RWA Conference Days #2 and 3

Finally, right? I am home, it is Monday morning, and I slept for 9 hours straight! Sorry for the delay in sharing my news but the last 2 conference days were jammed from early sunrise to well after the sun was set. I am not complaining as it was fabulous. I have loads to share, so be warned that this may be a long post! First off: I created an album in the Portrait Gallery for the photos I took. It isn’t all of them, but quite a few and more than I could feasibly post here on the blog. So if interested, here is the link: RWA Conference 2009  We all took tons of pictures and will be sharing, so I will add as I receive more. Also, all of us who were there have been blogging and sharing our experience, so if curious to read more about this great event, visit Marie Force, Julie James, Kendra Leigh Castle, Casablanca Authors, Judi Fennell, and Cheryl Brooks. **Cheryl will understand, but I must warn that her blog is X-rated! So do not scroll down past the RWA info unless you are ready to see more than you may prefer. LOL!

OK, my experiences….. Friday the 17th did start right off, but there wasn’t an early workshop I wanted to see so I took my time leaving the hotel and did write the previous day’s events on the blog. But once I got to the Marriott it was non-stop! I attended a workshop that, frankly, did not include the info I anticipated so was a disappointment, especially when I was torn between two choices. Oh well, live and learn: sit toward the back so it is easy to slip out! Then I attended the workshop on Online Promotion that our own Danielle Jackson was a part of. It was so great. Danielle did a fabulous job for her very first public engagement and all the information offered was apropos to this internet-based world we live in.

 The Awards Luncheon –  It focused on giving awards for those support people, such as the volunteers and librarians, and was held in the ballroom. The guest speaker was Eloisa James. She is HUGE in the Regency romance genre of novels. In fact, I began reading “Duchess in Love” while on the plane (She signed the copy for me!) and it is really good so far. Her speech was outstanding. Humorous and very touching. She focused on persevering amid the hardships and the negativity, a topic that resonated deeply within me since I struggle with this.

After the luncheon I met with my editor, Deb Werksman. I just love her! We chatted for over an hour, covering everything both personal and professional. Of course, it was primarily a chance to talk about the current events but also to discuss my future. Deb is very smart and Sourcebooks as a company has a philosophy of building authors, of helping them discover their niche, of planning beyond the “now” to the whole career arc. I so appreciate Deb’s honesty, even when I may not agree! She is very gifted in listening, understanding, offering her experiential opinions and insights, and meshing it all together to a conclusion that fits all of us. I love that I can talk about Loving Mr. Darcy but also plot for what I hope to be doing 2 or more years down the line. It is far too premature to say anything specific, but I will say that there are surprises on the horizon and I am feeling very, VERY good about being able to pursue my dreams of writing Kitty’s story and the adventures of Dr. George Darcy. And I also feel confident that if inspiration leads me down another path, whether historical (my heart) or contemporary, Sourcebooks will be there for me. An author can hope for nothing else. I will, naturally, keep you posted as is appropriate.

Several workshops followed and I employed my newfound knowledge of staying toward the back so I could slip in and out! That way I got to hear portions of a couple topics I was interested in. The one I loved was “Why We Love Mr. Darcy: Insider tips on the Historical Market.” Naturally the Mr. Darcy in the title captured my eye, but also because it was led by bestselling, award winning historical novelist Julia Quinn. It really wasn’t about Austen-related historicals, but about the genre in general. Very good information and I learned a tremendous amount.

 After that I had no time for additional workshops as I had to get gorgeous for our Sourcebooks Authors Dinner. I have LOADS of fabulous photos, so please head to the Gallery to see them! Greeting everyone was the first fabulous part. A few of the ladies I had not yet run into, like the stunning Amelia Grey and beautiful Michele Ann Young. Others I had only been able to briefly chat with, like Robin Kaye, my longtime internet buddy Abigail Reynolds, and Loucinda McGary. And there were some new writers too! So we gabbed for a time in the lobby before piling into the 2 stretch limos provided by our publisher. Talk about fun and feeling special! The restaurant was called 1789 and we dined in a private room on the third floor. It was amazing and so great to be able to freely chat without external noise to interrupt or dampen our conversation. Of course, we raised the voice levels pretty high all by ourselves! The food was delicious, but truthfully I do not think it would have mattered as we were having too much fun. Dominique Raccah – CEO and Publisher of Sourcebooks – gave us an in-depth update on the business aspects of the Casablanca imprint. Then she and Deb had each author talk about what they wrote, always following it with humorous and glowing commentary from their perspective. I can’t express how marvelous the whole evening was, so let me simply say that it was magical.

