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.
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 In “From Unpublished to Sold: Three Authors Share Their Journeys,” Christyne Butler, Miranda Neville, and Denise Robbins talked about their publishing experiences; next Stella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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.