Friday, July 15, the conference started with a hot breakfast buffet, the only meal RWA would be providing today.  I was able to sit next to Miranda Liasson whom I met last year at the Northeast Ohio conference.  The hotel it had been held at was only a mile from my sister’s house, so I combined conference and family visits.  We were happily surprised to discover that we both had amazing children and shared what proud parents we are.  The morning speaker was Valerie Young who has written a book about the Imposter Syndrome.  Basically, no matter how successful you become, the belief that you’re fooling everyone and really don’t belong at this pinnacle never goes away.  She cited several famous actors, entrepreneurs and scientists who have revealed this thinking in their interviews.  The belief is wrong.  You do deserve your success.  You worked hard for it, and you earned it.  A good attitude to remember and follow.

Then it was off to the workshops.  This morning I focused on self-publishing and learned more about newsletters and other back of the book matter, reader groups and one which challenged the myths writers tell themselves about self-publishing.  That one said if you write two to three books a year, you can succeed.  It was reassuring to hear because so many successful writers seem required to produce a new book every other month.  I know I can’t set up that kind of schedule, let alone keep that pace.

The presentation by Kristen Painter and Roxanne St. Claire titled From Mid-list to Mad Money:  How to Set Yourself Up for Self-Publishing Success had me filling several pages of notes.  They talked about scheduling your production, but that more than just the writing of the book has to be blocked out on your calendar.  There are edits, cover design, book formatting and then you get to consider the marketing.  They pointed out self-publishing means you are the CEO of your own publishing empire.  I especially enjoyed the calendar they showed and do think I could do this.

For the first time, I attended a PAN session (Published Authors Network.)  Kristen Higgins and Michael Hauge talked about using movie and television tricks to improve your story.  She is a high powered author, and he is a Hollywood story consultant.  Among other things, they taught an author should focus on if everything in the story moves the protagonist (Hero or Heroine) closer to the goal or are more obstacles raised. Especially in a love story, the conflict comes more from the “wound” in the character’s past.  The external story line challenges that “wound” and causes the character to grow so he can be worthy of love.  The growth has to come first before the love is acknowledged.

I also went to a workshop about writing a historical set outside the standard Regency England era.  I live in New Mexico, and until moving here, I never knew about the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 when the pueblo Indians banded together to throw the Spanish colonists out for thirteen years.  I think there could be at least one story in such a historical event.  Fortunately, the panel gave some good tips on doing research beyond England.

There was a talk about deep point of view, which is a technique in my writer’s toolbox I use all the time.  The presenter gave me a new tip.  Learning new things, even when you think you already know the technique, is why it’s important to attend these classes.  When starting a story, the author doesn’t want to bog the reader down with lots of back story.  She suggested the author only mention a detail about the past and focus on getting the story presented.  The next time that past comes up, give another detail or two about the event, but don’t dwell on it.  In this way, the character’s history is gradually revealed without slowing down the story pace.  Combining this technique with the revealing the character’s “wound” to the reader would be an excellent way to avoid the back story dump.

In the evening, I decompressed in my room and chatted with my roommates, getting to know them better.  They are both fine ladies.  I was lucky in the RWA roommate loop.

Miranda Liasson’s web site: