Okay, so no, I’m not going to sing (you lucky people!) But after the conference I certainly feel like it. The passing of Sandra Hyatt cast a pall – how could it not? – but I’m sure she won’t mind if I pass on some of the good things that came out of the conference. And there were some extremely good things.
1. My pitch to Lucy Gilmour. I’d won the First Impressions Contest #2 and my prize was the pitch. And since she’d already read and judged the first 1k of my story, we didn’t really talk about it much. In fact we ended up about me and my writing (poor Lucy)! Anyway, she was lovely and so encouraging that I felt like getting down on my knees and paying homage. 🙂 Rather OTT I know but she laid to rest a great many fears I had. The end result anyway is that they’re extremely excited about my Modern partial and are impatient to see it. Only hope I don’t break it the way I broke the Hammer Pants ms.
2. My pitch to Angela James. Who loved it and asked if I had the ms with me. She was just joking of course but she was really keen which makes me really keen too. Now I just have to finish rewriting the end so I can send it to her.
3. Dinner where I got to sit beside the fabulous Natalie Anderson (Hoo took rather a shine to her as you can see), who wore her Adidas tracksuit (theme was the Rugby World Cup) complete with sparkly heels, and who had the best hair. She was wonderful company and made me swear that I would enter my next five – yes, you heard right – manuscripts into NZ’s Clendon Award. I promised one. 😉 Anyway, go buy her new book because she’s a fab author and lovely lady. Yes, buy it I tell you!
4. Molly O’Keefe. Who liked my hair. And gave one of the best ever workshops on conflict. It was so inspiring she even had a few lightbulbs herself and had to go off to jot them down. 🙂 Seriously, she was wonderful. A few highlights were having at least three facets to your character’s life in your plot, and at least three scenes scenes for every facet. The first establishes it, the second raises the stakes, the third resolves it. She also gave a great run down on hooks and how to tweak them for that all important ‘unpredictability factor’. Basically the way to do that is to think about why people love to read, say, a ‘secret baby’ story. Think about what people expect to have happen, then think about how you can tweak it so that it’s different to what people expect.
5. Bob Mayer gave an awesome talk on how to write a great synopsis and also marketing of your book. The possibilities given social media are pretty endless and repetition seems to be key. The main points really are that only you can sell your book. No one else is going to do it for you.
6. Wearing my contest rosettes. In NZ, if you final or place in a contest, you get to wear rosettes and after a few conferences of a sadly bare chest, it was finally my turn. I had two! I had to be careful of their placement. 😉
7. Collecting my certificates for my contest placings from Lucy Gilmour on the stage. Yeah, I know, but hey, I’m celebrating my successes here, no matter how small.
8. Spending time with the lovely Amanda Wilson and Cody Young.
9. Meeting more fellow writers who are also riding the roller-coaster with me.
10. Going home and finally being able to sleep without a million things scrambling around in my brain!
Anyway, I haven’t really done justice to some of these things and that’s mainly because when I got home and read through my notes, I realised they were hopeless. It’s been a long time since my university days and clearly I suck at note-taking.
I haven’t finished up my spiel about the Aussie conference either but since Jane Porter gave the most inspiring closing speech ever, I might save that for a seperate blog post. And besides, I’m pretty damn tired – two conferences back to back, especially when circumstances are tragic, are pretty full on.
Hope everyone else has been doing okay. Thanks also for your lovely comments re my last post on Sandra. It’s going to take a while to sink in, let alone get past (not that you ever really do).