Friday, July 24, 2009

RWA National Conference, Washington DC

Last week, hundreds of authors, yet-to-be-published writers and industry professionals took Washington DC by storm when they attended the Romance Writers of America national conference. Seriously- Tuesday and Wednesday the Marriott staff had this glazed, shell-shocked look at the volume of enthusiastic women (and a few men) that had taken their hotel hostage.

It was my first National Conference and boy am I hooked now. What a fabulous time. A lot of that time was spent with fellow Romance authors.
I met Fiona Harper in 2007 at the Association of Mills and Boon Author day, and we were both arriving on the Tuesday so we planned to meet for dinner. What a great idea - from that moment on Fiona and I met for several meals, down time - even sightseeing at the end of the trip.

Over the course of the next few days, I met several Romance authors I had before only known in cyberspace - Shirley Jump, Teresa Carpenter, Susan Meier, and debut author Barbara Wallace. On Wednesday, we all joined our Senior Editor Kim Young and met up with Editorial Director Karin Stoecker, Sharon Kendrick and Lynn Rae Harris for a trip to the Washington Post.

We had a guided tour, and got to sit in on their story conference where the editors of each section meet to finalize what will run on the front page etc. of the following day's edition. I expected a longer, more detailed meeting, but these people are fast, efficient and thorough. One story was swapped out in favour of another...and carry on. Here we all are in the foyer, photo taken courtesy of Sharon Kendrick - who cracked me up every time I met up with her. From left to right: Presents author Lynn Rae Harris, me, Shirley Jump, Barb Wallace, Kim Young, Teresa Carpenter, Susan Meier, Fiona Harper.

Shirley, Fiona and I had dinner together one evening as well, at a cute Thai place with gorgeous summer rolls and soup. Shirley is the QUEEN of shoes, by the way. Pop by her blog for her version of conference....and to Fiona's as well. Fiona had a brand new camera that took wonderful pictures.

One of the nice things was spending time with Kim and Joanne Grant, another UK editor. On Wednesday, several of the UK authors met for a trip to the Smithsonian. Put a group of Romance authors in the same room as the Hope Diamond - AND all those lovely gemstones and we all were finding lovely accessory pieces for our Rita and Harlequin Party ensembles. From there we saw the collection of inaugural gowns of the First Ladies. The lighting made pictures difficult, but lookie here - Fi got a great picture of Mary Todd Lincoln's.

What is Nationals without the famed Harlequin Party? Shirley posted a picture of the two of us by the 60th Birthday screen...and we danced...and danced...and danced... What a fantastic time. I forgot to be self-conscious and totally got my groove on!

Kim and Joanne looked fresh and lovely the next morning when they gave their workshop on "Don't Let The Plot Get In The Way of Your Story". I attended and had several lightbulbs about my own writing that will hopefully strengthen future stories. I didn't get a pic in the workshop, but here are Kim and Jo at the Bookseller's Best Awards ceremony. Congrats to Romance's Myrna MacKenzie for winning the Traditional Category!

On Saturday, I was honoured to fill in for our own Jessica Hart, who was nominated for a Rita for her 50th Romance, Last Minute Proposal. Oh, the glam dresses! The shoes! The list of best selling authors in attendance (I tried not to stare, I promise). There was a lovely reception afterwards.

And then it was over, and Fiona and I kicked back for some sightseeing. We took a trolley tour and had a fabulous time. We explored the Lincoln Memorial, as well as the Korean and Vietnam Memorials, as well as the Capitol, and had a hotdog and lemonade before crossing the Potomac to Arlington. At this point, we had to say goodbye - Fi had a flight to catch and I explored Arlington Cemetery solo. Here is a pic of Fiona and I at the Capitol. As you can see, after several days of "business casual" I went for comfort and sneakers for sight seeing. My feet thanked me.

I came home so tired but with so many great memories of a fantastic first conference!


  1. Thanks for posting your report, Donna! Looks like a very fun time!

  2. Thanks for sharing the excitement, Donna.

    I'm counting down the days/months/years to my first RWA conference, hopefully Anaheim in 2012 so I can bring the munchkins too :)

  3. Great to hear you had such a good time, Donna. And thanks for standing in for me - I hope that next time you're in those seats at the award ceremony it'll be on your own account!

  4. Wow, what a great time you had!!!