Archive for the ‘Romance Writers Australia Conference’ Category

I can’t believe it is six months already.

I’ve been at this gig for six months!

Do I miss work? No.

Do I miss the money? Yes, a bit, but not as much as I thought I would. I keep telling myself I will get a part time job, but I’m not desperate enough yet.

Do I miss my work mates? Yes, I do. The social scene at uni is different. You come to the study centre and you study. Occasionally you chat to people. It takes time.

As a PhD is self-directed research it can be difficult to judge your progress. If I sat around at home and did nothing, then I’d have the guilt meter out. But I’m on campus usually four days week and if I don’t then I’m working from home. If I consult my guilt meter it’s pretty good actually. No falling into the red zone there.

Actually, I’m just getting to the part of my study where I’m calming down. I won’t call it slowing down. Looking back I can see I approached this PhD like a bull charging a red flag. I was anxious. I was stressed. I was working like a maniac at times, dreaming up papers in my sleep. There was so much to know and I wanted to know it all. But that’s been settling down now for a few weeks.

I think there came a point that I thought I can do this. I can understand. A bit earlier than that I knew I had to dial it back as I couldn’t sustain the pace over three years. I was studying on my day off. Technically my day off is my writing day. My fiction not related to PhD writing day. It also doubles for catching up with friends day, which means I usually don’t get to write much when I do the social thing.

I’m enjoying it though and it can be absorbing. Some days on campus, I look up and see the time and think what am I doing here at 6.00 pm? Then I scurry home.

I’m coming up to my six months study. I am going to be doing my introductory seminar next week. That’s where I get to stand up and talk about my research topic, methodology and my creative project. I think my supervisor is optimistic that I won’t flubber, blubber…splat. This is a compulsory seminar, but it is not assessed. I have a bit of work to do before my first year is up as I have to do my confirmation seminar. Yes that’s right. I can be booted. I can’t see that happening but you know I have to get things up to scratch.

I’m heading for the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in Adelaide this week. We are driving down because we’ve not driven to Adelaide before. We are driving over two days. I’m doing a signing there. Waves! There is an academic stream for the conference. I put in for a paper but didn’t get chosen. Apparently there was an over supply of papers. But I believe it is a truncated stream. I am putting in a paper for the conference proceedings. Well I will. I’m just waiting on some final comments from my supervisor. I’ve been working on this paper since March. But as it is my topic area, none of it’s wasted. It was probably a good way to get across the topic, having that paper to write.

When I get back from Adelaide, I’ll be reorganizing myself. I want to start working on my creative project. So far I’ve thought about it and drafted a short outline. However, I think I have to write it and see if it works, then change it if it doesn’t. This is a fiction piece I’m giving myself time to draft. I think I might have mentioned it will be SF with romance. The other task I have to complete for my confirmation seminar is my literature review. I still have stuff I need to read, most stuff I will read two or three times before I’m done. Then I have to read romances! This means dividing up my time so that I get things done. I like to be flexible of course, but still…Would you believe I’ve been tidying my desk today? I’m sorting my journal articles into alphabetical order and putting flags on them as to why I think they are important. I feel saintly and so unlike me. I think it’s because I’m treading water. I’ve done my prep for the seminar. I’m heading to a conference and I’m waiting for comments on a paper so I can send it off.

I also have a romance readers survey and a romance writers survey as part of my PhD and it’s ready to go. Give me a hoy if you want an invite. I’m going to kick that off in September post introductory seminar.


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I’m in between interviews so nothing new to post for you guys today.

My RSI appears to be on the improve, but no writing as such. But I’m reading and thinking up heaps of ideas. I’m going to go mad because I can’t write them all down.

A lovely review spotted on Facebook, but it originates on WordPress so I’ll link it here. I met AJ at Supanova so it’s great to see she got to reading Shatterwing. Review blog post here.

I also had a spot on the Galaxy Express with a bunch of other SF romance writers. I’m hoping to interview Heather Massey later on in August. Here is a link to that spot here.

I’m going to be signing books at RWA in Melbourne. I’ll be there as me and Dani Kristoff so do come along and say hi if you are around. After that Conflux in Canberra is fast approaching and I haven’t organised myself at all for that. Darn!

