Chicago Spring Fling 2010

Greetings from the Spring Fling, the conference of the North Shore RWA outside Chicago.  It’s about 50F outside so I don’t know that I will be flinging anything. I’m more likely to add a layer.

I am speaking tomorrow about online marketing and what authors and aspiring authors need to know about online interaction and branding, but today, the conference starts with sessions on plot, character, and point of view.

Plus there’s a dinner tonight with a keynote from Julia Quinn. I confess, I totally get a squee-level thrill when I meet up with her at a conference, since she wrote one of my favorite romances of all time. Her new book, 10 Things I Love About You is coming out May 25 – and I received a link to the trailer which is really cute. Where’d. I put it? Here it is!

Its on YouTube over here. Why I can’t embed, I have no idea. Why can’t I access embed code on the iPad? Good question. (I am using the iPad to take notes and blog about the conference, to try it out as a traveling device. So far it gets a B.)

Cherry Adair is also giving a speech on Saturday night at the dinner gala – and I confess I have not read her books. Got any recommendations? She and Quinn are doing multiple Q&A and conversation panels, so the folks who are attending will have a lot of time with these two authors.

I’m going to be writing about the different sessions, though I’ll be attending a few out of interest in the speaker more than the topic. Tomorrow I’m up against Jade Lee talking about worked building (darn it) and afterwards Carrie Lofty is speaking about research and point of view. Elizabeth Hoyt is talking about “Sex Scenes Viagra” – a session that would have won the “Best Workshop Title” award except then I saw Kim Castillo’s session “From Suck to Success,” which, dude. Awesome title right there  

Courtney Milan is giving a talk on editing for voice which sounds very cool, and there’s a session about author branding that’s up against Hoyt’s talk on sex scenes. I’ll be scurrying between sessions tomorrow like whoa.

One thing I love about writer’s conferences is that I get to hear about works in progress and find out what might be coming towards me as a reader in the future when I’m shopping for romance. I am not a competitor to the writers who attend so I really like asking them what they are working on, and what inspired them to start attending conferences and writing group meetings. Paly Kari from the Chicago North chapter was kind enough to pick me up at the airport last night (thank you!) and she told me she has been writing for awhile, beginning with fanfic and moving on to mysteries and suspense based on her own characters. She’s working on YA (yay!) right now, and uses her travel time on airplanes to write.

The progression of “that’s something I’d like to do one day” to “I’m going to write a novel” to “I am taking this time to write” – which also might occur at the same time as “I’m going to attend a writer’s group meeting and go to a conference about writing romance novels” – I think that is a big deal right there. It is, to put it mildly, sometimes very difficult to find time to do what you want and separate yourself from the expectations of everyone else. There are always chores to do, calls to make, work to be finished, gardens to weed, etc. But saying “I’m going to write a book” and then doing it takes a lot of will and determination.

So I admire the folks who volunteer to organize and create groups and conferences like these, and the people who attend and want to learn more. Go on with your bad selves.    

I’ll be writing more about the conference on the site and posting pictures on Twitter so stay tuned for more from the Spring Fling 2010.

What conferences are among your favorites? What chapter conferences rock your socks?


General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    Kim in Hawaii says:

    What a fabulous line up in Chicago!  I’ve met most of the authors you mentioned at previous conferences – so I know you will be inspired!

    The Washington Romance Writers (WRW) host an annual retreat that just rocks (coincidently, it occurred last weekend).  Roxanne St. Claire was a guest speaker and shared her experience on her blog,

    Only the WRW would ask best selling authors to wear costumes from the Wizard of Oz!  I am sorry that I missed it, but the flight from Hawaii was too long.  Looking forward to seeing my WRW friends at the RWA National Convention in Nashville!

