Thursday, November 22, 2012

2012 Fiction Writers' Bootcamp on the Beach - Part 1

Photo by ACRA member Karen Hudgins.

Autumn brings the promise of a magical season of harvest, thankfulness, and giving, showcased in colors so brilliant they sometimes don't even look real. Well, unless you live in Florida, in which case you get the harvest, thankfulness, and giving, but you have to settle for white beaches, blue ocean, and green palm trees. Yeah, it's rough, but someone has to do it.

If you are a member of Ancient City Romance Authors, autumn also brings our annual Fiction Writers' Bootcamp on the Beach. ACRA plans for this event at least a year in advance of the actual year it is to be held, wisely choosing one member to turn possibilities into unforgettable reality.

Qualifications for this position are simple. Our Bootcamp Chair must have:

- extraordinary enthusiasm for the craft of writing,
- nerves of steel,
- a willingness to give up those hours she wastes sleeping every night.
- (A lifetime Prozac prescription is not a necessity, but it helps.)

The ACRA member who possessed all the necessary qualifications for 2012 was bestselling author Elizabeth Sinclair. Having written and published over twenty books in her career (one of which was released about five minutes before the conference started), Elizabeth is accustomed to mapping out a project, organizing everything she needs to pull it off, and making it happen.

Elizabeth chose Mardi Gras as the 2012 theme and decorated the conference room accordingly, in green, purple, and gold. Spirits were high, and writers from near and far arrived in St Augustine on October 5 for a weekend of education, preparation, and excitement. Attendees were totally absorbed in every workshop, the only sound other than the speaker's voice being the scratching of notes from pen to paper.

Deborah Smith, from Belle and Bell Bridge Books in Memphis, TN, brought our keynote address. Thirty seconds into her presentation, attendees were howling with laughter. If you've ever passed up a chance to hear this woman speak, you have done yourself a great disservice. Debra Dixon, also from Belle and Bell Bridge Books, offered workshops that many agreed changed the way they approached their work. Elizabeth Sinclair offered workshops as well, with a workshop on Characterization that made everyone see their characters in a whole new way.

Deb Smith also met with authors to hear all about what they were working on, and to see if it might be a fit for Belle and Bell Bridge. Having never pitched a manuscript before, some of our writers were uneasy and fearful of suddenly forgetting important details like their own names and addresses. Deb made everyone feel as though they were simply sitting down for a chat with a good friend who shared their love of writing.

ACRA's hero, Cheryl Brooks, made the trip from Edgewater, FL, to handle our conference bookstore again. Her bookstore, The Book Rack, is ACRA's "home" bookstore, and we are so grateful to her for her support and her willingness to help us out like she does. We love her attitude, her sense of humor, and her attachment to books.

ACRA is more than a chapter of Romance Writers of America. ACRA is a family, and when one of us hurts, we all hurt. Our conference this year was not only a source of creative renewal and fellowship, it was also a gathering in which we held one of our own in our arms and shared her sorrow. Our Treasurer (and former Conference Chair) Skye Taylor, lost her young grandson in late September in an unfortunate accident that took his life. Skye's conference experience was, of course, somewhat different from those in the past, but the timing was helpful. It was good for us to all be together for her at a time when she needed us most.

Our raffle baskets, Kindle Fire giveaway, Kindle Touch giveaway, food, and special Mardi Gras cake made for us by Carrie's Cake Delights of Statesboro, GA, added to the excitement of the weekend, as did the tour of St Augustine's Whetstone Chocolate Factory. Yes, we did tour a real chocolate factory, and yes, there were samples, and yes, there was a factory shop, and yes, we did spend a collective fortune on chocolate. Wish you'd been there now, don't you?

Our deepest appreciation goes to Elizabeth Sinclair on her excellent organization and management of the 2012 ACRA Fiction Writers' Bootcamp on the Beach, to those who assisted her, and to each member of ACRA who contributed a basket, a critique, or a gift of their time to help make this event happen.

So what does Elizabeth have up her sleeve for next year? Oh, trust us . . . it's going to be the best ever. Seriously, you do not want to miss this. Elizabeth and her staff are already deep into preparations for it. Plans are still in the "secret" stage, so we can't reveal it yet. But if you plan to attend, a parrot on your shoulder would be a nice touch . . . .

RELATED POST: 2012 ACRA Fiction Writers' Bootcamp on the Beach - Part 2

1 comment:

  1. I'm already looking forward to next year...Arrrghh!