Meanwhile on the home front, I have randomly bought a new car and we’ve had the deck commenced and new sliding doors put in upstairs. Now we have bright open rooms and even more amazing views. We are still processing it all. I’ve organised new blinds (panel glides) and I’ll be chasing the builder for the railings and the roof etc, because it should be done by now. Below is a shot from my office which shows part of the aspect.

deck in progress

I also baby sat the grandchildren and I’m feeling a little knackered. I also made a most excellent Raspberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake. I think a soak in the tub is in order and then a good book. Cheers.

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It amazes me after all the years I’ve been writing that I can still get something from a writers conference. Well I shouldn’t be amazed because the romance writers have been knocking my sox off since I went to my first conference in 2012. This one was my third.

Like a very good girl I went to all the sessions (I had to skip the AGM to check in to my hotel on Saturday-sorry) and I thoroughly enjoyed every one. Either I learned something new or I was reminded of what I should be doing but sometimes get lazy about.

As I’m in my hotel ready to do so editing before we head out to the UK, I can’t wax lyrical on the subject matter. Cherry Adair was hilarious and informative and generous. Marie Force was a force to be reckoned with but certainly opened my eyes to how much work can be involved in self-publishing if you want to do it well. Fiona Lowe’s session on characters amazed me, particularly the amount of structured analysis she does. Wow Kate Belle did a great session on sex writing-I certainly learned a lot about writing and a bit about sex! Tim from Smashwords was also fantabulous! And James Scott Bell on revision made me repentant. I can be slack sometimes.

So some photos of the highlights.

Cocktail party was so much fun and the costumes were varied and hot! Go Ros Baxter dressed as Cher. If you’ve got it flaunt it. Here are Tania’s boots. (apparently from Amazon and around $60 and in different colours)boots

Here is another shot of the boots but with all of Tania. Did I mention how much delectable food there was at the Destiny Cocktail party? OMG! Diet went out the window. Actually the food was very good all round.

Tania full

Then there is me and Nicole Murphy (actually in the bar beforehand)

Me and Nicole Murphy, RWAus14

Me and Nicole Murphy, RWAus14

me and alex

Me and my agent, Alex Adsett (Above oops)

Keri Arthur and me! Leather and Lace, C\cocktail party, RWAus14

Keri Arthur and me! Leather and Lace, C\cocktail party, RWAus14

And you may have heard to story of Keri Arthur and I shopping in New Orleans. It may have been a frenzy, depends on your definition of shopping, but here is our ultimate purchases.

Here is my swag.

Swag from RWAus14

Swag from RWAus14

Then we got serious. Here is a shot of Fiona Lowe giving her workshop.

Fiona Lowe

Fiona Lowe

Then there was the awards…Here is a shot of Anna Valdinger, Joel Naom, Hayley Nash and Alex Adsett, editors and agents.

Anna, Joel, Haylee and Alex

Anna, Joel, Haylee and Alex

That really was an excellent ceremony and part afterward.

The Harlequin Escape afterparty really took off. Fab music and a photo booth. Here is a couple of shots of me and Alex being goofy. And we were tame compared to others.

Me and Alex photobooth

Me and Alex photobooth

And here is another (note they are photos of small photos)

Me and Alex photobooth shot

Me and Alex photobooth shot

And then comes moving towards the end of the conference. Here is a shot of Alyssa J Montgomery (also published as Alyssa James) at the last session on dialogue with Cherry Adair.

Alyssa J Montgomery

Alyssa J Montgomery

And near to last the sad and somewhat exhausted Nicole Murphy at the closing ceremony.

Nicole Murphy, closing ceremony RWAus14

Nicole Murphy, closing ceremony RWAus14

But to leave you with some cheer. Me in my underbust corset (which might be upside down-not the first time) feeling lovely and constricted.

Donna Maree Hanson, underbust corset, RWAus13

Donna Maree Hanson, underbust corset, RWAus13

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A quick post because I’ve got to head out.

