Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Reflections on RWA 2014!

Debby Giusti here!

As promised, I’m blogging today about my experience at this year’s Romance Writers of America National Conference, held at the beautiful Marriott Marquis on the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas. My daughter, Mary accompanied me, and we arrived on Monday to experience San Antonio’s Southwest hospitality before the start of the conference, which gave us time for leisurely strolls and stops at shops and restaurants that  bordered the waterway.

Remember the Alamo!

Tuesday morning, we joined Janet Dean and her husband for a full-day tour that started at the Alamo. Established as a mission in 1718 and later used as a military outpost, the Alamo has been preserved as a shrine to the 186 heroic men who stood with Colonel William Travis, Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett against General Santa Anna and his army. Outnumber and under siege for 13 days, the men fought for Texas independence and their valor and heroism live on as an inspiration to all.

Mission Concepcion

From the Alamo, we headed to the outskirts of town to visit Mission Concepción. The church was dedicated in 1755 and is the oldest unrestored stone church in the US today. Mission San José, with its expansive grounds and Rose Window, provided a glimpse into the life of the missionaries who spread the Word of God and the Indians who lived and worked within the safety of the mission walls.

Janet Dean finds a friendly cowboy at the Buckhorn Saloon.

We ate lunch at the Buckhorn Saloon. Built in 1881, it stands as the oldest salon in Texas. While there, we toured the accompanying museum that included Bonnie and Clyde’s bullet-riddled car, Texas Ranger memorabilia and other Wild West artifacts, including a mockup re-creation of old San Antonio.

In the afternoon, we took a riverboat ride on the San Antonio River. A flood in 1921 claimed 51 lives and devastated the downtown. Bypass channels were built for flood control, and some years later, architect Robert Hugman proposed a commercial development plan which turned the much needed waterways into the fun and festive River Walk that’s a favorite destination today for all who visit the city.

Mariachis play at La Tierra under the twinkling lights.

Our tour included time to shop at El Mercado, and we returned later that night with Missy Tippens and her husband and daughter for dinner at La Tierra. The expansive restaurant, decorated with murals of the famous and not-so-famous, is known as the best place for San Antonians—and eager tourists—to enjoy Mexican food, Mariachi bands and lots of local color.

(L to R) Mary Connealy, Mindy Obenhaus, Lindi Peterson, Myra Johnson
and DiAnn Mills chat after the FHL meeting.

The Faith, Hope and Love Chapter meeting Wednesday afternoon is the perfect way to start the RWA conference. Joining together in prayer for the success of the conference and for all those who attend sets the tone for the next four days.

Debby Giusti gets ready for the Literacy Autographing.
Notice the balloons Harlequin gave their authors.

Excitement built as readers lined up, waiting for the doors to open, for the “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing that evening. More than 500 authors participated this year, and $53,800 was earned and donated to organizations that foster and encourage literacy. The Literacy Autographing is one of my favorite events. I love meeting first timers and reconnecting with old friends. Thanks to everyone who stopped by my table to say hello and pick up copies of my Writer’s Prayer and other giveaways.

Debby and Tina Radcliffe pose for a picture.

Piper Hugely stops by Missy Tippens' table.

Last week, Myra Johnson recapped a few of the workshops she attended. If you missed her blog, "A Random Recap: RWA 2014," you can find it here

Like Myra, I attended Marie Force’s workshop, “So Your Books Have Taken Off… Now What?” I came away thinking of my writing as a business. I’m not in Marie’s league, but I do need to have long-term goals and find ways to work smarter instead of harder.

(L to R) Mary Curry, Tina Radcliffe and Carol Post

Here are a few notes I took from Marie's workshop:

Think like a business person.
Get an email address with your author name so each email you send builds your brand.
Start a mailing list. When a reader emails, ask him/her to subscribe to your newsletter.
Gather snail mail addresses and consider special send outs, such as Christmas card.
Your website is open for business 24/7, 365 days a year. Keep it updated. List your series books in order and include buy links.
Marie went from making $2500 in 2010, to over $3M in 2013 and 2014. She didn’t expect her business to grow so quickly, and she encourages all authors to be prepared for success.
(BTW, Marie Force will be the Keynote Speaker at the Moonlight and Magnolias Conference, held in Atlanta, Georgia, October 10-12. Consider attending.)

Waiting for a workshop to begin.

