New Jersey Romance Writers Conference

Barbara Vey -- November 14th, 2011

Stacey Adgern is an aspiring author and bookseller.  She lives in New York and is the Cub Reporter for the New Jersey RWA Put Your Heart in a Book conference.

Suzanne Brockmann

Suzanne Brockmann

At the very beginning of the conference, keynote speaker Suzanne Brockmann talked about the romance writer’s need to find the ‘love place.’  And for all of us devotees to the romance genre, whether readers or writers, the idea of what makes the ‘love place’ is clear.   It’s the inspiration, that thing which drives a writer.  For Victoria Alexander, as she told attendees at Sunday’s bookseller’s lunch, it’s “when she can give a happily ever after to those who can’t find it in real life; and…take people away from their own lives for just a few moments.”


Lauren Wittig Stacey Agdern

Lauren Wittig Stacey Agdern

For me, the ‘love place’ comes at places like the NJRW conference, where I got to catch up with Eloisa James, Elizabeth Mahon, Janet Gover, Louise Fury, Cara Elliott, Elizabeth Darrach, Kiersten Krum, Hope Tarr, Leanna Hieber, Lisa Dale and Sophie Jordan, and was able to meet both Stephanie Tyler and Kristan Higgins.  The ‘love place’ also was a perfect moment where once again, I was able to watch as a friend of mine won a Golden Leaf award.  This year, the lucky friend was Lauren Willig.

Lisa Dale

Lisa Dale

Another of the themes talked about at the conference was the question of whether or not to search for respect outside the romance genre.  Luncheon speaker Rachel Gibson said no.  She said that the only places that Romance Authors should search for respect involved the readers who love the genre.  And how should they do that? By writing the best books they can.  Keynote speaker Suzanne Brockmann said differently; that it was our goal as writers to get people to fall in love with the genre.

Regardless of how you feel on the issue it was pretty clear to me that after seeing  Lauren Willig’s detailed workshop presented on historical research , Stephanie Draven’s awesome workshop on using mythological techniques to improve stories, and Laura Griffin’s tight workshop on Romantic Suspense, that those who stack the deck against the Romance genre wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they did see the evidence of what goes into the books they spend their time badmouthing.

But in the end, everybody at the conference-whether it was conference chair Marlo Berliner, last year’s conference chair Miriam Allenson; whether it was the wonderful Judi Fennell and the awesome group of booksellers I met at the booksellers lunch, or even author  KT Grant who got to sign at the book signing for the very first time-understood that love conquers all.  No matter how they felt about the need for respect, or where their inspiration for writing romance novels came from, they all spoke about the importance of romance novels at this time in history, and the power of a romance novel to make a difference in people’s lives.


Bottom Line:  For me, it’s all about the romance.

191 thoughts on “New Jersey Romance Writers Conference

  1. Hope Tarr

    Wonderful summary of a wonderful conference, Stacey. Everyone was so warm and welcoming and smart. Super smart. This year’s was my first NJ Con–and the first of many more to come.

  2. Janet Gover

    It really was a great weekend.
    I think it’s really important to connect with fellow writers – there’s always something to learn… and I did.
    It was great to see old friends and meet new ones… I came away refreshed and inspired – which is what it’s all about.

  3. Marlo Berliner

    Thanks for the awesome summary of the conference, Stacey! Always glad you’re able to come. Hope we see you there next year – you’re always welcome at the NJRW “love place”.

  4. Kym Lucas

    It was my first time attending this wonderful conference, but I’ll be back again. If you’re not sure you can handle “the big one” aka RWA National, this is a good alternative. Thank you to NJRW for putting on such a fabulous event.

  5. Debbie Kaufman

    Great summary! Someon once asked me how I know how to end my books. With romance, the answer is always “happily-ever-after!” So sad that some people don’t find the beauty in that ending :)

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