Celebrate Romance! And other writing conferences

Cat_243_dover_33 by Mary Jo

This blog started out as something of a public service announcement, when an organizer of Celebrate Romance asked if we’d be willing to mention their upcoming conference.  Since CR is unique in being a conference organized by and for romance readers, and at least four Wenches have attended them, It seemed worth doing.  Then I started thinking about conferences in general.  More on that below, but first:

“Cebrate Romance is 10 years young this year.  We are  looking for readers who love their romance novels and want to meet others who share the same passion.  The conference will be held in Kansas City, MO this year on March 2-4.  We will be meeting at the Sheraton Suites hotel on Country Club Plaza.   We have a lot of entertaining activities planned.   There is an optional activity on Saturday night that will give you a chance to enjoy some of the best barbecue that Kansas City has to offer.  The advanced booktrade offers Readcolorfulbook everyone the opportunity to obtain books that they’d had a hard time finding in their home city.  Visit our website at http://www.crspring.com/ for more information   The website contains the schedule and contact information. “

As I understand it, CR began when avid romance readers from internet groups decided to get together so they could meet in person, talk about books, and generally have a fine time.  The fact that they’ve been doing it for ten years proves it’s a success. <G>  CR quickly became a destination for authors as word got around that it was a chance to introduce your books to serious readers who would go online and tell THE WORLD if they like your stories.  Plus, writers are treated like royalty.  What’s not to like? <g>  A good time is had by all.  Take a look at their site if you think you might be interested, particularly if you’re within driving range of Kansas City.  (Incidentally, I’ve been to a couple of conferences in Readmodernladytablecity_1 KC, and it’s a great town to visit.) 

As I said above, CR may be the only reader generated romance conference, but there are plenty of other genre cons out there, and they all have their own nature. 

RWA conferences, both regional and national, are attended mostly by writers, both published and aspiring.  There is an emphasis on professionalism, and well organized sessions are about aspects of writing and publishing.  Generally appointments are available with editors and agents.  For the editors and agents, there’s the hope of finding a great new writer, and for the aspiring writers, it’s a chance to meet publishing professionals.  And even for multi-publisher authors, there is immense clothing anxiety before the national conference!  Since writers Readgreenwomanbook don’t get out much, many of us worry about what to wear. <g>

A nice feature of RWA national is the literacy signing.  Literally HUNDREDS of authors participate, signing books donated by their publishers.  Tons of money are raised for literacy, and really, you will never see as many authors and piles of books in one place!

Breaking into publishing is never easy, but good things can happen at RWA conferences.  A friend of mine had an interview with her dream Regency editor, who said to send in her manuscript.  My friend had a copy of the ms. with her, so she marched down to the hotel mailing room and sent it off to NYC.  The editor bought the book, and my friend went on to publish something like 45 Signet Diabolical_baronoriginal_3 Regencies before she retired. 

Romantic Times conventions have a lot of business-oriented workshops, but at heart, they’re a great big party. <G>  All aspects of the business come together—readers, writers, booksellers, aspiring cover models, etc.  There are sessions about writing, but also a cover model pageant, a costume ball, maybe a vampire ball. (Some amazing costume makers come.)  I remember the year—Ft. Worth, I think—where a couple got married at the convention, and several gorgeous hunk male models pulled their carriage out of the ballroom. <G>  RT is unique, and great fun, Rt_mr_romance_1 especially for extroverts.  http://tinyurl.com/y8utm6 

General writer conferences are different since they usually deal with all kinds of writing: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, playwriting, etc.  The Pike’s Peak conference (where I’m speaking in April) is one such:  http://www.ppwc.net/ppwc07.html#schedule   Lots of variety and lots to be learned.  It’s also a reminder that romantic fiction is only one small part of the publishing business. 

Sff conventions, called cons, have a flavor all their own.  Dress is casual in the extreme—in some cases, downright disreputable <g>—but there are also people in fabulous costumes: elves and characters from Star Trek or Lord of the Rings, or Worldcon_xena_1 Xena, Warrior Princess.  There are multiple tracks—not just writing, but movies, “filking” (which is sff folk music), media, gaming, etc.  Sometimes whole families attend, with kids shooting off to the game room or the manga sessions. 

There will usually be a fabulous book room, with sff and related books both old and new, and a dealers’ room with costumes, jewelry, weapons, and other fun stuff.  A friend who was raised in the “fandom”—that is, the fan community—assures me that it isn’t actually necessary to read sff to be part of the community.  <g>  It’s a very tolerant community, and lots of fun. 

Worldcon_picture_1 A new wrinkle in just the last year or two are cons held by authors for their fans.  Sherrilyn Kenyon fans sold out October’s K-Con in New Orleans in hours and could have had as many as 100 readers if there was room.  (http://www.dailyinquisitor.com/sherrilyn/ )  Suzanne Brockmann had a fan gathering in Atlanta this past summer, timed to tie in with the RWA national conference a few days later.  The success of these ventures suggest that there will be more in the future. 

Mystery_coverlillian_1 One thing I’ve no experience in is mystery conferences, so I asked some mystery writer friends, all of whom have attended genres other than mystery.  They are Denise Dietz ( http://www.denisedietz.com), Lillian Stewart Carl (http://lillianstewartcarl.com/) and Annette Mahon (http://annettemahon.com/) and they have lots of years of writing and conference experience.   

They say that mystery cons like Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime and Malice Mystery_cover Domestic are FAN conferences.  Since Malice focuses on traditional and cozy mysteries, it tend to have more females.  (The Agatha awards presented there for best books are teapots. <G>)  Authors attend, of course, but very few wannabees.  Mystery conferences usually cost only half as much as romance, because romance gatherings usually include more meals. (Sff cons are even cheaper.)

Mystery cons are, for the most part, *very* laid-back. No dress code (lots of jeans and tees). There is much more "dress up," sequins and makeup at rom cons.  Sff is even more laid-back, except for the fabulous costumes. 

Mystery cons have an all-night poker game <vbg>.  Bouchercon has an annual basketball game. 

Mystery_coverannette Annette adds, “Also, mystery cons have auctions, which are a big part of most mystery cons and I’ve never seen at romance ones.  The conference people pick a charity and then the authors donate things, usually having to do with their books.  Characters in a future novel are popular.  as you know, Deni has offered pet names and I’ve put up a quilt that can be autographed by favorite authors.” 

