Monday, August 7, 2017

Romance Writers of America National Conference 2017!

Debby Giusti here!

Tanya Agler and I attended the Romance Writers of America National Conference 2017, held at the Dolphin Hotel in Disney World, Florida, and teamed up to give you an overview of the event. We arrived on Tuesday, July 25, connected in the lobby and stopped to take this picture in front of the Dolphin fountain. Both of us were excited about the week ahead and eager to share some of what we experienced with the Seekerville community.

Debby Giusti and Tanya Agler meet in
the lobby of the Dolphin Hotel. They're both
eager for RWA17 to begin!

The Dolphin Hotel sits next to a lagoon where boats shuttle guests to the nearby Disney Boardwalk. Tuesday evening, we gathered with authors from our Georgia Romance Writers home chapter and ended up at the Big River for a yummy dinner. As you can imagine the conversation centered on books and writing.

L to R: Jeanine Englert, Constance Gillam, Pam Mantovani,
Debby Giusti, Tanya Agler and Laura Hayden at Disney Boardwalk.

Our boat awaits us. The Dolphin Hotel can be seen in the distance.
Disney turns a trip to the Boardwalk into an adventure.

Workshops started at noon on Wednesday with a great lineup of big name industry professionals. My first workshop was with Mark Dawson, UK bestselling author and marketing guru, who wowed the standing-room-only audience with tips on how to attract readers for life. Mark suggests asking questions on social media that are pertinent to your story in order to involve readers in the writing process. He tries to make a friend with each new reader and advises answering every social media comment with a warm reply. Check out his Facebook site, Self Publishing Formula, to sign up for free books and lots of marketing tips from a business savvy writer. You can also view a video he took during his RWA 2017 workshop. I’m waving from the front left.

The amazing Mark Dawson.


Another two-hour, Wednesday workshop that had me hooked was “Seduce Readers in the First Chapters,” presented by screenwriting consultant Michael Hauge. Hauge explained that the opening of a story should do the following: (1) elicit emotion; (2) draw the reader into the story; (3) introduce your hero and heroine; (4) create connection with characters; (5) establish the POV of the story; (6) set the tone for the novel; (7) create a question (What will happen and how will it turn out?); and (8) use vivid detail to transport the reader into the story.  I’ve long been a fan, and in my opinion, Michael Hauge always delivers. Learn more about his workshops, books and DVDs at http://www.storymastery.com/.

Debby Giusti with Screenwriting Consultant Michael Hauge.

The Faith, Hope and Love RWA Chapter held their meeting Wednesday afternoon, and at the end of the business session, the members spent time in prayer, covering the conference and all those in attendance. While I wasn’t able to make the meeting this year, I did join the group for dinner that evening.  For those who might be worried about getting lost in the crowd at one of the national RWA conferences, be sure to join the FHL chapter. It provides a welcoming home base for Christian writers within the larger RWA framework. 

Eagerly awaiting the next workshop!
R to L: Rachel Jones, Debby Giusti, Pam Mantovani
and Constance Gillam.

From Thursday through Saturday morning, the schedule was packed with outstanding workshops in a wide-range of tracks: Career, Chat, Craft, Level Up Session (in-depth workshops on specific topics), Publishers Spotlight, Research and Wellness/Writer’s Life.  A new format was the 20/20 Expert Hour. Think spin-dating for writers with a variety of 20-minute presentations. Attendees moved from talk to talk within each hour-long workshop. I chose three sessions that focused on newsletters, websites and social media. The presenters provided excellent handouts, invited us to contact them if we needed additional information and explained a number of great strategies to build readership.

Here’s Tanya…
Thank you so much, Seekerville, for allowing me this opportunity to share my experiences from RWA2017. This morning I brought some cinnamon rolls and tea for you to enjoy while you read about my attempt to make the most of every minute of my time in Orlando.

Jeanine Englert and Tanya Agler at the
RITA Awards Ceremony.


Expert panels and presentations on a variety of topics punctuated the conference. I attended several workshops, ranging from gutting the emotions of your readers to writing about characters with disabilities to writing about cowboys. I purchased the flash drive so I can continue to learn from expert speakers. Here are my two favorite takeaways from the workshops. One published author admitted she purchases the flash drive and listens to every workshop. Another published author said the best way to learn about writing is to write. The more you write, the better you’ll be.

Kristan Higgins, Tanya Agler, and Sonali Dev
after Ms. Higgins' and Ms. Dev's workshop.
Tanya was their moderator.

While I’m an introvert, I try to volunteer at every RWA Conference I attend. I love moderating workshops as it is an opportunity to hear great speakers and talk to them afterward. My absolute favorite volunteering position is unpacking the boxes of books for the Literacy Signing. For me, it’s such fun to open the boxes and look at the covers while benefiting an event that raises money for literacy programs. I also try to attend the Annual General Meeting at each conference as it’s important to know what’s going behind the scenes of RWA, an organization that has helped me so much with my writing.

Tanya Agler and Rula Sinara at the
Harlequin Book Signing


Susan Wiggs, this year’s keynote speaker, gave a speech entitled “How to be an Overnight Sensation in Just Thirty Years.” Starting with humor, she discussed how reading influenced her childhood and shared the only time she cried while reading Little Women was not when Beth died, but when Amy burned Jo’s manuscript. With her voice shining through her speech, Ms. Wiggs’ advice resonated with me. If you want to be a writer, write. Turn off your internal editor. And the books you are writing now are the right books at the right time.

