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I’m back from Washington Romance Writers Spring Retreat in Leesburg, VA, where I had, as always, a wonderful time. This was a new location for us, the second new location since we lost our lovely-but-shabby Hilltop House in Harper’s Ferry, WV, to a major renovation that will probably price it completely out of our range. This location was lovely, though, with some historic feel that is so nice when you are in an historic state like Virginia.

The Retreat always starts with a mega-signing in Boonsboro, MD, at Turn the Page Bookstore Cafe, but this year I didn’t sign. Heard it was a great success, though, as always. Weather cooperated for us, probably the most gorgeous weekend yet this Spring – Sunny and warm enough to sit out on the veranda.

After the booksigning, we have a cocktail reception, then dinner (Our guest speaker was Carla Neggers!) and then a panel discussion with our guest agents and editors. This year the agents attending the Retreat were Helen Breitwieser (whose flight came in too late for the panel), Meg Ruley, Elaine English (who is also WRWs attorney, because she is local to us) and Irene Goodman. Our editors included Jennifer Enderlin of St. Martins, and Tracy Farrell of Harlequin, who both almost always attend the Retreat. Kate Duffy of Kensington, another of our mainstay editors, had to cancel at the last minute, much to her regret and ours (we love Kate). Our other attending editors were Deb Werksman from Sourcebooks and Angela James from Samhain. This time the panel discussion did not really reveal any insights into the market or what editors are buying so I can’t give any useful information.

We ask our visiting agents and editors to contribute a little time for interviews with attendees and it was my job to manage the interviews on Saturday, which were held in the old mansion. Elaine English and Jennifer Enderlin took their group appointments outside on the lovely front porch you can see in the photograph.

Even though I miss most of the workshops because of the appointments, I do enjoy helping those waiting for the interviews to be calm, and to see members come out happy and excited because their pitch went well. Every year I have to talk someone out of canceling their appt because they chicken out. They are always happy afterward. (Don’t fear the appointments! They can’t really hurt you and are always useful, even if just for the experience)

This year I also missed the Saturday night dinner, with speaker PC Cast and the WRW special awards. I missed seeing my critique partner Lisa win the “Over and Above” award for her contribution to WRW. And my friend Catherine Kent won one of the Service awards. Mary Kay McComas won the Lifetime Achievement award.

But I was doing a FUN THING. Helen Breitwieser took her authors out to dinner and we had a lovely lovely time. The restaurant was Vintage 50, on the outskirts of Historic Leesburg, with a gourmet menu and fine wines and a waiter who looked like a young Harrison Ford and whose ambition in life was to play Hans Solo in a Star Wars remake.

On Sunday I also missed our big WRW Raffle giveaway. Every year members try to outdo each other and previous years making baskets for auction. We raise LOTS of money considering that the Retreat only has about 120 attendees. These were the baskets my critique group contributed. The “Diamonds of Welbourne Manor” basket was lots of fun; the other is “M’Lady’s Reticule” – all things for your purse and a handmade reticule (by my friend Helen who made my Regency dress) that is not shown.

I missed the raffle because I took Helen Breitwieser to the airport and we had lunch on the way to discuss me and my writing and my career (yay!)

So this morning I really slept late, making up for all this. Next week I’ll do better!

We had great goody bags this year. Here are some of the books that were in it:
Beyond the Heaving Bosom by the Smart Bitches
The Knight’s Return by Joanne Rock (a Harlequin Historical)
She Thinks her Ex is Sexy by Joanne Rock (A Blaze!)
Frederica by Georgette Heyer (a gift from Sourcebooks)
Mr and Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy by Sharon Lathan (Sourcebooks)
Love with a Perfect Scoundrel by Sophia Nash
To Sin with a Stranger by Kathryn Caskie
A Seduction At Christmas by Cathy Maxwell
The Angel by Carla Neggers (a hardback)
The Write Ingredients, compiled by Lori Foster (recipes from favorite authors- a Cookbook!)

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‘T is pleasant, through the loopholes of retreat, To peep at such a world… William Cowper

It was a pleasant Washington Romance Writers Retreat. This year we met in a new location, The Bolger Center, a lovely conference and training facility owned by the Postal Service. It used to be a convent and you could tell in places. The Stained Glass Room where we gathered as a whole group was obviously the chapel complete with confessionals in the back.

This statue of Samuel Osgood, the First US Postmaster General, stood in a location that must have once held a statue of the Virgin Mary or one of the saints.

On the whole it was a nice place. The air conditioning had not been turned on yet and, as happens in the Washington, DC, area sometimes, it was 80 degrees in April. So it was HOT. Then Sunday it was 60 degrees and was COLD.