There are cliques and politics all over. (This is true of all groups, of course!)

So there’s a swift survey of writing conferences, and they are held just about everywhere, should you have the desire to attend. What’s my personal favorite conference?  Novelists, Inc.  Ninc is a group of authors of popular fiction—one has to have two published novels to qualify for membership.  Conferences tend to be small, laidback, and very much we’re-all-writers-together in atmosphere.  We share war stories (and even top bestsellers have plenty of them!) and listen to Dangerous_to_know_9 experts in interesting things like penjak and criminal techniques, and generally have a good time.  It’s the only conference where I don’t go home exhausted!

Note how often I use the word ‘fun’ in describing these events.  It’s great to get together with people who share your enthusiasms, and the world is full of groups who demonstrate that. 

So what about you folks?  Many of you are writers, and all are readers?  Have you been to writing conferences?  Would you like to?  Share! 

Mary Jo

92 thoughts on “Celebrate Romance! And other writing conferences”

  1. What a masterly classification of conferences! I have been to one RWA conference, and I was fascinated by the ways in which it resembled and differed from the academic gatherings I have been accustomed to. It was a very enjoyable and well-organised event.
    The word ‘con’ as used by certain interest communities is a *huge* problem for me, though. It already has several meanings as a noun, but the primary one in my mind (and not, I am sure, only mine) is ‘confidence trick, deception, swindle’. Do Americans not speak of ‘con men’? Is it just British English?
    I would certainly think twice before deciding to attend a con…
    😮 🙂

    Reply
  2. What a masterly classification of conferences! I have been to one RWA conference, and I was fascinated by the ways in which it resembled and differed from the academic gatherings I have been accustomed to. It was a very enjoyable and well-organised event.
    The word ‘con’ as used by certain interest communities is a *huge* problem for me, though. It already has several meanings as a noun, but the primary one in my mind (and not, I am sure, only mine) is ‘confidence trick, deception, swindle’. Do Americans not speak of ‘con men’? Is it just British English?
    I would certainly think twice before deciding to attend a con…
    😮 🙂

    Reply
  3. What a masterly classification of conferences! I have been to one RWA conference, and I was fascinated by the ways in which it resembled and differed from the academic gatherings I have been accustomed to. It was a very enjoyable and well-organised event.
    The word ‘con’ as used by certain interest communities is a *huge* problem for me, though. It already has several meanings as a noun, but the primary one in my mind (and not, I am sure, only mine) is ‘confidence trick, deception, swindle’. Do Americans not speak of ‘con men’? Is it just British English?
    I would certainly think twice before deciding to attend a con…
    😮 🙂

    Reply
  4. What a masterly classification of conferences! I have been to one RWA conference, and I was fascinated by the ways in which it resembled and differed from the academic gatherings I have been accustomed to. It was a very enjoyable and well-organised event.
    The word ‘con’ as used by certain interest communities is a *huge* problem for me, though. It already has several meanings as a noun, but the primary one in my mind (and not, I am sure, only mine) is ‘confidence trick, deception, swindle’. Do Americans not speak of ‘con men’? Is it just British English?
    I would certainly think twice before deciding to attend a con…
    😮 🙂

    Reply
  5. You’ve made me want to pack a bag and go somewhere. Thanks for the rundown on the fun. From what I’ve seen of RWA conferences, there’s a LOT of cleavage and cocktails—my kind of people!
    How do all these appointments with editors and agents get set up? Is there a master sign-up sheet somewhere? I’d love a blog on what you need to do to make a pitch. Sherrie, please write that down!

    Reply
  6. You’ve made me want to pack a bag and go somewhere. Thanks for the rundown on the fun. From what I’ve seen of RWA conferences, there’s a LOT of cleavage and cocktails—my kind of people!
    How do all these appointments with editors and agents get set up? Is there a master sign-up sheet somewhere? I’d love a blog on what you need to do to make a pitch. Sherrie, please write that down!

    Reply
  7. You’ve made me want to pack a bag and go somewhere. Thanks for the rundown on the fun. From what I’ve seen of RWA conferences, there’s a LOT of cleavage and cocktails—my kind of people!
    How do all these appointments with editors and agents get set up? Is there a master sign-up sheet somewhere? I’d love a blog on what you need to do to make a pitch. Sherrie, please write that down!

    Reply
  8. You’ve made me want to pack a bag and go somewhere. Thanks for the rundown on the fun. From what I’ve seen of RWA conferences, there’s a LOT of cleavage and cocktails—my kind of people!
    How do all these appointments with editors and agents get set up? Is there a master sign-up sheet somewhere? I’d love a blog on what you need to do to make a pitch. Sherrie, please write that down!

    Reply
  9. The descriptions of the conferences sound like so much fun! Some of these days, I will pack a bag and attend one.
    I have a question and it is completely off topic, but it popped into my head recently – have you ever finished a book, sent it in, had it published and then wished you had added another chapter to the end of it, or changed how it ended?

    Reply
  10. The descriptions of the conferences sound like so much fun! Some of these days, I will pack a bag and attend one.
    I have a question and it is completely off topic, but it popped into my head recently – have you ever finished a book, sent it in, had it published and then wished you had added another chapter to the end of it, or changed how it ended?

    Reply
  11. The descriptions of the conferences sound like so much fun! Some of these days, I will pack a bag and attend one.
    I have a question and it is completely off topic, but it popped into my head recently – have you ever finished a book, sent it in, had it published and then wished you had added another chapter to the end of it, or changed how it ended?

    Reply
  12. The descriptions of the conferences sound like so much fun! Some of these days, I will pack a bag and attend one.
    I have a question and it is completely off topic, but it popped into my head recently – have you ever finished a book, sent it in, had it published and then wished you had added another chapter to the end of it, or changed how it ended?

