Sunday, October 07, 2007

Back and Buzzin'! (pt. 2)

Saturday started off with the best coffee in the world - compliments of room service. Is there any greater way to start the day other than with breakfast cooked and served by someone else? I would have liked to go to the breakfast, and hear Karen Robards speak, but I'm only barely functional at eight o'clock and that's when breakfast began. So, I hid in my room, showered, sipped coffee, and braced for a busy day.

After breakfast, it was time for the conference's special presentation. I was fortunate enough to be one of the first one hundred registrants, so I made my way down to hear Julia Quinn give her workshop on dialogue. I love her books and she puts on a great workshop. It was cool to sit there and listen to her pointers and during it, I realized that I do a lot of the things she spoke about. Cool - I'm doing something right! Of course, that could be because I've read quite a few of her books as well =), but that's neither here nor there. The gist of it was that using action tags, instead of merely dialogue tags, gives a reader insight into the character who is speaking.

For those wondering, a dialogue tag is merely "he said", "she said", that sort of thing. But an action tag lets you know who is speaking, without using names or pronouns. Such as: Joe raked his fingers through his hair, his brow furrowed. "I wish I knew what to do." A reader knows that, by seeing his actions, Joe is worried or concerned. Action tag.

When that workshop ended, it was time for lunch. After lunch, I made my way to the hotel Amphitheater to hear Patricia Kay give a presentation on conflict and motivation. This was probably the most informative and most useful workshop for me, as conflict can be difficult to maintain and, without it, there's a very boring story in the works. I learned a lot about chief motivating factors (CMFs, for short) and how to make a character come to life through layering motivating factors. Without conflict, there is no story and, without motivating factors, there can be no conflict. Aha! It seems so simple and yet, it can be so difficult.

It was a long workshop - almost two hours - but most definitely worth the time. I only wish I had time to attend other workshops, and that I'd made it in time for the NJRW PAN retreat. A lot of the workshops offered on Friday are more geared to unpublished authors, while the PAN retreat (PAN is the acronym for Published Authors Network) focuses on the aspects of post-publication. I would have gotten a lot out of it - stupid traffic. But still, it was hardly wasted time and I know for next year to leave a lot earlier (which is tough because of the kids).

After the session ended, there was a booksigning which I, unfortunately, wasn't able to attend. But next year, I'm hoping to be one of those signing, as I'll have two books out in print by then. It would have been nice to mingle with the other authors and, of course, there's almost nothing better than coming home with a bagful of new books signed by the authors. I've quite the collection going as it is.

So, there was plenty to do and plenty to learn and I even managed to steal away enough time to finish the second edits on You Belong to Me (which is in the Coming Soon section over on the Wild Rose website - take a look! =) here, and I began the first edits for Eden's Pass. It was quiet and I was surrounded by other writers, which is more than enough to get those creative fires stoked again.

No matter how great the conference was, the best part is always coming home with a headful of ideas and the desire to get them on paper. I've got notes started for two more books, so at least I'll have something to keep me busy once we're settled in the new house. That alone makes the conference a success!

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