First of all, let me say I’m as excited as a Lab puppy to be joining Laurie as a regular contributor to Spacefreighters’ Lounge. I’ll just try not to make a mess on the floor.
Not too long ago in this space, Laurie encouraged all you Skiffy Rommers with professional ambitions to join the Romance Writers of America. Let me throw my not insubstantial weight behind that idea and give you some inkling why by sharing a few impressions of the RWA National Conference in July.
WAIT! This won’t be boring! Or maybe it will, but it could CHANGE YOUR LIFE!
Now, I had some idea of the networking potential of conferences, believe it or not, from attending STAR TREK conventions over the years. I was a regular at the legendary Shore Leave con outside of Baltimore for years and met many people there who became friends and gave me a leg up career-wise, too. But imagine the networking possibilities when you have 2000 writers, editors, agents and related hangers-on in the same hotel. And the great thing is, you can sit down in the lobby and meet someone like Laurie Green and the next thing you know, you’re contributing to her blog!
You have opportunities to be in the same (small) room with writers like J.R. Ward, watching her pace up and down in four-inch heels, while Jessica Anderson lounges calmly on the stage behind her. You can ask the agent you plan to send your manuscript to just what she’s looking for (and she’ll tell you, straight up). You can even (gulp!) have the editors at one huge publishing house critique the first few paragraphs of your manuscript. (I did and survived. I also spent the two weeks after the conference revising the first few pages of my novel based on the feedback I got.)
I spent five days at the conference and didn’t meet one diva. Instead I found an open, encouraging, smart and enthusiastic community of (mostly) women dedicated to their craft. Who wouldn’t want to be associated with them? BTW, did you know that RWA is the only professional “genre” writers group that opens membership to unpublished writers? For all the others, Science Fiction Writers of America included, you must be PUBLISHED first before you can belong. This organization actively encourages fledglings.
Finally, I have to say this was the best organized event I have ever attended, hands down. Laurie has already bragged on the hotel and I can only echo her comments there. The staff was incredible. But the conference itself ran like clockwork—everything started and ended on time; everyone was in place when they were supposed to be; there was no confusion over which workshop was where (and with two-and-a-half days of workshops that’s no mean feat). You could download all the handouts from the workshops ahead of time, and in case you forgot to do that, they GAVE you a thumb drive with all the handouts on it at registration. And that’s not even mentioning all the FREE BOOKS we were given. I mean, these people had their act together.
Okay, so I’m going to see all of you good Do-Bee’s at next year’s conference in Nashville, right? Because RWA membership is a no-brainer and the Music City is my old hometown and LOTS of fun, conference or no conference.