Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cinderella At the Ball - My First RWA Conference Experience

Last week I attended the Romance Writers of America annual convention. I hadn’t planned to go. But when three weeks before the conference  I suddenly found myself with a publisher who wanted to wine & dine me while there, I decided I was awesome  to attend.

A well-attended Harlequin workshop
Hey, especially since it was in Atlanta, my old high school stomping grounds.  Plus, my parental units are in Georgia = free babysitting.

There were about 2500 people (I’ll admit, mostly women) in attendance. The different types of romance writers present ran the absolute gamut: from sweet, inspirational romances to the type of stuff I cannot even think about without blushing.

We came together to celebrate and learn and meet and commiserate.  And I must say, it was wonderful.

Here was a group of women who understood almost every issue I have that involves writing. Joys such as: writing while children are screaming for dinner, the challenges of your “writing space” being the living room couch, and writing a sex scene when you know your mom is going to read it.

Everybody understood my problems and I understood theirs. I walked into a sisterhood I never knew I needed. But I know now.

My SOLD! Ribbon

It was my first RWA conference, although I didn’t wear the little
ribbon they gave me for my name tag that said so (btw, I don't wear a
t-shirt saying “I’m a tourist!!!” when I go to a new city either). But I did proudly sport my SOLD! ribbon indicating that I had sold my first book.

I was able to attend workshops about Surviving You First Book Deal, Boosting Energy & Beating Stress (more vegetables? Gross), Developing an Online Presence (wait, you want me to use social media MORE than I do now? Is that possible?), and Ergonomics for Writers (You mean sitting hunched over a computer for twelve hours in a row is not good for me?).

Plus there were workshops on self-publishing (which was, by far, the best attended workshops), pitches, plots, dialogue, research, serial killers, forensics, queries, steampunk and dozens of other topics. I didn’t make it to any of those, sadly.

Heather Long, Delores Fossen, Bab Han
Although the RWA convention itself was great, the really fabulous part for me was going there as Harlequin Author. I’ll never get tired of saying it… “Janie Crouch, author.”

Well, almost author. Soon. You know, in April 2014. But that little not-quite-published-yet detail didn’t matter to Harlequin. They brought me in like one of the family.

I got to go to parties and receptions and lunches and dinners, even a pajama party – all paid for by my publisher. Author-only stuff, like the famous (amongst writers) Harlequin soiree this year held at the Ritz Carlton.  I must admit, I felt important. Appreciated. Like Cinderella at the ball, except there were no pumpkins at midnight.

I was able to meet my delightful editor face-to-face and am looking forward to having a long and fruitful relationship with her. She’s tiny and fun. I'm sorry I don't have pictures us.

Nora Roberts& stalker on the dance floor
Plus, I got to see Nora Roberts (arguably the biggest name in contemporary romance) dancing to It’s Raining Men at the Harlequin Author party! I had to keep my distance due to an earlier... er,... stalking event, but we still did a "walk-by photo shoot". That woman can dance!

More importantly (yes, even more important than Nora Roberts dancing), I met the wonderful ladies of the Intrigue line. All of them highly successful authors, yet they still took me – someone they had never met and never read – and treated me like one of their own.  We laughed and sang and took crazy pictures and chatted for hours. They offered invaluable advice, and I’m thankful. I hope to be friends with these ladies for years to come.

Intrigue Authors - a true sisterhood
...or something. :-)
I left RWA counting my blessings: To have a book finished and new one in the works. To have a publishing contract. To have a husband and family who support me in all my neuroses.  And to have new friends who understand exactly where I am and where I'm trying to get. 

Cinderella at the ball, indeed. And no pumpkins in sight.


  1. Janie, I LOVED meeting you!!! You owe me a dance next year in San Antonio. :)

    1. You too, Delores. Thanks for all your advice and wisdom! And yes, dancing in San Antonio is a must!

  2. It was a blast meeting you! Definitely keep in touch

    1. You too, Heather. Thanks for making the Harlequin party such a blast!

  3. It was a treat to meet you, Janie. I love how you and the other newbies just jumped right in to have fun with us. Intriguers are very special! Glad your first conference was a great experience for you!

    1. Julie, thanks for making us feel so welcome. It was wonderful (and such an honor!) to meet you.

  4. You're stuck with me as a friend, kiddo !
    Glad you're a part of Intrigue!

    1. As if I would ever want to get rid of you! :)

  5. What a great time we had, Janie! Wasn't it the best time ever?!? I can't wait until San Antonio when we can all be together again. Miss everyone bunches.

    1. Miss you too! Was so much fun!! Let's room together in SA!