1 - A few weeks ago, my chapter of Romance Writers of America hosted a special event - Birgit Davis-Todd, Executive Editor at Harlequin Enterprises, gave an informative workshop and took story pitches from 20 of our members.
That's Birgit at right, next to YA author Renee Pace.
2 - Handling the hosting duties on behalf of our chapter, Annette MacPhee-Gallant, shown here at center, made a hectic schedule seem effortless.
3 - Also on the executive and a co-planner of the event, my good friend Kelly Boyce, shown at left.
4 - And rounding out the exec who pulled the weekend together, Michelle Helliwell in the green sweater, and -
5 - Donna Alward, in the foreground, wearing a blue printed blouse.
6 - First part of the event: a fabulous dinner at a Greek restaurant, Ela! in Halifax.
7 - I really enjoyed my scrumptious spanakopita with rice and salad, as well as a few glasses of pinot grigio. I'm sitting beside YA angel writer Shawna Romkey, who also happens to be one of the critique readers for my upcoming vampire novel.
8 - The next morning, we gathered bright and early to begin the writing all-day workshops and story pitches. Birgit gave a workshop with as much insider experience as one would encounter at the large, national RWA conference, like the one I attended this summer in New York.
9 - For some reason, on a beautiful, sunny September morning - no wind, no rain - the power went out. After a moment of blackness, the hotel's generator kicked in. Must have been a car running into a power pole, or some such thing.
Annette quickly made alternate lunch arrangements for 26 people without batting an eye. As it turned out, the power returned and we were able to keep our lunch reservations at the hotel restaurant, the Redwood Grill.
10 - This is a restaurant near the library where we hold our monthly meetings, so it's a familiar spot for our group. We don't normally descend in such numbers, however!
11 - For the afternoon session, Birgit set up in a meeting room and listened to timed story pitches from 20 members of our group. I realize Birgit's used to doing this by now - but still. My brain would implode after all of that.
12 - While the pitches were given in a separate meeting room, returning president Nikki Figueiredo, at right, led other activities - sharing our own 2-minute pitches of current projects, add-a-sentence stories and word-prompt writing.
13 - And guys - just in case you thought this chapter was a ladies' only outfit, meet Mark.
We've had several male writers join our group over the eight years I've belonged to RWAC.
Most stories have to be written from both the male and female characters' points of view, so it's a good idea to get a sense of what makes the opposite gender tick. I would love to see more men join groups like RWA, and likewise, it's a great idea for female writers to spend some quality guy time before returning to that male character they're writing.