Archive for May, 2012

April 27– 29, 2012

This was my first time attending the WRW retreat. I was apprehensive not because of the overwhelming energy and talent I was going to be among, but because of my shyness. I was afraid of getting lost in the crowd. Thankfully my experience was completely the opposite. Everywhere I turned or walked by I was greeted with a smile and a hello. It did not take me long to feel a part of the creative energy.

Before I go on about the program and the caliber of talents, authors, editors, and agents attending, I want to take this opportunity to thank the President of WRW, Ms. Amanda Brice, Author of “Codename: Dancer” and the WRW Board for having implemented a great program that allows WRW to award partial scholarships toward the cost of the retreat to members who cannot afford to pay the entire fee. I was honored to have been a recipient and very grateful.

Upon checking in, Friday afternoon, I was welcomed by the hotel staff. Once they handed me my room key I was given a goody bag that had been put together by the Retreat Committee. The huge red bag with the WRW logo was filled with books, magazines, trinkets and sweets.

The event got a great kick-off, Friday night, with an orientation, which I sadly missed because of work; and then a reception followed by dinner. Guests sat around dining tables of about 8 seats. The tables were beautifully decorated with water-filled vases and floating candles. The food and desserts were delicious and there was plenty.

After dinner the group attended a workshop paneled by the editors and literary agents. In attendance were: Ms. Jill Marsal, a founding partner of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency; Ms. Elaine Spencer, Sub-Rights Manager/Agent, The Knight Agency; Ms. Valerie Gray, Executive Director, Mira Books; Ms. Liza Dawson, President, Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency and Ms. Jennifer Enderlin, St. Martin’s Press. Discussion at this workshop centered on the writing market and what editors and agents were looking for in new writers.

The important message that everyone walked away was: “Please do not write about a specific genre just because you think that is what is hot, but rather write about what is coming from your heart and write it well.” Ms. Valerie Gray commented that when she picks up a manuscript she wants to feel or be touched by what she is reading. There seemed to be a consensus among the other editors and agents on that thought. Do your research and then write – was another piece of advice. There was a discussion about social media: You should have your own website, Twitter and Facebook accounts. They suggest that you get active in your career by engaging people. Make friends with other authors, visit book store managers and offer to sign copies. Someone asked about the role of the novellas and there was a consensus that these were considered marketing tools. Ms. Gray said that they do have value.

Outside the dining room the small room was setup with a cash bar and wall to wall tables of books for the book swap and author displays. The evening ended with Karaoke. The spirit that night was all about having fun while getting to know your fellow authors.

Saturday morning began with breakfast, again in the same delightful manner of the dinner the night before. After breakfast the day was planned with workshops galore and as part of being a registrant you were allotted a 10 minute slot with either an editor or literary agent. In some cases you were given an interview with both ladies. Besides the agents and editors in attendance, WRW had also invited Ms. Robyn Carr, author of the Virgin River series and #1 on the New York Times; Ms. Mary Jo Putney who has made all of the national bestsellers lists: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USAToday, and Publishers Weekly; and Ms. Elizabeth Boyle, another New York Times bestselling author.

I was highly impressed with the caliber of hard work and venues made available for WRW members. It told me how deeply WRW President and Board Members along with the Retreat Committee and its leader, Ms. Mary Lenaburg care for the mission of the organization and its members.

One of the workshops on Saturday was a one-time-only special two-hour interactive workshop given by WRC’s own Dr. Kathleen Gilles Seidel along with Dr. Pamela Regis, Professor of English at McDaniel College and the Vice-President of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance called: “Death. Really? But I’m writing a romance! Capturing the Power of Ritual Death.” The workshop centered on not just the physical sense of death but the death that comes with changes.

Saturday evening began with dinner and then a wonderful talk by Ms. Carr. Who touched upon the commitment that goes along with developing a writing career while balancing the relationships that are formed with you and your agent/editor. After dinner the group gathered for a game of Romance Jeopardy. It was fun!

Sunday, the last day of the retreat, began with a great session of yoga, hosted by Ms. Kimberly Kincaid, Author of “The Moment of Impossible Movement” – A 2011 Golden Heart Finalist. Then breakfast followed by two more workshops, The first “How the Team is Suppose to Work” – focused on the relationship between you, your agent and editor. No matter what you need an agent. But according to Ms. Carr just because you need one it does not mean you have to put up a troubled one – Chemistry is key. While you do not get to chose your own editor, you still have to make it work, as did Ms. Carr. An ideal situation is where the editor and agent become your mentors.

According to Ms. Liza Dawson, she looks for a great feeling in the novel. Asks if the author is dependable. She also said an author’s career comes in waves. To Ms. Gray, an agent wants to her author to do well – she or he works hard for their authors. The second workshop “Go Forward.” The workshops were then followed by a wonderful raffle, with lots of prizes – all contributed by the members of WRW, which included critiques.

The retreat began and ended with great energy. I look forward to next year’s and hope to continue to foster the friendships and relationships that began, especially for those of us who attended for the first time. In the meantime I shall remember the spirit, energy and unity offered by those involved with The Washington Romance Writers group. Also remember to write from within – people want to be touched by the stories they read.




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Dear Readers,

I know it has been a very long time since I have either posted or done a book review. As many of you are aware running a blog can be time consuming, especially while trying to write your own stories.  However, I am totally dedicated to this blog and the vast of information it brings to writers and readers. I have after much thought decided to expand TRI to include all romance genres, i.e., historical, contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, young adult, horror, and mystery to list a few.

I hope you are excited about this as I am. Think of all the possibilities TRI will experience and you can benefit as you learn more about your favorite authors and their stories. With that said please stay tune and feel free to let me know what you think.

I will be posting another post soon on my experience at the Washington Romance Writer’s Retreat. It was my first time ever attending an event of this magnitude and it was a wonderful experience. Made new friends and discover new authors to write about for TRI.


…Miguelina Perez

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