Tuesday, August 12, 2014

RWA 2014: A Random Recap

Texas, here we come!
The Romance Writers of America national conference can be overwhelming. Book signings, workshops, publishers’ parties, the awards gala—it’s a lot to take in, not to mention exhausting!

Since my brain is still in recovery mode after last month’s trip to San Antonio, I thought I’d use today’s post to share some of the more interesting tidbits I gleaned. Two of the early workshops I attended were about productivity (hmmm . . . ).

“Writing Faster, Writing Better,” Cindi Myers.
  • Faster writing means more cohesive writing. You don’t waste time going back to refresh your memory about what you’ve already written.
  • Use rituals to get you into the frame of mind to write.
  • When you finish for the day, make notes about where you want the story to go next.
  • Nix bad habits like surfing the Internet or constantly checking email.
Myra at the Literacy Book Signing

“The Slow Writer’s Guide to Making a Living,” Courtney Milan.

  • “Slow” equals less than one new release every 90 days!
  • Visibility is crucial. Even if you don’t have a new release, create a visibility event every 90 days (e.g., free novella, reduced ebook price, giveaway, etc.) to drive sales on your other books.
  • The page at the end of your book is the most important for nudging readers to purchase your other titles and/or find out about your next book.
Sock display at the Harlequin party

“Your Books Have Taken Off! Now What?”, Marie Force.

  • Separate writing and family finances. Track expenses, keep receipts.
  • Have a professional email address that uses your author name.
  • A mailing list is a must!
  • Your website is your “storefront.” Have it set up so you can manage the details yourself.
  • Be professional on social media. Avoid taking strong stands on controversial issues.
  • Incorporation is usually advisable only after you’re earning a sustainable 6-figure annual income.
  • Learn to say NO and outsource when you can!
Missy and Janet at the Harlequin party

“Writing Great Characters: The Good, the Bad, the Believable,” Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
  • What draws you in? Recognizable emotions, character growth, characters aren’t too perfect, characters are passionate about something.
  • What turns you off? Characters who are whiney (without good reason), stupid characters, martyrs, selfish characters.
  • Character archetypes are the foundation. Development comes from building on this base.
  • Backstory should be an action scene if at all possible.
  • Show emotion through body language or movement of objects without using words like “sensed,” “felt,” or “thought.”
Debby with Mary Curry at the Harlequin party

General Session with Cindy Ratzlaff
  • You, the author, are the brand, NOT your books.
  • On your Facebook page, the main graphic is your “billboard.” Use it effectively.
  • Twitter users are comfortable with Facebook “language,” while Facebook users don’t always feel the same about Twitter “language.” Better to feed your Facebook posts into Twitter than the other way around.
  • Photos, graphics, and videos generate better social media responses than straight text.
  • The goal of social media is real conversations.
Missy, Tina, Mary, Myra, Mary Curry, & Debby at the RITAs

This is just the tip of the iceberg (apologies for the weak cliché) of what I brought home from RWA. Does anything in these lists strike you as a new insight or something you need to incorporate in your own writing? If you attended RWA, do you have other bits of advice or information you’d like to share?

Join the conversation and include the words ENTER ME in your comment if you’d like the chance to win an autographed copy or e-book edition of my award-winning novel When the Clouds Roll By. I’m so excited the book was also recently named a finalist for the Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award!

Annemarie Kendall is overjoyed when the armistice is signed and the Great War comes to an end. Her fiancé, Lieutenant Gilbert Ballard, is coming home, and though he is wounded, she is excited to start their life together. But when he arrives, her dreams are dashed when she learns Gilbert is suffering from headaches, depression, and an addiction to pain killers. This is not the man she had planned to marry.

After serving in the trenches, Army Chaplain Samuel Vickary is barely holding onto his faith. Putting up a brave front as he ministers to the injured soldiers at the hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas, he befriends Gilbert and eventually falls for Annemarie. While Annemarie tries to sort out her confused feelings about the two men in her life, she witnesses firsthand the bitterness and hurt they both hold within. Whom will she choose? Will she have the courage to follow her heart and become the woman God intended her to be? As the world emerges from the shadow of war, Annemarie clings to her faith as she wonders if her future holds the hope, happiness, and love for which she so desperately longs.


