My followers on Facebook and Twitter will know that I recently attended the RWNZ Conference in Rotorua, New Zealand. I had forgotten how beautiful that part of the country was — and how smelly. Let’s face it, there is a reason that many Kiwis affectionately call the region Rotten-rua: the entire region is dominated by active volcanic activity which often leaves a sulfur smell hanging in the air. (Nothing like the smell of rotten eggs in the morning.)
However, my trip to Rotorua was awesome on so many levels. It helped me to get my head on straight and to see things for the way they really are.
Let me start by staying sorry for not posting a blog post last week. I had no idea that conferences could take that much out of you. I was exhausted for days on end. It took me near on a full week to recover, and then the reflection took its toll too.
The conference was a whole series of firsts for me. It was my first RWNZ conference—in fact, it was my first major writing conference. It was the first time that I had met agents or editors from publishing houses. I didn’t pitch, but I took part in two cold reads. (Talk about a boost to the ego.) It was also the first time I was a paid presenter—presenting during three of the breakout sessions. At times, it felt surreal.
The RWNZ conference was also the last pit-stop on the book launch road trip. All the months of editing and getting everything ready for the publication of Hidden Traps was all leading up to the session about the hidden traps of social media at the conference. Was it all worth it? Well…
I’m not quite sure what to make of what happened. I know that I was supposed to have twenty people in my session, but only five came. In truth, with a full day of social media the day before and another 90-minute session earlier that day, I honestly believe that people had just had enough by the time my session came around. You add into the confusion that occurred about the room change… Yeah, I wasn’t surprised that only five were there. (Everyone in that session did buy a copy of my book though.)
But it’s the other aspects of the conference that had me all hyped.
I got to meet Christie Craig, aka CC Hunter. Many of you are probably going, “Who?” I too had never heard of her prior to the RWNZ conference, but now… Seriously, if you ever get the chance to hear her speak… GO! Christie was an inspirational woman on so many levels. She deserved her standing ovation.
Christie Craig is a self-professed high-school dropout. She gladly admits that she comes from a family that is illiterate. Her parents have never read anything that she has ever written because they can’t read. Yet, here she is, one of the best selling authors out there in YA romance. But she knows adversity and the struggles of a writer.
She has received over 1000 rejection letters, letters that she has kept. (She’s even kept the ones that her cat peed on.) Yet, she didn’t let those letters stop her.
She spoke about a really rough time when her husband was ill with kidney failure and on dialysis, awaiting a transplant. She admitted that she had seriously considered giving up on the writing at that point, but some force wanted her to keep going; she got her 6-figure deal when her family needed some good fortune.
Christie Craig had us all in stitches of laughter, but many of us also cried when she told the story of her husband. She’s living proof that if you dare to dream, and you pursue that dream like a dog with a bone, never letting go, you will get there. She’s living proof that you just need the passion to tell a story to be a writer.
However, for me, the highlight of the weekend was a tossup between Christie Craig (I laughed so hard—and cried) and the moment when the ending sequence for one of my manuscripts suddenly fell into place. It was during the session about creating suspense. I have no idea what was said that triggered it, but the final showdown with the bad guy played out in my head. I furiously made notes, not wanting to forget it. It’s amazing how that happens. I also had the revelation that the bad guy in another manuscript needed to die. (The exact means of his death is a mystery, but it’s going to be a horrible, painful death. Assassins have so much fun.)
I’m already making plans to attend next year’s conference. Sorry, but when I discovered that one of the keynote speakers is an expert in forensics… I’m so there. I’m not exactly sure what that says about me—getting excited about torture and death, as opposed to the love and sex that was on others’ minds. In the meantime, I will be endeavoring to foster the working relationships and friendships that were birthed during the 2017 conference.
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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2017