Thursday, 26 July 2007

My Week In Dallas: Day Five - Friday part 1

While I'm letting the next scene of the work-in-progress brew I'm going to carry on with my adventures in Dallas.

I think I was finally starting to get over the jetlag on Thursday and so woke up after a good six hours sleep, very refreshed. The sun was shining, the day was going to be fun and exciting and I had to go and ruin it with a ‘Bridget Jones’ moment.

Because I was up early, I decided to try on the two dresses that were in he running for the Harlequin party that night. Dress one: strapless, formal, but very pretty. Dress two: less formal, more comfortable. I had been dieting hard to fit into ‘dress one’, but I was worried it was going to be a little bit too posh for the Harlequin party. It was a gorgeous Monsoon dress I bought on eBay that had black silk chiffon over the top of an emerald green underskirt. (See picture: pretty, right? I cut my head off because I had that lovely 6 a.m. look.)

It went on all right, but getting it off again it was another matter – the zip broke! So, and there was I, six-thirty in the morning and stuck in an evening gown. I was going to look pretty daft wandering around in it all day...

Eventually, I managed to wiggle out of it and I tried to get to the zip to behave. The problem: one of those little plastic loops hadn't joined up where it was supposed to and it just wouldn't come down again. In the process of trying to get it to budge, I broke it completely. Guess my decision was made for me... or maybe not.

After refuelling, namely, breakfast—yummy coffee, yummy muffins, yummy fresh fruit—I asked the concierge if there was anyone who could look at my dress and see if they could fix the zip. She said she would see what she could do.

At 8:30 a.m. I was bright and sparkly in sitting in the front row of "Creating Your Stories Backbone: Unleashing the Unexpected Power of Turning Points in Plots and Subplots" with Robin Perini. I fell in love with this woman. My love of charts and diagrams may be huge, but with her, it is practically an obsession. I think a couple of "pantsers’ (as in, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writers) were tempted to run from the room screaming until they realised this approach could work for them too (they just had to ignore the charts; it made them itchy). Little nuggets of wisdom I obtained from this workshop were:

  • Turning Points in the plot should be a surprise for the main character as well as the reader.

  • The quick and dirty way to figure out your theme: the epiphany of your protagonist is the theme of your book. What do they need to learn?

  • Discover your protagonist's flaw, a need, belief of fear that is keeping them from being the best they can be, and make sure that you're turning points test of this character flaw. For example, if your character has a need to keep the people she loves safe, let to those same people get into danger. Even better, let your character's actions put the people she loves in danger, let her failed to protect them. That's going to move her out of her comfort zone pretty quick!

After this workshop I nipped into the Harlequin Spotlight to get an idea of what's new and happening in the huge variety of lines that Harlequin publish.

And then it was time for, you guessed it, yet more food! The lovely hosts of the eHarlequin had invited some of the authors that regularly post and participate out to lunch at the Antares Restaurant at the top of the reunion tower (that's right, a restaurant in the ball on top of the stick in the picture!). The restaurant slowly revolves as you eat your lunch. Great for getting a good view of the city, not so great if you go to the ladies and then discover when you come down the stairs again that your table is definitely not where you left it. I'd just got over another inner ear infection, which often gave me the sense I was moving when I wasn't, and I kept having little relapses during the conference week. At least in the restaurant here, when I thought I was moving I actually was! It was quite a relief.

eHarlequin hosts, Jayne, Lorie, Wayne and Rae with Harlquin authors, Wayne Jordan (he does both!), Kira Sinclair, Olivia Gates, Fiona Harper, Trish Wylie and Michelle Willingham.


Ray-Anne said...

Oh Fiona! Your gorgeous dress! I thought I was the only one those sort of things happened to!
And you looked lovely! Please do not keep us on tenterhooks.. was the case of the toxic zipper solved in time to save the day/ball/party?
As for all the lovely grub? Someone must have told them what lovely lady novelists are really like.
pheww.. Ray-Anne

Michelle Styles said...

I echo Ray Anne -- did the dress get fixed?