Thursday, August 7, 2008

RWA Conference Report

Last week I attended the RWA National Conference for the first time since 2002. I'm still tired and a little brain dead after catching cold during the week, but I'll try to make some coherent comments.

This year's location was superb: San Francisco, California. I hadn't been to the city in a long time and I'd forgotten how much fun it is. (More about that on Monday.) The conference took place at the San Francisco Marriott, and as always, RWA filled up their room quota and had to book spillover space at another Marriott nearby. My roommate, Catherine Snodgrass, and I were lucky to get a room on the seventh floor. We didn't have much of a view, but the lower floors had their own set of elevators, so we didn't have to waste a lot of time waiting for an elevator. On Wednesday I attended the Historical Romance Writers' Conference and I'll do a separate post about that another time, as it was a good day.

The national conference started on Thursday with an opening session featuring an Australian musician and motivational speaker. I enjoyed her piano playing. I thought she was quite good (I took lessons for years) and I recognized most of the tunes. The last one was a parody of "I Write The Songs" only it was "I Write the Books" and practically the whole audience was singing. This was my least favorite part, and my roomie said later that it smacked of a "revival meeting". Neither of us are RWA true believers any more. We've been stung by RWA's policies one too many times for that.

That afternoon I went to the PAN Retreat to hear Gail Blanke, a self-help writer and life coach. She was very good and I bought her book Between Trapezes. She talked about defining moments and "Six Steps for Thriving On Change" which you can find at her website.

On Friday afternoon, I went to Julia Hunter's Behind the Badge workshop. She's a federal law enforcement officer who writes romantic suspense. I found it interesting and she has a great website with a page of links to all sorts of federal agencies.

Late in the afternoon I participated in the panel on "The Romance of Alternative Lifestyles". We had no idea what to expect, but we had about 40 people show up, only one walked out on us, and most seemed receptive to what we had to say. Walking around with a Speaker ribbon gets attention and lots of people asked me what I was talking about. Some were taken aback when I told them about writing male/male erotic romance, but no one was rude. In general, the atmosphere at this RWA conference was so much more open and accepting than what Cathy and I experienced back in 2002 when there was so much animosity about e-publishing. I'm glad I went back.

This is getting a little long, so I will continue on another day.



deboradale said...

I remember the hoopla of RWA 'defining romance' from a few years ago. The 'administration', if you will, certainly seemed threatened by the new paths Romance novels were taking. It angered me because the new definition seemed to deem 'love' between same sex couples as non-existent, as a subject that had to be struck down lest the readership turn tail and run. Clearly, that didn't happen. Romance novels are, IMO, about loving relationships, overcoming differences and obstacles, and forming bonds that will stand the test of time. Happily ever after...

I'm glad you went to National this year, and I'm VERY glad you were a speaker on this topic. The person who walked out missed out, to be sure.

Hey! Maybe there's a workshop in that lecture of yours???


Linda McLaughlin said...

Thanks, Debbie. Yes, the attempt to "define romance" in a narrow way was just one of the many stings. Things seem better for the moment, though.

I don't know about a workshop since I only spoke for 10 minutes. (There were 5 of us on the panel.) We're talking about proposing something else for next year. We'll see.


Barbara Martin said...

Nice you had a good time in San Francisco. My favourite hotel there is the Sir Francis Drake, an older hotel.

I noted Julie Hunter's website for my crime research material; thanks for that link, Linda.

Travis Erwin said...

One of these days I'm gonna go to an RWA national conference.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Barbara, glad the link was helpful to you.

Travis, you'd have fun at RWA with all those women and I know they'd love you. :) It's in Washington DC next year.