What’s in it for Me?

by Gail Chianese

There are many fabulous reasons for attending the RWA National Conference every year: workshops galore, networking, fan moments, free books, agent/editor pitches, the shoes, inspirational speeches, hanging with your chapter-mates and, of course, escaping home for a few days. So why do I go? What is it that keeps pulling me back each year?

All of it.

I love working the literacy signing, seeing thousands of romance fans flood the room to meet their favorite authors. To see the look on their faces, hear the snippets of conversation about how a certain book touched their hearts, reminds me of why I write this genre. People need their HEA. Life is full of trials and tribulations and getting to escape, even for just a few hours, is priceless, especially when the story touches your heart and fills you with strength to face your own battle.

At the end of the three days my brain wants to explode with all the new knowledge I’ve stuffed in it from the workshops. I don’t care. To learn from people like Lisa Gardiner, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Cherry Adair (don’t we just love her), Dianna Love, and the triplets of contemporary, Robyn Carr, Jill Shalvis and Kristan Higgins is an opportunity of a lifetime.

And the networking! You never know who you’re going to meet in the elevator (like the agent who judged my WIP in a recent contest and told me to send her the revised MS). Perhaps a new favorite author in the bar, or your new best friend. You might even get invited to a cocktail party where none other than Nora Roberts shows up! Or even better, dedicated romance fans who are now going to add YOU to their TBR list.

Maybe during one of the luncheon speeches you’ll hear that message that you’ve been needing to hear. You know the one I’m talking about. The one that hits your Achilles heel and reminds you you’re not alone, rejection is good, we’ve all thought of giving up or that a romance novel can reach out and touch a reader’s life, can change it, can even save it.

I come home from the RWA National conference exhausted, but revived and ready to dig back into my WIP, to do whatever is necessary to make it the best possible story I can tell. And if it doesn’t sell, its okay, I have another story in me and even the greats didn’t become NYT bestsellers overnights. I know, because they told me so at Nationals.

Gail Chianese spends her days juggling her tasks of being an associate editor for an online repository, writing character driven, sassy contemporary romances, being a Navy wife and mom to three fabulous kids and two furbabies. Originally from the West Coast, she currently lives in Connecticut and lives for the fall when the humidity disappears and the world explodes in color. Visit her website at www.gailchianese.com and follow her on twitter @Gail_Chianese.

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