Monday, July 30, 2012

RWA '12 Thumbs Up - Thumbs Down

I've had a day or so to recuperate from the Romance Writers of America annual conference, so here’s my take on the event. I’m keeping it simple. Either a thumbs up, or a thumbs down.

Time spent with old friends. – It’s always good to see old friends, some of which I only get to see once a year at this event.

Meeting new friends. – All you have to do is turn and say hello to the person next to you, and voila! – new friend! Love it!

The Connect Lounge – Combined with the Goody Room, this roomy venue provided a place to chat with friends in person and online. Free Wi-Fi was provided by Sony, Tor/Forge, Samhain and Belle Books. Thanks to everyone who contributed. The free Wi-Fi saved countless dollars for conference attendees!

Food – Sustenance was plentiful this year. Continental breakfast was great – lots of healthy and tasty choices, and even if you were the last one to come down, you could still find something to eat at one of the numerous serving stations. There was a suspicious lack of places to actually perch to eat on Thursday, but that was corrected on Friday. Kudos to RWA and Marriott for a job well done. Luncheon on Thursday and Friday was delicious. The presentation was lovely, and the servers efficient and polite. Again, a job well done. For those meals not provided in the registration fee, there were good, reasonably priced choices in the hotel, and a short walk outside. The Starbucks/ café even had a place to sit.This is not always the case, so more kudos for that.

Literacy Signing – The room was huge!!! What a nice surprise! I wasn’t sure about the new non-alphabetical layout, but it only took a minute to find specific authors, then I’d turn a corner and be pleasantly surprised to see another author I didn’t know I was looking for. LOL Major kudos for raising over $50K for literacy programs!

Keynote SpeechStephanie Laurens rocked the house this year with her take on the changing landscape of the publishing industry, particularly the choices authors have in regards to getting their work to the reader. Ms. Laurens received a standing ovation from the packed ballroom.

Awards Luncheon Speech – Given by Robyn Carr. Need I say more?

Annual General Meeting – Kudos to the Board of Directors for their forward progress toward giving self-published authors the recognition they deserve. New rules will allow self-pubbed authors to enter PAN with $5K in sales on a single book. More kudos to RWA for moving the Golden Heart contest into the twenty-first century. Next year, all entries will be received electronically!

An eBook wins a RITA - Yep, we've been waiting for this to happen! Congratulations to Fiona Lowe for her landmark win. Her Contemporary Single Title Romance, Boomerang Bride from Carina Press made history as the first ever eBook to win a RITA.

Van Gogh Vodka Event – Three free vodka cocktails. No need to elaborate on that.

Self-publishing workshops – Was it just me, or were there more workshops this year geared to the self-publishing option? They covered the gamut from why to how, and marketing if you do. 

Venue layout – For the most part, everything was on one level this year, as well as all in the same general area. No escalators or elevators to take. No guessing which floor a certain ballroom was on. Once I figured out Platinum was to the right, Grand and Marquis to the left, I was set to go.
I have to give kudos to the Marriott for the bar layout. Lots of room for groups to spread out onto the patio or into the lobby. Again, not always the case.

Massage Station – Whether you took advantage of the massage station or not, the guys giving the massages were eye candy guaranteed to loosen you up!

Small RoomsI figured out too late (entirely my fault for not reading the fine print) that our room that slept four was equipped with full-size beds. Seriously? I didn’t know there was a hotel on the planet that didn’t put at least Queen-size beds in their double rooms. Oh well, I could have forgiven them that since my bed-mate was skinny, but the room was tiny. Even without luggage for four, plus mountains of SWAG and books, we would have felt cramped. Note to self – read the fine print next year before deciding how many roomies to take on. Not that I regret spending time with my roomies. They were the best! If they weren’t, I probably would have killed them. That’s how cramped it was.

Temperature Control – It’s a common complaint. I almost froze to death in every workshop. I guess it beats the alternative, but still. I have to complain about something!

Clash of Events – I was really disappointed that the Passionate Ink party was at the exact same time as the Van Gogh Vodka event – the latter of which I signed up for in May. The PI party wasn’t announced until a few weeks before the conference. By then, I wasn’t inclined to change my plans (free event) for something I had to pay for.

Awards Ceremony – It seems I never know what to expect at one of these things. Food, no food. Food on the table or a buffet line afterwards. This year there was table seating with fresh fruit, cake pops and coffee. After much searching, self-serve water was found (because I don’t drink coffee). The fruit never made it my way – not that I really wanted it anyway. I passed on the white cake when it was revealed that it was cheesecake – which I don’t eat. I tried the chocolate cake pop instead, and washed all three bites down with my cup of water and wished I had a gallon more. Note to pastry chef – dipping one inch of a three-inch cake pop in frosting does not seal in moisture. If you want the whole thing wet, you have to dip the whole thing in. This goes for many things, not just cake pops. Add to that, fellow Los Angeles Romance Author, Robena Grant did not win a Golden Heart for her romantic suspense, Exposure. We still love you, Robena!

Elevators – Out of five elevators servicing the tower I was in, I only saw two at a time actually functioning, and it was never the same two, so you had to stay alert or you’d miss your chance. Did I mention that the elevator didn’t chime, nor did the arrows light up when it stopped on our floor? I’m sure the people in the rooms closest to them were grateful for this, but I was not.

Construction – I understand road improvements must be made sometime, but I am not inclined to cut the city of Anaheim any slack here. It’s summer. It’s tourist season. Construction goes on year around in SoCal, so couldn’t this have been done in the winter when the crowds are less? And in all fairness, I’m only picking on the city when perhaps I should be picking on someone else. I’m just not sure who else to blame, so they get all my animosity for this.

How about you? What would you give a thumbs up or a thumbs down?


  1. Thumbs up on old and new friends, great speeches and workshops, venue layout, good food, and definitely the ebook Rita win!
    Thumbs down on the overlap of workshops (always great workshops going on at the same time...made me wish the conference was spread out a day or two longer), lack of seats for some of the longer or non-recorded workshops and at the awards ceremony, and of course, there was a constant line for the ladies restrooms ;)
    Overall, RWA conference was a smashing success. A happy and nurturing place for writers of all levels!

    1. Oh yes, some of the presentation rooms were short on seating, though I think if people would just move in a little, a lot of that would have been alleviated. I saw lots of open seats scattered around, but one would have to trample a lot of feet to get to them. Scoot in people!! Make a new friend!!

  2. You hit it all on the head for me - both the thumbs up and the thumbs down. It was terrific having you for a roomie - even though that room was so small! Love you, honey!

  3. Great post. You covered the ups, downs and middles really well. I'm still exhausted.

    1. It's a good exhaustion though, isn't it? I'm already looking forward to next year!

  4. Adored seeing you Roz and so sad I wasn't able to meet you for lunch. Great summary of a fabulous conference! Can't wait till the next!

  5. I agree with the temperature issue, I was freezing most of the time! I wore pants and brought a sweater on Friday and was finally comfortable. My other big thumbs down was that there weren't platforms for the speakers. It wasn't bad when they were standing at a podium, but if it was a panel of people, who were seated at the table up front with mics, you couldn't see them unless you were in the front row! If they had them up on even a 1- or 2-foot high platform, we all would have been able to see them. But as it was, I spent 10 mins leaning left and right and then finally giving up and just listening. But really, overall the conference was one big THUMBS UP! I had such an amazing time.