NHRWA Spring Fling

Barbara Vey -- May 25th, 2010

Sally MacKenzie and Terri Brisbin

Sally MacKenzie is the author of the Naked series (The Naked Viscount, The Naked Earl).  She’s agreed to be the Cub Reporter at the New Hampshire RWA Spring Fling event this year.

The New Hampshire Romance Writers ventured into new territory this year, expanding their annual conference to a new format with more workshops, a luncheon speaker, and a book fair at a new venue.  It was my first time at the conference, so I can’t compare and contrast, but I can say it was great fun and I think a great success.

We (I dragged my husband along) flew into Manchester and rented a car for the hour drive (more than an hour for us since just about everywhere we could make a wrong turn, we did) to Portsmouth, a lovely old seaport.   We had a great view of the harbor from our room, and it was only a short walk from the conference site, the Sheraton Harborside Portsmouth Hotel, to historic Portsmouth and an amazing number of great restaurants–as well as a number of historic sites, of course.

Friday evening, Lara Adrian, whose bestselling Midnight Breed series is contracted for 10 books (so far), kicked things off with her pre-conference workshop, “Writing a Multi-book Series.”  I couldn’t attend, so I asked Miranda Neville how it went; she told me it was terrific.  Hearing Miranda’s review, I was doubly sorry I’d missed it.  After Lara’s presentation, many of the conference attendees gathered in the Riverwatch Lounge for to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

Denise, Christyne and Miranda

Denise, Christyne and Miranda

Saturday began with a very well-attended buffet breakfast.  After a sustaining muffin, fruit, juice, and cup of coffee–I did mention the Riverwatch Lounge gathering, didn’t I?–it was on to the workshops, twelve in all, two in each time slot. It was very hard to choose which to attend.  Kristan Higgins used American Idol as her metaphor to discuss a very slippery topic in “Defining and Refining Voice.” Then Jo Ann Ferguson revealed the “secret key” to publishing– emotion–in “I’ll Second that Emotion.” In “From Unpublished to Sold: Three Authors Share Their Journeys,” Christyne Butler, Miranda Neville, and Denise Robbins talked about their publishing experiences; next Stella MacLean gave us pointers on “How to Write Your First Draft.” What did I have to miss?  “Developing the Perfect Pitch/Query” by Jenni Holbrook; “You CAN Promote Your Own Book” by Susan May; “Going Deep” with Toni Andrews; and “Hooks and How to Use Them” with Terri Brisbin.

Kristan Higgins gave a very entertaining and motivating keynote at lunch, this time taking her inspiration from Project Runway.  She offered us twelve lessons from the runway ranging from “you have to make something to get on the show” to “being judged is hard” that spoke to beginning writers, the multi-published, and everyone in between. Lunch was delicious, and I won a prize, so it was a great time all around.

After lunch Caroline Linden and I gave “The Top 5 Mistakes New, ‘Almost There,’ and Newly-Published Writers Make.” We had fun even though I’d revised our outline and forgotten to tell Caroline, and our audience was attentive.  Miranda Neville was up next with “Leitmotif in Romance Fiction.” I was afraid I’d have to dust off my English B.A., but Miranda made her presentation very interesting and easy to follow.  The other two workshops running in those slots were  Jenni Holbrook’s “It’s Not About Sex” and Susan May’s “Rejection–Making it Work for You.”  The book signing concluded the conference, and even wild animals came to meet the authors!

If you’d like to be a Cub Reporter for an event that I won’t be at, please e-mail me at barbaravey@gmail.com

Bottom Line: I’m heading back home today from Florida and looking forward to the Southeastern Wisconsin Festival of Books in Waukesha June 18th and 19th.

34 thoughts on “NHRWA Spring Fling

  1. Kim Adams

    Aloha, Sally! Thanks for the tidbits from the NHRWA! You are almost as busy as a traveler as Barbara! The best part of chapter conferences is the opportunity to meet and hear local authors. While I am looking forward to seeing many authors at RomCon and RWA, I will have lots of competition! But watch for me elbowing my way through your fan club in Denver and Orlando! And looking forward to meeting Barbara somewhere in the future!

  2. Debbie Kaufman

    Hey Sally and Barbara:

    Gosh, Sally. I was so excited to see you mention our very own Susan May. Susan is one of the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales bloggers. If anyone knows some of the difficulties and ins and outs of self-promotion, Susan does!

    It sounds like a fabulous conference with all the best parts – good information and good fun! Thanks for the report.

  3. Sally MacKenzie

    It was great fun–thanks for giving me the opportunity to report, Barbara! Unfortunately, the picture we took before the book signing came out too blurry to use, but featured a lot of the NHWRA ladies–and a guy in a gorilla suit! (He’s the “wild” animal the post refers to.) The Rotary was also having an event at the hotel; I’m not sure why this fellow was dressed in the gorilla suit, though. He was wearing a reflective vest that really annoyed the digital camera which may be why the picture didn’t turn out. I took the opportunity while he was shedding all over my signing space to pin a “I’m a Naked reader” button on his tie.

    Kim, I’m so glad to hear you’ll be at RomCon as well as RWA. I really missed you at RT.

    Debbie, I’m sorry I missed Susan’s presentation. Having choices is nice, until you actually have to MAKE a choice!

    Dianna, great to “see” you again.

  4. Miranda Neville

    Thanks for doing this report, Sally. It was great seeing you in our neck of the woods. As I always say about the NH chapter: we’re small but cute.

    Like you I was sorry to miss Susan May’s workshop. I want to be like Hermione in whichever Harry Potter it was, taking two courses at once.

  5. Tami Brothers

    Wow. This sounds like a great conference. The line-up of speakers and workshops sounded awesome. I will definitely have to add that one to my list of “must-see” conferences.

    Big shout out to Susan May! I’ve been to one of her other workshops and she is awesome! I would have loved to have heard this one. I need it…wink….

    Thanks for a great overview, Sally.


  6. Susan

    I had the best time at Spring Fling. The people, the place, speakers and the workshops were wonderful. I know I spoke slower than most but we still made a connection. I look forward to seeing new friends again soon. Thanks for the great report.

  7. Terri Brisbin

    Sally –

    A great summary of the conference! It was my first time and I really enjoyed it — the workshops were great, the location was beautiful (Portsmouth, with tons of restaurants and sightseeing within walking distance), and the company was fabulous.

    I turned up just a bit too late to meet the gorilla at the booksigning but he did shed on our table….! LOL!

    Thanks to the wonderful members of NHRWA for hosting the event.


    PS — Kristan’s luncheon speech was incredible — even though I don’t watch Project Runway, it made the point about the challenges of writing and getting/being published. BRAVA to Kristan!

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