RWA’14 Recap

Listening to: Shakira - Unplugged

Mood: Thankful

I didn’t post last week because I was attending RWA’14 (Romance Writers of America Conference) in San Antonio and was far too busy to blog. I shall make it up to you this week with a blog post a day early, and with pictures.

Visiting the Alamo. "Victory or Death!"

I’ve never been to an RWA conference but my awesome CP convinced me to go this year, and boy was I glad she did. For starters, it was an excuse to meet her in person. We get along online and love each other’s writing, but we don’t live in the same city so we’ve never met face to face. Until now. I cannot begin to tell you how awesome it is to also click with your CP in person. It's like we’ve known each other forever!

Me and my CP relaxing after a long day of workshops.

During the first day of the conference, YARWA (the YA writers RWA chapter) hosted a Day of YA event. It was wonderful to sit with other YA authors, talk about the industry with agents and editors, and learn from the workshops geared to YA writers. James Scott Bell and Jay Asher both had workshops that were interesting and I learned a ton from. Ally Carter was the keynote speaker at the event, and one of my favorite lines from her speech (which was hilarious and about all the things she would tell her baby writer self) was “Making writer friends is good for your LIFE.” It’s a statement that is so true. I love all my writer friend and I’m a better person for having them in my life.

Over the course of the 4-day event, I met a lot of awesome writers, agents, and editors. I spent tons of time hanging out with Robin Bielman and Jennifer Haymore, both brilliant writers (and Rita nominees!) and amazing, funny women. (They’re books are awesome, go read them!) They even asked me and my CP to be their “dates” for the Rita Awards ceremony, which we both excitedly agreed. They embraced our geekyness, and I love them for it.

Leah Nolan, Simone Elkeles, Jennifer Armentrout, (and so many more) are all kickass YA writers who were nice and funny. They asked questions about what I was working on, made jokes with me, talked about their current books, and all that jazz.

Emily McKay, author of The Farm and The Lair and a whole score of Romance novels, complimented me on how beautiful my tattoo on my forearm is, and I might have blushed (because, Holy Hellfire, Emily McKay complimented me!).

I ran into Laura Bradford about 900 times during the conference, mostly at signings and Day of YA, and talked to her about everything from food, to books, to her nephew. My CP and I also ran into Whitney Ross, Amy Stapp, and Melissa Frain (all editors from Tor) in line at a book signing, and they were super fun to chat with. They gave us a dinner recommendation for a restaurant called Bliss (it was so yummy!) and made a few suggestions on some of the books we should pick up at the signings. Seriously, these women are kickass.

I saw Sandy Williams—a SF/F author who wrote the Shadowreader trilogy that I absolutely love—at an Amazon hosted party but she left before I could stop by to say hi. Randomly the next day I ran into her again and was able to tell her how much I love her books. She was super sweet and friendly, and I tried (and likely failed) not to be too super nerdy about her books. I will read ANYTHING this woman writes!

I pitched to a few agents and editors. Totally fangirled to Suzie Townsend about two of her clients, Cora Carmack and Allison Pang, and also went on and on about the incredible the cover for Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen.

I went to a bunch of workshops. One of my favorites was Mastering the Art of Great Conflict taught by Rita winner Sara Maclean. The whole workshop was awesome, but there was a particular slide that she put on screen that I loved. It said,

“Insurmountable Odds.

These are the bits that make the book breathless.”

And I wanted to jump up and scream “Hell yeah!” because it’s so true. Whenever I’m reading a great book and something has just happened that surprises me, I hold my breath, as though I’m in the story. I try to put these same types of moments in my own stories, but it was such a great reminder.

At the Rita Awards, I met even more amazing writers and was so excited for the winners and nominees. There was a moment in Laura Drake’s speech after she won the “Best First Book” award that really resonated with me. She said, “There are many of you thinking about quitting…don’t. The walls are there for those who don’t want it as bad as you.” Now I have yet to get so down on myself that I wanted to quit writing—I’m not sure I ever could, the voices just won’t let me!—but the idea behind the words rang true to me just the same. This crazy little dream called being a published writer takes time, and I’m in it for the long haul.

Being silly at the Rita Awards ceremony.

Left to right: Robin Hammer (my CP), Robin Bielman, Jennifer Haymore, Me

I came home with 42 books (my bag weighed 70 lbs!). Seriously, it’s awesome. And I’m excited to read every single one of them! The Hubs is going to have to build me some new bookshelves.

This was only HALF my haul!

Lastly, I have to say that every single person I met at the conference was super friendly, supportive, and genuinely nice. I always tell my friends and family that the writing community is one of the best out there, and this conference another proof-point to my belief. I can’t wait until RWA’15!

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