Loving Connections

Seated in the lounge of the Marriott River Center hotel, on the Riverwalk, in San Antonio, Texas, I ease back into the comfortable leather chair and embrace my surroundings. RWA 2014 is well underway! I like to play a little game of trying to put a name to a face without glancing first at the name badge. I get it right 60% of the time. There are a ton of new-to-me faces.


When a superstar passes by I smile, inhale, attempting to draw in some of their energy, and then I let the breath out and wish them calm. They need it. I’m certain of that. Seriously, those authors must feel like well-known actors when at National. They have a presence to maintain, and a following that stands in awe of them. And yet, deep down they’re no different than we are. They still worry that maybe they have after-lunch spinach in their teeth, or they’re having a bad hair day, or maybe they’re fretting because they added a few pounds since the event the year before.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips walks by, calm, lovely, focused. Cathy Maxwell gives an amazing, relaxed, and honest keynote address at the Golden Network retreat. Heather Graham hugs me and gives honest down-to-earth advice. Nora Roberts gives her Chat with Nora unflustered, answering questions on the fly that would take me ten minutes to formulate. Then, with 200+ published books behind her, Nora lunches with friends in the open bar, just like the rest of us. We all give her space. Nobody approaches. We respect that she deserves to eat in peace and quiet.

Then there is the Literacy autographing event:


All around me old friends meet and new friends greet, and the energy level is high. I revel in this community and recharge my batteries. RWA is my touchstone: A time to reflect on what I’ve achieved, work out my next moves, brush up on technique, meet with industry personnel, and network with friends old and new. I hang out with authors, Lynne Marshall, Trish Cerrone, and Dee J. Adams, enjoy meeting with Tonya Plank, and Kelly Hartog. I dine riverfront with my GH sisterhood, The Firebirds.

100_1369I spend three hours, unexpectedly, talking with Gwen Hernandez who wrote Scrivener for Dummies. And I attend open houses. I congratulate Sarah Vance and Christine Ashworth on their finals in the ImaJinn contest, and Carol Ericson for taking first place in the short contemporary award at Bookseller’s Best. I wait in anticipation of the GH and RITA awards: Jennifer Haymore, Samanthe Beck, Robin Bielman, and T J Bennett, are in the running.

I head on over for my pitch sessions. I’m a veteran, although it has been a couple of years since my last pitch. There to greet me at registration are Maria Seager and Carol Ericson, both from LARA. They smile and wish me luck. Carol tells me to mention her name, because I’m meeting with her editor, and Barb Han had said the same thing. I do that, and the editor responds enthusiastically with how much she loves her authors. It was a natural segue from my introduction to the pitch, and put me at ease, so thank you ladies for your support and generosity. I love how authors build each other up. I did get a request for a full manuscript. Then I met with an agent who remembered me from her blog, which she closed a few years ago. She had taught me so much, and I told her that. She asked for a full manuscript.

While there is no guarantee on these pitches, it’s nice to know that two doors opened fully. The final answer might be no thanks, but that’s okay. All we can do is keep trying, keep growing, keep moving forward. RWA truly is all about networking, honesty, generosity of spirit, loving connections and building upon those connections.

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24 Responses to Loving Connections

  1. I am so thrilled to hear that your pitches went so well! I too find RWA to be a magical experience. It usually touches me during the keynote address when I look around the crowded ballroom and see all those faces who love books the way I do. The nerdy smart bespectacled acne-covered thirteen year-old who still lives in my heart breathes a sigh of relief knowing that she is ‘with her people.’ Thank you so much for being a part of my nationals experience this year. It meant a lot to me.

  2. That’s a great recap. So glad you got to spend time with Gwen. She’s great!!! Best of luck with the pitches. Looking forward to hearing some great news in future LARA announcements!

    • robena grant says:

      Thanks for stopping by Ara. Gwen tweeted me yesterday to ask if I knew you. Now, I can say yes! I did go to your blog and found some great information. I will return. ; )

  3. robena grant says:

    Thanks, Sarah. It was lovely to share your moment of complete surprise when you won the ImaJinn contest. : ) Congrats! again.

