By Laura Drake
I’m only beginning to come out of my post-conference fog, and to get my head around all the work I have to do! Before I jump into that though, I wanted to tell you what I learned from this conference. Hopefully it will help you decide if conferences are worth your time and money.
My first conference was the RWA National, three years ago, in Washington, DC. I was at the sophomore level then, having completed two books, and was pitching my most recent for the first time. It was an overload to the brain. I was a hyperaware, fangirl, sponge. Craft workshops, keynotes, networking, pitching, I soaked it all in, and went home with a sense of being part of a community of writers, and a renewed belief that I could do this!
Spring forward three years.
We were lucky enough to have the National RWA Conference in our backyard this year, ten miles from my house. I expected my experience to be a bit different, since I’ve now sold, but I didn’t realize just how different.
I’d planned out my time, chosen the career-track workshops I wanted to attend, and was organized. I thought. Well you know what they say, “Man plans, God laughs.”
Being the President of the Women’s Fiction Chapter made it even better – and crazier. We’d planned a packed mini-conference that didn’t have much “mini” to it. A twelve hour agenda seemed like a great idea in the planning stages; in reality, it was crazy! Thanks to Fae Rowen and a ton of hard-working WF volunteers and great hotel staff, it came off almost without a hitch, and I think everyone got something from it.
We had two knowledgeable panels of authors, editors and agents, who discussed the market for women's fiction. Margie Lawson was brilliant in her two hour craft session, and Kristen Lamb’s Social Media Keynote was riveting – galvanizing a crowd that had been thinking hard for eleven hours (not to mention myself, who had been up for twenty hours at that point.)
The rest of the conference was a blur of lights and action, like squinting your eyes on a Merry-go-round. I met with my agent for the first time, and both my editors. I literally ran from one thing to the next, and still missed a Pajama Party, Meet & Greet, and most of the workshops I wanted to attend. I’m not complaining – I made it to a publisher dinner, the GH/RITA ceremony, and the Harlequin party!
My WITS roommates helped me dress up each night for an event (you know I’m not a glitter-gal, right?)
I felt like Cinderella, the entire week!
To make it even more exciting, I'm so proud of my local Chapter! OCCRWA was well represented at the Awards Ceremony: Diane Pershing received a Service Award, Kara Lennox (monthly WITS blogger!) was a DOUBLE RITA Finalist, and Tessa Dare walked away with a RITA!
Well, Cinderella is now home, facing a two foot wall of laundry, a sink full of dishes, and a $57 dry cleaning bill. Sigh.
My point to this rambling though, is that no matter where you are in your journey, writer’s conferences are invaluable. There is a lot available for everyone, at any stage of their writer’s journey.
Kudos to RWA. The Marriott Hotel was superb, the staff friendly and helpful, the food on time and delicious. I can’t imagine the logistics and grunt work that goes into putting on an event of this kind. And they did it without breaking a visible sweat. Great job!
So, what do you think? Have you attended an RWA conference? Another Organization’s conference? What was your experience?