Monday, April 20, 2015

In the Company of Writers 2015

This past weekend was the Washington Romance Writers retreat, aka, In the Company of Writers in Westminster. Friday we gathered up and Bella Andre kicked us off with a great speech at dinner about doing your research and not being afraid to ask. The next morning I was up very early, so I could go into a critique workshop with a group of my fellow WRWers. It was a great session, led by Kerri Buckley and everyone had really great feedback. At lunch, Rita Clay Estrada, who founded RWA (and whom the Rita award is named after) talked about the founding of RWA and how it had been started in part after nasty comments from an attendee at a writer's conference who wanted the romance writers to take their silly books somewhere else. (Be careful what you wish for.) And then of course, the journey led to RWA which was able to provide numbers and information specific to romance writers. At one point, RWA was offered a million dollars for their published author list. (They turned it down.) Chapter awards were given to those that had been of particular help to the chapter. The Marlene winners were also announced and quite a number of winners and finalists were there, which was great. Gwen and Sara Reyes from Fresh Fiction talked a lot about website content and newsletters. American Author gave us another wonderful snapshot into writers brains. I had read a few more of the entries than usual (thanks to contests and such) and so it was particularly interesting to hear the reaction. Mary Kay Andrews gave a wonderful speech about her journey from unpublished to mystery writer and then the agent who said to her, I know what you've been doing, tell me what you to do now? And so she transitioned to be a women's fiction writer. Romance Jeopardy had an Elvis theme, leading to a lot of blue suede shoes. I am kicking myself for not picking up on the opportunity to go Hawaiian themed. The game was as usual, not fair. Some of the questions were really hard this year. I am going to blame Elvis for that. It was still a great time. And then, there was much general writer chill time. I confess, I made a decision that I could not go to bed before Rita Clay Estrada, who was great fun to talk to. Outlasting her did mean I had a bit of a slower start the next morning, but I did make it to Cathy Maxwell's farewell, which this year was introduced by the wonderful and funny Mary Strand who promised she would reveal the real truth about Max. (Um, I could tell you what she told us, but I hear that Max is mean.) Cathy Maxwell talked about the writer tribe we had bonded with and how to remember that storytelling is something that's in your soul, and that's why you do it. It was, as always, so much fun, and the weekend I leave sadder that I only got to chat with half the people there and not everyone.