Friday Fast Five: My Favorite Things About Conferences

Soon I will be taking my first trip to New York City when I head to the national conference for Romance Writers of America.  This will be my third time attending the conference, and to get pumped up I thought I’d share five things I love about conferences…some of which really don’t have *that* much to do with writing.

1. Well-Filling

Attending workshops, listening to panels, chatting with other writers, DOING ALL THE THINGS. There is something wild and utterly exhilarating about conference time. Fresh ideas, tips and tricks, industry news – I absorb it all like a sponge until I’m ready to burst with excitement and feel like I can take on the world (or at the very least, finish my next manuscript). It’s also thrilling to applaud and celebrate the success of friends. When a fellow writer buddy achieves a milestone or scores an award, it is so inspiring and makes everything seem just a little more possible.


Dear friend and fellow Chicago-North member Erica O’Rourke was a 2013 RITA finalist.

This year I am thrilled to cheer on my two friends Clara Kensie and Sonali Dev, both RITA finalists for Best First Book. And bonus – Clara is a double finalist, her book Run To You is up for the YA category as well!!!

2. Networking/Friend-Making

I am currently serving my second term as President of the Chicago-North Romance Writers (a chapter of RWA). So I’ll spend a decent  amount of my conference time wearing that hat. There is a leadership event, where chapter board members from across the country get together to share experiences, discuss current issues, and brainstorm solutions for challenges. There is the Annual General Meeting, which I will attend and take notes to pass on to my chapter when I get back home. There’s a chapter reception I am hosting with Savannah Reynard, President of “sister” chapter Windy City.  And there will be general networking as I spread the word and encourage people to attend our upcoming regional conference, Spring Fling 2016. It’s not all fun and games, people!



With my sister Pres at the 2014 RITA/GH Award ceremony. We didn’t plan the red thing.

Well, it is mostly fun and games, because I enjoy meeting new people and connecting over our love of writing romance. I have been lucky enough to make some fabulous friends at the two conferences I’ve attended so far.


From Left to Right: Chicago-North 2012 President Ryann, me, and our new bestie Kari from Cali. Kari is wicked funny. I wanted to pack her in my suitcase and take her home with me.


Melanie from Texas. I met this fellow Mel at my 1st conference in 2013. C-N sort of adopted her during the conference in Atlanta, and she returned the favor when she and her chapter-mates adopted me at the 2014 conference in San Antonio.


Mel Jolly of Author’s Atlas at the RWA14 award ceremony. Isn’t that dress adorable? I got to know Mel via Spring Fling and since she’s just so cool (all us Mel J’s are) we’ve kept in touch via social media.

3. Partying

Socializing + booze. An important part of any conference experience.


Silly staches with SB Sarah at the bash she hosted  in Atlanta. She is 100% Grade A awesomesauce.

More mustache mischief with Windy City President Savannah. It has been a blast being sister-prezzies with Sav!


Yes. Those are ritas in the hotel bathtub. Texas girls know how to throw a party.

4. Fan-Girling

There are hundreds of writers at these conferences. When I spot a fav author, it is so much fun to say hi and let her know how much I love her work. I’m totally professional about it, of course. Ahem. I do my squeeing on the inside.


With Susanna Kearsley. I love her time-slip novels and was thrilled when she won the RITA in 2014 for The Firebird.


With Kristan Higgins. I first met Kristan when she headlined Spring Fling the year I was a coordinator, and just love her to pieces. She is genuinely as wonderful and sweet as she seems.

5. Sightseeing

Traveling to conference is like a mini-vacation. Cities I’ve never been to before, and the chance to explore, even for a few hours, is such a treat.


View of Atlanta from my hotel room.


Mandatory stop at the official Coke HQ in Atlanta for my daughter. I already know exactly what store in NYC is a must for me to shop at this year!


Sunset in San Antonio (view from hotel room).


The Alamo. I took a walking ghost tour…scariest part of the evening was how damn hot San Antonio still is at 11 o’clock at night.

So there you go. Five things I love about conference time!


Are you heading to Nationals? If you are, and you happen to see someone with a cloud of red curls, I hope you stop me and say hi. Safe travels!