#RWAus 2017: Conference Report
The Romance Writers of Australia national conference is the highlight of the romance writing community's year. It never fails to amaze me the sense of enthusiasm and potential that lingers once everyone's packed up and gone home.
There was an excellent mix of craft and business in 2017. The exceptional Anne Gracie's bootcamp, taught us how to start, structure and edit a novel. Encouraging us all to find our unique voice. Kate Forsyth's advanced workshop also sounded like a blast.There was heaps of laugther from the room next door which is always a great sign.
This year, there was a real focus on self publishing and marketing. What we learned is that it's not an easy option (for anyone who thought it might be). A panel of Clare Connelly, Rachel Amphlett and Chris Taylor left us under no illusion than it was anything other than a full time job, including business plans and a constant review of where they are going in their writing careers. Liz Pelletier from Entangled Publishing's session on growth hacking: the elements of best sellers and how to edit your novel for viral success, was raved about by everyone who attended.
Publishers, as ever, were well represented and gave intersting insights on what they were looking for in submitted manuscripts. Fr0m letting us know that "chick lit" was dead (it's called romantic comedy now) and that editors are always on the lookout for a great story with compelling characters. For those who adore the beta hero but don't think there's a market? Kate Cuthbert from Escape Publishing says there is, and wants to hear from you. So go for it!
The Romance Community knows how to throw a party and the conference cocktail party with a theme of "Bring out the animal in you" was no exception! Ally Blake was pretty in pink, as a flamingo with feather boa. Amy Andrews' tiger inspired makeup was outstanding. The winner of the award for best costume, Carla Ashburn, looked etheral as a butterfly, with silk wings and floral head dress. With the Harlequin Team as the Black Swans (I might have petted Allison Carroll's shoulder feathers), to writer and fellow Valerie Parv Award finalist Fiona Marsden, replete with an alien bursting from her chest, it was a fabulous night. As always, what happens on tour, stays on tour...
One of my favourite parts of conference is seeing writers and authors I chat to regularly on social media. It was sensational to finally meet the ever generous Jackie Ashenden, Maisey Yates and Stefanie London. Again, it was fantastic to catch up with so many authors including Rachel Bailey, Michelle Somers, Cassandra O'Leary and Romantic Book of the Year winner and PHS columnist, Avril Tremayne. Yay for Avril! And yes, I may have sneaked into some of the pictures...
Of course, at any conference there is a standout. This year it was Marion Lennox's keynote speech - Protecting Your Magic for a Lifetime. She asked us to reflect on the "constant pleasures" in our work place. With great charm and honesty, she talked about giving yourself the time to let your stories grow. She stressed the importance of looking after your body so it can keep writing with you. Marion discussed the necessity of professional help when things are going wrong, and before you get to burn out. She wants us to remember the wonder of the creative process, which I'm sure we all hope will last a life time.
In a final moment when where there was not a dry eye in the house, Marion was inducted into the Romance Writers of Australia's Hall of Fame. In her acceptance speech, she said what I am sure every one of us will agree with:
Romance writing rocks!
Kali is a writer of happy endings and a failed domestic goddess. She will work for coffee, wine and chocolate! For more information follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Did you go to RWAus17? Tell us what you thought in the comments or use #Conferencereport on Social Media to join the #PHS readers conversation on this topic.We'd love to see any pictures you have, especially of our editor or columnists!
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