I packed the things I wanted to take. Then as my bag was way over my weight limit I unpacked the things I wanted to take. Sad face! Looks like my lace corset won’t be getting an outing at the Hugo Award Ceremony after all.

This is just my stuff mind you. Matthew has taken the ten kilos of books and chocolate that we’re taking over as I couldn’t afford the weight.

Stay tuned for more ‘merry ol’ England’ photos and maybe some of ‘gay Pari’s. I am hoping to get into a sewer in England, possibly Brighton as London sewers will be closed. This is research for Emerald Fire, the sequel to Ruby Heart (currently with my agent). I also intend to do some street walking in London. Not that kind of street walking! Walking tours and self tours a bit Dickensian I know. More research for the Victorian gothic/steampunk/romance.

I will miss home while I’m away but I’m not going to miss the bloody freezing weather. Listen here England, keep the sun fires burning. I expect warm weather.

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So there’s a lot going on. Edits! Getting ready to go away to the UK for 6 weeks. Promoting books. Doing blogs and other stuff. To tell the truth I’m a bit all over the place.

Today I saw the cover concept for Shatterwing today and it was bloody amazing. I love it. I will share when the publishers are happy with it. I must say that Momentum are taking very good care of me. I saw the maps today as well. Awesome!

It’s weird to think that my drawings of Margra are now maps, maps that are going to appear in a book that I’ve been working on for 10 years. Talk about a long time coming. I’m still wanting to pinch myself.

I was interviewed as part of the Aust Spec Fic Snapshot at Tsana’s blog.

I’ve got a couple more coming up. An in-depth one with Ian McHugh and one on Karen Miller’s blog.

I best go and think up another blog post. I’ll be at the RWA conference in Sydney this weekend and at Loncon3 the weekend after. Oh boy. I’m getting around. I’ll also be at British Fantasy Con in York in September before heading back to Canberra and where I’ll be attending Conflux 10. BTW BIG NEWS. I’ll be launching Shatterwing at Conflux and maybe Skywatcher too if it’s ready.

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When I think of this time last year, my life is so much better. I had a lot of work stress and I had the RSI at this time last year. The year continued to drag and I was down. I went on a writers’ retreat in January, for the first time without a writing goal because of the aching hands. The year got slowly better, but it wasn’t until the latter part of the year that things looked up in many ways. I still managed to do my uni course with an HD in English Grammar and a D in Writing for Young People and I applied to do a Masters in Creative Writing, which I will finish this year if all goes well.

The RSI settled. I’ll always have it, but it’s not acute and I have to exercise at the gym to keep it at bay and use dictation software and take breaks. It could be worse but it’s not. I’m grateful for that and for the support I received.

I changed work areas and I really like my new one and I’m looking forward to my new project. This makes a huge difference to me and the future outlook.

Somewhere during the year Nicole and I put up our hands to run a natcon (actually did we do that the year before?). It could have been insanity, but hey we are so looking forward to it and also looking forward to when it is over. Mostly because both of us have had excellent news on the writing front.

Since August I have been writing like my life depended on it. Lucky for my sanity that is slowing a bit. I will be writing until January 14 and then it is full work, Conflux Natcon and study mode. Writing will go on the back burner until May and then I’m off on a week long writers retreat/Conflux wind down, before really getting into the year. Looking back over the year, I revised Dragon Wine and cut it back by around 50,000 words, I revised and cut back, Argenterra, not by as much but I did it. I completed a novel (first draft), called the Sorcerer’s Spell and it is on the to be revised/polished list, I also revised Ruby Heart. I wrote a couple of short stories but only published two during the year. However, I need to get those stories out there and not take rejections so hard. I also started a short novel called Bespelled. I hope to finish the draft of that by New Year’s Eve.

In August, I discovered my romance writer side and embraced it. I enjoy writing romance and particularly cross genre works. I feel like a dam has burst and all those ideas that were in my head for ‘one day when I become a full time writer’ are now climbing over one another to be written. I don’t need to wait I just need to do. It’s a great feeling really. To be here where I feel my writing has come into its own.

Who knows I may get more publications or I may get none. I have to look to 2013 for that, but in 2012 I’m not saying to myself: another year and no novels picked up.

