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Sunday, July 15, 2007

RWA Capsule

Next week, I'll post specific articles on some of the things I learned at the conference. But today, I'd like to post a capsule of my experiences.

I met people from Japan, Russia, Holland and nearly every state in the US, including Hawaii. Perhaps my favorite encounter was with a blogger I follow regularly.

Sherry Thomas, whose blog is currently on hiatus, is an extraordinary woman. I am reading her book, Private Arrangements now. Kristin Nelson is her agent and she mentioned in one of the workshops that she negotiated a six figure deal for this first time author. As I'm reading this book, I can see why it earned such a great contract.

Read this book. You guys know I rarely recommend books unless they bowl me over. This one bowled me over. The language is lovely without being stuffy or over the top. Those of you who know me, know what a curmudgeon I am with overinflated narrative. This is nothing like that. Crisp, clean writing that's as lovely to envision as it is read. Her style is rather reminiscent of a critique partner of mine. (So I have high hopes for you, Mike! Remember me when you get your six figures.)

Books: At last count, I picked up about 45 books, not counting duplicates which I'll be donating to my friends and the office "library". It seems everywhere I went, people were handing me books. Every luncheon gifted us with books left on each of our seats. Publishers had author signings and then there was the Goody Room. I've heard old-timers remark that this was the best Goody Room they'd ever had. It was chock full of giveaways.

It will take me a few days to absorb all my experiences and commit them to blog posts, so my workshop specific posts may span the next several weeks.

I am glad Maya talked me into joining RWA for several reasons. I finally understand the power of women's fiction. While outsiders may snicker with the antiquated assumption that all romance novels are bodice rippers, they are so far behind in what this genre is all about.

Romance writing is about relationships and the human experience. And at it's core, isn't that what we write about in any other genre? Spaceships, techno thrillers and court cases may be the specific genre vehicles we enjoy, but it's the relationship between characters that makes us sympathetic to that story---and to the author.

The other reason I'm glad I joined is that I also discovered that RWA is not a bunch of girly girls writing out their frustrations. These are business women (and men) who are serious about the craft of writing. I find it amusing that while you may never see a serious review in a major newspaper for a romance novel, such novels do not suffer for the snub. The romance novel industry is abnormally healthy. And RWA is an incredibly influential organization.

Finally, the workshops were excellent. I'm sorry I couldn't go to more of them. I also got a chance to network with other writers, editors and agents.

On top of this, I spoke to another editor whose company only publishes shorter work and she asked if I might be interested to spin off the characters and world building from True Believers into short stories or a serialized novella. I hadn't considered it before, but it's whet my appetite. My critique partners know that I am currently under the gun to finish a manuscript that's already been requested, so I don't need anymore projects. Still I was intrigued.

Before I left this editor, I got brain smacked with a great short story idea that I'm hot to work on. But first the manuscript. Must get keester in gear and finish what I started.