RWA Conference Highlights, by Bronwyn Jameson

Confession time: I almost pulled out of this conference trip. No matter how hard I worked at it, I couldn’t come up with enough business reasons to make the expense viable. In the end I changed my motivation. I needed the break, so looked at this as a holiday, a chance to chill with friends. Anything else would be a bonus and RWA 2008–my fifth RWA National–gifted enough bonuses to make it one of the most memorable and motivational conferences yet. I am ever so glad I went.

Here are a few of my highlights:

1. The organisational geek in me loves the Conference Journal. (New this year?) A small notebook with the abbreviated program in the front and lots of pages for notetaking. Small, convenient, and necessary for those last minute what’ll-I-go-to-next? decisions, because this year I didn’t plan everything in advance. I noted the must-see sessions and left the rest to spontaneity. The journal is also essential now, as I flick back through my notes (all in the one place, yay!) to choose my highlights.

2. The Literacy for Life Booksigning. One room, 520 authors, over $60,000 raised. This year I signed and it’s always a delight to have readers drop by, to purchase a book or to tell you how much they’ve loved one or several. That never gets old, I tell you. This year I had the privilege of meeting some of my writing idols, as I helped collect signatures for a fundraising auction for RWAustralia. Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, Suzanne Brockmann — they were all so gracious and giving and nice. Major fangirl moments ahoy. Pic below: me at the signing

3. Speaking of writing idols…Linda Howard. This was a PAN (Published Author Network) Q&A session, where she was smart, wry, sharp and funny, all the while looking fabulously stylish. She shared her personal favourites from her backlist: the Blair Mallory books, Son of the Morning, Cry No More. How can you not love a woman whose answer to the Q: “Have you ever considered writing a book without a romance in it?” is “Why would I?”

4. The Harlequin Party. Goes without saying, this is always a conference highlight and it is always, with a small salute to the dessert table, about the dancing. This year more so than ever, with the dancefloor a complete crush and the chances of finding a specific person reduced to zilch. Example: I glimpsed Nalini across the room at one point and never again. It was loud, uninhibited, let your hair down fun. (I have more photos, but what happens at the Harlequin party stays at the Harlequin party ;-))

5. Save the Cat! I’m not sure I would have picked this from the program if a friend hadn’t drawn it to my attention. (Thanks, Trish!) Blake Snyder is a screenwriter and he’s written a book of this name about screenwriting technique/process and concept. He was so enthusiastic and joyous and was possessed of a sense of irony that had me chuckling all the way through. Example: His first book is sub-titled “the last book on screenwriting you’ll ever need.” Then he wrote a sequel, LOL. As well as chuckling I made copious notes on my wip and will never watch a popular movie the same way again.

6. The people, the chats, the lunches. Whether the meetings are planned or spontaneous, nothing beats the face-to-face catchups with friends, fellow authors, editors past and present. These are people you may have only met on-line or haven’t seen in years but always, always there is plenty to talk about. We share bonds through what we do and our passion for books and romance. Then there are the new faces met, the short elevator chats, the meetings in line at book signings, and the big smiles on the faces of award winners and newly contracted and just-signed authors. Pic: A big smile from newly-contracted Down Under Desirabelle, Sandra Hyatt (right), pictured with Paula Roe and Silhouette Executive Editor, Mary Theresa Hussey.

I’m not sure when I will have the chance to attend another RWA conference, but my memories of this one will fill a happy part in my heart for as long as that takes.

ETA: I didn’t mention needing to buy an extra bag to haul home all the lovely, lovely giveaway books. Comment on any of the conference posts between now and Aug 16 and you will be in the draw to win a fab. book from this stash plus phone/bag bling.


39 Responses to “RWA Conference Highlights, by Bronwyn Jameson”

  1. August 8, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Bron, what a great writeup. This line particularly resonated with me: “We share bonds through what we do and our passion for books and romance.” Just being in that environment, where everyone loves books and romance…wow.

  2. 2 limecello
    August 9, 2008 at 2:06 am

    Bron – I’m so glad you decided to go and had a great time! Loved the pics too.

  3. August 9, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Thanks, you guys. It was even worth the germs-from-a-plane lurgy I now have. 🙂


  4. August 9, 2008 at 10:56 am

    This was the second year for the small conference journal and I hope they continue it.

    It was terrific to see you again, and you’re absolutely right about the importance and meaningfulness of the face-to-face meetings with friends. I reconnected with old friends and made new ones this year. Truth be told, it was difficult to schedule workshop attendence around my social calendar. *grin*

    I’ll always remember San Francisco. And I’m so glad you didn’t cancel the trip.

