Monday, December 9, 2013


by Lise Horton

For anyone who has not yet attended this great conference, allow me to urge you to change that in 2104. Because 2013 was another super conference. I have now attended three different years, and each year has a wealth of pluses, with only a very few minor minuses (this year‘s was the snafu with rooms not being ready – but since there was registration and the goody room and meeting lots of people to keep busy with until it was? No big deal!).

NJ‘s conference has all of the best that is the National conference, with less monetary investment, a shorter time span, and closer to home. Same workshop presenters, top industry speakers, and a wealth of editor and agent pitch appointments and panels.

Nancy Goodman (Fields) and I trained down together Friday morning. We immediately plunged into the excitement. The registration process was smooth and fast, and once we had pitch appointments in hand, we began connecting with friends (while awaiting our rooms – but the head concierge was a hoot and almost made the delay fun enough to not matter!). Lunch was lovely and as soon as the afternoon events began, the energy soared.

The hotel is quite nice, spacious, with cool artwork and all the amenities you need. Once settled into my room, I took the time to spread out a bit and take stock of the upcoming events before putting on party garb and heading to the awards.

Friday evening‘s pre-awards cocktail reception was packed and the hall filled with excitement and enthusiasm. The PYHIAB unpublished awards, and then the pubbed Golden Leaf awards were a testament to our fellow romance authors‘ fortitude, creativity, and determination and watching everyone receive their awards was a delight. Especially incredible to be able to whoop and holler for member Dee Davis when she won her third Golden Leaf award.

While some attendees went on to party, I went back to rehearse my pitch for my appointments on Saturday. I am sure I was not the only one determined to take advantage of the roster of editors and agents!

Saturday started off with a breakfast and then we were rushing to workshops and pitch appointments. There was a nice breadth of subjects covered in the workshops, and I was lucky enough to be among the first 100 registrants, so I got to attend the Eloisa James/Connie Brockway hilarious tag team presentation on writing novellas and novella anthologies.

Several familiar faces populated Shiloh Walker‘s popular workshop on erotic romance and we had a fun exercise that had us rolling in the aisles.

Nancy was volunteering at the pitch appointments as well as going for the gold at her own. I ended up with 3 appointments—because there are always available slots that you can take advantage of at the last minute! And by my third pitch I was rolling along smoothly. Lots of smiles and good news came out of the pitch sessions and here‘s to everyone who took the plunge: May your submissions meet with great success!

Our chapter was well represented and many of us pitched with great success, cheering one another on as we dashed madly about in the hallway from appointments to workshops to panels.

The highlight of lunch was Connie Brockway‘s fun and inspiring keynote speech. Listening to her career in a humorous ―capsule‖ was thoroughly motivating, and then the raffles offered folks another chance to take advantage of the generosity of those who‘d donated.

With pitching over, I took a sigh and enjoyed the remaining panels and workshops. I particularly loved participating in our member Thea Devine‘s workshop on writing erotic romance that was so motivational, so encouraging, and just so much darned fun! I hadn‘t had a chance to see Thea (in person) in nearly 20 years, so it was exceptionally lovely to both socialize as well as listen to this pioneer of the genre share her insight.

Once the day was done, everyone was able to shake off their nerves, and get down and party at the after party where it was wild fun to see Dr. Mary Bly, a/k/a witty and wonderful regency author Eloisa James, out on the floor dancing barefoot and singing along with the Grease film soundtrack and rock out with everyone at the traditional singing of the Meatloaf hit, Paradise by the Dashboard Light.

Then it was time to spend our last night celebrating our genre, and our successes, and all the new friends we‘d met, the net-working we accomplished, everything we‘d learned, and when I woke early and was all ready for the shuttle to the 8:03 am train, despite the hour, I was able to have a great chat with C.H. Admirand who was up to prepare for the Librarian Luncheon.

Once I left the hotel—as all attendees will attest—that marvelous energy began to wane, but lo and behold, a quartet of ladies from Maine were at the Metropark station so I had another opportunity to make a few new friends before climbing aboard and heading home.

Despite the event being over, I am filled with enthusiasm, determined to make the most of my submission opportunities, and keep in touch with my new romance buddies.

2014 is already shaping up to be another stellar conference and, as you can see, I‘m a big fan and will be encouraging your attendance for next year. As agent Eric Ruben said, there is no other community as generous, warm, friendly, and supportive as ours. I second that emotion.♥

Lise Horton is the 2012 Past President of RWA/NYC. Her debut novel, WORDS OF LUST, released from Carina Press on 9/9/13 and she is now hard at work on book 2 of the Stellato series and polishing her time travel novel, Just In Time to get to the three publishers she pitched at the Conference and who have asked to see her manuscript. So much writing, so little time! You can follow her journey at

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