- Kresley Cole's brilliant technique for avoiding the dreaded back story info dump. She uses brackets and symbols (such as [**] or something similar) to mark every time she talks about a character's back story while she's writing. You could use a different symbol for your hero and heroine to track both of them. Then you simply do a search for those brackets/symbols and use the navigation pane in Word to see how well you've spaced out that information throughout the story. I think this is an especially great technique for writers who like visual representations.
- Sherry Thomas and subtext. I love subtext, which is all the stuff in a story that is implied under the surface, but never explicitly stated. Author Sherry Thomas gave a great presentation on subtext, and one of the great things she said was, "Subtext well done does not call attention to itself." I wasn't familiar with her as an author prior to the conference, and even though most of her romances are historical (which is not my favorite subgenre), the way she spoke about subtext during her presentation, and her humor and fun personality during that presentation and also another panel I attended have me wanting to rush out and pick up one of her books.
- Jenny Crusie's presentation on turning points and character. This was one of the presentations that I wish every author could attend at some point. The presentation notes and handout are available on her blog (along with those from her Motif and Metaphor presentation that I was unable to attend) so anyone who is curious can at least look at those notes. The general concept of turning points was nothing new to me, but she expanded and explained it in a way I'd never encountered before. I found myself thinking about my WIP a lot during the lecture and how I had already incorporated the technique to some extent, and also how I might be able to further incorporate turning points. A major takeaway from this presentation was the symbiotic relationship of plot and character: characters change because things happen, and things happen because the characters change. While it may seem obvious, it's a complex relationship.
- Your proofreader is not your copy editor. This presentation was given by Carina Press editor Angela James. I often see conflicting opinions and expectations about what the different levels of editing actually entail. She explained, in depth, the four levels of editing at Carina Press, as well as tips for hiring the right editor if you're looking for a freelancer. But in short, these are the different levels of editing:
- Developmental editing - Macro level; all about the story and little about the mechanics of writing
- Line Editing - Little to do with the story itself and everything to do with the mechanics of writing
- Copy Editing (or final line edits) - Very detail-oriented look at story, craft, and grammar usage, with some overlap of things covered in developmental and line editing
- Proofreading - The final, micro-detailed pass; catches any missed errors as well as any that were introduced during previous editing steps
- Championing the importance of an engaging, well-written story with characters readers love. Throughout many of the workshops I attended, whether they were about the craft of writing or trends in publishing, there was this constant positive message about writing your
Keynote speaker Barbara Freethy
- Sarah Wendell! There were workshops about diversity in romance, and the topic also came up during a panel discussion about trends in romance publishing. Sarah Wendell, of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, was on that panel, and she differentiated the need and desire for more diversity in romances from any trend. Trends rise in popularity and then disappear. Diversity, she said, is not a trend, but rather a necessity to accurately reflect our society. I wanted to cheer. And then I had a bit of a fangirl moment when she cheered my question about the market for more beta heroes in romance. So basically we're best friends now. That's how that works, right?
If you were at the conference, what were some of your highlights?
J. Lea López is an author who strives to make you laugh at, fall in love with, cry over, and lust after the characters she writes. She also provides freelance copyediting focused on romance and erotica as The Mistress With the Red Pen. She welcomes online stalkers as long as they're witty and/or adulatory. Kidding. Maybe. Check for yourself: Twitter, Facebook, Blog.