I have appreciated the support of friends, family and the bigger writer circle. A particular shout out to Nicole Murphy, Matthew Farrer, Ian McHugh, Kaaren Sutcliffe, Maxine McArthur, Sam Phillips. Russell Kirkpatrick, Kylie Seluka, Glenda Larke, Trudi Canavan, Kaaren Warren, Ingrid Jonach. Chris Andrews and many of the tribe. There are too many to name.

I went to some great conventions/conferences during the year and met new people and caught up with old friends. Continuum, Conflux 8, Genrecon, Romance Writers of Australian Conference. Each one provided me with new learnings and new opportunities. Maybe next year I’ll get to World Fantasy in Brighton UK, but I’ll have to dramatically change my spending habits and convince Matthew to come too.

On a personal level, I’ve had my ups and downs. My body is changing, winding down and that provides its own challenges with hormone swings, weight gain, fatigue among other things. Keeping positive and appreciating those around me is something I’ve been trying hard to do. I can’t help but at times to be anxious (about work, manuscripts, family members, the state of the economy and even politics) but I do try to control it.

Perhaps I have even discovered that I’m a bit OCD. This relates to the sheet set episode where I couldn’t make the bed with odd sheets and had to go buy some.

My credit card is a basket case. Savings have been hit hard. New central heating unit and just life really. It’s been a tough year for the spendthrift me. I’m hoping things will improve during 2013. Finance and 2012 have been a bugger.

Some people close to me have been hit by cancer. That is hard for them. Also hard for me as I am powerless to help. I think that is where I get challenged when I can do nothing, just be there, be positive and that’s sometimes the hardest.

There is probably more I can say, but 2012 you’ve been difficult and brilliant. Here is hoping 2013 is better and brings new hope to everyone.

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Thank you to Amanda Bridgeman for tagging me. I’m afraid I’m going to let the side down because every author I contacted had been tagged already so I don’t have the full complement of five authors.

1)      What is the working title of your next book?

This is a hard question as I have a few things on the boil. Rayessa & the Space Pirates comes out on the 10th of January and I have a few other things in the works. I’d have to talk about the book I’m currently drafting I think. It’s working title is Bespelled and it’s a romance with a paranormal slant. I’m aiming for a category length work (50,000 words) and I’m just over half way. I’m hoping to finish it by the end of December. I was going to say Christmas but that’s probably pushing it as that’s a week away and I don’t go on holidays until Friday.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in August. I had a fab time btw. In one of the panel sessions an editor said she’d like to see more stories with witches. As I was leaving the conference I got the idea about a story featuring a witch and I wrote an outline on the train to the airport, in the airport lounge, on the plane etc. I have to admit to being influence by Bewitched with this one. By the time I landed in Canberra I had written the 3000 word outline. Funny I don’t usually do outlines but I knew I couldn’t start it straight away. Interestingly, I deviated a little from the outline in the way I revealed things and the timing. However, what I’ve written is better than the outline I reckon.
3) What genre does your book fall under?

Paranormal romance, category length.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Ooh that’s tough but fun. I borrowed the images from IMDB. I went with Australian actors as the story is set in Australia.

Alex O’Loughlin as Jake, Abbie Cornish as Elena, and Rose Bryne as Grace, Elena’s cousin.

Alex O'Loughlin Picture.Image of Abbie CornishRose Byrne Picture
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Suburban witch, Elena Denholm, has to mind top flying lawyer, Jake Royston, who has been hexed by a love spell, except she’s finding it hard to keep him out of her bed.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I haven’t finished it yet but I’ll probably submit it to a publisher and go from there or maybe by some miracle I’ll have representation. I wanted to have a couple of new manuscripts to shop around in the new year. I’ll have two newly written ones and some other ones that I’m trying to sell.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Hahaha. Not very long but it’s not finished yet. I started it in October during my visit to New Zealand and then picked it up again mid-to-late November, I think. I was working on another novel before that. I seem to be on a paranormal romance gig at present. I was hoping to finish it in 6 weeks but I didn’t. You could say I was slack.
8)  What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Actually I have no idea. It’s  hot and may even be classed as erotica, depending on the publisher and what final form it takes.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Well let me see. Romance Writers of Australia, Nicole Murphy because she encouraged me to go there. My editor, Kate Cuthbert, indirectly because she acquired Rayessa & the Space Pirates and that encouraged me to try writing romance. Also, I’d finished writing a longer single title work, which was a paranormal romance and that worked out well so far. The beta reader comments say so.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

It will be compact, sexy and funny too. All set in Sydney.

