News from Nationals: Workshop Highlights

Deeanne Gist in her Victorian Dress

With up to ten terrific workshops per session, I found it tough to choose which I wanted to attend. But choose I did, and I learned heaps of helpful things. In this, my final recap of Nationals, I’ll share a few highlights.

Bottoms Up: a Look at Victorian Women’s Clothing from the Inside Out

This was my favorite workshop. Deeanne Gist had an assistant help her dress, from her bloomers to her hat and gloves.

I’d never seen anyone laced into a corset before and found the process fascinating. All I can say is I’m glad the form-fitting undergarments were long gone before I was born. Poor Dee had to stand perfectly straight and had trouble drawing a deep breath.

While this information doesn’t serve me as an inspy author, I now know for a fact that scenes in which a hero goes exploring beneath the heroine’s corset are historically inaccurate. There’s no way a man could get his large hand under one of those restrictive garments without cutting off his circulation. Who knew the corset helped a Victorian maiden fend off untoward advances?

Changing as many times a day as the ladies of leisure did during the Victorian era would have taken several hours–even with help. Add to that the women’s elaborate hairstyles, and it’s easy to see why ladies maids were a must. In spite of the work required to dress, Dee sure looked great once she was arrayed in her finery, didn’t she?

Uniting Plot Structure and Character Arc

Michael Hauge presented a workshop focused on the hero’s inner journey. Whereas the outer journey deals with the story’s external conflict, the inner journey is one of transformation as the hero moves from living in fear to living courageously.

At the beginning of a story the hero is living in his identity, the image of himself he’s developed over time. In this state he’s unfulfilled.

Our job as writers is to help a hero move from his identity to his essence, that part of him that would be left if his false self and emotional protection were stripped away. This process forms the character arc as we force the hero to face his biggest fears and overcome them. Ultimately he learns to integrate the best parts of his identity with his essence, becoming a far stronger person as a result.

Everything I Know About Publishing I Learned from Wonder Woman

This workshop wasn’t in the program since it was for PAN (Published Author Network) members, but they actually let lil ol’ me in–thanks to my First Sale Ribbon and pretty pink PAN bar on my name badge. Jennifer Crusie gave a fun-filled presentation complete with lots of cool pics of Wonder Woman.

One point I found most helpful was the need for a writer to have enough support. We need a team. For published authors that includes an agent and editor, yes, but we all need other writers to come alongside us. That’s why networking is so important.

The other point I noted was Jennifer’s counsel to learn the business. With the amount of information online today, it’s easy to learn all we can about agents, editors, and publishing houses before we submit our queries. If we don’t take time to do our homework, we come off looking ill-informed.

You Can Do That in an Inspirational?

Harlequin’s Love Inspired editor Emily Rodmell was one of the panelists in this workshop. What I learned from her is that the inspirational marketing is moving and growing. The trends are Amish, Historical, and Romantic Suspense. She said at Steeple Hill they’re looking for stories with unique jobs and settings.

• • •

If you attended Nationals, which workshops did you find most helpful?

If you didn’t attend Nationals, what questions might you have for me?


About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
This entry was posted in Writing & Promotion and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to News from Nationals: Workshop Highlights

  1. Thanks once again for letting us see into Nationals – for those of us who weren’t able to attend. Much appreciated.

  2. Loree Huebner says:

    Thanks for giving us a peek.
    I love the Victorian clothing. Not easy to wear.

  3. Alica says:

    Such great workshops thanks for telling us about them.

  4. Wow, the clothing one looks like so much fun! What a neat workshop idea. I’ve got one of Michael Hauge’s books on my shelf…good stuff!

  5. Sherrinda says:

    Oh, I loved the peek into the workshops! What fun you must have had. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  6. Jill Kemerer says:

    Deeann looks so beautiful! But what a pain, huh? I would have enjoyed that workshop. I read a lot of Regency romance, so the topic fascinates me! And I’m so with you on authors needing support from different sources. 🙂

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wow! I thought at first that she was a mannequin! Deeanne Gist is so beautiful and poised.

    A question I had, Keli, was that I’ve always heard that women who wore corsets used to often faint because of the restrictive undergarments. Do you know, is that true or just an old wives tale? It does seem logical after what you said here.

  8. cynthiaherron says:

    OOOps, that was me as “anonymous”…I hit “send” too soon. 🙂

  9. Keli Gwyn says:

    Cynthia, my understanding is that women did indeed swoon often. That’s why many carried smelling salts. Having seen how constricted the corset made Dee, I have little doubt that fainting was a common occurrence, especially if a woman overexerted herself, got overheated, or was overcome with emotion. Dee wasn’t even laced as tightly as she could be, and she was obviously feeling the effects. One thing she remarked was that women in corsets have excellent posture. She showed us that she couldn’t slouch if she wanted to. 🙂

  10. Susan Mason says:

    How amazing! I would’ve loved to see that! DeeAnne is one of my favourites!
    Thanks for sharing the info, Keli! Sounds like you had a great time. The Steeple Hill workshop must have been interesting, too.

Comments are closed.