RWA Annual Conference Experience 2016

IMG_3840I just returned from the RWA Annual Writing Conference in San Diego, California! 5 days surrounded by writers of all levels, from aspiring to multi-published, and half of them pitching to agents and editors! The Marriott Marquis (connected to the ever-famous Convention Center) was awash with 2,000 authors toting their lime green-handled Swag Shop bags from ballroom to ballroom. On Day One, before Orientation was even a line in my schedule, I joined baffled forces with Contemporary Golden Heart Finalist Rayn Ellis. Together we ran into Romantic Suspense Finalist and previous Golden Heart Winner Diana Belchase…right before we spotted Nora Roberts passing by into the harbor!

And, again, that was Day One. First Timer Orientation wasn’t even until Day Two. Workshops, keynote speaker sessions, and publisher spotlights didn’t start until Day Three.

Yes, when I say publisher “spotlights,” I mean the editors from the major Romance publishers were actually there, detailing their publication lines, telling us what they were looking for, answering questions, and even hosting book signings and free giveaways. Which was totally separate from meeting with authors to hear them pitch their stories in person, to determine whether they wanted to read the manuscripts.

IMG_3843There was so much going on at that conference at any given time! Every hour meant a choice between 5-10 workshops, spotlights, book signings, or author panel “chats.” Chats were individualized to cover each sub-genre of Romance, and workshops ranged from author/publishing/marketing career decisions to structure, wording, and focus of the story itself. For three days, from 8:30am to 5:30pm, I tried to absorb as much as I could from as wide a variety of workshops as possible, sometimes even workshop-hopping because there was more than one workshop per hour from which to glean. Kindle representatives were there, Nook representatives were there… It was insane.

Author insanity, in the best of ways.

There was a distinct moment when I realized that one of the authors on my current workshop panel was Elizabeth Hoyt—as in, the Historical Romance author of at least one of the books I downloaded onto my Nook when I was binge-reading Beauty and the Beast stories. And she was right there, in front of me, on a panel answering questions about writing intimate scenes! 😱 Imagine my shock!

There was another moment when I realized my workshop instructor was Sarah MacLean, whose books I had actually shelved in Barnes & Noble. (You come to remember some of those big names, when they take up that much room on the shelf.)

Yes, you should wish you had been there. So, attend next year!

Special shout-outs to Brea Vinagh and Jen, my fellow first-time conference buddies! And a shout-out to Stephanie Garber as well, who encouraged me to attend events like this. Her first YA Sci-Fi novel, Caraval, will be released next year! Dare I say I knew her beforehand? She has been a splendid trove of advice for me, and I wish her all the best on her launch in January 2017!

IMG_3875The sheer number of people I met at the RWA conference who asked me if I had a critique partner (CP) alerted me to how badly I need one at this point in the game. I originally joined FictionPress because I was so hungry for feedback. Writing is a solo endeavor, and constructive reviewers are hard to come by—particularly for the non-YA Fantasy-Romance sub-genre (which is distinctly different from Paranormal Romance). I just joined the Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal Chapter of RWA. I am also reactivating my membership in Janice Hardy‘s Critique Connections group. So, if you are interested in being a beta reader or a critique partner for my story, please let me know! I am very interested in how I can better my story, better represent my characters, and ultimately succeed in publication.

Thank you for your continued support! Story progress will be ramping back up shortly. You have Brea to thank for that. 😉


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