Today I was able to attend the annual Young Adult Romance Writers Association's (YARWA - say it like a pirate) annual meeting in the morning and then attend some of the introductory/orientation sessions in the evening.
First, YARWA was great, and I was so glad I attended. There was a silent auction with cool critiques and prizes. Even if I didn't win, it was still cool to see the options out there, which included meetings with editors as well as tons of critiques. The events started off with a keynote address from Jennifer L. Armentrout who wrote the aliens-in-high-school series, Lux. She spoke about taking time out to both appreciate success and to also appreciate and protect your health. I think the best advice she gave was that we all have to define our own success and take that moment to do that so we know what we're working towards.
Damon Suede was up next and gave an amazing presentation on characterization. I don't want to summarize too much since it is proprietary. Still, if you can hear him speak then do. Second, he did give two pieces of advice that think are super helpful---the basic characteristics and traits of a character come last, but the deeper essence of what the character does and their consistent behavior comes first. Finally, characters should be thought of in terms of verbs and how they act transitively on other entities in the story. Also, the classics geek in me loves anyone who can give me a great bit of Greek etymology in a speech, no kidding.
Finally, I stayed long enough to hear the agent/editors read the first page---yes just the first page---of a volunteers' stories. They stressed starting in medias res, avoiding backstory and world building (as well as reflection), and making us fall in love with a character out of the gate. Also, the consensus was definitely anti-prologue.
After grabbing my mom from the hotel (she's a writer here with me too), she and I attended the afternoon sessions. The first was practicing pitching, which was helpful because I'm pitching something under another pen name to an editor on Friday. Mom, of all people, helped get my pitch refined since I think she was right and it was on the wrong focal character. That said, pitching over and over to strangers was hard! Then there was an editor panel which was okay but a bit more about working with editors and that overall relationship than about how to obtain one. I wasn't surprised to hear from Avon and Berkeley that paranormal wasn't big right now, but that's okay cause I like to indie publish things (obviously) and the other pen name pitch is for a small press actively interested in digital paranormal.
Finally, there was a session again with Damon Suede but also with Robin Covington, Eliza Knight, and Laura Kaye among others about what it's like to be a first timer/how to make the most of a first convention. The advice was good, and I will be taking the day after I get home to organize all of my notes as well as to send thank you notes and touch base with people I met while there! I'm not great at networking (introvert writer surprise) but I promised myself that I'd try. Damon said to set a goal for the conference, and, besides pitching, I'd like to set a goal of talking to at least three people I don't know at the RITA awards cocktail party tomorrow because that's hard for me, and I have to really work at networking.
Tomorrow, tons of things, including the Golden Heart awards luncheon, me volunteering to help with Brenda Drake's pitch wars panel, and the RITA awards and after cocktail party. Phew, wish me luck and that I stay awake!!!
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