Justine: Setting Goals for National Writing Conferences

rwa, national conference, writer's conference, eight ladies writing, justine covington

I’m already thinking about what to do before RWA® Nationals.

So today, many of us romance writers will be registering for the 2015 RWA® Nationals conference being held in July in New York City. Even though it’s only February, it’s a good time to begin thinking about what I want to achieve before then and what steps I need to line up to make it happen.

The “steps” part of my plan will come next week, but first, I need to identify what I want to do.

The biggest goal I have is to complete Three Proposals in its entirety and send it to the agents/editors who asked for it last summer BEFORE I get to RWA®. Well before I get there. By Memorial Day at least. I’m close. I have to do the final clean-up on it, work on a high-concept idea, tweak my synopsis, put together queries, and send them out.

My next goal is to get a head-start on Isabelle’s story (Susannah’s sister). This means a decent plot outline and/or synopsis, a high-concept idea, and ideally the first two or three scenes (or more).

Lastly, I want the plan/high concept for Susannah’s other family members (blood relatives and those by marriage), including her missing brother (gasp! Didn’t know about him, didja?). They are:

  • Sir Guy Tradwick (Nate’s spy friend) – I already know the high concept for this story and have started writing parts of it (mostly as an exploratory exercise than stuff I’ll actually use in the book)
  • Sean (Susannah’s Scottish cousin) – he’s relatively new to the scene. As with Guy, I have the high-concept idea for his story and I know the basic plot, but not much else.
  • Jeanne, Juliana, and Jessica (Nate’s triplet sisters) – I love writing these girls. They’re different, yet the same, all special and smart in their own way. For these ladies, I’ve actually planned a Christmas story (but I’m keeping quiet on the details). I know Jeanne’s story for sure. The other girls, not so much. These ladies will each be featured in a novella-length story.
  • Susannah’s not-dead brother (who didn’t exist before the 8 Lady Writer’s Retreat) – he’s the blank page right now. I always wanted Susannah to have a brother, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it work in her story without running into conflicts over who her guardian was. Then some plotting with Jilly at our retreat led to some great ideas about where he could come from and how he got where he was. And yes, Susannah’s uncle had a hand in all of it.
  • The basic story conflict behind Susannah’s great uncles — four brothers who are forced to take sides…two become Revolutionaries in colonial America, two become Loyalists, who eventually return to their mother country. Obviously, this will be a departure from my Regencies (I’ve always loved Revolutionary America).

So, my next task (after I register for Nationals, haha) is to begin working on a timeline for all of this. My priority is Three Proposals. I’ll have to figure out what’s next in order of importance after that.

Are you planning to attend a national conference? Which one? What are you doing to prepare?

19 thoughts on “Justine: Setting Goals for National Writing Conferences

  1. RWA is always my big conference, too, Justine. My goal for February: finish Phoebe finally (sounds like a book title, doesn’t it? “Finish Phoebe Finally”) so I can pitch it in good conscience and plot out the last one. You have ambitious goals! Plus, I like the cast of upcoming characters. Keep ’em coming!

    • I have to admit, Finish Phoebe Finally has a nice alliteration to it. Glad you’re coming to RWA. It’s always fun reuniting with the Eight Ladies, as well as the other writing friends I’ve made along the way.

    • LOL, “Finish Phoebe Finally” sounds like a great revenge novel. With home remodelling (-:. I like Phoebe’s story, but maybe you can write a book about Fiona in the future. “Fiona in the Future!” Oooo, there’s my book, LOL.

  2. You’re always so organized, Justine. I’m more of a seat-of-the-pants gal, myself, but I do actually have some hazy plans leading up to the RWA National, which include finishing the (for now) final revision of Demon’s Wager (yeah, the title changed again) and figuring out what agents/editors might be interested in it and querying them. And making a decision about which novel I’m going to work on at Mary Buckham’s plotting retreat in Columbus in May. I was planning to plot the next book in my Touched by a Demon series, but at a family funeral on Friday, a couple of my husband’s cousins were clamoring for a rewrite of Jephthah’s Daughter, a historical set against the Great Hinckley Fire of 1894. As have serveral other people who read the early draft. I wrote it back in 2002, before I had the faintest clue what I saw doing. Now that I know how to plot, who knows what could happen with it?

    So I don’t know.

    • I *seem* organized! Haha!

      I love Demon’s Wager. Nice title. I hope you keep it. As for your other story, I vaguely remember you mentioning it when we were at McDaniel. Seems to me it needs to rise like a phoenix from the ashes (yeah, I know, that was bad).

      Whatever you decide, I hope you’re successful!

  3. I am planning to attend RWA National, too. I am writing my fourth manuscript in my Callahan Family series. Sarah’s story. It won’t be finished by July, but I’ll have the bones of it (and hopefully my master’s degree).

  4. I just booked my place at RWA National, Justine, and I’m also thinking of attending some or all of the Romantic Novelists’ Association Annual Conference in London. I’m not sure yet what my goals for NY will be – I expect to have a much clearer idea by around April time. I’m certain that I want to get Cam’s book in good shape by July, and Rob’s book by the end of the year if I can, though that might be over-ambitious.

    I like all your upcoming stories, though I have to confess that after our discussions I especially want to know more about the not-dead brother. I guess I’ll have to wait awhile for him, though?

    • A not-dead brother has to be a good thing, right? I wonder if that could be worked into the title? “Say Yes to the Not-Dead Brother” Something like that.

      I too just registered for RWA (at 11am Pacific time) and am cheesed off that not only is the Indie Book signing closed, but evidently it has been closed for so long that they have it up on the main web page. Grrr! And me with my fabulous new cover and sharply edited manuscript. 🙂

      • That stinks! I had my alarm set for 8 a.m. MST (now that I have the time zones straight) and when I registered at 8:10, there were only two slots left to volunteer for agent/editor appointments. They sure do fill up fast. At least I got a hotel room. It was a good experience not staying in the conference hotel last year in San Antonio, but after doing both, I think I prefer to be where the action is (and where my room is closer when I need to crash).

        • I registered a little after 3pm my time and there were only slots left to volunteer for agent/editor appointments for the afternoon session, so I took one of those. They do go incredibly quickly – almost as quickly as the indie book signing slots. So sorry to hear that Kay missed out 😦 .

    • When I figure out more about the not-dead brother, I’ll share the details. He’s kind of low on the priority list right now, though. After all, he was just born, so to speak.

      Your plan sounds good, Jilly. I hope you attend the RNA conference and learn something good from it. If you do, please share.

    • I won’t be at the RWA Nationals but will be at the RNA conference in London, Jilly. It was great fun last year and I think worth keeping a foothold in the UK market. There won’t be details for a while but I hear they’re expecting a good Agent/Editor turnout because of it being held in London.

      Justine – I love your list of goals and can’t believe how far through Nate and Susannah’s story you are – impressive!

  5. Pingback: Kat: The Utility of Attending RWA National 2015 | Eight Ladies Writing

  6. Pingback: Justine: Setting Goals for National Writing Conferences, Part 2 | Eight Ladies Writing

  7. Pingback: Justine: Setting Goals for National Writing Conferences, Part 3 | Eight Ladies Writing

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