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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's Conference Time Again

               Next week at this time, hundreds of romance writers, editors and agents will descend on Anaheim, California for the 32nd Annual Conference of the Romance Writers of America.   

               The first year I attended was in 2008, San Francisco.   I had entered the Golden Heart (nope, I didn’t final *sigh*).  I knew it was time to take the next step in my writing career, which involved stepping out from behind the computer, enter the real world and actually talk to other authors and those in the industry.   It was kind of scary.  I knew NOBODY attending when I registered for the conference and made hotel reservations.   I am an introvert. I don’t have the skills of many of my LadyScribes (Erin) to be able to talk to anyone about anything. I am the one who would rather sit quietly in the corner and listen for fear of saying something incredibly stupid, mispronounce a word and/or name (I do this often by the way), or laugh at the wrong place and time.  But, that year I was not alone because I had just met the Ava Stone half of Lydia Dare online.  We had both participated in a romance writing contest on Gather.com and then she posted a question to the Beau Monde and I ended up talking to her privately about the question. 

It was around this time that Jerrica and I broke from the online critique group we had been a part of and started our own, with the intention of forming a positive, supportive critique group and Ava joined us.  Our motto “critique honest, but critique nice.”  Really, there are a number of positive ways to say “this really sucks” and I am sure Jerrica has discovered them all without bruising my fragile ego. 

That first conference I wanted to squeeze in as many craft workshops possible and learn as much as my brain could absorb.  I was mentally exhausted by Friday afternoon. What I learned at that first conference – pace yourself!

Meeting Ava in person was probably one of the highlights of that trip.  And, I also got to meet Lydia Dare’s other half (though they weren’t Lydia yet), Tammy Falkner and their good friend LJ Charles.  I count all three of these ladies as wonderful friends and my life is enriched because of them. And, it all started at that conference we attended, all four of us being conference virgins at the time.

I vowed that year not to miss another RWA Conference.  I learned so much and met so many wonderful people, and simply had the time of my life. 

The following year found us in D.C.  The critique group had grown over the past months and we had a number of wonderful and talented members and over half of us made it to D.C. in 2009.  Heather even came in from Australia (though I fear she was jet lagged the entire time). At this conference my focus was still on craft workshops, but I was edging toward career workshops as well.  (Really, if you have not looked at a workshop schedule before, be prepared to be overwhelmed with choices.  And I mean OVERWHELMED).

I am sure a number of your remember the hiccup of 2010.  We were supposed to be in Nashville and then that devastating flood happened. I remember looking at the pictures of the conference hotel online thinking how cool it was going to be to stay there and then, weeks later, pictures of the same place filled with water. I was just sickened by the damage to such a beautiful place, and Nashville as a whole.   But at the same time I was extremely impressed with how quickly RWA made arrangements for another venue, and on such short notice.  My goodness, there had to have been fairy magic right from Disney working to pull that together so quickly.  My hat is off to those who were responsible and didn’t miss a beat when a change had to be made.

By the time I arrived in Orlando and was looking over the conference schedule, I found myself marking those workshops geared toward career and not so much craft.  I had two published books under my belt and I needed to learn more about the business end of things. 

Then last year, NYC!  That was absolutely amazing.  But, I have to admit, I was more excited about getting to see my friends, the ladies I love and who have been with me since the critique group got off the ground.  I didn’t glance at the craft workshops, but a few of the career ones.  However, my focus was 1) marketing workshops and 2) spending time with my critique partners and those who I have met at the previous conferences.    

Over those four years, my focus went from filling my brain with as much craft information as possible (1st conference) to picking a handful of career and publishing workshops and then spending the rest of my time with my friends and meeting new people.  In other words, it became more social.  Regardless of where you are in your writing career, there is something (actually many things) for each attendee.

Sadly,  I won’t be attending the conference in Anaheim.  The same day hundreds of writers are entering theConvention Center, I will be boarding a plane with my family to visit my daughter in Portland, Oregon.

I hope everyone attending the RWA learns more than they thought possible, but more importantly, make friends to last a lifetime, as I have been lucky enough to do.

For those of you who are attending the conference, or maybe you are a reader who will attend the book signing, keep an eye out for Deb Marlow (signing), Samantha Grace (signing), Erin Knightley (signing) and Olivia Kelly. I am positive they would love to meet any LadyScribe follower.

What are some of your favorite conference memories? If you haven’t attended one, what are you looking forward to most when you do go?

Amy De Trempe

Duchess of Decency


  1. I have not been to RWA Nationals yet. In fact, RT in Chicago was my first conference ever. I feel like I've been to a lot more conferences than I have, though, because you ladies were so gracious as to come home from conferences and share your knowledge with me. :)

  2. I will not be at this RWA conference. It'll be the first one I've missed since that San Francisco conference where I first met you, Amy. Like you, I'm at such a different place in my career today than I was back then, I'm not sure if I'll ever attend another one. Actually, I'm pretty sure I won't. These days, I think my money/time is better spent at reader conferences vs. writer conferences.

    But I remember those early conferences and the excitement and the anxiety, and I hope everyone who attends has a wonderful time. (Though without me, how wonderful can it really be? LOL! Sorry, I'm apparently in a strange mood today.)

    There have been so many wonderful memories from past RWAs, but most revolve around #Ericsharem and the dinners with other Lady Scribes.

  3. I enjoy the chance to meet other writing professionals in person. It's different having a face-to-face conversation than one online. I'm really looking forward to meeting up with the Febutantes this year, and of course spending time with my fellow Lady Scribes. Then there is the "Readers for Life" signing, dinner with the other Sourcebooks authors, and seeing my agent. I've picked out a couple of workshops, but they are research based. I find those interesting and often I get story ideas right in the middle that I have to jot down. If a craft one jumps out at me, I'll attend that as well. I like to hear how other authors approach writing. Sometimes something they say resonates with me and I adopt it into my work.

  4. I enjoy conference. Samantha is right, there is just something about meeting face to face. I have many great memories and good friends that I only get to see at these times.

    Looking forward to hanging out with the LadyScribes who are going!

  5. I've never been but would love to attend at least once.And I can't wait to meet everyone whether it's at nationals or at Erin's house, I care not which. I had a blast at our little writer's retreat last year and I'm looking forward to going again this year. Although, RT is on my to-go list as well. Hopefully, I'll get to attend at least one next year. Great blog, Amy! And to all the LS's attending this year have fun and take lots of pics!

  6. I loved going to workshops, meeting people and confessing my love of Rachel Gibson to Rachel Gibson. Maybe next year's RWA in Atlanta, I won't be such a dork. ;)

  7. I moved 5 months too soon. If we had just waited until August to move then I would have met the ones who are attending this year. *sniff, sniff* I guess it will be sometime before I get a chance to meet y'all.