#IndustryInsights:  RWA Workshops Preview

We're delighted to welcome Shirley Jump, PAN Advisor and Workshop Committee member, and Donna Alward, PAN Steering Committee Chair, to the PHS as they give us a sneak preview of the #RWA2017 workshops!

It’s less than two months to the RWA National Conference in Orlando, Florida, and we’re crazy excited. We’re ALWAYS stoked to go to conference (and hey, it’s at Disneyworld!), but this year we’re even more pumped for the workshops scheduled.

The Workshop Committee, along with the PAN and PRO Steering Committees and RWA staff, have put together an incredible lineup of sessions, and we thought it would be fun to give everyone at the Pink Heart Society a glimpse of what attendees have to look forward to!

This year, RWA is shaking things up with some schedule changes and some new cool workshop options. New this year: the workshops kick off on Wednesday, July 26, with intensive Level Up sessions in the afternoon. There are three great options to choose from—an Emerging Author track, an Indie Author track, and a Master Class track. The workshops within those tracks are designed to meet specific needs. The emerging authors will have some cool options—a pitching session, a frank conversation with editors, a workshop on building emotion with Sarah Morgan and RaeAnne Thayne, and one on how to grab your readers from page one with Michael Hauge. Indie authors will want to check out the strategic planning workshop and explore audiobook options, and there’s a Master Class on writing emotion with Virginia Kantra and a marketing session with Mark Dawson.

The PRO Retreat will have a special workshop on writing and mental health, presented by Alyssa Day, and a number of targeted round tables. The PAN retreat will kick off with a speech from Faith Salie, the reporter who covered the romance industry for CBS This Morning and author of Approval Junkie. Instead of being held on one day, the PAN-only workshops will be merged into the regular workshop schedule, giving PAN members more options for attending. From digital tools to data, author assistants to career management, the PAN sessions have a lot to offer the experienced author. Honor Roll authors will receive information about a few workshops just for them as well.

A repeat from last year will be early morning exercise classes, like yoga. There are a number of writer wellness workshops on preventing burnout, dealing with stress, and career downturns. There will also be many hands-on workshops, including a two-hour workshop with Heather Graham on crafting a story. Participants will write an entire short story by the end of the workshop, and learn how to make every word count.

Suzanne Brockmann and ML Buchman will face off about the benefits of extensive plotting versus the fun of writing entirely by the seat of your pants. Susan Elizabeth Phillips will have a fun and interactive craft workshop on writing great characters. She will also be doing the ever-entertaining writing workshop with partner in crime Jayne Ann Krentz.

Diversity issues are also being incorporated into the workshop schedule, with workshops like Tessa Dare’s on writing believable disabled characters.

The dark and dangerous will be covered in workshops like World Building for Motorcycle Romances and Scene of the Crime: Writing Fictional Felonies. Look for a workshop on writing Science Fiction Romances and another on creating Indiana Jones-type heroes. There are also genre-specific workshops like Cattle Ranching for Dummies with Christie Craig and Forensics for Historical Romance with Megan Rae Rutter.

The popular “Chat With…” workshops will be back, featuring individual workshops with Sylvia Day and Heather Graham. Publisher panels will also be available, from all the major publishers, as well as chats with self-publishing platforms like KDP, ACX, Nook Press, and more.

Worried about pitching your story or struggling with creating powerful back cover copy? There are several workshops designed for that, including a “Pitching Wars” style workshop that will have that reality TV battle feel.

Several sessions (like the pitching workshop) will be broken into mini-workshops. This year we have something new with 20/20 Expert Hours on Friday. The 20/20 Expert Hour on Productivity will be segmented into sessions on organization, mindfulness, finding time to write and avoiding procrastination. The 20/20 Expert Hour on Social Media will focus on Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads and other social media platforms. The 20/20 Expert Hour on Historicals will focus on historical kitchens, clothing, and multiethnic historical romances.

Top indie authors will present a workshop on making six figures in the indie world. New to indie publishing? There are plenty of workshops directed to you, too. Other workshops will discuss the pros and cons of writing series, and how best to market them.

All of the workshops are labeled both for type of workshop (Research, Career, etc.) and writing level (emerging author, advanced author, etc.). That will help attendees pick the right workshop for their needs.

And know what? That’s just a PREVIEW. There are tons we haven’t even mentioned! To see the workshop listings either by date and time or by track, just head on over to schedule on the RWA site.

We hope to see you there!

Shirley and Donna

Shirley's latest book, A Teaspoon of Trouble, is out now. For more information about her and her writing, check out her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Donna's latest book, Almost a Family, is out now. For more information about her and her writing, check out her website and follow her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

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