So that’s my Next Big Thing interview. Around the 26th of December you will be able to see the interviews from my tagged authors.

Ross Hamilton


Maxine McArthur on her new blog.


And others who might be found before the 26th.

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So I believe since my editor has mentioned the title during her blog tour, I can now mention it here. Kate Cuthbert is doing a blog tour and the interviews are interesting. Somehow she manages to vary the content or the particular personality of the interviewer puts a different slant on things. Links the her interviews are available here. I particularly liked yesterday’s one with Novels on the Run here.

So my young adult novella, Rayessa and the Space Pirates, is going to be released January 10. Nicole Murphy and I are going to brainstorm on the weekend about how I can celebrate the occasion with my friends. As the story features space pirates and a Centauri slave market, I’m thinking of a themed party where people come as space pirates (with a funny name to go with it) or in a’ I dream of Jeanie’ type costume (or male equivalent). I will have to think up some punch to go with it. (As a bit of history I am renown locally for themed parties, such as the Bad Taste Movie night (no dress required), Daggy Zombie Party (dress in clothes you wouldn’t be caught dead in) and the time travel theme for my 50th.) I’ve been busy of late with work so I haven’t done anything themed for a bit.

Where was I? Rayessa and the Space Pirates. This story started as a short story for a local anthology from CSFG Publishing called, Elsewhere edited by Michael Barry. However, at the time it was the longest short story I’d ever written (early days back in 2003) and I was thinking about how to end it when the space pirates turned up. I thought to myself, well that’s not helpful and gave up on it as a short story. I kept writing though wanting to find out what happened next. I ended up with my first novella. I sent it to couple of beta readers, young people mostly but their parents read it. I got feedback on the title, which was Lost Heritage back then and prior to that Space Audit. One parent said it was soft porn (which was shocking because there is no sex-though that might have been the tentacle reference) and the other parent suggested that a character was a bit risque at the end (one of the walk ins). Another beta reader, lovely Chris Andrews, gave me feedback. The most important dealing with a side character Gris. His suggestion was very helpful and made my main character better rounded as a result. Then it sat in my hard drive for many years.

I submitted it to a science fiction anthology looking at novellas. The comment was I liked it but not right. ( I thought year right. Humouring me). I sent it to a big publishing house where it was sent to the children’s section. Nice comments but rejected. I sent it to a small publishing house, which after many, many months I got a standard rejection. That’s it. That’s all it took for me to lose heart.

Over on the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild’s email list we’ve been discussing rejections and how many times people have been rejected before getting sold. I learned that I’m an utter wimp and that I give up way to easily and for many years words of encouragement were disregarded. I thought those editors were humouring me, just being nice. So for nine long years Rayessa and the Space Pirates didn’t get out much at all. My partner Matthew read it and liked it, but you know I didn’t believe him either. Most of my other friends haven’t read it. It was that deep in my hard drive.

There is a story here. Don’t give up. Don’t let negative self talk get in  your way. I did. I was my own worst enemy.

I wrote Rayessa and the Space Pirates as an adventure story. It was only at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in August that I also saw that it had a romance arc. (so I have cognitive issues as well so bite me). It was Harlequin’s announcement of Escape, their new digital imprint, that made me go back and look at the things that I write. There’s romance everywhere.

Digital publishing-so Rayessa and the Space Pirates is going to be digitally published. You know, I hadn’t given that medium much thought either until (the conference) and talking to Nicole Murphy. I have read ebooks, of course, mostly Angry Robot titles but I hadn’t thought about it. It’s growing of course, but I understand for romance it is already big.

