Silken Sands Conference

Barbara Vey -- March 19th, 2012
View from my veranda

View from my veranda

This weekend I attended the Silken Sands Conference in Pensacola, Florida.  I was so excited to go in March because it is usually about 30 degrees in Milwaukee.  So imagine my chagrin when I went to the airport and it was 70 degrees.  How could this happen since I spent the past couple of weeks rubbing my friends and family’s noses in the fact that I would soon be lounging on the sandy white beach?

Regardless, nothing beats the Florida sunshine. I was lucky enough to arrive a day early.  I went to lunch with conference chair Jillian Chantal and Carina Press editor, Angela James.  We ate at Peg Leg Pete’s.  I treated myself to a Kahlua colada while I closed my eyes and felt the tropical breezes.  We talked about kids and grand kids and left the business discussions for the next day.

One of my favorite parts of conferences is watching everyone arrive.  There is so much joy when old friends get together after a long absence and others who have only conversed online finally meet in real life.

GRW group dressed as their favorite literary characters.  Susan Carlisle, Sia Huff, Dianna Love, Sandra Elzie, Debbie Kaufmann

GRW group dressed as their favorite literary characters. Susan Carlisle, Sia Huff, Dianna Love, Sandra Elzie, Debbie Kaufmann

I met up with some members of the GRW for lunch.  These terrific ladies have been taking good care of my son while he is going for his masters degree in Atlanta.  We lunched at the amazing Grand Marlin.  I’m telling you, the fish down here is incredible.  These writers have been spending the last week doing power writing in a group setting.  They tell me they are able to pound out quality work in record time without the distractions of home.  I say, whatever works is the way you should go, especially if there is a beach involved.

After registration, the workshops started and everyone was anxious to get started.  The evening session offered a dessert bar, door prizes and my kick off speech.  I was thrilled to get this over with so I could kick back and enjoy the rest of the weekend.  I loved speaking and shared my adventure in starting with PW and my journey since.  Luckily, I’ve had some humorous encounters, so I think everyone enjoyed it.

Conference committee: Jillian Chantal, Elizabeth Perry, Jamie Farrell, Fran McNabb a/k/a Fran Fisher.

Conference Committee: Jillian Chantal, Elizabeth Perry, Jamie Farrell, Fran McNabb a/k/a Fran Fisher.

Next up was the agent/ editor panel.  They even put me on it as an industry professional.  The first question was “What are they looking for?”  They went down the line with the panel answering with everything from small town romances to westerns to historicals.  Mostly they want something new and fresh.  So when they got to me, I said I was looking for “A hot guy for my golden years.” I don’t think that ‘s too much to ask for.  But be careful what you say it public because a few minutes after I mentioned it, it was all over Twitter.

Saturday morning featured the nerve-wracking editor/agent appointments. In talking to the authors, many spent sleepless nights perfecting their pitches.  The really cool part was that the appointments were held on the patio overlooking the beach.  It was gorgeous and I would have found it hard to concentrate on anything but the waves crashing on the beach and a frosty drink with an umbrella in it.

WooHoo!  Sold out!!

WooHoo! Sold out!!


There were  more workshops including one taught by a Wiccan.  She even brought voodoo dolls.  Lots of aspiring authors looking for classes to give them that extra edge to get their books published.  The it was time for the booksigning.  Unfortunately, it was St. Patrick’s Day and spring break.  The bookseller couldn’t get over the bridge to Pensacola because of the traffic and was quite late.  But, because this was my first official booksigning as an author, I was excited beyond words.  When they finally arrived, I could hardly contain myself.  I quickly sold out which is the most amazing feeling ever.



Beverley Kendall

Beverley Kendall

Saturday night was a terrific dinner and Beverly Kendall was the keynote speaker. She talked about her journey to become a published author.  While she admitted it wasn’t all smooth sailing, Beverly has broken into historical romance.  And she has decided to self-publish her next book which she is offering for free.  Just go here for a free download.  Be sure to let Beverly know how much you’ve enjoyed her book.

