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Monday, August 19, 2013

RWAus13 Day 3 - Exhausted but Happy

First an apology for not getting this out last night but quite honestly, Ms. S is ashamed to say that she didn't make it make to her room until late and then had to pack with an early start on Monday. So the Day 3 report is coming to you live from chilly, damp Melbourne (apparently the weather in Perth is perfect today).

First the Awards ceremony on Saturday evening. Traditionally this has been a formal dinner but this year the conference committee went with a late start, dessert and champagne only affair. This left us free to have an early meal with friends and it was a delight to share fish and chips with Nina Bruhns from Entangled Suspense. A charming and delightful visitor to our shores.
Pretty tables :-)

The room looked stunning with blue swirly spotlights over tables groaning with rich desserts and Baci chocolates. I don't have that much of a sweet tooth and I have to admit, having been awake since 4.00am and surviving a workshop, a roundtable and my traditional role at the AGM...I was actually quite weary! Our little writing group celebrated Sasha Cottman's First Sale

The awards winners can all be found on the RWA Blog but I do want to mention a very special award for an old and dear friend, Bronwyn Jamieson who was awarded Honorary Life Membership. Bronwyn and I met at our first conference in 1997 when she won the Emma Darcy Award and I came second. We have been friends ever since and she has worked her heart out for RWA. Well done, Bron!

RWA's Honorary Life Members:  Alison Stuart, Kez Delaney and Anne Gracie with newest member, Bronwyn Jamieson

Following the Awards was an "After Party". I managed a bad rendition of the "Nut Bush" and went to bed!

Sunday morning kicked off with a Harlequin spotlight. Great supporters of RWA, Harlequin Australia stuck with us through thick and thin. Interesting to see the new lines and move towards Single Title.

The next session was "Survivor Submission Island"--a panel comprising Abby Zidle, Laura Bradford, Nina Bruhns, Margaret Marbury, Joel Naoum and Alex Adsett, publicly appraise anonymous submissions.mThe entries are read out and the panel have a choice of putting up signs that say STOP or MORE and then gave reasons why they stopped when they did. Very interesting...the themes coming through seemed centred on pacing, scenes starting in the wrong place, too much exposition, labored dialogue. One thing that became very clear is the importance of establishing the genre of the story immediately and exactly WHY the synopsis is so important. On more than one occasion the panel members said "If I had the synopsis and could see where this was going...". I've heard of these sessions but never seen one live and kudos to the brave souls who submitted their work. One thing that struck me is how important hearing your work read out loud can be illuminating. It became so obvious where the passages dragged or the writing seemed clunky. One of the best sessions I have seen at a conference for many years.

Nina Bruhns had the next keynote. She has a "post it" on her computer "What is the WORST thing you can do to your characters?". It served as a healthy reminder to stick your characters up a tree and hurl rocks at them! Nina also gave permission to write what you want to write (but don't expect to pay the bills!). It is a question of WHY you are writing (which sort of echoed some of my self discussions of the past few weeks).

We then moved into the Breakouts. So much choice! I had a pitch so I was late coming into Sarah Wendell's workshop on Blogging 101. Actually it was on social media generally. Sassy and funny, Sarah may not have imparted any new information to me but what it did do is confirm that what I am doing in the social media space is about right. Indeed I found myself "tweeting" madly all through the workshops and flattened the battery on my iPad by the end of the day. A few tips I tweeted.

  • Facebook is privileging images so if you want your post seen attach an image.
  • Watch auto tweets...the timing could be inappropriate.
  • Pinterest is about aspirations, doing and being. Not the best place to promote your writing.
  • You MUST have a website because you own the content and it is your professional window to the world.
  • Make yourself available to your readers by providing a way for them to contact you privately.
  • You don't have to have a blog but if you do the key to good blogging is generosity, authenticity and consistency.
On to the Self Publishing Panel with Nina Bruhns, Kandy Shepherd and Cathleen Ross. Why? Well I am looking at plunging myself into the self publishing morass by the end of the year (watch this space!). Key take aways:
  • Have a fabulous book, cover, formatting and most importantly an EDITOR
  • Don't spam people on FB and Twitter with "Buy my book"
  • Reviews are critical
  • Self publishing is a business. You have to invest time and money.
Finally I rounded off the day with a discussion on psychopaths given by Ken Milling. Masters of lies and deception, psychopaths can be charming people. What they lack is empathy. They exist everywhere and can be found in the corporate world (know any? Think James Bond!).

The "Stand ups..." with Anne Gracie
Into plenary for the wind up. A few final words from guests Kim Hudson and Sarah Wendell and the announcement of next year's conference in Sydney (7-10 August 2014...get it in your diaries NOW). Best part of the weekend "the stand ups" orchestrated by Anne Gracie. "Stand up if you...published a book/submitted a manuscript/entered a contest" etc. Always gives me goose bumps!  
An evening of social catch up which I won't go into...suffice to say I shall be glad to be tucked up into my own bed tonight :-)

Thank you for the comments and joining me vicariously in Perth. Until next year :-) Can't wait.