This is my sixth year attending RWA's national conference, which was held last week in Orlando Florida. As always, it was overwhelming, crazy, amazing, exhausting, and wonderful. Since I have a July birthday, and RWA always seems to fall around that day, it's my annual birthday present to myself.
People go to RWA for many reasons. Many go to attend workshops, learn about the industry, hone their craft, and take advantage of the editor/agent pitch appointments, etc. For many bloggers, it's an opportunity to stock up on books and goodies for giveaways for the coming year. But for many of us, it's an opportunity to socialize and network, and to see friends we only see once a year at conference. One of the main purposes of RWA is for writers to connect, so socializing and networking is definitely encouraged!
For me, my motives for attending conference definitely fall more towards the socializing and networking side of things, but I also take advantage of the other perks as well. I attended some workshops, and I had two pitch sessions that went pretty well (one from a DREAM AGENT!) so I am excited to send my writing to her ASAP.
But mostly, I go to RWA because for a week, I get to be amongst my people. Romancelandia is made up of the smartest, most hardworking, kind, kickass, generous, and supportive women you will ever find. I am beyond grateful every day to be part of such a dynamic and amazing community. The friends I've met through RWA have been there for me, propped me up when I needed it, kicked my butt when I needed it, and let me know I was loved and accepted. You can't put a price on that.
So some of my top highlights from this year's RWA:
1. Ms. Bev's speech as she accepted the RWA Nora Roberts' Lifetime Achievement Award was phenomenal and she had us laughing and crying and feeling ALL the feelz. She is such an inspiration. Here's a pic of the two of us at the Readers for Life Literacy Signing Sat. afternoon.
2. Being out on the balcony at the Four Seasons at the Avon Party, watching the beautiful fireworks, and singing A Whole New World with NYT bestselling author and two time RITA winner Tessa Dare. You know, as one does. (Btw the Avon Party is always a great and fun event. Shout out to Avon Wonder Woman Pam Jaffee and her team who work their magic and make it happen every year!)
3. Being invited up to Kristan Higgins's room with a small group of beginning authors where we got to laugh, chat, and soak up Kristan's advice and wisdom with some wine. As Alexis Daria says, sometimes you have to be flexible with your conference schedule and be prepared to take advantage of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like this!
4. Being in the room where it happened! I was so thrilled and happy for Courtney Milan when she won the RITA for best novella. Courtney is an amazing author, and one of the most brilliant, talented, and fiercest women I know. I am honored to call her a friend. CM also let me hold the RITA and omg RITA is pretty, but that sucker is HEAVY!
5. Again, the feeling of belonging and acceptance. As writers, we tend to be an introverted group, and writing can be a lonely profession. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in your head and think that everyone else is further ahead in their career than you, or that you're an impostor who doesn't belong. But all week, I had friends and people I know say hi, reach out to me, and made sure I didn't feel alone. They made sure I was safe, and among friends. I have definitely come a long way from my first RWA in Anaheim in 2012, and it is thanks to all of these phenomenal women, and RWA. Every year I go, I cultivate knowledge, friendships, and precious memories. I'm already looking forward to next year's conference in Denver.
THANK YOU to: Adele Buck, Frannie Cassano, Robin Lovett, Sara Ramsey, Janet Lee Nye, Alisha Rai, Alyssa Cole, Erika Tsang, Elle Keck, Cat Sebastian, Farrah Rochon, Nico Rosso, Zoe Archer, Susanne Lord, PJ Ausdenmore, Susannah Erwin, Katharine Ashe, Jennifer Ryan, Erica Monroe, Madeline Martin, Priscilla Oliveras, Alyssa Day, Carolyn Jewel, HelenKay Dimon, Courtney Miller-Callihan, Lorelie Brown, Sonali Dev, Wendy LaCapra, Lorelei from Lorelei's Lit Lair, Caroline Perny, Jessie Edwards, Pam Jaffee, Emma Prince, Eileen Richards, and the list goes on and on and on and on. Just THANK YOU EVERYONE!
So, tell me: Have you ever been to RWA? What was that experience like? Any highlights and memories you'd like to share? Let's talk in the comments!