Tany Agler and Debby Giusti enjoy the Golden Heart Awards Luncheon
with Seekerville guest blogger and Christian
Biblical author Stephanie Landsem.

At each conference, I try to meet new people and find out one fact about them and one about their writing. I also had several fangirl moments where I expressed my sincere appreciation to authors for their books that have taken me all over the world, to times present and past. Since this is my fourth RWA Conference, I ran into several authors whom I’ve met before. Their encouragement and friendship has been such a blessing. Now I’m back in Georgia in my jeans and T-shirt having devoted this morning to writing. Remembering the kind and heartfelt words so many of them delivered to me pushes me onward, appreciating the time they spent with me.

Kristi Hunter and Tanya Agler at the
Literacy Signing

Everywhere I turned there were motivating moments. So many authors emphasized the importance of the act of writing itself. The workshops helped me think of ways I can deepen and layer my writing in order to work hard to get off of unpubbed island. The speeches gave me hope that with prayer and dedication, I will continue my journey and use what I’ve learned to make my stories richer. The beautiful book covers I admired while unpacking them give me incentive to keep writing and keep my dream alive. And the writers I’ve met? All of them, from the unpublished to the published, motivate me to forge forward and think of the readers who, one day, might get to hold a book of my own in their hands.

Bestselling author Beverly Jenkins receives
the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award.

Back to Debby…
This conference was warm and inviting and relatively low-key. As Tanya mentioned, there were plenty of opportunities to make new friends. Writers seeking representation and publication pitched to a host of editors and agents, making the event even more exciting, especially for those who received a request for submission.

Congrats, Dianna Shuford!

Congrats, Laura Conner Kestner!

Two of our own Seekerville Villagers were Golden Heart finalists. Congrats to Dianna Shuford and Laura Conner Kestner! We were cheering as their names were announced at the luncheon presentation on Thursday. Later that night, we attended the RITA Awards Ceremony followed by two-hours of dancing…everything from the Electric Slide and Cuban Shuffle to disco and hip-hop. A photo booth added even more laughs as we hammed it up for the camera!

Would you like to dance?
RWA17 RITA After Party

Is that Groucho Marx along with
GRW authors Constance Gillam
and Pam Mantovani?


The Literacy Autographing usually opens the conference. This year it was the closing event, and although the crowds weren’t as large as usual, the event netted more than $44,000 for literacy. RWA received the President’s Award from ProLiteracy for donating more than $1 Million to various literacy programs over the years. 

Debby Giusti's ready for the doors to open.
RWA17 Literacy Signing

RWA17  Literacy Signing with 400 of your favorite authors.

So fun to have Heartwarming author and
Seekerville guest blogger Laurie Tomlinson
stop by Debby Giusti's table! Congrats, Laurie, on your success!

A special thrill for Debby was meeting Frances "Tootsie" Glaeser, who
reads Debby's books in large print. Such a charming lady.
Tootsie is 94 years young!

By Sunday, I was eager to return home to Georgia and put into practice all the wonderful information I had learned in the various workshop. Next year, RWA will be held in Denver from July 18 to 21, 2018. Mark your calendars now. Hope to see you there.


Tanya says…
Already I’ve heard writers looking ahead, and I love the energy transferring from RWA2017 to RWA2018. So my advice for any unpublished authors who are debating with themselves about whether to go is to start saving those pennies, nickels, and dimes. The education, networking, and friendships are so worth it. If you’re a writer, I encourage you to consider attending. Please leave a comment about whether you are thinking of going to RWA2018 in Denver. If you’re a reader, let us know if you’ve attended any reader’s luncheons and how it felt to meet some of your favorite authors.  

Guess who Tanya Agler bumped into outside the hotel?
 None other than 2017 RITA Winner Virginia Kantra!

Debby again…
I’m grateful for RWA and my local Georgia Chapter where I learned so much about craft and the publishing industry. No matter what genre you write, consider joining RWA. You won’t be disappointed in the online workshops, the monthly magazine packed with writing information, the local and special-interest RWA chapters and the National Conference that provides outstanding programs, pitch sessions, networking opportunities and lots of professional satisfaction for writers at every stage of their writing journey.
 
Debby Giusti and GRW author Constance Gillam
prepare to drive home to Georgia.
Goodbye RWA17.
See you next year in Denver.


Anyone who leaves a comment today will be entered in two drawings for a copy of Amish Refuge, the first book in my Amish Protectors series, a $1 off coupon from Love Inspired, The Writer's Prayer and The Reader's Prayer, a cute pink pouch from Harlequin as well as Harlequin socks AND Seekerville sticky notes!



Tanya and I will provide more information about RWA 2017 in our comments so be sure to ask questions and share your thoughts about RWA, the National Conference and any writer/reader event you’ve attended.


Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings!
Debby Giusti
and
Tanya Agler



AMISH REFUGE
By Debby Giusti

HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT

Miriam Miller barely escapes the ruthless attacker that killed her mother and kidnapped her sister. Running deeper into the woods, she’s running out of hope…until she falls into the arms of an unlikely bodyguard—a peaceful Amish farmer. Something about Abram Zook inspires her trust, but even in bucolic Willkommen, Georgia, Miriam faces danger. Both from the men pursuing her and from her growing feelings for the caring—though guarded— widower who protects her. Because if she falls for Abram she’ll have to embrace his Amish faith as her own—or lose him. With each minute, her abductor creeps closer, pushing Miriam to an inevitable choice: stay and risk her heart…or leave and risk her life.


