06-18 Sarah Raplee – WHY PSYCHIC AGENTS?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Attend a Conference

Hi everyone! I am YA author B A Binns , writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for teens. My tagline tells you what I am about - Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them. 

Hopefully this is not a bucket list item. Hopefully many of us, both writers and readers, plan to attend at least one industry related conference every year. For some it's the RWA National conference. I've attended several times (including in 2010 when I was a Golden Heart Finalist). Needless to say that conference includes a ton of authors to meet and greet, editor and agent appointments to practice for, and lots of knowledge and industry information to absorb.

Another choice is the RT Booklovers convention, a heavily reader oriented conference giving authors a chance to meet with current fans and find new ones. This is the go to conference for authors to connect with readers en mass.  Or NINC, a meeting for multi-published authors that concentrates on future trends and professionalism. And many RWA chapters have their own conferences packed with knowledge on writing. I have attended and made presentations at the Nola Written In The Stars conference, the Chicago North Spring Fling conference, and the Wisconsin RWA Write Touch conference along with m any reader specific events.

And Romance Slam Jam (RSJ)

Romance Slam Jam began in Dallas Texas in1995 thanks to Emma Rodgers, Ashira Tosihwe and Francis Ray, with the goal of demonstrating “The Power, Passion and Pain of Black Love.” Twenty-one years later, the conference that celebrates both readers and writers of black and interracial romance, is being held in Detroit, Michigan with the theme: "Revving up the romance in the D".

While Romance Slam Jam has no direct affiliation with RWA, many attendees like myself are also RWA members. The weekend is filled with workshops where people in the know give information and feedback to aspiring authors, current authors and readers on the ins and outs of the publishing game. In the past I have given a workshop about Heroes and Heroines: What Makes Them Right For Each Other, because sometimes couples click and other times the readers know they will never last.

Me and the teens
I have also participated in the Teen Scene, a portion of the conference designed especially for teens and young adult readers and writers. Yes, RSJ has a special kids event operating as an integral part of the conference. This year the Teen Scene will feature author AlTonya Washington discussing her upcoming Teen Fantasy Novel “Eternal”. She will also talk about the research that went into crafting the story. As a librarian, AlTonya will also speak specifically to teens on the importance of research skills in their daily work.

Since this year's conference is in Detroit, the home of Motown, it will begin with a welcome reception and a karaoke sing along of Ole’ School Motown Jams and lots of fun & food! Anyone and everyone is welcome to take to the stage. There will also be interactive games centered around romance novels and the people who love them. The games often include prizes; a few years ago I won not one but two Amazon gift cards based in part on the contents of my purse during a scavenger hunt. 

There's always one evening devoted to entertainment and exploration. In the past we've explored New Orleans, cruised to Jamica and held a dinner/theater murder mystery event. Here in 2013, some members of a wedding party are being questioned after a guest is found dead during the meal.  We all gathered clues and tried to uncover the bad guy/gal. (No I did not manage to pick the correct killer, darn it!)

This enchanting picture of me was taken during the RSJ cruise to Jamaica in 2010. (Little did anyone know I was recovering from uterine cancer surgery at the time, but nothing was going to make me miss that adventure)

Attendees this year will have a three hour Detroit Princess Dinner Cruise along the gorgeous Detroit River cradled between the Detroit & Windsor skylines. There will be scenery, food and great music.  (Are you getting the theme? Slam Jam attendees always get their fill of music and dancing)
Author Panel

During the course of the conference, book clubs will host discussions with some of our guest authors. and authors frequently bring gifts for attendees at the individual author sessions where they answer reader's burning questions. This year will also include a town hall meeting where everyone gets an opportunity to discuss what we love about romance books, what we would like to see changed, and how to go about making that happen.

The 2016 keynote luncheon features Ms. Beverly Jenkins, the nation’s premier writer of African-American historical romance fiction with over thirty published novels to date. She speaks widely on both romance and 19th century African-American history. Her numerous awards include:
  • five Waldenbooks/Borders Group Best Sellers Awards
  • two Career Achievement Awards and a Pioneer Award from Romantic Times Magazine
  • a Golden Pen Award from the Black Writer’s Guild
  • and in 1999 was named one of the Top Fifty Favorite African-American writers of the 20th Century by AABLC, the nation’s largest on-line African-American book club.

The conference traditionally ends with the Emma Awards ceremony, the premier awards event for readers and authors of Black romance and Woman' Fiction. (Formal attire is not required, but this is the one event attendees are asked to dress up for.)

It’s time to get our read on! If your bucket list or New Year's resolutions include attending a conference in 2016, consider the Romance Slam Jam.Interested in attending or learning more - check out http://www.romanceslamjam.org/


Judith Ashley said...

B.A. One of these days I'd love to attend Romance Slam Jam...not this year because I'm already registered to attend the Desert Dreams Conference in April. One of the things I really do love about RSJ is that they have a focus or track for young writers and readers. Wish all conferences did the same!!!

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Thanks for adding to my bucket list conference list, B. A.! :-)

Marcia King-Gamble said...

I've always enjoyed Slam Jam. What a great tribute to Emma Rodgers who helped promote so many authors and helped them gain exposure. I remember her book store well.

Linda Lovely said...

For authors of romantic suspense and mystery, the Writers' Police Academy is a MUST! It's held at a real police academy and the instructors and opportunities for hands-on experiences from firing weapons to searching buildings are amazing. Registration for the 2016 Academy is set for February 21, and it sells out fast. The Academy will be held August 11-14 in Wisconsin.