National Conference – It’s a thing!

Originally, I was going to have today’s post be something I wrote a month back and pre-scheduled. Then I thought, “The first post back after RWA Nationals? And you’re not going to blog about it? That’s pretty weak.” So I scrapped the other plan and decided to blog what’s on my heart:

Stuff I learned about myself and others, but mostly about myself, at RWA’s 2013 National Convention.

Firstly, most of what I learned was outside of workshops. The match-strike of knowledge may have occurred within a workshop meeting room, but the flame of understanding came later. Realizations were fully formed while sipping over-priced martinis near the bar (not at the bar, because the place was crawling with creepers from another con). Understanding and epiphanies dawned while wandering the halls and finally finding the ice dispenser kept hidden in the depths of the mother ship hotel. Honesty with myself about my writing and the industry finally occurred when standing at the wrong bank of elevators that only go to floors 2 through 17, when I was trying to get to floor 25.

Allow me to explain. This may reveal the odd way in which my mind works, but that’s not really a secret anymore, so what the heck…

  • I write (WE write) what we write and it’s defined not by topic or even genre, but by our voice. I may pay $17 for a Grey Goose martini, served in one of those trendy glasses with no stem, and sip it while standing in 5 inch heels OR I may pay $6 for a Goose ‘tini and sip it from a short while sitting at a beach bar in flip flops – but I still know it’s a Grey Goose martini. I know it’s got a twist and not an olive. I know the flavor and voice of that drink, regardless of how it’s mixed or stirred, the presentation or the setting. If Sydney Carroll wrote a historical, I’d still know it was her. If EMichels wrote a rom-com, I’d still know it was her. Genres may change for writers, and often they do (hello, successful JR Ward)…but the way that writer tells a story, any story, is what her readers know and love.


  • Sometimes, not really knowing where you’re going or what you’re doing, results in you finding what you didn’t know you were missing in the first place. I’ve been at a crossroads – no, honestly it’s more like a stalemate – with my writing lately. A combination of too many ideas, too little time, a little too much rejection, and a whole lot of real life crap has left me floundering. I had to admit to myself that I am lost and struggling. This is hard for an alpha female (no longer in denial about my alpha female traits) when I normally know exactly what I want and where I’m going. But you know what? I’m nothing if not keeping it real, so yeah – I’ve been friggin lost! However, I figured that out last week. I realized why I’ve floundered and what I’d lost that makes writing fun and very much therapeutic for me. I hadn’t even realized I’d lost it, until I found it again. Now I am working toward fixing this err.
  • You can keep trying to get to the 25th floor at the bank of elevators that only go to 2 through 17, but it’s not going to happen. Not unless you know a special trick about going to the 10th floor and switching elevators up there. In more writer related terms: you may want to get your dystopian YA published next month, but unless you’ve already written and polished the next great Hunger Games (yet totally different of course), it’s highly unlikely to happen.  It’s not impossible, but almost. I had a very honest, open, refreshingly frank discussion with an editor from one of the big 6 (now 5?), not about trends, but about what’s not happening.


What did I learn? If you have a shiny new adult, historical, or erotic contemporary tale ready to submit – NOW is your time to shine baby! Y’all better get out there and submit, submit, submit! If you have a paranormal romance or dystopian YA…good luck and bless your heart. Again, it’s not impossible, but it may be beat your head against a wall impossiblaaaah. And hey, I’m right there with ya, so I say bless heart without any condescension. Plus, markets change all the time, so chin up!

At Conference, I gained invaluable insight into my writing, writing in general, other writers, and the industry over all, but not in the ways I’d expected. I encourage every romance writer to attend the National Conference – at least once – because it’s an experience not to be missed. Besides, you won’t know what you’re missing until you attend and realize what you’ve missed!

Thank you for all of it #RWA13!

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