Congratulations to commenter kiwi1124, winner of my ECWC book haul! And thanks to everyone who entered.
Let’s start with the bad news: I didn’t win an e-reader. I think there were six or seven raffle baskets that had them, and I put tickets in every single one (I put 25 tickets in one!), but to no avail. So I think Plan B is going to revolve around Black Friday.
Here’s a highlight: look what was in my hotel room:
A chaise-longue! [Brief tangent: weird spellings stay with me. I will never, never misspell the name of the basketball player Dwyane Wade, precisely because it’s not spelled the way you’d expect it to be spelled. Same thing with chaise-longue, which you always hear pronounced “chaise lounge.”] I had happy visions of spending much of the weekend stretched out writing on this thing; unfortunately I only did that for a little while. But it was pretty great!
Now here’s a picture of all the freebies I got in my tote bag at conference check-in:
Actually, that’s not even everything. There were a bunch of postcards and bookmarks too, but those aren’t so impressive to photograph. And in addition to all this, there was a table set out with more swag, some of it duplicates of the tote-bag stuff, but some entirely new! I will not have to buy a pen for about six years, I estimate.
So besides the e-reader failure, a quick review of my conference-goals checklist:
1) Learn to write faster. Well, I definitely learned that workshop presenter Susanna Fraser is kind of a superwoman for being able to juggle a kid, a husband, a full-time job, deadlines, and the occasional king-size monkey wrench (she had nerve problems in one hand this past year and didn’t get a correct diagnosis until recently). She highly recommends doing NaNoWriMo at least once, if only because once you’ve produced 50k words in a month, a more realistic pace of 20k/month will seem eminently do-able.
She’s also a big believer in checklists, which is something I haven’t yet tried. A lot of my problem is brain space devoted to other things (must write school-absence note for daughter’s orthodontist appt.; must make sure money is transferred from savings to checking to cover property-tax payment), so I like the idea of off-loading that stuff onto a list. I’ll try that for sure. I’m also going to try to follow her advice to “Write at the earliest time of the day that makes sense for your schedule and your body rhythms.”
2) Learn about branding. I guess this was on everybody’s to-do list, because Angela James’s workshop was packed. They had to bring in extra chairs and there were still people standing, and sitting on the floor!
I wrote pages and pages of notes on this session (including you-had-to-be-there quotes like “Your boobs should not be part of your brand”), and, while I still can’t articulate what my brand is, I’m now convinced of the necessity of being able to do so, and I have some ideas of the steps to take that will result in my figuring it out.
3) Introduce self to Smart Bitch Sarah. This just went smashingly well. She recognized my name and told me again how much she loved A Lady Awakened, and she was gracious as could be. I was only middlingly inarticulate, when I had feared being terribly so. I got a second chance to chat with her, when I went over to get one of her books at the bookfair, and not only did I manage to get out a more lucid thanks for her support of my book, but… bonus! She was sitting with Courtney Milan (who wasn’t officially at the conference but had dropped by to see some people), and not only did she introduce me to Courtney, but she started raving to her about my book, and made her promise to read it! It was a tiny bit mortifying, but mostly just a thrill. And I got to tell Courtney some specific things I’ve loved about her books, hopefully without looking like a crazy-eyed fan.
All in all it was a great conference. I went to two invaluable working-session workshops: Elizabeth Boyle’s “Building a Romance Novel from the Idea Up,” and Rose Lerner’s “Making your Hero(ine)’s Job Work for You.” Both of them had specific prompts to which we had to write answers (“List 20 things that will happen in this story.” “What is your hero’s relationship with authority? How does that play out at work, and in his personal life?”), and so I came away with, in one case, new insights into the hero of my WiP, and, in the other, a foundation for a future book. Usually I view a conference workshop as time I’m taking away from writing but for a good cause. In these two, I actually felt like it was writing time.
Okay, book giveaway. I got five excellent romance novels in my tote bag:
Some of them I’ve already read, and my TBR stack is too big right now to admit additions. So I’d like to send them to a good home. Just leave a comment on this post some time this week (that is, before midnight Pacific time on Friday, November 4) and I will draw a name and send that person all five books. Will ship internationally. The books included are:
A Tale of Two Demon Slayers, Angie Fox
The Angel in my Arms, Stefanie Sloane
Tsunami Blue, Gayle Ann Williams
Shoulder Bags and Shootings, Dorothy Howell
Night Veil, Yasmine Galenorn
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