~ By Kasey Lane
When I offered to write a blog post following my first RWA conference I had no idea it would take so long for my brain to return to normal. To say the warnings of “overwhelming” were an understatement is like saying San Antonio is kind of warm and a little humid. Basically, by the end of the conference I felt like a babbling, overstimulated toddler after a candy binge. But I’ll try my best to not embarrass myself.
Having received advice from the more experienced conference attendees in my writer’s group, I realized in the planning stages that there was no way I could do everything and be everywhere so I decided on some conference goals. Frankly, this turned out to be one of my better ideas.
Goal 1: Craft Workshops
As a new author, my primary focus was adding some tools to my vacuous toolbox. I tried to attend as many craft workshops that would help me build skills where I’m weakest. Some of the highlights were Sarah MacLean’s “Mastering the Art of Conflict,” Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ “Writing Great Characters,” and Margie Lawson’s “Diaglogue Cues.” Amazing. Inspiring. Funny as hell. Several workshops I attended weren’t craft-specific, but were extremely helpful and informative. I recommend you plan ahead, though. Have a preferred workshop and a backup in mind, in case of geographic issues (I really didn’t want to walk across the street in heels one more time) or popularity (I’m not a fan of sitting on the floor).
Goal 2: Network and Meet Online Friends
For over 25 years I have planned, promoted, attended, and worked events and tradeshows. I have never been to one even remotely similar to RWA. Not even close, people. Romance writers are a unique and amazing breed apart. Generous and kind, business savvy and strikingly smart, bawdy and refined. It was fabulous to meet so many online friends, as well as new writer friends. Every workshop, panel and personal connection had immeasurable value – from my Sparkly Sherpas (Kerri Carpenter and Alethea Kontis) to my LA crew (Christine Ashworth, Danube Adele, and Sara Vance-Tompkins) to panels and events featuring multi-published authors. I feel so incredibly privileged to have found my people.
Because I live in the boonies of Southern Oregon I don’t have a local RWA chapter, which is the main reason I belong to Contemporary Romance Writers. I absolutely adored the panel and dessert bar our chapter hosted. I wish that I had summoned more courage and made an attempt to mingle more and meet other attendees, but by Thursday night I was a little shell shocked. My dorkiness aside, this is a do not miss event.
Goal 3: Be a Sponge
This first novel, first agent, first year of being a real writer will never happen again. While the whole hurry up and wait aspect of the publishing industry can be agonizing, it can also be a beautiful kind of delicious agony (come on, you’ve read Sylvia Day…you know what I’m talking about). At the age of 45, it’s not very often that something is fresh and new. At first I found it disconcerting. Then a little terrifying. Then I just accepted it. The conference gave me a chance to be a starry eyed newbie and I loved it!
The trip to San Antonio left me physically exhausted, as well as spiritually revived and inspired. Not only is the national conference an investment in our careers as romance writers, but it’s also a validation in our chosen path, food for the writer’s often doubting soul. If you have the opportunity to attend next year in New York I sincerely hope you’ll let me know so we can meet in person. I would love to meet you.
Kasey Lane writes erotic contemporary and new adult romance with musical themes, lots of heat, hot guys with ink, and always a Happily Ever After. A California native, she moved from Silicon Valley to the lush Pacific Northwest over a decade ago where she lives with her high school crush turned husband (and research partner), two wickedly smart but slightly devilish kids, a few dogs, some cats, and a bunch of chickens and ducks. Kasey is proudly represented by Cate Hart at Corvisiero Literary Agency.