    Reply
  13. AgTigress, Americans do speak of con men, but IMO rarely use “con” alone as a noun. It’s not that we wouldn’t recognize the meaning, just that we’d be more likely to say something like “scam” or “rip-off.” (In fact, I’d be more likely to say “scam artist” than “con man.”)
    Anyway, I love conferences–there’s nothing like being surrounded by other people who love writing and understand its joys and struggles. I did, however, find my first RWA National last summer a little overwhelming–it’s almost TOO big. There’s a lot to be said for smaller local and/or more specialized conferences.
    This year I’m skipping National (though I plan to go to San Francisco in ’08) and going to the Historical Novel Society conference in Albany in June. It’s a very short conference, just a day and a half of workshops, but they look so good! In almost every time slot, I wish I could be at least two places at once. Here’s the schedule in case anyone else might be interested:
    http://www.historicalnovelsociety.org/albany/schedule.htm

    Reply
  14. AgTigress, Americans do speak of con men, but IMO rarely use “con” alone as a noun. It’s not that we wouldn’t recognize the meaning, just that we’d be more likely to say something like “scam” or “rip-off.” (In fact, I’d be more likely to say “scam artist” than “con man.”)
    Anyway, I love conferences–there’s nothing like being surrounded by other people who love writing and understand its joys and struggles. I did, however, find my first RWA National last summer a little overwhelming–it’s almost TOO big. There’s a lot to be said for smaller local and/or more specialized conferences.
    This year I’m skipping National (though I plan to go to San Francisco in ’08) and going to the Historical Novel Society conference in Albany in June. It’s a very short conference, just a day and a half of workshops, but they look so good! In almost every time slot, I wish I could be at least two places at once. Here’s the schedule in case anyone else might be interested:
    http://www.historicalnovelsociety.org/albany/schedule.htm

    Reply
  15. AgTigress, Americans do speak of con men, but IMO rarely use “con” alone as a noun. It’s not that we wouldn’t recognize the meaning, just that we’d be more likely to say something like “scam” or “rip-off.” (In fact, I’d be more likely to say “scam artist” than “con man.”)
    Anyway, I love conferences–there’s nothing like being surrounded by other people who love writing and understand its joys and struggles. I did, however, find my first RWA National last summer a little overwhelming–it’s almost TOO big. There’s a lot to be said for smaller local and/or more specialized conferences.
    This year I’m skipping National (though I plan to go to San Francisco in ’08) and going to the Historical Novel Society conference in Albany in June. It’s a very short conference, just a day and a half of workshops, but they look so good! In almost every time slot, I wish I could be at least two places at once. Here’s the schedule in case anyone else might be interested:
    http://www.historicalnovelsociety.org/albany/schedule.htm

    Reply
  16. AgTigress, Americans do speak of con men, but IMO rarely use “con” alone as a noun. It’s not that we wouldn’t recognize the meaning, just that we’d be more likely to say something like “scam” or “rip-off.” (In fact, I’d be more likely to say “scam artist” than “con man.”)
    Anyway, I love conferences–there’s nothing like being surrounded by other people who love writing and understand its joys and struggles. I did, however, find my first RWA National last summer a little overwhelming–it’s almost TOO big. There’s a lot to be said for smaller local and/or more specialized conferences.
    This year I’m skipping National (though I plan to go to San Francisco in ’08) and going to the Historical Novel Society conference in Albany in June. It’s a very short conference, just a day and a half of workshops, but they look so good! In almost every time slot, I wish I could be at least two places at once. Here’s the schedule in case anyone else might be interested:
    http://www.historicalnovelsociety.org/albany/schedule.htm

    Reply
  17. As a member of the board of Novelists Inc, we thank you for the endorsement! Ninc is my favorite, too. I’ve learned everything I wanted to know about the business there, and feel so much better knowing all writers go through stress and agony and defeat before hitting success. This year we’re talking about the future of the industry, which is likely to change radically over the next few years.
    And I agree that National RWA is just too overwhelming. There have been years I’ve not even sent in books for the contest because if I happened to be nominated, I’d feel obligated to go. I’m trying to get over that!

    Reply
  18. As a member of the board of Novelists Inc, we thank you for the endorsement! Ninc is my favorite, too. I’ve learned everything I wanted to know about the business there, and feel so much better knowing all writers go through stress and agony and defeat before hitting success. This year we’re talking about the future of the industry, which is likely to change radically over the next few years.
    And I agree that National RWA is just too overwhelming. There have been years I’ve not even sent in books for the contest because if I happened to be nominated, I’d feel obligated to go. I’m trying to get over that!

    Reply
  19. As a member of the board of Novelists Inc, we thank you for the endorsement! Ninc is my favorite, too. I’ve learned everything I wanted to know about the business there, and feel so much better knowing all writers go through stress and agony and defeat before hitting success. This year we’re talking about the future of the industry, which is likely to change radically over the next few years.
    And I agree that National RWA is just too overwhelming. There have been years I’ve not even sent in books for the contest because if I happened to be nominated, I’d feel obligated to go. I’m trying to get over that!

    Reply
  20. As a member of the board of Novelists Inc, we thank you for the endorsement! Ninc is my favorite, too. I’ve learned everything I wanted to know about the business there, and feel so much better knowing all writers go through stress and agony and defeat before hitting success. This year we’re talking about the future of the industry, which is likely to change radically over the next few years.
    And I agree that National RWA is just too overwhelming. There have been years I’ve not even sent in books for the contest because if I happened to be nominated, I’d feel obligated to go. I’m trying to get over that!

    Reply
  21. Maggie said…”From what I’ve seen of RWA conferences, there’s a LOT of cleavage and cocktails—”
    I think I’d rather die than walk into a room like that. Conferences terrify me to no end! So, I try very hard not to think about them.
    But, Mary Jo, you did an excellent job talking about all of the different kinds. Very informative in a nice distant sort of way. And I suppose that if the room was filled with just wenches and wenchlings, it wouldn’t be so scary.
    Ag, I’ll give your ‘con’ question a go. Here is my guess as to why Sff events are called cons. In many sf TV shows, movies and books (Star Trek series especially) the bridge has a ‘con.’ The whole of the ship can be controlled from the con. To be called to the con (or more accurately to directed to ‘take the con’) is a great honor. Thus perhaps that is why sff fans like to call their events ‘cons.’
    Nina

