When I first stepped into the airy lobby of the Swan and Dolphin hotel late Monday afternoon, the first thing that caught my eye was the grand scale of everything within. Towering columns, beautiful tile, plush couches, walls painted in festive colors.
And the ginormous water fountain sitting in the middle of the lobby.
The fountain, sporting four vertical dolphins–or dolphinfish (aka mahi-mahi), as clarified by our limo driver Ricky–provided the only source of sound in the lobby. It was a strange, eerie silence. Almost as if the hotel had evacuated all their guests–except us.
Fast-forward to Wednesday afternoon and the quiet lobby now bustles with activity. The moment I emerged from the elevator, I heard an incredible hum of female voices in the distance.
Welcome to the 30th annual Romance Writers of America conference! I took a deep breath, knowing it might be the last time I had the opportunity.
As I maneuvered through the crowd of beige Sourcebooks tote bags, I could feel the crowd’s energy, feel my own building excitement upon seeing familiar, dear faces of friends and beloved authors.
An immediate sense of community, of belonging blanketed me and I knew this was where I belonged. Even now, two weeks later, the feeling remains.
Okay, enough of the warm and fuzzy stuff. What did I learn?
- I learned Romance University is widely admired. Every time I sat down for a meal or attended a workshop, someone made a point to tell me how much they appreciated the content RU offers. I had many “proud mama” moments because of this.
- I learned that networking both on-line and in-person is both vital to an author’s career and absolutely necessary for one’s personal growth.
- I leaned one can be guided around Disney World, without a clue to one’s location at any given time, and still have mega fun.
- I learned a writer should dig deep into her own life experiences and apply them to her fiction writing in order to grab and hold a reader’s attention.
- I learned one could get lost in the Dolphin hotel.
- I learned that despite having a business relationship an author’s agent and editor would hug her in welcome. 🙂
- I learned Sourcebooks, Inc.–from the publisher to the editor to the marketing manager to the lead publicist to the editorial assistant–is an incredibly supportive and caring publishing house.
- I learned Donald Maass is as brilliant as I thought.
- I learned microtension is line by line, moment by moment tension and a must if you want to be a New York Times bestselling author.
- I learned Adrienne shoots better laser guns than I.
- I learned Sourcebooks believes marketing and selling the book is the publisher’s job, not the author’s.
- I learned Kelsey has better fashion sense than I.
- I learned the six magic words every author should know are keep the reader in the story.
- I learned you can create a flawed heroine, but you must keep her heart pure.
- I learned Theresa’s awesome at brainstorming a plot.
- I learned I don’t want to eat chicken three meals in row, even if it’s covered in different colored sauces.
- And finally, I learned I have a fabulous support network. Ladies who care about me and my success. I learned–a long time ago–that I couldn’t have gotten this far without my buds.
Can’t wait until the 2011 conference. Watch out New York!
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RU Crew, what did you learn at this year’s conference? Readers, did you get a chance to meet your favorite author?
Stay tuned for Friday’s lecture with four time RITA® award winner Jennifer Greene where she’ll define the difference between an author’s voice and her style.
Tracey Devlyn writes historical romance with a dash of danger. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Windy City, Hearts Through History, The Beau Monde and Kiss of Death Romance Writers of America chapters. Tracey’s also a co-founder for Romance University, a group blog dedicated empowering writers, entertaining readers, and understanding men.
Tracey’s represented by literary agent Donald Maass Literary Agency and Sourcebooks, Inc. will publish her first release, A LADY’S REVENGE, in the fall of 2011.
Tracey lives in the Midwest with her once-in-a-lifetime husband and their alpha puppy.
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