Saturday dawned way too early for my taste, but there was a workshop I HAD to attend! I met Cheryl for breakfast, then headed to “Lessons of Firefly: Learning from the Works of Joss Whedon.” I have freely stated in previous blog posts that I am a huge fan of this show, so I simply had to be there. And, no, Nathan Fillian did not show up, shirt on or off, but there were photos! LOL! The interesting aspect is that Jacqui Jacoby used the brilliant writing that made Firefly and the movie Serenity so fantastic as a lesson in how to write in a novel. It was very well done and I learned more than I anticipated, I will confess. Next I popped in to a couple other workshops and managed to get a few more signed books for my daughter and I to read.

 At 11am was the Spotlight on Sourcebooks. Had to attend that! Dominique, Danielle, and Deb – The 3 D’s – gave their presentation and it was wonderful! Dominique is somewhat flamboyant and a ball of energy. Her enthusiasm and passion for books is so incredibly apparent. I could write a whole essay on this astounding woman whom I so admire and genuinely like. I am unbelievably fortunate to be a part of this organization! The room was filled to standing-only capacity, free books and flyers were given away, and all of us were present to support our house. My series was highlighted with the news that Target has taken me on revealed to all and I was singled out by Dominique. It was quite a thrill. Don’t my covers look awesome on the big screen?

 Lunch was next, a group of us leaving the hotel for a change of scenery. We were joined by Marie Force’s daughter Emily who was in town to celebrate her 14th birthday with mom! More on darling Emily in a bit. No time for anything after lunch as we had our official, separate Sourcebooks author book signing. This is the first year it has been done! The Landmark Casablanca line has so expanded that we needed our own room. The waiting line was long and we were mobbed. The only mishap was the inexpectation of such a remarkable turnout, so none of us had enough books! Mine were gone in about 20 minutes, even though I tried to write slow! I apologize profusely, as does Danielle and Dominique, for not realizing what to expect. It is still a learning curve for us as a romance line, so next year we will be way more prepared! But it was fun while it lasted. My tagline: “Happily ever after comes true.” Nice, huh? I have to confess that it was the most fun I have had in a long time and I am so very proud of the novel I and Sourcebooks have produced. A personal, hearfelt thanks to everyone who rushed to my desk and expressed happiness to be acquiring my novel. I do pray you enjoy it and share your pleasure with other potential readers. Or write to me! I remember you all and would love to hear from you!

The last, big event of the conference was the Rita and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony that night. This is the Oscars for Romance Novelists. It is a huge event with all the glitter and glitz one expects from such an event. I sat back and simply enjoyed it. I still did not know most of the authors being nominated, but am proud to say that there were a large number I did! Including some I can now think of as, at the least, acquaintances. Such as Stephanie Laurens who won a Rita. It was glamorous and exciting. But the pinnacle of it all was as we were leaving the ballroom and who should be walking directly in front of us but Nora Roberts! #1 fan Marie Force was shaking with nerves, but her bold daughter steps forward and congratulates Ms. Roberts on her new Rita win. Nora, gracious and absolutely gorgeous, stops and says thank you. Marie finds her voice and mentions that it is Emily’s birthday, Nora extending a big smile and wishes for a happy birthday. Then she agrees to pose with Emily for a candid shot! It was utterly amazing! Even I, an embarrassed non-reader of a Nora Roberts novel, was awed to be in her presence. But she was kindness itself.

 

That pretty well ends the adventures for me. A few snacks at the reception and teary good-byes to all my friends, and I was ready for bed. Funny thing: I was so exhausted, missing my family, and dying to sleep in my own bed, yet sad to leave. It was an incredible experience and I already can’t wait until next year when the conference will be in Nashville. I have only scratched the surface in relating all the fantastic conversations I had and in assimilating how profoundly I was affected by all I learned. My heart was rejuvenated, my purpose refocused, my determination bolstered, and my confidence restored. I had great fun, created lasting memories, established relationships, and marketed myself well, but most importantly I renewed my joy in writing and reaffirmed my place as a novelist. Some will continue to try to rob me of that title and to tarnish my accomplishments, but they will fail. Because like it or not, I am a published novelist! It is a cemented fact that I now wholly grasp and will never forget.

9 Comments for RWA Conference Days #2 and 3

  1. Hello Sharon,
    have a good time with your husband and enjoy your vacation!
    I forgot to tell you how amazing the pictures in the photo gallery are.
    It´s really a big event, so many famous people, Eloisa James looks a little bit like Julie Andrews, at least at this picture.
    It is so good to hear that the Darcys will always be a part of you.
    I will read all the books you write in the future, because I love the way you tell a story.
    And it is always nice to discover someone new, so I will pick up one of your Regency recommendations.

    Lots of love to you,
    Susanne

  2. Wow, Sharon! Sounds like you had a blast. One of these days *crossing fingers* I hope we’ll meet up at a conference. You never know. 🙂 I’d prefer it if I were published, but even if not. LOL!

