Romance Writers of Australia Conference

Barbara Vey -- August 22nd, 2011


Australian authors Michelle Douglas, Anna Campbell, Annie West and Sharon Archer

Australian authors Michelle Douglas, Anna Campbell, Annie West and Sharon Archer

Today I’m delighted to have Anna Campbell here, roving reporter for Beyond Her Book.  Aussie Anna Campbell’s latest historical romance is MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION (May 2011, Avon). You can find out more about Anna and her books at her website.

We’re roving all the way to Melbourne, Australia, today for a roundup of the Romance Writers of Australia conference which took place from Thursday, 11th August, to Sunday, 14th August. More than 350 local romance writers and international guests converged on the Hilton on the Park hotel for four days of learning, networking and partying.

To prove romance writing isn’t for sissies, Melbourne was FREEZING! Thank goodness the atmosphere at the conference was warm and welcoming (although I required copious doses of red wine – purely to keep the blood flowing, you understand).

Keynote speaker Susan Wiggs

Keynote Speaker Susan Wiggs

This conference marked RWAustralia’s 20th anniversary. It was wonderful to have so many international visitors and local luminaries present to wish us well as we approach our 21st birthday. Then we officially become adults so we’ll become sensible and mature. Hmm…

As you can imagine, the explosion in e-books and self-publishing was the hot topic. NYT bestselling author Bob Mayer, here to present his Warrior Writer Workshop, said, “All that anyone knows is that nobody knows anything.” A conclusion echoed through many of the sessions. The keynote speakers, including Susan Wiggs and Stephanie Laurens, agreed with this, although it was exhilarating to note how many times during the conference the focus was on opportunities as well as risks. Stephanie Laurens made the point that storytelling is encoded in the human soul and a good story well told would always find an audience, no matter what the mode of delivery to that particular audience.

Avon author Terri Garey with Avon editor Erika Tsang

Avon author Terri Garey with Avon editor Erika Tsang

As well as a host of international visitors, we had a wonderful turnout from the local publishing houses. It was wonderful to hear the local editors say on their panel that the Romance Writers of Australia conference was now their premiere local writers’ event.

One of my favorite panels was “We Love Romance Because…” where a star-studded selection of local authors got dressed up in their day job clothes (in other words, the audience got to check out their pajamas). They talked about the fun bits of being a romance writer, including a letter Anne Gracie received from a male reader telling her THE PERFECT RAKE was the most brilliant book ever written in the history of the world. We all like to receive those emails!

Romantic Book of the Year winner in the Short Sweet category, Melanie Milburne

Romantic Book of the Year winner in the Short Sweet category, Melanie Milburne


I’m always delighted to see Jane Porter – she’s spoken at our conference several times and she’s a constant inspiration. I remember when I was reaching the end of my own long journey to publication how galvanizing I found her stories of persistence through disappointment. Jane gave the closing address about holding onto the dream, and you could feel the inspiration flowing out to electrify the audience. Mind you, I suspect a bit of that electricity emanated from the firefighters selling tickets for the charity auction!

Next year’s RWAustralia conference takes place from in August 2012 on Queensland’s sunny Gold Coast (MUCH warmer than chilly Melbourne). If you’re passing, do drop in! We promise a boisterous Aussie welcome.


Bottom Line:  I really need to get a passport!

65 thoughts on “Romance Writers of Australia Conference

  1. Bronwyn S

    Lovely interview, Anna! I loved Bob Mayer and would really be interested in seeing him as a motivational speaker (rather than on the epub market) and Jane Porter was amazing! Hopefully one day I can read out some rejection letters and everyone will hang off my every word (although I could do with a few less than she had collected). I also thought Marion Lennox was a blast as always.

    Can’t wait for the Gold Coast next year!!

    Have fun,

    1. Anna Campbell

      Jen, the funny thing is apparently the firefighters were WAAAAAY nervous of fronting the romance writers (yeah, those big tough guys who risk their lives to save people and property). Kinda funny in a way. I heard later, though, that they thoroughly enjoyed their sales campaign. And they certainly sold a LOT of raffle tickets (snicker).

  2. Suzi Love

    What a lovely wrap-up of our great conference,
    We’re sure to get lots of overseas visitors rushing to the Gold Coast next year when they read about all the fun we have at our down-under conferences.
    New York City conference was really good, but…we do know how to have a good party here,

  3. Anna Campbell

    Suzi, one of the things I really love about our conferences is the smaller numbers – you’ve got a chance of talking to most people, although sadly these days there are too many people to see everyone. Glad you had such a great time too!

  4. Sharon Archer

    HI Barbara Hi Anna!

    Ooooo, Terrific wrap up of the conference, Anna! I’ve come away with such exciting ideas to put into practice with my writing – one of them is the Daily Audit that Bob Mayer suggested… though I confess I’m a little bit nervous about seeing exactly where my time goes – eek! LOL

    Barbara, you must get that passport and come on Downunder if you get a chance!


    1. Barbara Vey Post author

      Sharon, that passport is on my to do list this year and if there was anyway possible, I’d love to come on Downunder. It would be a thrill for a woman from a little town in Wisconsin.

