What a great conference, even if it is put on by my RWA chapter (Georgia Romance Writers). I had no part in making it great, so I can brag.
They have a great bookstore setup, tons of giveaways, and a very informative packet. And if you’re involved in something out of the norm (such as being a Maggie finalist or a volunteer) they have included in your packet any extra meetings you personally need to attend. Too cool, huh? I don’t know if this is normal or exceptional. I’ve never been to another chapter or regional conference.
The keynote address was given by Lisa Gardner, a surprisingly humorous speaker for someone who writes such gritty, dark books. She taught us all how to do the winning strut amid much laughter and applause. I’m sure it will come in handy in the future.
For me, the highlight of the workshops was by far Debra Dixon’s on “Putting GMC in your HJ”, which illustrated how to use GMC in conjunction with Vogler’s Writer’s Journey. I had an opportunity to meet Debra and talked to her a couple times during the conference. What a nice, nice lady. (She pieces together exceptionally pretty quilts, too.) Examples were given along the way to illustrate all of the 12 steps of The Journey, but the gist of it is that HJ gives us a roadmap to get the story down on paper. GMC helps the reader bond with the character.
Jennifer LaBrecque also had some great advice on keeping the doubt demons at bay by using affirmations, exercise and positive thinking. Ridding yourself of negative and belittling people around you is also key. Negativity drains creativity.
I entered 2 pages of a future WIP in the cold reads, where a panel of agents and editors read or listen to either a query letter, a 2-page double-spaced synopsis, or 2 pgs of your manuscript and then give comments and suggestions. I got some great advice on mine that changes the way I look at my first few pages. On a happy note, they did say the writing was good, the opening catchy. Now to make it terrific!
Of course, the absolute highlight of my experience was the Maggie Awards banquet and ceremony. I still can’t believe I won in my category, y’all. As soon as I can find the time, I’ll post tons of pictures on my website and let you know when. But for now, I’m off to polish up the first 3 chapters and Synopsis of Return To Paradise to send to Wanda Ottewell. How exciting to be able to mention another contest win in the cover letter.