Posts Tagged ‘workshops’

The RWA Experience . . .

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

OK, so here I am at RWA in New York. The energy is amazing. I’m seeing more male attendees than ever which is fantastic. The earlier date and the fact that the conference started a day before the usual day of the week keeps confusing me about where I am in the RWA conference timeline.

Rumors are flying, many having to do directly or indirectly with digital publishing. Like the one about two gentlemen panelist being overtly rude to each other. The details about the Penguin digital initiative are interesting – check out Dear Author for that. I talked to my Berkley editor about it today and it sounds very interesting; shorter length, open to new and different and can definitely support existing Berkley authors.

Readers are really excited about getting their hands on some of the old Loveswept backlist that Random House is bringing out with their digital line.

I attended Courtney Milan’s ad hoc workshop on self-publishing. It was really, really interesting and informative. Some people are stressing about the wrong things, though, and aren’t stressing about things I think are important. (Quick to publish vs. Quality to Publish).

Speaking of Courtney Milan, YAY on her novella Unlocked hitting the NYT!!! That’s a result that should resolve the Quick vs. Quality firmly in favor of Quality, which is what self-publishers should be stressing about.

Had very informative and productive meetings with my editors and I am very happy about that!

Now, I’m off to another meeting . . .

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Never Stop Learning

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Saturday, I drove down to Sunnyvale, California, the heart of the Silicon Valley, to attend Donald Maass’s seminar Fire In Fiction. I hate driving. I particularly hate driving to the South Bay because the freeways there were designed by a sadist. Even with the GPS I still confuse left and right and I sometimes still take the wrong exit. Driving is stressful for me. But I got up at 6:00 am on a Saturday and drove a hour and a half South.

I listened to Maass’s 2009 RWA workshop on my DVD and heard enough in that 2 hours to think I’d really like to hear more about his thoughts. I was particularly interested because I know that in addition to being a top Literary Agent he’s also been a writer. I’ve read his book Writing The Break out Novel and thought it was one of the more helpful writing books. For me. YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary).

The seminar ran from 9:30am to 6:30pm and what a great experience it was. There was a lot of detailed analysis and explanation. I have pages and pages of notes and examples. I’m so glad I went. This was completely worth the money.

I now have several new and interesting ways to think about writing.

Never stop learning.

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RWA 2009 Workshop Review – Carolyn’s recommendations

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

For Reference, here’s the ones I’ve already reviewed, just so you have everything in one handy blog post. But, I’ve added a few, too.

Note: I’m only mentioning the ones I thought were really helpful. For me and what I’m stressing about in my writing. There were a lot of great workshops that aren’t on my list because they’re not relevant to where I am in my writing career. Your Mileage Will Definitely Vary.

And I’m not mentioning ones that Did Not Work for me, so actually, this isn’t a review of all the workshops.

14-001 Opening Keynote Session, Janet Evanovich. Looking for career inspiration? She tells a great rejection letters about-to-give-up story.

14-002 Keynote Luncheon – Linda Howard OMG, her stories are so funny I could hardly breath. The lawn mower story….

14-009 Homeland Security: was actually REALLY interesting. The speaker had some really great stories and she just loves her job so much you can’t help but catch the enthusiasm. Great details to be tucked away in the brain vault.

14-011 Google Book Settlement
– informative. Probably worth a listen if the settlement is still alive or not substantially changed by the current negotiations.

14-012 Pro Session
: Make sure you listen to Madelaine Hunter. She gave a GREAT talk. The rest is pretty good, too, but for me she was a standout. The agent panel was good, too.

14-015 Writing Dark Love Stories, Anne Stuart. Entertaining. Ways to think about the hero, heroine relationship and risk taking.

14-034 Writing the Hot Historical – everything Pam Rosenthal said was fascinating and thought provoking, whether you write historicals or not.

14-035 Secrets of the Best Selling Sisterhood
– SEP and Jayne Ann Krentz. Worth a listen.

14-039 – Joan Johnston – Writing the Breakout Nove
l. Lots of interesting tips and things to think about.

14-042 Buy this Book – Gardiner, Poelle – Give this a listen. Top agents.

14-047 Under Their Skin and Straight To The Heart: Creating Emotion With Significant Detail, Robin Wells– Very good. Give a listen.

14-054 Intellectual Property – Moderated by Nora Roberts. Make sure you listen to Nora’s story about how she was plagiarized. Riveting. You’ll get angry and want to cry on her behalf. The speakers were good, but hard to understand at times (heavy accents, unclear diction).

14-056 Eloisa James Awards luncheon. Her speech will make you cry.

14-062: The Fire in Fiction. Donald Maass
. Will def make you think. Some is kind of obvious but he tells a story (toward the end I think) and the room was COMPLETELY silent while he told it. A masterful example of show not tell. Have a listen. I have already listened to this one a second time.

14-071 Why we Love Mr. Darcy. Brenda Chin, Julia Quinn, L. Ghurk
e: Recommended. This quickly veers off into career decisions and discussions. Worth a listen for everything Quinn says about her career.

