I'm back from the Utah RWA's Mystery of Suspense conference. It was quite good--I filled an entire notepad with notes I took during the classes. The conference started on Friday. Registration was first, and there I received a bag with four or five books and dozens of bookmarks and other author promo items. Getting the goodie bag is always one of my favorite parts. :)
Next came a luncheon, and it was nice to chat with people. I sat by Ravyn Wilde, and we caught up a little. I hadn't seen her in several months.
I quickly realized that the conference rooms were going to be cold, so I went out to buy a jacket since I hadn't brought a sweater. It ended up being my best purchase.
After lunch, I went to the afternoon classes. There were two classes at each time, so I had to choose. I decided to go to the presentations by a probation officer, DEA agent, ATF agent, and medical examiner. I was sorry to miss RaeAnne Thayne's presentation about taming your internal writing demons (I could sure use that one), but I got some terrific information I'm excited to put to use. I have some new ideas for Tony's story, which has been simmering on the back burner for a while.
Dinner came after the classes, and it was a Murder Mystery Dinner presented by Hunt Mysteries. I thought it was cute and entertaining, even though I didn't correctly guess the killer. After dinner, the first day of the conference concluded.
I had to get up bright and early on Saturday to make sure I arrived for Karen Robards's presentation at 8:30. Wow, is she terrific. I loved hearing how she got started in the business and getting her tips. It was even more a treat for me because she is one of the first romance authors I ever read and loved. I took pages and pages of notes. Some of her comments:
Her presentation lasted most of the morning (with a break), and then it was time for lunch.
- Never start or end a chapter at a boring point.
- Use white space to speed up the action.
- The hero/heroine are like yin and yang. Each needs something the other has.
- Mystery presents the reader with a puzzle. Suspense plunges your reader into a nightmare.
- There is always a motivation that fuels a character's every move.
At lunch, we received another six or seven books. The authors and publishers who contributed to the conference were incredibly generous. During lunch, award winners were announced and Christina Skye gave the keynote speech about life lessons. Here were some of my favorite lessons:
- Write from the heart and gut, not from the head.
- It's supposed to be fun. Only the joy will help you get through the things you face as a writer.
- A good writer touches hearts and changes lives.
The editor/publisher panel was next. The participants: Victoria Curran from Harlequin; Debbie Malone from Triskelion; Barbara Collins Rosenberg from The Rosenberg Group; Elaine Spencer from The Knight Agency. I got lots of little tidbits from this panel:
- Nephele Tempest is looking for science fiction/fantasy. (I wish I'd asked about futuristics, since I have two manuscripts in various states of completion.)
- Silhouette Nocturne is actively acquiring.
- When one person asked about chick lit, Rosenberg said that the market for it "has bottomed out." Elaine added that "people are running from it" and it therefore needs to be packaged another way for it to get anywhere.
Next, Karen Robards and Christina Skye did an author's panel.
The final event of the conference was a book signing. I bought a few books, but I also signed CDs of Office Relations and Between Floors. It was great fun. I went into it with low expectations about how many copies I would sell, and I ended up selling more than I thought I would. So I would describe my first signing as a success.
I also had Museum Rendezvous on small CDs that I gave out free. I think they turned out pretty cute--you can see them in the picture above directly to the right of my name card. I even gave one to Karen Robards, which seems kind of surreal since I've loved so many of her books. Hopefully she'll enjoy the story. :)
So, that's the conference. It was a lot of fun, but I've enjoyed staying home and relaxing today. Being an extrovert is exhausting.
Labels: book signings, writing conferences