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Thursday, July 26, 2012

RWA12 - PreConference Day

Well today's the day when it all kicks off with  "pre conference activities".

Your roving reporter, intent on making the most of every opportunity, had joined the "Beaumonde"Chapter of RWA (the Regency writers) and signed up for the mini-conference, which includes a "soiree" this evening (very late this evening). 

Regency? But aren't you a 17th century kind of girl? I hear you say...

I have a newly developed interest in the Regency. It began when I was writing Suzanna's diary for my September release GATHER THE BONES, which I wrote as a complete diary. If you want to know who Suzanne is and what relevance her diary has to a story set in 1923 - well you are just going to have to read the book!

Inspired, I thought I would turn my hand to writing a "Regency" and wrote Lord Somerton's Heir (the RTTA finalist - winner announced Friday) just to see if I could feel comfortable writing in what is arguably the most popular historical romance period. I confess have fallen in love with the genre and while I don't think I write classic regency (there is a murder mystery in there), I hope LSH finds a home. However it is not my historical period of choice so the more I can learn the better...hence the day with the Beaumonde.

I was late. I could say it was because I overslept but I think it was more I was just moving slowly. Day 2 and jetlag is catching up.  By the time I had registered and been lumbered with the biggest, heaviest bag of books I am unlikely to read, and dropped my humble Gather the Bones postcards in the "Goodie Room", the AGM of the BM had kicked off. Squeezing in to a seat next to Iona Jones (RWNZ Prez and friend), I managed to knock my knee on the table, slopping everybody's coffee. The whole room turned to stare. Pick the clutzy Aussie.

After the AGM, we moved into different workshops. I picked Popular Magazines of the Regency presented by Sandra Schwab. She was a mine of information about Journals of the period from the Gentleman's Magazine to Lady's Magazine (your source for music and decorative needlework patterns). If you are short of a plot or need to do the meteorological data for July 25th 1815, these journals are the place to go. They would be a mine of period detail, as well as useful props for your characters.

Before I had decided on the BM mini-conference I had booked a session with the resident photographer to get new "head shots" done. Heavy sigh...alas the lovely photos I had done 6 years ago ... in the words of G& S "She could easily pass for 43 in the dusk with the light behind her". Time for new photos. Deciding a jet lagged look was not good I pushed the boat out and indulged in a facial and a trip to the hairdresser (at this point I engage DH in another winning smile as I hear a heavy sigh echoing across the Pacific). I made a small error in telling the hairdresser I didn't want "boofy"...I ended up with dead straight. The photo session was fun but out of x-hundred photos,  it all came down to three. I took the lot.

After grabbing a quick lunch, it was back to the Beaumonde and a great session on Regency "costume" with the incredibly knowlegeable Isobel Carr, author and re-enactor.  I will feel very inadequate in my Regency dress this evening!

Delle Jacobs and a Regency corset
Isobel Carr dresses Delilah Marvelle in a drop front dress

By the time that session ended the Mariott was hopping with gaggles of romance writers in every corner and the lobby awash with people. I am rather glad to be staying across the road!

Imagine if you will, the biggest trade show you've ever been to...close to 450 published authors all together in one place, mostly grouped in tables of 6. They are there to meet readers and sign books. Profits from the sale of the books go to charities promoting literacy. All the big names were there with long queues:  Norah Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jayne Ann Krentz, Stephanie Laurens, Julia Quinn and on the list goes! New Zealand's Nalini Singh had been given one of the "important people" seems like only yesterday when she sold her first book. Armed with my map and the marker, I went in search of the antipodeans. Fiona Lowe was proving popular (was it the koalas or the Tim Tams?). Poor thing is very poorly with a ghastly cold. Hope she is well by Saturday. RITA nominees had special little blue flags to distinguish them. The other RITA nominee is Trish Morey who had Haigh's orange flavoured chocolate buttons. You measure an author by the standard of their catering apperently.

It is quite overwhelming to be in the presence of so many writers in one place. I have to say it is a little bit daunting when you realise what you are up against in trying to get readers interested in your books!
Fiona Lowe - RITA finalist

Yvonne Lindsay

The 2012 Literacy Signing


The first challenge was to don my gown without the aid of my abigail. I was forced to summon Ms. Lowe fresh from the Literacy signing to safety pin me into the dress.

The second challenge was escaping the Hilton and getting to the Marriott looking like Jane Austen with a bad hair day. Then I figured half the people in the foyer were wearing Micky Mouse ears so what the hell was I worrying about.

A fine time was had by all. At least 2/3 of the assembly were, I am pleased to report, appropriately dressed. "Sir Carolus King" took time out from his club to teach a group of ladies the game of Looe. I had just won back the country estate and my precious virtue when it was time to dance. Now, dear readers, the last time I took a turn at "English Country Dances" was in the drawing room of Wellesley House, the dear Duke of Wellington's home. He alas, had been dead some two hundred years but it just happened to be Waterloo Day and there we London...with nothing else to do.

And so dear reader, that has been my eventful day and it is long, long past my bed time. Conference proper starts tomorrow with the "PRO Retreat".  See you tommorow!

The Duchess of Melbourne dances the Knowle House
The Duchess of Melbourne