Category Archive: Writing Events

  1. #RWAus2014 Writers Conference take 2

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    In the blink of an eye, the Romance Writers of Australia 2014 conference is over. This was my second year attending and I loved every second of it. I wanted to write a little recap on the conference including my personal highlights and to share a few pictures with you.

    #RWAus14 Highlights

    Emma Darcy’s Speech – At the awards dinner on Saturday night we had the pleasure of listening to romance writing legend, the fabulous Emma Darcy (whose sister is Miranda Lee – I had no idea!!) The had the crowd in stitches (with her fantastic four F’s of romance writing) and then in tears at many points, her speech is testament to her amazing storytelling ability and to her engaging, warm personality. I left feeling as though I had witnessed something very special indeed.

    Emma Darcy

    First Sale Ribbon – Since Only The Brave Try Ballet was sold last year I got to collect my first sale ribbon. Talk about exciting! At the end of conference last year I sat down and made a goal to be up on the stage at the 2014 conference collecting my ribbon. I did it!

    First sale

    My book was on the Think Harlequin stand!!!!! – If you look very closely you’ll see the Australian cover of Only The Brave Try Ballet (with its red spine) in the below picture. I nearly fell over when I walked past and saw my baby sitting there.

    Harlequin stand

    Meeting the wonderful Flo Nicoll (who bought my first book) – Flo is the editor from the M&B UK office who requested Only The Brave Try Ballet and worked with me revision after revision until she called me December last year to offer me a contract. Meeting her in person was fantastic, I was able to express how excited I was to be working with the Harlequin M&B team and to thank her personally for all her support. (Also, Romance Llama wanted to jump into this pic as well).

    Stef and Flo

    Conference Loot – I might be an author, but I’m a reader at heart. I attended the ARRA signing and picked  Alli Sinclair’s Luna Tango – can’t wait to read it!! Plus we got a goody bag of books (including Lick which I’m reading now and LOVING) and I picked up a few M&B books along the way too.


    Catching up with my writing friends and making new ones! There are so many pictures that I couldn’t put them all here, but I have put them all on Facebook (If you were at the conference and want to add me, just send a friend request and let me know you were at the conference). It was so wonderful to meet the people I chat to online and to catch up with friends from last year’s conference. This definitely one of the best aspects of the conference.

    Stef and Amber

    Myself and the wonderful Amber A Bardan

    Going to Cherry Adair’s hotel room for a ‘plotting session’ – yes, this really happened!! Cherry Adair is a wonderful person, she’s smart and she tells it like it is. She also has a huge heart and is insanely generous with her time. I had the opportunity to go up to her hotel room with a small group while she shared her plotting secrets with us. The experience was invaluable.

    I learnt so much at this conference, not just from the sessions but from talking to people, listening to their experiences and just soaking it all in. Next year the conference is in Melbourne and although I’ll be living overseas back then, the temptation to come to a conference in my home city is overwhelming. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it!

    I’d love to hear from anyone who attended the RWAUs14 conference this year – what was your experience like? What did you learn?

  2. What to take to a writers conference


    Not long to go now! The annual Romance Writers of Australia Conference is only a week away.

    Last week I gave some introvert survival tips for conference goers, this week I’m talking about what to take (or what not to take, as the case may be).

    HA0478 - Journey Planning. Lifestyle Images Portraying The Three Main Elements Of A Journey: Planning The Route, Travelling And Reaching Destination.

     Photo by Highways Agency


    Things to take to RWAus 2014:

    • Business Cards: don’t think business cards are only for published authors, they’re not! If you happen to chat with someone while waiting in line for a drink and they ask you what your website or Facebook page is, you can give them a business card. People are more likely to hang onto a card than a scrap of paper.
    • Flat shoes: Yes, I love my high heels too (and do pack a pair for the cocktail parties) but flat shoes will be a lifesaver for the long days you spend going from workshop to workshop and hanging around talking to people.
    • Carry-on luggage and checked luggage: Here’s a little secret about conference…YOU GET A LOT OF BOOKS!!! You need space to bring them home.
    • Camera: You don’t want to meet your favourite author only to realise you don’t have a camera with you.
    • Phone/iPad/Tablet Charger: This seems like an obvious one, but put it on your list anyway.
    • Something to write with: Whether you prefer pen and a notepad or a tablet/laptop, it’s important to have something to take notes on. This isn’t just for workshops but for any ideas that spring up thanks to all the additional creative energy, and to jot down the details of those you meet (in case they haven’t brought their business cards). I generally take a notepad and pen because laptops can be heavy and take up a lot of luggage space. I also found last year I didn’t do any writing in my room, too busy having fun!
    • Something unique: I think it’s a great idea to have something unique with you that will stand out and make people remember you. It might be a flashy necklace, a cute headband or a stuffed llama. I always remember the people that wear statement jewellery or bright shoes – every little bit helps!
    • Water, Panadol, hydrating eye cream: This is my ‘anti-tired’ kit. By Sunday afternoon I want to crawl in bed and sleep off the exhaustion but I also don’t want to miss out on the fun. The water can be bought at the hotel or in a nearby shop, but I HIGHLY recommend keeping hydrated. Hotels can often have air conditioning running and it can make you feel really sluggish and headachy.


    In the interest of saving space, here are some things that I would strongly consider whether or not to take:

    • Books for signing: I know, there’s a huge signing and your favourite author is going to be there. But books take up space (and weight!) and you’ll be bringing a lot home with you anyway. Do you really need extra book weight in your suitcase?
    • Your manuscript: The rules for pitches (and general conference etiquette) is that you provide our manuscript electronically after the conference if you get a request. Having printed copies of your work on hand won’t make your chances any better and they’ll just take up extra space in your luggage.
    • Multiple pairs of shoes: Honestly, I put this in as a reminder for myself. Find one pair of heels that matches all the nighttime outfits and leave it at that.
    • Laptop: see the above comment on taking notes.