Myra also mentioned Cindi Meyers’ workshop, “Writing Faster, Writing Better.” Here's what I took away from Cindi's program:

Find free time to write by eliminating wasted activities.
The average person watches 4 hours of TV a day. Cindi’s advice. Turn off the tube.
Grab short bits of time to write.
Record writing time on your calendar to track your progress.
Use ritual to help you “go into” your writing world. Get used to writing at the same time, same place, perhaps get into the “zone” with candles or music.
Really fast writers plot so they have a road map.
When you stop at the end of the day, make notes in ALL CAPS about what you’ll write the next day.
If you get stuck, write your scenes out of order.
Limit negative self-talk.
The Internet can be a bad habit.
Perfectionism gets in the way of productivity.
Embrace your rough draft. (Cindi writes straight through until she has a completed rough draft and then polishes.)
Resist the temptation to show your draft to critique partners.
Use writing sprints to increase productivity. Set a timer for 10 to 15 minutes and just write. Don’t stop until the timer dings!
According to the Pomodoro Technique, the most efficient work is done in 20 minute time periods, followed by a 5 min break.
Go on writing retreats two or three times a year.
Accountability Partners are good.
Cindi writes 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, with a yield of 3,000 words per day. She spends 3 to 4 days in prep prior to beginning a new story, and does one big revision and one fine-tuning review when her draft is completed. She writes a HQ Intrigue in 5 to 6 weeks and spends three months on a 90,000 single title. Although she writes for different lines, she works on one book at a time. 

Harlequin even decorated the furniture with their logo
for their big party!
 I moderated Love Inspired Editor Emily Rodmell and Harlequin Editor Susan Litman’s “Tips for the Perfect Pitch from the Editor’s Side of the Table” Workshop.

Susan started off the hour by saying:
Consider every pitch as a moment of opportunity.
Do your homework and know what the editor is acquiring.
Does your project hit her sweet spot?
Check to ensure your manuscript fits that particular publisher’s needs.
Remember you’re selling your story and yourself.
Index cards are fine, but don’t rely solely on them.
Practice your pitch, and include word count, hooks, blurb and plot.

On the dance floor at the Harlequin party.
Emily offered the following advice:
Consider the pitch a conversation rather than a monologue.
Introduce yourself.
Exchange pleasantries.
A short blurb is good.
Focus on the plot, conflict and hooks.
Hooks can include a special location, Amish or secret baby, and/or a particular occupation, such as cowboys or firemen.      
Include both internal and external conflict.
You’re the architect of your story. Tell the editor why your story is memorable, along with the obstacle that will keep your hero and heroine from falling in love?
Mention if you’re published.
The manuscript should be completed.
Share your marketing strategies, such as your followers on social media, and explain why you want to write for their particular house.
Dress professionally
Submit as soon as possible. Include a short email and mention something to refresh the editor’s memory about your project.
Turn off your cell phone
Make eye contact and smile.
Leave on time.
Don’t be nervous.
Don’t bring your manuscript.

Tanya Aglar and Julie Hilton Steele are so pretty!
This year, I choose workshops that focused heavily on business, hybrid writing, and ways to juggle traditionally published stories and independent releases to build readership.

A number of workshops talked about writing fast and releasing stories—full-length, novella or short stories—every ninety days to keep readers remembering your name and buying your work.

In the past, the publishing house or agent was orchestrating a writer’s career. Now the writer is the CEO of her writing business.

Not yet published? You’re learning your craft. Pubbed or not, we all need to increase our productivity and keep our eye on any changes in the industry.

Indie author Hugh Howey and his agent, Kristin Nelson, in a PAN workshop, “The Down and Dirty: What It Means to be an Outlier,” talked about earning a living by writing. Hugh went from earning $200/month to $3,000/month by releasing work every three months. He writes short stories and releases them independently to generate more interest in his full-length books and claims good content and regularity are the keys to his successful career. Kristin said we’ll see more changes in the next three to five years, and those changes will happen first in the romance genre.

This year, the Keynote luncheon was held on Thursday. In lieu of a second luncheon, the conference attendees received breakfast on Friday and Saturday, followed by General Session speakers Cindy Ratzlaff and Karen Rose. Each person attending got a free copy of their books, and following their talks, the ladies autographed in the lobby. I like the new format and found the talks inspirational and a great way to start each day.

Our lunch break was shortened, which made room for more workshops. President-elect Cindy Kirk, the RWA board and staff were always available to answer questions or help with any problems. Cindy is an outstanding leader, and I’m looking forward to her tenure as president.

The Awards Ceremony Saturday night.

I often hear Christian writers question whether to attend RWA. Everything I know, I learned from my GA RWA chapter. This year’s National Conference was warm and welcoming. I always felt surrounded by good friends, perhaps because I was usually with Seekers and Villagers and other Love Inspired authors. Joking aside, RWA offers something for everyone, and I encourage you to consider attending next year when it will be held in New York City. You’ll mix and mingle with industry professions and editors and agents and have lots of opportunities to pitch, to network, to improve your craft and sell your story.

After the Awards Ceremony. Tomorrow we head home.
Share your RWA experiences from this year or from past conferences. Leave a comment to be entered in the first-ever drawing for my October Love Inspired Suspense. I’ll be giving away five copies of HOLIDAY DEFENDERS, featuring my novella, “Mission: Christmas Rescue.”