  2. 2
    Ken Houghton says:

    May you can’t embed when you’re using the Mobile YouTube ( i/o

    Embed code:

    <object width=“640” height=“385”><param name=“movie” value=“;>

    <embed src=“; type=“application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=“always” allowfullscreen=“true” width=“640” height=“385”></embed></object>

  3. 3
    Becky says:

    So, Sarah, which Quinn novel is your favorite?

    those94- is unfortunately not an answer

  4. 4
    Mama Nice says:

    I made the jump from wanting to write to writing, but haven’t made the jump to attending a conference such as this…that’s on the list! Still up for buying you a drink if you’d like ;)

  5. 5
    Danielle D says:

    Have fun in the Windy City!!! I was supposed to attend the booksigning on Saturday but something came up and my friends and I had to cancel!

  6. 6
    Kalen Hughes says:

    Oooooooooo, you’re making me jealous! Can’t wait to see you in Nashville.

  7. 7
    Deb Kinnard says:

    Chicago-North RWA’s Spring Fling sounds like it’s getting better all the time. What a line-up! I think I’m at least 50% wishing I could go…it’d be great to see old C-N friends.

    Paly Kari is someone special—totally agree with that assessment. One of these days (soon) I’m going to be among the first purchasers of her novel.

  8. 8

    I recommend the Greater Seattle RWA’s Emerald CityWriters’ Conference October 1-3. It’s the largest romance conference on the West Coast and sold out last year. We have three editors and three agents taking pitch appointments for 250 attendees, so the math is in your favor. I have loved every workshop I’ve had there in four conferences, and you can actually get in the infamous Cherry Adair Challenge if you attend.

    The link is And, I’m a proud member but I think everyone who attends would endorse the Emerald City conference. Registration opens soon!

    paid68 – Okay, I paid 68 percent less to attend Emerald City than Nationals. Wait, it was a lot less than 68 percent less!

  9. 9
    Barb Ferrer says:

    It’s been ages since I’ve gone to a chapter conference that really knocked me out but I confess, I’m really looking forward to my new local chapter’s conference in October—Emerald City Writers Conference in Seattle.  First off, it’s here in October when it’s GORGEOUS and second, Tera Lynn Childs, Rosemary Clement-Moore, and I are going to be presenting our At the Threshold: RITA-Winning YA Authors Tell All workshop and we’re really looking forward to it.

    You should come out for it…

  10. 10
    Elli says:

    As for Cherry Adair recommendations, some of the more recent T-Flac books (Night Fall, Edge of Danger) aren’t as good as the early non-paranormal ones.  So, I would start with Kiss & Tell or Hide & Seek.  Strong women, alpha men who work for a secret agency.  These are the books that hooked me.

  11. 11
    Elly says:

    I agree to start with earlier Cherry Adair books (but I haven’t tried the paranormal ones yet).  I loved Hide & Seek and would also recommend Out of Sight.

  12. 12

    Sounds like a fabulous conference.  Wish I could see your presentation, Sarah.  Could you summarize at SBTB?  And I’m totally in tune with the squee-thrill thing.  Just YESTERDAY, I was having lunch at our local organic market when I spotted Elizabeth Kostova at a table near me.  I waited until she finished her lunch and then, stomach churning wildly, I approached her.  Though I’d cut my vampire teeth on Anne Rice, Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian really got me enthralled.  Anyhow, she was delightful.  I’m giving a presentation at the Asheville Skyland Library on “Writing About Vampires” on May 5, and we chatted about that and other things.  Note to self:  I need to pick up her new NY Times Bestseller, Swan Thieves.

  13. 13
    sweetsiouxsie says:

    Chicago has always been and always will be my favorite town. Enjoy your stay! ;)

  14. 14
    Audris says:

    Sarah—so bummed to have missed you at the conference, but I picked up a copy of Heaving Bosoms while there.  I really appreciate what you said about the progression of “that’s something I’d like to do some day” to going to a conference.  That’s kind of where I am right now.  I was totally inspired by everyone there, but then I came home and manage to write for all of two hours over three days.  There’s so much to do, and it’s hard to reorganize your entire life for something that seems like a fairly quixotic dream at this point.  So your comment really helped!

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