Okay – I’m really going to do it. Every year, I’ve read the reports of my AAR colleagues and have wondered what it would be like to go to RWA. So this year, I and my little suitcase with wheels are going to manuever the trains and streets of DC this summer so that I can go to my very first RWA Conference. Even though I live in northern Virginia, I’m just far enough from the city proper to make the commute moderately hair-raising. I come into the city every now and again to go museum-hopping, shopping or to catch a show, but this is the first time in years that I will be able to play tourist for more than just a few hours.

Since I’ve never been to an industry conference, I have little to base expectations on except for the accounts I’ve read here and on other websites. I’m sure that I will be on sensory overload, but I’m already looking forward to meeting authors(I can think of a few I’ve reviewed or simply read on my own that I would so love to meet!), seeing the RITAS, and learning all kinds of new things. Sandy Coleman, who has attended in the past, will be there this year as well, so it will also be nice to actually see one of the wonderful people I work with online.

Even though the conference is months away, I’ve already been perusing the list of workshops with great interest. While many are very obviously geared toward current and aspiring writers, I wouldn’t mind learning more about some of the publishers that we interact with or hearing from authors I enjoy, several of whom are giving presentations or are on panels. And then there are the presentations on historicals. Though my tastes are fairly wide-ranging nowadays, historicals are still my first love, and I’m always interested in knowing more about what makes that portion of the market tick. Not to mention that I’d be interested in learning whether we’re likely to start seeing some more variety in our characters and settings anytime soon. Though I don’t mind the occasional Regency, I’m starting to feel like someone who has been required to choose one food to eat for the rest of her life with no deviation.

However, even though I’m very excited about my first trip to RWA, I have to admit I’m a little nervous, too. Though I’ve been reviewing, lurking and occasionally commenting online for the past five (5) years, I don’t know too many people offline and since I tend to be a little on the introverted side, this will all be so new to me. Still, it will be fun to meet folks and to be around more people who actually enjoy romance without expecting me to hide my book covers. If you have been to RWA before, I would welcome any and all advice. I’ve already been warned in advance to pace myself and thankfully I already know my way around the Metro, but the rest is going to be a fantastic adventure!

-Lynn Spencer