Saturday, July 18, 2009

Goodbye D.C.!

Thursday, July 16

I started out the morning by running into friends from my local RWA chapter in line to get a bite to eat and coffee prior to the Keynote Speaker opening session. Suddenly, I didn't feel alone! You can't imagine being in the midst of a huge hotel (which was previously three hotels) with over 2,000 romance writers and seeing no familiar faces! I love people watching, but come one!

Janet Evanovich gave the opening speech. After the RWA President introduced her, she hobbled onto the stage with a (in her words) Herman Munster boot. Her explanation: She fell stepping off a stage at a booksigning event and broke her ankle. Then, to top it off, two days prior to the speech, she lost her glasses! Her speech wasn't really a speech, but a question and answer session. The mc handed her a stack of questions and somehow she managed to read them, without her glasses. Her answers were witty, humorous, heart-tugging, and inspirational. Talk about a family business! Her husband is her business manager, her daughter is her web mistress, and her son is also involved. She writes until 3pm and then stops. Many nights her daugher and son in law come over and they have dinner together to talk business. I love my kids, but I don't think I would want to live that way.

After the opening session, I went to the "goody" room where I gathered up several books for the chapter. The crowd was pretty huge so even though I heard the room was filled with different and new material each day, I didn't go back again.

I came back to the room for a brief time and dropped off the books and then headed back to the ballroom for the luncheon with Linda Howard giving an inspirational talk. The food was pretty good and the staff very quick to serve thousands of people. We sat eight to a table and one waiter for each table. Our meal consisted of a greek salad, chicken parmesan and a sinfully delicious chocolate dessert. Linda Howard was hilarious. She should have been a comedian. Honest! She began by telling us about all the nuts in her family and describing them in such a way that everyone doubled over with laughter. If you ever see her, ask her to tell about her uncle, her aunt, and the tractor, wheelchair and bunge cord. I'm not going to spoil it by telling you here. You have to hear her do it in person! I left full and very relaxed after all the laughing.

I spent the afternoon workshops. The first one was "What Not to Write." I didn't get much craft wise that I didn't already know, but Eloisa James gave a humorous approach. The next workshop was by my all time favorite romantic suspense author, Brenda Novak. She gave fantastic examples of the way to invoke emotion into the sotry. The title of the workshop was "Emotion: the Heart of the Novel." She used examples from her novels, one of which will be released next month, but the publisher had released some early copies (with a cover which will be revised). Of course, I had to leave the workshop and head to the bookstore on site to get my copy! Then I went back to my room for a regroup. I changed into comfortable slacks and met some friends at a restaurant in the hotel for dinner. Decided to treat myself to a New York Strip steak! Yummy!

The rest is history. I came to the room, spent 45 minutes talking to hubby and mom and then collapsed in bed. I was asleep before ten.

Friday, July 17

Slept in and didn't get up until 7:00. Headed down to the deli for a ham, cheese and egg croussant and orange juice. I decided to skip workshops and opted to go to the Harlequin and Pocket book signings instead. The publishers invite some of their authors to sign books to give away to the RWA participants! Wow!! I filled up my bag and headed back to the room with all the Harlequin books and then went back and did the same for the Pocket books. I introduced myself to Roxanne St. Claire, who is going to be our keynote speaker at our COFW conference in September. Went back to room and dumped books! I have no idea how I'm going to get all these books out of my room and into my trunk! Guess I'll have to tip the bell boy a big bunch!

I ran into some friends and chatted for a while and then headed off to an 11am workshop: "Under Their Skin and Straight to the Heart:Creating Emotion with Significant Detail." Interesting and helped to show how to use details properly. The workshop very well followed what the description said. I enjoyed it and picked up a few tips. That, for me, is always a measure of a good use of time.

Next stop was lunch with Marcia James and writers who had attended a workshop I copresented with Marcia. It was fun to put faces to names. One lady brought her husband with her so that was fun, too! Our lunch speaker was Eloisa James. She shared a lot of inspiration about how to use examples from our real lives in our books to truly capture the emotions we have gone through. Lunch was delicious, but I was getting a bit tired of eating chicken.

After lunch, I headed off for more workshops. The first was "Face Off: The Many Faces of Suspense." I really thought it would be a better workshop, with each presenter giving a short speech, but instead the coordinator asked questions of a four person panel. I did gather a bit of information, but I sure was getting sleepy. Could have been the ibuprofen or too much chicken!

Next workshop, I ran into Laurie Kingery, my friend who I'd had dessert with on Tuesday night. The workshop was titled "The Threaded Synopsis." I really need help with writing a synopsis. I wasn't sure what to expect. The presenter provided a unique tool, which can be created easily in Excel, to track your chapters and the actions in the scenes. By continuing to fill in the information as you go along and make changes, it gives a great tool for writing the synopsis when you are finished. Also, it gives a snapshot to make it easy to do edits. Great workshop. I began to wake up a little.

One more workshop to go. I chose"What Came First, the Plot or the Character? The Yn and Yang of Creating Great Characters within Great Plots." This workshop was pretty good at cementing plot and characterization. I'd always thought characters were the most important part of the story, but these two authors showed how one drives the other and how important it is to weave them together. Though I was getting sleepy again, I enjoyed it and gathered a few tips to help.

I left the workshop with a sense of relief. It was over for me. I stopped and purchased a roast beef sandwich and tomato basil soup and brought it to my room. After eating, I felt a bit revived and decided to do some writing.

Saturday, July 18

Today, many of my friends will be enjoying workshops, sight-seeing, and later enjoying getting dressed in evening gowns for the gala awards banquet. Me...I'll be driving back to Columbus, Ohio. Goodbye, D.C.!

Thanks for stopping by!

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