I get with the Escape Publishing’s vision of bringing more titles to readers, of taking risks because there certainly has been a contraction in the print market. I’m grateful Kate and Keran inspired me to submit something. For me, a novella, is a toe in the water. I have other stuff hiding in my hard drive and other more recent stuff looking for agent and that dream deal. Fingers crossed I’ll get more published in future. I like the versatility of the digital medium. Put an ereader on your Christmas list.

A Rayessa and the Space Pirates teaser? Rae has been living on asteroid refueling station with just Gris, a brain damaged fellow, as company. They eke out an existence selling scrap from the station and a small hydroponics bay. One day a ship comes in, bringing an auditor from Allearth Corp and Rae’s life becomes very complicated.

This story was so much fun to write. I love the characters and the jokes and I love the imaginary world of the future where humans are living out in the solar system and beyond. Yes, the hero is an auditor. Odd I know. But I’m an auditor so I guess it’s a bit of write what you know.

I don’t as yet have a cover. (You can’t imagine the anticipation I am experiencing right now waiting to see it) but when I do and when I’m allowed, I’ll be sharing that with you, whether you like it or not.

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I had an extra day in Brisbane after the RWAus 2012. It was really useful to me to see if the buzz lasted and all those plans I made about being serious were going to stick and whether I really did have a breakthrough in my writing. Well I’m home now, sitting cosy with the electric blanket on because it’s like zero outside. It’s a bit of a shock with 20C in Brisbane today.

I can report that I believe I do have a writing breakthrough. I wrote this morning in the hotel. I think it was about 1500 words on the work in progress. I’ve had trouble with the title of this one but I think it is going to be The Sorcerer’s Spell. So over the weekend, which consists of Saturday night, Sunday night and Monday morning, I’ve written about 6000 words.

As well as talking my head off to Matthew about plans and insights and resolutions, I got this story idea this morning based on something one of the publishers said. During the day the story began to unfold in my mind. We went on a river cruise and more of the story unwound. I had names of characters. I had motive, storyline, beginning, middle and the end. So on the train to the airport I started writing an outline. Now I usually don’t write an outline or if I do it’s usually a poor one with the opening and the ending. I continued to write the outline in the airport lounge and on the plane to Sydney, where we swapped over for the flight to Canberra. By the time I landed in Canberra, I had written 3500 words of the story outline, some 7 pages. I had the whole outline down. If I was to show it to anyone it would need a polish. I think this story is either a novella or category length. It’s romance-focussed with witches in it. I’m calling it Bespelled.

I think I’ll be able to sleep now that the outline is down. I often create whole stories in my head but don’t write them down. Then I forget the excellent detail because I don’t write the things for ages. Well now it is there waiting for me to start. I have to finish The Sorcerer’s Spell first and that’s likely to be single title length as they say in the romance business.

I realised on the trip home that I’m as wired and excited about writing as I was when I first started out. Over the years my enthusiasm fizzed for a number of reasons. My partner didn’t like my writing. My family got annoyed with me about it because I was so fixated and then I was learning to write too so success didn’t come. My progress has been slow and steady. I’ve focused on the spec fic side and left behind the romance side, well not really pursued it. My first attempt at writing was a Scottish Historical romance and I looked at the 900 words I wrote and thought they were crap. I knew nothing about writing then. Later in the year the desire to write came back again and then I got an idea. I wrote Relic in six weeks, practically downloaded it. The writing was pretty ordinary and I had no idea what I’d written. A science fantasy with sex with aliens and feminist overtones. I polished it for years. Nearly got an excellent agent but she dumped me when she heard SF was a hard sell. Then I got another agent but by then I thought Relic was a bit crap. I did get some advice that I should not discard Relic but I haven’t gone back to it in years. It is really a romance when I come to think of it.

So here I am 12 years on and it’s all back, the enthusiasm, the drive and the ideas. I have a different partner now. One that understands the writing, the internet addiction, the weekend long Austen movie fests or Star Trek movie fests. He’s a writer himself and has habits as bad as mine.

A few of those things sitting in my hard drive are going to be subbed pretty soon. Tonight I submitted two short stories. No more procrastination. Now I just have to finish my uni course, get through the next 7 months until the Conflux 9 (a SF convention) is delivered and then I’m home free as far as writing is concerned.

