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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Nashville here they come...

As much as I would love to travel, I can’t attend the Romance Writers of America National Conference in Nashville this year. Sob. Come July, poor Nashville will be swamped by so many talented writers they won’t know what’s hit them (unless the conference has visited there before, of course).

For those of you who have never attended, Nationals is huge. Poor little Aussie me was quite overwhelmed in Washington last year, or maybe that was just adjusting to unfamiliar American accents. And it could have been the jet-lag too. It is a long tiring flight from Australia.

Nationals is the event to attend if you're serious about getting published. Before I attended, I thought I understood the publishing world. By the time I went home my head was buzzing with realisations, possibilities and my commitment to really become serious about this career. I already had a great critique group and the internet is a godsend, full of more information than I can handle some days, but there was nothing like being surrounded by hundreds of writers.

Especially good was hearing and seeing agents and editors, those near godlike creatures of the book world, wax lyrical about their likes and dislikes. What I heard and discussed with my critique partners really clarified a lot of delusions I had. Because, like many others before me, I felt certain that the agent I wanted would want me too despite the fact they rarely represented regency. Recognising a familiar name and, as you listen, learn that they were not looking for what you write, or can’t get enough had me squirming in my seat in equal parts. I don't like to waste time, but I had made the mistake of querying and pitching to incompatible agents.

The workshops were fun, and so numerous it was hard to know what to pick, but I think some of the best events to attend were the Publisher Spotlight sessions. If you can go to those - do it. Publishers don’t blog as much as agents so hearing from editors first hand really clarified what they were after. And they let you ask questions… how good is that.

I heard a lot of interesting opinion outside the scheduled events too. Our group had a plan that if we were separated (ok lost) we’d meet back at a central point - the bar. (I should point out that despite our frequent presence at that location, we were not heavy drinkers.) In the comfort of kinder lighting lots of fantastic discussion and plenty of silly laughter ensued without the hindrence of having to type witty responses into yahoo chat.

RWA Conference Registration Now Open Registration for RWAs 30th Annual Conference (July 28-31, 2010) is now open. RWA members who register by May 19 pay the $425 early member registration fee.Visit http://www.rwa.org/ to register online, to learn more about the conference, or for hotel information. Please consult the Conferences & Events section of the RWA site first before contacting RWA (conference@rwa.org or 832-717-5200, Ext. 128). Due to the heavy volume of e-mails and calls, it may take a few days to respond to your inquiry.

Overall, the best thing to do is either be in a workshop or mingling. If you don't know anyone attending that shouldn't be a problem either. Head off to a workshop early and introduce yourself to the person next to you. I had some fantastic chats with complete strangers.

Now, here is the all important end-of-blog question: Have I convinced you to do what I can't? Are you going to Nationals?


  1. Oh, Heather! We will SO miss you this year. :(

    But, no, your post didn't convince me to head to Nationals. Only because I've already registered. Registration opened Feb 1st. I've registered for the conference, the hotel, and have my flight booked. I'm ready to go!

  2. I will miss you too, Heather. But, it was great finally being able to talk to you face to face in Washington. I had already planned on going before I read your post. I've only been to two (the first being 2 yrs ago in San Francisco), but I never want to miss another one.

  3. Heather, I will second (or third, I guess) what Lydia and Amy have said: We will miss you this year!!

    Like the others, my mind was already made up about going. I'm packing up my [then] 6-month-old and my hubby and bringing them along, too. I can't wait, but I REALLY can't wait for NY, a) because that's where I live! and b) because YOU'll be there! (You're still planning on coming, right??)

    Great post! I'm sure you'll convince plenty that they should go to Nashville this year!

  4. Hi Heather! You convinced me. Now if you could just have a chat with my family and convince them this is a worthwhile goal...

  5. Heather, I will miss you very, very much. Although I have to admit, I understand you better in Yahoo Chat. That lovely accent is a bit hard to understand when drowned out by us loud Americans. Did it get tiring having me ask you to repeat yourself? I haven't registered yet, but I had a blast at Nationals and I wouldn't miss it. I felt like it demystified a lot of things for me, and I agree that hearing what editors and agents are looking for was valuable.

  6. Oh, and I should add that my hubby had the choice between coming with me or staying out on the lake, and he wants to go, too. He said, "I like all your writer friends." So do I, and I hope to meet some of the new friends I've made over this last year.

  7. Heather,
    If I make it to Nashville this year, it won't be the same without you! What inspired me most at nationals was the luncheon speakers. It was so great to listen to NYT best sellers tell how they had been rejected, given up, cried on the curb and then it finally happened - they sold a book. It made me realize I was not alone, it might take six years, but I would never get published if I gave up on my dream. I consider Nationals a glimpse at what can be down the road as a published writer.

  8. I've resigned myself to attending every other year. The cost of flights, especially when I don't recieve an income, is a bit much of a burden this year.

    But when NY rolls around I have a plan to come early, actually get to look around the city, pay my respects at ground zero, and hopefully, depending on whether Bella likes strangers at that point in her development, play dolls with her. :)

    Gail: I don't know how to help you convince your family but my John could tell I had a great time even though I did miss him. You will get heaps out of it.

    Julie: *slapping head* I forgot to mention the lunchtime speakers. Doh! They were great and I think Janet Evanovich made me cry laughing.

    Samantha - you didn't ask me to repeat myself that often. To make my accent easier on you we'll skype more before NY so you're better prepared. LOL.