Silken Sands Writers Conference

Thankfully, the antibiotics did their job. By Friday, I was feeling well enough to make the drive to Pensacola Beach for the Gulf Coast Chapter Romance Writers of America Silken Sands Conference.
The view from my balcony room.
My roommate and I checked into the Hampton Inn and started our weekend adventure with a short walk across the sand and lunch at nearby Crabs restaurant.
It’s always five o’clock somewhere.
Then I made my way back to the hotel for an afternoon of workshops. I picked up some great pitching tips from author Casey Crow and got some good advice on building brand from Angela James. After that, there was just enough time to unpack before the costume party, dessert bar, and editor and agent panel.
My PFHT sisters (from l-r) Susan Carlisle, Sia Huff, Sandra Elzie and Debbie Kaufman dressed as their favorite literary characters. Author Dianna Love is in the center.
Barbara Vey was our dynamic kick off speaker. She announced that she is this year’s honoree for the RWA service award, which will be presented at RWA Nationals. No one is more deserving!

Congratulations, Barbara! 
Then it was late to bed, early to rise, and start all over again. Saturday morning I attended a great workshop on “collaging your way to a great story” with Susan May before spending a few minutes putting the finishing touches on my pitch and presenting it to three agents and editors. Maybe it was the idyllic patio setting – tropical breezes brushing my face and the sound of waves lapping the sand in the background –  but I have never felt so comfortable pitching before. And my efforts were rewarded with two partial requests and one full request. Happy, happy! Joy, joy!
A celebration was in order. I joined a group for lunch at Pegleg Pete’s then hightailed it back to the hotel for another workshop presented by Manda Collins and Holly Blanck on how to build a high concept trilogy. With a few minutes to spare before dinner, I decided to check out Gilligan’s Tiki Hut situated near the hotel pool. The group of St. Patrick’s Day revelers bellied up to the bar welcomed me into their circle in spite of the fact that I was wearing a dress and high heels – and not a speck of green! But when I explained to them that I am a writer and was in town for a writer’s conference they became quite enthusiastic. They draped some beads around my neck, asked thoughtful questions about my writing and requested business cards so they can follow my progress on Facebook. The couple seated next to me even bought me a beer. Yes, I enjoyed my little taste of “celebrity.”
Finally, it was time for the conference banquet. It is always fun to travel and see far-flung pals that I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with
Author Kelly Stone and Me. 
Christine Glover and Me.
and make new acquaintances, too. 
Me with new friend and roommate Susan Sands.

Our keynote speaker was Beverley Kendall. It is always encouraging to hear about a fellow writer’s successful journey to publication.

Author Beverley Kendall
 And the creme brulee cheesecake was to die for. I wonder if this recipe will come close.
It was hard to say goodbye to all my writer friends and the beautiful beach but I am grateful for the lessons I learned there. I have a much better understanding of who I am as a writer and a greater clarity about what needs to be done to polish my manuscript before I send my pages to the agents and editors who requested them. 
And I’m ready to start saving for that beach house.