Thursday, July 14, 2016

RWA 2016 San Diego

Sandra here in lovely San Diego at the fabulous Marriott Marquis San Diego to celebrate and participate in the National RWA 2016 conference

And it is gorgeous here in Southern California. There is cool fog hugging the coast, but by mid-morning it has burned off and we are enjoying sunny days in the seventies.  Inland you might reach the eighties, but the hotel is right on the bay. 

This is the view from my room at the Mariott Marquis San Diego Marina
I have already met Seeker friends.  Most of them attended Faith, Hope and Love's General meeting and Awards Assembly yesterday.  Faith, Hope and Love is an online chapter celebrating Christian authors. We are the light shining here at the national conference.  

The first Seeker friend I met was Rose Zedicker.  We sat together at the meeting.

Rita finalist Marta Perry

It's so funny when I have to travel to San Diego to see my fellow Arizona authors. Hi Pamela Tracy

Susie Dietze, Sandra, Rose Zedicker

Renee Ryan discussing the new name for Inspirational Category.  

During the business meeting, Renee Ryan who is on the Board thanked FHL for their prompt compliance with the new RWA guidelines for websites.  To go along with this, she announced the new name for the Inspirational Category. They needed to rename it because they were getting so many entries into categories that weren't the intended category.  The new title is more descriptive. 

Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements

Novels in which religious or spiritual beliefs are an inherent part of the love story, character growth and relationship development and could not be removed without damaging the storyline. These novels may be set in the context of any religious or spiritual belief system of any culture.

After the business meeting, we had refreshments and a time to visit with each other. Then we had a praise and worship time when we sang songs praising the Lord.  So nice and peaceful. 

Praise and Worship after the meeting

At the General Meeting, the chapter presents the winners of the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards for published authors and the Touched By Love Awards for unpublished manuscripts. 

The Awards will be announced on the FHL website on Thursday.  Congrats to some of our Seeker friends.

Lynette Eason receiving her IRCA award of second place for entry in Romantic Suspense.
Congratulations Lynette!!

2016 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award Winners

Long Contemporary
1st – Together With You by Victoria Bylin (Baker Publishing)
2nd – Isle of Hope by Julie Lessman (Julie Lessman LLC)
3rd – Married ‘Till Monday by Denise Hunter (Harper Collins)

Long Historical
1st – To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander (Harper Collins)
2nd – Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd (Howard)
3rd – Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund (Multnomah)

Short Contemporary
1st - Second Chance Reunion by Merrillee Whren (Harlequin LI)
2nd – Anna’s Courage by Kristin Noel Fischer (Indie?)
3rd – Nursing the Soldier’s Heart by Merrillee Whren (Harlequin LI)

Short Historical
1st – Out of the Ashes by Sandi Rog (Tulpen Publishing)
2nd – Cowboy Seeks a Bride by Louise M. Gouge (Harlequin LIH)
3rd – A Home for His Family by Jan Drexler (Harlequin LIH)

Romantic Suspense
1st – Gone Without a Trace by Patricia Bradley (Revell)
2nd – No Place to Hide by Lynette Eason (Revell)
3rd – Forgotten Memories By Laura Scott (Harlequin LIS)

Women’s Fiction
1st – Ties That Bind by Cindy Woodsmall (Waterbrook)
2nd – The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook)
2nd – As Waters Gone By by Cynthia Ruchti (Worthy Publishing)
3rd – Two Roads Home by Deborah Raney (Abingdon)

1st – Daughters of the Wind by DiAnn Mills (Barbour)
2nd – A Love for Irma Rose by Beth Wiseman (Thomas Nelson)

3rd – Christmas at Tiffany’s by Marianne Evans (Pelican)

Touched By Love Contest Winners Are:

Overall Winner is Patricia Riddell Gaddis

Historical Category:
First Place:  Patricia Riddell Gaddis
Second Place: Joanna Davidson Politano
Third Place: Lori Bates Wright

Long Contemporary Category:
First Place: Jackie Layton
Second Place: Lorri Dudley
Third Place: Janette Foreman

Short Contemporary Category:
First Place: Laura Stephens
Second Place: Megan Besing
Third Place: Teresa Tysinger

Panel of industry professionals
After the FHL meeting and worship service, a panel of industry professionals talked to us about the trends and answered questions. From left to right is Robyn Burwell, Acquisitions Editor from Harper Collins, Michelle Grajkowski, Literary Agent from 3 Seas Literary Agency, Danielle Egan-Miller, President of Browne & Miller Literary Associates, and Amanda Leuck, Agent from Spencerhill Associates.

