Join us every Friday as we spotlight various members in the Savvy Authors Community. We'll introduce you to volunteers, members active in the Savvy writing community, recently published authors from Our Authors, as well as editors and agents.
Today we are talking to Savvy volunteer and YA author Lucy D. Briand about her visit to this year’s RT Convention. She came back with stories, swag and tons of valuable information for those who have yet to attend. Grab a really big cup of coffee as we get an insider look at one of the biggest events of the writer’s year.
Welcome back Lucy! You decided to attend Pre-Con, two days of convention prep for new attendees. What was it like and does it make a difference for convention virgins?
I believe the Pre-Con is definitely worth it, for many reasons. If you’re anything like me and have a small fear of the unknown, Pre-Con gives you a chance to visit the site and locate all the workshop rooms. You also get to spend evenings in the bar with instructors and getting to know your classmates without a full house to deal with. I felt better prepared to navigate the crowds when they arrived.
The main instructors for my Pre-Con classes were Linnea Sinclair, an energetic, entertaining Sci-Fi Romance writer, and Stacey Kade, a sweet and hilarious YA writer. They gave us an overview on writing commercial genre fiction and how to prep your manuscript. The guest speakers were Jade Lee, Elizabeth Hoyt, Cherry Adair, and Mia Marlowe. We covered POV & Voice, Crafting Characters, Hooking Your Reader and Back Story. This was just the first afternoon!
On day two authors Lynne Connolly and Bobbi Smith were thrown into the mix, along with Editor Moni Draper (Liquid Silver Books), Kristin Nelson (Nelson Literary), Angela James (Executive Editor Carina Press), and Co-founder and Publisher/Senior Editor of Entangled Publishing, our very own Liz Pelletier. Our classes included Self Editing, Plotting, Query & Synopsis, Dialogue, Genre, and Understanding Rejection. We finished with an Editor-Agent Panel for a Question and Answer session. A lot of what I learned I’d already acquired through the years working with my first manuscript and submission process. The key difference is having it shown to you in a face to face setting. It really gives you a better understanding and clarity of what it all means and how to incorporate it into your manuscript.
For me, Pre-Con was the best experience of RT. Linnea and Stacey really made themselves available for questions at any time and I am grateful to them both.
You had a one on one with YA author Stacey Kade. How did you score this and what happened during the session?
The one on one was included in Pre-Con. You could schedule a session with the instructor of your choice (of those participating). I scheduled mine for Friday morning with Stacey Kade (The Ghost and the Goth). The one on one is a half hour of pure, valuable information relating to your own work. No workshop could have given me that. You can talk about anything, this is your time. You can ask for help with a pitch, a query letter, with your story, or you can ask about the business and career side of things. It's like a mentoring session. I found it extremely beneficial. Stacey really helped me see where my manuscript is going, the questions I need to answer in my story and how to fix a few plot problems. It was a great experience!
After Pre-Con it's the main event, the convention. The choices are overwhelming, with no way to attend every workshop and event. How were you able to pick which ones to attend?
Choosing your workshops really depends on what you write and where you are in the writing process. I write YA Paranormal Romance and I'm in the revision stages, so I tried to select workshops that could help me where I currently am.
Panel workshops are Question and Answer sessions on preselected topics. The moderator asks the panel questions about how they write, what motivates them, and what tips they can offer us. The panels can be very informative. Everyone writes differently and it's interesting to learn the various techniques they use.
I enjoyed the Hands On workshops as I am a very visual person as I think most (not all!) writers are, and I enjoy putting what I'm learning into practice right away. Unfortunately, they are only one hour long each so we often ran out of time, but the information and handouts were still great. I also enjoyed the Craft workshops which were question and answer sessions devoted to specific craft topics.
There were also Socials for Readers, Book Sellers and Librarians. If you had a full convention pass you could attend them all. These were all about relaxing and enjoying yourself with games, snacks and prizes.