    Reply
  22. Maggie said…”From what I’ve seen of RWA conferences, there’s a LOT of cleavage and cocktails—”
    I think I’d rather die than walk into a room like that. Conferences terrify me to no end! So, I try very hard not to think about them.
    But, Mary Jo, you did an excellent job talking about all of the different kinds. Very informative in a nice distant sort of way. And I suppose that if the room was filled with just wenches and wenchlings, it wouldn’t be so scary.
    Ag, I’ll give your ‘con’ question a go. Here is my guess as to why Sff events are called cons. In many sf TV shows, movies and books (Star Trek series especially) the bridge has a ‘con.’ The whole of the ship can be controlled from the con. To be called to the con (or more accurately to directed to ‘take the con’) is a great honor. Thus perhaps that is why sff fans like to call their events ‘cons.’
    Nina

    Reply
  23. Maggie said…”From what I’ve seen of RWA conferences, there’s a LOT of cleavage and cocktails—”
    I think I’d rather die than walk into a room like that. Conferences terrify me to no end! So, I try very hard not to think about them.
    But, Mary Jo, you did an excellent job talking about all of the different kinds. Very informative in a nice distant sort of way. And I suppose that if the room was filled with just wenches and wenchlings, it wouldn’t be so scary.
    Ag, I’ll give your ‘con’ question a go. Here is my guess as to why Sff events are called cons. In many sf TV shows, movies and books (Star Trek series especially) the bridge has a ‘con.’ The whole of the ship can be controlled from the con. To be called to the con (or more accurately to directed to ‘take the con’) is a great honor. Thus perhaps that is why sff fans like to call their events ‘cons.’
    Nina

    Reply
  24. Maggie said…”From what I’ve seen of RWA conferences, there’s a LOT of cleavage and cocktails—”
    I think I’d rather die than walk into a room like that. Conferences terrify me to no end! So, I try very hard not to think about them.
    But, Mary Jo, you did an excellent job talking about all of the different kinds. Very informative in a nice distant sort of way. And I suppose that if the room was filled with just wenches and wenchlings, it wouldn’t be so scary.
    Ag, I’ll give your ‘con’ question a go. Here is my guess as to why Sff events are called cons. In many sf TV shows, movies and books (Star Trek series especially) the bridge has a ‘con.’ The whole of the ship can be controlled from the con. To be called to the con (or more accurately to directed to ‘take the con’) is a great honor. Thus perhaps that is why sff fans like to call their events ‘cons.’
    Nina

    Reply
  25. Nina, your comment on ‘con’ is most interesting. I had simply taken it to be an abbreviation of ‘CONference’, just as it is of ‘CONvict’ and ‘CONfidence trickster’!
    What you say would make it a new noun from the nautical verb ‘to con’, meaning to *steer* (hence the conning tower of a submarine). I doubt a little whether that was the primary origin of the word in relation to conferences – or congresses – but it might well have been something that the science fiction fans saw as a very appropriate double meaning.
    🙂

    Reply
  26. Nina, your comment on ‘con’ is most interesting. I had simply taken it to be an abbreviation of ‘CONference’, just as it is of ‘CONvict’ and ‘CONfidence trickster’!
    What you say would make it a new noun from the nautical verb ‘to con’, meaning to *steer* (hence the conning tower of a submarine). I doubt a little whether that was the primary origin of the word in relation to conferences – or congresses – but it might well have been something that the science fiction fans saw as a very appropriate double meaning.
    🙂

    Reply
  27. Nina, your comment on ‘con’ is most interesting. I had simply taken it to be an abbreviation of ‘CONference’, just as it is of ‘CONvict’ and ‘CONfidence trickster’!
    What you say would make it a new noun from the nautical verb ‘to con’, meaning to *steer* (hence the conning tower of a submarine). I doubt a little whether that was the primary origin of the word in relation to conferences – or congresses – but it might well have been something that the science fiction fans saw as a very appropriate double meaning.
    🙂

    Reply
  28. Nina, your comment on ‘con’ is most interesting. I had simply taken it to be an abbreviation of ‘CONference’, just as it is of ‘CONvict’ and ‘CONfidence trickster’!
    What you say would make it a new noun from the nautical verb ‘to con’, meaning to *steer* (hence the conning tower of a submarine). I doubt a little whether that was the primary origin of the word in relation to conferences – or congresses – but it might well have been something that the science fiction fans saw as a very appropriate double meaning.
    🙂