Basically, they told us they are all looking for Christian fiction, especially historical. Ms. Grajkowski especially loves the civil war era. Ms. Egan-Miller enjoys all eras of history. And all of them are looking for crossover fiction. There is a growing demand in the ABA market for emotional well-written romance that is clean and wholesome.

Carrie Padgett moderated the program. 

Andrea Simonne and Pattie Frampton are first timers who attended the Literacy Event.  I met Pattie at the FHL Meeting.
Cara and and Pam do you recognize him? He knows you.
Patrick Haggarty, President, Gulf Coast Chapter RWA
Keep checking in because I will add more photos. 

Seeker friend Jeri Hoag found me.  Thanks Jeri.

Sandra signing books at the Montlake Spotlight.

If you go to the RWA conference, you need to bring boxes or extra suitcases because each of the major publishers has a spotlight and they give away cases of books.  Their authors are there to autograph them. It is so special.  My poor hand is tired from signing all those books.  But it is so fun. 

So Amazon posted a treasure hunt for attendees. You take selfies with different requuirements. This one is with a speaker. Or you can take one with an editor.  Or at one of the events.  So LeAnne Bristow is working on hers. You tweet your selfie and when you have four your name is entered into a drawing.  Prizes are Kindle Fires, keyboards, writer's mugs, etc. 

LeAnne Bristow and her editor Victoria Curran from Heartwarming

Tanya Stowe signing at the Literacy Event

At the Heartwarming Open House we met many authors we know and love. Here is Pamela Tracy and  LeAnne Bristow.

Seeker friends we are sitting together for Saturday breakfast. Enter the doors and turn right and go to the corner.  We will save a couple tables for FHL and Seeker authors.  

So if you're at the conference, please comment and share something exciting that is happening.  Or share a fun experience you've had at another conference. 

Or maybe you're doing like Ruthy mentioned last weekend and are having your own staycation conference at home. If so, share some of the things you are set to accomplish. What goals did you make? 

To celebrate our latest and new Seeker novella written by Cara Lynn James, Myra Johnson and (drum roll please)  myself, Sandra Leesmith, I will be offering to three lucky commenters  copies of  LOVE WILL FIND A WAY. It is loaded with summer romance and outdoor adventure. 

Seekers are also having Christmas in July.  Our Christmas Novellas are on sale for only $.99.  Yippee!!!  

And you all are winners today because the ebook version of LOVE'S PROMISES is free the rest of this week in honor of the RWA convention. Enjoy!

Happy writing.

Happy reading.

Sandra Leesmith writes sweet romances to warm the heart. Sandra loves to play pickleball, hike, read, bicycle and write. She lives in Arizona with her husband and during the hot summers, she and her husband travel throughout the United States in their motor home where she enjoys the outdoors and finds wonderful ideas for her next writing project. You can find Sandra's books here on Amazon. Two of Sandra's most popular books are also audiobooks at Audible.  Love's Promises will be available on audio in April.

You can read more posts by Sandra here.


  1. Sandra, looks like a whole lotta fun with so many wonderful Seekerville writers and other authors as well!! I'm a little envious that you get to be among such fantastic women (and men??) who share the same passion as you....writing! I've seen Facebook posts of other authors who are attending RWA, even teased one to see if she had room in her luggage for me, lol! I'm loving the pictures, and looking forward to many more....both here and Facebook! What a wonderful time, enjoy!!!

    Please also put my name in for the novella set, I've also picked up "Love's Promises", thanks so much! Blessings!

  2. Thanks Trixi It is really a lot of fun. Very energizing and exhausting at the same time. Glad you took advantage of the book offer.

    Happy reading.

  3. Sandra, thank you for updating here and for sharing all the great photos! Sounds like a wonderful time with a fab group of friends/authors!

