Tuesday, July 19, 2016

RWA 2016 Recap

So I went to San Diego for RWA, and the accompanying Day of YA, and had a great time.  It becomes difficult to talk about these things, not because the information becomes any less great as the years go by, but it gloms together with the info you picked up other places and then you have a sort of giant sticky ball of great writer info and the individual pieces become harder to isolate. 
San Diego itself was lovely if the tiniest bit chilly. (Not just in the conference rooms, I wore light sweaters in the morning, in the evening, they all got worn.) The food was great and it was fascinating to watch the city slowly transition into the place that Comic Con happens.  
I walked over to the conference hotel the first day to check that it really was as close as I thought, and saw Silvia Day's face across the street right as I was reaching for my phone to double check the address. (The bigger poster on the hotel transitioned from an athlete - baseball All Star I assume to Conan O'Brien over the course of the week.)
I grabbed dinner and ended up at the bar next to a gentleman who was in town for an aerospace conference.  His wife has just started reading romance, to, he mentioned, the exclusion of other things, like, talking to her husband.  (This was said in a way that indicated amused frustration.)  I told him there were quite a lot of them, so she might be busy for a while.  
For Day of YA, Patty Blount talked about teen voice, in particular talking about how working on a multi-national day job project had solidified for her that voice isn't just about sprinkling in slang, that people have all sorts of things that factor into to the way that they talk.  She also talked about how people think making characters snarky makes them sound more teen, but that your reader needs to know what the snark or sarcasm is hiding, just as they would with an adult character, so that they can hook into your character. 
There was an agent and editor panel.  And then Robin LaFevers gave a keynote speech, which was wonderful about how writing is hard, not just because you will face constant rejection, but because good writing comes from peeling back and looking deep inside yourself. That we tell ourselves that we go to things like writer conferences for sensible reasons, like netowkring, or to learn about marketing, but really we go to be in a place with people who get it and that's okay.To be with people who get it that you have to write, that even when it's hard and you don't want to, a part of you cries out to be heard.  
I got to help hand out certificates to the winners of the YARWA Rosemary contest which was fun. 
Shelly Bates talked about revision. In particular she said fully formed characters will do a lot of the plot and revision work for you.  
Then there was the Literacy Signing.  I swore I was just going to pop in and wave at a few people (one hour later). 
Thursday I went to RWA workshops, including Being Prolific and Staying Sane and the chat with YA authors.  The luncheon involved awards for the Librarian of the Year, and Beverly Jenkins excellent keynote.  It was periscoped and Live Facebooked across the land, so go look it up.  She talked the history of African American literature, and also being a present day writer and it was great and my whole table teared up. 
More workshops - including It's All About the Audience, where there was discussion about how to be authentic on social media, and how that isn't the same as being boring, or never having opinions on things.  I moderated the chat with New Adult authors. This was also the day the Yarnover truck came to visit us an while that is not the reason I enjoyed San Diego so much, it didn't hurt. I also snuck out (I mean, I guess we were allowed to leave) and went to see "Ghostbusters" with a friend.  Highly recommend.  
I went to a cocktail party and we kinda Kinneared Nora Roberts into our selfie.  (We took a for real one with her the next night, because she is wonderful.) I also heard several RWA board members say that next year...oh wait, I heard nothing.* (Kidding.)
Sherry Thomas spoke at breakfast and was just amazing.  I had heard her speak before about how she used romance novels to help learn English when they moved to the US, I had heard her hint about how racy they seemed to a teen from a communist country.  I had not heard her talk about giving up law school to be a mom, how reading a bad romance snapped her out of post-partum depression because she felt so betrayed by having wasted her free time on a book that didn't make her feel better.  And that that was how she decided to become an author.  Trying to be another reader's happy place.  She ended by saying, "Romance owes me nothing.  I owe romance everything." 
I then went to the Historical Romance Chat (I know, the chats were especially working for me this year) and the "Hamilton" sing-a-long.  Then there were awards, and oh, I know that just being nominated is a treat, a joy, but I had fingers crossed for quite a few stories, and was happy to see some of them win.  The puns and such in the awards script were especially groan-y this time around, but the happiness of winners, and the chance to be a little more sparkly than usual, is good stuff.  
I then spent my last day checking out the things visible or accessible from the trolley.  And despite some rain in the DC area managed to make it home mostly on time. 
It was a great time. Looking forward to doing it again. 

*I am being silly.  One board member misstated something, I, because I am a JOY!, threatened to tweet it, and then another board member (totally jokingly) threatened to end me.  So yes,fun was had.