Like bees to honey, RWA members (Romance Writers of America) travel to the hive each summer. This year the hive is San Francisco, and for me, the national conference feels like coming home - wherever home happens to be that summer. I, along with all the other writer bees, arrive for the big festivities beginning Wednesday. This is my fourth conference - I missed one so as not to leave my newborn. Otherwise, it's a Must Attend event. Now my only new babies are books.
My first conference was in 2004. For new-bees, the conference experience is quite different than for pub-bees. I recall running into an Oklahoma author at the time who was a long-time pub-bee, and I asked her what workshops she was attending. She laughed and said, "Oh, I don't come for the workshops. It's a huge networking conference for me." I smiled, my huge highlighted workshop schedule in my bag, thinking, "when will it become a big networking event for me?" At the time, I had so much to learn. I can't believe just four years later, I've metamorphed from new-bee to pub-bee and care most about connecting with writer friends, meeting with my publicist, editor, publisher and agent and having fun.
I no longer let the ear-deafening buzz of the hive bother me. (Crowds have never been my thing.) This year I'm even taking my videocamera along to capture some great pieces for A/B TV to post on athenasbookshelf.com and YouTube. I want the world to see how fabulous this group of women is. If you see my camera, don't be a shy-bee.
If you're reading this and you're a new-bee, be sure and hit the literacy event Wednesday evening and peruse the schedule to hear from best-selling authors. I don't necessarily think their advice is any more sound than anybody else's, but you go in because you must know - you must believe - that someday that could be you giving that very same workshop. The publisher workshops are always enlightening to hear what they love and what they're looking for. The pub-hosted book signings where for the cost of standing in line a bit, you get a free author-signed copy from your favorite authors and lines.
The big shin dig is Saturday night at the "Oscar-ish" Rita (pubbed) and Golden Heart (unpubbed) awards ceremony. Unfortunately, I've gone back home each year on Saturday, usually to do with babysitting, missing my kids and not ever having nominated a book of my own (though I'll consider it for next year's.) This year I was planning on attending the gala but my daughter's Annie schedule came out and I must return to see her final performance on Sunday afternoon, which means, again, I'll be a no show. But I'll be checking in and posting all the winners on my site.
Good luck to the nominees and I hope to see you in SanFran!