  1. Hi Myra. I always think random recaps are the best ones ;-)

    Congrats on all the awards! Please enter me to win a copy :)

  2. It seems like you have order even in your randomness. I would love if you would ENTER ME yo win a copy. Thank you!

  3. Thank you for the post and pictures. Please ENTER ME to win a copy of your book. Also, congratulations on finaling in the Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  4. I love those pictures!!!! You guys look like you were having a marvelous time, and so well deserved!

    I brought coffee. It's chilly and windy and rainy here, more like late September than mid-August, so I brought along some hot chocolate too.

    Just in case!

  5. Hi,
    I love your blog. This is why an award given to me titled A Very Inspired Blog came to me, I immediately thought of passing it on to you. The award is on my blog.


    There you will find rules to follow. Please leave a comment after taking the award. Thank you.

  6. Hi Myra,

    It looks like you all had a great time. Thanks for sharing.

    I like the part about writing faster helps cohesiveness. Sounds like a good reason to participate in NANO.

    I'll also be reflecting on your notes from Susan on character.

    Thanks again!

  7. Thanks for the recap of RWA, Myra! I attended some of the same workshops, but not all. My favorite PAN workshop was What Your Brain Craves and How to Get it onto the Page. Need to look at my notes and get Lisa Cron's points from the page into my head.

    Thanks for sharing the photos! Such fun to see everyone!


  8. "Incorporation is usually advisable only after you’re earning a sustainable 6-figure annual income." I'll keep this little tidbit of a gem in my back pocket until I need it. (rolling eyes so fast I've lost my eyeballs up in my forehead somewhere)

    Love their definition of slow. LOL

    Thanks for the recap. Loved getting another glimpse at the excitement. And no need to enter me in the draw. Loved When the Clouds Rolled by and so thrilled with its success. Well deserved.

  9. Thanks for the post, Myra. You girls all looked so glamorous while having a good time! And even when working!!

    Love the pics.:-)

    I like and benefit from recaps.

  10. Myra, what fun to relive the conference!! I think you summarized those workshops well.

    I learned so much this year. I always do! Now…to remember it and incorporate it. :) SEP's workshop really spoke to me, especially be the examples people shared in that workshop (hands-on). It spurred me to take my writing to another level.

  11. Ruthy, thanks for the coffee! I'll have some when I get home from Zumba.

    Would y'all believe I STILL have a sore hip muscle from dancing at the Harlequin party!! LOL

  12. Myra, Great Tips. Loved the pictures. Please enter me in the drawing.

    Have a great day

  13. Good morning, y'all! I'm still prying my eyes open while I sip a cup of Earl Grey, but as soon as I get off the iPad and onto my laptop, I'll be back to catch up with everyone.

    In the meantime, enjoy Ruthy's coffee, and I'll set out some blueberry scones. (Good thing baking is so easy in cyberspace!)

  14. Myra, huge congrats on all the awards your novel When the Clouds Roll By is getting. Loved it!


  15. Thanks for the nice recap, Myra.


  16. Great recap. Made me smile all over again!!!

  17. Okay, I'm back!!!

    Hi, KARA! It's always interesting to go back through my conference notes and see what I thought important enough to jot down--provided I can read my own handwriting!

    Thanks for the congrats! It's been an exciting year for this novel!

  18. MARIANNE, I am nothing if not orderly--LOL!

    Have you seen my office lately???

    No? GOOD!!!!!!!

  19. Good morning, CINDY, and thank you! I'm so thrilled at the recognition this book has received!

  20. RUTHY, we had our "chilly and rainy" over the weekend. Feels weird to have lunch on the porch wrapped in an afghan in August! Seriously???

    Looks like we'll be heating up over the next few days, though.

  21. Sore hips, Missy!!!! Oy, we're not twenty any more, darn it!!!!

    But what fun the Harlequin party is. Go you!!!! I'm glad you guys had a chance to do that. So stinkin' fun!

  22. JACKIE, the best part of RWA was seeing Seekers and Seeker friends in person again. Anything I actually learned? Pure bonus!

    It's absolutely true about writing faster (or at least consistently) helping the cohesiveness of the story. You don't waste nearly so much time rereading what you've already written just to refresh your memory of what happened. I do that enough even when I'm writing every day!