I’m feeling pretty good. Thanks to the RWAus 2012, I’m revved and I’m happy to be so. Thank you fellow romance writers for showing me there are opportunities out there and for being so supportive of writers of any experience. I love your ethos and my membership form was in the mail before I left for the conference. I found something in me that I thought I’d lost. Thanks to Nicole too for encouraging me to come along.

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The Romance Writers’ Australia Conference is over. It is kind of sad but also a relief because of the fatigue. I’m grateful for what I have learned and the inspiration I derived from those around me. A few little things I forgot last post. At the opening of the conference, the RWA celebrates the first sales of its members. In all 31 tradition and e-published authors were called up. I thought this was wonderful. Your first sale (I haven’t had my first novel sale) must be the most exquisite moment and to have your peers recognise it for those authors, was very moving for me. Well done RWA!

I also gathered that the RWA does a lot of things to help emerging romance writers through its competitions, mentorships and writing intensives. On a personal level, I found everyone I met was welcoming and interesting in sharing a few words with me. It was very nice. By the way, I sent my membership form off before I left for the conference as I was already convinced that it was right for me.

Last night I didn’t attend the awards, but I did write 4000 words after my blog post. It was a bit of a breakthrough for me because I haven’t written that much in one go for over 7 months. All because I was inspired to be more focussed and to put my eye back on the main game. (Note I am currently writing this blog on the train).

One of the funny anecdotes from day one was the difference in Australian English usage and USA English usage. Almost all romance is published in the USA, so writers have to be aware of that if they are aiming for that market. Anyway, one of the writers said on her panel that her novel ended with the final line. “You sanctimonious bastard.” It was changed by the USA editor to “You sanctimonious asshole.” This made us all laugh. Apparently ‘bastard’ is very strong language and a terrible thing to say in the USA so it was changed. However, I think ‘asshole’ or ‘arsehole’ is much stronger and nastier. Judging by the laughter, I think others felt the same.

So today I attended a very interesting session on Georgian and Regency cloths. The underlying message is that silk was not worn as underwear and that the dresses that survive today in museums aren’t the normal every day wear of people in those times. Only the best dresses survived, like wedding dresses, ball gowns, formal wear. So Lizzie wouldn’t be walking around Pemberley in a muslin gown during the winter. The presenter had been working on a thesis on textiles and so it was very interesting as she walked us through the changes in how textiles were made and how some types of cloth was no longer made and they were lost after a while, ie they no longer exist except in sample books. I thought it was a great presentation, which confirmed that most of my Victorian-themed MS has the right detail, but also inspired me for another idea for a Regency romance that has been on my mind for about 10 years.

I went to a session on sub-characters and that was instructive too. The main lesson for me, don’t let your sub-characters (secondary) take over and make your hero look bad. Sometimes we fall in love with our secondary characters, but for a romance they must be focussed on the hero and the heroine. Actually I think it is the same for other genres too.

By the way, most of the publishers said rural romance is hot at the moment and Australian rural romance is selling well here.

The other fun session today was the speed dating panel with publishers and agents. It was hilarious, at times, and also fun to hear agents and publishers asking for manuscripts and even being funny about it. The Harlequin representative said come on a publishing date with us because we are desperate. Then she quoted stats that said they took 7 out of 10 of the submissions in the last three months. They also did a presentation later in the day to explain that Harlequin don’t only publish romance but a range of commercial fiction and even non-fiction. So check out their sites. Also, they have launched the digital first imprint Harlequin Escape. This afternoon, Sarah Fairhall said that Penguin’s digital first imprint, Destiny, would be publishing in print too, next year. So what an opportunity. A new imprint looking for Australian voices. I’d say flirt with your Destiny.

So it is over and I’m inspired. Inspired not only to write, but to write a range of things and to be more focussed on the main game and to treat writing as a business, a serious business. I love romance as well as science fiction, fantasy and horror but that doesn’t mean I can’t explore all of them. Also I need to give myself permission to write romance and pursue a career in romance writing.

The next RWA conference will be in Freemantle. I’m seriously considering it. I hope I am one of the authors receiving my first sale ribbon.

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