Sunday, October 08, 2006

What I Learned at the NJRW Put Your Heart In A Book Conference...

My reasons for originally signing up to speak at NJRW's conference were pretty basic. I have a bunch of books coming out and attending conferences (speaking and hiding in my room - or worse with the people I already know) is the kind of promotion I am comfortable with. AND it was at a Sheraton -- and they have such dark rooms and nice beds. AND it was my first time away from my new baby. So - in a nutshell I was going to New Jersey to get some sleep.

Well - best laid plans... Maureen wanted to drink gin, Sinead wanted to dance (I know trust me no one was more surprised than her) and I ended up having some serious light bulb moments about writing and more importantly what I want from my writing career.

Let me first say this -- Eloisa James. Wow. Smart lady. Virginia Kantra. Smart lady. Molly O'Keefe - big dummy.

First let's talk about the craft stuff - because as a writer terrified of promotion - this is the most fun. I know that we internalize a lot of what we do - we know in our gut what we love about romances and why we want to write them but we often don't get those reasons, spoken to us wrapped up in a bow by another writer - but when we do it's electrifying and clears all the crap off the table and reminds us what we're supposed to be doing.

Eloisa James gave me this one -- halfway through the book, you have to turn things inside out. Expectations must be upended, love must be thwarted and a happily ever after must seem like an impossibility. I am so wrapped up in chapter hooks and likeable heroines and contracts and nap time and FBI research that I have completely forgotten what the point is. The reader knows HEA is coming - it's my job to make them wonder if maybe...this time... it won't. It's not just a black moment - it's something intrinsic in the character, not always the conflict, that keeps them apart. And I have to make it REAL!

I know lots of you are probably going...well, duh?! And I think other times, in the process of writing other books I would have said the same thing. But this was exactly what I needed to hear as I get ready to do a big rewrite of the current WIP.

Now - in terms of the career. This gem I think came from Jenny Cruise but it was something I heard echoed lots in the bar and hallway. I need to gather myself a good posse. A team. People who have my back and I have theirs - and sure Maureen, Sinead and the rest of the talented women in my critique group are core members of that - we bitch, we moan, we theorize and most importantly we make sure that each person is putting out the best book they are capable of.
But each of us have people we need to meet at different parts of our career, to inspire and help us to the next level. And I have to be smart about it. It's not just about making contact with a writer I admire, or is a NYT bestseller, or a writer who writes the same thing I do - it's about making contact with writers who are a few steps ahead of me in terms of their career - whose careers are enviable and exciting and have gone from point A to point B. or C.

And what I really learned -- it's about meeting the nice writers. The kind ones. Ones who engage in conversations rather than monologues -- because these relationships will hopefully last a long time and they should be equal and friendly. Not mercenary and shallow.

Maybe that's a no duh thing too - but it feels huge right now.


I did speak at this conference about Writing a Partial That Sells and the notes to the workshop will be on my website by the end of the week. Feel free to use them if they help.


Maureen McGowan said...

Great post Molly!

I only take exception to the gin comments. My recollection is you keeping a steady stream of G&T's coming my way... not the other way around. Not that I was complaining :-)

Christine said...

Excellent post Molly. One of these days I need to make it to a conference. The experience and light bulb moments sound wonderful.

Sinead M said...

I think both of you were pushing the G&T's and considering I was the most sober, I win:)

Great conference and Molly's talk went really well.

This is a really good conference to check out if you're a conference first-timer, Christine.

Maureen McGowan said...

I think what I loved most about this post, Molly, is the bit about meeting writers who engage in a conversation, not a monologue. That's the key. Those are the people you remember favorably and want to hang out with again. Those are the people whos books you want to check out if they're published, you most want to sell if they aren't. Those are the people we want in our extended posse.

Karitown said...

Here here. Well said, ladies. I loved the conference. I used to be a member of the New England chapter, so I always go to that. But now that I'm a member of CNYRW, I've added New Jersey to my list. A lot of CNYR's go. It's awesome.

Molly O'Keefe said...

You know as I think about it -- I think it's even more important to be the helpful - gracious kind of writer. We're all in this together after all as readers and fans and co-workers sort of.

Kimber said...

Big fans of teams.
But then I'm one of the laziest people you'll ever meet.
Looking forward to your next post!

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