#RWA16 Recap: My Third Conference

July 20, 2016

This year, the Romance Writers of America's national conference took place in my neck of the woods, San Diego. Many SoCal writers attended, and I was thrilled to reunite with my author friends from all over the country.

Along with the usual array of panels and spotlights, there were publisher-sponsored book signings and the large literacy signing on Wednesday night. Parties and special events were preceded by meetings and pitches with editors and agents. The conference concluded with the RITA ceremony on Saturday night.

This is my third conference. Two of my favorite authors, Beverly Jenkins and Sherry Thomas, gave the keynote and general session speeches. I liked seeing more diversity in the RITA and Golden Heart nominee lists. All of the self-publishing workshops were standing-room only. Two trends I heard mentioned a lot were a deepening interest in author branding and in the rise of a new kind of hero: the silver fox.

San Diego felt more subdued than other conferences I've attended. Even in the pink champagne bubble of Romancelandia, people appeared weary. We carry the weight of recent events. We are ushering our careers through times of great change not only in this industry, but in this country. We are waiting for a real-world HEA that seems like it will never come.

For me, the value in attending this conference is not only the professional connections I make, but the personal ones, too. I got to meet people in person whom I've fangirled over like crazy (usually on Twitter). I met a few bloggers and a few other authors at different points in their careers. I met industry professionals and got their take on what to expect in the coming months. And I learned so much. I always do at this particular conference.

Here are some snapshots from San Diego. Enjoy!

Sample production schedule for self-published authors.

Literacy signing. Authors and readers raised over $30,000 for local literacy programs in San Diego.

Me and author Sherry Thomas.

Authors Leonora Bell, Sienna Snow, and me.

Authors J. Kenner, Lauren Dane, and Alisha Rai on erotic romance.

Me and my 2016 badge.

Notes for one of the workshops. When something is important, I circle it and write, "MEOW."

Me and author Jill Sorenson.

Lunch at the Carnitas Snack Shack. San Diego is a great eating town!

The view from our room in the Westgate Hotel.

Courtney Milan and Alisha Rai on author branding.

The Write Smarter, Write Faster presentation.  

After the conference. I fell asleep at a coffee house.