That is seriously the corniest title for a blog post ever, but I’m sticking with it. I spent the past weekend at the Create Something Magical Conference in Iselin, NJ, organised by Liberty States Fiction Writers.
Despite having depleted a good deal of my conference mojo at the Dreamspinner Author Workshop in Florida earlier this month, I had a really great time. More importantly, I met a lot of fantastic people, learned some new tricks, added a new story idea to my Big Book of Ideas (thanks, Felice Stevens) and came away freshly inspired to create (something magical).
The best part of any conference is connecting with authors you’ve befriended online, but have never seen in person. Putting a name and voice (and other shenanigans) to an actual face is always rewarding. People are people online, but in my experience, actually meeting someone ties it all together in a way that cannot be undone. I’ve met a lot of fellow writers at conventions and it’s always great. The total upside of attending a local conference is that I’ll be able to see these particular writers more often than once or twice a year, or as our conference attendance allows. We can be friends! (I am not laughing evilly).
My lunch table was hosted by L.G. O’Connor, who not only gave us a copy of her latest book, Caught Up in Rayne, but a bag full of cooking ideas. Gotta love a hero who cooks. 😉 My dinner table was hosted by Laura Kaye and Sara Humphreys who were both wonderful. I’ve read Laura’s books and want to read Sara’s. Dragon shifters? I don’t need to know anything else. Oh, and I should mention Laura’s new book has motorcycle sex. Mmm-hmm.
Keynote speakers Jennifer Armentrout and Virginia Kantra were both very inspiring and the all the workshops I attended were well presented and covered great subjects. I can’t choose a favourite, but the one I’d like to see presented elsewhere was “I’ll Have What She’s Having” by Avery Flynn and Kimberley Kincaid, which covered the gentle (ha!) art of dealing with professional jealousy. This is a tough subject, folks, and ignoring it does not make it go away.
Equally important was the panel discussion hosted by Damon Suede, Taria Reed, Harper Miller and LaQuette (who has just moved to my neck of the woods, increasing the local population of romance writers from 1 to 2—yay!) about diversity in fiction and why it’s important to read and write about characters who are not “you.” We need diverse books is more than just a slogan.
I also really enjoyed the Buzz and Branding workshop presented by Liz Berry and M.J. Rose. It’s stuff you’re supposed to know, but a refresher is always worthwhile.
Antonia Aquilante was my conference buddy and she is such an amazingly nice person. She’s also petite and gorgeous and wears the nicest clothes and has amazing shoes. Even her name is lovely. I’m currently reading the first book of her Tournai series and it’s as fab as she is.
I also enjoyed getting to know Harper Miller (Team Swole FTW!) and Taria Reed, who is an enormously talented artist. Their friend LaQuette and I are going to be ‘people.’
Meeting Jenna Kendricks and Felice Stevens was all kinds of awesome. We’re mutual fans of each other’s work and found way too much to talk about.
My final mention and shout out is for the always fantastic Damon Suede and his husband Geoff Symon who is my new comic reading/crime scene TV show watching BFF. I think if we’d been left alone in a room together we’d still be talking. ❤
All in all, this was a great conference and one I’d love to attend again. Conference chair Rayna Vause did a great job—she even took time out from her busy schedule to talk Skyrim with me. I highly recommend the Create Something Magical Conference for writers (at all levels) and readers who are looking for opportunities to mingle with authors in a fun and very low key atmosphere.
Books that found their way into my swag bag:
I’ve already read Stuck with You by Jenna Kendrick. It was so good, I nearly missed the conference breakfast on Sunday! Next up will be The Arrangement by Felice Stevens and Undiscovered by Sara Humphreys.