What’s it like to attend a conference with 2500 other writers? I can only speak from my experience with the Romance Writers of America National conferences:
Exhilarating, educational and exhausting.
Though a week has passed since the latest—the 34th—held in San Antonio, my head is still reeling with new ideas. Most writers leave very inspired to implement learned skills and techniques. Because I followed the conference with visiting relatives, I’ve experienced more of a reflective period. I’ve caught up on sleep and listened to additional recorded workshops—ones I couldn’t get to because so many are offered—and thought about what I heard, rather than diving into writing again.
When I first joined RWA, I attended craft workshops to improve my writing, and career sessions to learn about the publishing business. Over the last three years, workshops targeted at self-publishing have increased. This summer, many well-known names in independent publishing presented, appeared on panels, or offered question and answer sessions: Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, Marie Force. Hugh Howey was in attendance. (I’m going to be very embarrassed if he presented and I missed it!) Three authors, Eliza Knight, Angie Fox and Deanna Chase, presented ‘How to Quietly Make Six Figures in Indie Publishing’ to a mid-sized room packed with women in business casual sitting in every seat and on the floor.
I wish I had taken photos of the audiences. Romance writers, including more men than in previous years, are re-thinking their roles in book publishing.
Industry-focused presentations included: ‘What Good is an Agent?’, ‘Is There a Case for Traditional Publishers and Agents?’, ‘Indie Success with No Publishing History’ and ‘The Hybrid Author.’ iBooks, Amazon, Kobo, CreateSpace, ACX and Audible held open houses.
I can’t even begin to list the workshops on social media and marketing. I took advantage of sessions such as how to vet an independent editor, formatting, developing your brand, and cover design.
I talked and questioned and listened. In every venue—especially the bar—an excited buzz about publishing strategies lurked. Not just getting an agent, or submitting to an editor, hoping a story would be picked. But how to manage your work in the clouds of digital press.
It’s a growing publishing world out there, writers. And the instruction book is open!
I didn’t get to the next round, but it was a fun run at the start. So many great queries and first pages! I’ve learned lots by reading them and watching what the team leaders picked. Annette T. Dodd has a summation of the picks on her website.
Per past participants’ advice, I’m keeping my query up (next post below) because some folks are being kind enough to offer comments. Next date in the contest is May 22 to see the polished queries and then watch as the agents vote.
I’m thrilled to announce my name was picked via a lottery for The Writer’s Voice Blogfest!
Several blogs have posted how the event works, but Mother. Write. (Repeat.) has been a go-to for me for years for agent interviews, and that’s where I read about the contest, so here’s Krista’s link. (Thanks, Krista!)
Per the instructions, today I post my query and first 250 words. Here we go!
PASSAGES is a 108,000 word adult science fantasy romance set on a failing planet being revitalized by a population of electorgs—humans with electronic implants.
After an attack scrambles his memories, Quinn learns he’s the ousted electorg commander of the workforce repairing his planet. In his place, an alien look-alike is stripping the planet of a mineral the natives need to survive and deactivating electorgs along the way. To save the planet and his fellow ‘torgs, Quinn needs allies, but the only person he trusts is the soft-skinned, empathetic ‘torg woman who gave him shelter. He installs a bodyguard program in her system, telling himself she’ll be safe, and that he only wants an ally, not a lover.
Becoming the Commander’s guard 24/7 puts Eve’s life at risk—and not only from alien attack. As a community counselor, she became very involved with the natives and broke an electorg taboo: she fell in love and bore children. Her lover is deceased, but if Quinn’s superiors learn of her forbidden relationship with the natives, Eve could be deactivated. Still, her connection with the natives could hold the key to defeating the aliens, and if she doesn’t trust Quinn with the secret, her native-born children will die. With attraction tightening between her and Quinn, Eve must brave physical and emotional danger to save her children, her love, and the air they breathe.
PASSAGES won the NJRWA Put Your Heart In A Book Contest, and finaled in FF&P’s On the Far Side Contest and in KOD’s Unpublished Daphne du Maurier Contest. I have served on the board in my local RWA chapter, and participate in several special interest chapters and a critique group.
Following is my manuscript’s first 250 words. Thank you for taking time to consider my work.
The city of Cavvert
Another morning, another motel room, and my brother was still missing.
I slung my travel pack over my shoulder and shoved the lapels of my field jacket together against the chill mountain air. My cheeks stung beneath my beard, and my eyes watered, reminding me I’d best brace for both the cold and another search of another town. I strode the length of the old motel building to the street, where my grandmother waited, bundled in her tan jacket over travel clothes.
“Morning,” I called. “What backwater town are we off to today?”
Graen wasn’t listening. I followed her gaze past the quaint eateries and shops surrounding the snow-patched green. Across the town square, a line of people waited alongside flatbeds of shipping boxes at the Conducer station.
Four helmeted Blackguards emerged from the station’s door. A fifth waved the travelers aside while the guards in their black polymer armor marched to the nearest flatbed. Each hoisted a box and carried it back inside, their stun swords swinging from their weapon belts.
My gut twisted at the sight of so many electorg guards. “They’ve requisitioned this passenger station for cargo transport.” I shook my head. “Trust a ‘torg to put equipment before the needs of the natives.”
“Quinn, hush,” hissed Graen. “We’ve got to get past those people.”
I dropped my glare from the Blackguard barring the transporter station’s entrance. “Electronic humanoids aren’t people. Not anymore.”
Thanks for reading and following this exciting blogfest! It’s being tracked on twitter at #TheWVoice, and I’m @laurelwanrow
I have been MIA for several months on my blogs. In early September a disastrous flood event hit the small Colorado town where I own a cabin built by my Dad in the 1950’s. Since then I’ve spent half my time in Jamestown participating in recovery efforts. Read more about Jamestown and how you can help: http://jamestownco.org
Originally posted on Jamestown Connect:
Here is a handy guide on how to move a creek as documented in photographs by Laurel Wanrow.
Step 1: Place big yellow thing in post-Jamestown flood creek and start digging
Step 2: Tidy-up post-flood creek
Step 3: Dig channel for new creek
Step 4: Divert water to new creek
Step 5: Grade the road where the post-flood creek used to be
Step 6: Welcome town-folk to the new Ward Road with creek back were it started before the Jamestown flood
Congratulations to my fellow finalists in the 2013 Put Your Heart in a Book contest! This event for unpublished writers is sponsored by the New Jersey Romance Writers. The winners will be announced at the NJRWA Conference October 18th.
Sacha Devine – The Ring
Laurie Benson – A Proper Scandal*
Patricia Kratina – The Viscount With a Wicked Wink
Nadine Mutas – Blood, Pain, and Pleasure
Mary Ann Worden – Heart of Atlantis
Laurel Wanrow – The Farm *
Leigh Raffaele – Brewed For Love*
Debora Noone w/a Delsora Lowe – The Rancher Needs a Suitable Wife
Catherine Cervantes – One More Time
Pamela Gibson – Perfect Balance
Lena Pinto – True Partners*
Catherine Vignolini – Poser
Amy DeLuca – Four Bullets
Caroline Dunsheath – Last Wishes
McCall Hoyle – The Thing With Feathers
*denotes NJRW member