  5. 5 Ellen
    August 9, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Glad you really enjoyed the convention and found a way to convince yourself to go. I’ve never been to a writer’s convention (must be because I don’t write) but I have been to other conferences (usually attached to being a teacher and student council advisor) where having a small conference journal would have been really great.

  6. 6 Fiona Brand
    August 9, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Bron, fabulous write up. Wish I’d been there! It brought back that conference ‘buzz’ and good memories of Harlequin parties, especially New York and New Orleans. I love the Linda Howard quote.


  7. 7 Lisa
    August 9, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Great post. It looks and sounds like the conference was a huge success. Linda Howard’s quote makes me feel good about loving her books. Now I know I like the author and her attitude about writing romance, too.

  8. 8 Jane
    August 10, 2008 at 4:28 am

    I wish I got to hear Linda Howard speak about her books. I would love to know the whole process she went through while writing “Cry No More” because it’s such an emotional book. Glad you had a great time, Bron.

  9. 9 Maered
    August 10, 2008 at 8:02 am

    Great pics! Loved Linda Howard’s quote. I adore her books. *sigh* Just finished Death Angel and I really enjoyed it. It seems like you had a really good time!

  10. 10 Avi J
    August 10, 2008 at 9:01 am

    Great pics bron, Such fun. Glad to hear you had a great time

  11. 11 LJ
    August 10, 2008 at 9:37 am

    How cool meeting so many authors in one place. The photos are great

  12. August 10, 2008 at 9:43 am

    I see I’m going to have to get some Linda Howard books…sounds like you had a fab time. Bron. I’m sure the break did you good. I loved Marilyn’s comment that she struggled to fit in the workshops around the chat, haha
    Where’s next year’s conference? I plan to go to NY in 2011 (?) but man, if New Orleans came up, I would have to consider it.
    Welcome back, conferencees, and hope you kick that lurgy back where it came!

  13. 13 kh
    August 10, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    love the pics. looks so much fun. How is SF and the poeple

  14. August 11, 2008 at 6:14 am

    Jan, argh, you don’t have any Linda Howard books???? Argh! In some ways I envy you because you are in for a real treat when you start reading them. 😀

    Bron, awesome post. Love the pics and your summaries. I’m still pea green with envy about the whole thing and green is soooo not my colour! Never mind. RWNZ and RWAus in the next two weekends. Which reminds me, I shouldn’t be here. Must. Finish. Book. Must. Finish. Workshops. Must …

  15. August 11, 2008 at 6:59 am

    Bron, thanks for giving us a little taste of the SF conference. Wish I’d been there.

    I’ll be at the Melbourne conference as I live here, so am looking forward to meeting up with some of you. Yvonne, you’ll be exhausted by the time you get here!

  16. August 11, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Marilyn, I knew I wouldn’t be the only one who appreciated the little book as an alternative…even if only to keep as a social diary. LOL. Seriously, the workshops are available and fabulous to listen to after conference when the brain is better able to assimilate all the info. I like to attend a few in person, usually because I want to see the presenters in action (LH and Save The Cat! were perfect examples) but I’ll be listening to a stack more when I get the CD. Bron

    (PS: twas great to catch up with you.)

  17. August 11, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Ellen, over the past few years more and more readers and fans (as opposed to writers aiming for publication) have been attending RWA. Expensive, but if national conference is ever near your home then it would be a wonderful experience.

    Hey Fiona, wish you had been able to go. This rates up with my favourite conferences, which happen to be New Orleans and New York. Perhaps it’s the two-word cities. Hmm. We should pencil in the San Diego conference right now! *g*

    And re the Linda Howard quote: that is but one of many. She is amazing.


  18. August 11, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Hey, Lisa. Great to see you here! That’s EXACTLY how I feel about LH after hearing her speak, and the same for other fabulous authors who were so gracious when I was begging for signatures for our T-shirt auction.

    Jane, Cry No More is the most intense, riveting, wrenching book, isn’t it?

    Maered, Death Angel is on my horizon as well. The book I’m saving as a treat for when the next book is done!


  19. August 11, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Hi Avi and LJ. So neat to see you hear at out new, slightly less formal, but very comfy home. Just so you know: I didn’t intentionally post early to throw you off that #1 spot, Avi, but decided to continue the SF conference theme while it was still fresh(ish.)

    Jan, San Diego is the next west coast conference in 2012 but I would never attempt to talk you out of NY. Being most publishers’ home town means all the editors are there and you get to visit the offices. Lots of bonuses.

