Today for my post I thought I would talk about some of the amazing things I experienced during my first ever Romance Writers of America Conference. The first word that comes to mind is Wow! What a well organized, energized and welcoming event! For anyone who writes romance, I found the speakers to be engaging, the content interesting, and all of my fellow attendees gracious and helpful.
There had to be no less than 1500 attendees, as was obvious when traveling between sessions or taking a break in the hotel lobby. The buzz of hundreds could be heard all around, at all times! While I would consider most writers to be introverts, it was lovely to see all of the ladies (and a few men) interacting and engaging, sharing their stories and experience with those who were interested enough to ask. However, I do have to admit that the #turtlewriter in me begged me to pull back into my shell on more than one occasion. It helped that I was in a hotel down the street, so I was able to decompress and unwind with the non-writing friends I brought with me. I think a lot of the other authors did take breaks during the day, which I wasn’t able to do easily since my hotel was a bit of a hike so I can see the benefits of staying in the hotel where the convention is being held. Being able to relax for a bit in your own room is definitely something that would be refreshing. First note to self, stay in the venue where the conference is being held.
The speakers were amazing, and there was no lack of sessions on the craft, various types of research, marketing and perfecting your pitch. There was too much to take in and conflicting schedules, so the RWA taped a lot of the sessions and made them available on a thumb drive that you could pick up before you left Saturday. Based on the sessions I was able to attend, I would highly recommend purchasing one of these, or checking with your local RWA Chapter to see if they purchase one for their library. There is a lot of information to take in, and my notes weren’t always the greatest. So having an audio version of all of the sessions, including the ones I missed, would be amazing. Second note to self, purchase the audio version of the compiled sessions.
The book signings were like Christmas morning, there is no other way to describe it. Lines of tables edged the room with authors signing copies of their books and handing them over with a smile. It only took getting my first book to realize why the publishing house was passing out bags when you walked in, and it didn’t take me long to stuff mine full! The first big thrill was having a fangirl moment with Kristan Higgins earlier in the morning and then later getting a signed copy of her book “Now That You Mention It.” The second thrill is when that book won the 2018 Rita Award for Best Mainstream Fiction! Can’t wait to dip into it!
I was also able to meet Carey Baldwin, whose books are amazing and I’ve been a fan for years. Her Romance genre is Thriller/Suspense, and I embarrassed myself horribly by running up to her table and gushing over her work. She accepted it graciously, and I am so glad I went outside my comfort zone and introduced myself. Imagine my surprise when she came up to me later on at the Indie Book Signing and asked for a copy of one of my books! I was over the moon! So much so that I didn’t get a fangirl pic! Third note to self, don’t hesitate to put yourself out there and remember to take lots of pictures!
The Indie Book Signing was amazing, and something that I would love to do each year moving forward. There was no charge to participate, but you did need to supply, and agree to distribute 50 copies of your book. (For anyone who hasn’t carried 50 books down an escalator in several trips because the elevator wasn’t functioning, I can tell you from experience they are really, really, heavy!) Luckily for me, my girlfriends and I made it a road trip (more on that in a later post) and I was able to haul my books cross country and save the expense of shipping. They were there to help me carry them into the venue which really helped out. My intent was to have less books on the way back than I came with, but you read earlier about the book signings right? Holy hell, my bag was stuffed! Anyway, we made it home, books and all, and were all able to fit in a few (small) souvenirs. Fourth note to self, screw the expense, ship the damn books! P.S. Make sure you have perfume handy after you are done with your display!
The biggest thrill I had with the bookish part of my trip (besides the Indie signing) was when I was able to meet some Twitter friends IRL! That was the frosting on the cake for sure, and I am so happy that they came up and introduced themselves! I even had someone reach out and ask if I could get coffee, which I was able to arrange, and I am so glad I did! We hit it off immediately! What an amazing community of writers I have been lucky enough to fall into! Fifth note to self, take more road trips and meet more writer friends!
All in all, my first National Conference experience was definitely something I will always remember and I am already revved up to attend in 2019 as well! It helped that I had my friends there to keep me grounded so those who are a little more on the shy side may want to make the trip with friends or family. I have to say it really helped to have my BFFs with me and we had a blast touring this beautiful country together!
So Romance Writers, be sure to drop me a tweet, comment or line if you attend the 2019 RWA National Conference! I would love to meet up for a drink and chat about the craft! Happy writing! XO