Keynotes, Novellas and Cross Genre at RWA


Today was the RWA Conference Keynote Luncheon where an established writers give an inspirational speech for writers and, being the down dirty girl from the middle of the midwest that I am, I was so inspired by the earthy and gritty inspiration of one Nora Roberts.  Having seen three…count them….three decades of writing she has transversed the waters of romantic literature for years. By her own admission, she has seen the tools of the trade go from paper and white-out to computers and email. And she assures us it hasn’t gotten any easier despite the changes. She likened RWA to a springboard for diving into a pool. She gave a rousing call for writers to steel themselves for the “hard”. Writers, she assures us, can “eat hard for breakfast.” Her bottom line being that we are better for it. Truly exceptional woman. An absulote icon of the profession.

I attended a couple of workshops. The first up was a panel on crossing sub-genre by five exceptional authors; Ann Aguirre and all her pseudonyms, Cynthia Eden, Beth Kery, Elisabeth Naughton, Juliana Stone (yeah!) and Beth Williamson. This was a very insightful panel of ladies. Top on their list was being careful that you didn’t over extend yourself. Most publishers desire two book releases a year. If you cross genres that could mean up to or more than four books a year. Ann Aguirre cautioned to be sure you are up to it otherwise you could risk defaulting on a contract. The charismatic Cynthia Eden made a very astute point when she advised to make the separation of genre, especially if you use the same name, very visual in your presence on the web and in advertising so to not mislead your readers. Elisabeth Naughton added that a continuity of voice was very helpful as well. Very informative panel. Feel free to ask questions and I will definitely give the answers my best based on what I learned.

The second workshop I worked in was one on writing successful novellas. This I was drawn to because the lure of the novella as a foot in the door of many publishers is irresistible. And if people are like me, they have issue with squashing fifty pounds of excrement into a ten pound bag (you can thank my papa for that phrase). By 15,000 words I’ve barely gotten started and that is the tippy top limit for major novella publishers like Harlequin’s Nocturne Bites, Spice Briefs and Historical Undones. Bonnie Vanak, a writer on the panel, advised to be sure you keep it under that 15k limit to make room for editing. She assured the workshop attendees that Harlequin preferred it that way. Just a helpful FYI for those who are interested. There were several helpful suggestions, the top two being to create in your hero and heroine two opposing core values to add conflict and to carefully structure your writing based on length so that there are no plot compressions at the end.

And last but certainly not least, tonite was karaoke night. I cannot write about this without laughing hysterically. It was surreal. When I read Heather Graham in the 1980’s as a fledgling romance enthusiast never in my wildest dreams would I have ever dreamed I would be singing along to her karaoke version of House of the Rising Sun, which she rocked by the way. The publishing industry was present in spades tonight. Amazing. And it was very obvious to me those ladies (and a couple gents) are talented in more than just writing.

It was also there that I ran into EtS captain Barbara J. Hancock again, who had her own plethora of experiences today. Say pretty please and maybe she may share. In any case, tomorrow is the awards ceremony for the Ritas and Golden Hearts. Follow me on twitter and I may be tweeting during it under the table like a bad little author.

At RWA Nationals, you just never know.

2 Responses to “Keynotes, Novellas and Cross Genre at RWA”
  1. Suzanne Rock says:

    I was following Nora’s speech on twitter (many authors tweeted snippets of the speech, and a lot of what she said really resonated with me. I’m so glad you got the opportunity to see it in person, Mandy.

    Sounds like you had some great workshops – really helpful. I remember Christina Dodd talking about cross-genre writing once. I forgot where I heard it. Anyway, she said that it can take much longer to build an author name if you are writing across genres because you simply don’t have the output that you would have if you wrote in one genre. Something to consider.

    And yea for karaoke night! sounds like you had a blast. I’m still waiting for pictures of you — and an update from Barbara. Give her a poke from me and tell her to get online and tell me all about her experiences! 😀

  2. LOL, it was surreal and extremely fun! I promise I’ll post about my conference experience on Sunday:>

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