    I've enjoyed the ACFW conference over the years, but I haven't attended an RWA conference yet. Thanks for letting us live vicariously through you! :)

  4. What fun, Sandra! Thanks for the update! Waving hi to the Villagers at RWA!~

  5. Hi Sandra! it sounds and looks like you are having a wonderful time! Thank you for sharing all the pictures. Being a native Southern Californian that has been displaced to Indiana, I always appreciate beautiful pictures of San Diego.

    I would love to be entered for the novella collection.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  6. Thanks for sharing your conference experience with us, Sandra...what fun! The pictures are great.
    Thank you also for the free copy of Love's Promises! Enjoy the rest of the conference.

  7. Sandra, thanks for sharing. It looks like you're having a lot of fun. I enjoy the pictures you posted. Thanks!

    Also, I just got my copy of Love's Promises. Thanks!

  8. Sandra! What a marvelous update. You rocked it, girlfriend. And how fun to see all o' youse having some great fun together!

    Sandra, I've been working on my Top Secret Project this week, but now have morphed to rewriting a proposal for my Love Inspired Grace Haven series.... and I'm loving this new version, but I did have to entirely scrap the old version. (Remember we talked about this... even established authors don't get automatic green lights... so I'm back in with a new slant!)

    And I just got the final edits for "A Cowboy for Christmas" to finish this morning, and then back to Grace Haven 4....

    I thrive when I have multiple irons in the fire, but I do love to live vicariously through my adventurous friends! Go you!!!!

    And waving to all of my/our buds at RWA!

    Write on!

  9. SANDRA, Have a blast at conference!

    Please enter me in the drawing.

  10. Good morning, SANDRA! Thank you for the peek into RWA National in San Diego. I so much wanted to go this year, but things just didn't work out. Love seeing the photos and the Seeker Villagers!!

  11. Lovin' this peek into conference world. I'm feeling the excited buzz through cyberspace!

  12. Hi Cynthia The RWA conference is quite an experience. RWA has been a big factor in the industry's growth over the years. I have always enjoyed hanging around other authors. Very stimulating, however, exhausting.

  13. Waving back at you Tina. Several I've met have mentioned you and were thankful for your helpful tips and advice. smile

  14. Hi Cindy, I can appreciate how you must miss Southern California. The weather has been perfect. No fog this morning. Just beautiful sunshine all day.

  15. Thanks Jill I kept asking people for photos and they wanted with me. I didn't intend to be in all of these. ha ha. But it is so much fun running into someone you know. ANd its equally fun to meet new folks.

  16. JACKIE!!!! Don't you have some news for us???????

    Jackie won first place in the Touched by Love long contemporary category. SUPER CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

    I'm waiting for the coordinators to give me the lists of winners. If they get them to me today, I'll post them. Otherwise, Tina will post them in the WE.

  17. SANDRA, The view from your room is fantastic! San Diego is a great spot! Glad the weather is beautiful. Thank you for keeping us in the loop. This is one of the few times I've missed the RWA conference since I first attended. I always enjoy the FHL gathering and leave refreshed. Fun to see many familiar faces at this year's meeting.


  18. HI Ruthy MIssing you a lot. But your ears must be burning along with all the rest of the Seekers. Everyone misses you all.

    Me too.

  19. Hi Caryl You are in the drawing. Thanks for stopping by.

  20. HI Glynna I really do miss you too. It is so funny because most of the Arizona RWA authors are here and we're laughing that they have to come to San Diego to see me. LOL

  21. JACKIE, I was thrilled to see you won first place in Touched By Love contemp!!! Congratulations!


  22. Hi Kav They have a whole day they call Librarian's Day. They have speakers and a lovely luncheon. Maybe some day you will be able to come. Librarians are very important to us as they help promote the industry when they know the authors.

    Have a great day knowing you are appreciated.

  23. HI Janet, It doesn't seem the same to be at an RWA conference without you and Myra and Debby. I'm so happy there are Seeker Villagers here.

  24. Thanks for the RWA report, Sandra--and fun to see all the pix!

    Congratulations to JACKIE!!! What a thrill!

