Conference Magic: MerSisters, New Friends, and life altering moments

SusanMermaidI will confess: I live via nega-talk too often. The devil on my shoulder whispers, “Why do you even bother going to the gym? You never get anywhere, and then you cop out. Save yourself the trouble: stay home.”  She says, “Why do you keep banging your head against writing? You start and stop, change your mind, and doubts are your best friend.  Nobody will miss you…” And “Why in God’s name are you going to a conference? You spend so much money and you spend too much time being I didn’t know that last Friday and Saturday were days to change a life:  getting up early, driving with The Man down the New Jersey Turnpike and over to Iselin for the NJRWA Put Your Heart in a Book conference

put-your-heart-in-a-book Nor did I realize Sister Mermaid Denny S. Bryce, fresh off her Golden Heart win, would stroll into the hotel lobby around noon and we would get to be MerSisters for the next 36 hours. SoFreakinFine!

NJRWA DENNY I hadn’t realized Roxanne St. Claire would offer such an amazing pre-conference workshop. She didn’t realize she would talk herself into laryngitis and have to hire/persuade/inveigle a substitute reader/speaker for Sunday’s Novelists, Inc. engagement. Poor dear! She has my heartfelt sympathy and thanks.

More than anything, I learned that a small conference can be a hidden trail to change your life. The National conference is a tremendous opportunity, to be sure. But these small conferences are a little more casual, a little less intense, and a lot of fun. I saw people I’ve known for years and made new friends (a special shout-out to Kathleen Ann Gallagher – yes, it was meant to be!). The pubbed author’s roundtables offered in-depth insight into the challenges we’re facing today, with the changes in publication formats, the shrinking market, the possibilities, the challenges, and the JOY of a career in writing a romance.

Have you been to a conference you felt changed your life? Share!



About Susan Jeffery

I am loving the challenge (sometimes) of re-entering the contemporary romance market after a lifetime of raising two fantastic children (it never ends, btw). Just when I thought I was done with kids, I accepted a position as librarian to 900 boys in a Bronx private school. I'm a vintage published author, Harlequin American #206 Fair Game (1987). Winner of the Golden Heart, 1986. Currently exploring the possibility of indie publishing under my new pseudonym (see fresh name, above).

19 thoughts on “Conference Magic: MerSisters, New Friends, and life altering moments

  1. What a great article! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Lelt’s replace our negative evil twin with our new found friendship. You are a fabulous writer. Your words touched my heart. Let’s get busy doing what we love!

    1. I new you would like that, Kathleen! It really was a conference for making friends, and I’m so happy you found me on Facebook. I’m going work hard to stay accountable in the months ahead, thanks to THIS CONFERENCE!

  2. I am soooo jealous, Susan-Mermaid!!!! I’ve wanted to go to that conference for a couple years now. I’ll have to make it work next year.

    The best writing conference I ever went to was the 2011 WRW Retreat. That’s when I got to hear amazing speakers like Kristan Higgins, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Lori Wilde. That’s when something shifted in my brain and I decided to take writing seriously. And that’s, of course, when I met my Mer-sisters. 😉

    Stop the nega-talk! You are fabulous!!!!!!!!!

    1. Exactly! The power of the small conference is amazing. Nationals is a whirlwind week of living in overdrive and every romance writer needs a chance to go to The Show. But a small conference is what feeds our hearts. And yes, 2011 was the year I brought myself *back* to WRW and met all of you! Did I ever tell you all I was so scared, hubby knew he might have to throw me into the car?

  3. I second Kerri! The conference that changed my writing life was the 2011 WRW retreat. This was where I met my mer-sisters and when I started treating my writing like a career.

    1. Reference above where I was terrified to check in. Meeting you all and becoming mer-sisters made a big different in my weekend! We won’t talk about me leaving my contacts behind at home and having to find a drugstore, so I could coax a daily lens through an entire weekend.

  4. Small conferences are THE BEST. Want to talk to an author you love for a REALLY LONG TIME? That is the place. It’s like a well-kept secret that’s not a secret…I go to as many small local conventions/conferences that I can!

    I think the one that changed my life the most was Hypericon (SF, Nashville) in 2005. I roomed with Sherrilyn Kenyon, met Brian Keene & Tom Piccirilli and everyone else in the Nashville SF fandom that went on to become great friends of mine.

    It was also the first time I ever moderated a panel. No tiara yet…just awesome, kickass platform corset boots (that I very well may have borrowed from Sherri before purchasing some of my very own). I was on cloud nine for DAYS.

    It was a convention at the beginning of me realizing just how amazing I could be.
    Ah…to be young again…
    Wish I’d been there!!!

  5. I have to agree with Kerri–WRW Retreat 2011 was my kick off to know this was what I wanted. And talking and sitting next to Kristan Higgins and Sherrilyn Kenyon was fantastic! (Fan girl moments). But the cherry on top was meeting my MerSis Susan in the hallway after a workshop Friday night and going for a drink in the bar…to discuss our writing and ourselves. She’s the one who sent me the info to become a Mermaid!

    Ahhhh I remember it well…

    Hugs to you, Susan!

  6. Susan,
    I hear you on the nega-talk. We have GOT to stop doing that! 🙂
    Yes, I have been to a conference that changed my life. WRW Retreat 2011, where I met my super-fab mermaid sisters. What an awesome time! It’s like the gift that keeps on giving.
    I’m so glad you had such a great time at the NJRWA conference. Hopefully you were reenergized and will shrug off all nega-talk.
    Great post, Susan!

    1. Thank you! I am totally energized with all this love. It really was one of the best conferences I’ve attended, and we have already decided it’s on our to-do list for next year.

  7. Yes, the 2011 WRW Retreat will be THE conference for me always, but New Jersey’s conference this past weekend rocked my world. Besides getting to spend some quality time with Mermaid Susan (which was great:)!, I really had some wonderful connections — good times! Thanks Susan (and Peter:)!

    1. I third, fourth, fifth and sixth everyone in saying WRW 2011. It was magic. Sherrilyn Kenyon bringing us to tears, Dianna Love, Kristan Higgins admitting to us that she kisses her hand when writing those scenes, Lori Wilde and all you mersisters. Let’s not forget Alethea Mermaid nabbing us all together with that super secret list of first-timers. And fishy friend for life, Lynne Silver, who was head of the conference that year. MAGIC!

      PS– I miss you, Susan. So don’t ever go into hiding for good. 🙂

      1. It WAS magic, and I treasure that you all mention it as the conference that changed your life. MerSisters, I honor you – you’re never far away when I have you in my heart.

    2. Denny, I could hardly believe it when I’d just sat down in the hotel lobby and saw you stroll through those sliding doors. This kind of happiness is not supposed to happen! But it did, and I adore how much fun we had together.

  8. Yup.. 2011 WRW. Can’t believe it’s already been so long. But it was literally best conference ever. Of course, it’s also where I met you fin ladies. It was the beginning of the beginning.

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