After registering for last weekend's Romance Writers of America conference, I was uncertain what to expect.
On the one hand, I'd heard for years that romance writers are a savvy group of women (and men) who know more about self promotion and pitching an editor than any other writer's group out there. On the other hand, when compared to Newbery winners, romances tend to be literary lightweights, and hadn't I just graduated from an MFA program focused on creating literary works?
Didn't take long for me to realize how much power I'd given my inner critic.
Lightweight or not, I enjoy a good bodice ripper, especially as a way to cleanse my palate after reading yet another children's problem novel. Not that I despise problem novels. I quite enjoy them for the insights they give children wrestling with similar issues, and they're an excellent study in craft.
But here's the thing: On dark days when life conspires, I'm not in the mood for a serious story. I need a quick read. An escapist read. A book I can finish in an evening. I need to be entertained by snappy dialogue, quirky characters, and intriguing plot lines. Much in the same way Buffy the Vampire Slayer wowed viewers during its prime-time run.
I shoved aside my inner critic, wrote my check, and attended the conference.
What a blast! RWA members are down to earth, professional, and eager to mentor young writers. Many of the workshops offered fresh tips and techniques suitable for any fiction writer's toolbox. Sessions included "Getting Out of Deadwood" (revisioning), "Love and Danger: A Combustible Mix," "Battling the Voices of Doom," and "Avoiding the Pitfalls of Historical Research," to name a few.
Best-selling authors Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer headlined the weekend with laugh-out-loud stories about surviving the creative process and each other. Acquiring editors shared their wisdom, and their growing need for chicklit and paranormals (romance stories with a strong gothic, horror, sci-fi or fantasy thread.) All in attendance talked about the importance of keeping butt in chair above all else, and trusting the process. And yes, for the record, this group knows how to market.
By weekend's end my nifty black conference bag was brimming with free books, business cards, and promotional materials. I returned home eager to return to my work in progress, and inspired to resurrect a stalled manuscript for those days my current project needs time to simmer.
Appetite for writing: Ravenous.
Current read: Laurell K. Hamilton's A Stroke of Midnight.
On deck: The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley reviewed here by Kelly Herold of Big A little a.