Order HERE!

UNDERCOVER AMISH, book 2 in my Amish Protectors series is available for pre-order HERE!

PS: Debby will be at the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat next Saturday in Cincinnati. Let her know if you plan to attend.


178 comments :

  1. Debby, it looks like you had a lot of fun at the RWA! And probably learned a thing or two along the way. I caught your little video clip you shared on FB this last week :-) I've never attended anything like this, but really, really hope to attend the CFRR one of these years. For now, I'll live vicariously through the myriad of pictures my reader friends who are attending will post on FB. And yes, I'll feel a little envious...lol!

    I won your book on Seekerville last week so I'll bow out of the contest. Looking forward to reading Amish Refuge :-)

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    1. Trixi, I hope you'll be able to attend CFRR someday. You would also enjoy the Literacy Signing if RWA comes to your local area. With 400 authors, there's something for everyone no matter what genre they read.

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    2. Trixi, Thank you for commenting. I do hope you get to go to a readers' luncheon, whether it's CFRR or one near you. I went to one this year, and it was loads of fun.

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  2. Oh, please don't enter me in the drawing because I have already bought and devoured Amish Refuge. Someone else should have that fun :)
    But thank you so much for the coverage of the RWA 2017 gathering. I have set my sights on Denver for 2018 and am already planning out my budget :)

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    1. Evelyn, don't forget to check yesterday's WE ED. You won a book!

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    2. Evelyn, I loved that book!!!! Amish Refuge was wonderful!

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    3. Thank you, Evelyn, for your kind words about Amish Refuge. Many of the Seekers and Villagers plan to attend the Denver RWA Conference. We'll enjoy seeing you there!

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    4. Thank you, Ruthy! May I pour you a cup of coffee?

      Bagels, sweet rolls and fresh fruit are on the breakfast bar!

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    5. Evelyn, I hope you are able to attend RWA2018. Whether it's your first or tenth writing conference, I do think it's a valuable experience. I didn't mention how big the conference is, in terms of people, but it is well worth the preplanning and effort.

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    6. Usually about 2,000 folks attend the RWA National Conference. While it seems like a lot of people, the number doesn't overwhelm me...so many friends are there, folks I've met at previous conferences. I think of RWA as a wonderful working vaca with people who speak my language...writing and books!

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  3. I feel like I was there with these photos!!! WOOT!! Thank you for sharing.

    Denver 2018 here I come.

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    1. I'm getting excited about Denver and know the year will fly by!

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    2. I've never been to Colorado, so I'm already planning ahead!

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  4. It's a dream of mine to go to RWA or ACFW sometime in the future. I'm starting to save now. I've kind of wanted to wait until there is one closer to my home in Indiana.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences at RWA this year. Looks like fun was had by all!

    PLease toss my name in the hat for your drawing. Thank you for the chance to win.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. Cindy, ACFW will be in Nashville next year, which isn't too far from you. In 2020, it will be held in St. Louis. Even closer, right?

      RWA 2021 will be in Nashville.

      I enjoy the Nashville conferences. It's only a four-hour drive from Atlanta and the city is not too large, yet offers lots of sightseeing and research opportunities.

      You're in the drawing!

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    2. Cindy W., I would also advise to look into local chapters. I know there is a contest called Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest. While I don't know how far their programs are from where you live, a local chapter conference can be valuable in terms of conference experience and a local chapter can help you meet people. Hope you are able to go to ACFW or RWA sometime.

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    3. Tanya's so right, Cindy! Our own Georgia Romance Writers Chapter hosts a fantastic conference, Moonlight & Magnolias, that I never miss! Great workshops. Editor and agent pitches. Writer friends with whom to connect! It's a fantastic opportunity for writers in the SE!

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    4. I, too, am looking forward to some conferences closer to home. Saves travel costs!

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  5. Oh my gosh, for the first time in a long time, I kind of regret missing a conference... because this one sounds marvelous. I love that it was a little more low-key, and that so many workshops/authors advised the key to writing is to write. I think when magic gurus pretend there are other ways to do the job, I get plain annoyed... sure there are other ways to do the job better!!!... but writing is the key.

    This sounds so marvelous. And I love that RWA kind of took a slice of the Harlequin pie by doing a dance party after the Ritas! What a great idea that is.

    Thank you both for this wonderful report. It truly looks like a wonderful time, packed with great info!

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    1. The workshops were amazing, Ruthy. I should have bought the recordings...and may do so. Often there were two or three workshops that caught my interest but were held at the same time. Professionally, this RWA was one of the best!

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    2. Ruthy, without being there, you hit the nail on the head (yes, I'm using an old cliche!). This was a little more low key, but I learned so much from the speakers. After I drop off my son at school, I will be back to my WIP.

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  6. And by the way, Tanya Agler is about the CUTEST THING going.

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    1. You're right about Tanya. She's a delightful person and very savvy. I loved her tip about volunteering. She even got to moderate Kristan Higgins and Sonali Dev. Their workshop was held in a huge ballroom filled to capacity, and our very own Tanya Agler was the gal at the microphone! I was impressed.

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    2. Ruthy and Debby, I'm going to have to go get the tissue now! You both are so wonderful! (And it was my honor to moderate for Kristan and Sonali - such gracious, lovely authors!)

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  7. What a special treat to meet Tootsie. Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Debby. Even with a moustache, you're adorable! :)

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    1. Jill, meeting Tootsie was the highlight of the conference. Her granddaughter brought her and made sure she found me in the crowd. Now, we're friends on Facebook, and after the conference, I received a sweet IM from her about my books. God bless her!

