Each year on the day before National conference begins, many members of the Beau Monde chapter of RWA® gather for a day filled with Regency workshops and after the Literacy Signing they reconvene for our annual Soirée. This year’s gathering included breakfast and time to mingle and check-in for the conference, followed by the Annual General Meeting with the usual various committee reports and the changing over of the board. Thank you to the 2015-2016 Board and Committee members for all your hard work but especially our conference chair Janna MacGregor, catering wrangler Sharon Sobel, and workshop coordinator Isobel Carr for doing such a fantastic jobs in organizing the event for us!
The Morning Sessions
We had a very special tribute to former Beau Monde member, Jo Beverley who lost her bout with cancer at the end of May this year.
Member Diana Belchase, had filmed an interview with the author for her TV show BookSmart and was gracious enough to share the unaired footage with the chapter members present. Jo’s wit, grace and perspective, not to mention her love of historical romance, shone through during the interview and are just a small part of why she and her wonderful books will be long remembered.
We spent the rest of the morning learning about Spies and Codes with Patricia Coleman, Regency Era Titles with Ella Quinn and The Education and Training of Medical Professionals in the Regency Era with Georgie Lee.
Our Keynote Address
After lunch, Jade Lee gave our keynote speech. If you know Jade, she’s funny and always cracking jokes. She did that. But she was also fiercely serious about how writing is also an ART, not just a craft and business.
Jade pointed out that the RWA National Workshop list included around 54 Craft/Research sessions, 65 Career Track topics and another 16 on Writer’s Life/Block/Depression. She told us she was going to talk about the one thing that never gets discussed– the ART of writing. Commercial Fiction — not literary. Every book has a core message in it. Not just the basics of genre or tropes, every book has a deeper more personal message. At its core, your book has a message that YOU need to hear.
“Art has us look at issues we are dealing with in our real life and look at them in a new way.” But digging in your soul is hard to do. Theme is one way as writers and even readers we do this. Look closer at your books and see what you keep coming back to again and again. Think about the last book you read that touched your heart and why?
She recently read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. Did you know Hitler wanted to be an artist but resistance beat him? It was easier for him to start World War II than to face a blank canvas. “Don’t start WW3, face that dark and awful blank page instead!” She urged us to tell that story that your soul is crying out for. Someone else out there needs to hear it too. Please, she begged us, go forth and write those stories. Because we are all artists in the truest, most beautiful sense of the word.
The Afternoon Sessions
The rest of the afternoon was spent in more workshops where Louisa Cornell helped us navigate the Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Regency World both in terms of what was known/thought of mental illness at the time and various places where and ways in which people were ‘treated’ for their madness. Then, we charted a course in The Age of Sail with Alice Eakes and learned all about ships, different types of sails, and other nautical terms to use in our stories.
A special treat was the extended Q&A session on The State of the Regency Romance with Sarah Wendell – SBTB, Leah Hultenschmidt – Grand Central Publishing, Theresa Romain – Author, and Kevan Lyon – Marsal Lyon Literary Agency on the panel. The afternoon concluded with a look at The Grand Tour with Cheryl Bolen before we took a break for dinner and the Literacy Signing.
All sessions were recorded and they will soon be made available for purchase by members.
Our Annual Soirée
That evening, the soirée was quite an elegant affair. Cara King was our dance mistress for the evening and taught a variety of country dances including a Scottish Reel. Not all of the attendees dressed in their Regency Era finery, but the many who did looked absolutely wonderful, and a fabulous time was had by all.
Awards and Congratulations to Beau Monde Members
|Rita Inspirational Romance Winner:|
|A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter
Baker Publishing Group, Bethany House
Raela Schoenherr, editor
|Golden Heart Historical Winner:|
|“The Earl and the Pussycat” by Elizabeth King|