Well today was a mix of things from the Golden Hearts awards luncheon to a great cocktail party and information session with Carina Press (they had me at brie cheese) and a ton of great panels.
First up in the morning, my mom and I went to hear the how to write a novella panel with Robin Covington and Katharine Ashe among others. I think the best advice they gave included three things: 1) limit yourself so focus on a few characters and keep stripping out what's not needed, 2) it can help to limit your scope if you create a tightly focused mission, a time deadline, or an isolated space like a cabin in the snow or a train, and 3) sometimes start with characters who have a history like friends-to-lovers or second chance romance. I also think it sounds like a good exercise for people to practice their tight writing skills as well as the chance to do a lot of fun things with promotion.
Second, I went to a panel about successful self publishing. Some of the things I did know, but they had good recommendations about working with ACX/getting audio out there, how to leverage and work with Goodreads, and then to work better with wide vendors like iBooks and Kobo. They suggested things like creating specialized content in Kindle and Kobo and Nook editions to get readers on those platforms buying, things like short stories or bonuses exclusive there which I think is a fabulous idea. They also promoted the benefits of book blog tours and blogger support even now which I'll be checking out in my more modest/smaller sized genre compared to some of the huge ones out there like contemporary m/f romance or erotic romance!
Third, there was a great panel by Dr. Amelia Nagoski and Emily Foster (as Ph.D. neuroscientist but Emily Foster is her pen name). It was about avoiding burnout with direct exercises to deal with cortisol/adrenaline overload, how to confront and deal with your feelings of rage and despair, how to work with engagement/having a higher purpose to your mission, and, finally, rest. Alas, there's no way around the need for 7-9 hours of sleep a night, but it's important to say no too where you can and protect that sleep. Under six hours consistently and you're as cognitively deprived as you are if you were drunk! I will definitely be buying her book Come As You Are.
The day was broken up by the Golden Heart awards as emcee'd by Sherrilyn Kenyon. The place was packed and it was good to see people supporting those who had done excellent work in unpublished fiction but fully done manuscripts. I hope all the nominees end up published, frankly. Also, Sherrilyn gave a great speech about how you just have to keep working through "no" and about how she had been told no many, many times on some of her biggest series ideas like Dark Hunters even with her sales record before she heard a yes. So just keep going.
The afternoon was devoted to mostly the Pitch Wars in person event, which I got so much out of. Not only was it nice to meet new people, including someone I hope can start being in my local MD chapter of RWA, but I also worked with two great mentors who helped me tighten my pitch and bring out my voice. It was also helpful to read in a small group with three other pitchers and see what works, what doesn't, and what helps get to the heart of your hooks. It was super exciting and I hope I made some mentor connections too!
Finally, there was an open house at Carina Press. They had great wine, fun swag, and some terrific cheese (again, I have a one track mind). Angela James was nice enough to come speak at our table, and I really had a great time speaking with fellow authors around the table. I also met the secretary for the Rainbow Romance Writers and have joined their chapter today. Any extra help out there as SAF takes off and such is appreciated and I can't wait to get to know that community of LGBT and LGBT ally authors.
I skipped out on the RITAs as I'm exhausted and just want to rest, review my pitch, and hope for the best for tomorrow---eep!
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