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    2. I should have added that sweet Tootsie enjoys murder and mayhem! :)

      She and I think alike!

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    3. Jill, that was another thing that was emphasized at the conference. When a writer is having a rough day, a. write and b. think of the reader who wants to read your book. And seeing pictures of Tootsie and Debby makes that ring true for me.

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  8. This year was my first ever RWA conference and it was absolutely marvellous! I learned so much in all the workshops/classes and, of course, the balmy Orlando weather was a welcome change from frigid mid-winter New Zealand!

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    1. Kara, I didn't see you but thought of you often...especially loved seeing your book on the big screen at the RITA Awards Ceremony! So thrilled for you!

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    2. Kara, I received your book from Seekerville the day before I left for conference. I'm so glad you were able to attend although I do wish our paths could have crossed. I can't wait to read your book!

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  9. I was lucky to have attended the signing on Saturday. I was able to meet so many of the writers whom I read. What was so nice was to walk up and have the ones I'm in Facebook with recognize me before I said anything. Would love to go to Denver.

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    1. Mary, I hope Denver will work out for you!!! The signing is always fun...so many writers...so many readers...so many books! Be still my heart!

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    2. Mary, I do hope you'll be able to go to Denver, and the signing was fun.

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  10. Sounds like you had a great time. Someday I hope to make it to another conference. Had a great roomie at ACFW last year!

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    1. Bettie, I enjoyed last year's ACFW. The hotel was gorgeous and I was able to connect with so many wonderful writers. Loved the CFRR, too, held the day prior!

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    2. Bettie, Hi there, former roomie! I hope your writing is going well, and I often think of our talk about Basset hounds (by the way, Vera is doing well and I hope your dogs are still doing well as well). Best with your writing.

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    3. Our Bassett passed in June. Our kitty is the only pet right now.

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    4. I'm sorry, Bettie! So hard to lose a loving pet!

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    5. Bettie, Sorry to hear that.

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  11. These conferences always sound like a blast. I'd like to be entered for giveaway.

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    1. Hi Cathyann! Glad you stopped by the blog today. You're in the drawing!

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    2. Hi Cathyann. They are fun, but they can really help both unpublished and published writers. For me as an unpublished writer, it's a great way to network and make connections. It's also fun coming home and appreciating all I missed while I was away.

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  12. Hi Tanya and Debby!

    I loved your blog this morning...it makes me feel a bit of RWA conference withdrawal though. I miss Orlando already, but I'm saving up for Denver as we speak. :)

    My favorite thing about every conference whether it is RWA or at a local conference (like GRW's Moonlight and Magnolias) is being with such amazingly supportive people who love writing and reading as much as I do! I love to sit down with a table of people I don't know at a luncheon (like the Golden Heart Luncheon) and leave with a table of new writing friends. Every year I'm reminded that we are so lucky to be a part of a writing community that celebrates everyone no matter where they are on their writing journey. Sending everyone a happy writing hug this morning! :)

    -Jeanine E.

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    1. I was nostalgic as I put the blog together, Jeanine! So many fun memories. Loved seeing you! Looking forward to more Jeanine time at M&M! You're so right about everyone being supportive...romance writers reach out to others no matter where they are on their writing journey. Michael Hauge talks about the uniqueness of our organization when he speaks to screenwriters in Hollywood. Our love and concern for others shows!

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    2. Jeanine stopped by. Bringing in the special pastries. Jeanine is a talented writer who is mopping up the contest circuit. YOU ALL NEED TO BE PRAYING FOR HER FIRST SALE so she gets OFF the contest circuit. :) She is amazing.

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    3. I'm excited that I'll be at M&M this year! I look forward to seeing y'all then. :)

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    4. Jeanine! Oh my goodness. I am so thankful you are part of my writing community, and I will be shouting your first sale from the rooftops. A big hug right back to you along with a gluten free cookie! And I don't argue with Tina so I have to also proclaim you are amazing!

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  13. Hi Debby and Tanya! It's so exciting to hear about your RWA experience! You make me want to attend next year. Like maybe it's not as big and scary as I thought. Haha!
    One quick question...did you take a yoga mat to work out? If so, that's even more impressive than just attending.
    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. The yoga mat belonged to my roommate, Connie Gillam. RWA had morning yoga sessions at 6:30 AM!

      Consider RWA! I know you would enjoy the conference.

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    2. Jackie, I did attend my first yoga class along with my roommate. It was great to try something new and step outside of my comfort zone. However, I did return to the treadmill the next day.

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    3. Yoga at 6:30? Very inspirational!

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  14. Hey Debby and Tanya! Thank you for the virtual trip to RWA. I would love to attend a reader's retreat one day.

    Blessings!

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    1. Do a google search in your local area, Caryl. Reader events are becoming very popular. Of course, the CFRR is extra special!

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    2. Caryl, I attended a Love Our Readers luncheon in February as a reader. My husband purchased my ticket for me for Christmas last year.

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  15. Morning Debby and Tanya, What a fun and inspiring time you had. I love RWA conferences and missed going this year. I'm still recovering from last year in San Diego. LOL. The best part is connecting with writer friends as you have both done so well here. Love all the photos. You two look fabulous. Happy recovering and happy writing.

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    1. Sandra, I still regret not attending the San Diego conference. People were still talking about how delightful the West Coast conference was. Hope you'll attend the one in San Fran. Isn't that in three years?