    I hope this post is helpful for those getting ready for conference, what are you going to take with you?

  3. Writers Conferences for Introverts


    In a few short weeks I will be heading to the Romance Writers of Australia’s annual conference. Last year I was a conference virgin, this year I hope to return a little more experienced, a little less nervous, and be able to keep my fangirling in check. The last one may or may not happen. There’s only one problem with conferences: I, like many writers, am an introvert. Introvert-extrovert   When I use #hermitlife on Twitter I do it without irony. I built a corporate career on my ability to appear confident and in-control, but I can promise you it’s all a lie. Meeting new people scares the crap out of me, big crowds…no thanks. Social events need to come with a life raft, in my opinion. So, if you’re coming to conference for the first time (or even if you’re a seasoned conference-goer but you struggle with the social aspects) here are a few tips that helped me last year:

    • Find someone to meet up with (my version of a life raft). It might be someone you chat with on FB or Twitter, someone from your writers group. Having a designated person to meet can help make ease the stress of day 1 jitters. This person can be your ‘conference buddy’ but don’t let them be the only person you speak to.
    • Promise yourself that you’ll make at least one new acquaintance. It’s scary, but I put myself out of my comfort zone last year and met some absolutely incredible people (Eden Summers, I’m talking about you!)
    • Find someone who is standing by themselves looking as awkward as you do and say hello. Chances are they’ll be grateful that you took the pressure off them having to make the first move.
    • Smile.
    • Approach an author you love and tell them which of their books if your favourite. Trust me, this never goes down badly.
    • Introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you at a workshop, you’re both there for the same reason so it should be easy to make conversation.
    • Make use of the Friday costume cocktail party, we’re all dressed up and it’s an easy conversation starter. Wear a mask if it makes you feel more comfortable.
    • Talk about books. That’s why you’re all there, it’s the best topic of conversation because aspiring romance writers are often voracious readers and even the most introverted writer will get fired up about their favourite book.
    • Relax. It’s not life or death. Take a break in your hotel room if you feel overwhelmed, call your husband/boyfriend/bestie/Mum if you need to. Then get back out there.

    If you’re coming along to RWAus14 this year and you see a girl with a stuffed Llama, that’s me. Come and say ‘hi’ and I promise I won’t bite. More than likely I’l be working up the guts to go and chat to someone myself.

  4. The Aftermath of Conference


    The aftermath of attending a writers conference is a strange and wonderful thing.

    There’s the mix of post conference blues with the dizzying heights of extreme inspiration, the tiredness that comes with filling your mind to the brim and the lack of space caused by new ideas sprouting. There’s the shades of embarrassment at how much you fan-girled over meeting your favourite writers in person, the aching back from getting all of your conference books home and the sore tummy from eating one too many Bacis (or maybe that was just me).

    There’s the ‘oh shit’ moment when you’re sitting in a workshop realising you’ve done every one of the ‘avoid these’ points (back story eyes, anyone?), the ‘oh crap’ moment when you realise you’ve missed a whole bunch of opportunities to better express your characters/setting/themes, and the ‘why am I torturing myself’ moment when you read someone else’s work and it’s so much better than anything you’ve ever written.

    It’s important to pat yourself on the back or at least give yourself a mental high-five for all the things you did well:

    • Did you walk up to someone and introduce yourself? High-five! Doing that is really scary.
    • Did you support an author by buying her book? Good work, purchase justified.
    • Did you get everything home without incurring excess baggage? Go you!
    • Did you learn a whole bunch of new techniques and tips for honing your craft? Great job.

    A writers conference is an experience unlike any other, and as a conference newbie I was shocked and awed at how amazingly friendly and welcoming people were. For all the people who offered a smile when I was standing on my own, who offered advice and tips, and who got as excited as I did: thank you.

    The worst thing about coming home from conference is that it’s the longest possible time before the next conference. On the upside, it’s the longest possible time to be excited about everything that can be achieved in a year.

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    L-R: Our table at the RWA awards dinner where the Melbourne writers represented our city so well! Me getting ready for awards night, head-wear and hardware enabled.

  5. 5 Things I’m looking forward to at RWA13


    This time next week I’ll be all the way over the other side of Australia. I’m super excited to be attending the annual Romance Writers of Australia conference for the first time. RWA is a brilliant association for romance writers. The conference is the chance for us all to get together and learn, share and let loose!


    Here are the 5 things I’m most excited about:

    1. The breakout sessions – because I’m a nerd I’m always looking for learning opportunities and the variety of the breakout sessions is enough to make your head spin. I’ve already mapped out which ones I’m planning to attend and if I had to pick one I’m really excited about it would be the Sexual Tension: The Undertow of Romance with Rachel Bailey.
    2. The Nautical or Nice cocktail party – mainly because I know there will be a whole bunch of people dresses as pirates and it will be awesome.
    3. Pitching – Yes, I’m taking the plunge and I’m nervous as all hell! But it will be an incredible experience, so I’m definitely looking forward to it.
    4. Meeting the authors who inspire me – I’ve had the incredible experience of meeting a few awe-inspiring authors already (Annie West, Anna Campbell and Anne Gracie to name a few!) and knowing I’ll get to meet a whole bunch more at conference is enough to make go all fan-girl.
    5. Meeting other newbies – Sometimes writing can be an isolating activity, even with all the contact online. The opportunity to meet other people in the same stage of the journey as me (knowing we’re all working towards out dreams) is one of the perks of the conference IMO.

    The next week is going to feel very long while I count down the days, lucky I have a lot of writing to do ;)

    Are you heading to RWA13? What are you most excited about?