Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Is Your Heart in San Francisco?

Is your heart in San Francisco this week? Right now thousands of romance writers are descending on that beautiful city for the Romance Writers of America convention and I don't know if it's dawned of you guys but the loops are already starting to be a snore!!! ZZZZZ.

So while they are partying down in Cali, I'm here in Texas waiting for the tidbits of gossip to trickle in. I know several friends have taken laptops and I'm hoping to hear details.Many of you know that I dropped my RWA membership this year. As a member since 1992 I can't say I got a lot out of RWA except for a really pricey magazine once a month and though I often got some good publishing and writing information, most of the time I felt it was a huge waste of money. So yeah, at the end of June I am officially NOT a member. It's funny too, because I'd just sold enough of one particular book to be eligible for PAN. In the end, I realized I didn't really need RWA to be a writer.

On that note, let me say the conventions are a blast and I know what kind of fun awaits for friends fortunate enough to attend this year. My favorite things about the convention? Umm. It's a long list beginning with meeting up with friends that you've never actually met in person before. There's something wonderful about putting faces to names and realizing someone is just as cool in person as they are on line. Another thing I loved about the RWA conventions was the Goody Room. Tables full of free stuff...book bags, books, pens, and other promo items that are fun to sift through.

The other day I ran off a list of "must do's" for a friend. At the top of the list was the Literacy Booksigning. It's a giant booksigning with all proceeds going to support literacy programs across the country. A very worth event and be sure to bring a camera for pics with your favorite authors. One thing I realized during this event was how NICE romance writers are. They were always willing to chat and take pictures.The workshops are good and my favorites were "Publisher Spotlights" where, as an unpubbed writer longing for publication, you could get the scoop on who was looking for what. Those were usually informal and packed with information.

On the downside? I'm multi-published now but then, I was one of the unpubbed rabble looking for a break and nowhere do you feel the distinction between the have's and have not's than at an RWA convention. It's not that people weren't nice, it was just that you KNEW you hadn't really arrived yet and that's a bothersome feeling. At least to me, it was. And agent/editor appointments? What a joke! Hundreds were herded in and out of the little rooms, nerves dancing, palms sweating and it didn't take me long to realize that most of the writers pitching ideas were told..yeah, send it in! Everyone left smiling. Once, in my group of ten, every single one of us were told this and NO ONE got a contract out of the deal. In retrospect, I think many editors just thought it was easier to be nice and ask for a manuscript than to say no.

Have you attended a convention lately? I'll confess it's been awhile and now that I've dropped my RWA membership, I'll be getting my convention fix at Romantic Times and the upcoming Ellora's Cave Convention next year. What would you most like to find at a convention? Do you want to see the cover models? Party down with friends? Hit a few good workshops? As a reader what do you want to do and see?


Anny Cook said...

I confess that I'm really not much for conventions. If I go to another one, I would reallllly like to see some excellent workshops. The ones I attended at RT were MOSTLY so-so. Judy Mays had an wonderful one. As did another author who did one on writing a synopsis. But too many of them were "meet the author" or panel discussions that meandered around without very much meat in them.

P. Robinson said...

I have yet to attend a conference but I'd love to go to Orlando next year for RT. I'm all for fun and games but I'm not one of those who would go overboard.

Dianna Love spoke about this at the Georgia RWA meeting I went to a few weeks ago. (As a guest) She voiced the fact that publishers and editors watch what prospective authors are doing at these things.

Some of the happenings I saw on blogs and videos from last years convention and couldn't believe how unprofessional some acted.

There's a time for partying and there's a time for networking. I know for a fact I don't have the money to pay for conference fees, travel, food, and lodging just to party.

When I do attend I want to make the most of my time in the writing world. It's not like I'll get a lot of time to do things like that.

And by the way, as of yet I still haven't joined RWA. I don't like the fact that you can't join the local group without joining the national group. It's the order of things though.

I'll attend the Midnight Seductions Authors summer bash and the convention at Romance Divas- and I'll like it!


Molly Daniels said...

I also want to network with other authors and get information, as well as workshops to improve skills. I sooooo want to go to RT next year!

Heidi said...

Interesting. I was just thinking about writers' conventions yesterday. I've never been to a romance writers' convention or gathering, but I have attended several 'reputable' writers' conferences. I learned the following - and this certainly does not apply to every guest author - some authors attend as lecturers, not to pass on tidbits of knowledge or teach the craft of writing but to simply make some money and plug their books. Not necessarily a bad thing, especially if they are entertaining. Other authors and literary agents, and I say this with some reluctance, find themselves in a slump and come to borrow interesting ideas from naive aspiring writers who put it all out there, laboring under the delusion that someone is interested. They are, but for the wrong reasons. Still others come to 'hook up' with young, nubile wannabees who have stars in their eyes when it comes to a published author. Still, there are gems out there who sincerely believe in guiding aspiring writers and helping as they themselves may have been helped by others on their own career path. I've encountered all of the above. I learned a couple valuable lessons, one being to stay away from writers' conferences. The other - this from an author I admire very much - I should feel complimented that one particular faculty member at one particular conference found my submission so compelling that he/she attempted to borrow it in it's entirety for his/her book. That's one way to look at it, but I wasn't particularly pleased and the borrowing didn't work out quite as well as he/she anticipated.

Regina Carlysle said...

Tell you something about those partying people! Some of em are bestselling authors getting drunk and partying their butts off. The last one I attended changed my opinion about some of them. Don't buy em anymore.

Thing is...it's okay (and even GOOD) to have fun but we can't forget for a minute the reason we're there. It's to network and learn MORE. A writers the learning doesn't stop just because you're published.

