How To Cure the I-Didn’t-Attend-RWA#13 Blues

(Or How the Hot Sun + One Idea = An Impromptu Mini-Conference)


A few days before RWA#13, Chris Campillo grabbed a weed-whacker and attacked her yard in the hopes of forgetting all the texts, photos, emails, and tweets about shoes and packing for the national conference in Atlanta. As the temperature soared to 106°F, her brain sizzled with an idea––a wonderfully brilliant idea. Well, that and symptoms of heatstroke. After cooling off, Chris sent an email on the ARWA loop. The overwhelming positive response from chapter mates boiled over into an impromptu mini-conference with five fantastic events.

Day 1:  Breakfast Session 6:30-8:30 a.m. in private room at local restaurant

I couldn’t attend this session, so I borrowed Chris’s photos and not-quite-awake notes. She thought seven people attended. (Thanks, Chris, and BTW you counted correctly.)

Four writers asked for help, so there was plenty of time for everyone’s input on two query letters, one set of opening pages, and a five paragraph synopsis. Oh, yeah, there was socializing and coffee drinking, too. Lots of coffee drinking.




Day 2:  Brainstorming Lunch at Apple

Being a Mac person, I had a hard time refraining from fangirl moments at this event. Thanks to Traci A. for hosting and to Caffè Macs for an inexpensive, healthy, and delicious food selection. After eating, socializing, and Chris’s warning to moisturize, the eleven of us formed two smaller groups. We shared resources and brainstormed solutions, plots, and titles. What a great way to learn more about each other, our writing, and beauty tips!

mini5mini4Day 3:  Digital Darlings Happy Hour at local restaurant

Luckily this regular event was already on the chapter calendar. According to Sharon L. the discussion included who was writing what, the pros/cons of digital publishing vs. self-publishing, information about different publishers, who had upcoming releases, popular e-book lengths, and promotional ad ROI (Rate of Investment). And yes, I had to Google that acronym to find out what it meant. Thanks to Rebecca for organizing, Sharon L. for taking notes and photos, and Alexa and Jackie for responding to my emails!


Day 4:  The 2013 RITA and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony Celebration

We had a follow-along at Susye’s mother’s house while she was out of town. Sort of like being a teenager again except more mature and no boys. Everyone enjoyed the tasty potluck, liquid refreshments, and fast-paced conversation. Not all attendees are in the next photo. If you’re the first person to leave a comment with all the correct names, I’ll have a gift for you at the next chapter meeting.


Since Jane’s eye surgery interfered with her RWA#13 travel plans, she was our Guest of Honor. Thanks to Chris for loaning a tiara and to Traci A. for getting the flowers. Doesn’t Jane look fabulous?


With tweets and phone calls to and from chapter mates, we rooted for Jane and fellow Golden Heart finalists, Katie and Kristin. When Laura received the RITA for Romantic Suspense novel, the group clapped and shouted. During the excruciating wait for the YA RITA award, we viewed photos from the ceremony in Atlanta and unanimously agreed Emily looked absolutely gorgeous in her colorful dress. We screamed so loud when she won the RITA for Young Adult novel, I’m surprised the neighbors didn’t call the police. Hmm! Maybe we were acting like teenagers after all.

We’re so proud of our ARWA Golden Heart finalists and RITA winners––Jane, Kristin, Katie, Laura, and Emily.

Thanks to Elaine for organizing the potluck and to Susye for hosting and not freaking out when I accidentally absconded with a piece of her mother’s silver. I swear there was no alcohol involved, and I’ll return the spoon this week.

Day 5:  ARWA Critique Group at local coffeehouse

This event concluded our mini-conference. The group critiqued pages from Evelyn’s sci-fi and Mary’s erotica romance manuscripts. Thanks to Ana for texting information and posting photos and to Sharon L. for organizing the monthly critiques!


What an amazing chapter we have! As Chris said, “Wow! In my moments of weed-whacking, I never envisioned we’d all get excited.” We have her to thank for replacing our I-Didn’t-Attend-RWA#13 Blues with a productive and fun-filled impromptu mini-conference. Will there be a sequel next year? We’re not sure, because most ARWA members will attend RWA#14 in San Antonio, which is about 75 miles away.

In the meantime we’re having a RWA#13 debriefing at our August meeting. I highly recommend that other chapters do the same and sponsor mini-conferences for their members who can’t attend national conferences. Just remember to moisturize and don’t let anyone take the silver.

Please leave a comment below.


  1. Love the blog. LOVE the crazed photo. Thanks, Jillian. I owe you one. Seriously, the blog was a great recap of the fun week. Thanks for that. I hope we can do it again. I’m glad you reminded everyone about the moisturizing.

    • Chris, all of us who attended the mini-conference owe you for inspiring a week of fun. I also didn’t have to worry about what topic to post this week, but I did have to buy more moisturizer. Thanks!

  2. GREAT blog, Jillian! And yes, thanks to Chris for giving us the idea! We also had a write-in earlier on Saturday, but nobody took pics. We were all too busy writing….or in my case, sending emails to the other participants!

  3. kristinnoelfischer says:

    I’m so impressed by the mini-conference and all who participated. Thanks for cheering me on. I think I heard your screams for Emily all the way in Atlanta! That had to be one of the best moments of the conference.

    • All the moments were special, Kristin. We loved cheering for you and the other nominees/winners from our chapter. I hope we’ll be celebrating your first sale soon.

  4. Fantastic recap of the week, Jillian! Now I’m wishing I had been able to make it to everything. We definitely need to do this again. Thanks to Chris for sharing her idea, and for everyone who stepped up to lead or coordinate an event. This is, indeed, a great chapter!

    And thanks, Jillian, for returning the spoon. The others will be jealous they didn’t get an adventure, too. 🙂

    • Thanks, Susye! I also missed a lot of the events. Your mom’s spoon had over 50 views yesterday, but you might want to keep that secret. The other spoons might want their 15 minutes of fame, too.

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