14-072 One, Two or Three. Kristin Nelson, Natasha Kern. This one is a MUST listen. Chilling bad-agent story. Great discussion of the thinking behind agenting a book deal. FYI, Kristin Nelson is my agent.

14-076 Setting as Character. Jade Lee
. Worth a listen. She says some very interesting things. Plus she’s funny and a great speaker.

14-082 Mauled Men etc
. This one is about what happens after someone dies mostly in re funeral homes. I recommend listening because the speaker is good and there’s all kinds of unexpected interesting facts and information in this that will probably come in handy one day.

14-084 Spotlight on St. Martin’s
. I consider this a MUST listen. Jennifer Enderlin in particular has some GREAT tips and insights. You probably won’t have to listen to all of it, but don’t miss the first half.

14-088 The good the bad the ugly in New media
. Depressing, but do listen. It’s about marketing and having a publicist. The min. budget of $7500 for EFFECTIVE marketing is just freaking depressing and out of reach for must authors. There are some good ideas and tips.

14-092 Make it Happen. 10 Tips to Breaking in
. Christie Craig’s story was inspirational. I heard about this one at the conference — she made quite an impact and I can see why.

14-094 Legal Flavored Research
. Some interesting stuff here.

14-101 How to Sell to Harlequin’s London Office
. Despite the title, there was some truly awesome story advice in this one. I gave this one 5 stars.

14-102 Anatomy of a Best Seller
. This was good. Chris Keeslar of Dorchester is a great editor and I think writers need to sit up and pay attention when editors are speaking.

14-106 Turning Points, Jennifer Crusie
. I’m looking for new ways to think about story, and this gave me some.

14-108 – Spotlight on Sourcebooks
. Listen to this one.

14-112 – Evil 101 – Where True Crime Meets Terrific Fiction, Sherri Lewis Wohl. This is one of the ones shortened by the Fire Alarm (RATS!!) but there are some great stories if you’re interested in the criminal mind.

14-117 – Chemistry: How to Create The Sizzle That will Keep your Readers Glued to the Page – Sherry Thomas This one is also Fire Alarm shortened, but she was able to come back and go through more material. Give a listen.

14-125 A&B No Holds Barred, JR Ward, Jessica Anderson Both authors have interesting and insightful things to say about writing and the writing process. Plus it’s funny to hear Ward say she’s a plotter and then describe a process that sounds to me like it’s seat of the pants.

14-130 The Scoop! Using Television’s Secrets and Techniques For A Top Notch Novel, Hank Phillippi Ryan I’ve listened to this one a couple of times. Good stuff about deadlines.

14-133 A Look Inside the Editor’s Mind, Leslie Wainger
. She’s an editor. Of course you should listen to this one.

14-136 A&B More How to Make a Living Writing Romance Novels, Stephanie Bond. As you might expect, there is some great stuff here. I do feel, however, this is not really one-size fits all.

14-145 Digital Initiatives With Your Publisher, Various Presenters. Keep yourself informed. Listen.

14-146 Spotlight On Kensington
This might be one of the best spotlights I heard. There’s some great information about how to think about and manage a career.

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RWA 2009 Workshop Review part 1

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

I consider the $100 cost of the RWA Conference workshops money well spent. Worth every penny. I have now listened to all the workshops, other than 2-3 that I knew I had no interest in.

I am NOT going to comment on all the workshops since some, for whatever reason, I did not care for or the subject matter wasn’t one I’m interested in at this point in my career. YMMV.

Workshops I end up not mentioning you may love. Ones I loved you might hate. Also, this is only part 1 because I already had most of this noted so it’s a quick post for me. There are more workshops to talk about. (For what it’s worth, right now I’m most concerned with story and character — making them bigger and better.)

One surprise was how much GREAT information was in the publisher spotlights. Not so much about what they’re buying but about story-telling — amazing stuff in each and every one. (NB, I did not listen to the Avalon or Steeple Hill spotlights since I don’t think I’ll ever write inspirational. Given that all the other spotlights were fantastic, this may be a mistake.) The Harlequin workshops were also really good. I did skip the one about moving from category to single title, as those issues don’t apply to me.

14-009 Homeland Security: was actually REALLY interesting. The speaker had some really great stories and she just loves her job so much you can’t help but catch the enthusiasm. Great details to be tucked away in the brain vault.

14-011 Google Book Settlement
– informative. Probably worth a listen if the settlement is still alive or not substantially changed by the current negotiations.

14-012 Pro Session
: Make sure you listen to Madelaine Hunter. She gave a GREAT talk. The rest is pretty good, too, but for me she was a standout. The agent panel was good, too.

14-034 Writing the Hot Historical – everything Pam Rosenthal said was fascinating and thought provoking, whether you write historicals or not.

14-035 Secrets of the Best Selling Sisterhood
– SEP and Jayne Ann Krentz. Worth a listen.

14-039 – Joan Johnston – Writing the Breakout Nove
l. Lots of interesting tips and things to think about.

14-042 Buy this Book – Gardiner, Poelle – Give this a listen. Top agents.

14-047 Under the Skin – Very good. Give a listen.

