This was only half a day, but I still got in four sessions: 1) Escaping the Slush Pile and the Killer Cliches to Avoid, 2) Don't Just Throw a Vampire in It (Paranormal Romance), 3) The Neuroscience of Love Scenes, and 4) the #RWChat wind down and "What Next?" session.
I didn't get to the very beginning of the escaping the slush pile, but the editors and agents there had quite a few cliches that were out. The biggest ones that were hated the most were the misogynistic ones, any cliche about the bitchy, scheming ex-girlfriend, the cold-hearted mother that ruined the duke's heart, and the idea that our heroine is "not like all the other girls." Second, an editor said that even if you are trying to lampshade or turn tropes on their heads, be careful. It's a big turn off to read racist/sexist/other -ist conventions so they may stop reading before the editor or agent actually gets to the subversion. Finally, those who are also YA readers are very tired of The Chosen One trope. They're reading for underdogs who are competent and can earn their happy endings.
I was actually the mod/go-for/volunteer for "Don't Just Throw a Vampire in It" for author Alyssa Day. She spoke about how to create paranormal worlds, what to consider with your hero and heroine, and what to keep in mind with the fanbase. The two biggest takeaways for me were that a) indie pubbed paranormal does well as the readership never went away in that genre and there's a lot of pricing and marketing indies do to entice readers, and b) New York big publishing houses are looking for paranormal again and it's recycled through. It was sad to see that so far it didn't seem to have cycled down to potential authors. The panel was great and, yeah it was Saturday, but only about two-dozen people came. Ms. Day said that in years past the talk (think about 2008/2010) would be filled in the biggest ballrooms. I love paranormal across any pairing so I hope to see it come back in print as well!
Third, there was Dr. Emily Nagoski aka romance author Emily Foster's presentation on neuroscience of romance. I think that the biggest message in that presentation, contrary to Fifty Shades of Grey and such is that the most receptive partners/sexual encounters happen when two trusting partners are in a secure, safe, and happy context. And, yes, just because the body is physically aroused does not mean that emotionally someone is ready or wants sex, which is something our society forgets all too often.
Finally, the biggest highlight of the day was Alexis Daria and Robin Lovett. Four days of intense networking, speeches, notes, and workshops can be a blur and overwhelming. Coming together in person almost felt like a support group. We talked about what progress we made, why we were proud of what we did this weekend, and how to go forward. I have been attending #rwchat for a while, but it was great to see everyone in person!
Well, that's it for me and RWA 2017. I'll be attending (I hope) in 2019 in New York. I live on the east coast so going to Denver is beyond my grad student pay grade, but I will say if you can get to the conference, then do. It's amazing!!!
Also, check in with Sapphic Alliance Fiction as our first blog will be my "Top Ten Things to Know about the RWA Convention" on Monday.
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