Last month I attended the RWA (Romance Writers of Australia) conference in Sydney. I’m a bit of a chicken and because I’m scared to fly I caught the Indian Pacific, which is luxury train travel.
Now I’m not convinced about the luxury part but I met some lovely people and had a blast. But the highlight was definitely the drag show in Broken Hill. It was in the pub where they filmed Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
My new friends and I sang, we laughed and we had the best time I’ve ever had in the middle of nowhere.
By the time I reached Sydney I was already exhausted, two days of partying on a train with a group of sprightly senior citizens saw me ready for a week-long nap. I checked into my hotel and relaxed and got a good night sleep.
The next day my roommate turned up. I chose to share a room with an author from New Zealand. We’d never met before but we took the chance and shared to help cut down on costs.
It worked out better than I could have hoped. I shared with JC Harroway, who writes for Mills and Boons new Dare line. Her books are fantastic and smoking hot. If you haven’t picked one up yet, I’d highly recommend it.
We had a fantastic time and got along brilliantly (don’t fact check with JC she might not agree). We went sightseeing around Sydney and checked out the Opera house and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There was also a cruise ship in dock which was particularly exciting for me as my family and I are going on one in November.
Sydney really is gorgeous and we had a great time.
Later that night a group of fellow RWA authors who had also arrived in Sydney early, caught up and went to an ARRA author event at the convention centre. We all went out for dinner afterwards at an adorable little outdoor restaurant. It was surrounded by heaters (they must have heard I was coming). The food was wonderful and I had a sweet potato pizza. Which was completely new to me.
Knowing I was in for a crazy busy few days, jam-packed with workshops, writer panels and of course the terrifying pitching opportunities, I went to bed early.
Day 1: Was a full day workshop with the lovely Rachel Bailey who also writes for Mills and Boon. The topic was the anatomy of a romance novel. Something about the way Rachel broke it all down and took it step by step, made it so clear. How had I not understood this before? I left the workshop ready to take on the world… or at least my next manuscript.
Night 1: Was the fancy dress cocktail party. The theme this year was tiaras and tuxedoes.
Apparently, the ballroom was the last place Princess Diana and Prince Charles danced together in public. I had a replica of Princess Di’s wedding tiara and a replica of her engagement ring. It was a crazy night, I met a lot of people (most I then didn’t recognize the next day when they were out of their crazy costumes).
Day 2: Was jam-packed full of workshops. I pitched to Allen and Unwin and they requested 3 chapters of my manuscript (EEP!). I also pitched to Hachette who want to see the entire thing. YES! you read that right… THE ENTIRE THING. I tried to act cool, really I did, but the desire to grab Stacey in a bear hug and sob into her gorgeous red curls was strong.
Night 2: The awards dinner. This was probably my favourite night in Sydney. I sat at a table with a great bunch of ladies. The dinner was superb and the award winners deserving. Speaking of awards… I got two!
After the official proceedings there was an after party thanks to Harlequin. For the first time in my life, I danced. Really danced. Not just swayed on the spot, but got out there and let loose. I apologise to all my fellow authors. No, I wasn’t drunk. I’m always that uncoordinated. I’m kind of hoping you were all too drunk to remember anything though.
But probably the highlight of the night for me was meeting the lovely Valerie Parv even if it was for the briefest of all moments. I also danced with the latest and I’m confident the greatest RWA president, Joanne Boog. It was such a fantastic night that I almost have no memory of day 3.
Day 3: More workshops, the best being with Amanda Howard. It didn’t really have a lot to do with my writing but it certainly filled my creative well. Amanda is known as the serial killer whisperer. Need I say more? It was the best hour and a half I’ve had in a long time. I was just completely and utterly captivated. If you ever get the chance to go and hear her speak… DO IT!
Night 3: Zzzzzzz…..
I’m ready to do it all again in Melbourne 2019!!!