Conventional Wisdom

Yes, I had such a blast at the California Dreamin’ Writers Convention put on this last weekend by four local chapters of Romance Writers of America (RWA). I am thrilled that I had the opportunity to stay at the Embassy Suites for two nights, so that I didn’t miss anything. I made lots of rookie mistakes, but I will be so ready for next time.
The knowledge is pouring out of my head, so it’s a good thing I took notes. I arrived Friday at 10 AM, and had to wait around for registration to open. Then I found the ballroom where the Book Camp would be from 12 to 4. My room wouldn’t be ready until 3, so I sat in the lobby a lot and read, and said hello to lots of familiar faces.

Featured image  Waiting for Registration to open
Book Camp consisted of April Kihlstrom’s class, A Book in a Week. In reality, it should be called First Draft in a Week. April’s reasoning is that she might have a deadline in three months to finish a book. She does some prep work, including research, then clears a week to write straight through. She found that her first draft would have the same weaknesses and strengths after a week as it would if she invested more time into it. The beauty of this system is that she now has the rest of the three months until the deadline to edit and perfect her draft.

Featured image  I think the bell hops should have dressed like this.
April shared a lot of her personal life with us during the course of the workshop. She amazes me, having survived some difficult life experiences and come out with an up-beat personality.
My next event was dinner, then Balancing Backstory. Laura Drake presented this workshop, starting with a broken plate. Each little piece is part of the story, but only a little backstory is needed. Think about it. How much time over the course of the day do you spend thinking about how you got where you are now? Why would your characters spend more time reflecting? Bring backstory out in dialogue whenever possible to avoid an info dump. And backstory is less important than you think.

Featured image   Egypt comes to California.
I moved from there to Black Moments by RWA-SD’s own Lisa Kessler. As part of your story arc, the Black Moment should be BIG! The happily ever after will only be as sweet as the Black Moment is horrible. Your Black Moment should be something your readers get hints of from page one. Dig really deep into both your main characters. What do they fear? What secret are they hiding? What is the most humiliating way to reveal that secret?

Featured image   These were not on the menu.
By then it was 9:00 PM and I was out of steam. I will be throwing out more information on all my workshops in the coming weeks rather than bore you here with I did this then I did that. Here is the list of workshops I attended:
10 Rules for Sex Scenes that No One will Skip by Louisa Bacio and Tara Lain.

Kick Your Writing Up a Notch: Mastering POV by Squires

Love, Sex, & the Alpha Male by Jane Porter

The Selling Synopsis by Shannon Donnelly

Book Covers That Sell by the Killion Group

The Long and the Short of It:Novellas, Novelettes, and Lunchbox Romances by Louisa Bacio, Green, Klayman

Sweet to Spicy: Writing Historicals that Sell by Janet Tronstad, Debra Mullins, and Kate McKinley

Making Description Work Hard For You by Beth Yarnell

My Heroes Have Always Been Firemen with Captain Scott Michaels and Battalion Chief David Saran, ret.

Featured image  Soothing water noises

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday with a list of books recommended or used in a workshop at the convention.

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