The RWA convention ended on Saturday, July 16.  Already this was the last day.  How quickly the time had passed!  Another morning breakfast.  This time I shared the buffet with one of my roommates.  She was set to move from Mexico to Canada once she returned home so had lots of to do stuff waiting for her.  The speaker was Sherry Thomas who came to America at thirteen years old from communist China.  At the time, she spoke about 200 words of English and thought American teenagers were like an alien species.  The audience roared at that.  Now Ms. Thomas is a best selling historical author with a much bigger command of the English language.  She, too, was an inspiring speaker.

Somehow my workshop choices today all focused on the production and scheduling of writing.  The panel of Harlequin Intrigue authors had lots of good tips, including making sure you made healthy choices.  Use your available time to write.  Although not recommended, one lady went to bed at 9:30 at night, woke up from 2 to 4am to write, and then slept from 4 to 6 when her work day started.  Don’t do this schedule but adapt the attitude.  It’s not easy to be a productive writer and have a life.  Another tip said to make two daily lists.  One of what you must do and the other of what you want to do to use as a reward for when you finish the first list.  They even passed out small timers to all the participants.  I filled lots of notes from this talk.

The next workshop panel Write Smarter, Write Faster included my friend Nancy Robards Thompson from my days in Florida.  She and her fellow writers formed a plotting/writing accountability group.  Every story has one main protagonist, even a romance, which has a hero and a heroine.  Using a series of questions, they build the protagonist first.  Then the other main character is designed to be the opposite to create conflict within the romance.  Although both panels focused on improving a writer’s production level, each focused on different approaches.

My next choice sounded like more of the same The Ins and Outs of Successful Production and Scheduling but again, the approach was different.  These presenters talked about how self-publishing was a business and therefore, you should not make emotional decisions.  They did this in the form of ten Do’s and Don’ts of self-publishing.  Their point was to not just schedule your writing production.  More goes into making a book available such as the editing, cover design, uploading and post-release marketing, but also don’t treat every book the same.  They’re not.

After all this talk of schedules and production, I went to the talk about avoiding burnout and surviving setbacks.  The presenting author had closed down three different Harlequin lines, including one this past spring, but she is always willing to adapt.  She declared one should always panic in the most professional manner possible.  Here I met another friend of mine from Florida days, Pamela LaBud.  She and I had encountered each other in passing in the halls and at several different workshops.  We must have the same interests!  It reminded me to reconnect with her once I get home.

One of the latest hot trends in publishing right now is sports romance.  That was the topic of my next workshop.  Although the two authors talked about adult athletes, I got some insight for my short contemporary series I’ve contemplated about children’s sports.  They offered tips on how to research players’ lives and how to determine the roles of the romance character who is not the athlete.  They suggested consider how the athletes spend their off seasons, which gave me a back story for the hero of one of my story ideas.  This workshop presented how to do a different kind of research than I usually need.

My final workshop choice was about the romance’s black moment.  This is the point in the story when it appears the hero and heroine will never get together for their happily ever after.  Now is when the characters change for the better.  This occurs at the end of a romance because in order to be worthy of love, the person must change for the better.  Love doesn’t make them a better person.  Because they are better, they can love.

Once the talks were finished for the day, it was upstairs to my room to prepare for the presenting of the Rita (published) and Golden Heart (unpublished) prizes.  It was time to dress up.  These are two of the biggest awards in the romance industry.  I didn’t know anyone up for either award in any of the categories but attended with both of my roommates.  When the last prize had been given out, RWA announced next year’s conference would be in Orlando, Florida.

2016 RWA Rita and Golden Heart winners: