One Writer’s Addiction


Dana's Birthday!

Dana’s Birthday!

Hi. My name is Dana and I’m an addict. No worries, nothing as nefarious as drugs or booze, but something just as addictive… Writing conferences! 😉

I just returned from the Washington Romance Writers 2013 Retreat, and just WOW! What a fun, supportive group! For me this year’s retreat was extra special because it was my birthday. My fantabulous mermaid sisters went over the top making me feel special. First, I arrived to find that my roommate, Kerri Carpenter, had decorated our room and brought me a birthday balloon and wine. Then later, my other mermaid sisters surprised me with an impromptu surprise party complete with chocolate cake and champagne! What more could a girl ask for? I know, right?

Avery Flynn, Kerri Carpenter, Susan Andrews, Denny S. Bryce, Dana Rodgers and Robin Covington

Mermaids – Avery, Kerri, Susan, Denny, Dana and Robin

Writing is such a solitary endeavor, just you and your computer, and in my case yoga pants, diet coke and a fifteen-pound cat who thinks taking a nap on my keyboard is the perfect way to get my attention. When you’re in the zone it’s easy to get caught up in a world that feels as real as this one and forget there’s an actual outside, or real people who want to be fed. I thought I was the only freak who did things like this until I attended my first writing conference a few years ago and discovered there are other, mostly sane, people who find holding conversations with fictional characters normal. Thank God, I was no longer alone!

Kerri Carpenter and Dana Rodgers

Kerri Carpenter and Dana Rodgers

Since that first conference I have been addicted. Writers are some of the kindest, most considerate, supportive people you’ll ever meet. They understand how important a kind word of encouragement can be for a new writer, or how someone who has been writing for years may be going through a rough patch with a current work in progress. Writers, by and large, are happy to offer support and advice to all those around them. To sympathize over that rejection letter or celebrate your latest release, to share what promotional tools have worked best for them or lament over painful rewrites and edits.

I love going to conferences because they are a great way to meet people who understand the challenges of balancing writing, family, and that stupid day job many of us depend on to pay the bills. They offer a wide range of workshops on craft, promotion and trends in the industry during the day, followed by an opportunity to cut loose with friends, old and new, at socials, mixers and parties in the evenings.

Pintip Dunn, Dana Rodgers, Alethea Kontis, Robin Covington, Kimberly Kincaid, Avery Flynn and Kimberly MacCarron

Pintip Dunn, Dana Rodgers, Alethea Kontis, Robin Covington, Kimberly Kincaid, Avery Flynn and Kimberly MacCarron

Conferences allow you to network, promote your latest release and can be a great way to get in front of agents and editors. It’s refreshing to discover that the editor of a major New York publishing house may have a wicked sense of humor, that the agent of your dreams is really approachable and more than willing to answer your questions, or that the multi-published author you adore is a real person who has the same motivational struggles you do.

Whether it’s discovering you’re not the only one who spent her youth making up entire plot lines and acting them out with Barbie and GI Joe (sorry, I thought Ken was a wimp) or getting a request for your current WIP, conferences are fun and rewarding. Every time I come home exhausted, but I feel refreshed and revitalized, ready to put my butt in the chair and inspired to put words on the page.

How about you? What do you love about writing conferences?

22 thoughts on “One Writer’s Addiction

  1. Dana,
    I agree completely. There is something so supportive about writing friends. They get you. They get that sometimes you’re uber-excited about a project and then the next week you want to fling that project out the window. They get that you can be completely in the loop for a while and then withdraw because you’re OCDing with writing a new book. And through it all, they are understanding and forgiving.
    It was great celebrating your birthday, Dana! I’m a sucker for some good cake! And I’m always looking for an excuse to eat cake. 🙂

  2. You rock, Dana-Mermaid! Loved being your roommate!!!!

    WRW Retreat is soooo amazing that I haven’t left yet! Advice to writers and future writer conference attendees: sometimes you are sooo inspired that it’s worth your while to stay a couple days after and jump right into your WIP. Keep your fingers crossed as I plug along with my revisions. 😉

  3. It was wonderful seeing you at the Conference this weekend! And you bet, I share your addiction. I love conferences, in particular writers conferences. They are always inspiring, always filled with loads of laughs and even tears (CM’s closing remarks were masterful). So if we’ve got to share an addiction, I am thrilled to be on board with this one. And thank you for the great photos, too!

