Conference Report
Going to the conference, my friend and I took a road trip. We stopped off for a day of sightseeing in Savannah, GA. We’d always wanted to visit. It’s an incredibly beautiful (but very HOT) city. I’ll try to post some pics soon.

As we arrived at Disney World our GPS apparently gave us the wrong turn and we got lost in Disney World. Wouldn’t that be a funny twist on a horror movie? That place is like a maze that goes on and on, round and round. While at the conference, I was in too much of a hurry or too exhausted to Tweet or pass along any information. Sorry about that! One of the reasons for this was that we weren’t able to get a room in the conference hotel, the Dolphin, above. We were way down at the Beach Club Resort (below).
While it was a truly awesome hotel that we loved, and it was "next door" it was a very long walk to the Dolphin, especially if carrying 25 lbs of books. Or a somewhat long walk and a ferry ride in the 98 - 100 degree heat. About thirty minutes one way.
Aside from this, it was a wonderful conference. I took lots of notes in the little notebook/ planner RWA and Harlequin provided. I attended the Pro retreat, which was very informative. Donald Maass spoke and he is brilliant, with all kinds of great ideas for improving our fiction. I think I’ll have to buy his new book The Fire in Fiction. One thing he and everyone else were saying is that ebooks sales have skyrocketed since the release of the Kindle, Nook and other recent ebook readers. Some authors are seeing their ebook sales double each month. More ebooks are being sold now than hardback in fiction. They expect ebook sales to surpass mass market soon.

To improve our fiction, Donald Maass suggests that we ask ourselves: What in the world of my story makes me furious? And then give that fury to the heroine (or the hero.) This will put more passion and emotion into your story. He gave us other questions to ask ourselves. Which two new problems can you give your character? And in what three ways can you make these become impossible to solve? What if the best thing turns into the worst thing? What if the antagonist is right? What are things in the setting that only the heroine notices? What could the heroine say to shock herself? He urged us to commit ourselves to great storytelling. What makes your work personal and passionate?

What is micro-tension? Maass defines it as a moment by moment apprehension in the reader. Make the reader wonder what is going to happen in the next few seconds. What are the underlying conflicting emotions? You can put this anywhere. Even setting description can have underlying conflicting emotions and tension. This will make the story emotionally gripping. Take passion from your own life and give it to the characters. What hurt your heroine when she was a young child? What matters to her deep down? The rest of the session was wonderful, including the agent panel.

I also attended Donald Maass’s other individual workshop (The Fire in Fiction), which was packed with standing (or floor sitting) room only. He reiterated some of the above info but also covered several other things. I went to a few publisher spotlights to find out what they were acquiring and Tanya Michaels great workshop about world building. The publisher book signings are always great fun. I love getting all those fabulous books autographed and meeting authors.
Two of my bestest friends... Terry Spear is signing a book for Dana.

I ate breakfast out one day with my wonderful friends and critique partners. (Above, this is Terry, Carol and Dana.) This was great fun!
I didn’t get to explore Disney World at all. There simply wasn’t enough time for everything. But I did watch the fireworks one night and enjoyed every moment of the conference.
One of the beautiful views during our hike from one hotel to the other.

Another view of the hotel where we stayed from across the lake on the Boardwalk, and the ferry in front of it.

The fountain in front of the Dolphin.

15 Responses
  1. Randy Says:

    Thanks for sharing the Donald Maass stuff, Vonda! I saw him in an all- day workshop one year in Arizona--he was simply fabulous. And so entertaining! Now, one thing: could you please photo-shop a pic of me into that one with Terry, Carol, and Dana?? I shoulda been there!!!!! (Sigh) Okay, NEXT YEAR, NEW YORK!


  2. Yes, he does amazing workshops, Randy. I will work on putting you into the pic. ;) I hope to see you next year!


  3. Carly Carson Says:

    Great comments, Nicole. If anyone is interested, your first set of tips comes from his book Writing the Breakout Novel and the associated workbook. I like the workbook better though they are both well worth the investment. I don't have the Fire book but your tips are intriguing.

    I'm glad you had a good time. Though I notice you managed to keep yourself out of the pictures! lol I'm the same way. I have to get a photo soon though.


  4. Carly Carson Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Carly Carson Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Carly Carson Says:

    sorry someone named Google got carried away with my fabulous comment.


  7. Great pics, Vonda! It was great seeing you again.


  8. Hey, Randy, sorry you weren't there, but next time! We'll hold you to it!!!

    And thanks, Vonda, for taking such lovely pictures! You somehow managed to make me look halfway decent in them even! LOL Thanks again!

    Carly, I've got the ones of Vonda, so will share this coming Saturday!

    It's amazing how we can be friends for 5 years, yet this is the first time we actually got to see each other...and it was wonderful!

    Carol, thanks so much for being a friend and our social coordinator!! The way things were going, we would never have made it. I had such a good time with you all at our very long and for the first time, not rushed breakfast! It was great! And congrats again on the requests!

    Vonda, you're a treasure! Thanks for being my good friend! :)


  9. Carly, that book of his is awesome too. I read most of it a few years ago but need to read it again. I don't have the workbook. I like to hide when the cameras come out. LOL


  10. Carol, thanks! It was fantastic seeing you!


  11. Terry, You always look great in pictures! Don't post any scary pictures of me. LOL! Yes, I'm so glad we finally were able to meet face to face. You're an awesome friend! Thanks!


  12. Great post! I was so glad to meet you, if only for a little while.


  13. It was wonderful meeting you too, Natasha!!! Hopefully we'll get to talk more next time!


  14. Liz Falkner Says:

    Love the post, Vonda!! Thanks for the info on Donald Maass. I have the Writing the Breakout Novel and I do need to get Fire in Fiction.

    I'm so jealous you, Terry, Carol and Randy have seen each other face-to-face. LOL. I must get to New York next year so you can meet me as well.

    P.S. Looking forward to the photos of Savannah.


  15. Thanks Liz!! Yes, we have to meet next time!!

    Savannah was beautiful. I can't wait to share the pics.


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