  23. JANET, the workshop on "What Your Brain Craves" was really interesting! What she said just makes so much sense--learning is easier in story form.

    Guess Jesus already had this figured out, huh? ;-D

  24. KAV, I, um, pretty much rolled my eyes over that 6-figure statement, too. Do we get to count the digits on the right side of the decimal point???

    As for slow writers? I guess most of us are slow compared to Ruthy and Mary!

  25. Good morning Myra,
    Sounds like you had a good time.
    Maybe next year...
    I like Earl Grey too! In a china cup! On the veranda, looking at the rose garden...Okay, that's not gonna happen today.
    I already have "Till the Clouds Roll By"! When are you going to give away "Whisper Goodbye"?
    Best, KB

  26. MARY HICKS, glad you enjoyed the recap!

    As for looking glamorous? That only happens once or twice a year at conferences! The rest of the time? Well, let's just say it's a good thing for both of us that Seekerville doesn't have a hidden camera in my office.

  27. Myra, loved this quick recap on RWA. Sounds like a wonderful time! Did you get red HQ socks??? No pics??? :)

  28. MISSY, I admire you for even using the word Zumba in a sentence! That's plenty workout for me!

    Although I am enjoying playing pickleball with hubby and some new friends over at the JCC. We played again yesterday, and I think I pulled something in my calf. Everything else is kind of sore, too.

  29. Glad you enjoyed the pix, WILANI! You're in!

  30. Thanks for the recap, Myra! I'd be interested in hearing more about this point:

    "The page at the end of your book is the most important for nudging readers to purchase your other titles and/or find out about your next book"

  31. TINA, it was SOOOOO good to see you in person again at RWA! It had been way too long!

  32. KB, you are too fancy for me! I sip my tea from a hand-thrown ceramic mug made in Hot Springs, Arkansas. And roses? Not with my gardening skills!

    Okay, I promise to offer a copy of Whisper Goodbye next time it's my day in Seekerville!

  33. PAM, oh, yes, I got my pair of red Hq socks! They are so soft and comfy! Sorry, no pix of them actually on my feet.

  34. AMBER, I think the point about the last page being the most important means that, especially in indie e-books, the last page should include buy links to your other books in print. If readers enjoyed this book, it's a chance to grab them right there for purchasing another of your titles.

  35. Waving from Texas, Myra. So good to see you again, as always. And what a fun conference. At the risk of using another weak cliché, thanks for the memories. :D

  36. Hi, MINDY! Great to see you, too, and it sure was good to get back to Texas for several days. No matter where life takes me, I'll always be a Texan at heart!

  37. Myra, what a great wrap up! And I'm with whoever said it above: If this is your version of "Random," I'm very impressed.

    I had to laugh at the thought of ever incorporating. :) 6 figures, huh? I also grinned at the thought of "slow" being defined as taking 90 days to complete a book. I guess I work at a tortoise's pace. I'm MUCH slower than 90 days for a book. :)

    I think the thing that spoke to me was on building a character using an archetype as the foundation. That was helpful.

    I loved this post, Myra. Please ENTER ME for your book. :)

  38. JEANNE, yeah, I'm not holding my breath for the 6-figure thing--LOL!

    SEP did make a good point about archetypes as the foundation. I think it's the idea of not stereotyping. We want well-rounded, realistic characters, which means they aren't strictly just one thing.

  39. Pam, Mindy Obenhaus and I had a photo made with the socks (I'm not sure whose camera it's on though. Must check mine!). :) And I also took one of Mindy wearing her socks. But I think that was on her camera. Yes, we were doing a lot of posing and passing around camera/phones. :)

    Those socks are so nice when the high heels get painful (about five minutes after arriving).

  40. Aha! Found one of Mindy in her socks on her Yankee-Belle Cafe blog post. :)


  41. Thanks for sharing the link, MISSY! Those socks were so fun!

    With the loud dance music, though, I think I lost another few years off my hearing.

    But the desserts? WOW!!!!!!

  42. Congratulations Myra on your Maggie Award - Please ENTER ME to win your book - it has been on my TBR list for awhile - thanks :)

  43. SHARON, happy to add you to the list, and thanks for the congrats!

  44. Myra, congratulations on the success of When the Clouds Roll By. Love the cover too. It looks great. Please ENTER ME in the drawing.