In honor of San Antonio and RWA, I’m serving Southwestern Breakfast Burritos, Scrambled Eggs with Cheese and Peppers, Quesadillas, an assortment of pastries, ham and…you guessed right…GRITS! Enjoy! The coffee and tea are hot. Pour a cup of your favorite beverage, and let’s talk about books and writing and what we learned at RWA!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

by Debby Giusti

On the run from a killer, Elizabeth Tate must accept U.S. Army captain Nick Fontaine’s protection for the sake of her young niece and nephew. Now her life is in the hands of the very man who broke her heart years ago.


  1. I don't know how you did it but you got ALMOST all the conference in. What a great time we all had.

    ManO and I made our way to La Tierra too. Such fun.

    I've been listening to the workshops I didn't get to hear in person and extending my conference experience.

    But it's not the same as seeing real people so I will see you at M and M!

    Peace, Julie

  2. Grits is definitely an acquired taste. The closest I've ever come to meeting authors is The Chocolate Affair, or the Glendale Library. Guess who was at those events? Our own Tina! YOU ROCK. Other than that I've met authors individually. Would love it if there was a RWA close to me. Debby, you really made me want to join you. Please, I'd love a copy of your book!

  3. I've only attended one RWA conference. It was back in Minneapolis, back in the eighties, and Debbie Macomber was the keynote speaker.

    Coffee pot's set.

  4. I love RWA. I've been to San Francisco and Anaheim. I hoped to go to San Antonio this year but it didn't work out. I hope to take the train to San Diego in 2016. The Peninsula Chapter in WA is where I learned so much about writing. Thank you for the awesome recap, Debby. I would have loved to see the Alamo. Wow. :)

  5. Great post, Debby! Facebook was RWA, all the time that week!

    P.S. I'm pretty sure I don't out-earn Hugh Howey every month.

    Here's a post from Jan 2014:

    "In January 2012, he released the Wool omnibus (the combined five parts), which spent two weeks on The New York Times e-book fiction bestseller list and received the Kindle Book Review’s 2012 Best Indie Book Award in the sci-fi/fantasy category. By that summer, Howey was selling 20,000–30,000 digital copies of Wool a month … and making a monthly salary of $150,000 from e-book sales alone. He quit his day job."

    $150K a month, not 3K. And he still has his ebook rights and they're selling even better now.

    I love Hugh. A really sweet man who stands his ground and tells it like it is. And writes a good book, too!

  6. Thank you for sharing the pictures from RWA Debby! Also, I loved your 'notes' from the conference sessions, especially from the "Writing Faster, Writing Better" workshop. Some really great tips!

    Have a blessed day!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  7. Oh, Debby, I love this post mostly because the peeps in San Antonio agree with me! (of course I'd love that, I'm egocentric!!!!)

    These are great check lists. This is chock full of good advice, solid words of wisdom.

    I love seeing authors take charge of their own careers!!!! Yes, use your wits, the wisdom of professionals who've gone before you, the examples of success surrounding you! Go for it!

    And it's not just about money, although everyone should get paid for a job well done. The books we write, the work we do, can make a difference in people's lives. This is a huge, God-given opportunity and should never be taken lightly... but it is A-OKAY!!! to treat your business like a business.

    That's the common sense of the successful author!

    Deb, great tips, great advice, and I'm loving the pictures. Thank you for sharing them!!!!!

  8. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Don't be nervous? I've been nervous for about a month now, and God keeps calming me down. 36 days until ACFW.

    So the goal is to write something new and release it every 90 days? This is to be a combination of novels and short stories? Is that right?

    At conference will agents want to see if we've got enough for a 3 book series OR will they want to know if there's a novella to tie into the story? OR both?


  9. Is today Ruthy's birthday?

    Happy birthday!

  10. Yeah, I'm with Jackie -- "don't be nervous" -- snort! I'd be a basket case. Thanks for the conference recap, Debby. I hadn't thought of RWA as an option -- too big, too scary, not all inspirational focussed BUT it's the only conference that's remotely close to where I live and therefore a possibility. Though the idea of tackling both a huge city like New York and a huge conference gives me heart palpitations!

  11. Julie, I loved seeing you at the RWA Conference and am looking forward to sharing M&M with you again this year!!!

    La Tierra was amazing. So many rooms. So many happy patrons enjoying the yummy food and fun ambiance!

    I used to listen to conference tapes. Now that technology has gotten more advanced, I don't buy the conference pack anymore. Probably should. I used to listen while I did housework...which probably means I don't keep my house as clean as I used too! Shall I write or shall I clean? Hmmmm? Tough decision. LOL!

  12. I love RWA! I haven't attended because it's so big and I felt overwhelmed. lol Great tips though and I love the pics! Makes me want to go on a tour. lol

  13. Marianne!

    How wonderful that you could be with Tina. I know she always enjoys seeing you.

    I love meeting the authors I read, and it's always fun to talk books and writing. My favorite subjects!

