Last May I came across a conference through the Florida Romance Writers (FRW) chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America). This particular conference was set on a 4-day cruise out of Florida to Cozumel In February 2015. The cruise part caught my eye because I enjoy those. What sealed the deal for me was the fact that most of the agents and editors listed were ones I knew of and had already determined I’d like to work with. In addition, several of my favorite authors would be in attendance. SOLD!
I just returned from that conference, and I have to say that it was excellent and well worth it! The conference was a great combination of learning, writing, networking, and fun! Here are some of my highlights:
There was a great line up of workshops. Everything from writing tips, to marketing and website tips, to genre-specific panels. I enjoyed the speakers and the discussions. In particular, I enjoyed the paranormal panel and the agent/author relationships discussion. I also got a lot out of 1:1 time with the website and marketing experts, and out of casual discussions with many of the other authors on the ship.
I had several opportunities to get some writing done. Particularly, the day we were in Cozumel (which I’ve visited several times) the morning option was a write-in with anyone who didn’t go on an excursion. I was going to get tons of Shadowcat #3 done during the write-in, but my edits for Shadowcat #2 came in, so that’s where I spent more of my time. But I got a good 40 pages of Shadowcat #3 completed over the course of the cruise!!
I have to say that this was the nicest large group of total strangers I’ve had the pleasure to interact with in a long time. I enjoyed starting friendships with several authors on the ship, including my lovely roommate, Ali Cunliffe. Everyone I spoke with had interesting life stories to share.
The group of agents and editors were all easy to talk to, interesting and open. We had a chance to pitch to the agents/editors (typical at anything like this). That was my first experience pitching in person. I also got to meet Rhonda Penders from my publisher, The Wild Rose Press. She was so nice and it was great to make that personal connection.
In addition, I got to meet several authors whom I’ve long admired. Rebecca Zanetti – one of my very fav paranormal authors – is lucky I didn’t give her a giant bear hug (or cry all over her). Luckily, I got a chance to act like a sane human being at dinner with her. I also got to sit right beside Julia Quinn at dinner one night. Both ladies were lovely!
As a natural introvert, being around large groups of strangers is usually exhausting. But after the first night, it was never a problem with this group – all instant friends! (The real source of exhaustion was getting little sleep because of workshops starting at 8 and fun going till late. 🙂 )
We also had a ton of fun on the ship. Of course, there’s all the fun the cruise ship provides. In addition, the dinners were spent together as a group. We would rotate tables so everyone had a chance to spend that time with new people. In Cozumel, we went to Senor Frogs after the write-in, which was an experience (nuff said). At night we’d get together to go to the piano bar or dancing at the club on the ship or to karaoke or just hang out and talk.
Two thumbs up to the FRW coordinators! I enjoyed every moment and will be back when you run it again. This was a terrific way to start my writing conference life. 🙂