    I enjoyed the pictures and recap of the convention. I thought the comments about characters not being whiney was a good one. I have read a couple books lately in which the female lead seemed way too immature and whiney for a main character.

    I also laughed at the description of a "slow" writer. Right now I a just trying to get going on my first book. I'm not even thinking beyond that at this point!

  45. SANDY, I'm thrilled at the recognition Clouds has received this year!

    On the subject of whiny characters, I don't have much room to talk, since my heroine Natalie in One Imperfect Christmas definitely qualified. But she was definitely an overcomer by book's end, so I feel somewhat justified. ;)

    Keep writing! You'll finish your book!

  46. Myra, so fun to read the recap. I am, as always, insanely jealous of you all at the Harlequin Party.

    But I've learned to live with it.

  47. MARY, think of it this way. In a few years when the Hq party folks are all paying out the nose for expensive hearing aids, you will be laughing at us.

    Seriously, next time . . . earplugs. I need to put a reminder on my calendar.

  48. Thank you so much for the recap! You take great notes :)

    Maybe I should consider going to RWA someday....

    And don't enter me in the drawing. I already have (and love!) the book!

  49. I took a picture of the socks. It's on the conference WE ED dated July 26/27 in Seekerville.

    I will never wear them. I will pass them down to generations to come.

  50. ENTER ME! I would love to win your book.

    It looks like RWA conference was so good! I really hope I get to go sometime...

  51. JAN, it's a great conference but also overwhelming at times. So many workshop choices! So many people all in one place!!!

    I wish I'd had more time to revisit some favorite San Antonio sights. Hubby grew up there, and we lived there a few years during our married life, so many things are familiar, but a few I would have liked to see again. Instead, we used the extra days before and after to visit our Texas family.

  52. TINA, I wear slipper-socks around the house all winter, so I'm sure my party socks will come out of the drawer again when the temperature drops.

  53. JENNIFER, I hope you do get the chance to attend RWA someday. If not the biggie, check out one of the smaller chapter conferences in your area. I'm seriously considering Georgia Romance Writers Moonlight & Magnolias in October. Looks like they have a great lineup of speakers.

  54. I shall live vicariously through the lot o' youse!!! But I loved the Harlequin Party so much, and I love meeting people and hanging with them....

    I'm a people lover.

  55. Just wanted to thank TOPAZSHELL for your kind words about Seekerville! We are honored and blessed by the warm response from our followers!

  56. WOW, WOW, WOW!!!! Talk about conference-in-a-box, Myra, YOWZA!! You just took me to RWA without me spending a dime!!! BLESS YOU!!!

    This nailed me between the eyes because I've just discovered how true it is:

    Faster writing means more cohesive writing. You don’t waste time going back to refresh your memory about what you’ve already written.

    And that email/web distraction remark?? I'm not even going there because I've known that for WAY too long now ... :(

    GREAT POST, my friend!


  57. Thanks, JULIE! I do get so distracted by email and the Web. Every time I get stuck in my wip, what do I do? Check email. Visit Seekerville. Browse Amazon to see if there's anything I just can't live without.

    Of course, I have conveniently convinced myself it's therapeutic. I never stay long online, just enough to recharge my brain cells for another attack on the manuscript.

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

  58. Loved this post, Myra - - great recaps (especially for those of us unable to attend RWA this year!).

    CONGRATS on your book being a MAGGIE Finalist!! But I'm not surprised at all---it was WONDERFUL!! :)

    Hugs, Patti Jo (who uses waaaay too many exclamation marks---but sometimes I just can't help myself!!!!) ;)

  59. PATTI JO, you can use all the exclamation marks you want to!!!!! Missed your smiling face at RWA this year!

  60. Hello Myra! Thanks for the recap of some of your classes. I like the one about "fast writing = cohesive writing," because that is so true! I'm always much better when I don't have to recap 2-3 chapters worth when I get back to a project!

    Though I'm not published yet, I also appreciated the tips on making yourself visible if you don't have a release every 90 days. Things to keep in mind for someday!

    I know I won the sequel to this book, but I'd love to read the first one, so please ENTER ME!

