So what did I do on my holidays?
I went to Florida of course – and gave a presentation at the annual Romance Writers of America conference in Orlando.
Confession time – When I submitted the proposal for my talk last autumn I never actually expected that it would accepted, so it was a delight and a thrill when I was offered the opportunity to share my work with other authors.
Romance Writers of America [RWA] has more than 10,500 members, is home to 145 local and online chapters and the host of an annual conference with more than 2,000 attendees.
Yes – I did just say 2,000 romance writers. The scale of the RWA Conference conference is something to see.
The 2017 RWA Conference was held at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotel complex in Orlando, right at the centre of the Walt Disney theme parks and within walking distance of Epcot and the Magic Kingdom parks.
This was the view from my hotel bedroom window. Complete with snowy egrets, ducks and warnings to look out for alligators and snakes.
They even had their own beach, boardwalk and lagoon!
A few personal take aways about the conference.
Orlando in July is hot and wet! As in 95 degrees with high humidity, broken up with occasional tropical thunderstorms.
Most of the local vegetation is tropical palms and lush green landscaping with plenty of fresh water lakes and lagoons, which means that it attracts the local Florida residents.
The variety and scope of the presentations was very impressive and covered seminar streams for beginners, newly published and professional authors. The speakers were all excellent and the main challenge was often deciding which presentation to attend in a particular time slot. There are hundreds of seminars to select from.
The scale of this conference meant that it was extremely easy to get lost, which is mad considering all of the presentations were in one hotel.
Technology helped. Free internet and planning apps saved me more than once.
It was delight to meet online friends from the romance community face to face for the first time. These are ladies who I chat to online more than I speak to writers at my local RNA chapter. The friendships and community of romance writers and readers is something I value enormously.
This was an international event. Many of the delegates had flown in from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as Europe and states throughout the USA.
It is okay to be star struck. Did I mention the time I was alone in the elevator with Susan Elizabeth Phillips? Or talking shoes with Shirley Jump, Barbara Wallace and Kimberley Lang. Or when Donna Alward introduced me to Kristin Higgins? All great girls in a real community of romance authors.
It was a delight to be present when fellow RNA member Sarah Morgan won a RITA award for the Best Contemporary Romance Long Category for Miracle on 5th Avenue. [ 32minutes into the video.]. Live Streaming of the RITA ceremony
Freshly made blueberry pancakes and maple syrup. I may have found a new addiction!
I thoroughly enjoyed both the professional and the personal aspects of this conference and would recommend it to any serious romance author.
If you would like to know more about my presentation, pop along to my website for some free video training on how to outline your romance when you are a pantser.