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    2. yes, I should plan on that one. I was thinking of Denver next year also. That's even closer.

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    3. Sandra, Thank you! And you're right about the recovery. I'm fortunate my kids are back in school. Hope you can attend the Denver conference.

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  16. Thank you, Debby and Tanya. Would love to have gone and especially to have heard Michael Hauge. RWA or ACFW in 2018! Somehow.
    I did have a productive weekend, hammering away at developing a new story, so there's that. And polishing some older works, and working on contest entries.
    I'm fairly introverted, but never found it a problem at Christian writers' conferences. People are so friendly and supportive, and if I'm alone I can always glom on to someone else who's alone. Points to you, Tanya, for volunteering.
    Looking forward to Ruthy's retreat next week. How does that work? How is it different from the regular Seekerville?
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. Dear Kathy, Hi. Isn't starting a new story great?! Keep hammering at it. I'm a flat out introvert. I am happy to be back at my writing routine, but I love the support of the other authors as that often spurs me on. And I love volunteering at conferences. It's the best way I can give back, and the Literacy Signing set-up is so much fun with the covers and the pile of boxes. Hope you can attend either RWA or ACFW in 2018.

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    2. Kathy, ACFW is friendly. RWA is as well. We writers are a warm bunch, aren't we!

      Congrats on the new story!!!

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    3. Hi Kathy, you'll find RWA equally as friendly as ACFW! We writers are a warm and welcoming bunch! :)

      Congrats on the new story!

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    4. Sorry for the reply X 2! Blogger is trying to be funny! :)

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  17. Thank you for sharing this conference with us. It is always good to learn from others in your profession and hopefully be able to adapt them for your use. Please enter my name in your drawing.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Connie, thanks for stopping by! I love writing, and I love talking about writing! Have a great day.

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    2. Connie, you're in the drawing!

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  18. Debby and Tanya, that was a great recap. Thanks for reminding me how great the conference was. I'm looking forward to 2018.

    Connie Gillam

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    1. Connie, thank you so much to you and Debby for letting me tag along at so many of your meals! I'm also looking forward to 2018 while trying to get back into the swing of things before M&M! Happy writing!

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    2. Connie, thanks for rooming with me! Tanya, we loved seeing you...you were usually in the spotlight with moderating or talking to all the big names. Good for you!

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  19. Debby and Tanya, thanks for sharing your conference report. I love living vicariously through these stories after conference. I am actually hoping to go to ACFW in Nashville in 2018, but since Denver is so close to me, I hope that there will be a chance to meet Seekers and Villagers in Denver who are at the conference.

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    1. Denver is already looking like a big friend meet up, Sandy. Lots of you Omaha folks are going!!! WOOT. I'm going. I know Rhonda Starnes is going, Sharee Stover. Who else can we drag with us??

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    2. Sandy, I'm planning on Denver, so if so I hope to meet you there!

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    3. Sandy, I'll look forward to seeing you at both conferences!!! I'm already getting excited about Denver!

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    4. I'm dragging Mary Connealy with me!

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  20. Debby and Tanya, thank you for this wonderful look at conference! I feel almost as if I've been there. Now I won't feel quite so sorry for myself. LOL

    Wonderful photos!! I hope they'll keep having the conference there every so often. I loved the last one in Orlando. Can't wait to go there again!

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    1. Missy, my youngest daughter is also hoping they will have the conference there again. I hope all is going well with you. Happy writing!

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    2. Missy, lots of folks brought their families and spent time at the park. Some arrived early to take advantage of Disney!

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  21. Mark Dawson LIVE!!! So jealous. I am enrolled in his Self Publishing 101 class...but LIVE! WOW. I get to see Michael Hauge in November in Tucson with Pam Tracy, Cathy McDavid, Merrilee Whren and LeAnne Bristow, so super excited about that. But, wow, to see them all in one place is a real treat!!

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    1. Tina, Mark Dawson was amazing. I attended the first hour and it was so much fun because he demonstrated how to use Facebook Live. And I've already listened to his second hour on the flash drive I purchased.

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    2. Mark was so friendly...notice the pic I took. Waltzed up to him before the workshop began and he gave me that killer smile. Totally charming!

      Hauge also enjoys getting his pic taken. :)

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  22. Tanya and Debby, thank you for this wonderful peek at RWA17! I loved seeing the pictures and hearing about all the great workshops you attended and the networking you did! I've always gotten so much from the fifteen or so RWA conferences I've attended.

    Tanya, I met Virginia Kantra years and years ago at a conference. I can only imagine how many Ritas are dancing across her name tag by now.

    Janet

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    1. Janet, I was in the audience cheering as Virginia took home the RITA this year. She is absolutely amazing. I hope you liked the little peek, and I enjoyed meeting you at last year's ACFW Conference. I do learn something new at each conference.

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    2. Tanya is GRW Program's Chair and she brought Virginia in for a full-day workshop that was wonderful. Virginia is a marvelous teacher. She's one of our main M&M speakers this year! Thank you, Tanya!

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    3. Tanya, I loved meeting you last year! I'm impressed that you handle programs for GRW. You're blessed to belong to that fabulous chapter. I've attended one of Virginia's excellent workshops. Now if I could just keep all the terrific information I've gotten from hers and others in mind when I write!

      Janet

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  23. Debby and Tanya thanks for sharing your pics and stories!

    I'm not sure where all I'm going next year. I'm first looking forward to ACFW this year. Denver would be a fantastic place in the summer though. Could show up a few days early...

