Wednesday, July 13 was devoted to the Beau Monde mini-conference. This is an online RWA chapter that focuses on the English Regency period. Basically the time of Jane Austen and Napoleon. These ladies really know their stuff.
Programs were presented on how mental illness was treated (horrifically!), the difference between a doctor (a gentleman) and a surgeon (a tradesman) and the training involved to become each. Because of my son currently in a medical school, I found this topic very interesting. I was even able to talk about the bodies discovered buried in Benjamin Franklin’s basement.
My favorite program was Codes, Ciphers and Spies presented by Patricia Coleman. She even handed out little spy kits, which contained a coding wheel and a basic semaphore interpretation page. One of Napoleon’s men developed the first semaphore code upon which America’s later naval flag code came from. Spies are a common hero category in historical romances. Even though I’m not currently writing such a character, it is good research for the future.
I was also able to get some recommended names for developmental editors who can do historical stories. The genre has a different feel than others such as contemporary, suspense or paranormal. Getting such recommendations was one of my goals for this conference.
Another interesting talk came during an afternoon panel on the state of the Regency romance market. Common wisdom keeps saying the historical market is dead. The editor on the panel mentioned she only has one slot a month for a historical and those twelve tend to go to their already established authors.
However, the ray of sunshine came from a lady in the audience who has self-published her previously published traditional Regencies. She said she and others who have put them out, have done well. Other people chimed in with how much those traditionals are missed, including the book reviewer on the panel. Since I hope to publish the books I have and write more, this was excellent news.
After the mini-conference came the annual literacy signing where romance authors sign and sell books to raise money for literacy. This year brought in $39,000, which brought the cumulative total funds over the years to over one million dollars. Literacy is a cause any writer can support.
The night still wasn’t over. Back at the Beau Monde conference was the evening soiree. Regency dances were taught (a reel and a quadrille). Many of the participants dressed in authentic costume. There were several patterns available for bid in the silent auction, but I already have a possible pattern at home. Maybe by the next conference, I will have my own fashionable gown.
Back in my room, I finally met my two roommates, both first time visitors to the conference. I hope they have a wonderful time. It can be overwhelming. I was tired from my long, full day, and conference hasn’t even started yet!
Link to RWA’s The Beau Monde Chapter home page below: