12 Things I Learned at the 2014 RWA Conference

1. I need to make a website. (Check!)

2. According to Elizabeth Hoyt, a heroine’s main flaw can’t be her oversized, gargantuan boobs. Sample dialogue provided by Hoyt: “My breasts are too big. I don’t know what to do.”

3. Eloisa James has, at some point, written about “a very rigid duke.” Of course, she meant her hero was inflexible (and not just in the groin region). But a couple hundred women in the session audience laughed all the same, because our minds are filthy. The same instant hilarity resulted when she advised us to “get yourself four brothers.” Rest assured, Ms. James, I’m looking into it.

4. Feminist romance authors can quickly sum up what their heroines want: “Orgasms and respect.” Added one panelist: “What’s wrong with that? We all want that.” Amen, sister.

5. Zoe Archer smells like “sandalwood…and MAN.” At least to Tessa Dare.

6. Holly Jacobs may well be the friendliest human being on the planet. She saw a first-time attendee sitting on the floor by the trash can (that would be me) and struck up a conversation. Thus saving me from having to follow the example of Jodi Thomas, who apparently spent her first RWA conference riding up and down the elevators, looking for people to talk to. I’m pretty sure Ms. Thomas no longer has that problem.

7. Sarah MacLean describes the romance genre thusly: “Shit happens while two idiots fall in love.” Sounds about right.

8. When describing how a hero smells, adding “…and MAN” is always appropriate. Shoshanna Evers: “Pretty much anything…and MAN.” Christine D’Abo, testing Ms. Evers’ premise: “Chocolate chip cookies…and MAN.” Okay, they weren’t seriously giving that advice, but it still made a roomful of women laugh.

9. How Julia Quinn ensures she accurately depicts foreign or regional accents in her dialogue: “I don’t write many characters who talk funny.”

10. Kristan Higgins advises creating imperfect characters, noting, “Prickly is interesting. Perfect is not.” Thus explaining to me, at long last, why I am an awkward and imperfect human being: for INTEREST. Thank you, Ms. Higgins.

11. Conferences are exhausting.

12. Going to San Antonio in July will make you smell like sunscreen, sweat…and MAN.

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