For the past five years I have told myself that I was going to attend the Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference. For the past five years I have lied to myself. There was always a reason that I could not attend, either financially, work was too busy, or vacation plans made it impossible. Last winter I promised myself that I would attend the RWA Conference in Nashville in July 2010. I stuck to my guns and as soon as registration opened up I booked myself, along with my writing partner and sister, P.I. Barrington, as conference attendees. I haven’t been to Nashville since ’97 and thought it might be fun to add a week for vacation after the conference was over to see some old friends and tour around the southern states.
The devastating floods this past spring that destroyed the first floor of our Nashville hotel, not to mention many homes and other businesses, forced the RWA to swiftly find another conference destination. Many of us waited anxiously to see where—city, state, region—we would be visiting. The amazing professionals at RWA that oversee the conference worked their magic and quickly booked us into Orlando, Florida, in the Walt Disney World resort area. It filled me with mixed emotions to get this news: I was elated for the chance to visit Orlando (I’m still taking a week off for vacation after the conference), but it was also sad to know that so many in Nashville will continue to suffer the effects of the flood long after we return home from the conference.
As my travel date nears, I find myself energized by the excitement of the event and also a little overwhelmed. I have taken a peek at some of the workshop offerings and, to be honest, they all appear so enticing I find myself in need of a clone that I can send as backup so that I don’t miss a thing. As it is my first RWA conference I want to experience everything that I can, so I also signed up as a volunteer. I want to meet many fellow writers and really understand how this amazing conference comes together every year.
Since I am a newbie to the RWA conference I don’t know everything that I can anticipate but have listened to other romance authors speak with great enthusiasm and respect for this gathering and, with only forty-six or so days left before I travel to Orlando, the anticipation builds. As a writer, I know that the knowledge I gain and my encounters with other writers will be experiences that I will carry with me throughout my writing career, and that I will be the better for them, both a as writer and as a person.
Loni Emmert is the co-author of BUTTON HOLLOW CHRONICLES #1: THE LEAF PEEPER MURDERS available August 2010 from Mainly Murder Press. She is a member of SinC, RWA and writes articles on writing, reading and other related topics. (http://thewordmistresses.com)