As I was scouring my brain for a blog topic, my Facebook feed popped up, trying to distract me from my task. It succeeded. Not a huge surprise. When the words aren’t voluntarily flinging themselves from my brain to the computer screen, I’m very easily distracted. Oh, who am I kidding. I’m very easily distracted, no matter what the circumstances.
But today, the distraction seems to have offered a solution to the big, dark hole that is my creative well because my FB feed is filled with pictures of fellow writers enjoying their time at this year’s Romance Writers of America’s Annual National Conference. I see folks hanging out in bars, enjoying the literacy signing, decked out for awards ceremonies, and while I haven’t actually seen any documentation to support my supposition, I figure some of those gals even attended a workshop or two.
Even though I haven’t attended an RWA National Conference in probably ten years, the pictures bring back fond memories. I jump from FB to RWA’s website to check out the winners of this year’s RITA and Golden Heart Awards. I knew several people nominated, and while none of those ladies won the prize, I know from experience that just being in the running can kick-start your career – and make your conference experience a thousand times better.
Memories flood in. Being surrounded by 2000 members of your tribe, meeting writers from all over the country, heck, all over the world. No kids or husband to care for. No “bedtime.” Wearing grown-up clothes and make-up for five days straight! Appointments with agents and editors. Free book giveaways. Coming face-to-face with well-known authors.
And the workshops! Many which were taught by these same well-known authors I’ve loved and followed for years. Deep POV. Manspeak. World building. Character flaws. Character arcs. Backstory. Pacing. Pitching. Editing. Marketing. Conflict. Story-boarding. Research. Plot twists. Hero’s journey. Mentors. Sidekicks. Connected Series.
At the end of the four/five days, my brain – and my feet – were generally swollen and ready to return to the real world, but the inspiration and motivation lived on for months.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love HBA’s Starfish Conference. This will be our third year, and we’ve managed to bring in exciting speakers with valuable information each time, but there’s just something special about a longer, more intense, immersive experience.
Is it the getting away from home and getting to focus on my writer side? Is it the vast number of folks I’m exposed to? The variety of speakers and topics? The booze? The fancy dresses? The “exotic” locations? Yes, it’s all that, but more importantly, I think it’s the fact that I’ve invested significant time and money into my writing career, and when I return home, I feel obligated to make the most of that investment.
I don’t mean obligated in a negative way. For example, let’s say I’m a dentist and decided to close my practice for several days and invest in a training seminar on the latest advances in gum disease. After putting in the time and money, I would expect my new knowledge to eventually lead to increased revenue for my practice. Well, same goes for a writer who attends RWA’s National Conference. It is, after all, a romance writer’s version of continuing education, and once the expenditure is laid out, we want to begin reaping the rewards, thus the bump in inspiration and motivation.
While on the RWA website, I clicked around till I discovered that next year’s conference will be held in Denver. I’m thinking Denver in July has to be a hell of lot nicer – weather-wise, at least – than Orlando (this year’s locale) or Houston (where I’m currently hiding from the 100 degree temps).
Back in the good old days, I attended the conference 4 out of 5 years. The year I skipped was because the conference was held in New York, and honestly, New York was simply too pricey. If memory serves (please, try not to laugh out loud at that one!), the years I attended, the conference was in Dallas (twice), Atlanta and Reno. All locations a Houston gal can either drive to or fly to very cheaply via Southwest Airlines. I’m thinking the increasing travel costs had as much to do with my waning attendance as anything else.
So next year’s conference is in Denver, but between now and then, there are many chapter-sponsored conferences to choose from, some within driving distance and others that would require a heftier travel budget. But the truth is, I love to travel, and since I’m bound and determined to publish my current WIP in 2018, any travel expenses I incur after the first of the year will be tax deductible!
As an ultimate one-year goal, I’d like to have enough products in my inventory to justify attending next year’s conference. As perhaps a more workable goal, I’d like to invest in my writing to the tune of five days’ worth of conferences/workshops in the next year.
Good news! I’m already registered for the 2017 Starfish Conference, which technically speaking, is a two-day conference this year, so I’m already 40% to my goal. Yeah me!
Back when her twin sons were young enough for daily naps, Dawn Temple took advantage of those quiet moments to pursue her dream of becoming a published romance writer. Sneaking in an hour here and there paid off in 2005 when she sold her first book, To Have And To Hold, to Silhouette Special Edition. She managed to secret away enough time to write and sell the second book in her Land’s Cross series, Moonlight And Mistletoe, but alas, her boys outgrew naps and Dawn let go of those stolen moments with her laptop to enjoy life with her two little guys and her big guy, hubby of 21 years.
But now, as an officially retired stay-at-home mom, Dawn has once again found the time and the creative drive to return to writing, and this time around, she’s set her sights on independent publishing. Her first self-published book, Peace of Heart, is scheduled for release in 2017.