Okay, it was actually Day 3 of the convention because I didn’t go on Thursday. Looking back, I kind of wish I did because there were a lot of digital publishing things going on, including an e-book author signing. If I had paid closer attention, I would’ve gone, if for no other reason, to get a feel for what digital authors are signing and/or giving away.
Friday was a full day of workshops. Some great, others were meh. The first one I attended was on writing sex scenes that readers won’t skip. For those of you who don’t read romance, there are a lot of people who tend to skim or skip sex scenes because the scenes are often poorly written. By poorly written, I mean it could read like a manual (insert tab A into slot B) or it could be full of purple prose (to quote Ruthie Knox from her April1 post “She clawed at him like a cat, her velvet glove clutching his manhood with tight fingers). Bottom line, if it doesn’t grab you as a reader, you skip it.
(SIDE NOTE: one panelist talked about how in films, sex is represented by a montage of body parts that allows us to tune out, but then ends in “come hands” so you know they’re done. See photo above for example. Funny stuff, and so true)
The panelists were hilarious. It just so happened that all 4 write M/M romance (male-male), which isn’t my thing and I’ve never read one, but many others do. Each of the speakers explained his/her approach to writing sex scenes and although I can’t say I learned something earth-shatteringly new, it was a good refresher. If the couple has sex it needs to make a difference in the plot, increase the conflict, as well as reveal character. One writer talked about how she pushed the limits of sexual tension so that when her characters finally got to the point of having sex, it was necessary and explosive. Another writer talked about how she puts it all out there in the first sex scene because it forces her to up her game for subsequent scenes.
My favorite workshop was definitely the panel on contemporary romance. Besides having a stellar lineup — Louisa Edwards, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jodi Thomas, Christina Skye, and Sarah Wendell, with Beth Ciotta moderating–this workshop reinvigorated my love for the genre not only as a reader, but also as a writer.
For me, the biggest challenge as a contemporary romance writer is developing conflict. I think I’m pretty good with internal conflict between the hero and heroine. The internal stuff is usually the baggage they carry with them (and by baggage I mean psychological and emotional, not luggage). I did a post questioning the necessity of external conflict here. After listening to these authors, who are all very successful, I find that the external conflict really isn’t as important as developing intriguing, complicated characters.
It made me feel better about my writing. In addition, I got to meet Louisa Edwards after the
presentation and had a bit of a fangirl moment. I learned that Susan Elizabeth Phillips is freaking hilarious. I’m so looking forward to her being one of the headliners for our chapter conference later this month. And we could probably create a drinking game based on how often Sarah (or someone jumping in for Sarah) said man-titty. Overall, I great time was had by all in this workshop.
The other workshops I attended we okay, but not fascinating. I did get the chance to meet some people that I’ve only known on-line, which is always a lot of fun.
From what I could tell, the reader portion of the convention was a little insane. The Q&A with J.R. Ward had a line running down the hall. Some of the parties were wild. Of course that is hearsay since I didn’t actually attend them.
I enjoyed myself enough that I’m seriously considering going next year because by then, I will have a book out to sign and it’s still in the Midwest, which makes travel easier.
Are you looking forward to any conferences or conventions this year? How about book signings?