But to me, RWA stands for Really Wicked Awesome.
Why was this week so great? So. Many. Reasons.
First of all, I got to go and hang with my posse. My inner circle. My writing peeps who I talk with every day online, who are with me every step of the way, and I with them. It's extra special being able to actually see them, hang out with them, brainstorm with them, and laugh until you cry with them. These are my friends and seeing them for four days a year isn't nearly enough.
|Melissa Baldwin, Becky Monson, and me at the RITA Awards|
|Taking the boat to Disney Springs. It's the only Disney experience I had the whole time because I was too busy learning.|
|Last day, so sad. :-(|
Next, I got to meet in person people in my outer writing circle. People I've "known" online for years. Brainstormed with. Supported. Received support from. It's great to meet these people in person. A blogger who is very active in our of our groups drove two hours to have dinner with us all. How cool is that?
|With the great Camille Di Maio from my Great Thoughts, Great Readers group|
|With Rochelle B. Weinstein, also from Great Thoughts, Great Readers. She let me give her a copy of Live for This to read.|
|With my online buddy, Laura Chapman. I was so proud of her for doing the literacy signing! She's fantastic and I was so happy to finally meet her in person.|
|With the group from Chick Lit Chat. Blogger Kayla (Book Lover in Florida), Laura Chapman, JQ Abbey, Silvi Martin, Rick Amooi, Becky Monson, Melissa Baldwin, Jennie Marts, and me!|
The cool aspect of the conference is that I get to meet big time authors. And most are soooo approachable and down to earth, especially when I'm acting like a spastic fangirl. Which, by the way, I excel at.
|The Kirstan Higgins. I can't even. Still.|
|Jennifer Probst is absolutely the coolest. I'd love to share a bottle of wine with her someday. I imagine alcohol would make me so much less of a bumbling idiot. Or not.|
My surreal moment of the conference came when an author approached me after I'd asked a question in a workshop to discuss the topic. We were talking branding, genre, and book covers and when I pulled out one of my books to show her what I was talking about she said, "Oh my God, you're Kathryn Biel!" Apparently, we write in very similar styles and genres, and my books appear in her metadata. To make it even more cool, when she showed me her book cover, I pulled out my phone to show her the screen shot of her book that I'd taken the night before as I was discussing cover options for my next book and said, "I want it to look like this!" This author and I decided we were destined to meet and to put our heads together to find the audience who want to read "mainstream fiction with romantic, comedic, and sometimes suspenseful elements." There's not a category for that on Amazon yet, but perhaps we can forge one.
|Y'all need to check out Violet Howe! According to the data wizards at Amazon, if you like me, you'll like her too.|
Okay, surreal moment number two. When I was giving my writing idol Kristan Higgins a copy of one of my books and she asked me to sign it for her. ME! When I told my daughter about it, she said, "Did you freak out?" Obviously, the answer is yes.
All the above aside, here's why the conference was awesome. I learned tons about my craft. About marketing. About running my own business. About how to write characters that will keep you up all night reading, laughing out loud, falling in love, and coming back for more. I stumbled into writing. I didn't know much, or anything, about it when I started. I didn't know to show and not tell. I didn't know characters have a flawed belief. I had no idea about internal and external conflicts or how to use action verbs to describe a character. Since I started going to conferences and workshops two years ago, I've learned so much.
There's also so much more I need to learn, to work on. I almost said to perfect, but I don't know that that's a reasonable goal, as I think this will always be an area in which I can improve. I've got pages and pages of notes to look through. I hope the information seeps into my brain, filling my subconscious as I sit down to write my next project. And every project from here on out.
Yes, this kind of conference is expensive. It means time away from my family. But RWA is so worth it. Compared to the wealth of knowledge and experience at this conference, I know nothing except this. If you are a writer, you should be going to classes and workshops to further your skills. I CANNOT stress this enough. GO TO WRITING CLASSES AND WORKSHOPS. There is a huge network out there of people willing to teach you, if you are only willing to learn. Only a fool thinks they have all the answers.
So now I'm home and I'm so tired I don't know where to put myself. My back hurts, my feet hurt, and my blisters have blisters. So while this was me at the conference:
And this was Becky at the conference:
|Don't judge. I was so close to doing this on the last day.|
This will be me for the next week as I try to absorb it all and write my best book yet: