Conference – RWNZ

Warning, this post contains scenes of shameless name dropping…

So, how was the RWNZ Conference? Pretty damn good actually. Romance writers are such a lovely bunch of people – I can’t get over how friendly and supportive and just plain old nice they all are. Which makes a conference full of ’em a great place to be.

Anyway, my highlights? Firstly there was a workshop where Melissa Jeglinski of the Knight Agency did a one page critique of people’s WIPs. I was pleased to get some nice feedback about mine which kind of set me up for the rest of the conference. 🙂

Secondly was a talk from Harlequin editor Mary Therese Hussey about writing for category. She had this to say about what an editor looks for in a first chapter (in general):

Are the opening and closing lines strong?
Do characters make decisions?
Are the conflicts strong and interesting?
Are the characters compelling?
Does the story start in the right place?
Do you want to read on?

Interesting eh? Made me want to hurry back home to check out my first chapters!

She also mentioned the importance of making the conflict clear and understandable and of making sure your story begins where it should. The opening of the story should be at a point of change in a character’s life, not before it.

There were some other great craft sessions where I got some more insights about a great fault of mine which is thinking up quirky openings and then struggling to find the motivation for the characters to do the things I want them to. It all comes down – naturally! – to having strong and meaningful conflicts. Asking the ‘why’ questions. All this made much more sense this year than last year, probably because of what I’ve learned since then via my rejections and advice from other authors.

Anyway – name drop moment – the main highlight was meeting the lovely Natalie Anderson and having a great old chat about writing and law libraries (she was a librarian as well)! It was great meeting one of the authors for the line I’m trying to write for – especially one whose books are my faves. And also to get a bit of reassurance about the difficulties of balancing strong emotional conflict with the fun, flirty Modern Heat vibe. It’s not easy and it’s nice to know I’m not alone with that! Cheers, Natalie!

So that’s conference this year. Next year promises to be even better and I’m even thinking about hopping across the ditch and going to the RWA one in Sydney too.

All in all a great weekend. Hope everyone else had a good one as well!

20 thoughts on “Conference – RWNZ”

  1. Sounds brilliant Jackie!
    Much more useful to the writing progress than my weekend – Princess Four’s Fairy Dancing Party, although while making the cake I had an idea about a heroine making a cake disaster…

  2. Hey Jackie,
    Sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing some of the helpful info-I’ve already the points for what an editor looks for in the first chapter!

    (abbycat from the eharlequin boards-followed the link from the site.)

  3. Jackie – jealous as a kid watching someone else play with a new toy!!! Really hope you do jump the ditch next year. Will be awesome. I’m already on the countdown.

    Thanks for posting that first chap info from Mary too! Very useful!

  4. Hey, that’s the sign of a true writer, Becca! Hope your daughter had a lovely party. I’ve got my own little princess’s fourth coming up in November and it’s fairies or nothing.

    Hi Laura! Thanks for posting. You’ve got a SSE full in along with Soraya eh? Good luck, I’m crossing fingers and toes for you guys.

    No worries, Rach. It was very useful. We had to make her stop her spiel so we could write it down!

    Janette – yep it would be cool to meet all you lovely Aussies. Hubby is keen so there’s nothing stopping me really (except money, though there’s plenty of time to get some of that). 🙂

  5. Well I’m disgustingly, shamelessly jealous! The green monster is jumping up and down on my shoulder and I’m a hair’s breath away from joining him 🙂

  6. Next year eh Lacey? You’ll have to get to Sydney!

    Hi Kerrin! No drama re the first chapters. Gives you a bit of an insight into how they read our subs eh?

  7. Very jealous about you meeting Natalie Anderson, she’s my favourite writer for the Modern Heat line, I’d love to pick her brains.

    Those first chapter tips are excellent, food for thought. I definitely need to work on my first line for the competition entry!

    It’s amazing how much there is to learn about writing for Catagory Romance, I never would have guessed just how much until I started reading about it. Information is power!

    x Kristy

  8. Thanks for all the feedback Jackie 🙂

    Great tips about first chapters BTW, for all of us who are thinking about (or should that be obsessing about) the upcoming comp!

    Always so much to think about getting right, who knew it would be so hard???

  9. Sounds brilliant Jackie! Much food for thought. One lovely day I will meet the wonderful Nat in person, though we have promised we will just giggle at each other a lot. Hoping it’s sooner rather than later. Why does NZ have to be so far away from Scotland? jx

  10. Cool! I’ve yet to go to any conferences – but live in hope. I am aiming to attend a writing weekend in Fishguard next Feb hosted by Kate Walker. I dropped serious hints yesterday about “what would I like for Christmas?” He took the hint – bless – and asked “Well what do you want,” and not even pausing for a polite breath of air I blurted out “money so I can book myself on Kate’s course.” I heard him muttering something like “I should have guessed…” Take care. Caroline x

  11. Kristy, it IS hard. People just don’t understand I think how hard it actually is!

    Ditto Lorraine! Yep, I’d better have a look at my first chapters too.

    Judy, I have often asked myself that question re Scotland and NZ. Especially since Scotland and NZ are similiar in many ways.

    I’m jealous Caroline! Lucky you! Hope you have a fab time at Kate’s workshop.

  12. Hey Jackie,
    Yup I’ve got a full in at SSE-wow, you’ve got a good memory, lol.

    I’ve been following your story too–and you are SOOOOOOO close, I know it! Way to go. Everything is crossed for you too, lol.

    Right now I’m trying to stay motivated and keep writing after the little guy goes to bed, but the wait really is a killer, isn’t it??

    Take care!

  13. Cheers Suzanne. Yep, can’t wait for next year. 🙂

    Laura – I don’t know whether it’s memory so much as lurking in Subcare a lot. 🙂 As to being close, well, I hope so but you just don’t know… Ah well, here’s hoping for both of us eh? 😉

  14. Sounds wonderful! I am jealous too.

    Great tips about the first chapter.

    Also very jealous you got to meet Natalie Anderson. She is another one of those authors I want to be ‘when I grow up’!!

  15. OMG i’m blushing – but it was so lovely to meet you too Jackie – it can be a lonely old world at times this writing gig so it is brilliant to be able to connect with other people who like to write & read what you like to – and really nice to meet someone who’s into the same ‘line’ as you!!! Fingers crossed we’ll be meeting up at the authors dinner the night before next year Jackie!!! You know I had been thinking I’d only make it to conference every other year but I had such a great time last weekend that I’m busting to go again already – so thinking I’ll be there next year for sure…
    And yes Jude, MUCH giggling will ensue when we FINALLY get to meet!
    Kristy – my mushy brain is yours to pick any old time – not sure that it’ll be that helpful tho! If Jackie wants, why not send any questions to her and I’ll come back and answer them (and if I can’t answer them I can shoulder tap another MH buddy to answer)…. but that would have to be in a week or so because I am about to go on HOLIDAY (first in 10 months)…. still taking the laptop tho!
    Talk soon,

  16. I’m crossing everything I have I’ll be able to make it for the dinner, Natalie! 🙂 And if not, well, you’ll just have to come to conference so you can tell me all about it. 🙂

    Hey, that’s fab re your offer of your mushy brains (not a zombie by any chance are you?). 😉 I’ve been emailing Kristy so I’ll let her know.
    Have a great holiday eh? I’m off next week myself and yes, the laptop is coming too.

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