RWA 2014: I Survived

Posted Aug 17 2014, 2:11 pm

Yes, that’s right. I survived the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Annual Conference in San Antonio. In fact, I could not have asked for a better conference experience.

Fellow writers saw my first-timer ribbon and engaged me in conversations—at workshops, in the elevator, and, um, in the bathroom. I met several of my fellow RWA University classmates; drank a delicious Mango Mojito at a restaurant on the Riverwalk; and presented my first pitch ever (and received a full request). Woot!

I digested a massive amount of information, of course, but I did leave the conference with more questions than answers. Here, in no particular order, are my most pressing post-conference questions (don’t judge):

1. Do the non-conference hotel guests receive a heads up that more than 2,000 romance writers are slated to be at the hotel during their family vacations? I’ve seen my fair share of racy romance novel covers over the years. Even my eyes popped when I stepped in an elevator and a life-sized version of one of those covers greeted me. I imagine some parents weren’t planning to visit San Antonio and have “the talk” with their children—in an elevator.

2. Was I the only one who nixed a workshop because the walk to the adjacent hotel seemed as daunting as a 10k run? It’s one thing to don athletic gear and go out for a run. It’s quite another to wear business casual and shuttle between two hotels for eight hours. If you suffered through it, more power to you. I adjusted my schedule to cater to my achy feet.

3. Is it possible for Susan Elizabeth Phillips to have a more engaging personality? Actually, I know the answer to this question already. The answer is no. Ms. Phillips provided clear, concise tips on how to develop great characters. And she made the attendees laugh—a lot. I was smitten. I’m talking total fan girl action here, and I’m not embarassed to admit it.

4. Will my manuscript ever be ready for prime time? Numerous beta readers and critique partners have reviewed all or parts of my manuscript. I’ve massaged it to the point that it’s begging me to stop the harassment. Given all this, I went to the conference with my “completed” manuscript on my thumb drive. I felt confident I was in the home stretch. I was so wrong. I have so much more work to do. And I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to let my manuscript go.

5. Was anyone else inspired by the diversity workshop presented by Farrah Rochon and moderated by Piper Huguley? As planned, the focus of the workshop was the craft of developing diverse characters. Suzanne Brockmann, one of the workshop’s presenters, was unable to attend, however. On the fly, Ms. Rochon and Ms. Huguley changed the format of the workshop to a roundtable discussion on diversity in romance. The discussion was lively. Many writers expressed their desire to feature diverse characters or to write diverse secondary characters. There’s still a long way to go on this front, but I was pleased that so many writers are considering the issue.

6. When and where do I get to do this again? Actually, I know the answer to this question, too. July 22-25, 2015 at the Marriott Marquis in New York. I can’t wait. I hope to see you there.

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