What I loved
While I wouldn’t call myself wildly extroverted, neither do I cower at the thought of talking to strangers, so I thoroughly enjoyed all the social time. For me, the best part was mingling with a slew of published authors, hanging out with my Golden Heart® Dreamweavers, and meeting two other Badgirlz for the first time.
Another highlight was spending one on one time with my agent, Kevan Lyon. She gave me a to-do-list a mile long, words of encouragement, and generally got me pumped up about my burgeoning career. Hey, if she has faith in me and my writing, I should have the same.
The Rita/GH award ceremony was funny and touching and inspiring. Even my husband drank the Kool-aid! He left totally pumped about romance writing. It was extremely well done, and I would encourage any conference goers to hang out that extra night and attend. It didn’t hurt that I was at a VIP table next to Eloisa James, Sarah MacLean, and Kristin Higgins.
What I didn’t love quite so much
I’ll not sugar coat it—I was very disappointed in the workshops. As someone who thrived in academics, I looked forward to learning new things I could apply to my writing and focused on the Craft and Marketing tracks. Most of the information was geared toward beginning writers or was just plain logical. Maybe I picked poorly.
The novella workshop was motivating, but it wasn’t anything I didn’t already know. “A novella should be the most intense slice of your characters’ lives.” That was my takeaway. Oh, and somehow worm your way into an anthology with a NY Times bestseller if you want to kick your career up a gearJ. Simple, right?
Jayne Ann Krentz and Susan Elizabeth Phillips had a very entertaining chat. The takeaway that stuck—“Your writing voice is like your accent. You can’t hear it, but everyone else can.” Also, I was encouraged by the fact neither one of those women plot their books! Both are panster-extraordinaires.
I learned the most from Laura Kaye’s marketing workshop. Funnily enough, she brought 30 copies of her material thinking no one would come (she was up against Nora). The room was jam-packed. The main takeaway was to use your Twitter and Facebook. And, she covered Tribrr, which I’d never heard of but will be investigating.
My Overall Impression
Because I was a Golden Heart finalist, my convention was probably different from a typical first-timer. I had a ready-made tribe of GH finalists who had already become friends over a Yahoo loop since the announcements in March. I also attended some pretty special functions (Caroline Linden’s cupcake party, I’m looking at you!).
Will I go again? Most assuredly. Will I go every year? Most assuredly not (unless I hit the NYTimes Bestseller ListJ). It’s expensive, people! And, it’s exhausting. I have young kids and working out babysitting is a hardship. (Thanks Mom!) My plan will be to alternate years at the most, and on my “off” years attend the GRW’s Moonlight and Magnolias mini-conference. I’m sure most of you have mini-conferences that are within driving distance.
Not being much of a clothes hound, I didn’t really notice much of what people were wearing. Except for the ripped denim shirts of the mingling prepubescent “Cowboys” at the Amazon party. Seriously, did anyone else feel like perv? Anyway, I digress…I do have to give a shout-out to my fellow Badgirl Elizabeth Michels (Sourcebooks author of The Regency series Tricks of the Ton). After a very late night together in the hotel bar, I ran into her smiling self around 11AM the next day dressed in a sparkly sundress and 3-in+ high wedge sandals while I was stumbling around nursing sore feet and a headache. It was impressive.
Any other first-timers out there? What did you think of the conference?