Monday, July 28, 2014

RWA San Antonio

Apologies for blog darkness last week, but I had a family thing and then turned right around for RWA and well, internet was spotty at the hotel, and my intentions to communicate via non-twitter means disappeared in a cloud. 
So, I was determined to be super workshoppy this year and, while I was, (except Saturday where the split hotel thing suddenly made all the other things so far away (as in all the way across the street) and my will to get up and go was mostly gone).
Day of YA was awesome. 
James Scott Bell gave great tips on editing and writing.  The editor & agent panel had some thoughts on writing and diversity.  In particular one audience member asked for specific examples of diverse titles that had been picked up, and included they mentioned local author Robin Talley's debut Lies We Tell Ourselves.  (I've been hearing great things about this book too.)  Ally Carter gave an awesome speech about what she would go back and tell herself back before her first book came out. (She blogged about it here.  It was, of course, amazing to hear in person.)
The Rosemary Awards were announced.  I was one of the category coordinators and, let me tell you, I had a ton of judges tell me I must have sent them only the very best entries.  It was an amazing thing to be a part of.  And I happen to have read on of the winners for another thing (I was not a judge for that entry due to my previous knowledge) and so I know it's great, but I also know that the top scores were all really close so it really was an honor to be a finalist.
Jay Asher talked about his love of school visits.  And the YA author panel talked about the joy of writing for a YA audience. 
I scooched into the end of the Literacy signing to wave at some people. 
Thursday I moderated the Juggling Two Careers panel with Kelly Maher and Jennifer Lohmann which was .They talked about the things you can control, and how things will still crop up.  And they also talked about how to factor your production style (fast draft with multiple revisions vs. slow draft with a quick final pass) into scheduling your deadlines.  Courtney Milan's Slow Writer's Guide to Publishing was also great, especially since she was savvy both about how best to make use of the ways the publishing platforms work, but also about how some things will take time to grow and you need to plan for that.  Ally Carter had talked about the time vs. money debate, you will worry about one and/or the other, and how to decide which one you can best take on.  Courtney's was similar in that growing your business takes time and money, so the money you take for your living expenses affects what you have to put back in. The adventurous heroines panel had great info about the ways to create adventurous and strong but authentic historical female characters.
Friday, I hit the Feeding the Fandom panel and really, I could just listen to Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Ally Carter, Sarah Rees Brennan and Rachel Vincent talk books and fans all day.  They talked about leaving space in the text for readers to find and fill in the emotion and how that feed and encourages fans.  They also talked about how as an author, it is absolutely your text, your world, your story to drive forward how you choose.  But at the same time, you don't need to argue with the fans about the text.  (Sarah Wendell talked about reviews and having heard that talk, the idea is similar.  The author can acknowledge reviews, and maybe possibly address something that is truly, factually wrong, but the a review is for readers, and if they came away thinking character A was a douche, then that's what they felt when they read it.)
The Diversity Roundtable worked a little more interactively than originally planned due to one of the speakers having to cancel.  However, Farrah Rochon did a great job getting it going and keeping the audience on track.  It's hard to synthesize some of the subtleties of the discussion but the highlights were - don't be afraid to write characters that are different from you.  Research.  Don't rely solely on the stereotypes you have absorbed. But also recognize that any character, of any race, ethnicity, cultural background, etc, is going to have layers of experience.  An African American who went to a Catholic private school in Georgia may have speech patterns that sound more like other Georgians, may have values more like other Catholic school kids.  There isn't just one experience and there isn't just one way to be.  However, there was a plea from a Native American that there is a difference between the different Native American nations, and don't think they are all the same.  So, similar to the adventurous heroine's panel, do lots of research.  Recognize the biases within the research.  And don't just use the research, use all the things that go into creating a three dimensional character.
And Saturday, was about books.  Getting some more.  Reading some.  Packing some.  Shipping some.  And then, after a quick change in the bathroom, the Golden Heart and Rita award ceremony.  And it's again, an honor to be nominated, all those nominees were wonderful.  Simone Elkeles did a bang up job as emcee both breaking out old photos and telling us about the letters readers send her and how kids tell her they left the gang after reading Perfect Chemistry.  (It got very dusty in that ballroom.)  They had videos of authors talking about favorite romance books and movies and honestly, they were all wonderful, but if anyone wants to create a show where Sarah MacLean and Eloisa James describe books and movies to me, I am in.  (See also Anne Stuart.) 
But, I will, mention that I could not be more thrilled about fellow WRW member Denny S. Bryce's Golden Heart win for Romantic Suspense.  Full list of winners here