#RWA16 Highlights from a First-Timer

Between Comic-Con and the RWA Conference, it’s been a busy few weeks here in San Diego. Now that we’ve all had some time to relax and recover from the madness, it’s time to get back to the business of the blog!

First, let’s talk about something we spent a long time getting pumped for: 2016 Nationals. As a first-timer, I found the whole experience extraordinary – and not a little bit overwhelming – but there was something particularly magical about seeing the rockstars of romance hanging out in our hometown. I loved running into authors in the elevator who would gush about how wonderful the weather was. My answer? “It’s like this all the time.”

But there were so many things to love about my first conference:

  • Rubbing elbows with the stars. Well, the stars of romance, at least. I attended workshops run by some of the most respected authors in the industry, and considered it a privilege to be able to learn from their experiences. There was also the Literacy Signing, which featured hundreds of romance authors who were more than willing to chat as they signed their books. But the best part was running into my favorite authors at random in the hallways. On the last day of the conference, I met Beverly Jenkins as she waited for a cab to take her to the airport. When I approached her, she jumped out of her seat to give me a hug! It’s a moment I’ll never forget.
  • Filling my creative and professional well. The conference offered a breadth of workshops, and I tried to take advantage of as many as I could without totally burning out. I came away from the weekend learning so much about myself as a writer, and armed with tools to take my career to the next level. Since then, I’ve drafted a business plan, identified my writing strengths and weaknesses, established best practices for social media and audience building, and figured out how to deepen the characters in my WIP.
  • Dressing up all fancy. I’ll admit, I was super excited to attend the RITA award ceremony, because I figured it was the closest to the Oscars I’d ever get. The event didn’t disappoint – the sequins, the trophies, the inspirational acceptance speeches. It gave a newbie author like me a new dream for my vision board.
  • Spending time with my tribe. It was energizing to be surrounded by people who understand the way my mind works, who have been where I am, who are going where I want to be, and are happy to share their stories. Everywhere I went, I met awesome authors and new friends: by the pool, at the breakfast table, or just sitting around the lobby waiting for the next workshop to start. It was an experience unlike any other.

Next year, the national conference will take place in Orlando, at the happiest place on earth: Walt Disney World! Will you be there? What were some of your favorite moments of RWA16?

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One thought on “#RWA16 Highlights from a First-Timer

  1. Just like you, my first time was pretty awesome. It was such a thrill to sit next to big kids and not feel like such an outsider. Thanks to Lisa Kessler and Cassie Carver’s amazing programs so far this year, it was amazing to be able to talk to the likes of Angie Fox and Patience Bloom with a sense of belonging and camaraderie. Cannot wait for next year!

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