Sunday, August 16, 2009

My First RWA National

I know, I know… It was a month ago that the RWA National conference was held! I really wanted to post blurbs while I was there even though every experienced attendee assured this conference virgin that it just wasn’t going to happen. Well, they were correct, but I did plan to write something up when I came back. I plead at-home craziness and now the insanity that surrounds a book launch. Sandy and the YRW gals have been so gracious in forgiving me – or maybe my punishment for being errant was being placed in the spotlight at the meeting on Saturday, huh Sandy? LOL!

The challenge now will be to sum up the experience in a few paragraphs. First, let me direct to the essays I did manage to post on my blog for my adventures:
RWA Nationals Day #1
RWA Conference Official Day #1
RWA Conference Day #2 & 3

I also have a bunch of photos in my gallery: RWA Nationals 2009

As I said, this was my first RWA, or conference of any sort. I joined the RWA exactly one year ago after briefly popping in at San Francisco last year to meet with my editor and publisher. That tiny taste was enough to inspire me. But I still asked myself some of the questions that perhaps you have asked yourself: Is it worth the cost?

Well, YES! I will admit that I felt a bit lost that first day. I knew very few people other than the fellow Sourcebooks authors who arrived early like me. But by the time the Literacy signing was over, I knew this was the experience of a lifetime. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, was nice. A rather lame word, I know, but it fits. Obviously I had conversations, attended workshops, and met people that are significant to me in a personal way. Yet I imagine there is a commonality that every person feels, and that is the support and sense of community. I literally did not meet one person who wasn’t gracious, open, and interested in sparking up a conversation.

I am a newly published author and as such am still learning the business and growing in my confidence. The conference is filled to bursting with opportunities to mature, and most of them are not the workshops! Hallway, luncheon, and bar conversations are the best ones. It is also THE place to network. I came home with about fifty business cards, many whom I have friended on Facebook and/or connected with via blogs. The education and networking continues long after you fly home.

Writing is a lonely affair. We know that, but when you hear Nora Roberts speak of those precise feelings, it strikes a chord! When you sit next to Stephanie Laurens and talk about the joys of writing and meeting fans, you forget that she is light-years ahead of you. When you chat with Gaelen Foley and Lauren Willig and Julia Quinn about writing historicals, discovering that they share your opinions and obstacles, you are washed with relief. When Janet Evanovich starts to cry while talking about the day she got “the call,” you are moved profoundly.

The sheer energy of being surrounded by thousands of people who love romance and appreciate writing infuses you with a passion that is astounding. I did not want to leave, was already yearning for Nashville, and was so afire with inspiration that I whipped out the trusty laptop on the plane! I could gush on and have done so for long periods of time until my family reached for the earplugs! Happily I will answer specific queries if you wish. But mainly I just want to encourage. Yes, it is not cheap. But if you are serious about writing as a career, no matter where you may be along the road, RWA Nationals is an invaluable pit stop. Start budgeting now because I want to par-tay with ALL my YRW sisters in Nashville!


  1. Wonderful blog post, Sharon! Thanks for the low down. I wish I could have been there! I'm hoping next year is a possibility.

  2. Terrific post, Sharon! Thank you so much! How terrific that you were part of the Literacy Signing. That had to be one of the best feelings, along with seeing that ARC for the first time! Reading your post brings back SF and the wonderful time I had there. It is something you will never, ever forget!

    ps. punishment? what punishment???

  3. You always have such an entertaining style with your writing Sharon!!! Your travels to your first RWA conference sound amazing.
    I absolutely love hearing about your wonderful journey as a writer. Thank you for always sharing these incredible adventures with all of us. xoxoxo
    TSBO devotee

  4. Happy Labor Day! I nominated you for a Kreativ Award. I enjoy your site. Keep up the good work!