Thursday, July 14, was the first official day of RWA and it started off with a Zumba work out class at 6:30 in the morning.  I had never done this form of dance exercise, but what is conference for, except to try new things.  Very vigorous, but it made me feel good for the whole day.  I plan to look for a DVD to purchase or check out some YouTube videos.

After the hurried trip back to my room for breakfast and a shower, it was time for the workshops.  In the morning, I attended Plan for Success:  Create a Motivational Business Plan for Your Writing Career presented by Stephanie Bond.  Her business advice as the best way to grow a readership is to build a consistent body of work under one name and in one genre/subgenre.  I’ve researched some author business plans on the internet, but they tended to be more structured with templates than the approach Stephanie had.  Her handout had a list of questions to answer that would provide an author with a blueprint for the next year or so.  She especially focused on making sure one’s estate planning of your writing rights was clear.  Something I definitely had not considered but should.

The lunch keynote speaker was Beverly Jenkins.  She had her listeners alternately laughing and horrified as she spoke.  She writes historical novels featuring black heroes and heroines, mainly in the nineteenth century.  However, I’ve read one of her American Revolution books.  Ms. Jenkins told us about the terrible conditions of slaves working in the salt farms and read what has to be the longest title ever from a book published in the 1700’s.  She gave us her ups and downs in the publishing industry during her career and inspired all of us to get to work on the stories we have to tell.

After lunch was one of the workshops I really hoped to attend.  Hope Ramsay presented Using Character Archetypes to Find Your Story.  I’m a big believer in using archetypes to begin to develop one’s characters.  Ms. Ramsay had an extensive handout that I know I will refer to again.  She also recommended a set of tarot cards, which have 70 different archetypes and their good and shadow qualities.  All writers have heard of the Hero’s Journey story structure template, but she introduced us to The Virgin’s Promise by Kim Hudson, which follows a different path.  Ms. Ramsay has also developed a story template she called the Sinner’s Redemption after she read (and wrote) so many Christmas stories.  I love this kind of stuff and left even more inspired to get my stories out.

I did go to some other workshops with practical steps about building an audience and how to use newsletters and back matter in your books to connect with readers.  Then I went upstairs to call my daughter and her husband on their fourth wedding anniversary and say happy birthday to my sister who will be receiving a rescued collie as a present to herself.  It’s important to focus on the good in the world when so often destruction and hate want to overwhelm.

In the evening, my online chapter From The Heart Writers hosted a dinner at a nearby Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant.  The chapter funds covered the meal, so about forty of us were able to attend.  We even received swag bags of items generously donated by chapter members.  (I come home with lots of stuff every time I go to conference!)  It was good to chat with some of the other members.  We exchanged business cards, I do hope to make the effort to stay in touch.

After we walked back, the day still wasn’t done.  The Romance Woman’s Fiction group was having a dessert and talk about community in contemporary romance novels.  Although I write mainly in the historical genre, I wanted to hear the discussion.  If one thinks about it, a great, stately home in England is a community with both the upstairs and downstairs inhabitants.  Of course, you have your standard village, too.

When that finished, I took the elevator up the sixteen floors to my room.  I was ready for bed, after such a full day.

The link below goes to Hope Ramsay’s blog where you can read further about archetypes: