What I learned this year at RWA–Day One

Every summer, RWA – Romance Writer’s of America – has a huge conference.  This year, the conference was held here in Atlanta and photothat’s where I spent a good portion of last week.  It was tons of fun getting to meet up with writer friends from my chapters like the Young Adult Romance Writers (YARWA) or Celtic Hearts; and very nice to make tons of new acquaintances. 

Aside from making friends, I also learned a lot.  Such as:

  • If you want to workout while you’re away – it’s best to pack your running shoes.
  • Fancy hotels DO charge for local phone calls, even though there’s no info next to the phone to warn you. photo (2)
  • Fancy hotels in the middle of downtown Atlanta do not get fabulous cell phone coverage, especially in the middle of a monsoon.
  • I need to spend more time writing more novels.  Can someone tell me how to either a) clone myself or b) add more hours to the day. 

But on a serious note, the conference was full of info on craft, the changes sweeping the publishing industry and inspirational keynote addresses. 

My first day entailed A Day of YA sponsored by the Young Adult Chapter of RWA.  This group is devoted to all things young adult fiction and is an amazing group to be a part of.  I got to catch up with Katie McGarry, author of PushingDare You To the Limits, and the just released Dare You To.  I’ve known Katie a couple years now after partnering up in a class.  If you haven’t read her books, you need to.  Not only is she amazingly talented and an wonderful storyteller, she’s also super sweet. 

Then it was down to business.  First up – an industry panel with agents and editors who are acquiring young adult fiction.  Then we had a networking lunch.  One industry expert sat at each table. The editor at my table offered to answer any of our questions and at the end of the lunch, she asked me what I was working on and encouraged me to submit to her.  YAY!!

After lunch we had a craft workshop taught by Margie Lawson on how to Power Up Emotion on the page.  For all you writerly types out there, if you haven’t taken one of her courses, I highly recommend you check out Margie Lawson’s Writing Academy and sign up for a course.  I think I’ve taken the majority of her courses Forgive My Fins (paperback)and they’ve helped my writing tremendously.  The afternoon ended with Tera Lynn Childs, author of the Forgive My Fins series and Oh. My. Gods. series, who provided us with some advice on craft and inspiration. 

My biggest takeaways from the day:

  • When you get your editorial letter back, fix the little things first, all the while going through thinking about the bigger things that need to be addressed.
  • Don’t take what an editor says carte blanche.  Look at what made the editor think that something is wrong and then work on fixing it.
  • You want to speak to the reader’s subconscious, so create passages that not only give your character a visceral response, but also provides your reader with one too.  (And if you’re wondering what the heck a visceral response is… go check out Katie McGarry’s book covers and you’ll have one when you see them!)
  • There are 3755 ways to add power to your writing.  Five of them are:  Power up Emotion, Deep Editing for Psychological Power, Writing Fresh Body Language and Dialogue Cues, Adding Visceral Responses and Using Rhetorical Devices.  If you want the other 3750 ways, you’ll have to take Margie’s classes.  Smile 

I’ll be back with more things I learned at #RWA2013.  Until then… happy writing and reading.

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