    Hope to meet you someday, Marianne. It's always a joy to see your comments on Seekerville. Thanks for being part of our family.

    Yes, you're in the drawing!


  14. Helen,

    Debbie Macomber is always wonderful. She was the keynote at ACFW a few years back. Such a lovely lady.

    You're always faithful to ACFW, Helen. Will you be there this year? Hope to see you then.

  15. Thank you, Debby! I enjoyed the conference photos of you gals all having fun, and looking so pretty!

    The information you gave about different workshops is helpful and good to have! :-)

    Glad everyone had a good time and got back home safely.

  16. Suzie,

    I missed seeing you and remember the SF and Anaheim conferences. Hope RWA returns to SF soon. My hubby was born there, and his family lives in Marin County. He joined me at the end of the conference, and we spent extra time visiting loved ones.

    The Alamo was very special...holy ground. They ask for quiet as you tour the building, and a sense of reverence, respect and honor is palpable as visitors reflect on the sacrifice of so many.

    Hope to see you in San Diego!

  17. Thank you for the wonderful recap, Debby! Ever since I joined RWA many, many years ago I've wanted to go to National but just have never had the opportunity. Maybe one day!! Sounds like a jam-packed time of fun and learning!

  18. Great job, Debby! I forgot about the photo from the FHL-General meeting.
    San Antonio is the best. Love the Riverwalk and the history.

  19. Virginia, thanks for providing the real stats about Hugh's success! Maybe I left off a zero! LOL! Perhaps he was talking about when his writing first started to make good money. Tina and Missy attended the workshop as well. Hopefully, they'll be able to share what they heard him say.

    He seemed charming...and I got a pic with him. :)

  20. wow.

    wonderful recap and great material here for those of us who didn't go. i'm just beginning my journey with itty-bitty baby steps, so i appreciate the trail blazing you ladies at Seekerville are doing for me. i tend to get convicted about my lack of discipline for getting words on screen, but again, i'm taking baby steps forward.

    thanks for sharing all the things you learned. (YAY for learning) i'm always desiring to be in the draw for any Seeker's book.

  21. Hi Debby~
    It's so much fun to see pictures of some of my favorite authors, beautiful ladies all.

    Books with a Christmas setting are some of my favorites to read, after all, what better time of year is there? And it doesn't have to be Christmas for me to read them. Would love to read your new book!

    Thanks for a fun and informative post!

  22. Thanks for sharing the conference with us. Your tips were just what I needed.

    I learned of a new publisher possibility for my non-fiction book. I will be needing to work on a pitch for the book.

    I'm both excited and scared if that makes any sense at all.

    Your book sounds so exciting. I would love to win a copy.

  23. Thanks, Debby, for the great pics and info about the RWA conference!
    Really enjoyed seeing them.

    Would love to be entered for your holiday book!

  24. Jackie, yes, and thank you but we're ignoring it slightly.... because birthdays are CUTE when you're little!



    I'm okay with letting the day slide on by!

    KAV... you should go

    I went to a bunch of conferences as a newbie and when I first got published, they were a huge help to me!!!!! Yes, you should go, absolutely!!!!

    You pick one, and maybe we can go together. I'm feelin' the need for a conference in the next year or two....

    RWA rocks. And they're doing another Orlando conference in a year or two, aren't they? 2016 or 17?

    IF WE LIVE THAT LONG!!!!! :)

  25. Hope you can use some of the tips, Cindy!

    You're in the drawing!

    Hugs and blessings!


    As I listened to many of the speakers, I thought of you and how you've put so much of the advice into practice. Your hard work and determination, coupled with your creative genius, are propelling your carrier into the BIG LEAGUE!

    So fun to watch what God is doing in your life through your writing.

    Hugs and love and continued prayers as you flourish and make us all so proud!

  27. Hi Jackie!

    I should have added my two cents to Emily's comment about not being nervous. Easier said than done, right? I'm nervous whenever I'm pitching to an editor--still! But being prepared helps, which is the point she was trying to make. Do your homework, practice your pitch and then ask God to bless you and calm you as you chat--very confidently--with the editor or agent.

    The ninety day goal is for those who want to grow their readership and sales. Don't concentrate on that when you're trying to sell your first story. Focus on the completed work. Yes, editors and agents will be interested in your ideas for a series, prequels, future stories, but that first book needs to catch their eye and their interest.

    Does that make sense? At the conclusion of your pitch, you can mention other works or ideas for a series. That's good, but your main emphasis should be on the book you're trying to sell.

    Hope to see you at ACFW! Be sure to say hello. I'm praying for everyone to have a successful, fun and informative conference. That includes productive meetings with editors and agents.


  28. Ahhhh Debby, You made me miss you more than I did on the actual conference days. I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time. And how much fun to see the Seekers and Seeker friends there.