    Loved your pictures and meeting Nora Roberts. *swoon* If you’re ever looking for new authors to read, please let me know. I’m sure I’ve got a gazillion. 😀

    Have a blast on your trip. I’m thrilled for you. Love ya!

  3. Hi, Ms. Sharon! I loved reading your wonderful account of the RWA conference you attended!
    Sounds like a great adventure. I have been busy with work lately, and haven’t had much time to visit your website. I still keep your 3 great, lovely, wonderful, make-me-so-happy books nearby at all times so I can re-read them often! I have also ventured into readyng romance books! Yes, stuffy ol’ me. I note some names of romance writers that you mention, and I’ll be reading some of their books, too!
    Your latest blog mentions the movie Serenity! Only in the last 3 months did I see that movie! And of course, Nathan Fillion is now up there along with Matthew McFadyen. Mostly, I was happy to read that you will continue to write your lovely happy books, and I am waiting patiently for the next Darcy Saga Book! Woohoo!
    Back to visit soon! Take care.

  4. Hi Everyone! It is so lovely to hear from you. I love sharing the events of this incredible journey with my readers. It is so remarkable to me – I am living the word "surreal" – and sharing it with everyone who pops in to my site adds to the joy. And helps to make it real! LOL! I can come back and read the passages myself and say, "Oh yeah, that really did happen!"

    Martina, you can say how anxious you are for September as often as you want! I am too!! Susanne, I frankly do not see myself ever leaving the Darcy family completely. I may write other works in what I hope and pray to be a long career, but the Darcys will forever be a part of me. Marie, thanks for stopping in. I miss you already! Vee, Glad you are giving the other Casablanca authors a try. Loucinda and Robin are terrific. I highly recommend Marie Force for fabulous contemporary and both Michele Ann Young and Amelia Grey for Regency.

    Thanks again everyone! I am still unpacking, believe it or not. Then I had to pack back up as my hubby and I are taking a mini-vacation together. Not back to the real job until next week. I am loving my leisure!

  5. What a fabulous workshop! Looks like you had a wonderful time – and thank you for sharing all the pictures 🙂

  6. Dear Sharon
    thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. It sounds so great! It’s great that you decided to put the photos up in the gallery for us to enjoy.
    Your books look indeed fantastic on the big screen. Did I mention how much I am looking forward to the 1st of September. I guess I have, but I just have to say it again. Can’t wait for the second book to come out. I just love the Darcys.
    It’s really great to hear all the good news and that it seems that everything is going so well. You aer a published novelist and I am so glad about that! I would have missed something If I hadn’t discovered you and your book(s).

  7. Another wonderful account of your exciting adventure Sharon!

    I am thrilled to bits that you have a renewed sense of who you are in the world of writing! That is simply awesome and I am so proud of you for your strength and faith.
    A huge thanks to you for sharing all of these otherwise unseen events for us non writers or should I say potential budding writers;)
    Your giving loving nature allows us to share in all your joy, which is such a HUGE thrill for me. It is so exciting to know that Sourcebooks are supporting your future endeavours. Of course you know how much I love your Darcy family but I am equally thrilled at the prospect of reading anything else you would offer. Your style of writing has captured my imagination and it gives me so many hours of enjoyment pleasure and just pure fun! So much to look forward to in the future from my fav author!

    I am currently reading a couple of your Casa friends books(Loucinda and Robin) and am thoroughly enjoying them, so thanks for all the tips. I look forward to reading more soon. I am also excited to hear about the titles you have collected on your trip and your recommendations.

    Your covers are the best!!! Finally YOU GO GIRL! Many many congrats and love.
    TSBO devotee
    Vee

  8. What a great recap Sharon! I haven’t even downloaded my photos yet! LOL! Thank for the kind words about Emily. She truly enjoyed her trip and being with all of the crazy romance writers mom calls friends! Look forward to seeing you in Nashville!
    xoxo
    Marie

  9. Dear Sharon,
    congratulations to you from the bottom of my heart!
    It is so wonderful to read about your time in Washington.
    All the great authors you met there, your big success! Your covers look indeed very good on the big screen!
    It is as you said you are a published novelist, and you get now all the success and honour you deserve so very much.
    Oh my God, books about Kitty and George, that will be fabolous! I know it is far far away, but what about Lizzy and Darcy? Can you imagine writing book 6? I know that sounds insatiable, but it is the simple truth: I think we just can´t get enough of our favourite couple!

    Sharon, I hope you have time to relax or are you already back to work?
    Again, congratulations, you really did it! And you look so beautiful at the book signing. You really sparkle!

    God bless you!
    Susanne

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