    Have a wonderful day!

  61. STEPHANIE, so much of the writing life is about promotion these days--we just can't escape it. I really learned a lot from Cindi Ratzlaff about ideas for the best use of social media.

    Now . . . I just have to get better about incorporating those ideas!

  62. Myra, you have done a great job taking hour-long workshops and shortening them to a few key tips that highlight the important nuggets to be remembered. I'm impressed...but then you always impress me!

  63. Myra, you have done a great job taking hour-long workshops and shortening them to a few key tips that highlight the important nuggets to be remembered. I'm impressed...but then you always impress me!

  64. Aawwww, DEBBY, you're too sweet! Sure was fun spending time with you in San Antonio!

  65. Ruthy, that's the truth (I'm not 20 anymore)!!

    Myra, I hope your calf is okay!

  66. LOL on the socks, Tina. :)

    I actually grabbed another pair for my daughter on the way out the door. So I've already passed down a pair that way. :)

  67. Thanks, MISSY! I talked hubby into NOT working out at the health club today so my muscles could rest. Definitely not as young as we used to be!

    And . . . now it just started to rain. Fun.

  68. Wonderful post, Myra. Thanks for the quick, concise recap of those workshops.

    Did Marie Force explain her reasoning for this: "Incorporation is usually advisable only after you’re earning a sustainable 6-figure annual income"?

    Thanks, too, for sharing the pix. Everyone looks like they were having a wonderful time.

    Nancy C

  69. Wow, lots of great tips -- and wonderful pictures!

    Writing and publishing sure has changed a lot since I began to write 12 years ago. Then everything was about craft, not it's about promoting. So many new skills to learn.

  70. NANCY, I think it has to do with both the cost and the different way you keep financial records with incorporating, and whether you're consistently earning enough to make it worthwhile. LOOONG way off for me!!!

  71. No kidding, CARA!!!! It's a whole new world. Gone are the days when writers could just focus on writing good books. :(

  72. I have to say I like your post why cos you have it easy for a person like me to read! with bullet point lists. I am still stuggling to read a lot and am so tired that in points I can read!

    Love the pics. Oh and with a hero called Gilbert I would love to win an ebook.

    Congrats on being a finalist.

  73. Nice to see you, JENNY, but sorry you're struggling with fatigue. Glad my bullet points helped a little. I'll put you on the list for an ebook entry!

  74. Thanks for sharing! Please enter me in the giveaway. :)

  75. Good evening, Myra. I meant to stop by earlier (I did actually, just meant to stop back to comment).

    Thanks for the recaps. I feel like I didn't get to many workshops. Anxiously waiting for my Conference flash drive to arrive.

    Shameless self promotion, but I did 2 blogs for Seekerville on the brain and story. The first one was based on Lisa Cron's books. Here are the links:



  76. MARY CURRY, I know what you mean about the workshops. Seems we were always rushing here and there, and with so many different things going on throughout the day, it could be overwhelming.

    Must go back and check out those links--thanks!!!

  77. Myra,
    That was great, though I still wish I'd been there.

    Please ENTER ME in the drawing.

  78. Myra, I think whiny characters are fine if they are supposed to show a change at the end of the book. I want to read One Imperfect Christmas. I love Christmas books.

  79. A great post thank you.

    ENTER ME please!!

  80. Yeah, WALT, some of this stuff loses something in translation. Wish you could have been there, too, but it looks like a great lineup at M&M! Still considering the possibility of attending--especially since I've heard so many good things about the conference from Debby and Missy.

  81. SANDY, we definitely want to show character growth, but I guess it's all in how the author balances the whininess with some positive qualities right away.

  82. MARY PRESTON, so glad you stopped by!

  83. Wow, such excitement. The party must have been fun. Congratulations on the awards!

    Please ENTER ME in the drawing to win a copy of your book, When the Clouds Roll By.

    ~Cindi Altman

  84. Not nearly as good as attending, Myra, but I sure appreciate your sharing these most excellent notes and tips (and PHOTOS!!!)
    Such fun.
    Enter me please!

  85. CINDY and KC, thanks for stopping by! I wish I was consistently better about reviewing all my notes after a conference. Writing this post was a good way for me to refresh my memory.