San Antonio's Famous Riverwalk, a wonderfully serene and colorful escape in the middle of the city.
Every year, other writers have gone to the RWA conference and come home with, stacks of new books to read, lists of famous writers they’ve met, workshops they attended, and stories of funny things that happened along the way. They all tell me how this conference is so much more than any of the smaller ones I usually attend. But until this year, I have not been tempted. My first book into print, Whatever It Takes, came out in 2012 and got wonderful reviews, but it was a mainstream political intrigue, not a romance (although there was a romance tucked into the plot.) For another thing, I’m happier with smaller groups where things aren’t so overwhelming. Lastly, with the exception of the one held in Washington DC, the RWA conference hadn’t been held in a city I felt particularly drawn to visit. Of course, some of you out there are wondering why the city matters when one expects to spend all of one’s time in the conference hotel except when hunting for a restaurant to grab a bite to eat or retiring to the bar after hours. While I enjoy meeting new people and attending interesting workshops, eventually, I need to get away for a bit. Five straight days of non-stop schedules, chattering crowds, and back to back workshops without a break and I’d probably never attend again. So, for me, the city matters.
But this year it all came together. RWA 2014 was being held in San Antonio which just happened to be on my bucket list, and the first book in my new contemporary romance series Falling for Zoe came out in April with the second book Loving Meg due out in August. The stars were lined up – it was time for me to take the plunge.
View from my balcony A boat ride on the River Colorful places to dine.
I was right about loving San Antonio, but in many ways very happily surprised by the conference. The workshops, at least those I attended, were loaded with great information with leads to finding even more. The networking was fantastic. I got to meet people face-to-face that I’d only known on FB or on author loops until now. And even better, I got to meet some of my favorite authors and a ton of new and interesting ladies. I won’t even mention the hunky cowboy that we all cuddled up to for a photo-op at the Amazon reception.
Literacy Book Signing Bell Bridge Books Open House Dinner with Deborah Smith
My editor, Deborah Smith, took me out to dinner along with a couple other writers from my home chapter, and after dinner, she spent far more than the five minutes I’d requested discussing my current project and her enthusiasm for it, which was amazingly encouraging for me. My publisher hosted a reception where I got to meet many of the ladies I’ve gotten to know on the email loop as well as the bubbly and super-nice Danielle Childers the lady in charge of marketing and publicity for Bell Bridge Books. Of all the “events” I attended, I think the Bell Bridge Open House was my favorite. The Keynote Luncheon with Sylvia Day was inspiring as well, and I sat at a table of complete strangers, who were friends when lunch was over. There were a few disappointments: two workshops I really wanted to attend scheduled opposite each other happened a few times and other times none of the choices seemed particularly helpful to my career as a writer. The Amazon reception was graced with the presence of two very cute cowboys, but the decibel level was off the charts and I left with a raging headache. And the two breakfasts that came with the conference were held far too early and were too brief in length – breakfast is my favorite meal, but sleeping in is even nicer after a truly busy day. So I missed hearing Cindy Ratzlaff and Karen Rose.
Handsome Cowboys Selfie with Danielle Childers My daily commute (Best ever)
As for San Antonio, I arrived the day before the conference began so I had a chance to visit the Alamo and soak up a little history – one of my favorite things to do and take a long stroll along the enchanting Riverwalk. At the end of the second day, I hopped on one of the riverboats and went for a ride and another history lesson our Captain imparted as we cruised.
The Alamo Heroes of the Alamo Alamo grounds
And on my last evening there, I opted out of the crazy bar scene and attended Fiesta Noche del Rio, a multi-cultural performance at the little theater right on the Riverwalk. It was a colorful collection of song, dance and music from Texas, Mexico, Spain and Argentina, and the perfect ending for my visit to this delightful city.
Dancers at Fiesta Noche del Rio - at scenic outdoor stage Saying goodbye to San Antonio