Aug 21, 2019

Writer Conferences, Why I Love Them. Annie West

Every year I attend the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in August. This year was my twentieth year! So to mark the occasion, and while I’m still buoyant with energy and enthusiasm after attending the 2019 Melbourne Conference, let me share just a few of the reasons I love this event. This isn’t a complete list! (Note, rather than post from this year’s event I’ve gone back to the vaults to find photos from previous years).

Sunny Queensland in winter
1.       Travelling away from home. There’s nothing like actually getting away from the day to day routine to make you feel rejuvenated. And in winter especially, there’s something about the lure of a beach, or a vibrant city, that appeals. Because of RWA I finally got to Western Australia – somewhere I’d been meaning to visit for ages.

With the wonderful Helen Bianchin
2.       The warm welcome. I have fond memories of the year I’d sold my first book to Harlequin Mills and Boon and attended a lunch put on by the company for its writers. That was a thrill, but most especially there was the joy of receiving an ‘award’ (a comic item I still treasure) from the established authors. It was presented to me by the lovely Helen Bianchin and I couldn’t quite believe I was in such exalted company.

First sale celebrations with Elisabeth Rose, Alison Stuart, Anna Campbell and Fiona Lowe
3.       The way everyone celebrates when a writer finally achieves their dream of publication. Here I am with some authors celebrating their first sale. It was a while ago now but you may recognise some of the faces.

1920s themed cocktail party
4.       There are plenty of chances to have fun and to dress up, including at the themed cocktail parties.

Living the good life
5.       Conference time means no cooking or cleaning. Sometimes it even means room service with your feet up, listening to the waves rolling in on the beach!

Booksigning with the lovely Helene Young
6.       You get to sit with terrific writers, whether at a booksigning or participating in a workshop or listening to a panel discussion. It’s a great way to pick up information and make friends. I always come away from conferences feeling like I’ve learned something new or learned to look at something I do/or don’t do from a new perspective.

Winning the Romantic Book of the Year!
7.    Saturday Awards Night! I’ve included a photo of me here where the grin says it all. But whether you’re in the running for an award or not, it’s wonderful seeing the many writers who’ve made the effort to enter writing contests, to see the names of finalists and share their excitement, and of course, share the buzz of a win with all those winners.

LoveCats rule - Rachel Bailey, Amy Andrews and Bronwyn Jameson

It's also a fabulous chance to catch up with other LoveCats! It's often the only chance we have to meet as we live so far away. The smiles and laughter are infectious. 

I have to add the conference provides great inspiration. Anyone picking up my new book (Sheikh’s Royal Baby Revelation) will see a dedication to a number of women who were at last year’s RWAustralia conference. I was in the middle of writing that book and had come to a crossroads, not quite sure what direction to take. Thanks to a late night discussion with a number of wonderful authors (including some LoveCats) I went away brimming with ideas.

8.    For me this writers’ conference is an essential part of my year. I get to catch up with people who understand my love of story telling and of romance in particular. I get to commiserate and celebrate with them, to learn new things and feel like I’m part of a strong, vibrant community of talented women.

Do you have an event or group that you’d never miss? Something that makes you feel good and connected to people with similar interests?


  1. Hi Annie

    That was such a lovely post lots of memories there and the support from like people is always good, I have been lucky enough to be at a few RWA conferences and they are awesome. For me I belong to ARRA and any event they have draws me in I loved being with readers and the bonus is that we get to meet awesome romance writers and I always come away with lots more books and recommendations and just feeling so good :)

    Have Fun


    1. Helen, when I saw you'd comment I instantly thought you'd mention ARRA. I know you thrive on those romance reader get togethers. Such enormous fun! :)

  2. Annie, I love the RWA conference too. So lovely catching up with romance friends and learning new things. Was so great to see you this year. Love all those amazing photos.


    1. Jennifer, it was lovely seeing you this year in Melbourne, even though our catch up was pretty brief. You can imagine the fun I had, trawling through the old photos - so many happy memories!

  3. What a great bunch of memories, Annie! Love your pics and love this post. The RWAust conference is one of the hightlights of my year! I always look forward to it. And am always sad when it's over. It's like an adult version of Christmas. :-D

    1. I'm the same, Michelle. It is a bit like Christmas, isn't it? It's definitely one of my highlights. Even though I came down with the dreaded lurgy afterwards, it was so worth the trip. I'm already thinking about next year.

  4. Hi Annie! Hi LoveCats! Oh, my goodness, look at us all there! Doesn't that bring back memories, not least how much I liked that top which is no longer with us. Congratulations on your 20th conference, Annie. You started going a year before I did - I had a feeling you were much more of a veteran than that! So glad you had a wonderful time in Melbourne. Oh, and I've always loved that picture of you in 20s gear. You always look like you're up to major mischief in that shot (probably true!).

    1. Well, I remember it was a fabulously fun night, Anna, so perhaps there was mischief too. I'm so pleased you liked the post and the pics. I had so many happy memories to revisit as I looked at the old pics. I don't take many at conferences but it was a trip down memory lane and I couldn't stop smiling. It was great meeting you at the Sydney conference!