Hi There, Cub Reporter joysann here. While Barbara was hanging out with the writers at the WisRWA Conference last week, I got an opportunity to pester the locals here in Northeast Ohio at their annual spring event: Cleveland Rocks Romance Conference. The conference was well attended by aspiring authors who rubbed elbows with successfully published authors like Donna MacMeans, Mary Ann Chulick, Olivia Parker, and the elusive best-selling author Erin McCarthy.
The special guest and keynote speaker was none other than the gracious and dazzling Heather Graham, who has written over one-hundred novels and been published in twenty languages. Peppering her speech with anecdotes and wisdom gained through her own career, she summed up her approach to writing by admonishing us to “Read, read, read. Write, write, write. And live, live live.” Good advice indeed. To see Drive-By Video, click here.
Two other writing guests there to share words of wisdom were popular authors Kathy Love, who gave a workshop about Understanding Your Characters, and Rhonda Stapleton, who spoke of Crafting the YA Romance.
If that wasn’t enough excitement, there were the guest Editors there to inspire awe, inspiration, fear and hope into the hearts of aspiring authors. Blurber Kym Lucas is one of these hopeful writers, and here’s what she had to say about the Query Letter Workshop:
With help from Cindy Hwang, executive editor at Berkley Publishing, and Eric Raab, editor at Tor/Forge Publishing, participants at the Cleveland Rocks Romance conference learned how to make our query letters rock. Ten willing victims, er, volunteers, submitted sample letters which were then read by by Donna MacMeans (author of The Seduction of a Duke and The Trouble With Moonlight). The two editors then gently critiqued them and provided suggestions for improvement. Thanks to Cindy and Eric’s insights, and to those who submitted their letters for dissection, we left Friday’s session with a better idea of what a query should and should not include.
During the afternoon I was entertained by observing the silent rehearsals of “pitches” all around the room, for many of the hardworking hopefuls had appointments with the guest editors, which also included Raelene Gorlinski of Ellora’s Cave/Cerridwen Press. But their agony was prolonged, for first was the very busy Booksigning Event, and then a Q & A Session where the three editors braved the slings and arrows… er, questions of their fascinated audience.
That covers the nuts and bolts; now for some fun stuff. I got to meet a novice aspiring author, Tammy Bailey, a former servicewoman who now serves in the US Air National Guard.
There was a delightful luncheon (the salmon was fine!) with the cutest, messiest little desserts, and my table companions were charming and fun.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen lovelier prize baskets for the drawings, but my luck ran out at Lori Foster’s Reader/Author Get-Together three years ago (4 of them), and here I didn’t win a single one (Heather Graham won the one I wanted the most).
And the lounge visits were fun, this one time having an exciting conversation with Tor editor Eric about my first passion, Sci-Fi, authors Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, and my treasured Wheel of Time books, boring the romance writers all the while.
Everyone went home late Saturday afternoon looking eager and excited about getting down to the business of their hearts – writing.
Bottom Line: Some of those pitches hit; I wonder how many new books will be the products of this worthwhile event.
(PSsst: I promised to start a rumor that Time Travel novels are coming back as the next big thing; pass it on.)