RWA 2013 - Floorganized

Dani CollinsLori WildeReviewsRWA2013

I've unpacked from conference, but loosely--as you can see. My mom was just here and took half the books I brought home. I let her have them on one condition: she has to make review notes. I'll then post them and offer some as giveaways.

I also have some signed copies from some Harlequin authors. Since I'll be doing an in person signing in Grand Forks on August 9th, I'll put some of those in a basket with my own, but watch for a giveaway here. I often pull my newsletter subscriber list for giveaways so make sure you're signed up to that too.

I'm still working on my conference postings and will write another instalment below, but I had to finish a synopsis first. That's a really fun project I can't wait to talk about, but I don't want to jinx it. All in due course, Dear Reader.

Since I made such great progress on that synopsis I have time to write up this blog post and review my To Do's, one of which is setting my general goals for the rest of the year (three books to finish, several proposals to write.) Then I'll feel organized, which is way better than floor-ganized. That's something I resort to when my desk is under siege by scraps of paper, books, flash drives, spilled M&Ms, empty glasses, file folders, maps, business cards, highlighter pens, character naming sourcebooks and crumpled tissues.

There's no room on my white board either which is stressing me out.

So where were we? Ah yes, at the RWA-WF Mini Conference.

~ * ~

After the State Of The Industry presentation, there was an excellent presentation by a panel of reviewers: Barbara Vey from Publisher's Weekly, Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and daughter/mother team Gwen and Sarah Reyes from Fresh Fiction.

What a smart, funny bunch of ladies and so heartening. Getting a crummy review sucks, so it's great to see these are real people who aren't out to gut anyone for their own gain. They actually love books and have crushes on authors and love interacting with readers and writers.

A few highlights:

  • Online networking is about engagement. Be authentic and lay off the hard sell.
  • Remember that readers are customers (ie. the customer is always right) Therefore, don't engage with someone who gives a lousy review. You'll only dig yourself into a deeper hole.
  • If you do screw up online, own it, apologize, move on. Someone else will screw up in ten minutes anyway. (Loved this perspective, thanks Sarah Wendell)
  • Develop a social media policy for yourself (eg. no politics or religion, Don't tweet angry etc.) I haven't done this formally myself but I do have two that I follow fairly strictly: my family is not identified by name and I don't go online if I've been drinking.

They identified other levels of engagement beyond reviews and social networking: eg. book clubs, street teams, podcasts, newsletters and Goodreads.

Above all those things, however, is a well-maintained website. Nothing is more frustrating for a reader (and I'll join in here as a reader and agree) than a website that doesn't appear current.

Which reminds me I have work to do on my own, including my much promised List of Books. It seems simple, but I need to decide where it will live and how to link to it off the Home Page. I have ideas and keep making the excuse that I don't have that many books to worry about yet. I just put it on my To Do list though. It'll happen before the end of the year, promise.

~ * ~

I had to leave the RWA-WF mini before the final presentation which was a round table discussion, but I did stay through Lori Wilde's workshop on craft. This was one of the best craft workshops I'd ever attended and I won't be able to do it justice so if you have the opportunity to attend one of Lori's workshops, do.

She talked about why readers read: Escape and Exercise (of the mental variety, working through imaginary conflicts.) As a writer, you need to identify your reader and her stress level, ie. the level of imaginary conflict she's willing to go through.

This segued into When To Show and When To Tell, telling being a way to allude to something that might exceed your reader's stress level. I especially loved that she debunks the Show Don't Tell 'rule' since I'm a huge fan of believing we need Tools not Rules. There are times when telling is better, but for less experienced writers still working on understanding the difference, she offered these tips on how to Show:

  1. Action: This could be a physical action the character takes or a physical reaction like heart pounding. The way your character responds to a given situation demonstrates his/her character.
  2. Specific and Concrete Detail: You can tell the reader 'the window was broken' or you can show them 'the jagged edges of glass formed a toothy pattern inside the frame.' (That's my example. I know, I'm brilliant.)
  3. Dialogue: Again, this is a way to demonstrate character so use it
  4. Internal Monologue: She offered up some great examples of exposition vs deep third person POV. Use your character's voice, slow down, focus on emotions and character development

Remember that what you do affects pace so Telling is often used in transitions.

More over the next few days. If you missed the other posts in this series, they're here: