RWA Conventions ~ To Go or Not To Go

I’ve never attended a Romance Writers of American Convention – neither national nor local. I don’t even belong to a local live chapter. Instead, I belong to three online chapters. Can anyone say, “introvert”?

I love communicating with my online chapter members and do feel as if I know them very well. Wouldn’t I like to meet some of them? Certainly. But leaving my little comfort zone – the spot directly in front of my computer – is somehow less than appealing.

Which is part of the reason I’ve never attended the National Convention. Another reason is cost and another is time. However, another opportunity presents itself annually. I always consider it but never follow through. Will this year be different? Perhaps.

The New Jersey Chapter of RWA has their Put Your Heart in a Book Conference at the Woodbridge Hotel every year in October. New Jersey is home away from home for me – AND the convention is held minutes away from the glorious Woodbridge Mall. <sigh>

There is no airfare involved for me, and Daughter – who will be 13 by then – has expressed a desire to join me. Not only that, but I’ve entered the Put Your Heart in a Book contest and so going to the awards dinner – winner or not – would be a fantastic and glamorous experience. Don’t you think?

So… will I or won’t I, that is the question.

I suppose to decide I will need some input. What are the pros of going and, besides sheer terror with the unfamiliar and overwhelming, what are the cons? Opinions, ladies?

12 Responses to RWA Conventions ~ To Go or Not To Go

  • I’m never sure whether to attend conferences or not either. There’s the cost, the time and all those people. Yikes. Can we say overload to an introvert??? I think, though, that seeing all the professionals–publishers, agents, etc.– gives one a better sense of what the industry is like and certainly hearing from the ‘competition’ shows me just how good my stories and writing must be. Now that idea is a bit of a downer and sometimes I prefer to write in blissful ignorance, a fact that seems to work for me. LOL.


  • Debbie, I have attended two RWA National conferences in Atlanta (2005) and Reno (2006). As Linda said, it gives a writer a broad overview of the publishing industry. The workshops are huge eye openers in terms of numbers– how many books here, there. The opportunity to network is phenomenal even within your own chapter. Our local chapter, OCC RWA, has magnificent speakers every month where successful authors, agents, editors, and others in the industry share what they know. But, there’s nothing like going to National. I didn’t attend Dallas or San Francisco because of the cost which is about a thousand dollars. For sure, I will go next year for professional reasons– learning how to the next level.

    Writing is too solitary for my personality. I’ve decided that I need to get out more and have signed up to substitute teach one day a week. I love sharing knowledge and have kept my elementary credential up to date.

  • Debbie –

    I think you need to go. It’s close and what’s the worst thing that could happen? No one can take away who you are or the talent you have. Worst case scenario, you leave early after getting to do some people watching. And if anyone is mean or ugly to you (which I guarantee is unlikely – not impossible, but very, very unlikely), you can kill them off in your next manuscript. 🙂

    Best case scenario, you’ll make some good contacts and friends. Get an agent and/or editor and sell your manuscript.

    Sounds like a win/win situation if you ask me. 🙂

  • I’ve heard that it’s a really good conference. And that it’s local for you is a plus. Your daughter going will give you someone to pal around with, too. But RWA people are great at including folks. Someone will invite you to join them at a table or in a conversation.

  • Debbie, the local NJ chapter will be a perfect place to start. I can imagine NJ has good leadership and worthwhile workshops. Rhonda has a good suggestion to bring a friend for your daughter. She may or may not find it interesting.

  • Linda,
    “all those people” – yup. That’s me. LOL. The thought can be intimidating. BUT… I know it’s more the ‘thought’ that upsets me than actually being there. Once I’m there, I’ve no doubt I’ll love it. It’s the getting there…
    And I know what you mean about seeing the competition directly. Of course we know how tough it is out there, but that first hand knowledge of it can certainly put a scare into the ole’ muse. OR… it can fire that little muse up, yes? Yes! (positive thinking, here. 😉 )

    My own chapter is an online chapter – in fact, all three of my chapters are online – RWAOL, KOD and Elements of RWA. Funny… just what does that say about me, hmm?
    The cost you mention is a giant reason why I’ve yet to go to National. This one would only cost about $250 or so. I’m leaning more and more toward going. We shall see…

    Good for you for getting back into teaching! One day a week just might be enough to feed the need to be out amongst people while still giving you time for your writing. Great balance, good for you!


  • Laura,
    I never thought about it as you say here – the worst that can happen is I’ll want to leave – and I’m so close to home, it’s really not a problem. Though, I highly doubt I’d want to leave. I’m almost getting excited about this. Methinks it’s time. 🙂

    I’d really love to put some faces to the names I already know. How great would that be? To meet some of my online friends? The only disappointment I can really see is that my ‘dream agent’ won’t be attending this conference… which I find interesting since she’s based in New Jersey. Hmm…

    Daughter really wants to go. I’m so lucky. She enjoys writing so this would benefit her as well. I just have to find out if she’d be permitted to attend the workshops with me. If not, that’ll change everything. As a conference newbie, I have a lot of questions already, bringing Daughter just piles more questions on top. 🙂


  • Kathleen,

    This does seem like the perfect place to start, doesn’t it? Each day, I lean more and more toward going. I’m not sure if I’d take a friend for Daughter, though. She’s a trooper who enjoys the process of story creation and she’s really good at writing, too, so I’ve a feeling she’d want to take part in everything. Hmm… speaking of competition (as Linda mentioned), Daughter just might be the closest to me in that respect. Maybe I should leave her home… LOL.


  • Debbie, I just saw the full pager in the RWA Reporter about the NJ Romance Writers PUT YOUR HEART IN A BOOK CONFERENCE, and it looks fabulous. Keynote speaker, Lisa Scottoline, Luncheon Speaker, Eloisa James, and JR Ward does a presentation. Plus, there are editor/agent appointments! Looks like they can only accommodate the first 100 registrants. I would definitely go to this if I lived closer. You don’t need to go with a friend at something like this. You’ll be socializing at your table.

  • Kathleen,
    I think I’ve been convinced. 🙂

    I need to really sit with the schedule and see which workshops I’d like to attend. They all sound so exciting but I don’t want to run from one to the other. I want a chance to absorb what I learn. I’m getting excited. This should be a great experience… a prelude to Nationals when it’s held here in NY (2010, I think).

  • Debbie, I think you should go. The regional conferences are MUCH smaller than RWA National, so it’s a good way to ease yourself into the conference scene without being overwhelmed. I’m not an introvert, but I sometimes get a little disoriented in large crowds and at 2,000+ attendees, National can be overwhelming, but the local cons are often in the 100-200 person range which is much more doable.

    If you’re a workshop person, you can also learn at lot at the cons and they’re great for networking. My first conference was the Desert Rose in Phoenix, AZ, a short plane ride from here, and it was tons of fun, and having been to one conference, I wasn’t as intimidated about braving National the following year.

    National is in DC next year, a good spot for an educational family vacation. Hint, hint. 😉

    Linda / Lyndi

  • Lyndi,
    I’ve heard NJ’s conference referred to as a mini-National. And it’s so close to me, depending on traffic, 90 minutes by car. The price is right and it’s convenient, I really have no legitimate excuse for NOT going, do I?

    Subtle, hint, btw. 🙂 Daughter would actually love a trip to DC. BUT… the following year it will be in NYC, my own backyard….


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