  25. Thanks Myra And Congrats to Megan and Lynette also. Always fun to see friends of Seekerville winning contests.

  26. Looks like fun, Sandra. Have a wonderful time. Please enter me in the drawing.

  27. Sandra, I am so jealous!!! Not very Christian of me, I know. I spent so many years in the San Diego area though, I can even smell the sea air right now. I've never been to RWA, but next year in Jerusalem. :-) Not to confuse anyone, that's just a saying.

  28. Sandra, I am so jealous!!! Not very Christian of me, I know. I spent so many years in the San Diego area though, I can even smell the sea air right now. I've never been to RWA, but next year in Jerusalem. :-) Not to confuse anyone, that's just a saying.

  29. Hi Sandy You are entered. Have a great day.

  30. Hi Barbara I'm so glad you clarified the saying. I was thinking, WOW that is really a long trip. LOL

    Yes, the San Diego area is really lovely. Hubby grew up in San Diego so we come here a lot to see family. I thought he was half fish when I met him because he was always in the ocean. smile

  31. The IRCA winners are up. YAY!!!! Look at all the Seeker friends.

    Julie Super Congratulations girlfriend. I'm so not surprised.

  32. SANDRA, I'm happy you are surrounded by Villagers! Look for guest poster, too. Are you getting to sight-see? Or have you been everywhere? My DH and I enjoyed having lunch outside at the Coronado Hotel with a restful view of the water. We toured a aircraft carrier. I can't remember the name but it was interesting. Lots to see there. Though you have little time with networking and workshops and appointments.


  33. Yes Janet I came down Sunday and spent several days with my high school girlfriends. We really had fun.

    They do have the tour of the aircraft carrier. You can walk to it from here. Many have already been on it. I think Rose went or at least her hubby did.

  34. Good Morning!

    My hubby went to the aircraft carrier museum yesterday while I was at the FHL meeting. It's not far from the hotel.

    Looking forward to the conference sessions today.

  35. Hi Rose Its so great to see you here. I knew you mentioned it yesterday but couldn't remember if it had been both of you or just him. Great activity for hubbies while us girls are at meetings. smile

    See you later today.

  36. Congratulations to the TBL and IRCA finalists and winners.

    What a terrific showing!!!

  37. Yes, Tina It was great. The only sad thing is that the only winner attending to collect her prize was Lynette. Its a lovely engraved gift too. It would have been much more fun to have seen all the excited winners when the winners were announced. But that is the way of it. smile

  38. Just had a chance to look at the list! Jackie, you are smokin' lately!

  39. Thanks, Sandra, for giving us a taste...well, a view...of the fun you're having!! What a joy to gather together with all who love the Lord and writing romance stories!!

    Can't wait to see more pictures and hear more about what's going on! I'm looking forward to attending one day!!

    Hugs for Northern California!!

  40. Thanks Kathryn You are so sweet. And attending is something to look forward to. We have to keep visualizing ourselves in these wonderful accomplishments and dreams

    Happy writing.

  41. I'm off to go sign books that Montake is giving away at the Montlake Spotlight. Should be fun as I LOVE giving away my books.

    I'll take my ipad and hopefully keep checking in.


  42. The me that loves being surrounded by writer friends is so sad looking at all these photos.

    But introverted me - she's breathing a huge sigh of relief to be watching from this side of the computer.

    Every time I get wistful over a photo, I remind myself of the long airline security lines I won't have to stand on.

    #patheticRus (or me)

  43. Gee, Sandra, couldn't you have gotten a better view????

    I wish more contests would have as guiding a description as the FHL one you shared. It relays the fact that it is all-inclusive when it comes to Inspirational. A bit of information goes a long way for contest entrants. In another contest, I entered Single Title with a historical only to find out that contest's definition of Single Title was not non-category but Women's Fiction.

    Thanks for checking in, Sanda. Feels like I'm there ... but with plenty of rest :-)

    Looking forward to more pix!

    Congratulations to all the finalists and winners! Such fun to see Seeker and Villager names!

    Nancy C

  44. I am determined to sign up for TSA Pre before my next trip!!!

  45. Congrats to all the winners! I hope the TBL winners will soon be on the published lists!

    THanks for sharing these photos, Sandra!