  4. Kady Winter says:

    What a wonderful post, Roben! So glad you’re having such a great time, and now I feel like I was there for a minute, too! It means so much to newbies like me to have wonderful people like you to lead the way. 🙂

    • robena grant says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Kady. There is truly nothing quite like the RWA Nationals. This year it felt especially energetic.
      I’d been undecided about NY next year, but now I want to go. Like tomorrow! : )

  5. ” Keep trying, keep growing, keep moving forward.” Wise and so true, Robena. Thanks for bringing the RWA National experience back to life. So much to be excited about this year at LARA with all the contest wins and nominations. Heavens–so many LARA authors up for Ritas! Speaks well of our supportive chapter.

    Enjoy the rest of your conference and thanks for the blog 🙂

  6. robena grant says:

    Hi, Christine. Thanks for stopping by. For me the 2014 RWA National was one of high energy. It flashed by in moments, and yet I had this inner calm. Weird, but good. And you are so right, LARA is an incredibly supportive chapter.

  7. Susan B James says:

    Wonderful post. You make me feel like I was there. Thank you!

  8. Marie Miller says:

    As a newbie, reading through your post and inhaling in the atmosphere that prevailed sends excitement, anticipation, eagerness, wanting and waiting for that moment when I can be amongst all of you wonderful talented authors.
    Robena, thank you for taking me to RAWA14 with you. Wonderful post!


    • robena grant says:

      Marie, don’t be shy. : ) you can be with us any time you decide you want to attend conference. I think I went to eight before getting published. The networking I did at those conferences, the friends I made, still exist today.

  9. I wish I could have spent more time with you, Roben! Conference was crazy-busy, wasn’t it? I SO wanted to sit in with Gwen Hernandez and I’m not sure where that time went, lol. Hugs honey!!!

    • robena grant says:

      I know what you mean, Christine. There were several people (you included) that I kept bumping into and saying hi but then going seperate ways. It’s a lot of activity crammed into only a few days, and we spread ourselves thin in order to achieve as much as possible. But fun? Yes!!!

  10. the best part of all conferences is seeing and spending time with friends. So happy to know you. Hey, how did they get you to smile big for the Firebirds picture???? I think I enjoyed our quiet conversation with Trish after the noisy Amazon shindig the best of all.

    Sounds like you had a great conferences, and I’m happy that you have two doors opened because of your hard work and diligence.

    • robena grant says:

      Yep, Lynne, you got that right. It’s quality time spent with friends, instead of a quick lunch after the chapter meeting.
      I also loved sinking into those comfy chairs and sharing a quiet moment with you and Trish. On the Friday night, you went to the Harlequin party and I went downstairs to an almost deserted restaurant. Seated beside me was Gwen Hernandez, who wrote Scrivener for Dummies. Can you believe we talked for three hours? Well, yes, I bet you can. Ha ha.

  11. Sounds like you had an amazing, productive, inspiring time at RWA14. I saw you sitting in the lounge looking gorgeous & purposeful, and thought, “There sits a REAL writer”!

  12. Sounds like you had a great conference. Good luck with the agent/editor! It was great to meet you. I really enjoyed our conversation. Hope to see you in NYC next year! 🙂

    • robena grant says:

      It was great to meet you too, Gwen. I can’t believe we talked for so long that night. I haven’t taken a look at Scrivener for Dummies yet, but I will. I just got some quick edits from my editor that I need to deal with before this latest work goes to contract. There’s always something. : )

  13. Wow Robena I am so amazed for you. Fabulous. And, there’s a scrivener for dummies. Must. Check. Out.
    Nora Roberts – (although I’d probably catch myself calling her JD Robb being a major Eve Dallas and Roarke fan.)
    SEP – too cool.
    Even just being around their energy might make one a better writer. Not that you need help in that arena!

  14. robena grant says:

    Yep, Judy, there is S for D. Remember way back on Jenny Crusie’s blog she’d talked up Scrivener, but then she’d mentioned it was for Mac? I use a PC, so forgot about it. Gwen said Scrivener came out for PC in, I think she said, 2011. But somehow I’d kept the idea that it wasn’t for me. Now I’m all excited to give it a try. : )
    And you’re right, the energy, combined with brushing up at a workshop or three, gets you all enthused to come home and write like a demon.

  15. Dee J. says:

    I’m late to the party, but loved the post! Congrats on the requests! All digits crossed for you!

  16. robena grant says:

    Thanks, Dee J. It will be what it will be, but at least I’m trying. ; )