I’ve just returned from a weekend of workshopping, champagne sipping and chatting at the Romance Writers of Australia 2013 Conference in Fremantle, WA. I’d love to tell you that I managed to see even a little bit of Fremantle but the truth is I saw about one block either side of the hotel. But of course that wasn’t what I was there for. I was there to learn and meet fellow writers which is exactly what I did.
Being a newbie I really wasn’t quite sure what to expect. And being a writer with romantic elements in my fiction rather than full-blooded Romance I wasn’t even sure I should be even attending. But any reservations I had soon vanished. I attended with the lovely Monique McDonell starting with a welcome cocktail party thrown by Destiny Romance and continued on Friday night with the Nautical or Nice themed event sponsored by Harlequin Australia. Pirates, sea witches and sailors (along with many other nautical themes) crowded the room and the champagne flowed.
Somehow I managed to drag myself out of bed each morning and attend the wonderful workshops and sessions. Friday’s was a day long workshop with Kim Hudson, author of The Virgin’s Promise, who guided us through the structures and archetypes that can be borrowed from mythology to help structure stories about women’s journeys. I also attended some great sessions by Nina Bruhns, Sarah Wendell, Alison Stuart and Laura Bradford, to name a few. Being a new author I found the published authors round table session extremely helpful – learning the ins and outs of the writing life from more experienced writers who were all so generous in sharing information. I came away with a much greater understanding of the business side of being a writer – and with a lot of things on my “to do” list. Another great session was Survivor Submission Island where anonymous scripts were read out loud to a panel of publishers and agents who would hold up a stop sign at the point at which they would stop reading the manuscript. If they wanted to hear more they could hold up a “more” sign and the writer had the opportunity to later submit the manuscript to that person. After each reading there was a panel discussion on the pro’s and con’s of the pages which was enlightening both in terms of what they’re looking for and how to make your first chapter gripping.
The social highlight of the weekend was the Awards Gala where we consumed yet more champagne and were treated to scrumptious desserts and a magnificent chocolate fountain. Ribbons and awards were given out and there was a refreshing sense of celebration and camaraderie that embraced newbies and more experienced writers. The force that is e-publishing was celebrated along with traditional publishing and the dance floor certainly got a hammering afterwards!
Personally it was fantastic to be able to meet so many of the rural fiction authors I had previously only connected with via social media and i look forward to catching up with them again in Sydney next year where the conference will be held.
So despite my nervousness about attending the conference it was a fantastic experience which I will definitely be attending again. For now it’s back to the writing!