I don't go to National every year. I'm the world's worst social butterfly. There's nothing more I enjoy than escaping into my own work in progress and leaving the in-person networking to the extraverts.
However, this year's RWA National was a networking first for me and it was in our nation's capital. I gave my first speech in front of a large crowd and didn't land face down in the chocolate; I met my outstanding Daphne Committee and gave them a hug; and I got to stand up for my friend, Kelly Ann Riley, www.kellyannriley.com, and accept on her behalf her Golden Heart WIN! as she and her family were on a mission in Utah. As an inspirational writer, Kelly lives what she writes and I'm honored to know her.
I attended a cocktail party with my agent Elaine English www.elaineenglish.com, her assistant Naomi and her three hysterical interns. I felt like I was talking to my daughters -- they were that young -- and I LOVED their insights and their interpretations of books and films.
The Literacy signing, the workshops, RWA's staff, the hotel staff, were exceptional, my online chapter, members of the Kiss of Death www.rwamysterysuspense.org, worked particularly hard to provide three days of tours for its members while in D.C., including tours of the FBI, the State Department, The Postal Inspection Service and the CIA.
My roomies were wonderful, and my longtime roomie and traveling companion, Jude Willhoff, www.judewillhoff.com went through our jaunts like female Two Stooges. Starting with unpacking at the airport because my bag was seven pounds over and hers was two, and neither of us wanted to pay $90; to getting trapped in a crowded, thunder-storm soaked Atlanta airport, arriving at Washington at three in the morning, walking into the men's room we were so tired, and even freeing a woman trapped in a bathroom stall. Let's just say Jude has the innate ability to keep things positive--and hysterical--at all times.
But along with laughter and nonstop hustle and bustle the conference was full of inspiration.
Janet Evanovich was amazing, telling it like it is, in her frank, funny way, that there is no such thing as writer's block, only lack of commitment and fear.
Linda Howard, who can say, "Bless her heart," like nobody's business had us roaring in the aisles about her family of "nuts."
And finally Eloisa James, who had us choked up and moved to tears over how she incorporates her real life situations/emotions into her writing.
To understate it, Romance Writers of America did an outstanding job in choosing these bestselling authors as speakers. We laughed, we cried and we came away inspired.
If you attended the conference, I only hope you got as much out of it as I did. For now it's back to reality and happy writing!