    Tanya, how many conferences have you been to?

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    1. Connie, This was my fourth RWA Conference. I've attended one ACFW Conference (2016 in Nashville), and next month, I'll attend my 5th Moonlight and Magnolias Conference. Wow! I didn't realize that next month I'll be attending my tenth writing conference! Yikes, I better get back to writing now! :) Thanks for stopping by, and I am so looking forward to seeing Denver.

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    2. Come to Denver, Connie. WE WANT YOU. I'm going early as I have family and friends in Littleton and Centennial and Highlands Ranch.

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    3. Tanya-- that's awesome. You're a professional!

      Tina--I need to go. I'll have to start making plans...

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    4. Tina, my brother and family live in Littleton. I will be attending my nephew's high school graduation in May.

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    5. Everyone...as Tanya mentioned...started saving your extra change for Denver!

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    6. That should read "start saving your extra change."

      I hate typos when the mistake is mine. :(

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    7. Sandy, I didn't know you have family in Littleton! Denver's my hometown so like Tina, I'm heading out extra early so I can visit friends before the conference.

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    8. Connie, don't make me kidnap you and drag you to Denver. :)

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  24. Thanks Debby and Tanya! Great pics. Next best thing to being there. I would love to go next year and Denver isn't too far away. So glad you got to go to Florida and glad for all you learned and shared with us.

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    1. Cindy, I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures. This was the conference where I told myself the most the author could do is say no to having her picture taken with me! Hope you are able to go to a conference, and if that conference is Denver, I hope to see you there.

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    2. Cindy, I know you'd enjoy RWA for many reasons! See you there, I hope!

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  25. Thanks for the great recap, Debby & Tanya! Loved all the photos and workshop tidbits! I attended RWA the last time it was in Orlando, and except for the heat and humidity, it was a really fun conference. Project Guy came along, so it was nice to have Disney World right next door for some after-hours recreation. We even stayed a couple of days longer to enjoy more of the attractions.

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    1. Myra, I was fortunate to be able to go to the Magic Kingdom while I was there. I love the attractions. I'm glad you and Project Guy were able to have fun at the Orlando RWA you attended.

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    2. I didn't go to Disney World this time. Have been many times before, but loved that RWA had a Disney excursion for First Timers and anyone who had come to the conference alone or who wanted to go to the park as a group. I thought that was a great idea!

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  26. Aww...drat. Comment got eaten. I'll try again!

    ---

    Thanks so much for sharing your fabulous RWA recap, Tanya and Debby. Sounds like you ladies had a great time of learning and fellowship.

    I've attended four ACFW conferences, and I realize RWA is much larger. THAT would certainly take a lot of people out of their comfort zones. Like you, Tanya, I've moderated workshops and volunteered, and that makes all the difference.

    Glad you both had fun!

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    1. Cynthia, Thanks for not giving up when your comment got eaten. I did have a good time. While RWA is larger, they designed it this year where there were only three times where the whole group of attendees came together, so the size didn't seem as overwhelming as the other times I've attended.

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    2. I agree with Tanya. Nothing overpowering, people wise, at RWA! Think ACFW but with just a few more folks. :)

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    3. Thanks so much, ladies! Good to know! :)

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  27. Wow it looks like a fabulous conference! Thank you for sharing. I have yet to attend any writers' conferences so it's nice to have an inside view of what to expect should I ever have the opportunity.

    Please enter me in your fun drawing.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. Phyllis, Thank you. If you ever do have the opportunity, whether it's at a huge national conference or a smaller regional one, I do encourage it. Thanks!

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    2. Phyllis, I always learn so much no matter which conference I attend. I hope you can find one in your local or not-too-distant area that would be a good starting point.

      You're in the drawing!

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  28. Looks like y'all had a blast and looked fresh as a daisy doing it! :)

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    1. Pam, thanks for the sweet thought. It was fun, and I'm glad I went.

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    2. Fresh, yes, when we stayed in the cool air conditioning! :)

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  29. Thank you for the recap! I find the RWA workshops especially helpful no matter what stage of your writing career. I am looking forward to attending in Denver next year.

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    1. Wonderful, Rose! See you in Denver!

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    2. Rose, you're absolutely right about how the workshops offer something for everyone, no matter what stage she is at in her writing career. I like to think the conference is like that as well. Hope to meet you in Denver.

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    3. Rose, I'm so excited you'll be in Denver too!!!

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  30. Blogger is not being nice today. Anyone else having problems?

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    1. Blogger has started to behave.

      Which makes me happy!

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  31. Debby and Tanya, thank you for sharing the pix -- all those smiling faces -- and your observations. Sounds like you both had a wonderful, inspiring time. I'm always impressed with the generosity as writers help and encourage other writers -- especially here at Seekerville :-)

    Nancy C

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    1. Dear Nancy, That was perhaps the most pleasant surprise when I started attending writers' programs at my local GRW chapter: how generous and giving other writers are.

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    2. I agree about writers helping other writers! :)

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  32. Debby and Tanya, thank you so much for sharing your RWA conference experiences! I always look forward to the Seekerville recap....almost like being there. Denver 2018 is a slight possibility for me....wish the date hadn't been changed.

    Debby, you are wonderful to do the literacy event. I loved seeing your picture and the writer's and reader's prayer cards on your table! I attended the book signing at the literacy event when RWA was in Anaheim because my DIL was signing her first book. I regret I didn't know about Seekerville at that time....I would have come home with even more books!

