RWA Nationals Wrap Up, Plus… Dragon Name Voting Begins!
It's here! The day of voting is finally here! You all gave amazing suggestions for lady teacup dragon's name. Now it's time to cast your vote. The poll will be open for two weeks. I'll announce the name when the new website goes live on August 13th. I'm so excited!
Whew! That's a lot of names for you to choose from. Thanks for helping name the dragon.
Now, onto RWA Nationals. What a week! Today's post is all about the conference, next week I'll post pictures and tell you about our day out in Atlanta.
RWA ~ Romance Writers of America is an amazing organization filled with writers at every stage of their career. From the super newbie who just decided to write a book, to the published icons like Nora Roberts. This year, I attended as a PRO member. What's PRO? It's RWA's way of saying I'm serious about what I do. I've submitted my work to an industry professional (agent or editor), and am working toward a goal of being published. Kind of cool, right?
RWA National Conference is a whirlwind of learning, networking, stargazing, and laughing. Yes, laughing. I laughed so much last week I'm surprised I don't have chiseled abs like the cover models on those romance novels I brought home.
What made the conference special for me this year was getting a chance to meet some amazing women I've known online for two years. We first met in Kristen Lamb's online blogging class and since then they've become sisters to me. Barbara McDowell is my sister from a cooler mother, Patricia Sands is the wild older sister, Elena Aitken and Steena Holmes are the mischievous twins who look innocent, but always get others in trouble, and Kate Wood is the baby of the family. The one we tease mercilessly, but adore absolutely.
Added to this awesome family reunion was Tracey Livesey (whom I met last year at conference and am truly smitten with), Dara Lee Snow, Trish Loye Elliott, and Melinda VanLone (who I also met last year and roomed with in Dallas). Others filtered through, but this was the core group. They kept my happiness tank filled to overflowing all week.
Hanging out with my peeps was only part of the experience. Workshops were another reason I flew across ten states to Atlanta (technically it was nine, but our flight dipped over the corner of Tennessee, so I'm counting it). 🙂
My favorite workshops were, surprisingly enough, on self publishing. Craft classes were a close second. It amazed me how many self publishing options RWA had this year. It's becoming clear that the industry is taking indie seriously, and that is a very good thing.
At the PRO retreat I was inspired by the contradictory workshops offered. In the beginning session, Courtney Milan made it known that she dislikes agents and traditional publishing. A great deal. She waxed poetic on the benefits of self publishing (she's wildly successful, by the way), and encouraged us to take our careers into our own hands. Then, the next class featured Esi Sogah from Kensington Publishing. SHE espoused the virtues of traditional publishing. My head was spinning by the end of the retreat. In a very, very good way. I loved the differing points of view as it's my belief a writer shouldn't pick one way over another. Being a hybrid author, someone who is open to and involved with all forms of publishing, is where I believe an author's success will thrive.
Along with amazing workshops, I had the opportunity to meet with an editor from Tor and two agents. All three requested material from me (YAY!!!). Part of the cool thing at Nationals is that you're there with industry people, in formal settings like my pitches, and informal, like at the bar. Laura Bradford was cruising by, so I asked her to join us and she did. Sometimes it's hard to remember that they're just folks, too. If you see an agent or editor, don't be afraid to ask them to sit with you. You never know, you just might make a friend.
Next year, I'm implementing my Nora Roberts Drinking Game. Every time we see Nora, we have to do a shot. Hear her name? Shot. Seriously, we'll be drunk the entire time. Nora is a goddess at the conference. She glides through the room without her feet ever touching the floor. I didn't get any signed books from her this year (I don't know why since I saw her at the signing), but I did see her plenty of times to make me a little verklempt.
The signings and goody room! Oh man. The signings are a book lovers dream. For real. You go into this room where tables upon tables are set up. Authors are there to sign books and, time permitting, to chat with you a little. It's heaven. I didn't bring home as many books as last year (86), only because I had to ship them. Yes, I was sad about this. I still managed to bring home far too many. As well as a ton of swag from the goody room. I don't have an exact count on the books, or a picture of the swag because they are still on a FedEx truck waiting to be delivered to my house. 🙁 Next week I'll show you my loot.
The conference had two keynote speakers at lunch ~ Cathy Maxwell on Thursday and Kristin Higgins on Friday. Both women had excellent speeches that made us laugh, cry, and laugh some more. Their stories were inspirational, to say the least. I was sobbing like the romantic fool that I am.
Aside from the workshops, the swag, and the keynotes, there are parties. Each of my online chapters had a party ~ Celtic Hearts was kind enough to have theirs on Wednesday, but Thursday night was a scramble through the hotel to attend four, yes four! parties. We went from a Passionate Ink party (complete with spanking/kink demo), to Hearts Through History, over to the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal party. I ended the night at the Kiss of Death Death By Chocolate party. It was a whirlwind night, but so much fun!
And finally, I can't end my post without talking a little bit about the RITA Awards. These are the Oscars of romance writing. It's a night filled with glittering gowns and golden statuettes. Christie Craig was the emcee and damn! She nailed it. Just enough humor and sass to make the evening unforgettable. I knew several of the finalists for the Golden Heart (the award for unpublished works. the RITA's are for published books), and cheered a little too loud each time their names were read. They didn't bring home the gold, but to me, they're already winners. Congratulations to all of the Golden Heart and RITA finalists!
Next year the conference will be in San Antonio. I hope to see you there. Want more pictures of the conference? You can check out my Pinterest board! Just click here.
What's been your favorite experience at a conference? Did you pitch? Was it terrifying or fun? What's the one conference you'll always attend?