Above is a pic of Barbara MacMahon and me with a view of the Yosemite valley behind us. You can see how hazy with smoke the view was, but also how stunning the landscape is. (You can also see that my hair needs a good wash!!)
We did lots of walks on the valley floor and saw beautiful waterfalls. I loved the huge, towering granite cliffs and the Ponderosa pines. And I was amazed to think I was at 7,200 feet. The top of our highest mountain in Oz is nowhere near that height.
Barbara and I walked to Mirror Lake while (sprightly young) Jessica Hart climbed higher on the Misty Trail. I found the altitude prevented me from too much climbing. We also went up to the Mariposa Grove and saw the fabulous sequoia trees -- the giant redwoods (biggest in the world) for which California is famous. Found myself humming that old song... 'This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the New York Island, from the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters..." I think it was by the Kingston Trio -- one of the first records my parents ever bought...
OK... then there was the conference. And I guess, for us, the big thing was our workshop, although I went to a few fabulous workshops by others... Susan Elizabeth Phillips was an auto-hear. Meredith Bernstein gave a fabulous take on her perspective as an agent. And I loved Susan Mallery's Arc of the Trilogy.
In our workshop... we talked about the need to have emotion in our books to give them global appeal... To connect with women from many different cultures and backgrounds, we have to find those things we have in common, those things we all care about... families, health, jobs... we made a long list...
I talked about the main ingredients of emotional tension and emotional situations. Barbara M talked about the kinds of characters we need to connect with readers' emotions and Jessica outlined her methods for plotting. Then we divided our delegates into groups.
On the power point screen (yes, we used power point, which Jessica set up v effectively) we gave them these opening words.
Max opened the office door and stopped. And stared. "Tess, what the hell is a baby doing here?'
Each group then decided what this story was. (Surprise, surprise, they all decided that Max was a boss and Tess was his secretary! I couldn't persuade anyone that Max was an Outback cattleman. :)
The groups had to describe the hero and heroine, decide what would bring them together and what (internal issues) were going to keep them apart. And... where was the emotion?
The groups then pitched their ideas to editor Lucy Gilmour, who gave them very incisive and helpful feedback on whether these ideas would work for a Harlequin Romance.
We finished up with an extensive list of dos and don'ts for writing emotion.
From the feedback we've had it was very well received, which is gratifying.
In between workshops, I did as much sightseeing (oh, yes, and socialising) as I could. I saw all the main landmarks of San Fran that I wanted to see -- Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, Nob Hill...
Below is a shot with Oz mates, Hq medical author Fiona MacArthur and Sil Desire author, Bronwyn Jameson.
Finally there was the RITA ceremony. As my roomie, Kelly Hunter, was a RITA finalist, this was a BIG DEAL. I happily threw a little soiree in our room for Kelly before the event. She looked utterly gorgeous and glamorous in sleek black and we trekked down to the auditorium -- had our photo taken before the stage... and sat with baited breath.
Above, moi with Kelly Hunter, Trish Morey (who was representing finalist Anne Gracie) and Bronwyn Jameson.
Unfortunately none of our friends came home with a golden lady, but what champions they all were to have nominations in such tough categories!
I won't bore you with the tedious details of my lo-o-o-ong journey home. Suffice it to say, I'm very glad I went. And what was the best thing about the trip? Friends.