    Tanya, love the advice you gathered....yes, "JUST WRITE" needs to be my motto! Your suggestion to volunteer, though difficult for an introvert like me, is a perfect way to get involved. Moderator? Great!

    Thanks to you both for sharing the information and motivation. I'm glad I rejoined RWA and plan to make better use of the valuable resources.

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    1. Sherida, I moderated two workshops, and I love hearing the great advice given by the authors. I think many authors are introverts, but somehow when so many of us come together, it's easy to find common ground to talk about before we go home and dig into our manuscripts.

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    2. Sherida, I hate that I missed seeing you in Anaheim. So glad you've rejoined RWA! Fingers crossed that Denver works for you!

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  33. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your conference adventures, Debby & Tanya! It looks like so much fun!

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    1. It was fun, Glynna, and informative!

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    2. Glynna, It was fun, but I also learned a lot.

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  34. Tanya and Debbie, I'm adding my thanks to you both for sharing your photos and great experiences at RWA17. I really enjoyed watching the live streaming this year too! So thankful that RWA still allows we unpubs to be members as we try to learn and get off the island. It's a wonderful organization! Don't put me in the drawing because I won a book last week. :) This was super motivation so thanks again!

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    1. Laurie, the unpubbed writers are the bedrock of RWA!!! You are just as important as those who have published. Never belittle your standing in RWA! Writers at all stages of their journey make up the organization and each person has value and worth!

      Hugs!

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    2. Laurie, I'm so thankful for all the published writers who have taken time to help me, whether in terms of encouragement or by critiquing or in other ways, and I'm equally as thankful for the unpublished writers who teach me about perseverance and humility.

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  35. Hi Debby and Tanya,
    I tried hard to keep up with your posts as they happened, but fell behind. Thanks for sharing your insights. See you at ACFW. I need a Debby hug. ;)

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    1. Oh, Lyndee! I'm sending a cyber hub because I won't be at ACFW this year. Wish I could see you. I'll definitely attend the conference next year in Nashville. Will you be there?

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    2. Lyndee, I remember the RWA when we met. I still have the picture taken of us at the signing...it proudly sits on a tabletop in my office!

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    3. Lyndee, I won't be going to ACFW this year, but I hope you have loads of fun. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures.

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  36. Oh you both made me even more jealous I hadn't been able to attend this year! Tanya, I love that you volunteer at the events. The introvert in me freaks out at the thought of that but being a fangirl myself of so many authors, I love the idea of getting to meet them and see all those books!

    I'm already saving my money for RWA Denver next year!!

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    1. Sharee, I so hope you'll be able to go to Denver. Volunteering for something I love is easy, and I so benefit from being around great people.

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    2. So glad you'll be at Denver, Sharee. Another plus to attending is meeting editors and publishers! It's great to have that one on one!

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  37. So Debby and Tanya, do you ever take your hubbies along? Is there a Husbands of Writers group? :)

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    1. Sharee, I have a story. My husband has never been to an RWA conference, but he has been accompanied me to the Maggie ceremony at Moonlight and Magnolias. I'm very fortunate he and my critique partner's husband both are scientific and are able to talk about science while my CP and I talk about characters. This year at Moonlight and Magnolias, my husband will be on a panel featuring the spouses of writers that was modeled after a similar panel which occurred at RWA a couple of years ago. But he didn't come to RWA2017 as he doesn't like big crowds, but he did take a vacation that week so I could attend while he watched the kids. Very long answer! Have a great day.

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    2. No organized hubby group that I know of, although some of the husbands do accompany their wives.

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    3. Tanya, how fun to have a panel of husbands at M&M! #greatconference #jointhefun #firstweekendinOCT

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    4. Good question, Sharee. My husband is already asking what he would do during the conference....we're somewhat inseparable.

      When I go to his conferences, there are usually activities for the non-participating spouse. I don't think RWA has ever offered anything for the non-writers. Hmmm...support group for husbands of writers....lots of topics to choose from. 10 Easy Deadline Dinner Meals for Husbands, Tips for Writer's Cave Communication. Plotting Support 101. :)

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    5. Tanya, you added your comment as I was writing mine....a spouses panel at M and M?!?! Great idea!

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  38. Sounds like a great time was had by all. I see Debby is going to CFRR. I went last year w/ a friend and this year we are bringing another friend too. We'll see you there!

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    1. Anne, I hope you have a wonderful time at the readers' retreat. How fun to share that with friends.

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    2. Anne, I'll look forward to seeing you at CFRR! I'm sure this year's event will be wonderful, just as last year's was.

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  39. WOW, DEBBY & TANYA -- what a WONDERFUL armchair trip to RWA!! Reading this made me feel like I was almost there, so THANK YOU for such a thorough and fun rundown!

    LOVED Susan's Wiggs comment: "the only time she cried while reading Little Women was not when Beth died, but when Amy burned Jo’s manuscript."

    LOL ... I felt the same way!!

    Tanya, you sure don't SOUND like an introvert, girlfriend, because you and Deb sure got around. :)

    SUPER CONGRATS to both Dianna Shuford and Laura Conner Kestner for being GH Finalists -- that is HUGE, girlfriends, and a bodes well for the future. I would love to know the statistics on GH finalists who went on to be traditionally published -- I suspect it's pretty darn high! All I know is that all the GH finalists I know -- Janet Dean, Myra Johnson, moi, Tina Radcliffe, Pam Hillman, Kristi Hunter, to name a few, so you go, girls!!

