California Dreamin’ Writers Conference 2017 – Best Tips

RWA– Romance Writers of America is an outstanding organization for writers of any type. Yes, they are slanted toward us romance writers, but there’s a good reason for that. I’ll share that story another time. Today I want to give you an overview of the recent conference in March put on by four local RWA chapters in Brea, California. I’ll share more details on the panels in future posts.

Swag! Not something taught except by example. I got a ton of bookmarks, magnets, pens, and candy, but an increasing number of small notebooks and sticky notes, a letter opener (Patricia Thayer), a tape measure (Lynne Marshall), and lip gloss (Tracy Ewens). JoAnn Ross writes stories about small towns and warm hearts and gave us measuring spoon. Nancy J. Farrier writes sun-drenched Southwestern fiction and put a plastic spatula in the bag. Great ideas and relevant to their writing.


tank top heroine
Not Swag, a great purchase.


Of course, we got a carry bag that is marvelous and copies of some awesome books. My favorite item is the thumb drive from Smashwords with 14 novels and copies of their helpful books on formatting and style.


CJ between two blonds
Writers setting up to greet their fans.


This year’s Book Camp was with Debra Dixon on Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. Excellent information and well presented. My goal for the weekend was to look at my writing with new eyes and improve my craft. Libby Waterford explained why a newsletter is the best tool for writers and how to create an excellent monthly information-based letter.


The Readers.jpg
The readers had a special event on Saturday


Other topics that drew me to the panels include Marketing, Pre-Orders, and the Sassy Writer’s Guide to Staying Young. Of course, I had to sit in on M. A. Taylor’s Homicide Investigation panel. Experienced in law enforcement, she knows what writers get wrong when it would be easy to ask and get the details correct. She also shared that Grammar Girl has a chart to show when to use lie and when to use lay. And Ngram will tell you when a word was used with a graph showing first use, popularity, and decline.


Tessa Dare, Robyn Carr, Sarah MacLean
Tessa Dare in center, Robyn Carr to the right, and Sarah MacLean with back to camera


Facebook has rather become the anti-social media because of all the rules and changes to algorithms. It’s really hard to get fans to see your posts unless they are willing to do an extra step after liking your page. Besides, Facebook is for adult readers. If you are looking for Young Adult readers, you should be on Snapchat and Instagram.

The very best thing about the conference, besides hanging out with my tribe, is the opportunity to pitch to agents and editors. This is why I push RWA to all writers. You probably won’t have the connectivity anywhere else than at these gatherings. The night before the pitch appointments, I sat through a practice session with Beth Yarnall. With her help and input, I got my pitch and high concept streamlined. And after the pitch, I was asked to send in the manuscript. Is that exciting or what?


I hope I have convinced you that RWA is the place to be for writers. Getting together with other writers of all sorts, getting swag, and learning your craft are the best reasons ever for joining, but having a chance to pitch and be published is another reason that might beat them all. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday with more about newsletters.


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