This past weekend I attended the Chicago-North RWA Spring Fling. Held every other year, it’s one of my favorites and not only because it’s within driving distance. This sold out conference had something for everyone, an easy laid back attitude and was smoothly run.
The writers workshops were well attended and recorded, so no one had to feel like they might be missing something. After the party atmosphere of RT a couple of weeks ago, Spring Fling was all business as writers were lined up to learn their craft and sell their books to prospective agents and editors.
YA author Simone Elkeles was the kick-off speaker and pulled no punches as she told her story of getting published. She attributes a lot of her success to her local RWA group. Simone just completed a 3 week European tour, where her books sell extremely well, and she told the story of the a 14 year old girl who stood in line for 2 hours to meet her and then started to cry. I’d say that’s a pretty good sign that your books are having an impact on readers.
After Simone’s talk, the three keynote speakers who included Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Dianna Love did a Q&A for the audience. The moderator asked great questions that kept the speakers on their toes and the audience entertained. EX: Do your books start with an idea or an outline?
SEP: Never an outline.
DL: I’m a plotter…I get an idea that’s unusual and go with it.
SE: What’s an outline?
Question: A mistake you made and how you fixed it?
SEP: Argued with editor about every revision on first book. Learned not to argue, just say, “Oh.”
DL: Told her story idea out loud and someone picked it up. Keep your ideas to yourself.
SE: Found out “Perfect Chemistry” cover was a stock photo that was also used as an STD ad.
There were agent and editors panels, but unfortunately they were at the same time as the bookseller/librarian get-together. I opted for the latter. This group was so interesting that I wish I would have had a chance to meet them all. I did connect with Monique who runs her library’s book club. They do it kind of different. A theme is picked and readers can read any book that fits the theme and then discuss it at their meetings. Monique does provide suggestions for those who need a list to choose from.
A while ago, I downloaded the Overdrive app for my phone and iPad, but I finally met someone who could explain to me how to work it. Librarian Helen Pinder from West Chicago was there with her mom (who is a librarian at a different library) and she set me up so I’m now able to download both books and audio versions to my devises. Can’t wait to try it out at home.
I stopped in the Kensington Spotlight where Martin Biro was telling authors not to write for the trend, but hot right now are firemen, cowboys, Texas and it’s always good if a cat is involved. He assured writers that Kensington accepts unagented authors and all queries are read.
Luncheon Keynote Dianna Love related writing a book to fishing (something else she loves). She grew up with tools instead of dolls and quickly learned she could find any answer in a book. Knew she was destined to become a writer when she couldn’t write a grocery list without a twist.
There was a very successful book signing and I was fortunate enough to sit next to Courtney Milan. She had an app on her iPad so she could sign e-books. Even though she is a traditionally published author (love her historicals), she also had a self published book that was selling like hot cakes, so she then showed me her credit card reader that attached to her iPad to take payment for those books. I tell you, I always seem to come away from these conferences learning something new.
Lots of smiles from writers who were asked to send in partials and full manuscripts, but I noticed one in particular who was bouncing around because four people asked to see her work.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips finished off the conference by telling the attendees that “innovation is the author’s job, not the editor’s.” She assured everyone that “We are all individuals and one size does not fit all.” Susan also talked about reviews. “No one is going to like everything you write, some won’t like anything you write…get over it.”
Awards were given for the Fire and Ice Writing Contest and you can find the winners here. There also was a silent auction benefiting “Literacy for All of Us.” The event raised over $4200 and is receiving matching funds from the Sol R. Kaufman Family Foundation. Kudos to the conference committee for the amazing job they did on a very success Spring Fling.
Bottom Line: Today is National Honesty Day…wonder how many people will participate in this?