14-054 Intellectual Property – Moderated by Nora Roberts. Make sure you listen to Nora’s story about how she was plagiarized. Riveting. You’ll get angry and want to cry on her behalf. The speakers were good, but hard to understand at times (heavy accents, unclear diction).
14-056 Eloisa James Awards luncheon. Her speech will make you cry.

14-062: The Fire in Fiction. Donald Maass
. Will def make you think. Some is kind of obvious but he tells a story (toward the end I think) and the room was COMPLETELY silent while he told it. A masterful example of show not tell. Have a listen. I have already listened to this one a second time.

14-071 Why we Love Mr. Darcy. Brenda Chin, Julia Quinn, L. Ghurk
e: Recommended. This quickly veers off into career decisions and discussions. Worth a listen for everything Quinn says about her career.

14-072 One, Two or Three. Kristin Nelson, Natasha Kern. This one is a MUST listen. Chilling bad-agent story. Great discussion of the thinking behind agenting a book deal. FYI, Kristin Nelson is my agent.

14-076 Setting as Character. Jade Lee
. Worth a listen. She says some very interesting things. Plus she’s funny and a great speaker.

14-082 Mauled Men etc
. This one is about what happens after someone dies mostly in re funeral homes. I recommend listening because the speaker is good and there’s all kinds of unexpected interesting facts and information in this that will probably come in handy one day.

14-084 Spotlight on St. Martin’s
. I consider this a MUST listen. Jennifer Enderlin in particular has some GREAT tips and insights. You probably won’t have to listen to all of it, but don’t miss the first half.

14-088 The good the bad the ugly in New media
. Depressing, but do listen. It’s about marketing and having a publicist. The min. budget of $7500 for EFFECTIVE marketing is just freaking depressing and out of reach for must authors. There are some good ideas and tips.

14-092 Make it Happen. 10 Tips to Breaking in
. Christie Craig’s story was inspirational. I heard about this one at the conference — she made quite an impact and I can see why.

14-094 Legal Flavored Research
. Some interesting stuff here.

14-101 How to Sell to Harlequin’s London Office
. Despite the title, there was some truly awesome story advice in this one. I gave this one 5 stars.

14-102 Anatomy of a Best Seller
. This was good. Chris Keeslar of Dorchester is a great editor and I think writers need to sit up and pay attention when editors are speaking.

14-106 Turning Points, Jennifer Crusie
. I’m looking for new ways to think about story, and this gave me some.

14-108 – Spotlight on Sourcebooks
. Listen to this one.

That’s it for now. This is roughly 3/4’s of the workshops with some great ones yet to come. But I think I missed a few.

FTC Disclosure: I don’t have to disclose a damn thing. I paid for these workshop recordings. Plus there’s no advertising here.

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Workshop at Romance Divas

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

This week (9/21-26) I’m doing a workshop on writing historical fiction over at Romance Divas.

Head on over and ask questions or read what I have to say. The link will work even when the workshop is over and I’m not answering questions there.

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RWA Workshop Tips – OK so it’s a slight rant

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

At the RWA National Conference in Washington D.C. this past July, I bought, for the first time, the workshops on DVD.

Oh – aside: I also went all cash at the conference and let me tell you how freeing it was to NEVER use the credit card. I had to hand over the card at the hotel, but after they took the card (in case I turned out to be a room destroying deadbeat) I paid cash for the room. The first day. Never once did I have to worry about how it would feel when the bill came due as there was no bill.

So, yeah. Anyway, I plunked down my cash for the conference DVD — because the hotel was paid for, all the rest was food and gravy, right? My DVD came a couple weeks ago and I’ve been listening to the workshops. I’m perhaps a quarter of the way through and I now have some tips for people giving workshops of any kind.

  1. Do not simply read your workshop essay. It’s BORING no matter who you are. Listeners will mentally check out as you drone on (because an essay just isn’t as exciting as, say fiction) so what’s the point? They’re not listening. Also, writers, being excellent readers, will invariably read TOO FAST. Not even the people with their butts in the chair can follow you if you’re reading too fast. (And you are.)
  2. When you’re told you MUST repeat questions from the audience, that’s true. Because Here’s what it sounds like if you don’t:
    Speaker: And that sums up my list of sekrit tips for getting published. Any questions?
    Question Asker:

    mmhrt

    hjd.

    Speaker: Oh, good question! I can’t believe I forgot to mention that. Yes.

  3. The more conversational you sound, the more interesting you sound.
  4. Do not approach a workshop as nothing more than an opportunity to pitch your books. Really. Don’t. Even if you’re not a self-centered b*tch, you’ll sound like one.
  5. If you’re on a panel and you’re sitting in front of a mike, be aware that all the little noises you make will be on the tape. Like, huh, tsk, yeah. It’s really really distracting.
  6. If there is dead air during your workshop, if you can, preface that with an explanation of why things are so silent. Or explain what’s happening.
  7. The workshops I’ve enjoyed most so far are the ones where the speaker(s) sound the most interested in genuinely communicating what they know or have learned. (See previous point about people who are just trying to sell their books…)
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