    Reply
  29. “From what I’ve seen of RWA conferences, there’s a LOT of cleavage and cocktails—”
    Hahahaha! Maggie, this feels a bit like the old fable about six blind men describing an elephant. I think of RWA as more like black-clad editors and agents, and chocolate-dipped strawberries and champagne. It’s also probably the only national conference that drives hotel bar-staff crazy with clusters of women staking out tables for hours on end and ordering….tea.
    AgTigress, I LIKE your interpretation of Cons as a hotbed of confidence men and convicts. Surprisingly accurate, too, if there are predatory questionable agents trolling the lobby…
    Though there’s nothing quite like an RT convention. You’ll never forget the first time you’re alone in an elevator with some bronzed, tatooed, and moussed young muscle-man dressed only in a fake-fur loincloth. Huh.
    Fun post, MJP!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  30. “From what I’ve seen of RWA conferences, there’s a LOT of cleavage and cocktails—”
    Hahahaha! Maggie, this feels a bit like the old fable about six blind men describing an elephant. I think of RWA as more like black-clad editors and agents, and chocolate-dipped strawberries and champagne. It’s also probably the only national conference that drives hotel bar-staff crazy with clusters of women staking out tables for hours on end and ordering….tea.
    AgTigress, I LIKE your interpretation of Cons as a hotbed of confidence men and convicts. Surprisingly accurate, too, if there are predatory questionable agents trolling the lobby…
    Though there’s nothing quite like an RT convention. You’ll never forget the first time you’re alone in an elevator with some bronzed, tatooed, and moussed young muscle-man dressed only in a fake-fur loincloth. Huh.
    Fun post, MJP!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  31. “From what I’ve seen of RWA conferences, there’s a LOT of cleavage and cocktails—”
    Hahahaha! Maggie, this feels a bit like the old fable about six blind men describing an elephant. I think of RWA as more like black-clad editors and agents, and chocolate-dipped strawberries and champagne. It’s also probably the only national conference that drives hotel bar-staff crazy with clusters of women staking out tables for hours on end and ordering….tea.
    AgTigress, I LIKE your interpretation of Cons as a hotbed of confidence men and convicts. Surprisingly accurate, too, if there are predatory questionable agents trolling the lobby…
    Though there’s nothing quite like an RT convention. You’ll never forget the first time you’re alone in an elevator with some bronzed, tatooed, and moussed young muscle-man dressed only in a fake-fur loincloth. Huh.
    Fun post, MJP!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  32. “From what I’ve seen of RWA conferences, there’s a LOT of cleavage and cocktails—”
    Hahahaha! Maggie, this feels a bit like the old fable about six blind men describing an elephant. I think of RWA as more like black-clad editors and agents, and chocolate-dipped strawberries and champagne. It’s also probably the only national conference that drives hotel bar-staff crazy with clusters of women staking out tables for hours on end and ordering….tea.
    AgTigress, I LIKE your interpretation of Cons as a hotbed of confidence men and convicts. Surprisingly accurate, too, if there are predatory questionable agents trolling the lobby…
    Though there’s nothing quite like an RT convention. You’ll never forget the first time you’re alone in an elevator with some bronzed, tatooed, and moussed young muscle-man dressed only in a fake-fur loincloth. Huh.
    Fun post, MJP!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  33. From MJP:
    The Question of Con:
    Nina, ingenious though your explanation is, I suspect that really, people where just shortening. 🙂 Three syllables to one–very efficient! (I’m rather boringly pragmatic much of the time. :))
    But you don’t need to worry about RWA conferences bursting with cleavage, sequins, and cocktails. That only happens if there is a banquet, and a lot of people dress fairly quietly even then. (If I ever wore sequins, I imagine that I’d leave trails of them behind me like fish scales….)
    Usual dress for an RWA gathering is business casual, or possibly business. There are some jeans visible, usually worn with a blazer for that professional touch.
    As Susan Miranda says, RWA members are not usually a drinking crowd. I’ve heard that the reason there has never been a national conference in Las Vegas, the King of Convention Towns, is because we don’t drink enough for the hotels to make their usual profit on us. 🙂
    As Susan W. said, national RWA can be REALLY overpowering, especially for a first timer. Regional RWAs tend to follow the same format and have the same benefits, but in a more manageable size.
    Maggie, when one registers for an RWA conference, the registration form usually asks if you want an agent or editor appointment.
    At the conference, you can usually tell who has an upcoming appointment because they’re very carefully dressed, and there is terror in their eyes. 🙂 They usually come out looking a lot happiers because editors and agents (who tend to be small, fast, and dressed in black) are very good at dealing with terror. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  34. From MJP:
    The Question of Con:
    Nina, ingenious though your explanation is, I suspect that really, people where just shortening. 🙂 Three syllables to one–very efficient! (I’m rather boringly pragmatic much of the time. :))
    But you don’t need to worry about RWA conferences bursting with cleavage, sequins, and cocktails. That only happens if there is a banquet, and a lot of people dress fairly quietly even then. (If I ever wore sequins, I imagine that I’d leave trails of them behind me like fish scales….)
    Usual dress for an RWA gathering is business casual, or possibly business. There are some jeans visible, usually worn with a blazer for that professional touch.
    As Susan Miranda says, RWA members are not usually a drinking crowd. I’ve heard that the reason there has never been a national conference in Las Vegas, the King of Convention Towns, is because we don’t drink enough for the hotels to make their usual profit on us. 🙂
    As Susan W. said, national RWA can be REALLY overpowering, especially for a first timer. Regional RWAs tend to follow the same format and have the same benefits, but in a more manageable size.
    Maggie, when one registers for an RWA conference, the registration form usually asks if you want an agent or editor appointment.
    At the conference, you can usually tell who has an upcoming appointment because they’re very carefully dressed, and there is terror in their eyes. 🙂 They usually come out looking a lot happiers because editors and agents (who tend to be small, fast, and dressed in black) are very good at dealing with terror. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  35. From MJP:
    The Question of Con:
    Nina, ingenious though your explanation is, I suspect that really, people where just shortening. 🙂 Three syllables to one–very efficient! (I’m rather boringly pragmatic much of the time. :))
    But you don’t need to worry about RWA conferences bursting with cleavage, sequins, and cocktails. That only happens if there is a banquet, and a lot of people dress fairly quietly even then. (If I ever wore sequins, I imagine that I’d leave trails of them behind me like fish scales….)
    Usual dress for an RWA gathering is business casual, or possibly business. There are some jeans visible, usually worn with a blazer for that professional touch.
    As Susan Miranda says, RWA members are not usually a drinking crowd. I’ve heard that the reason there has never been a national conference in Las Vegas, the King of Convention Towns, is because we don’t drink enough for the hotels to make their usual profit on us. 🙂
    As Susan W. said, national RWA can be REALLY overpowering, especially for a first timer. Regional RWAs tend to follow the same format and have the same benefits, but in a more manageable size.
    Maggie, when one registers for an RWA conference, the registration form usually asks if you want an agent or editor appointment.
    At the conference, you can usually tell who has an upcoming appointment because they’re very carefully dressed, and there is terror in their eyes. 🙂 They usually come out looking a lot happiers because editors and agents (who tend to be small, fast, and dressed in black) are very good at dealing with terror. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  36. From MJP:
    The Question of Con:
    Nina, ingenious though your explanation is, I suspect that really, people where just shortening. 🙂 Three syllables to one–very efficient! (I’m rather boringly pragmatic much of the time. :))
    But you don’t need to worry about RWA conferences bursting with cleavage, sequins, and cocktails. That only happens if there is a banquet, and a lot of people dress fairly quietly even then. (If I ever wore sequins, I imagine that I’d leave trails of them behind me like fish scales….)
    Usual dress for an RWA gathering is business casual, or possibly business. There are some jeans visible, usually worn with a blazer for that professional touch.
    As Susan Miranda says, RWA members are not usually a drinking crowd. I’ve heard that the reason there has never been a national conference in Las Vegas, the King of Convention Towns, is because we don’t drink enough for the hotels to make their usual profit on us. 🙂
    As Susan W. said, national RWA can be REALLY overpowering, especially for a first timer. Regional RWAs tend to follow the same format and have the same benefits, but in a more manageable size.
    Maggie, when one registers for an RWA conference, the registration form usually asks if you want an agent or editor appointment.
    At the conference, you can usually tell who has an upcoming appointment because they’re very carefully dressed, and there is terror in their eyes. 🙂 They usually come out looking a lot happiers because editors and agents (who tend to be small, fast, and dressed in black) are very good at dealing with terror. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  37. MJP said… “They usually come out looking a lot happiers because editors and agents (who tend to be small, fast, and dressed in black) are very good at dealing with terror. :)”
    One is left wondering exactly how a small, quick, black enrobed person would go about allaying terror.