  46. Fabulous, Sandra! Looks like so much fun...almost feel like I'm there! Thank you for the recap of the FHL meeting. I'm a former member and hope to join again. Good to read the clarification of the category.

    Big CONGRATULATIONS to the award many from the Seekerville community! Yay!

    I'm with Ruthy on the staycation conference. I'm plotting a new book and enjoying a visit with younger son and DIL this weekend.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience!

  47. So proud of Jackie!!! Congrats!

    And Sherida, I saw on FB that you finished your story in three months. Huge congrats to you as well!!

    Thanks, Sandra, for the info and pics. We're all there with you in spirit. Hate missing this year. Oh my! That venue looks gorgeous.

    We lived at Fort Irwin...36 miles into the desert from Barstow, CA...and would vaca on Coronado Island. So lovely. Such wonderful memories.

    Thanks for representing Seekeville at this year's conference, Sandra! You're doing a great job meeting and greeting. Send our love to all!

  48. Cate You are tooo funny. Think of the long lines for the elevators and the book signings, etc. Oh yes and for lunch. LOL

  49. HI Nancy I'm glad you are enjoying the pictures. Send me some of the rest part will you? I'm so hyped up but tired as well. More talking in one day than I do in a month. LOL

    Bummer about the definition. They do need to be better defined.

  50. Tina I LOVE my TSA pre check. I hate taking my shoes off and walking on the ground where all those other feet have been. LOL Guess you know more than you wanted. LOL

    I just signed a couple cases of books that Montlake provided. Whew. One tired hand. But love that kind of tired.

  51. Hi Debra I bet the agents that were at the FHL meeting will be looking for those names.

    Nice to see your name out here again. Hugs

  52. Hi Sherida Wow, I'm happy you are enjoying a staycation. I'm thinking to myself that it might have been a good choice. No not really. Too much fun here, but I do get so tired. LOL

    Have fun with your son. That is worth much more than any conference. smile

  53. Hi Debby Miss you as a room mate. You would really love this room. Very luxurious. I'm so spoiled.

    Happy writing.

  54. Sandra, thanks for all the information and the conference pictures. How lucky you are to be at the conference in my favorite city of San Diego. I lived there for three years a very long time ago.

  55. Totally relate to your feelings, CATE! I'm trying to psych myself up for ACFW. Really excited to see all my wonderful writer friends again, especially from Seekerville, but being "social" for 4 or 5 days straight will take its toll.

    Also glad we're in driving distance because the idea of waiting in airports, dealing with security lines, and sitting in those cramped airplane seats just does not appeal.

  56. Congrats to my critique partner Jackie for the First place in Touched by Love, and for another critique friend Janette for third place!! So happy for Julie and all the other winners, too! Awesome job shining your light! Would've loved to be with y'all!

  57. Hi Cara So glad the photos bring back fun memories. San Diego is really a beautiful city. And the hotel here is really close to a lot of fun stuff. Its right on the harbor.

  58. Myra It is easier to drive because then you can take back tons of books. With every major publisher giving away books, it almost pays for itself. smile

    Miss seeing you though.

  59. HI Janet You must be a friend of LeAnne's also. She was just here at the room as I had picked up something for her. It is really exciting when you are new in the publishing world.

    Its exciting when you're old in it too. LOL (That's me)

  60. Not fond of selfies. They show all your wrinkles. LOL But LeAnne Bristow was just too cute so posted it anyway. smile She is so excited. She went to a Heartwarming dinner last night and gets to go to the Harlequin party tomorrow. How special is that for a newly published author?

  61. You all have been easy on me today. You must know that I'm super busy. Thanks. But feel free to share your own experiences. We love hearing from all of you. And what you say may be just what another writer needs to hear. That is the beauty of this blog.

  62. Congrats to everyone! Looks like a fun conference! :)

  63. Hi Janette It really has been fun. Thanks for stopping by.

  64. Okay, I redid the photos. The selfies were just too blurry and dark. Why do people love selfies? They always make your skin look so wrinkly and when you're my age, that is not a good thing. LOL

    When I attended the Heartwarming Open House, I took some better photos.