Awards were given for the Linda Howard Writing Contest and the night finished with all the incredible raffle baskets given away and, as usual, it seemed like the same people won multiple times.  How does that happen?





Cynthia Eden talks serial killers

Cynthia Eden talks serial killers



With Sunday morning being a travel day, many attendees left early.  Since my flight wasn’t leaving until 6 p.m. I slipped into a few more workshops and I ended my stay with Cynthia Eden explaining the difference between serial killers.  It was creepy yet fascinating.

My final lunch there was outdoors listening to the steel drums playing songs of Pina Coladas and Kokomo.  One of my favorite places to hold a conference.  Too bad they do it every other year.




Bottom Line:  I hope they save me a place on the beach for the next one.

97 thoughts on “Silken Sands Conference

  1. Jillian Chantal

    Barbara, you are always welcome in Pensacola. We love and adore you. You are made of awesome! Thanks for being a wonderful kick off speaker. You had us in stitches as well as touching our hearts with your story. A great way to begin. I always enjoy hanging out with you and starting my conference experience with lunch with you and Angela James and ending it with lunch with you, Jenny Bent, Lisa Stone Hardt and some chapter members was a nice way to bookend the weekend for me. Love ya bunches!

  2. Anne Norup

    Sounds like a great conference! I’ve only attended ones in the Pacific NW. Looks like I may have to broaden my experiences to include one on a warm beach! Congrats on selling out your book!

  3. Pam Asberry

    Hi Barbara! It was great to see you in Pensacola. This was my first writers conference at the beach but it definitely won’t be my last. I learned a lot and made some wonderful memories, too. Thanks for the great recap!

  4. Sia Huff

    Barbara, I couldn’t agree more. Silk and Sands was well done and I certainly loved being on the beach. What a treat having lunch with you, Dianna, Debbie, Sandy & Susan. The food at the Grand Marlin was excellent and the company even better. Thanks for a great recap.

  5. Jackie Rod

    Congrats on selling out at your book signing, Barbara.:) I know the Silken Sands Conference was a huge success. Several lovely ladies proudly represented Georgia Romance Writers. Go GRW!!

  6. Paula Hardin

    Good Morning Barbara!!! What a conference with you attending. It was heart stopping listening to your speech. You started out our conference with such inspiration. You are an amazing woman. It’s such an honor to call you friend, I can’t wait to see you in 2014!!! Your always welcomed at our conferences… WINKS…

  7. Renee C.

    Ummm wow! It sounds like fun but I have to say it would be my luck too to get to go to Florida in the winter only to have it be 70degrees at home. Glad you had fun. :-)

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  9. Joan Chandler

    Barbara, your kickoff speech was spectacular! At first I was enthralled at your personal story and how you got over your fears. Then you had me in stitches as you told your stories of being a “newbie” on the press circuit! No wonder everyone lets you break the rules – you’re such a darling! I look forward to meeting you again on the white sands of Pensacola in two years.

  10. Dianna Love

    Barbara – Great conference and congrats on signing your first book!! That’s so fun. Love catching up with everyone and our lunch at the Grand Marlin with the visiting Petit Fours and Hot Tamales (Debbie, Sandy, Sia and Susan). Another great conference by the Gulf Coast Chapter. Sherry and her team underline southern hospitality. It’s so nice that Southern Magic and Gulf Coast always support each other’s annual event as sister chapters. Finally on my way home today and already missing everyone. :)

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  12. Runere McLain

    Barbara, loved seeing you again, and our group was thrilled to have you with us at Silken Sands. Know it was an extreme honor for us to have you as our kick-off speaker. Your speech Friday night carried the perfect balance of entertainment and encouragement! You provoked enough easy laughter to make a bunch of writers nervous about pitches the following day relax and smile. Thank you again, and I hope to run into you at future conferences. Congratulations on the RWA 2012 Service Award!

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