    Reply
  38. MJP said… “They usually come out looking a lot happiers because editors and agents (who tend to be small, fast, and dressed in black) are very good at dealing with terror. :)”
    One is left wondering exactly how a small, quick, black enrobed person would go about allaying terror.

    Reply
  39. MJP said… “They usually come out looking a lot happiers because editors and agents (who tend to be small, fast, and dressed in black) are very good at dealing with terror. :)”
    One is left wondering exactly how a small, quick, black enrobed person would go about allaying terror.

    Reply
  40. MJP said… “They usually come out looking a lot happiers because editors and agents (who tend to be small, fast, and dressed in black) are very good at dealing with terror. :)”
    One is left wondering exactly how a small, quick, black enrobed person would go about allaying terror.

    Reply
  41. From Sherrie:
    Mary Jo, wonderful rundown on conferences. Fascinating about the various dress codes. Wish I’d known that years ago when I worked downtown during a huge sff con. I went out to lunch and encountered Klingon warriors and other entities striding aggressively down the street toward me, headed for the same restaurant. They looked so menacing in their leathers, swords, chains, Frankenstein boots, and swirling capes!
    My first RWA national conference was in Orlando in 1997, and it was sensory overload for this conference newbie. I was a Golden Heart finalist, and Micki Nuding (who was at Avon, then) had judged my entry in several contests. She asked me to meet her in the hotel’s foliage-shrouded atrium to discuss my works. I was such a conference virgin that I had *no* idea what an honor it was to have an editor contact *me* for an appointment!
    We sat chatting in comfy club chairs among the foliage and all went well until I looked over Micki’s shoulder and saw 3 pairs of brightly eager eyes peering at us through the ferns. My roomies were hiding in the vegetation silently cheering me on! Try keeping a straight face after that!

    Reply
  42. From Sherrie:
    Mary Jo, wonderful rundown on conferences. Fascinating about the various dress codes. Wish I’d known that years ago when I worked downtown during a huge sff con. I went out to lunch and encountered Klingon warriors and other entities striding aggressively down the street toward me, headed for the same restaurant. They looked so menacing in their leathers, swords, chains, Frankenstein boots, and swirling capes!
    My first RWA national conference was in Orlando in 1997, and it was sensory overload for this conference newbie. I was a Golden Heart finalist, and Micki Nuding (who was at Avon, then) had judged my entry in several contests. She asked me to meet her in the hotel’s foliage-shrouded atrium to discuss my works. I was such a conference virgin that I had *no* idea what an honor it was to have an editor contact *me* for an appointment!
    We sat chatting in comfy club chairs among the foliage and all went well until I looked over Micki’s shoulder and saw 3 pairs of brightly eager eyes peering at us through the ferns. My roomies were hiding in the vegetation silently cheering me on! Try keeping a straight face after that!

    Reply
  43. From Sherrie:
    Mary Jo, wonderful rundown on conferences. Fascinating about the various dress codes. Wish I’d known that years ago when I worked downtown during a huge sff con. I went out to lunch and encountered Klingon warriors and other entities striding aggressively down the street toward me, headed for the same restaurant. They looked so menacing in their leathers, swords, chains, Frankenstein boots, and swirling capes!
    My first RWA national conference was in Orlando in 1997, and it was sensory overload for this conference newbie. I was a Golden Heart finalist, and Micki Nuding (who was at Avon, then) had judged my entry in several contests. She asked me to meet her in the hotel’s foliage-shrouded atrium to discuss my works. I was such a conference virgin that I had *no* idea what an honor it was to have an editor contact *me* for an appointment!
    We sat chatting in comfy club chairs among the foliage and all went well until I looked over Micki’s shoulder and saw 3 pairs of brightly eager eyes peering at us through the ferns. My roomies were hiding in the vegetation silently cheering me on! Try keeping a straight face after that!

    Reply
  44. From Sherrie:
    Mary Jo, wonderful rundown on conferences. Fascinating about the various dress codes. Wish I’d known that years ago when I worked downtown during a huge sff con. I went out to lunch and encountered Klingon warriors and other entities striding aggressively down the street toward me, headed for the same restaurant. They looked so menacing in their leathers, swords, chains, Frankenstein boots, and swirling capes!
    My first RWA national conference was in Orlando in 1997, and it was sensory overload for this conference newbie. I was a Golden Heart finalist, and Micki Nuding (who was at Avon, then) had judged my entry in several contests. She asked me to meet her in the hotel’s foliage-shrouded atrium to discuss my works. I was such a conference virgin that I had *no* idea what an honor it was to have an editor contact *me* for an appointment!
    We sat chatting in comfy club chairs among the foliage and all went well until I looked over Micki’s shoulder and saw 3 pairs of brightly eager eyes peering at us through the ferns. My roomies were hiding in the vegetation silently cheering me on! Try keeping a straight face after that!

    Reply
  45. Alas, no conventions in my past, but boy, since I’ve started reading romances and hunting online about them, I hate hearing about the mega-signing days at them. LOL 🙂 Maybe one of these days I can get loads of books too! 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  46. Alas, no conventions in my past, but boy, since I’ve started reading romances and hunting online about them, I hate hearing about the mega-signing days at them. LOL 🙂 Maybe one of these days I can get loads of books too! 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  47. Alas, no conventions in my past, but boy, since I’ve started reading romances and hunting online about them, I hate hearing about the mega-signing days at them. LOL 🙂 Maybe one of these days I can get loads of books too! 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  48. Alas, no conventions in my past, but boy, since I’ve started reading romances and hunting online about them, I hate hearing about the mega-signing days at them. LOL 🙂 Maybe one of these days I can get loads of books too! 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  49. Maggie said: “Sherrie, please write that down!”
    Got it, Maggie! Now is a good time to remind others that if you have a question or a suggestion for a blog topic, you can mention it in a comment, or better yet, send it to me at sholmes@holmesedit.com. I forward them to the Wenches for consideration and add them to our master list. If your item is chosen for a blog, you’ll win an autographed book! (Don’t forget to include your mailing address when you e-mail me)

