By Anna Doll
Conferences are the lifeblood of writing organizations like Romance Writers of America (RWA) and its local chapters. Publishers and editors, agents, published and wanna-be-published writers join together for a few days of exhilarating workshops, motivating keynotes, parties, celebration, and merriment surrounding our favorite pastime (after sitting at the keyboard for hours at a time, of course)—eating and drinking.
Georgia Romance Writers (GRW) are no exception. Our fall Moonlight and Magnolias Conference is considered one of the best in RWA circles. This year we’ll have Michael Hauge, a best-seller and story and script consultant in Hollywood, presenting a full-day workshop on “Master Your Story—Master Your Destiny”, NYT bestseller Allison Brennan will be the keynote speaker, and Psychologist and Author Kelly L. Stone will present her half-day workshop on Sunday morning, “The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind.” Oh, and we’ll also have 3 editors and 3 agents taking pitches. If you’ve been thinking of attending a writer’s conference, M&M 2010 is the place to be!
It is a big deal to be nominated for a Maggie (the chapter’s equivalent of the Rita, Oscar and Grammy…all rolled into one!), and members will bow down before you if you are fortunate enough to win the Maggie. Seriously. Two of our very own PFHT blog sisters, Debbie Kaufman and Sally Kilpatrick were named finalists in this year’s Maggie competition. Even more important is the opportunity to meet others on the road to publication and to rub elbows with those who have been successful in their quest to be published. The weekend is so inspiring you’ll find yourself racing home on Sunday evening to finish that manuscript that’s been languishing on your computer.
My very first writer’s conference was Moonlight and Magnolias. I can remember being awed by the number of published authors, agents and editors milling around, the quality of the workshops—it was where I learned of my tendency to “head hop”—and experienced the nurturing characteristic that romance writers seem to possess. After that first conference, I was hooked and I haven’t missed a conference yet. Last year, I even hit the dance floor after the Maggie presentation!
I’ve had some awesome experiences at conferences. Imagine my first RWA conference, where I found myself helping Nora Roberts set up her table for the RWA Book Signing in Dallas. She is irreverent, but friendly, and is known for her unfailing support of newbie writers. But do not doubt that she’ll give you a friendly kick in the butt if you show any sign of self-pity. “This is a job,” she said that year. “If you want to make it in this business, you need to treat it as such.” You want to know why she’s so successful? She writes every day, even when she’s traveling or attending conferences. She does her own research. And she still finds time to give unpublished writers advice on different blogs she frequents. Nora Roberts is my hero.
So what are your conference highlights? What wonderful advice would you give to someone considering attending their very first conference?