Something more about conferencing…

Diverse beautiful mature women reading a romance novel

So anyways, I mentioned in the confessional this time last week that I’m not really a conference person.

After attending the Romance Writers of Australia Conference over the weekend, I’m re-thinking my position…ok, it’s been re-thought…changed completely, even.

I didn’t attend every single panel or every single social event- and there wasn’t any pressure to do so… after all, most writers are, by the very nature of their work, introverts.

The biggest concerns I had leading into this were:

  • The cocktail party
  • Noise and space issues
  • Keeping my back pain-free

How did I get around these?

  • In regards to the cocktail party, I found something approximating a dress in the back of my wardrobe, met some really lovely women, and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. I also discovered the trick to keeping tights up when you’re wearing spanx. A handy tip for new players.
  • I stayed about 20-30 mins walk (depending on how many times I stopped to take photos of street art) away from the venue, so managed to keep my steps up and my back mobile. Given the quality of the lunches and morning teas we were provided with, this tactic also reduced my food guilt. More importantly, I’ve got through the weekend with very little back pain- despite all the sitting and standing.
  • I didn’t attend the gala dinner- although part of me does regret this a little. There’s no better way to bond with people than over alcohol and a dance floor.
  • The noise levels were concentrated at break times. At times it felt like a wave of conversation. When it all got too much, I ducked outside and across to the Treasury Gardens. I scheduled calls home for these times and came back in refreshed and ready to contribute to the noise.

Noise and space issues taken care of. Just. Like. That. Well, expect for my cover band issues- but I told you about that yesterday.

As for the sessions- I can honestly say that there was something in each session that I could take away and use right now. I learnt tips that I’ll be using as I work through the structural edit of Big Girls Don’t Cry, and some techniques for my work in progress- I Want You Back.

I learnt about scene analysis, story analysis, writing sex scenes that work (without the squelch factor), writing from the male point of view, writing comedy, and so so so so much more.

I also learnt that:

  • Romance writers (in most cases) fit none of the stereotypes. Whether we’re writing bodice rippers, historical, regency tales of swash-buckling pirates, category romances for Mills & Boon, erotica, paranormal, speculative, same sex, contemporary, romcom, or something else entirely, this community of (mostly) women is one of the most supportive and least competitive of any I’ve been involved with. Sure, there are your alpha women, and a hierarchy of sorts- that exists everywhere in society- but in this instance, is well deserved and well earned. This is an amazing tribe to belong to.
  • Many of us newbies are concerned about the same things. I had so many conversations about things like which name to publish under, and, of course, the biggie- What Will People Think? This was closely followed by the chats about what to do when others read things into your novels that just aren’t there. And reviews- to read or not to read…We’d all been through the same concerns. I wish I knew that- and these wonderful people- before I published.
  • I’m not really into fan-girl moments, but I was stoked to get my first sale ribbon and exchange a few (brief) words with Graeme Simsion (The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect) about daggy pop songs. When I said that I’d used them in Baby, It’s You, he told me that I should wait for his next novel. I told him that I’ll look forward to that…I meant it. Hello- daggy pop songs- I’m there!
  • Romance Australia sure know how to organise a conference. Man, do you guys know how to organise a conference! I can’t thank the organisers and the wranglers of us newbies enough. You’re absolutely fabulous.

Seeing as how we’re still in the confessional booth, what about me and conferences? Let’s just say that I’ll be keeping this weekend free each August…

Linking up in I Must Confess with My Home Truths…

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

11 thoughts

  1. My “stop overwhelm” at noise key for conferences is always to stay at the hotel where it’s being held – if it’s being held at a hotel! It makes it so much easier to duck back to your room and have a moment of peace.

  2. So fab that you went and enjoyed yourself and learned so much too! I must confess that I wanted to write regency romances when I was younger (it is the only genre I will read – LOVE THEM) but I can’t write conversation. Or sex scenes. But that’s why I like the regency period – it’s usually all proper and all about the feelings and emotions rather than the physical side of things!

    1. Lol Kirsty- would you believe I’ve never read a regency romance? Yet P & P is my all time favourite book. I had a fantabulous time & I can’t believe how excited I am still.

  3. Sounds like a fascinating conference with a lot to learn, despite the challenges. I’m glad you found some coping strategies.

  4. So glad you enjoyed yourself. I noted you didn’t share the secret of keeping tights up with spanx, or is that it? I haven’t had to wear stockings / tights for a couple of decades thank god, though perhaps thick tights would be doable. Hmmmm….

    By the way, have you read Adrian McKinty? He uses stacks of songs in his novels and it made me think of you!

  5. lol.. you pull your spanx over your tights…shhhh don’t tell anyone…& not recommended if you want to impress anyone later in the evening…but it works! No, I haven’t read Adrian McKinty…but will look his stuff out. I was actually going to use some lines in Baby It’s You, & approached the publisher for the rights & very quickly edited the lines out when they wanted to charge me.

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