    Reply
  50. Maggie said: “Sherrie, please write that down!”
    Got it, Maggie! Now is a good time to remind others that if you have a question or a suggestion for a blog topic, you can mention it in a comment, or better yet, send it to me at sholmes@holmesedit.com. I forward them to the Wenches for consideration and add them to our master list. If your item is chosen for a blog, you’ll win an autographed book! (Don’t forget to include your mailing address when you e-mail me)

    Reply
  51. Maggie said: “Sherrie, please write that down!”
    Got it, Maggie! Now is a good time to remind others that if you have a question or a suggestion for a blog topic, you can mention it in a comment, or better yet, send it to me at sholmes@holmesedit.com. I forward them to the Wenches for consideration and add them to our master list. If your item is chosen for a blog, you’ll win an autographed book! (Don’t forget to include your mailing address when you e-mail me)

    Reply
  52. Maggie said: “Sherrie, please write that down!”
    Got it, Maggie! Now is a good time to remind others that if you have a question or a suggestion for a blog topic, you can mention it in a comment, or better yet, send it to me at sholmes@holmesedit.com. I forward them to the Wenches for consideration and add them to our master list. If your item is chosen for a blog, you’ll win an autographed book! (Don’t forget to include your mailing address when you e-mail me)

    Reply
  53. RWA is a non-drinking crowd? Really?!?
    I’ve only been to Reno and Atlanta, but there were so many women at the bars you could barely manage to get a drink! We’d order three at a time cause who knew when we could order again. LOL! We started leaving outrageous tips so the bartender would wait on us whenever we waved.
    I’m an extrovert, and I don’t find it overwhelming in the slightest. I was a bit harried in Reno (Golden Heart finalist + teaching a 2 hr workshop with costume changes), in Atlanta I got to relax a bit (only taught a 1 hr workshop, no costumes or props). I’m totally jazzed about Dallas (my first Literacy Signing!).

    Reply
  54. RWA is a non-drinking crowd? Really?!?
    I’ve only been to Reno and Atlanta, but there were so many women at the bars you could barely manage to get a drink! We’d order three at a time cause who knew when we could order again. LOL! We started leaving outrageous tips so the bartender would wait on us whenever we waved.
    I’m an extrovert, and I don’t find it overwhelming in the slightest. I was a bit harried in Reno (Golden Heart finalist + teaching a 2 hr workshop with costume changes), in Atlanta I got to relax a bit (only taught a 1 hr workshop, no costumes or props). I’m totally jazzed about Dallas (my first Literacy Signing!).

    Reply
  55. RWA is a non-drinking crowd? Really?!?
    I’ve only been to Reno and Atlanta, but there were so many women at the bars you could barely manage to get a drink! We’d order three at a time cause who knew when we could order again. LOL! We started leaving outrageous tips so the bartender would wait on us whenever we waved.
    I’m an extrovert, and I don’t find it overwhelming in the slightest. I was a bit harried in Reno (Golden Heart finalist + teaching a 2 hr workshop with costume changes), in Atlanta I got to relax a bit (only taught a 1 hr workshop, no costumes or props). I’m totally jazzed about Dallas (my first Literacy Signing!).

    Reply
  56. RWA is a non-drinking crowd? Really?!?
    I’ve only been to Reno and Atlanta, but there were so many women at the bars you could barely manage to get a drink! We’d order three at a time cause who knew when we could order again. LOL! We started leaving outrageous tips so the bartender would wait on us whenever we waved.
    I’m an extrovert, and I don’t find it overwhelming in the slightest. I was a bit harried in Reno (Golden Heart finalist + teaching a 2 hr workshop with costume changes), in Atlanta I got to relax a bit (only taught a 1 hr workshop, no costumes or props). I’m totally jazzed about Dallas (my first Literacy Signing!).

    Reply
  57. The conference that I wish would happen would be a gathering of the wenches on this blog. That I would make a real effort to attend. — (hint!) (Hint!)
    Merry

    Reply
  58. The conference that I wish would happen would be a gathering of the wenches on this blog. That I would make a real effort to attend. — (hint!) (Hint!)
    Merry

    Reply
  59. The conference that I wish would happen would be a gathering of the wenches on this blog. That I would make a real effort to attend. — (hint!) (Hint!)
    Merry

    Reply
  60. The conference that I wish would happen would be a gathering of the wenches on this blog. That I would make a real effort to attend. — (hint!) (Hint!)
    Merry

    Reply
  61. Just wait ’til we get ’em in our home town next year, right, Kalen? Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha.
    San Franciscans know how to have a most excellent time. ;-j
    I’m fairly new to the romance genre and attended RWA National for the first time in Atlanta. I’m an introvert and I LOVED it. I shelled out the extra for a room alone, and as long as I had my sanctuary at day’s end, I was fine.
    I learned an incredible amount and took advantage of opportunity. I walked up to Matthew Shear of St. Martin’s and discussed one of my mainstream novels. He suggested I send it to Diane Reverend, (executive editor)who requested a full! She then wrote back saying she loved it, but she’d just published something with a plot set-up that was too close. But I now have a letter from Diane Reverend that gives me encouragement every day. That would not have happened if I had not gone to the conference. I am SO going to Atlanta!

    Reply
  62. Just wait ’til we get ’em in our home town next year, right, Kalen? Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha.
    San Franciscans know how to have a most excellent time. ;-j
    I’m fairly new to the romance genre and attended RWA National for the first time in Atlanta. I’m an introvert and I LOVED it. I shelled out the extra for a room alone, and as long as I had my sanctuary at day’s end, I was fine.
    I learned an incredible amount and took advantage of opportunity. I walked up to Matthew Shear of St. Martin’s and discussed one of my mainstream novels. He suggested I send it to Diane Reverend, (executive editor)who requested a full! She then wrote back saying she loved it, but she’d just published something with a plot set-up that was too close. But I now have a letter from Diane Reverend that gives me encouragement every day. That would not have happened if I had not gone to the conference. I am SO going to Atlanta!