Also, I think some conventions are geared more to fun than the actual workshop stuff. Probably a good idea to research these events and ask around. That way you aren't shelling out good money for something that isn't interesting.

Phoenix said...

I attended the RWA 07 conference and it was good but expensive for what we got. I've also been annoyed that as a published writer but not taken seriously, I can't enter contests with the same credibility. I don't care anymore. I know I can write after ten books. I don't need a contest to tell me I have a shot at publication. I've been debating my membership for awhile. No decisions yet but I won't be going to their conference again.

RT was fun. I'm doing it next year. EC will be a blast. I'm going to that one too, but those are it for me.

Megan Rose said...

I think that I'd like to attend a convention in order to meet up with writer friends and put faces to the names. I'm sure it would be a great opportunity. As I'm in the UK though, there isn't really a lot of opportunity to get to the US conventions. I too look forward to getting all the gossip from those who are attending this week.

Regina Carlysle said...

Stealing someone's work is just WRONG. We always need to be alert to disreputable and okay...morally corrupt people. I've heard a lot of people say the smaller conferences are better than the big conventions. At least as far as the craft.

Regina Carlysle said...

Yeah...me too, Kelly. I got the HUGE feeling of not belonging at the RWA conferences. As someone unpubbed but paying the astronomical fee to get there, it didnt take me long to feel the rest of us were financing this big party for "those who really mattered". Now I'm multi-pubbed and I KNOW I'd never dis unpubbed writers. They are, hopefully, the stars of tomorrow.

Yep. RT and EC for me next year. I can't wait.

Kelley Nyrae said...

I haven't been to one of the huge conferences such as RT or RWA. I find you can get more some times from the smaller ones. I've gone to Lori Foster's the past two years. There aren't workshops but with a smaller group you get personal contact with agent and editors. You sit at their table and chat with them. I sold out of ALL my books when I went this past June and did a lot of networking. I do plan to attened RT or RWA next year though.

K.M. Saint James said...

The networking with other writers who love what they do as much as I love what I do is always worth the price of admission.

I'll admit that the 'haves' and have nots' is extremely noticeable. Even once you've sold (only one) then there is still a difference. It's that whole multi-pubbed and backed by a big house thing.

From a weather standpoint -- being another Texan -- oh, yeah, I'd love to be in San Francisco and needing a coat for the chilly mornings. Since we're hovering at over 100 most days, yeah, torture me with a little chill.

Anita Birt said...

I have attended five RWA naiional confences. Liked the workshops and the great handouts. Every agent and editors asked for three copies and a synopsis and not one yielded a contract nor an interesting rejection letter. I'm toying with the idea of dropping my memberships but ... I would also have to drop out of our Vancouver Island Chapter. Don't want to do that.

Regina Carlysle said...

I honestly think RWA is beneficial, especially with the smaller local chapters. My problem has always been that I don't have a local chapter. So basically, I get the mag and that's it. Yeah...I know there's great on-line stuff but I get that FREE in other places, too.

I'll be interested in talking to some of my friends who are going and see if they got that "outsider" feeling.

Regina Carlysle said...

Kelley, I think a lot of writers have said they get more value for their money at the smaller conferences. I know you and Anne had a blast at Lori Foster's Event. That sounds like a more intimate setting to me.

Regina Carlysle said...

Megan, do they have romance conventions in the UK? I know the Aussie RWA is in Feb. but I wondered about that. Surely there are some you could attend. Man, that really sucks.

Regina Carlysle said...

You know, Anita, I can't remember one person who said they got a contract from their conf. appts. with agents and editors. Not one. Makes you wonder if the whole thing isn't a huge sham. Anyone know anyone who HAS???? I'd love to be proven wrong on this.

J.K. Coi said...

I'm pretty much in agreement that the RWA conference is big, too big, so big that you have to wonder how it's even possible to stand out among all the hundreds of other writers waiting their turn in line to pitch and wow the editors and agents. Sorry, I really doubt it's gonna happen. And I'm not planning to go anytime soon. However, I will be trying one of the smaller conferences in the hopes that a smaller venue has bigger opportunities (New Jersey in October).

That being said, I do have a local chapter, and I really really like it, it's been fabulously helpful to me and I love going to the monthly meetings and having the online support from all the members. I guess if it takes paying the National RWA dues to stay with my chapter, then I'll keep doing it.

Regina Carlysle said...

For what it's worth, JK, I hear the editor/agent appts. go more smoothly at the smaller conferences. I hear the fall one in NJ is a good one.

There were probably two hundred women in line with me the time I pitched. Every single woman who went into the little rooms came out with a big smile on her face. I'm not normally suspicious by nature but alarm bells were definitely going off.

If I had a strong local chapter, I'd be just like you and continue to pay my RWA dues. Without benefit of a local chapter? No.

Mona Risk said...

Very interseting blog, Regina. I'll post a comment here and then I will go on Special Notice until Monday.

I'm leaving tomorrow at 6:00 am for San Francisco. Where else? It will be my fourth and last National conference as I have decided it's way too expensive and I'm not getting much out of it. But I will never drop out of RWA. I owe RWA and my chapters what I have become. Actually what I like at National conferences are the special gatherings of my chapters where I get to meet friends and CPs once a year. Last year, EC/CP had a luncheon where I met many froggies for the first time. I am not taking a laptop, too heavy to carry and there is a limitation on luggage. But I will post a full report on my blog when I come back. I hope I will have a lot of stories to tell. Until then, be good my friends.

Regina Carlysle said...

Have a GREAT time, Mona!!! It's worth lots to be able to connect with people. Hope you get lots our of the convention and yessss, please blog about it when you get back. Fill us in on EVERYTHING!