    Thanks for sharing. Hugs

  29. Pure gold here, Debby. Thank you! Definitely printing this out to review as needed, especially with ACFW coming up. Any tips on how not to be nervous while pitching? :-)

  30. Yes, yes, yes, Jackie! Today is Ruthy's birthday.

    I've brought three cakes and buckets of ice cream to celebrate. German Chocolate, Red Velvet, and Angel Food cake with strawberries and whipped cream.

    Which would you like?

  31. Well...I should have read the comments first, before I posted mine. :( Thanks, Debby, for the key to less nervousness -- preparation. Did anyone talk about one-sheets? It seems that some editors/agents want them and some don't.

  32. Kav,

    We promise to hold your hand and guide you through the conference, if you can attend! Plus, lots of prayer coverage to help all of us navigate through Times Square! LOL!

    I was sincere about the tone of this conference in San Antonio--very warm, very welcoming, very positive and uplifting.

  33. Wow that post was packed with tons of great information. Looks like ya'll had a great time as well!

  34. Thanks Debby - please enter me for that wonderful looking book. Once again I will miss ACFW (it comes at a bad time of year for my "real" job). But thanks for all the great tips. Someone please write an article about how to handle the nerves that go with this. Yes, I like Jackie's suggestion.
    And Happy Birthday to Ruthy but shhh. . . I heard it's a secret.

  35. Jessica,
    RWA will be in Disney World in 2017. Aren't you still in Florida? You have to attend that one since it's so close to home.

    The last RWA Conference at Disney World was lovely. Very relaxed and casual. Many of us visited the theme parks and enjoyed yummy meals at Disney restaurants. Great venue for families, too.

    Other upcoming RWA conference sites:

    New York - 2015
    San Diego - 2016
    Disney World - 2017
    Denver - 2018

  36. Jessica,
    RWA will be in Disney World in 2017. Aren't you still in Florida? You have to attend that one since it's so close to home.

    The last RWA Conference at Disney World was lovely. Very relaxed and casual. Many of us visited the theme parks and enjoyed yummy meals at Disney restaurants. Great venue for families, too.

    Other upcoming RWA conference sites:

    New York - 2015
    San Diego - 2016
    Disney World - 2017
    Denver - 2018

  37. Hi Mary,

    Hope you can use some of the info!


  38. Glynna, perhaps San Diego or Denver would work into your busy schedule!

    Looking forward to seeing you at ACFW. YAY!

  39. Julie's right! What a great overview Debby! We had an awesome time! Hope to see you at M&M. :)

    Pass the grits!
    And the Red Velvet cake for Ruthy's birthday! Happy Birthday Ruthy!

  40. Hi DebH, you're in the drawing.

    I love Julia Cameron's advice in THE ARTIST'S WAY: Protect the baby steps.

    She talks about the importance of finding value in our beginning work and not to allow anything negative to sway us off course. That applies to first-time writers as well as established authors who may be branching into a new genre or new type of story.

    We all start with baby steps, no matter what we're writing!

  41. Okay, I was here at midnight but was so disturbed by how funny I look in pictures I went to bed. I am over it now. Sort of.

    Great recaps, Debby.

    I want to be Cindy Kirk.

  42. Hi Tracey,
    I love Christmas stories too!

    Plus, they're fun to write. Mission: Christmas Rescue was penned in January of this year. I kept my holiday decorations up until mid-month so I could stay in the Christmas mood. LOL!

    You're in the drawing!

  43. Fun, fun conference, Debby! Thanks for sharing your recap and photos! This is really cool because what some of us may have missed, others picked up on or had the chance to attend a workshop we didn't make it to. There were just so darned many to choose from!

  44. TINA, if you were Cindy Kirk, you'd have to run RWA for a year. Are you ready for that???

    (Just let me know and I'll nominated you next time.)

  45. WOW, DEB ... ANOTHER RWA-CONFERENCE-IN-BLOG!!! I am SO blessed that you and Myra shared the highlights with the rest of us so we can share the wealth of a truly enlightening writer's conference -- THANK YOU!!

    One glaring sentence popped out at me in neon lights -- the #1 reason I am less productive than I would like to be:

    "Perfectionism gets in the way of productivity."

    AMEN AND AMEN, and I'm working on that now. :)


  46. Yes, Debby, I'm registered for ACFW. Look forward to seeing you. It's in my state this year, only about a hundred miles north of me. :)

  47. Wilani,

    You mentioned being excited and scared. I can relate. I'm sure most writers can as well.

    It's an exciting job/vocation/calling...but it requires hard work, determination and, IMHO, courage. We all get scared at times when we tackle new or bigger projects, but success, when it comes, is always sweet. Now that success can be as simple as a turn of phrase that works...or as big as a full-length completed manuscript. Each story is a challenge, and when we write THE END, the feeling of accomplishment is always good.

    Praying for you and the new publisher to connect! Keep us posted.

    You're in the drawing.

    Hugs and love!