    2. Anna Campbell

      Sharon, I”m a bit of a wimp with you. I’m not sure I WANT to know where my time goes! Perhaps we should do it some time when we’re together and we can hold each other’s hand. So you know, five minutes reassuring Sharon and Anna that it’s alright to do this!

  5. Annie West

    Hi Anna,

    What a great wrap up of the conference! And of course, you picked a lovely photo to kick it off!

    I’ve been going to the Aus conferences for years now and I think this is the best so far. It was full of craft and business information, lots of inspiring presenters, a lovely laid back feel so you didn’t feel overwhelmed and…did I mention firefighters? I had such a great time and came away feeling enormously inspired. I’ll be at the Gold Coast conference with bells on!

    Barbara, do, do come to one of the Australian conferences. It’s always a great vibe and a good chance for some sightseeing on the side.

    Anna, I have to say the workshop you did on selling single titles with Christina Brooke was terrific. Lots of useful tips that had me scratching notes even though I was on crowd control!

    1. Anna Campbell

      Actually Annie, you made a great crowd controller. The way those girls screamed for Christina and me like we were the Beatles… Oh, that’s right, that was my dream last night! I was actually overwhelmed and mighty pleased that we got such a great turnout for that workshop!

  6. Kandy Shepherd

    Hi Anna
    I’ve heard such glowing reports of the conference. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go this year and thought all weekend about you all having such fun. Roll on next year and the Gold Coast conference–I won’t be missing that one!

  7. Tawny Weber

    It looks like such a wonderful time – I love conferences and was bummed to have missed the Romance Writers of America this summer, and now I’m doubly bummed to see so many of my fave authors at yet another conference that I didn’t get to :-D

    You clearly had a wonderful time!

    1. Anna Campbell

      Tawny, this was my only conference this year. Quite a contrast to last year when I did RomCon, RWAmerica and RWOz. We’d love to see you down here one day. It was wonderful to have Romance Bandits Christina Brooke and Anna Sugden from England here – it was like a mini Bandita reunion.

    1. Anna Campbell

      Suzanne, what a pain! It seems to have been a year of disrupted travel plans. I know a lot of the Southern Hemisphere girls had flights to RWAmerica cancelled this year too because of a volcanic eruption in New Zealand. See you next year!

    1. Anna Campbell

      Tegan, I remember the first time I heard her speak at the first Gold Coast conference. She made me want to stand up and cheer. If you ever get a chance to do her alpha male workshop, leap at it. It’s amazing.

  8. Marilyn Baron

    Barbara and Anna,

    I enjoyed hearing about the conference in Australia. I was fortunate enough to have visited Australia and New Zealand two years ago and loved it. I would recommend everyone visit. It sounded like a wonderful conference. Thanks for covering it.

  9. Jeanne AKA The Duchesse

    Hey Anna! Hey Barbara!! What a fun time! It sounds like a fabulous conference and I know that since there were THREE – count them, THREE – Romance Bandits there, there was bound to be some serious fun going on. Grins. I am looking forward to being there someday, in the lovely freezing August of Melbourne or the Gold Coast or anywhere in Aus. Mostly because of the amazing company, but you know how hot it’s been here…I could come cool off down under. Snork! Seriously, I hope to come sometime – it would be so cooooooollll!! Hahahah! Great wrap up Anna, you made us all wish we were there.

  10. Debbie Kaufman

    Anna, I’ve heard such great things about this conference! I’m going to have to work harder, so I get to come someday. Oh, but if they officially invite Barbara, I may have to raid my piggy bank to go too!

  11. Jo Robertson

    Oh my gosh, this sounds like a wonderful conference. I am so sad not to be there with some of the Romance Bandits and their buddies.

    I got a major envy going on with our two Anna’s.

    I was wondering what happened to the firefighters too, Jen. And, uh, why were they there?

    1. Anna Campbell

      Jo, every year there’s a charity who receive the proceeds of daily raffles and the big silent auction. This year it was the Otis Foundation who run a breast cancer retreat supported by the Melbourne firefighters.

  12. Jo Robertson

    I had to LOL at Bob Mayer’s comment about nobody knowing what’s going on in the industry. Isn’t that true? Change is coming so rapidly, but I’m glad to be in the middle of it, aren’t you?

    1. Anna Campbell

      Sadly, I missed Marion’s talk, Keziah. I heard great things about it. Mind you, I was breakfasting in the Victorian splendours of the Windsor Hotel at the time, so I wasn’t exactly suffering ;-)

  13. Shanon Grey

    Many years ago, my BFF and I planned a trip to Australia. It was curtailed by my surprise pregnancy. It is still a dream of mine. I loved hearing about the conference and one day…sigh…

  14. Bob Mayer

    I really enjoyed the conference and the people. What I found most interesting was the intense interest in looking ahead. Many in the industry are afraid of all the changes that are occurring, but RWA Australia was very open to hearing new and challenging ideas. I had an interesting conversation in New Zealand at the next conference regarding eBooks and publishing.
    I highly recommend this conference to all writer.

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