I’m coming down off the high of a book convention (August 12 – 14). Rust City Book Convention in Troy, Michigan was brilliant! Being my third conference, my second book signing, and my first experience speaking on panels, I was simultaneously excited, nervous, twitchy, flammable…
You get it.
If you’re a reader, you know the benefit of a con – YOU GET TO MEET ALL THE AUTHORS AND GET ALL THE SWAG! Free books, free pens, free games, free buttons, amazing pictures, etc.
But why go as a writer? Why go as a writer who is struggling? Why go as a writer who is very successful?
Because, as my new author friend Sara Dobie Bauer puts it, we are all “high–functioning introverts.” (You can read about her experience here)
We need the connection, the feeling we get walking into a room full of people who think like us and act like us, sniff books like us, get excited over characters like us. We need the people who know how to get through rejections and contract negotiations; the writers like Robyn Carr who fell down for eight years before getting back up and launching to the top. Don’t forget, we need to NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK!
Also, we should always be improving our craft. My two favorite things that I learned were:
1) Your hero is only as good as your villain.
2) Treat books like three acts, as opposed to beginning, middle, and end, so there’s no saggy middle.
So why Rust City? Why a small conference in its first year?
The benefit of Rust City was proximity and price – it was half the cost of most conventions/conferences I’ve seen AND it was 5 miles away. I was so in. Also, it was open to ALL fiction genres. Romance, young adult, new adult, and suspense were the top hitters this year. (Beware of us romance writers – we travel in packs!)
A group of the Greater Detroit Romance Writers crashed the gates Thursday night to gab, drink wine, and pick up our registrations. Jackie, the master of ceremonies, thoughtfully put our schedules on the back of our name tags. EVERY CONFERENCE EVER SHOULD DO THIS! It was amazing.
My first panel on diverse locations was Friday morning, bright and early. I was freaking the heck out! It was a small room, which helped the nerves, and my fellow GDRWA members were there to support me and ask questions. I sat next to Elizabeth Harmon who writes books set in Russia and Antarctica. Her research process was amazing! We ended up sitting next to each other a few more times and I can’t wait to download her ebook!
My next panel was Saturday morning and it was EPIC! Improv Flash Fiction was exactly as fun as it sounds – the audience gave us a setting, a genre, and one object and set us loose. I sat between a paranormal author and an erotica author, which was as amazing as it sounded. I laughed until I cried and I know I snorted at least once. (Seriously, someone find a picture of this!) An hour of making stories up was not only great for my creativity, but I ended up buying most of the authors’ books on the panel.
Saturday afternoon was the charity book signing. There is nothing like a book signing to make you feel like a real author. Surrounded by both old and new-found friends, I sat up straight and was ready to roll when my book club ladies cruised in and made a ruckus – just the way I like. A few of my friends followed, along with my fiancé and my family. It was amazing to be supported by them. I even sold books to a few people who had never heard of me before 😛
After the signing was the Meet & Greet. Us YA/NA authors did a slumber party, complete with cootie-catchers, Scattergories, and Pick Your Date (A game by MK Schiller and me, modeled after a Gilmore Girls game, where you pick your date from flashcards. You get up to three chances to pick your dream guy, but if you pass twice, you’re stuck with the third!) I even had the chance to talk to an RWA board member, who was visiting Michigan for the conference.
Sunday wrapped up with the charity raffle and my final panel, Romantic Entanglements. I shared the panel with a few of my GDRWA friends and we had a great discussion about how romantic elements heighten the stakes in any genre, when done right.
After a brief talk about what we can do to make Rust City bigger and better next year, we all packed up and hit the road. I’m still feeling the ache of leaving behind the people that get me without me saying a word. I long so hard for the day when I can write full time and fill my signing table with books. I long for an email from an agent saying they want to sign me. I long to see my book at Barnes & Nobles, Target, and Books-a-Million.
My day will come. Until then, I’ll keep writing the words and hope you keep reading.
See you at Rust City 2017!
On this day in 1966 – The first pictures of earth taken from moon orbit were sent back to the U.S.
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