Wednesday I began with “Murder, Mayhem, and Madness: YA Thrillers and Paranormal Mysteries”. Most of this covered different approaches to writing. The discussion on acting out scenes to get a feel for how to write them stuck with me though. Like stabbing a roast to understand how to describe a stabbing scene, and play fighting to help describe a fight scene.
I also attended “Preparing & Presenting the Perfect Pitch”, and “Making the Cuts to Strengthen Your Manuscript”. Later I went to the Intergalactic Bar & Grille hosted by Linnea Sinclair and her crew.
Thursday began with “Surviving Edits and Revisions”, then “Crafting Your Pitch”, “YA Voices Inside Me: Shifting Between Narrators” and finally “Self Editing For Writers”.
The first workshop was how to survive your editor’s edits. We saw actual pages returned to authors by editors and copywriters. We learned how to handle overwhelming deadlines and tackle a manuscript based on the editor’s notes. Although I am not at submissions yet, it did give me a peek at the future. The self-editing workshop was useful as I am in revisions. The panel shared their process of reviewing and editing. We received a hand-out on weak words to look for, and tips for improving actions scenes using more action verbs and shorter sentences.
Friday morning I met with Stacey Kade for my one on one. Later I attended two workshops, “Query Power” and “What Rights Do You Have and How Much Are They Worth?”
Who were you most excited about meeting, what kind of professional connections did you make, and how important are those for a new writer?
I was very excited to meet authors Kristi Cook (Haven) and Amalie Howard (Bloodspell). They have been great motivational Twitter friends to me this past year and we were all very excited to finally meet in person.
I had a few fan girl speechless moments; when I first met up with Kristi and Amalie in the lobby, and when I realized I was getting my nails done by author Brodi Ashton (Everneath) at the YA Slumber party. The worst moment came when I walked up to Kristi and Amalie at the teen party and realized that Francine Pascal, author of the Sweet Valley High series was standing right next to me! I could hardly muster up the word “Hi.”
Every author I met is a great connection and a chance to make myself known to others in the industry. But I think that I got the most from attending Pre-Con. Linnea and Stacey are the connections I will truly value. As for Agents and Editors, I met a few, had a few conversations and collected some business cards. I’m not ready to send out submissions so I had nothing to offer them yet. Still, it's always a good idea to make connections when you can, and present yourself in a professional and memorable fashion…you never know.
I made plenty of friends through classes, workshops and at the bar in the evenings. Yes, even at the convention the hotel bar is the best place to meet anyone and everyone. You will even occasionally have random Magicians appear at your table to entertain you (don't ask... it made for one hilarious evening a few of us will never forget!). We have remained in contact through Twitter and social media, and I’ve already had the opportunity to Beta/Critique read for authors I met at RT.
One thing is for sure, you can't beat the networking opportunities.
They say that the amount of freebies and swag garnered by those attending the convention is not to be believed! Are the rumors true?
The amount of swag was something I did not expect. I knew I’d probably pick up a few things but not this much. I walked away with at least 40 books, some T-shirts, track pants, ball caps, bookmarks, tons of promotional cards, lip balms, calendars, pens, buttons, USB sticks with free e-books on them, bags and, as Linnea called them, blingy shit…light up rings, bracelets and necklaces. It was unbelievable.
I drove down, so bringing everything back wasn't an issue, but for those flying out, a courier service was available at the hotel to have boxes shipped home. Whatever you didn't want could be left in the rooms for housekeeping to take home.
RT also has a fair amount of parties. Did you attend any, are they just events to relax and unwind, or are people still networking and making connections? Do you recommend them for the convention virgin?
The parties are called Socials and I definitely recommend attending. There are many more opportunities to make connections and network, but also have a lot of fun. Most Socials give you swag bags, and/or tickets for prizes. Some include food, snacks and drinks, others offer book signings and free books, and others were just plain fun.
I especially enjoyed the YA Midnight Slumber Party, where PJ’s and slippers were encouraged. They served snacks, had party games (Truth or Dare. But not to worry, the authors were the ones in the hot seat), prizes for best slippers, and I got my nails painted green by Brodi Ashton, (Everneath) while she asked me about my manuscript. She also helped me start a pitch.
