RWA 13 has to be the most epic con ever. I met people  I know will change my life, made new friends, and fed off the energy of over 2000 writers all packed into one space.

I started off with a little sight seeing at the Atlanta History Center. The Swan House is not to be missed. For the same ticket price, we toured The Margaret Mitchell House. Actually, Margaret (Peggy to her friends) rented out a 3 room apartment space within the house. This is where she wrote the classic American novel, GONE WITH THE WIND. Long my favorite of all time. I rubbed the lion’s head newel post for luck as she did.

I capped the day off with the RWA Literacy signing where I reconnected with old friends, made new ones, and bought a ton of books! We raised over $52,000 this year.

Thursday, I attended the PRO Retreat where all the buzz was Traditional VS. Self Publishing and the new Hybrid author. Highlight for me was Esi Sogah, editor from Kensington. She made my day when she said Romantic Suspense is on the rise and she is looking for it. When asked about Trad vs Self publishing, she made a thought provoking comment, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Book selling is a business. Do you want to be in business, or not?”

But the day was not over. I attended the FF&P Chapter’s THE GATHERING and Prism Awards, congrats to all the winners. What a fun time.  Then the Borough’s Publishing Open House where I snagged a request from Editor Chris Keeslar.

Friday more workshops and my first scheduled appointment with Lucienne Diver of the Knight Agency. Request number 2 achieved.

But yes, it gets better. Saturday was my day! Started off with an 8:30 am workshop where I stalked ( uh, took the opportunity to talk with) agent Nicole Resciniti. Request number 3!

And what a treat to spend time with former chapter mate and Harlequin author, Katherine Garbera. Kathy is now living in jolly old England and it’s been an age since we’ve been able to chat. Kathy has been not only a friend, but a mentor to me over the years and I can’t say enough about how awesome I think she is.

And then it happened. While waiting to meet some friends for lunch, I was introduced to Rita Clay Estrada. The Rita, the mother of RWA! She has her own statue and she shook my hand. This has to mean that the publishing gods have spoken and I will get a publishing contract this year. Right?

And then it was time for my editor appointment with Kate Dresser of Harlequin HQN. I think Kate and I were separated at birth because we hit it off immediately. It was not like a pitch appointment, it was like running into an old and very dear friend. BFF and request number 4. Even if Kate doesn’t buy my book, I still heart her. =)

Heart overflowing with joy, I dressed for the Rita and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony. During the conference we were treated to some inspiring, uplifting, and at times tear jerking presentations from keynote speakers, Cathy Maxwell and Kristin Higgins. But no one can hold a candle to Awards Ceremony Emcee, Christie Craig. She really could be a stand up comedienne. From pulling rejection letters out of her bra to explaining to us the difference between how a northerner and a southerner start a story, she rocked the house. By the way, here’s how you tell: Northerner – “Once upon a time. Southerner – You ain’t gonna believe this sh*t.” LOL! Congrats to all the finalists and winners!

As I drove out of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis with co-pilot, Gloria Ferguson AKA GLO Z, Laura Kirkland, and Tina Sacco, I was still flying on the conference high. Another friend and chapter mate, Debra Jess literally flew home, but it seemed appropriate since she writes “high flying fiction”!  Although we passed through many storms, we had a safe trip home convoying with chapter President and Loveswept author, Ruth Owen.

And that was my takeaway from the conference. No matter how your writing journey unfolds, don’t give up on your dreams. Keep writing, keep submitting, and one day, you too can be up on stage in sparkles and sequins clutching Rita (the statue version) in your sweaty palms as tears stream down your face. Tears of joy and gratitude for all the friends who supported you and helped you achieve this special moment.

I keep hearing that Disney song from Cinderella playing in my head, “A dream is a wish your heart makes…” Cherish your dreams, nurture them, and believe. It can happen.

16 Responses to “#RWA13 The Best Conference Ever!”

  1. Ruth Owen says:

    Jan, you summoned up the conference to a tee! The only things I’d add is bonding over free hotel bathrobes, elevator adventures, and the Spook-tastic FF&P party. Thrilled for your well deserved requests, and keep dreaming!

  2. jan says:

    Thanks, roomie! And you too. You have a heart warming story to get ready for submission!

  3. diane says:

    Sounds like you had a fantastic time! This is going to be your year. I believe it. You are a FAB writer and it is your turn to shine.

    Great blog! Great site! You go girl! So proud of you!

  4. jan says:

    Thanks, Diane. Really appreciate the support.

  5. Laura Kirkland says:

    You really summed up the conference in a nutshell, Jan. I really felt energized and inspired for the first time in ages. And I can’t thank you enough for all your help and encouragement with my pitch. I know great things are going to happen for you in your career!

  6. jan says:

    Thanks, Laura. I enjoyed playing around with your pitch. Good luck on your submission. Wishing all good things.

  7. DebraJess says:

    You’re in trouble Ms. Jan. You did not tell me you met Rita Clay Estrada! I had to read about this on your blog. Tsk, tsk. Luck you! And thanks for the mention of High Flying Fiction. I finally have my own conference report posted.

  8. jan says:

    I was starstruck. The highlight of the conference for sure. Will check out your con report.

  9. Martha says:

    It sounds as though you had a WONDERFUL time! I hope all your requests produce results and lead to a bidding war. You are an awesome writer, and that fact should be shared with the reading world. We’ll all keep believing together–and it’ll happen.

  10. jan says:

    Thanks so much, Martha. It was a great time, and your support means more than you know. At the con, Harlequin was actively looking for new authors to relaunch their Heartwarming line. I think you should seriously consider sending them something.

  11. Connie Mann says:

    So so excited to hear about your fabulous conference! Sounds like this was definitely your year. Can’t wait to hear how this all turns out. Go, Jan!!!

  12. jan says:

    I can’t wait to hear back about my submissions. On pins and needles…

  13. Carla Mueller says:

    I already heard the details via phone, but finally have internet connection! Anyway, so glad you had an amazing time and networked like crazy. I do hope this is your year. You’ve worked so hard and it’s time for your heart’s wish to finally come true. Envisioning small woodland creatures, sunshine, and blue birds for some reason here. 🙂 May your Prince Charming come in the form of publishing successes. Love ya, girl!

  14. Katherine Garbera says:

    Jan–it was wonderful to see you and soak up some of your positive vibe. 🙂

  15. Jenna says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about your experience at the conference! I know you had a great time and really put yourself out there, conquering your fears!

  16. jan says:

    Still working at it every day. Thanks, Jenna.

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