Things I Learned at RWA Nationals

A worm’s eye view of the atrium of the Marriott Marquis, Atlanta
I had the privilege of attending the Romance Writers of America national conference, held at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, July 17-20. Every day since I’ve been home, I’ve taken a stab at blogging about this experience. Finally, I think enough time has passed that I have the perspective to summarize it succinctly. But it will take months to truly assimilate it.
Heck, it took me a week to get around to unpacking my suitcase – and putting away the dozens of books I brought home. Most of them were free, but I also splurged on several titles at the book signing, where I got to meet some of my favorite authors for the first time.
450+ authors. Thousands of fans.
I got my picture taken with Mary Kay Andrews to make my friend Jennifer jealous.
Pam Asberry and Mary Kay Andrews
And I got my picture taken with Nora to make EVERYONE jealous.
Nora Roberts and Pam Asberry
I even got my picture taken with our awards luncheon keynote speaker, Kristan Higgins. She is as witty, warm and wonderful as one would guess from reading her books.
Kristan Higgins and Pam Asberry
I had a lovely room with a king-size bed all to myself. But I didn’t spend much time there.
My view of the city of Atlanta.
There were dinners and parties to attend.
Mai Tai!
Trader Vic’s with my Petit Fours and Hot Tamales blog sisters.
Dancing the night away at Georgia Romance Writers’ Gothic Masquerade.
Chocolate mousse!
And the workshops! With offerings on craft, career, self-publishing, writer’s life, research, and author/agent/editor panels, there was something for everyone.
Jude Deveraux and Pam Asberry
As expected, some of the advice was conflicting. I heard from plotters and pantsers, people who have found success in self-publishing and people who firmly believe in going to the traditional route. Everyone said we would have to learn to sift through it all, gleaning what resonated and tossing out the rest. But there was one universal truth: in order to sell a book, it must have great characters, a compelling story, and an emotional appeal. This doesn’t happen by magic; writing, revising and polishing are essential – meaning that we must make writing a daily priority. 
The bottom line? This is a business that does not provide instant gratification. Discipline and consistency are key.
I took pages and pages of notes, bought the conference recordings so I can catch up later on some of the great workshops I missed, and look forward to keeping up with new friends on Facebook and Twitter. Most of all, I came back with a renewed commitment to doing whatever it takes to make my dream of being a traditionally published novelist come true.