I skipped many of the breakfast Socials since I was going to bed late every night. Many of the evening Socials ran until midnight or later and everyone would gather in the bar afterward. The breakfast Socials started at 8:30 in the morning. Although I wanted to do it all, the lack of sleep was too much. I skipped some night events so I wouldn’t miss anything the next day.
On Saturday, Teen Day, you came face to face with your target genre audience. Seeing teens talking to other YA authors, their level of excitement, how did you feel watching that?
The Saturday book fair, Teen Day events and FAN-tastic Day events are for everyone, including the general public with a day pass. The amount of people there was insane. As a conventioneer, I got to enter the book fair 15 minutes early. That gave me enough time to pick up the books I wanted and get them signed. I also got tons of free books and opportunities to have them signed while mingling with authors at the Teen Party.
I was overwhelmed with how eager teens are to meet their favorite authors. People who say teens don’t read really need to come to one of these. The energy in the room was so high. Picture a mini Justin Bieber concert without all the screaming and crying! I hope to someday be a part of that.
There are a lot of publishers at RT, did you attend any of their events, and how do you see them in terms of value to a writer at your stage of the game?
Most of the publishers attending RT hosted the evening Socials, promoted their authors, and sat in on a few panel workshops. Agents were also in attendance for panels, Socials and the Pitch-A-Palooza, a chance to throw your pitch for a submission request. My manuscript isn’t ready so I did not attempt a pitch. That’s something for next year.
The convention is behind you now, you've had time to process the experience, would you go again?
Honestly, I was completely exhausted and overwhelmed with information. It took me a week to recuperate from the sleep deprivation and the information overload, but…I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT! I was as giddy as a schoolgirl all week. I’m already making plans for next year’s RT in Kansas City.
I plan to attend Pre-Con again, as I assume there will be different guest speakers, new people to meet and connections to make. I want to have my manuscript complete and give the American Idol for Writers a try, along with Pitch-A-Palooza.
I’m look forward to seeing Linnea, Stacey and everyone I met this year again, share my progress with them, and learn about theirs. All in all, my RT experience confirmed how much I want to be part of it all. The conferences, the signings, meeting fans who love my characters as much as I do, even the marketing and networking.
I want to be part of it so bad I can taste it.
Thank you for sharing your experience Lucy, I’m sure some of our readers are already making plans to join you next year!
If you’d like to learn more about Lucy D. Briand and follow her on her writing journey, you can visit her website and participate in her “Share the Wealth Giveaway” to win some of her RT swag of your very own! Lucy will hosting giveaways for the entire month of May, don’t miss your chance to score. You can also connect with her on Twitter.
For more information on our Spotlights, feel free to leave a comment or private message me from my profile page.
Lucy D. Briand lives in Ottawa Canada with her Comic Book fanatic husband, her over anxious yellow Lab and her nonchalant Siamese cat.
She currently works full time, editing and publishing policies as a public servant with the Government of Canada while dedicating her free time to writing young adult paranormal stories and dreams. A member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the Romance Writers of America (RWA), the Ottawa Romance Writers Association (ORWA), the Young Adult Romance Writers of America Chapter (YARWA), Savvy Authors and a few other writers’ forums, she continues to hone her craft and help others when she can. When not writing, Lucy enjoys reading young adult fiction, adult suspense and X-Men comic books. She's an avid NASCAR and Rolex Series race fan and a hard-core Disney enthusiast.
Ria Boulay, Spotlight On Editor, writes paranormal romance and young adult. A former paralegal now working as a judicial secretary, she previously spent six years as the general manager and editorial writer for a large, metaphysical website. With her husband and two utterly impertinent Italian Greyhounds, she divides her time between New Hampshire and Cape Cod. When not writing, she spends her spare time rescuing homeless gargoyles and relaxes by riding her Harley.