Wednesday & Thursday at RWA National

The days at RWA National are passing in an exhilarating haze punctuated with moments of crystalline clarity. This is an amazing time for writers and the energy is evident everywhere here in New York City.

Steve Berry, Diana Gabaldon, Tess Gerritsen

Early Wednesday, three NY Times best-selling authors – Steve Berry, Diana Gabaldon, and Tess Gerritsen officially launched RWA’s 2011 Bright Lights, Big Stories Conference with a 90-minute chat about their careers.  Their ease, candor and camaraderie set the tone for the coming days.

The Annual General Meeting of RWA’s Board of Directors (aka AGM) followed. My volunteer assignment was handing out budget summaries to attending members. When the doors closed, we took our seats. After a few brief reports, the meeting adjourned. Although 2,100 are attending the conference, no quorum meant no business could be conducted. Reason enough for members to return their proxies.

Madeline Hunter’s candid keynote luncheon address Wednesday was all I expected and more. “In the past year,” she said, “writers have exhaled one long sigh…I’m excited and scared to see what comes next.” In taking us on her writer’s journey, she offered a guidebook for our own journeys.  “We expose ourselves in our writing,” she continued.  “Our voice is all about that exposure. We find our voice by embracing the exposure but we cannot back off.  We cannot pull punches.”  Wow!

Sherrilyn Kenyon

Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s award luncheon keynote on Thursday took us on an emotional roller coaster bringing tears and laughter to the audience of 2,000+ writers in the Broadway Ballroom.  Another amazing, no holds barred speaker.

Phenomenal workshops!  Each hour, eight separate tracks let us hone in on a valuable area. While there are only a few scheduled that address e-publishing and self-publishing (no longer called “vanity”) those are the words heard everywhere and speakers are addressing this amazing writer’s evolution.  Perhaps the word “revolution” is more appropriate.

KOD's "Death by Chocolate" Party

The chance to meet and chat with fellow writers abounds in workshops, at evening parties, in elevators, and lounges.   This year the conference is spread out from floors 4 through 9 of the Marriott Marquis. For the first time in memory, ladies’ restrooms don’t have long lines. Escalators or the smart elevators are quick, efficient.  So is the friendly staff.

Last night I met my niece for dinner.  A Tulane student, she’s in NYC on a summer publishing internship.  (Personal note to editors or literary agents looking for a hard-working, loves-to-read assistant in May 2012…Casey’s your girl!)  Last time we met was on our Charleston trip and before that in Paris when she studied abroad in Vienna. Our paths cross in the most amazing places.

As dawn broke this morning, I lay beneath the comforter with words racing through my mind. On this last day part of me can’t wait to get back into the bustle of Conference. But I have stories to write, and characters whose voices grow ever louder. Someone, can’t remember who, said that networking at conference is important but that writing is critical. We are not writers unless we write.  Seems obvious, doesn’t it?

Last day ahead, and tonight are the RITA’s and Golden Heart awards.  More about that tomorrow.  Meanwhile, I invite all writers attending to share your insights, or links to your blog about this amazing conference.  What was your favorite part of RWA National 2011? 

15 thoughts on “Wednesday & Thursday at RWA National

  1. Deb, thanks for this update, and for letting those of us at home live vicariously through you. No lines at the restroom, amazing! Enjoy the rest of your conference.

    • Well, there may have been a few lines but they were incredibly short ones. It helped that there were lots of restrooms and we could always take the escalator up or down a flight to where there was less happening. 🙂

  2. Ditto. It’s nice to hear what’s going on. It makes me wish I were there. I’m glad to hear that self publishing is beginning to get rid of some of the taint of words.

    Have fun. And did you say you were under a comforter? Here in IL. it’s going to be in the high 90’s today. LOL

    Dyanne Davis

  3. Debra–Thanks so much for sharing your first-hand, insider’s look at the RWA convention…I’ve never attended before, so the information you’ve passed on in the last two posts has really been a treat! 🙂 Kathleen

  4. Deb, I expected the conference to be full of energy and energizing to writers attending. What floors me is your comment about no lines in the women’s restrooms!!!!! Be still, my heart.

    Unbelievable. Thanks for sharing your experiences to those of us at home writing. 🙂

  5. Thank you for sharing the conference with us, Deb. I’ve been fortunate not too many so am having withdrawals this year. Would love to have heard those speakers. Glad you are getting so much out of all the activities. I really miss all those hugs from friends, too.

  6. I have to agree with what everyone here has already said…you make me feel like I’m there with you! I can just feel the energy of the conference through your words… and it sounds like an absolutely amazing time, thanks for sharing! 🙂

  7. Great to hear all about your experiences! Sounds as if it was very worthwhile. I do have to point out that self-pubbing and vanity pubbing are entirely different things, and that the truly evil vanity publishing still exists, although the ease of self-pubbing these days has definitely taken a bite out of those [insert bad word of your choice].

  8. It was my first conference and it was great. I met so many people, learned a lot and had fun! Now, back to work.

  9. Deb, meeting people like you was made the conference so wonderful for me. Thank you so much for your advice and encouragement! I look forward to staying in touch with you and someday soon reading your amazing Civil War love story! 🙂

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