The Washington Romance Writers 2010 Retreat


How’s that for a picture? Two superstar authors feelin’ the love after a successful booksigning.

Hey, it was a moment for me, too.

Last weekend I attended the 2010 Washington Romance Writers Retreat and, it’s safe to say, a good time was had by all. The weekend started off in the traditional way: A multiple author booksigning at Turn the Page, a bookstore in Boonsboro, Maryland, owned by Nora Roberts’ husband Bruce Wilder. The signing headliners were Nora herself, the great Charlaine Harris, and the equally great Roxanne St. Claire. According to reports from the store manager, the crowd was double that of the year before. Then, it was off to the retreat.

For years the retreat was held at Hilltop House in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, an historic (and haunted) hotel set on an incredibly scenic view of the convergence of the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers. Sadly, the retreat lost its West Virginia home several years ago when the hotel was closed for renovation. The homelessness didn’t last long, however, and for the past two years it’s been held at the Holiday Inn attached to Carradoc Hall, an estate dating back to the mid 18th century, in Leesburg, Virginia.

Highlights of the weekend for me included a hilarious keynote address on Friday by Roxanne St. Claire, an off-the-record editor/agent panel on Friday night, and Charlaine Harris speaking twice. Her first talk was on how to develop compelling background characters and the second on her “overnight” success – after 25 years as a published author. And then there is Romance Jeopardy. Kathleen Gilles Seidel spearheads the madness and the first thing you learn is that there’s one overriding rule: This game is not fair. This refrain is repeated over and over (and over and over) again during the unruly (and totally not fair) competition. The team I was on with Roxanne St. Claire and Ginjer Buchannan, Charlaine Harris’ editor, did not win. It may or may not have been ignominious and that’s all I’m going to say.

On Sunday morning I shared a panel with Barbara Vey, the Publisher’s Weekly blogger, with author Susan Donovan serving as our moderator. Barbara covered the ins and outs of social marketing and I weighed in on reviews. As in whether or not they matter. Guess what I think? I think they do and I hope I convinced the authors and editors in the room that they do, too.

photoOne more little item worth mentioning.

His name is Cheeto. According to the hotel manager, he showed up about 2 months ago and he’s made himself at home. He’s fed and cared for by the hotel staff and guests (I fed him three times) and had his first vet visit scheduled for last week. He seems happy and the staff and guests seem to enjoy him very much, but he’s such a lovely, friendly, incredibly sweet kitty I’m hoping his best friend on the staff will take him home. Fingers crossed for you, pal.

– Sandy AAR

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14 Responses to The Washington Romance Writers 2010 Retreat

  1. Regina says:

    WOW! Now I’m even more bummed I missed it. It’s only miles miles from the house.

  2. Janet W says:

    What a picture! You know you are looking good when you get photographed in a sleeveless dress! It all sounds wonderful :)

  3. Susan/DC says:

    I’m going to have to be sure I note the date next year so I can go to the author booksigning. It sounds like a lovely event. Glad you got to go and represent all of us readers.

  4. Danielle D says:

    I’m so jealous!

  5. Hope Ramsay says:


    Your presentation with Barbara was awesome. I can’t tell you how much I learned in that session. And, yeah, you have me convinced. . .

  6. You were an awesome and brilliant member of The Flying Monkeys…and, as you noted, we were robbed of our victory!

    Loved hanging out with you at the retreat, Sandy! Your presentation with Barbara was terrific, and I really appreciate all the props on my speech. I had a blast! xo

  7. Karen W. says:

    I enjoyed the report (and the photo), and I have my fingers crossed for a “forever home” for Cheeto.

  8. xina says:

    Sounds like a wonderful experience Sandy with some great authors! I hope the best for Cheeto too. What a wonderful kitty.
    Ohh…and Hilltop House sounds interesting. Anything haunted is of interest to me. :)

  9. Sandy AAR says:

    Thanks, everybody!

    Regina, it’s an unmissable conference.

    Hope, it was so nice to see you. Can’t wait to read your book.

    Roxanne, it was fun, wasn’t it?

    xina, Hilltop House is indeed, haunted. I felt it the moment I walked in and I know conference people who actually saw apparitions. It’s just a generally accepted truth about the hotel. It’s probably hopping right now with all the renovation going on!

    Susan/DC, I’ll try to remember to post the booksigning date next year. Turn the Page has a Web site and they have signings at various times of the year. This one seems to be one of the best because the retreat always has big name guest authors.

    Karen W, I’m hoping right along with you. He is a very sweet and friendly little boy and, while you can get away with living on bacon and turkey when you are a teenager, he needs a good diet and a warm bed and a loving home.

    JanetW, Nora looks incredible. She really does.

    Danielle D, it was fun. Totally.

  10. I haven’t been to a regional conference in a while but this year I’m doing the one in NJ. Now I’m really looking forward to it.

  11. Lavinia says:

    I heard several members say this retreat had the best energy of any for awhile. I am so glad you could come. Your talk was very informative and yes, I am persuaded too.

  12. And man, I want Nora’s dress. And her arms.

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