I didn’t see many workshops, except for one I moderated. Victoria Alexander, who will be the keynote speaker at RWA in San Francisco, spoke at the Retreat and did a “Chat With…” workshop. Here’s Victoria with Kathryn Caskie, both lovely “original blondes”. I went to another workshop with the publicist for Avon who talked about what an in house publicists does. Basically, an in house publicist works to get the word out about your book in ways that don’t cost money. Magazine ads, for example, cost money; TV appearances, booksignings, newspaper articles don’t.

Karmela Johnson and I coordinated the agent/editor appts, which is why I didn’t go to workshops. I love doing this, though, because you get to know the agents and editors and you also get to help the nervous, hopeful writers who are pitching for the first time. but you miss most of the workshops .

I won a Tarot Card reading by Nora Roberts. I won this a few years ago and, like that time, her reading was all about home and family, all good things, but I think it is fascinating that this is what she sees at a writer’s gathering when all we’re thinking about is writing. The card that represented my husband was the King of Rods. He liked hearing that one!

We all donate baskets and items to raffle off as the last event of the weekend. Here is the one my friends Helen, Julie, Virginia and I donated. We called it It’s All There in Black and White.

Here is what I won, a pink pearl bracelet.

We also have a Moonlight Madness. I bought a tote bag made by my friend Beth Holcombe and a wooden pen (you can’t tell but it is stained tourquoise) made by my friend Denise’s husband.

My favorite part of the Retreat is being with friends.

Photo 1 – Bookseller Cynthia Parker, me, and Gail Barrett

Photo 2 – Heidi Betts and Karen Anders

On Saturday we had the awards ceremony, including the Marlene awards, which I cannot report until they are officially announced, I’ve been told. So we should be able to say something by Tuesday.

On Saturday we also give out special awards, and the very best-est thing happened! I won the Nancy Richards-Akers Mentoring Award. Members make the nominations for this award and the Board decides who to award it to. I was nominated by more than one person, which was incredibly wonderful. I cried…..

At our Published Author forum we discussed blogging. I said I thought Risky Regencies had made more readers familiar with my name and my books. Nora Roberts said she’d rather spend her time writing books, but she enjoys responding to blogs. Some others seemed to take the entire process of blogging verrrrry seriously. I said I really do it because it is fun.

What would you like to know about the WRW Retreat?

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A noise like of a hidden brook
In the leafy month of June
That to the sleeping woods all night
Singeth a quiet tune — Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Ancient Mariner. Part v

My we were a quiet bunch last week. After the explosion of 59 comments to Keira’s guest blog, things became unusually quiet. Not only here but on the Wet Noodle Posse blog as well. And on my loops.

Many people were at RT, I’m sure, but I’ve been to RT and not that many people attend. Most of the Riskies were out of town. I think Janet and I were the only ones staying at home.

Because of the quiet, we’re going to extend our tagline contest. The new deadline is Wednesday, April 23.

This gives me an opportunity to ask, what would you like us to be talking more about at Risky Regencies?

Do you want more about writing? About Research? About our lives? Do you like our selection of Guest Bloggers?

This is a chance for you to tell us What Risky Regency Readers Want. Spill

A bit of follow-up.
Remember my blog about the Gerard Butler Charity Convention?
The Convention raised $30,451.92!! The money is donated to Kids Kicking Cancer.

Here’s a photo of Patty and me at the banquet with our lunchboxes.

What I’m Up To Next:
Next weekend is our Washington Romance Writers Spring Retreat. Usually we have the Retreat in Harpers Ferry, WV, in an old historic hotel called Hilltop House. In the last year, Hilltop House was sold to new owners who are busy renovating and WRW was out of the location that has housed the Retreat continously since about 1998 (and many years before that). Our Board and Retreat Committee did a masterful job of finding The Bolger Center, in very nearby Potomac, MD. It is costing us more, but at least we will be able to meet.

Our main speakers are Victoria Alexander and Kresley Cole (see Kresley’s Author Talk interview here) and we’ll have workshops by Margie Lawson, Pam Spengler-Jaffee, Director of Publicity, Paperbacks at William Morrow/Avon, Karen Rose, Mariah Stewart, and our own talented members…Elizabeth Holcombe, Kathleen Gilles Seidel, and Denise McInerney. We also put our visiting agents (Elaine English, Emmanuelle Alspaugh, Becca Stumpf) and editors (Tracy Farrell, Lucia Macro, Kate Duffy, and Jennifer Enderlin) to work on workshop panels and in individual and group interviews. Kathleen Gilles Seidel always opens the Retreat with a terrific speech and Nora Roberts closes with one equally terrific…but different.

Anything you want me to find out for you at the Retreat? Anything besides discovering if O Doggie One (aka doglady) wins the Historical category of the Marlene, that is?

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