The first time I had to give a workshop was at a writer’s conference in Florida—my first—and I was due in front of the podium at 9:00 a.m. My agent knocked on the door, took one look at my face, and said OMG. (Or that equivalent.) She ordered wine. (At 9 in the morning!) But my hands were shaking so hard I couldn’t button my own blouse. I was that scared of public speaking.
Everyone said I’d get over it. I never did. But over the years, I discovered the obvious. I’m still petrified to stand up in front of strangers—but it was different, talking to other writers or readers. I knew what other writers wanted to know, needed to hear. And I knew what readers wanted, because I was a reader first, so we were already sisters.
So—as you can see—I developed quite a list of workshops and talks. One of these days, I hope to put the most popular ones in a book for writers. (I just need to find the time!)
WORKSHOPS and SPEECHES
On the CRAFT of writing:
- Characterization—creating believable characters who enable the reader to bond and relate
- Outwitting the muse—outwitting a muse who just refuses to behave
- Ride of the Romance/Thrill of the thriller—meeting readers’ expectations
- I Wanna Do Bad Things With You—Heroes and Heroines can’t be all good or they’d bore you (AND the reader)
- Changing Values in Romance—the days of Rape-Her-Til-She-Likes-It books are long gone. Values aren’t WRONG. They change as women change. But, for the writer, what values are ‘eternal’? How do you keep a book from dating itself? From being re-printable indefinitely?
- Sexy Grammar—grammar can be a lot more fun than diagramming sentences.
- Nailing Conflict—how to get your characters where they need to go, even if they don’t want to
- The relationship between conflict and emotion—a good book needs both, but it’s a challenging marriage
- Points of View on POV: the incredible power of viewpoint
- Values—exploring how we can affirm healthy, positive values for women today
- Defining a heroine—what is a ‘good woman’ by today’s values? Feminist issues in romances
- Romance and Sexual Harassment—being conscious of the invisible values we write
- Handling Sensitive Subjects—tips and tricks on developing characters and conflicts in more challenging stories
- Voice versus Style—defining each in a way to help make your writing stronger
- Theme—taking an old fashioned concept and turning it into a dynamic way to market your voice
- Comedy in romance—handling serious issues with a light touch: why you would, when you shouldn’t
- Perfection is boring: the myth of the perfect hero: a mini history of what romance readers wanted from their heroes
- History of Birth Control and Abortion—(I’ve given this talk a dozen times, always to a packed room. It’s not about politics or religion or personal beliefs. It’s meant for writers who have sexually active characters—in various historical periods—who may want to know what the rules/laws/beliefs were at the time.)
On Industry Issues:
- The editor/writer relationship—how to make the most of that challenging work relationship from both sides
- Short books/long books/anthologies—a writer probably has a ‘natural’ length of story she wants to write. How to evaluate how the length of your book fits in the market place—and finds the natural readers for what you love to write
- The appeal of the contemporary romance—contemporary romances may be hardest for writers, because values in those related genres are always fluid. But there are readers who always want those. How to find ‘your place’. How to write ‘contemporary’ without limiting yourself to slang/popular terms/ ‘in styles’ that will date your books.
- Values in Genre Fiction—why certain values ‘sold’ to readers in different decades. What that matters. How that applies to what you want to write.
- Writing a Synopsis—the agony and ecstasy of writing a stupid synopsis, when you KNOW how silly they are
- Career Writer—what it takes to make it long term as a writer
- Let your imagination take flight—finding inspiration from what you already know and feel
- Finding Balance as a writer—burnout, writer’s block, and working through all the other stressers that inhibits you from ‘finding time’ to write
- POWER—Not theirs, ours—how to outwit the trends, the publishers and ourselves
- Persistence—What it takes to survive and thrive as an author