With that being said, I felt a little uneasy about going to Orlando. Nashville is only about an 1 1/2 hour drive from my home. It was convenient. A trip to Orlando wasn't convenient. It would involve driving several hours or flying to the conference. Fortunately I was able to fly non-stop to the tourist city.
Once at the conference, I quickly realized that I wasn't in Kansas anymore...or Alabama for that matter. Saying it was overwhelming was an understatement. It was mind boggling but my brain quickly recovered from the intensity of the crowds; it was soon rewarded by the warm smiles from other RWA authors.
The few days at the conference seemed non-stop; yet I did take some time out to relax in my room and walk around the beautiful grounds of the
During my strolls, I spent some time with some of my writer friends, Christina Glover, Roma Lightsey, Kellie Winzinowich, and Kasey Kolander. Although we all write in different genres, each of these women inspired me.
I had several ah-haa moments during the conference. Several speakers and workshops definitely opened my eyes, hears, and mind to aspects of my writing which needs improving and the strategies which will help me mature in my skills as a writer. Roxanne St. Claire's workshop on 'How to mend a broken scene' had my light bulb spark and blowup. It was phenomenal! The Paranormal panel with Colleen Gleason, Terri Garey, C L Wilson, Juliana Stone, Jeaniene Frost, and Kelley Armstrong reaffirmed that a particular topic I researched a couple of years ago was exactly the type of 'thinking outside the box' mentality needed for a great and memorable story. When I heard the panel speak, I realized I made the mistake of 'pulling in' my characters and story line concept. I definitely don't need and want to do that with a paranormal manuscript. Hearing the words, "there are no rules in paranormal" and "pushing outside the boundaries is expected" liberated and freed me from constricting my creative thoughts and ideas. Thank you, ladies!
On my last night, I had the privilege of meeting some other talented and extremely hilarious women. Along with Kellie J. Winzinowich and Kasey Kolander whom I met previously, I met Barbara Bettis, Jennifer Jakes, Sherry Cahill, Trish F. Leger, Lori H. Leger, Elke O, Lisa Wells, and Cecily Cornelius-White, Psy.D. Although we all write in different genres, we all have something to contribute to the world of writing; therefore, we formed the well enlightened, informed, and highly ecstatic blogging group, "Ass Cheek Angels". I look forward to blogging with the other women about writing and the crazy roller coaster ride which it entails. The Ass Cheek Angels blog will be an opportunity to inspire and support others within the writing community. It will definitely be a blast!
When going to a huge conference, it's the heart warming and wonderful people who make it memorable where you want to attend year after year. Those are the people who take the time to answer your questions and mentor you, give you a smile and say "hello" even while rushing to a workshop, give you a compliment regardless if it is about your appearance or your writing, inspires you just by being themselves. Here are just some of those people:
My fellow Southern Magic Chapter gal, Christina Glover, who was gracious with her time and information. Thank you for taking me under your wing with traveling and around the conference. I appreciate you immensely!
Thank you to Dianna Love for always smiling and being the wonderful mentor which she is to me. Thank you for stopping for a picture and introducing me to your wonderful assistant, Cassondra. You always welcome and encourage me. I adore you!
Thank you to my roommate, Roma Lightsey, for the entertaining stories and for your patience. Hearing about your dating escapades was quite enlightening and enjoyable; although, maybe not to you. LOL!
Kellie J Winzonwich and Kasey Kolander for the night walk across the grounds and the laughter about BLTs, rabbits, hammocks, and whatever else we conjured up! I greatly enjoyed it all. Most of all thank you for inviting me to the 'after award show festivities' in the 11th floor suite! Without it, I wouldn't have met the fabulous future Ass Cheek Angels and be a part of this phenomenal group. My life will never be the same!
I also want to say thank you to Michele Sullens. Another first timer, she and I met while walking to the Jayne Ann Krentz Luncheon. We struck up a conversation while rushing to the luncheon and sat together. Afterwards, we attended a workshop and book signing too. During that time frame, I laughed so hard that my side hurt! I appreciate you sharing different aspects of your life with me and your honesty. Thanks for being a good sport about all the "you've got to read her book" comments from me at the Avon book signing. LOL! You're the best!
Last but definitely not least, Jenni Holbrook-Talty. I always enjoy seeing you! You're a delight and an extraordinary woman. I appreciate your honesty and consideration when discussing different aspects of writing and the business. I respect your thoughts and I thank you for sharing information with me. I look forward to keeping in touch with you and continuing to build our friendship.
With that being said, NRWA Conference was definitely a success! Yes, attending workshops and learning more about my writing craft is extremely important; however, I also have found it's the people that make a conference experience worth every penny spent!
See you next time around!