The Romance Writers of Australia held their annual conference in Melbourne from Friday, August 9 through to Sunday, August 11th. Due to family commitments, I was only able to attend the Friday workshops but I had an amazing time.
RWA19 was my debut conference and as a conference ‘newbie’ I was nervous but excited. Nervous to meet so many new faces and excited to finally meet a few writers who I’ve only ever met online.
The conference committee set up a dedicated Facebook group for us newbies, which is such a fantastic idea. We were given information beforehand and able to chat about how nervous we were all feeling.
On Thursday evening, there was a meet n’ greet with the newbie co-ordinator who showed us around the conference venue and then we sat down and had a drink (or two!) with each other. I met some fantastic new writers – shout out to Mel, Sari, Heather, January, Jacinta, & Marianne.
The Friday morning involved a short welcome and then I attended Natasha Lester’s Plotting Masterclass. This was a full-day workshop with one of Australia’s most loved authors. I’ve been a long time fan of Natasha’s and we have been connected on social media for a few years now.
It was fantastic to finally meet Natasha, and learn all about her plotting process. She is a brilliant presenter and I know what I’ve learned will make me a better writer. I’m excited to get back into editing my latest manuscript and put everything into practice.
During morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea, we had the chance to mingle with the other conference attendees who were attending the other workshops – Melissa Storm’s Big Book Launch, and Rachel Bailey’s Deep Dive. Here was the chance to meet and chat with more new faces, catch up with old friends (hey Annabelle!), and more online writer pals.
Unfortunately, the day had to come to an end and I had to take off before the cocktail party.
From what I’d heard the cocktail party is one of, if not the highlight of the conference. And seeing how many were dressed up to this year’s theme ‘Twisted Fairytales’ as I was leaving, left me with a huge sense of FOMO!
For the rest of the conference, I lived vicariously through the social media feeds of attendees, all the while wishing I was still there. I have only heard wonderful reports from those who attended, and have no doubt that I’ll be heading to RWA2020 all things going well!
As a conference newbie, I felt nothing but welcome. A natural introvert prone to shyness, I was extremely nervous about attending, but within a few minutes of meeting the other newbies, I realised I had nothing to worry about.
Everyone was overwhelmingly welcoming (how’s that for a tongue twister?!) and friendly. And I was put at ease being surrounded by such a positive and welcome vibe. The RWA community is a wonderfully supportive and fun bunch!
The best part of the conference was spending time with and meeting some of my online writing buddies. My roomie Cassie Hamer (After The Party) and I had met at a writing event a couple of years ago and clicked right away, so it was great to catch up with her – especially to congratulate her on the success of her debut novel! I also met Kaneana May (The One), and Maya Linnell (Wildflower Ridge) who were even lovelier in real life as online. And then there was Pamela Cook, Rae Cairns, Penelope Janu (who encouraged me to join RWA a couple of years ago), Mari Morelle, Jo Spiers, Sarah Fiddelears and of course, Natasha Lester. And so many more new faces. It truly was a great experience to meet so many writers and talk about books and writing with my tribe.
Although the RWA, is primarily aimed at those who write romance, it is not strictly only for romance writers. I don’t classify myself as a romance author, but my books do always have a romantic element running through them. As I mentioned, it was Penelope Janu who I corresponded via email with a couple of years back who encouraged me to join up. And it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made.
The RWA has so many things on offer for writers. From writing workshops, critique opportunities, professional development for both trad and indie authors, through to fun writing competitions and of course the annual conference. The Facebook community is inclusive, knowledgeable and a lot of fun.
If you are a writer considering joining the RWA, I’d sincerely encourage you to do so. And who knows? I may just see you at the conference in Fremantle in 2020.
PS. If I’ve missed any names of people I met, I’m truly sorry! There were so many lovely faces to remember.
PPS. A big shout out to my indie buddy Joanne Tracey who came second in the Ruby Awards for ‘Best novel with romantic elements’ for her novel ‘Happy Ever After’.