Last week I attended the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Melbourne. It was my first conference as a newly published author and also the first where I wasn’t consumed with the anxieties of pitching to editors and agents. So, I relaxed, and enjoyed every moment. Of course it was a full few days of listening and talking and attending workshops and plenary sessions. I met colleagues I’d only before known in cyberspace and reconnected with other writers I hadn’t seen in some time. The keynote speakers were fabulous, especially the Bob Mayer workshop and the small round table discussion with NYT# Best Selling Author Susan Wiggs was a highlight for me as I have read her books and admired her work for many years.
There was a strong message about the importance of maximizing your ‘brand’ as an author and working effectively with the social media, specifically Facebook, Twitter and blogging. I certainly learnt a lot about how important it is for an author to reach and connect with her/his readers. At the Harlequin Author dinner I spoke with the lovely Lucy Gilmour from Harlequin London and her passion for the romance genre was inspiring.
Another highlight was the awards dinner. The Emerald (for best unpublished manuscript) The Ruby (For best published book) And the Lynne Wilding Meritous Award which this year went to Louise Reynolds. In between a fabulous three course dinner we celebrated these and the other awards synonymous with RWAust. In the picture you can see me (in the orange top) and to my right is award winning fantasy author and good friend Louise Cusack and on my left my fabulous critique partner Becca J Heath. I was also lucky enough to share the table with newly accepted Carina Press author Rachael Johns (Who took the photo) and new Harlequin Romance author Leah Ashton (Leah won the Harlequin New Voices Competition in 2010) and Harlequin and Carina Press author Fiona Lowe, whose new book Boomerang Bride has been getting fabulous reviews.
Getting my First Sale ribbon was just lovely and I was overwhelmed by the number of people, some who’d I’d never met, who offered their congratulations. It was also a great opportunity to talk with new writers and to those submitting their work into contests and to agents and editors and offer encouragement to keep submitting and writing. I also discovered some kindred spirits – writers who love horses, like AJ Macpherson (Who won the Emerald Single Title award in 2009, the same year I won the Emerald Category section) And Cathryn Hein, who has a new release from Penguin titled ‘Promises’.
It was a great conference, with many notes to type up and light bulb moments to entrench into my memory.
And I’m looking forward to RWAust conference on the Gold Coast, Queensland in 2012.