait on NPR. NEVER miss the chance to connect!
Craft Tips:
  • The 3 things that make a great book: compelling characters, conflict, and emotional triggers. A story about fascinating characters who pursue a worthy goal or face terrible consequences with sympathetic motivation (this is Virginia Kantra's description, and it is TERRIFIC!)
  • 5 points to building emotion: 1) Relatability, points of connectivity, 2) find your purpose, 3) proving yourself, 4) learning to trust, 5) self acceptance. Also, the story is the battlefield where characters defeat the demons of their backstory. A tip of the hat to Kristan Higgins & Sonali Dev for this advice.
  • If you take out the dialogue tags in a scene, can you tell who is talking? If not, you haven't made their personality strong enough. Great advice from HelenKay Dimon!
  • Rather than writing down all the notes, I'll just tell you to go read Story Genius by Lisa Cron for a very different way of looking a plotting a book. It'll jiggle some things loose for you, I promise!

  • I really wanted to register some epic Fitbit steps from running around this park, but it was a record breaking heat index day, so I was strategic instead and only hit 18,500. Sadness. 
  • Food & Drink - the chocolate brioche in France was - honestly - the best I've ever had. The rim of black ant salt on my margarita in Mexico - actual ground up ants - did not add any flavor...but I'm sure contributed to the $14.75 price.
  • Take the extra day - wherever the conference ends up being. Do the sights. I won a massage from my awesome publisher and spent the 2nd half of Saturday being rubbed down and then drinking a mai tai by the pool. As a result, I came back only feeling half-dead for a change. #worthit