  48. Waving to Jackie Smith!

    You're in the drawing.

    Are you a fan of Christmas stories? This one is drawn from my own children when they were little. Not the suspense part, mind you, but how the children played out the birth of Christ.

  49. Ruthy, did you get a slice of cake?

  50. Sandra,

    I often think back on our time together at RWA Anaheim! You swam every morning while I grabbed a few more minutes of sleep.

    You're an inspiration! I'm trying to swim more this summer. Love the water, but it's hard to find the time.

  51. Debby, I LOVE your new cover!!! And I love grits, so thanks for sharing. :)

    I really enjoyed the photos! Feel like I've been back to RWA again. It was a fantastic conference like always. I learn so much from the workshops. I don't have anything to add, because I think we attended a lot of the same ones.

  52. Yay, Debby! It was great to see you again and to meet Mary. I'm so glad you took the time to tour San Antonio. And that you made it to the Mercado and Mi Tierra. Two of our favorite places.

    Did I tell you that my husband's claim to fame is that Davy Crockett is his great, great, great, great uncle? My boys love that. :)

    I do have a question, though. How on earth did you get so many pictures of Tina? It was like pulling teeth for me to get just one with her. At least, I think I got one.

  53. Meghan,

    Not being nervous is always a challenge. Remember the editor and agent wants to buy your book. They're looking for that perfect story, which could be yours. Plus, they're sometimes nervous and tired and need you to brighten their day. Bring the Jesus within you to that meeting. Love them, love the Christ you see in them and pray that God will bless your time together.

    As we know, He is always faithful. He'll be there with you, giving you confidence and blessing your pitch.

    Trust in Him. Be prepared and expect good things to happen.

  54. Thank you, Debby! I'm printing off your comment and taping it on my computer as I prepare for ACFW. :-)

  55. Meghan,
    I've only seen one sheets used at ACFW. Perhaps other Christian conferences encourage them as well.

    Emily Rodmell did mention that she's only seen them at ACFW.

    Seems, again IMHO, that time would be better spent by preparing a dynamite pitch rather than struggling with graphics to get something pretty on paper. But that's just me. Plus, I'm low tech.

    I hope others will comment. Perhaps the one sheets serve as a visual reminder for the editor or agent.

    I have pitched at ACFW and never provided a one sheet, which didn't seem to bother the editors.

  56. Hi DiAnn,
    So good seeing you at RWA! Thanks for all your hard work with FHL! You're doing wonderful things with our chapter. Love your weekly topics!

    Glad you could be with us in Seekerville. Your recent post was very meaningful to me.

  57. Hi Jamie,

    I always learn a lot at RWA! Love to come home with tips and techniques that improve my craft. This year's conference helped me look at my writing as a business with a focus on productivity. Does that mean I'll cut corners or sell my readers short? Of course not! But I am thinking of new ways to up my word count and use my time more wisely. So the conference helped me. Hope the tips I passed on, help you as well.

    And, yes, as you mentioned, we had lots of fun too!


  58. Cindy, the good news is that you have a "real" job. I'm praying for all those trying to find employment.

    Sorry you can't attend ACFW, but consider smaller, regional conferences. Check out who will be presenting. Often the smaller venues allow more time to interact with editors and agents.

    Plus, in this day and age, the Net provides so much information. What we all want is to keep learning and improve our writing. Thankfully there are many ways to do just that, even without attending conferences.

    Good luck with your writing! Praying for your success!

  59. HI Piper!

    GRITS and Red Velvet Cake are a great combination and the perfect way to celebrate Ruthy's big day!!!

    Anyone want a helium balloon?

    Can't wait to see you at M&M! LOL! We live so close, yet we have to travel far to connect.

  60. Tina, you look lovely in each picture, although photos never do you justice!

    You can be Cindy Kirk. I'll nominate you for RWA President. 'Kay?

  61. HI Myra!

    Seems we're thinking alike about nominating Tina for RWA President. :)

    Yes, so many workshops to choose from at RWA! Notice how the Seekers like to stick together? Often we attended the same workshops. Go figure! LOL!

  62. Julie,

    You mentioned, "Perfectionism gets in the way of productivity."

    That's a big hangup with me as well.

    I think of perfectionism as a double-edged sword. It's a good thing, but it can also slow us down. Finding balance is important.

    I'm trying...

  63. Helen,
    The Show Me State! I lived in Kirksville for three years and birthed a baby in Grimm Smith Hospital on Christmas. Lots of wonderful memories!

  64. Missy, didn't you enjoy the "feel" of this conference? Such a lovely spirit...

    Of course, San Antonio is named after a saint. Lots of beautiful churches and missions in the area along with the hallowed space within the Alamo. Plus the angel mural on the side of the children's hospital. Perhaps the prayer offered in that town and the faithfulness of its inhabitants down through the years set the tone for our time there.

