Maggie Wells · Margaret Ethridge

A Tale of Two Conferences by Margaret Ethridge/Maggie Wells

I just returned from my second-ever RWA national conference. This year, the conference in fabulous New York City. The last I attended was in 2010 at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Yep, two conferences, five years apart, but both experience were incredible. And very different. I thought I’d take a minute to do a little compare/contrast here. 🙂

Then: I was pre-published. I’d finished one manuscript and was in the midst of writing the second.

Now: I have more than 27 novels and novellas published under two pen names and have worked with four publishers. I’ve also dabbled a bit in indie publishing some of my back list titles.

Then: I knew three people at the entire conference.

Now: Though the day job prevents me from being the social media butterfly some of my friends are, I knew a few more than three. Which made navigating a conference the size of RWA a lot less intimidating.

Then: I spent all day, every day in workshops soaking up craft.

Now: This time my focus was on publisher spotlights and the business side of things, but I ducked into a craft workshop whenever I had a free moment.

I’d have to say, the biggest difference was that I had a much busier social schedule this time, which made this conference a ton of fun!

Kensington party with Sonali Dev, Terri-Lynne DeFino and Sharon Struth
Kensington party with Sonali Dev, Terri-Lynne DeFino and Sharon Struth
Harlequin Black & White Ball with Serena Bell and Karen Booth
Harlequin Black & White Ball with Serena Bell and Karen Booth

You know what didn’t change? I got to share airspace with some of my favorite authors in the world. In Orlando, I was lucky enough to meet Nora Roberts:

MeNora
La Nora

In New York, I met and chatted with Susan Elizabeth Phillips, took an awesome workshop on High Concept which was led in part by Sarah MacLean, and took some fabulous selfies with fellow Diamond, Elle James, Lisa Kleypas, and Kristan Higgins!

Elle James
Elle James
IMG_0994
Lisa Kleypas
IMG_1086
Kristan Higgins

I learned so much at the workshops and keynote addresses both times Keynote The RITA/Golden Heart awards ceremonies at both conferences were exciting, and my dates equally beautiful and talented

RITADinner
Maria Tota
Karen Booth
Karen Booth

Bottom line? No matter where you are in your writing career, there’s always something to learn and a new way to grow. I may not be one of those lucky authors with enough vacation time and moolah to make it to conference every year, but I can’t wait to see how I evolve from now until the next. Other than growing out my bangs, that is. How about you? How do you track your progress as an author? Do you find conferences and workshops helpful?

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