Hello faithful readers! I’m exhausted, bleary-eyed and completely pumped after an amazing trip to Denver to attend my first-ever RWA National Conference. The three days were packed with inspiring craft talks, industry events and lots of wine. I’ve broken the weekend down to three highlights, but these barely scratch the surface of the RWA whirlwind.

Big in France

The Atlanta Skyline series has recently been released in a French edition, and I had the pleasure of meeting with Pauline Reymond from J’ai Lu, the French publisher. We had a fantastic chat over coffee, covering all of the essential talking points from which French footballers are the hottest…and also which French footballers are the hottest. Having established our shared love for Olivier Giroud, I was fascinated by what Pauline shared about French romance readers and how they vary from American readers. Like Americans they’re very passionate about their genre, however they connect less well to small towns and cowboys and actively write into publishers demanding more diversity. They like real-world stories about real-world people, and I hope Atlanta Skyline gives them exactly that! I really enjoyed learning about romance in another part of the world, and of course it was great to find out that I’m big in France. 😉

Not Reinventing the Wheel

I attended a number of workshops at the conference and made an effort to steer myself away from the more emo sessions I gravitate toward and focus on subjects I need to get better at, like marketing. While those were useful, the workshop that resonated most with me was also the one that broke this rule: Reinvention: The Not-So Straight Path to Success, presented by Tanya Michaels, Monica Murphy, Kate Pearce and Kathy McDavid. The authors on this panel spoke candidly about the ups and downs of the industry, and I  took away a lot about the power of sheer stubbornness and determination when it comes to succeeding as an author. I also especially appreciated Kate Pearce’s comments about valuing your author voice, and trusting that your readers will follow your voice no matter where you take it. I was totally uplifted by these ladies and it was by far my favorite workshop of the conference.

Sisterhood is Powerful

RWA was undeniably great for professional networking, craft and technique advice, and keeping up-to-date with the industry. But more than anything, I flipping loved spending time with my two writerly besties Erica Taylor and Joss Wood. I don’t regret a minute of sleep I didn’t get because I was busy staying up late, laughing myself to tears with these two. The unforgiving publishing industry plus the vulnerability of writing can make a brutal combination, but when you’ve got friends you can bitch with, wine/whine with, and who won’t judge your best RITA party dance moves, the whole endeavor feels a little more survivable.

I definitely recommend attending RWA Nationals, whether you’re a published author, an aspiring writer or even just a huge fan of the genre. From rubbing elbows with big names to discovering a next favorite series, RWA is a fun, relaxed, utterly brilliant event. I’ll be back!