PHS columnist, Joss Wood, reports back from this year's #ROSACon in South Africa, bringing us tales of friendship, laughter and inspiration!
The Little Conference with a Big Heart
Warning: Shameful plugging of my marvellous friends ahead!
The South African Romance Writer’s organisation held their annual conference in October and I can’t believe that it’s been four years since I did my first presentation at the inaugural conference held in Johannesburg. I still remember my knee shaking and my voice trembling. I told the attendees of my road to publication. I remember throwing in a bunch of hot men into my presentation to keep everyone entertained…
Romance writers, they are easy that way… ;-D
Last year we were lucky to have Mary Jo Putney as our guest speaker and this year, Jane Porter author and founder of Tule Publishing (I’m very proud to be published by Tule) was the guest speaker. Unfortunately, Jane had a screaming migraine the first day of conference but she was able to—how, I don’t know, because she was seriously unwell—deliver her opening address in the latter part of the day.
My friend Rae Rivers slotted into Jane’s first-on-the-agenda spot with her wonderful talk on Imposter Syndrome, something all of us writers struggle with. She addressed all those 3AM questions that roll in when we can’t sleep, or when we try to write. You know, all those tough questions…are we good enough? Should we be doing this? Why are we doing this? Will anybody read what we write? Will they like it? Rae is one of my most favourite people, so sweet and an immensely talented writer. She also won the ROSA Imbali award for Excellence in Published (English) Writing, and is known for her paranormal suspense series, The Keepers.
Romy Sommer, our wonderful chairperson, does a fantastic job of balancing the needs of unpublished and published writers at the conference so there were talks on craft, on Afrikaans romance, on characters and genres. Apart from being a RITA Award nominee for her book Not A Fairy Tale, Romy is a fabulous writing coach and someone who uses her knowledge of the craft of writing on her website The Writing Coach. I also did some one-on-one mentoring at the conference which I thoroughly enjoyed.
The highlight, for me, were Jane’s witty, sincere and flat out honest talks about her journey to publication and her life as a writer and publisher. But for me, sitting down with Jane and having an eyeball-to-eyeball conversation with someone who publishes me was, I admit it, a little overwhelming. For the first time ever, I’ve been able to have a personal conversation with someone involved in my career and it was emotional, and awesome.
Rosacon this year was bittersweet for me. From that first conference four years ago, Rae, Romy and Rebecca Crowley (Sports romance! Hot heroes! Smart, smart writing) and I clicked. We just got each other and through the years we’ve had an active WhatsApp group and emails routinely fly around. Rebecca and I did on talk on writing sex scenes at conference and that was so much fun. We got attendees to give us their best euphemism for a sexual body part or act and yep, there were some eyebrow lifting contributions. Sadly, Rebecca and her family are leaving SA to go back to the States and—gulp—I’m going to miss her intensely. Right, can’t write any more about that or else I’m going to flood my keyboard.
From the lovely Elsa Winckler to Suzanne Jefferies to Erica Taylor, and two dozen more, I am so honoured to call these lovely ladies – and two or three men – my friends. They are all wonderful writers but better than that, they are amazing human beings and hanging out with them is the best fun ever!
Joss' latest release, Convenient Cinderella Bride, is out now. For more information about her and her writing, check out her website and blog, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
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