Tuesday, 23 August 2011

From Here To Eternity

Romance Writers of Australia’s 20th Anniversary Conference 11th-14th August 2011

A chilly Melbourne weekend brought together nearly 350 writers from all over Australia and overseas as they hit the Hilton On The Park with enthusiasm, excitement and a camaraderie that is not often found in an industry where people are competing for the same holy grail. In what other business would you find colleagues cheering you on when you get that wonderful promotion they’ve also been working hard to obtain? Publication is the aim, and the conference is the place to learn some of the skills to get there. It’s also the place to pitch to an editor or agent, network with old friends and make news ones, and let down your hair at the various social functions after working hard all day in the workshops.

From Here To Eternity was the Romance Writers of Australia’s twentieth anniversary conference and it was wonderfully thought out each step of the way. Lots of very high profile published authors, editors and presenters came from all over to make it RWA’s biggest and best conference yet. There were so many lightbulb moments, I could write a book about it J While I didn’t attend all the workshops and plenary sessions, here is a snapshot of the highlights for me.

Special mention must go to Mills & Boon Sweet Romance and Mills & Boon Medical Romance author Marion Lennox’s opening keynote address on Sunday morning, “Your Writer’s Staffroom, with Steamy Bits.” Marion kept us captivated with her witty style, poignant details and telling photos. I wish I’d taken notes because some of her lines were hysterically funny. (And you can blame post-conference brain drain for the lack of examples – that and me refusing to name the people in those funny photos J)

For me, the highlight workshop was Mills & Boon Medical Romance and Carina Press author, Fiona Lowe’s “Writing The Male Point Of View”. Fiona has such a great, easy to understand presenting style and always includes lots of examples. Fiona has a way with words both on the printed page and as a speaker. The clips from a popular British sit-com, Coupling really helped us grasp her points, at the same time giving us a laugh or three. I’ve never watched the show but will be looking out for the series! Interesting we only had one male attending the workshop and he actually said that Fiona was spot on about everything.  

For the perfect ending to a fairytale conference, the closing address on Sunday afternoon, “And They All Lived Happily Ever After” delivered by Jane Porter, was inspiring and everyone there was enthralled and a little surprised by her candidness and perseverance. Jane wrote many books before being accepted by Mills & Boon Presents/Sexy. She claims she has about thirteen manuscripts that will never be published and she read out the rejection letters for many of those books.

While we nodded in understanding and cried inside just a little with each rejection she read out, Jane revealed that it took her fifteen years of constantly writing, polishing and submitting before she got the call. Fifteen years! How’s that for tenacity!

I knew Jane online before her first sale and I remember the excitement when she sent the email telling us that she’d sold. We conversed for many years but lost touch after a while. Nevertheless, I went up and introduced myself and was surprised when she hugged me and remembered me. What a lovely person.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The romance writing industry is full of lovely people. My only regret at this conference is that I didn’t have the time to get around and speak to every one of the 350 people attending, but you can be sure I did try.


  1. It was a fabulous conference! And, yes, with so many lovely people to see. Hope you're coming to Brizvegas next year!

  2. Hi Serena

    Great blog!

    I must say, that the fact that this year's Conference was the RWA's 20th made it a great first for me. What a way to enter the realm of romance writing.

    I had an ab fab time, mixing with my dear MRWG friends, meeting my beautiful mentor, increasing my pool of knowledge and coming face to face with women who till now I've admired from afar through merely their writing. One thing I can say with all honesty is that the RWA is teeming with talented and successful women who are warm and overflowing with generosity of nature. To take fledgling writers under their wings and unselfishly share with them their wealth of knowledge - I don't know where else this kind of behaviour exists.

    For a newbie such as myself, mixing with people who have been my idols for so very long, I can honestly say the experience is unequalled. At the awards dinner I felt as some may feel when attending the Logie's. Lol!

    I could say so much more about the weekend, but I won't. Suffice to say, I had a blast! And roll on 2012 in the Gold Coast!


  3. Hi Serena,

    Thanks for sharing about RWA, wish I could attend. Maybe one year.

  4. Great post, Serena. The RWA conference in Melbourne was fabulous, and certainly a memory I'll keep for a very long time.

    It's a shame we don't have more time to spend talking to other attendees, because everyone is so warm and friendly.

  5. Hi Serena,
    Great blog. You are so right and the conference was truly inspiring. I agree with Cheryl, it was a shame that we didn't have more time to socialise with other attendees, but the time just flew.



  6. Hi Serena,

    I love your new blog and agree RWAus' Melbourne conference was the best! It was great to catch up with friends, attend workshops and hear inspirational speakers. Lots of light bulb moments for me!!


  7. Hi Robbie,
    It was great cactching up with you too. Pity it all flew by so fast!

  8. Hi Michelle,
    You're such a bubbly and vibrant person, how could you not enjoy yourself. You draw people to you :) But always nice to hear when conference newbies have a great time.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog

  9. Hi Nas,
    Maybe next year? Maybe you can start the official Fiji arm of RWAus?
    Thanks for dropping in.

  10. Hi Cheryl,
    I don't know how they could swing it so people could spend more time together. I guess we needed to stay on for a few more days :)
    Thanks for coming in to my blog and saying hi.

  11. Hi Margaret T,
    It's just a fact that when you're having fun, time seems to go faster. We need a time machine to go back and relive it - or one that can make time go more slowly :)
    Thanks for dropping by

  12. Hi Margaret M,
    Catching up with friends and networking is always the best :) The workshops and the lightbulb moments are the icing on the cake :)

    Thanks for coming in and saying hi.

  13. Hi Serena, great new blog. Good luck. I'm looking forward to attending next year's conference and meeting everyone. I hear the hugs are awesome :)

  14. Hi Juanita,
    Thanks for saying hello. You're going to LOVE the conference and the hugs even more! It's always great to put real life faces to the names.
    Look forward to meeting you.

  15. Serena, it WAS a great conference. They just keep getting better and, like many others, I had some light bulb moments, too, that has enabled me to push on with more knowledge and enthusiasm with my current WIP. Thanks to all...

  16. Serena, reading your post brought it all back to me. Laughing with the wonderful Marion Lennox, who hugged me when I thanked her for her inspiring talk. She is a fine example of the wonderful like minded women who met together on that chilly weekend. Chatting to the many new friends I made, and the wonderful moment meeting those I had previously met online.
    Roll on 2012!

  17. Hi Noelene,
    I love those lightbulb moments too. Wonderful to hear that it's helped with your WIP :)

    Thanks for passing by and saying hi.

  18. Hi Annie,
    Marion's talk was pure inspiration! And she's one of the most generous writers you could ever meet. So glad your experience was such a good one!

    Thanks for dropping in to say hi.

  19. Serena,
    Great blog,
    And lovely to see you again at conference,

  20. Hi Suzi,
    Thanks. Yes it was great seeing you again. Time went too quickly!
    Thanks for coming in and saying hi.