I’m coming down from the conference high I got at the Romance Writers of America Annual National Conference. As a first timer, I wore an orange tag on my badge so others would know and help me feel welcome. It worked like a charm. Not only was I welcomed by veteran romance writers but other first timers used it as a way to connect.
Dressed by Ross in Professional Conference Attire
The venue was fantastic. The Atlanta Marriot Marquis was able to accommodate two thousand romance writers as well as a Microsoft convention. It is conveniently located near the Peachtree Center Mall where dining/shopping choices abound. My only complaint was the lack of a mini-fridge in the room. I had to go old school and use the ice bucket to chill my protein shake overnight.
On Wednesday morning, I volunteered to help set up for the Literacy Autographing where nearly five hundred authors were on sight to sign their books. Proceeds from the book sales went to several literacy projects. You can read more about that on last week’s post.
There were about six volunteers who showed up to put the books out on author tables. The RWA staff already had the books organized by author’s last name and the empty floor space was nearly covered with boxes of books. It took us four hours to move and set up all of those books. Thank goodness for hand trucks. (It was supposed to be my “off day” for training but I got a good workout anyway.)
One of the best parts was getting to see where the authors would be. We got two free books of our choice for volunteering, so that night, I got Mary Kay Andrew’s latest release (signed by her) and Kim Law’sSugar Springs ( signed by her) which was nominated for a RITA. I also stopped by to visit and encourage some of my Southern Magic chapter mates who were signing their books.
Later Wednesday night, my chapter held the awards ceremony for our Linda Howard Award of Excellence contest. While I didn’t final in the contest, I was glad to be there to cheer on and congratulate my fellow Southern Magic members. Congratulations to Heather Leonard and Louisa Cornell on their wins, as well as the others who made it to the final round. A special shout goes out to the Contest Contessa, Christine Glover, for a job well done.
On Thursday, I attended several workshops, got some goodies from the goody room (chocolate-nom, nom), and I pitched for the very first time. I was nervous but I got a request for a full manuscript so I happy danced the rest of the day and into the night. Speaking of that night, Georgia RomanceWriters held their Masked Southern Gothic Soiree where there was plenty of dancing. DJ Silver Knight must have gotten another gig (although he showed up later to party), but I think they recruited the DJ from the Microsoft crowd. He did a great job though and played great music. I’m pretty sure he was scratching (keeping it old school again).
I snuck out of the soiree to attend the ice cream social held by the Contemporary Romance Writers. I joined their chapter since I write contemporary romance and they fed me ice cream. There was a great panel of speakers there including Bella Andre, Beth Kery, Carly Phillips, Laura Bradford, and more. (Sorry I can’t remember them all.)
New Writer Friends
I spent most of Friday in the pitch appointment area. I met a lot of nice people and I snagged two unscheduled pitches. I also went to both of my scheduled appointments. I got requests from all four so I’m praying that one of the five who requested submissions will like my storytelling well enough to want to publish me. There was a good deal of dancing for joy happening in my heart that day too. That night I had an early dinner with friends and turned in about the time the sun set since I was physically and mentally exhausted.
Saturday was spent in workshops. I learned so much that my brain refused to absorb anything more near the end of the day. I skipped lunch to go to book signings and came home with a rolling tote that would barely zip. The To Be Read (TBR) pile by my bed is out of control. In lieu of attending the Awards ceremony, I sat outside the ballroom and enjoyed a chat with my Chapter President, M.V. Freeman, the most encouraging person on the planet.
During my time at conference, I met many authors, both best-selling published ones and pre-published (future best sellers). I was amazed and impressed by how kind and supportive everyone was. I was told by more than one writer, that to succeed in our business, it helps to have mentors. Most best-selling authors didn’t get there by themselves and I’m grateful to have found such a talented group of writers who are willing to share their knowledge.
A special thank you to Ali Hubbard for being my new critique partner and driving us to Hotlanta. We were a hot mess trying to navigate downtown. Thanks to my roomies Larynn Ford and Angela Blount for putting up with my five in the morning workout sessions. And, thanks to Aidee Ladnier for live tweeting some of the workshops. My one track mind doesn’t allow me that capability.Thanks to everyone who’s helped me get this far. I’m on my way…