    1. I agree Denny! Cathy’s closing remarks resonated with me in a way nothing has in a long time. She sent at least one writer out into the world ready to jump back in with both feet! 😉

      1. EVERY YEAR. At least one speech tells me exactly what I need to hear and makes me cry EVERY FREAKING YEAR. That kind of therapy is priceless.

  4. I loved that conference, too, fishy sisters. It’s not just that these people “get” you. It’s having the chance to throw out an observation from your own experience that helps the entire group. It’s the gift of a fellow writer who, hearing you’ve been asked for a partial, asks for the details and then drops everything to hash out the plot tangles.

    It’s more than free books, free booze and nifty name tags. It’s the support we DON’T get from our friends, our colleagues or even our therapists – some of whom persist in calling it a “hobby.” It helps grease our wheels and send our imagination into flight, yet again.

    I agree with you, Dana. WRW Retreat 4ever! And Happy Birthday again!

  5. Thank you so much for being such wonderful friends! I do not know how I could get through the plot tangles and crazy life moments without each and every one of you! Hugs!

    1. I can’t tell you how much I would recommend checking out one of the many writing conferences available each year, Lorraine. I have been to several, both large and small, and they each have something a little different to offer. I find the smaller conferences like WRW Retreat make it easier to meet people and to have the opportunity to actually sit down and talk to an agent or editor. If you live anywhere close to Washington DC you should check into joining the WRW chapter. They are a fun, knowledgeable, helpful group of ladies. If not I encourage you to find a chapter near you. If you need help finding one please email us at waterworld mermaids and we’d be happy to help you. 🙂

  6. WRW’s retreat is special. That’s why I’ve traveled from TX the last two years to attend. It’s nice to be part of a group that thinks like you do, shares freely, and helps each and every member.

    1. The whole weekend went by so fast! I’m so glad you were my tablemate at the Nora Signing — I think I wouldn’t have even seen you otherwise. Plus, you won me a Romance Jeopardy question. Hot Men In Kilts FTW! xox

  7. Dana, what beautiful pictures of your beautiful smile! What I love about writing conferences (in addition to everything else that has been mentioned) is meeting new people and deepening my friendships with the people I already know. Thanks for the conversations and fun times this weekend!

  8. Dana Mermaid,

    I love everything you mentioned in your post about writing conferences, especially our intimate WRW retreat. But you know what else I love?

    Hugs. Real live hugs from those wonderful friends you’ve made through writing.

    You give the best.

    …and I ate all that left over cake the next morning for breakfast and snacks….and Kim Mermaid helped me 😉

    Love ya fishy sister!

    1. ((Hugs))

      That was some really freaking good cake!!! Somehow I don’t recall anyone offering me any breakfast cake… Hmmmm… Now I’m jealous! 😉

  9. My favorite part is reconnecting in person with friends I spend most of the year talking to online — this particular retreat for me is all about the Mermaids, and celebrating the anniversary of when we all met. I don’t remember the last time I’ve felt so comfortable sharing the fears I have about my career or laughed so hard I almost peed myself (I LOVE YOU, SUSAN!).

    The WRW Retreat is like the Best Slumber Party Ever. Complete with cookie dough and pillow fight. I think that’s a value we begin to take for granted in this computer-centric society.

  10. You are hilarious Alethea! But thank you!!! One should always look hot on one’s birthday!!!

    VIRTUAL HUGS TO YOU ALL! I LOVE SEEING EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU!!! Plus, I don’t think I have EVER laughed that hard for that long! Thanks for the memorable stories Susan!


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