Today was another day with a packed schedule. It started when I met Pam LaBud in the lobby. I was looking for breakfast, and she knew of a small restaurant one floor down, which didn’t have the Starbucks’ long lines. We had a good breakfast but had to eat fast. She wasn’t certain which workshop to attend, so I told her that Heather Graham would be teaching one about writing a short story in two hours. This was one of the talks I really wanted to attend. Pam decided to join me.

Ms. Graham’s workshop delivered as promised. Each participant pulled a card from two different piles. One was an adjective and the other occupational noun. I got Frantic and Author. Immediately, I thought I could do something with that possibility. Ms. Graham then gave us an opening sentence. “The blood dripped slowly down the walk.” We were given about 20 minutes to write a story with that character (frantic author) and that opening sentence.

Usually I’m a planner when it comes to my stories, and I write historicals. Yet, I was under the pressure of a tight deadline. Could I produce a story before the workshop ended? I had no time to plan and typed the opening sentence into my Scrivener file. I had no idea what to write next. Neither, I realized, did my frantic author. I gave her a name and typed that she didn’t know what to write. A deadline loomed for both of us. It was almost magical how as I typed what I knew, the next step appeared. When time was up, I had a very short story of 475 words.

I volunteered to be one of those who read their work. People were laughing at the humor. Ms. Graham said I’d done a very good job. Hearing such words from a multi-published best selling author made me feel good. I plan to clean up the story’s rough edges and pass it through my critique group before putting it in my first newsletter.

The next workshop did a deep data dive into how the sales of romance series compare to those of stand-alones. The conventional wisdom is that series are more profitable, and the Data Guy showed us why. Even after three years from the release of a series’ last book, sales are only beginning to taper off. He didn’t necessarily mean trilogies, because it does seem to take until the fifth book in a series before the core group of fans are established.

For the first time, the Golden Heart presentation was separated from the Rita ceremony. Today’s lunch was for the Golden Hearts. I sat with Mary Karlik and Madeline Martin. Some of the winners’ speeches can be very emotional. Since I can tear up at Hallmark commercials, I had to press my napkin against my eyes several times because of the happiness expressed by the winners. Of course, our table laughed at how I influenced the other ladies’ eyes to water.

My next notable workshop was Indiana Jones in the Ballroom. It talked about using an action adventure arc for the external plot. The presenters gave some advice. One interesting tip dealt with how to portray dialect or an accent. The panel was against attempting to spell the speech phonetically because it’s too difficult for a reader to decipher. They suggested write the dialogue in regular English and then have Google translate it into the character’s native language. Then put that translation back into Google to be translated back into English. The result should give you syntax and words likely to be used by that speaker.

Then I met up with the members of my online chapter From The Heart at a Japanese restaurant in the hotel. Since I knew dinner had to be quick, I ordered a shrimp tempura roll and used my free drink ticket. I joined the ladies who were headed to the Rita ceremony.

Again more tearing up at some of the writers’ stories, but joy when Jeffe Kennedy won the Rita for Paranormal Romance. She lives in Santa Fe and is the New Mexico chapter president. What fun it was to congratulate her!
There was dancing in the hall outside the ceremony with an enthusiastic DJ.

Later I went up to a small Regency party being hosted in one of the members’ rooms. It was nice to sit and chat with the ladies I’d really only just met yesterday. One of the questions was how to organize all the research data contained in the chapter’s discussion loop. There’s a wealth of knowledge in all those posts.

Then it was time for bed, after another full day.

Heather Graham and I