Fear of Missing Out: Tips for Those Who Can't Attend RWA 2018

 

 

The annual Romance Writers of America conference is coming up.  If you--like me--don't yet make enough money from your writing to pay for conference fees, hotel and airfare, there's no need to sit around and mope. 

 

Sure, you're going to be missing a lot.  There's nothing like meeting other authors face to face, trading business cards with writers who share your interests, attending master classes with industry professionals, or sitting across the table from an editor or agent to speed pitch your next project. 

 

You already know that!  That's why you're not going to mope--but turn your fear of missing out into something constructive.  Here are some tips for those of you (like me) who will be home instead of in Denver July 18-21.

 

--Do you have a friend, editor, or agent who may be attending?  Ask them to take notes for you or help distribute postcards or business cards. 

 

--Follow the conference on Twitter and other social media sites.  Many authors will be blogging about their experience and you can benefit from their summaries of sessions (although you may find yourself getting a little teary-eyed over photos of the cocktail parties and signings you'll be missing). 

 

--Remember that time you weren't invited to Homecoming dance and ended up having a much better time with your girlfriends at a slumber party?  Put out a call on social media to other authors who won't be going.  Maybe you can plan a book swap or blog hop.  RWA is all about community--so make some of your own! 

 

--Plan a mini-conference for yourself by downloading some good books on craft or helpful guides to publishing.  Reread a great coaching book like BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott or Margaret Atwood's NEGOTIATING WITH THE DEAD.  Atwood has some fun resources up on her website for newbie and seasoned authors.

 

--Consider "attending" the Harlequin YouTube video series, where you'll find author interviews, master classes, and behind the scenes looks at the romance industry.  It's a conference unto itself. 

 

--Finally:  give yourself a gentle reminder that you might be gasping for breath in the thin mountain air of the mile-high city.  Who needs high altitude?  Start dreaming about attending RWA next year in New York!    

 

 

On the joys of starting a new contemporary romance series

So I'm at that point where I have to make a hard decision.  I've got two novels on the burner and I need to commit to one or the other.  The answer would be simple if these were single-title contemporary romances.  But my goal is to kick off another series. 

My last trilogy was set on the barrier islands off mainland Sarasota.  Part of me just wants to stay there and do Florida all over again--only this time with dogs.  I swear I can think of a dozen plots of love stories that revolve around noble German shepherds and cute poodles and naughty beagles.  And--while I should be writing--I've been trolling through dog breed books trying to pick out the perfect canine characters, and visiting websites devoted to most popular dog names, and watching dog videos on YouTube.

 The other part of me wants nothing to do with dogs or the beach.  She wants to go to. . . drumroll. . . Vegas!   I'm thinking one story set on the Strip, another set in old Las Vegas, and another set out by Red Rocks.  Sin City really lends itself to fiction, as anything can happen. 

Which way will I go?  I'll know as soon as I finish writing the first chapter of either my Florida or Vegas novel.  But this morning, at least, the sounds of the slot machines are distant.  I hear two dogs barking, calling me back to the beach.    

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Does writing romance make you a happier person?

Does writing romance make you a happier person?

I've been thinking about this question over the past year, in which I've noticed an uptick in my glad-to-be-alive moments.  At first I thought my newfound happiness had to do with my daily practice of yoga.  Then I thought the beta-blockers I've been taking for my wonky heart have had a positive side effect. 

But the third and perhaps most decisive factor has been a switch in my writing gears.  I used to write dark, depressing stories of love gone awry that--truth to tell--no one had much interest in publishing.  It was bad enough being stuck in those dreary imaginative worlds for three or four hours every morning as I toiled away in my study.  Yet after I stepped away from my writing, I couldn't shake the feeling off.  I was growing as morose as the women I was writing about. 

I needed some happy in my life, and I'm grateful to my agent for suggesting I step outside of my comfort zone--which is women's fiction--and try writing some traditional romance.  I soon found that writing toward a happy ending gave me something to smile about.  Romance writing is like playing a baseball game knowing that at the end of the ninth inning, you're going to come out the winner--a chance to imagine everything going well for both your characters and yourself.   

Here's to sunshine after a long rain!