  65. Loved seeing the newly added pics. Waving to LeAnne! How fun to be a Debut Author at RWA! And I love Victoria Curran. She's a doll!

    Congrats on signing for Montlake, Sandra. Love meeting readers.

    I'm so there for breakfast on SAT. Save me a seat, okay?


  66. Sandra, looks like you and everyone else is having a blast!!!! :)

    So many names and faces that I recognize!

  67. Enjoyed seeing the pictures. Have a great time.

  68. Hi Debby It was fun. And LeAnne is a hoot. She is having so much fun. As we all are.

    Still miss you though.

  69. Hi Pam Did you recognize the president of the Gulf Coast chapter. He said he knew you and Cara

    This conference is always heaven for the men. They have all these women. chuckle. I was on the elevator from a really handsome young man from Createspace who was speaking for them And the women on the elevator were teasing him and he said he loved coming to the RWA convention because the women were so nice and friendly.

  70. Hi Wilani
    Waving at you from San Diego.

    Happy writing and reading.

  71. One of these days, I hope to be able to travel to a conference outside of Atlanta.

  72. Walt. RT is in Atlanta next year and RWA in Orlando. Family vacay to Disney!!!

  73. Hi Walt I'm with Tina. Orlando is a really fun place and your family will have a blast while you're doing your writer thing.

    Good to see you. Brings back memories of RWA in Atlanta. Where I got to meet so many Seeker friends.

    Happy writing.

  74. Well folks, I'm stuffed and exhausted. Montlake put on a Hawaiian cocktail party that had all these really cool Hawaiian foods like shrimp, sea bass on pilanta, ribs with a delicious Hawaiian sauce, Kobe sliders, all kinds of sushi. Wow. It was super and so much fun. Montlake editors are so friendly and gracious.

    And as you can imagine, I'm exhausted. Its past my bedtime. LOL

    Thanks for joining us today and sharing in our fun.

    Happy writing and reading to all of you. Be sure and check this weekend for winners of LOVE WILL FIND A WAY

  75. I'm super late, but had to say THANK YOU for sharing these photos and news from the conference, Sandra! It looks like you (and everyone else!) is having a wonderful, busy time! :) Hugs, Patti Jo

  76. Congrats to all the winners!

  77. How fun to get a an inside glimpse into the conference! Thank you for the pictures and all the news!! LOVE!
    Becky B.

  78. Sandra, thanks! I worked 8-8 yesterday and then met with future daughter-in-law and her mom to go over wedding plans.

    It looks like you're having a great time! I love hearing about the conference.

  79. Sorry I'm late, late late! I'm having the best time and I've loved getting hang out with Sandra. I don't know how she managed to keep up with all the comments AND be every where at the same time.

  80. SANDRA!!! Thank you SO much for providing us with this armchair attendance at RWA!! And, Wow, to see SO many Seeker friends is just reallllly cool!!

    I apologize for not making it by yesterday. Just got home froma 48-hour whirlwind visit with my grandkids that came up at the last minute -- WHAT a blessing!! An overnight with both grandkids in a great hotel with a pool and all the pool toys Keith and I could carry.

    But it sure looks like your last 72 hours was pretty cool, too, so thank you for sharing it with us!

    Hugs and more hugs,

  81. Patti Jo We really are having the best time.

    Happy writing.

  82. And you were a winner recently Edwina Yay.

    Happy writing.

  83. Hi Becky It has been a blast and I'm so happy to share it with all of you.

    Happy writing.

  84. Hi Jackie Wasn't it exciting to see your name on that list. Wait till you see the prize. It is really lovely.

    Happy writing and best wishes for the wedding. btw you don't look old enough to be planning a wedding with a daughter in law. smile

  85. Oh LeAnne It has even been more fun to hang with you. I love all your bubbly excitement. And what a lovely venue for all this excitement and attention.

    See you later.

  86. Hi Julie Didn't know you girls had an anthology coming out. Way to go. Love the cover. Who picked that out?

    Happy writing.

  87. Thanks for Love's Promises and all the pictures and info from RWA. Looks like you had a great time!