Author: Admin

Reasons to celebrate

Appeared in April HT, by Sara Hartland, Hearts Talk editor

The program is out and tickets are on sale! What are you looking forward to the most at RWA’s 30th Anniversary Conference at the Gold Coast? 

For many it’s the chance to be there in person from 13 – 15 August 2021, but if you can’t, your ticket includes three months of access to the virtual presentations so you can watch any or all of them at your leisure.

Full details are on the conference website,, but 

but the truth is conference is about people connecting with people. And the best kinds of people are book people, right? Especially romance writers.

Whether you’re a multi-published New York Times bestseller or an aspiring newbie, the magic of being together is what everyone is talking about. Here’s what some RWA members had to say:

Mary-lou Stephens: “At this year’s conference I’ll be eligible for my First Sale Ribbon and it’s all because of the RWA. I pitched my debut novel, The Last of the Apple Blossom, to Harlequin at last year’s virtual conference and it will be released this year just in time for the 30th anniversary conference. I’m overwhelmed by the support and enthusiasm of the entire RWA community and it will be wonderful to say thank you in person, and to show off my beautiful book, at the Gold Coast conference.

“I am genuinely thrilled to be receiving my First Sales Ribbon at this conference and as such it will be a conference I will always remember. 

“I pitched to Nicola Robinson from Harlequin. Yes I was nervous, but more than that I was mortified. Why? Because, even though I was proficient with Zoom by August of last year (weren’t we all!) for some reason I couldn’t get the video to work during my pitch. I could see and hear Nicola but she could only hear me. She tried to help me get the video aspect happening but nothing I did worked. I was aware of time slipping away and I hadn’t even started my pitch. 

“I could have shut down Zoom, rebooted my computer and then logged back in, but by then my pitch slot would have been over. So we forged ahead. Thankfully Nicola didn’t think I was a complete idiot and asked to me to send her the manuscript. I pitched on 13 August 2020. On 21 September 2020 The Last of the Apple Blossom made it through acquisitions and I was offered a publishing deal. Release date is 28 July, just in time for the 30th anniversary RWA Convention.”

(Here’s a link to find out more

Jan VanEngen from Hobart is looking forward to her eighth RWA conference and is super excited about “the buzz of being surrounded by my tribe” and “nine days of bliss”. 

“Thirty years is a huge achievement. Well done. I foresee a huge celebration! The programs are always amazing. I’ll be doing Friday and the core conference.”

Jan is craving seeing everyone in person and keen to revisit the Gold Coast for the first time since 1971.

“I still have a street artist drawing of me at the age of 10. I can’t wait to see everyone again, learn, have fun, and see the sights. “

As well as being thrilled the ARRA book signing is back, Jan loves the Awards Dinner.

“I look forward to it every year. I love the dinner, and being a part of it. The RuBY’s are the Oscars of romance writing. I love seeing the achievements of my fellow writers and seeing be rewarded for their excellence.

“Bring on August and #RWAus2021.” 

You can find Jan’s writing on wattpad at 

Contest co-ordinator, regular contest winner and indie and trad author Fiona Marsden is also Aprils’ RWA Volunteer of the Month. Fiona is a huge fan of conference: 

“I think my favourite part of the conference is the Awards Dinner, even when I’m not getting awards 😁. It’s so much fun celebrating the achievements of our peers. Being in a rural area, I’ve found the craft seminars particularly helpful over the years and usually do the Friday sessions when they have a topic I need to work on. 

“I’m also excited to see the return of the ARRA Book Signing which was a wonderful excuse to do the circuit and say hello to all the signing authors without feeling intrusive. I’ve missed it in recent years. And of course the face to face catchups with people I only usually see at conference.

Gold Coast local and RWA President Tracey Rosen is keen for her hometown to shine: 

“I am so excited about the 30th Anniversary Conference being held here on the Gold Coast. 

“I remember when we moved here 17 years ago now, we would often just jump in the car, get some fish and chips and head down to the beach. If it was raining it was almost better, as we’d sit in the car and watch the storm over the ocean. Such beautiful sightseeing and things to do here. 

“I actually wish the conference could be longer because there is so much that we have here that I want all of you to be able to experience too. But then I look at the program and wish I could go to literally every session there too. 

“Mostly, I can’t wait to catch up with everyone. Have a drink, have a laugh, and talk to so many of you that I’ll have to take a week off work afterwards to recover.”

Sue Price is part of the conference team but part of her focus will be on a special occasion: 

I’m so excited to meet my Write Connections zoomie group in person for the first time.

“I’ve been zoom meeting for one year since Covid-19 lockdown with a bunch of lovelies from interstate. We will finally meet in person at conference! I’m soooo excited to see them in the flesh. I wonder who’s shorter or taller than me haha.

“The group formed when Marg Key (aka Chelsea Locke) put a call out on RWA’s facebook group. Seven of us met for the first time, total strangers from NSW, Qld, SA and Vic. Members include Stephanie Mayne writing as Stephanie Ashton, Debbie Deasey, Sharyn Swanepoel and me, writing as Susannah Kade.”

Conference has played a role in the group’s life already.

“Conference will be a chance to celebrate a big year during which we supported, motivated and encouraged each other to grow as writers. We shared skills and knowledge, entered new contests and took part in Twitter-pitches. Some hadn’t used Twitter. 

“Most pitched at Conference 2020 for the first time. Marg pitched to Liz Pelletier and Lydia Sharp from Entangled Publishing and her manuscript Tackling Trouble is under consideration.

“Sharyn won places in several anthologies and long-listed for QWC Adaptable. I won Ripping Start and a third place in Publishable. Stephanie Mayne won a place in Sweet Treats. Debbie and Sharyn are publishing short stories. Our group are producing our first small town anthology with plans for volume two and three this year.”

Each year, the workshops, pitching and celebrations kick off with a very special event that has Hearts Talk deputy editor Tanya Nellestein plotting and planning with glee again in 2021. 

“As a former winner of the coveted Best Dressed at the Annual Cocktail Party – no, I will never stop milking that –  I cannot wait for this year’s cocktail party! The costumes, the excitement, the mingling, the free-flowing alcohol. 

“Yes, this is where an extravert like me shines. But don’t worry, I’m an all inclusive shiner and will need a selfie with every single one of you! You’ll also find me at the bar at every available opportunity. I cannot wait to catch up with friends, old and new, and the bar is the perfect place. 

“Again –  I’m a talker, so please come and chat. I will also be first in line for the scones and the chocolate cake. You may even find me in a workshop or two, and you can always come sit with me! Basically, I can’t wait for the whole shebang to get underway. GC 2021, Bring it on!”

You can see what elseTanya’s has planned for the year at her  website.

For the final word,let’s hear from USA Today bestselling author Sasha Cottman:

“I can’t wait to see my author friends again and also refill the creative well. 2020 for those of us in Melbourne was a hard and at times a lonely slog. See you at the sessions and also in the bar!”’

You can see what Sasha’s been up to at  or find her at the Gold Coast this August.