I guess I was up too late partying last night after the Rita ceremony. I’d planned to attend the Yoga workshop, which started at 6:30 in the morning. I like to try out new things when I’m at conference. Last year, I’d gone to a Zumba workshop (again early in the morning) and enjoyed it. This time, I woke up and saw it was already 7 o’clock. I wasn’t going to make yoga.

The first workshop this morning was taught by Christie Craig called “Empowering Emotion: Ten Way to Make a Reader Care More.” Since romance is all about the emotion, this is an important technique to master. She did a good job of “Entertain, Educate, and Motivate,” which is her motto when teaching. I’m glad I bought the conference tapes, so I can listen to this one again.

One of her tips she called the Pebble. When a male penguin wants to court a female, he searches all over for the perfect pebble. When he finds it, he takes it to her. If she wants him, she accepts the pebble. It reminded me of an engagement ring. What the pebble symbolizes is that the other (penguin/person) is important, and that the giver cares about what s/he wants. Writers can use pebbles in their stories by showing the lover understands the beloved by giving some sort of gift that will resonate with both the recipient and the reader. Such a tip helps the writer to deepen the emotion in a scene where the hero and heroine reconcile after the black moment.

I am always interested in productivity and how other authors write, so I attended “Life Happens: Staying Productive When You’re Out of Gas.” One of the best tips was stated by Angi Morgan. When faced with doing 2,000 words in a day that she couldn’t produce, she focused on writing only 100 words. She could do that in twenty minutes, and then she realized she only had to do that twenty times in a day to meet her goal. So she set her timer and wrote. When it went off, she had her 100 words. On a sheet of paper, she wrote 1/20. When she did her next twenty minute sprint, she recorded 2/20 on the paper. The next sprint produced 200 words in twenty minutes, so she wrote 4/20. It was important to go up (1/20, 2/20, 4/20, etc.) because the word count was growing a positive fashion. If she’d written on the paper 20/20 and then 19/20, the number is diminishing, but reduction doesn’t have a positive feel. Subtraction means negative numbers. It’s all part of the mind game to keep productivity up.

I did attend a quick twenty minute session on using Pinterest. When I return home, I plan to go through the handout and make my account better. Then came the keynote lunch with Susan Wiggs who talked about “How to be an Overnight Sensation in Just 30 Years.” She had good points and great visuals.

After lunch was another great workshop “Twisting the Tropes for High-Concept Stories” presented by Brenna Aubrey and Natasha Boyd. They did an excellent job of teaching what high concept is. I think I get it now. They also showed five tricks to twisting genre tropes into something new and different, although their examples also showed how using the same tropes can produce vastly different books/movies. I have a feeling I’ll be listening to this taped session more than once.

My last workshop of the day was a series of twenty minute presentations on Career Tips and Tricks. I learned more about newsletters, writing in Scrivener, and time-saving web sites to make your writing more efficient. Thank goodness I have the handouts to attempt using all the advice given!

For dinner, I met with our former next door neighbors Roger and Sharon Alt at the Il Mulino restaurant. They moved to St. Augustine about two years ago. It was great catching up on the neighborhood news and what our families were doing. In the evening, I called my husband, packed my suitcases, and wrote my blog. After tomorrow morning, I’ll be on my way back home.

Purse appropriate for a romance writer.

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