    Hey Kim. SF is a fabulous place, mostly friendly — the hotel staff were wonderful, but the taxi drivers…ayayay! Someone should start a charm school.


  20. 20 Avi J
    August 11, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Hey Bron, that # 1 spot may be hard to get again as I don’t have my mobile on me again. Hopefully one day soon again (lol).

  21. 21 Maureen
    August 12, 2008 at 7:01 am

    It sounds like you had a wonderful time and I enjoyed your pictures and recap.

  22. 22 LJ
    August 12, 2008 at 7:38 am

    Hi Robyn, I just saw your new book cover on Amazon uk, I am looking forward to reading the story, especially after reading A wild night and a marriage ultimatum, it was really a great read. That cover is just so cute for Baby Bequest D:

  23. 23 ruth
    August 12, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Loved your entire post. The photos are wonderful and learning about your travel and fun was great.

  24. 24 azteclady
    August 13, 2008 at 1:51 am

    I’m still feeling sad that you won’t be around for the RWA in DC–since it’s on this side of the continent I *have* some hope of at least showing up for the signing (and perhaps sitting in the lobby gawking at all the authors…)

    I’m loving loving LOVING all the pictures and the posts.

  25. 25 Crystal B.
    August 13, 2008 at 1:52 am

    Great post Bronwyn. Loved your photos. I am so glad you had a great trip.

  26. August 13, 2008 at 7:17 am

    Nalini has a whole ton of photos up on her blog now too, for those of you who love looking at the pics as much as I do. Man, you can just feel the energy of the attendees, can’t you? And Bron has some gorgeous pics up on her blog as well.

  27. 27 Nathalie
    August 13, 2008 at 7:29 am

    Thanks for the highlights!

    It must be great to attend, even for a reader… I heard one will be coming to NY, and I live in Canada… Who knows, maybe it would be a nice to attend then!

  28. 28 Patricia Cochran
    August 13, 2008 at 8:59 am

    Hello, Ladies,

    I finally made my way here ! I’ve missed all of you! Thanks for the highlights and photographs!
    It has to have been a great sight, all those authors together in one place at one time! Reader

    Pat Cochran

  29. August 13, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Bouncing in (with Paula’s permission) to say hi again and to let you know that Nat Anderson and I are blogging on her site http://www.natalie-anderson.blogspot.com/ as we both have books out in NZ and Australia this month. We’d love to see you there and there is a chance to win books!
    Hey Pat, I know what you mean, there is a hole now that the Diamond blog is finished but I think you will enjoy keeping in touch here.
    To all the kiwis and Aussies that are attending the 2 conferences coming up, have a ball!

  30. 30 ellie
    August 13, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    An experience not to be missed. How wonderful to be surrounded with authors and books galore. Loved the pics. Thanks for this glimpse.

  31. August 14, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Avi, do you mean you use your phone to post?

    AL and Nathalie, I sure do hope you can make the DC and/or NY conference. I know you would have a fine time meeting all your favourite authors. Esp. those you’ve chatted with on-line.

    Pat, so glad you tracked us down.

    Thanks everyone for visiting and enjoying my happy snaps.


  32. 32 Avi J
    August 14, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    yup, that is what I meant Bron, I use my cell phone to post. Well for the while my computer is what I am using.
    Yvonne I just read your book, I totally loved it, I am also enjoying the online read so much I wake till 12 am to read the chapter that is released that day. Everone, get a copy of Yvonne’s book “Claiming his runaway bride” if you dont have it yet, you’ll be in for real treat 😀

  33. August 15, 2008 at 6:27 am

    Oh, Avi, you’re so making me blush! Thanks for the comments on Claiming His Runaway Bride, you’ve really made my day 😀 And the eharlequin online, too! The discussion board for that story is interesting. I’ve never had such close reader feedback during the process of someone reading my stories before. It’s quite daunting, but in a nice way 🙂

  34. August 15, 2008 at 6:28 am

    P.S. Avi, you’ll be able to go to bed earlier after the last chapter goes live.

    Heh heh! 😀

  35. August 18, 2008 at 2:36 am

    Oh, Thanks! Really amazing. Big ups!

  36. August 19, 2008 at 11:21 am

    The winner of my giveaway, drawn from all the comments on the conference posts, is Maered. Congratulations. And thanks to everyone who visited in our opening weeks; hope we’ll see you here often!


  37. 37 christa
    August 20, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    congrats Maered

  38. 38 kim h
    August 21, 2008 at 2:50 am


  39. 39 azteclady
    August 22, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Yay, Maered, congrats!

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