August 18, 2010

Post-conference wrap up

Now that the brain has recovered a little and I seem to be keeping the post conf crud at a low level, herewith my wrap up of the Romance Writers of Australia 2010 conference in the always beautiful Coogee. And given that I seemed to forget I had my camera with me or that my phone took pics at all times except when staring out at the view every morning, you get a conference in seascapes.

Day 1 - Wednesday

In which the view looked like this, just to emphasise we were no longer in cold, wet, soon to be stormy Melbourne.

Keri and I arrived early afternoon, caught up with some friends, began the dietary havoc by eating a club sandwich and hot chips (which sensibly we shared because it was HUGE), then she, Tracey O'Hara, Jenn Schober (Tracey's agent), Kelly Hunter and I went into town to Galaxy so Keri and Tracey could do a signing. Galaxy, might I just add, is a fabulous den of temptation (I mean, I am very fond of Minotaur and Of Science and Swords in Melbourne but Galaxy beats them for sheer volume of books on shelves) and the staff were lovely and very interested in my book (which is awesome but a strange concept to wrap one's head around...hey, these people will be selling my book next year!). I managed to restrain myself to only buying four books (willpower, I haz it). So that was fun. Then we all trooped back and ate burgers and more hot chips (conference calories do not count!).

Day 2 - Thursday (A-Day or Published Author Day)

In which the sea turned moody

A-Day began at the very civilised hour of 10 am, so I did some writing first (the new netbook behaving well, though Open Office did not seem to like my quotation marks, so I went back to Word for now). A-Day was fun and packed full of good presenters. Wendy Harmer ended up at the wrong hotel but found us eventually. She talked about chick lit, Jenn Schober talked about branding and professionalism (be nice, play nice), Dr John Barletta talked about finding the flow, one of the writers of Underbelly talked about writing true crime and finding a story's through line (sorry, her name escapes me for now), Deb Dixon talked about small press and what to look for, Jennifer St George spoke about media and then there were breakout sessions for the various types of books. All in all, most excellent. Keri and I snuck in a somewhat windswept walk along the beach. By the time we had finished, Chris had arrived and we all ended up eating (this time far healthier pizza and chocolate and caramel fondant pudding) at the hotel's Ocean Bar with various fabulous folks before sneaking off for more writing and an attempt to get enough sleep.

Day 3 - Friday workshop with Deb Dixon

In which the sea sparkled and gleamed

Friday morning started with the lovely Robyn arriving to join us. Deb Dixon did half a day on Goal Motivation and Conflict and half a day on the Hero's Journey. She's very much a plotter and uses all this stuff up front. I very much do not but I do use all these types of things in a stir 'em into the mix and see what works sort of way in revision (I'm always a little surprised when people seem to think pantsing means you don't revise what you've written...everyone revises what they've's just when and how we revise that differs), so it's always good to hear people who've written craft books you've read talk about their theories in person. Deb was lovely and I came away with a few interesting ideas to try out. But our main task of the day was stopping Robyn putting on her costume and wearing it all day. *g*

Friday evening was the always fun cocktail party. Our cocktail parties are always fancy dress and this year the theme was fantasy island, so everyone came dressed as their fantasy. Well, most of us did. Look, I'm not a big fan of fancy dress (though it is fun at the cocktail party and works as an icebreaker) but I tend to do big effort in Melbourne when I don't have to schlep a costume on a plane and less effort in Sydney and Brisbane. This year, I figured I had the perfect excuse because my fantasy of many years came true this year and I sold a book. So I went as me lol. But Keri, Robyn and Chris made up for my slackness. Keri looked hot as a Dark Angel, Chris had made herself a fabulous coat of many book covers and she'd also made the most absolutely beautiful Regency gown and bonnet for Robyn to wear. (Once again, I apologise, I am slack, I did not get a pic...maybe Keri will post one! Or Robyn! hint hint.)

Day 4 - Saturday (or Day 1 of the actual conference)

In which there was rough sea and pointy sun fingers

And in which the day started in a very cool way because I got this:

(okay, so maybe I took a photo of one other thing...)

There were many awesome plenaries and workshops. I did Single Title vs Category with Vicki Lewis Thompson and a very cool Web 2.0 workshop with Kate Cuthbert (who would probably growl at me for having such a long scrolly post, sorry Kate!) and then got to do participate in my first ever author chat as an author (hopefully I did not babble too much)!

Saturday night was the awards dinner in which Keri and I sat with Kate Cuthbert and Kat Mayo from BookThingo and were very web 2.0 and twittered the awards dinner somewhat. Robyn won the STALI , Chris came third in the VP and loads of other awesome folks won awards and finalled. A special woohoo to Tracey O'Hara for breaking the paranormal curse when it comes to the R*BY award! After dinner there may have been a little drinking and celebrating and a somewhat late night.

Day 5 - Sunday

In which morning seemed to start extra early but at least turned on a very pretty sea...

I started with brekky with Valerie Parv and other former winners of the VP award then did another walk on the beach. After that more awesome plenaries and panels. Then a great workshop on taking the pain out of writing with Terri Green which was all about looking after your body as a writer and great stretches/exercises and things to do. Lunch on Sunday was the regular fundraising lunch. This year, we did Ovarian Cancer rather than Breast Cancer (the message for both is the attention to your bits ladies. If something seems off, get it checked out fast!) I believe we raised over $10,000, including Harlequin's great $5k donation.

Then a completely awesome, entertaining and slightly scary workshop on fight scenes with Ray Floro which included killing people with a magazine, why the vulcan nerve pinch type approach doesn't work and how to massacre a leg of lamb with very little effort. After that we wrapped up. Sadly I didn't win an iPad in any of the raffles but I did win Kandy Shepherd's book and a very cute lead and collar (is the universe trying to send me messages about puppies??). Post conference there was more drinking and chatting then Keri and I headed back to the airport where, miracle of miracles, we got bumped to an earlier flight. Though sadly, when I got home I'd reached the adrenaline/caffeine overload stage and couldn't sleep until 1am. But I made up for that with a two and a half hour nap Monday afternoon!

So that was Coogee. Next year the conference is in Melbourne (so I'd better start planning my costume). The keynote speaker is Susan Wiggs, Bob Mayer is doing the Friday workshop and Kristin Nelson is the guest agent. It shall be fab, so come one, come all!


Keziah Hill said...

Great pics Mel!

Eleni Konstantine said...

Love the pics Mel and sounds like you had a great time. Was good to see you again and let me tell you, you did wonderfully on the author panel - huzzah!

Galaxy Books sounds great, must make a point of getting there next time I'm in Sydney and I'm most impressed that you stopped at buying at 4 books!! ;))

Mel said...

Thanks Eleni!

Stopping at four was tough : )