    HUGS!!
    Julie

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    1. Being a GH finalist is such as honor, as you mentioned, Julie. This year the GH Awards Ceremony was held on Thursday at the luncheon. I'm hoping RWA will return to the evening presentation format next year. GH finalists deserve that moment in the limelight!

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    2. Julie, Susan Wiggs gave an excellent keynote; one of the many great moments of the conference.

      And I promise I'm an introvert who is very happy to be back to her writing routine and tradeoff between jeans and yoga pants.

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    3. Thank you for the encouragement, Julie!

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  40. Wow! It looks like you guys had an amazing time and learned at a ton of great workshops! I've never been to an RWA conference, but reading what you shared here makes me want to. Maybe I'll have to look into going next year, since it's just up the road a piece from where I live.

    Thanks for sharing this post, Debby and Tanya!

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    1. Hi, Jeanne. I think it's a worthwhile investment, both as far as time and money. There are lots of good points: pitching, networking, and workshops. I went to my first conference when it was in Atlanta, not far from my house.

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    2. Next year would be the perfect time to give RWA a try, Jeanne. I think you would enjoy the conference! Hope to see you there!

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    3. Denver, Jeanne! YOU MUST GO!!! It's at the Sheraton, around the corner from the theater.

      You know you wanna. I'll be there!

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  41. Looks like a fabulous time was had by all! Thank you both for sharing your adventure. I loved all the pictures!

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    1. Thanks, Rhonda. It was a bit of an adventure, but it was fun. Glad you enjoyed the pictures.

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    2. Tina said you're going to RWA 2018 in Denver! YAY!!!

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    3. Debby, that's the plan. Praying I can make it happen!

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  42. Interesting post. Looks like you had lots of fun. RWA is definitely something to look into in the future.

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    1. Nicki, it was fun and now I'm glad to be home. I do hope you'll look at RWA.

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    2. Hi Nicki, hope you're having a great summer! Attending the RWA National Conference is something to consider for the future.

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  43. Thank you Debby and Tanya! Such interesting info and fun pictures (thanks for including me :-). I'm so glad that you had such a great time. I'm planning to be in Denver and can't wait to meet the wonderful ladies of Seekerville and many of the Villagers! Such a wonderfully supportive group of people. Thanks again, ladies!

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    1. Hi, Laura! 2018 seems so far away now, but I know registration will be here before too long. Hoping for good things for your writing in the upcoming year. Happy writing!

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    2. Laura, we were cheering when your name and manuscript were announced at the GH luncheon. Could you hear us over the live stream? :) So proud of you and Dianna!

      See you in Denver! YES!

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    3. Debby, thank y'all for that! I did watch the live stream, but I was so nervous that it was all a blur. Can't imagine how crazy it would be in person, LOL.

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    4. Laura, being a GH finalist is such a big accomplishment! Congrats!

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  44. Debby, thank you so much for this time to talk about RWA and reflect on the fun times while continuing to think ahead about ways to layer my writing with more emotion and deeper conflict. Hope everyone has a great evening, and I hope to meet many of you next year in Denver. Before then, if anyone is coming to Moonlight and Magnolias, please let me know and I'll be sure to say hello.

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    1. Tanya, I'm so glad we could work together on this blog. It was so much more fun having a partner! Being with you at RWA was great too...and we ended up in the same places time after time after time. No doubt, God was directing our steps!

      My next writing conference will be M&M in Oct with a great lineup of programs thanks to all your hard work, Tanya! You're amazing! I feel so blessed to know you!

      Good luck with your writing! I know you have the determination, perseverance and ability to make all your writing dreams come true!

      Wishing you continued success in every endeavor and much love...hugs, too!

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    1. Hi Boo! Thanks for stopping by this evening!

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  46. I'm super late stopping by today (appointment, errands, and then company at home!) but still wanted to say THANK YOU to Debby and Tanya for this wonderful post!! I'm so happy both of you were able to attend RWA and give those of us who couldn't attend this year a good look at the activities (and fun!). Sounds like it was an amazing conference, and I'm already excited about next year in Denver! :)
    Hugs, Patti Jo

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    1. Patti Jo, are you planning on attending the conference in Denver? Hope so. Looks like so many from Seekerville will be there! Hugs!

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  47. Were you ever a newspaper reporter, Debby? You covered it all!

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    1. So funny, Barbara! I'm actually a medical technologist. Blood banking was my specialty. :)

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  48. Thank you both for sharing! This makes me eager to attend a writer's conference. :)

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    1. J Baugh, I hope you can! Consider RWA!

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  49. Hi Debby, I loved this: “Seduce Readers in the First Chapters,” presented by screenwriting consultant Michael Hauge. Hauge explained that the opening of a story should do the following: (1) elicit emotion; (2) draw the reader into the story; (3) introduce your hero and heroine; (4) create connection with characters; (5) establish the POV of the story; (6) set the tone for the novel; (7) create a question (What will happen and how will it turn out?); and (8) use vivid detail to transport the reader into the story. I’ve long been a fan, and in my opinion, Michael Hauge always delivers." Thanks!!

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    1. HI Carrie, Michael Hauge always packs his workshops with wonderful writing info. I'm a huge fan!

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  50. Hi Debby and Tanya,

    What a wonderful recap of RWA 2017. Debby...I'm so glad we were able to connect and spend some time together at the Harlequin party. Tanya...I would have loved to have met you in person, but it's great knowing you were there and enjoying the conference. I keep saying I probably won't make it to Denver, but after reading this recap...I think I've changed my mind. Blessings!

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