  65. Mindy,
    May I have your hubby's autograph? I'm a huge fan of Davy Crockett! Such a hero! We need more men like him today. I'm sure your hubby takes after his famous relative. :)

    Tina gave me the evil eye more than once when I mentioned photo shoot! But she's the one who always wants pics for the WE!

  66. Meghan, I know God will be with you as you pitch.

    Hugs and love!

  67. Debbi - what a great recap of the conference! You certainly kept busy! Sorry we didn't have catch-up time....


  68. Hi Terri!
    Always love seeing you in passing. :)

    Wasn't the conference great!

    NYC? Hope to see you there.

  69. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  70. Thank you, Debby! Great summary of events and takeaway advice!. Love ALL the pictures, too. I need to study Cindi Meyer's suggestions.....and go to La Tierra!

    The closest I've been to the Romance Writers conference was in Anaheim 2012. I went to the literacy event and had brunch with three authors. Even that close was fabulous!

    Thanks again for your post and sharing your events! Thank you for entering me in the drawing for your Christmas romance book!

  71. I so want to go to a RWA would love to know if they are doing one close to springfield mo ever

  72. Hi Sherri,
    Loved your blog yesterday. Didn't get a chance to comment.


  73. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Ruthy! You deserve the BEST celebration for ALL you do!!!

    And, DENVER 2018!?!?.....I can do that! Maybe I'll even have a book written by then. Back to the computer....and saving my pennies.....NOW.....after dropping by with a few Animas green chiles to add some Southwest spicy flavor to the grits. :) Thanks for the brunch!

    Kav, you should definitely go to NYC!

  74. Hi Sherida,
    Didn't you have your grandchildren with you in Anaheim? Your daughter attended the conference and you had fun with the little ones! Sounds good to me. LOL!

  75. Debby, Thanks for this post! Was great fun to relive the RWA conference, which included my first visit to San Antonio. I loved every minute touring the area's rich history with you and Mary. The Alamo impacted me far more than I ever imagined.

    The workshops and networking and partying all added up to a profitable, exciting, fun conference. I look forward to NYC!


  76. Sherida,

    Laughing at the green chilies and grits combo! Sounds good.

    Denver? Yes? I'll see you there!

  77. Janet,

    Sharing the conference with friends always makes it more fun! Such wonderful memories. I'm already thinking about NYC!

  78. Hi Misty,
    The ACFW this September will be in ST Lewis. Will that work for you?

    The RWA conference sites are posted through 2018: NYC, San Diego, FL and Denver.

  79. that is my anniversary weekend I think and I don't think he will want to do that might see if he would day trip but wont hold my breathe hopefully will get to one soon

  80. Happy Upcoming Anniversary!

    My hubby and I celebrated our anniversary yesterday. Lots of wonderful memories.

  81. DEBBY! You're right! I'm so impressed with your memory and thoughtfulness! Spending time with the grandkids always is the best! Happy anniversary (yesterday)! And happy anniversary to Misty a bit early!

  82. Hi Debby~
    After reading through more posts, it appears we have more than a love of LI suspense and Christmas books in common. I'll celebrate my August Anniversary on Monday and had a baby on Christmas too. Meant to say earlier, all these San Antonio pics have me wanting to plan a trip there soon!

    Many wishes for a Happy Birthday RUTHY, I stopped by fb to say hello and looks like you are overflowing with wishes there! You are loved!

    TINA, Your pictures are beautiful and I loved seeing them. Btw: I finished The Christmas Angel last night and LOVED it. Looking forward to the next Mcbride book, out anytime soon?

  83. Thanks for the anniversary wishes, Sherida!

    I remembered because I wished we had been able to meet. :)

  84. Tracey, wishing you and hubby a wonderful anniversary on Monday! August is a great month for weddings, isn't it!

    You had a Christmas baby! So, so special. I felt like I was living the Christmas story that day. :)

  85. Happy Anniversary to you and you husband too! I named my little girl Andrea Noelle, she'll be 36 this year, after Jesus, best Christmas gift ever!

  86. I had a great conference. I went early to do some sightseeing too, and it was great to run into you and Mary at Mission San Jose. I saw a lot of the same things you did, ate at La Tierra and did a little shopping as well. I'd really love to go back and visit the outlying areas where the dude ranches are.

    One of the highlights of my conference was breakfast with my editor, former RWA president Jill Limber. This breakfast was a great example of being prepared. When she asked if I had any other projects going, I was able to tell her about a work in progress, and she offered me a contract on it right there over my French toast!

    So always, always be prepared to talk about the books you've already had published (you want to attract new readers) and the works you have in progress (so you can pitch them to an editor or agent).

    I spent a lot of time networking with anyone I could meet. You just never know when that person, whatever role they play in Romancelandia, might be the person you need to contact.

  87. Wonderful recap and great tips! I have enjoyed SA twice--a fun place to vacation.

  88. I think maybe I ate at that restaurant with the pretty umbrellas.

    Unless I was lost.