    Reply
  63. Just wait ’til we get ’em in our home town next year, right, Kalen? Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha.
    San Franciscans know how to have a most excellent time. ;-j
    I’m fairly new to the romance genre and attended RWA National for the first time in Atlanta. I’m an introvert and I LOVED it. I shelled out the extra for a room alone, and as long as I had my sanctuary at day’s end, I was fine.
    I learned an incredible amount and took advantage of opportunity. I walked up to Matthew Shear of St. Martin’s and discussed one of my mainstream novels. He suggested I send it to Diane Reverend, (executive editor)who requested a full! She then wrote back saying she loved it, but she’d just published something with a plot set-up that was too close. But I now have a letter from Diane Reverend that gives me encouragement every day. That would not have happened if I had not gone to the conference. I am SO going to Atlanta!

    Reply
  64. Just wait ’til we get ’em in our home town next year, right, Kalen? Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha.
    San Franciscans know how to have a most excellent time. ;-j
    I’m fairly new to the romance genre and attended RWA National for the first time in Atlanta. I’m an introvert and I LOVED it. I shelled out the extra for a room alone, and as long as I had my sanctuary at day’s end, I was fine.
    I learned an incredible amount and took advantage of opportunity. I walked up to Matthew Shear of St. Martin’s and discussed one of my mainstream novels. He suggested I send it to Diane Reverend, (executive editor)who requested a full! She then wrote back saying she loved it, but she’d just published something with a plot set-up that was too close. But I now have a letter from Diane Reverend that gives me encouragement every day. That would not have happened if I had not gone to the conference. I am SO going to Atlanta!

    Reply
  65. I, too, find the national RWA conferences overwhelming, but I do like to attend regional conferences when possible–and Novelists Inc, when schedule/budget permits. This year I’m looking forward to the regional RWA conference in Vancouver, where I’ve never been before.

    Reply
  66. I, too, find the national RWA conferences overwhelming, but I do like to attend regional conferences when possible–and Novelists Inc, when schedule/budget permits. This year I’m looking forward to the regional RWA conference in Vancouver, where I’ve never been before.

    Reply
  67. I, too, find the national RWA conferences overwhelming, but I do like to attend regional conferences when possible–and Novelists Inc, when schedule/budget permits. This year I’m looking forward to the regional RWA conference in Vancouver, where I’ve never been before.

    Reply
  68. I, too, find the national RWA conferences overwhelming, but I do like to attend regional conferences when possible–and Novelists Inc, when schedule/budget permits. This year I’m looking forward to the regional RWA conference in Vancouver, where I’ve never been before.

    Reply
  69. Hi Mary Jo,
    I went to a science fiction con in Boston for a couple of years in the late 80’s (lots of big hair even for those not in costume). It was a pretty “hard science fiction” convention but always featured a “Regency Tea” (or was it a dance?–I think it was a dance) because, as the program stated, “The novels of Georgette Heyer are regarded by many as a fully developed alternative universe.” What I recall most about the Regency Tea (Dance) is the excessive amount of attention paid by the young men to the young women’s–er–endowments. Even I, who wasn’t really ogle material then even in my full flower of youth, remember dancing with some fellows whose eyes were always focused somewhere below my neck. (And I’ve always wondered since then if real dances in the Regency weren’t much the same. . .?)
    Melinda

    Reply
  70. Hi Mary Jo,
    I went to a science fiction con in Boston for a couple of years in the late 80’s (lots of big hair even for those not in costume). It was a pretty “hard science fiction” convention but always featured a “Regency Tea” (or was it a dance?–I think it was a dance) because, as the program stated, “The novels of Georgette Heyer are regarded by many as a fully developed alternative universe.” What I recall most about the Regency Tea (Dance) is the excessive amount of attention paid by the young men to the young women’s–er–endowments. Even I, who wasn’t really ogle material then even in my full flower of youth, remember dancing with some fellows whose eyes were always focused somewhere below my neck. (And I’ve always wondered since then if real dances in the Regency weren’t much the same. . .?)
    Melinda

    Reply
  71. Hi Mary Jo,
    I went to a science fiction con in Boston for a couple of years in the late 80’s (lots of big hair even for those not in costume). It was a pretty “hard science fiction” convention but always featured a “Regency Tea” (or was it a dance?–I think it was a dance) because, as the program stated, “The novels of Georgette Heyer are regarded by many as a fully developed alternative universe.” What I recall most about the Regency Tea (Dance) is the excessive amount of attention paid by the young men to the young women’s–er–endowments. Even I, who wasn’t really ogle material then even in my full flower of youth, remember dancing with some fellows whose eyes were always focused somewhere below my neck. (And I’ve always wondered since then if real dances in the Regency weren’t much the same. . .?)
    Melinda

    Reply
  72. Hi Mary Jo,
    I went to a science fiction con in Boston for a couple of years in the late 80’s (lots of big hair even for those not in costume). It was a pretty “hard science fiction” convention but always featured a “Regency Tea” (or was it a dance?–I think it was a dance) because, as the program stated, “The novels of Georgette Heyer are regarded by many as a fully developed alternative universe.” What I recall most about the Regency Tea (Dance) is the excessive amount of attention paid by the young men to the young women’s–er–endowments. Even I, who wasn’t really ogle material then even in my full flower of youth, remember dancing with some fellows whose eyes were always focused somewhere below my neck. (And I’ve always wondered since then if real dances in the Regency weren’t much the same. . .?)
    Melinda

    Reply
  73. Very interesting description of the conferences for writers and passionate readers. One time, I decided to participate in one of them at least, but nowdays, after two years of bloging day by day, I feel less inclined to write a romance – also I still read a lot of them.

    Reply
  74. Very interesting description of the conferences for writers and passionate readers. One time, I decided to participate in one of them at least, but nowdays, after two years of bloging day by day, I feel less inclined to write a romance – also I still read a lot of them.

    Reply
  75. Very interesting description of the conferences for writers and passionate readers. One time, I decided to participate in one of them at least, but nowdays, after two years of bloging day by day, I feel less inclined to write a romance – also I still read a lot of them.

    Reply
  76. Very interesting description of the conferences for writers and passionate readers. One time, I decided to participate in one of them at least, but nowdays, after two years of bloging day by day, I feel less inclined to write a romance – also I still read a lot of them.

    Reply

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