As anyone in the romance field, or anyone glimpsing my social media feed over the last two months knows, July was the Romance Writers of America national convention in NYC.
There are RWA chapters in (nearly) every state, and many hold three day conventions, with signings, panels on craft and marketing, and awards banquets.
But RWA Nationals is a convention on steroids.
There were non-stop special interest chapter mini-retreats, workshops, panels, industry days where writers could talk to Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, Ingrams, etc reps, carefully scheduled and much sought after pitch sessions with agents and editors, cocktail events with industry pros, a literacy signing featuring top authors with proceeds going toward library programs, and multiple awards luncheons and dinners.
As with any convention, there’s also catching up with friends and many deals and collaborations made in the bar and lounge.
And the books. Lots and lots of books, signed by the authors, provided free of charge by their publishers, and swag handed out.
My swag, spotted in the wild.
As I mentioned, there are also awards, for romance booksellers, librarians, unpublished authors, and published authors. I was able to attend because my contemporary manuscript, SALT+STILETTOS, was nominated in the unpublished Cultural, Interracial and Multicultural Elevation of Love and RWA Golden Heart contests. I did win the CIMRA award, one close to my heart. Didn’t win the Golden Heart, but was thrilled for the writer who did & can’t wait for her debut, and in my Omega GH class, gained a whole new group of friends and cheerleaders.
And I met Darynda Jones.
Darynda Jones, guys. The fangirling was epic.
Perhaps most significantly, during the RITAS, the industry award for excellence in published romantic fiction, I was privileged to be there to see the first Black woman win a RITA. And then watch another Black woman, and an author of color, win in their categories.
The trip was expensive, exhausting, expensive, a non-stop whirlwind of go-go-go, expensive, and required a huge level of rescheduling and owing of favors, but it was worth it to meet my agent and publisher in person, bond with my Omegas, and talk with peers and industry pros.
If you get a chance to attend, Nationals are a an incredible way to further your craft and make invaluable professional contacts and I can’t recommend it enough.