    That happened a LOT.

  89. Marilyn,
    So good seeing you at RWA!

    Congrats on the new contract, and thanks for sharing that great advice about always being prepared to pitch to an editor or share info about your book to a new reader.

    Wasn't San Antonio a fun venue! I liked having all the restaurants so close. Plus, the big mall was attached to the hotel in case anyone forgot to pack some much needed item.

    Glad you had time to network. I love making new friends and reconnecting with others. For me, the conference is filled with friendly faces. It's like a big family reunion!

    We're having storms in Georgia this evening. A huge oak fell in our backyard, luckily away from the house. How's the weather in Alabama?

  90. Hi Jacqui!

    San Antonio is a fun city. I'm ready to go back. LOL!

  91. Laughing with you Mary. Lots of restaurants with pretty umbrellas! I ate at one of them. Don't know if it was in the picture or not.

  92. An amazing recap of your time in San Antonio, Debby. This is definitely going to take a re-read or two. Your notes on the workshops are great.

    I haven't been to RWA, but I've been to San Antonio many, many times. I am soooo glad you took the tour. The mission trail is inspiring. And oh my gosh, you ate at La Tierra. That place is an experience in itself!

    Thanks for sharing all the pix. So much fun to see everyone having fun :-)

    Would love to be in the drawing for Holiday Defenders.

    Nancy C

  93. I wish I could have gone to RWA, Debby! Every year I am green with envy! "Someday", I tell myself! Thanks for sharing more info!!! I've also always wanted to visit San Antonio! My brother lives in Dallas so I've gone there but not San Antonio and I hope to go there "someday"!!!

    I really AM excited about your upcoming novella!!!! I've heard about it from Susan and I KNOW it'll be fantastic! I cannot wait to read it. It looks amazing!

  94. Debbie, San Antonio was an extraordinarily beautiful venue. I've heard many times about the River Walk but didn't picture it as being so lovely, so much work done to make it a tourist haven.

    Don't bats fly out from under the bridges?
    Or am I getting San Antonio mixed up with an episode of Star Trek?

    Anyway, never saw any bats.

    I've been telling people they need to go to San Antonio.

  95. Also, of course, I rarely left the hotel.

  96. Looks like a lot of fun and learning. Would love to see the Alamo.

    PS Happy Birthday Ruthy

  97. Tracey, you are the sweetest.

    I do have another McBride book or two or three, if you count the entire family. Must work FASTER!!!!

  98. Hi Valri!

    Thanks for leaving a comment tonight. You're in the drawing!!!

    Hope you can attend RWA someday. Would love to see you!


  99. I didn't see any bats either, Mary!

    Not a good way to encourage folks to visit San Antonio! Let me repeat, I did not see any bats.

    Although I did see Elvis. Really. At La Tierra! Amazing!

  100. Mary Connealy!!!

    You were all over the city. Even at the top of the Needle...what was the name of that building? It was built for the World's Fair. Wasn't it like thousands of feet in the air? And you road the scary elevator to the top.

  101. Schedule a visit to the Alamo for your next trip, Jenny!

  102. Aw, I wish I could have hung out with you! It looks like such fun. And now I'm feeling sad because I won't be at ACFW this year. :-( I'll miss you. Maybe next year!

  103. Mel, you've got a lot on your plate right now with your book contracts and your adorable children. You'll have time for conferences later. Although I would love to see you!!!

  104. Thank you, Debby, for today's post. I attended the Cindi Myers' seminar. I'm trying to listen to some of the others and am enjoying the workshops I didn't get to attend.

    Thank you for the pictures. It brightened my day immensely.

    (& in response to some of the comments-I love grits on biscuits with jelly.
    Wow, I bet Debbie Macomber was a great keynote speaker.)

    Thank you for the wonderful post today.

  105. Hi Tanya,

    So fun seeing you at RWA!

    Grits on biscuits with jelly? Sounds yummy. I'll try it.

  106. All's calm in Alabama tonight -- at least this part. It is hotter than blue blazes though. They're talking about a heat index of 105. And this will last for a couple more days.

    And yes, that mall was nice -- especially after I broke out in a heat rash under my arms and discovered I'd left my travel size Gold Bond powder at home. ACK! So I have a full-size one now that I got from the mall drugstore, but it's something I use and it sure did get rid of the rash and the itch that was waking me up at night.

  107. Stay cool, Marilyn!

    Glad you were able to find something to help the rash!

  108. It all sounds like a blast. I'm looking forward to hearing Marie Force speak at M&M. Of course, I still need to sign up.

  109. You know what else was nifty about San Antonio?

    I finally got to meet the fabuloso Tina Radcliffe!

  110. So much to learn. It all sounds so helpful & useful.

    Love the pictures.

  111. I wrote a lengthy comment yesterday which apparently didn't post. Please enter me in the drawing for your Christmas suspense book.