Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Romance Writers of Australia and Friends

After two years of not being able to attend our own RWA conference, this was my year again at last! Like many other writers who also make it to writers' conferences, I did arrive in Sydney feeling weary from the efforts of simply getting ready. For me this time there were several extra events during my three weeks on the Australian mainland I also had to prepare for - as well as trying to leave an "orderly" house for my husband, Ray. During the weeks leading up to RWA it had become very evident once again how God is a fantastic organiser of schedules! He opened up so many wonderful opportunities to meet old friends not only at the RWA conference but each weekend afterwards.

There is simply no space here to share all about that RWA conference. As great as it was to meet some of my Aussie romance writer friends I have known for many years, I have to say the highlight for me was meeting other Christian writers. First of all there was a wonderful time with Rita Galieh and Jo-Anne Berthelsen the evening before conference commenced. Unfortunately they were unable to attend the conference but our other ICFW blog contributor was there the whole time!
It was so good to meet and hug Narelle Atkins again! And this year I had the privilege of meeting for the first time Karen Ward and Laura O'Connell who are also writing Christian fiction. Over the weekend I did meet another couple of writers interested in targetting the inspirational romance genre but I did not think to take photos! It was lovely to be able to share even briefly with them and I know we will now be in touch via the internet. I "happened" to sit beside them both at our dining tables. One is from California while her husband is working here and the other lives near my home town in Queensland.
One writer I was proud to have my photo taken with was Valerie Parv, now sometimes called "Australia's Queen of Romance." It is now nearly twenty ago that I was privileged to compete her course on "The Art of Writing Romance". This included a critique by her for a manuscript - which eventually became my second Heartsong Present's novel, "Damaged Dreams." Valerie has since had the course published in book form as well as other "How to..." books for romance authors. She is an expert at writing novels and very generous to other romance writers, including sponsoring the Valerie Parv Award through our RWA.

And yes, I did take part in the booksigning event also. However, my books were the only inspirational romance novels offered. I sure would love to be joined in future years by other Australian writers interested in writing inspirationals! I was privileged to have a chat with Diane Moggy about the Love Inspired line at Steeple Hill. She is  a very senior editor at Harlequin and her attendance at our conference was very much appreciated by everyone.
Also present at the conference were editors and agents from Australian publishers and also Jennifer Schober from the Spencer Hill Associate agency in New York. The main speaker was Debra dixon of Goal, Motivation conflict fame.

As well as my wrter friends I had a very, very special few hours with a dear woman, her husband and a Rotary District Governor who drove them to meet me. We hosted Ania Wosko about twenty years ago when she was one of the first Rotary Exchange students allowed out of Poland. So incredible that on the only day I had not registered for a workshop at the conference was the morning they were going to be in Sydney and able to share breakfast with me! Such a precious, precious time. She had made a commitment to Christ not very long before coming to Australia as a teenager and God had worked it out in His own unique way that my husband "happened" to be her Rotary Youth counsellor that year. As soon as I can I will be sharing photos of these lovely folk on my facebook page.

The weekend after RWA I was the speaker at the Australia Christian Writers Fellowship's day seminar in Sydney. That evening and the next day we so enjoyed meeting old friends as the church we planted at Maitland in the Hunter Valley north of Sydney thirty years ago celebrated its anniversary. Ray was able to join me for that special time but had to return home while I stayed on. This last weekend was an awesome time of praise and fellowship as the main speaker at our denomination's Newcastle & District Women's Retreat. 

Truly we live in a global fellowship of writers - and especially fellow Christian writers! I am weary but have been so richly blessed throughout these times of renewing old friendships and making new friends. Perhaps the older we get the more precious and to be treasured are these times. Today my thoughts have turned to the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in just a couple of weeks. How I would love to again be able to travel to America as we did last years to meet friends face to face for those lovely hugs. Perhaps there may be another year - if God of course has it in HIS schedule for me!            


  1. sounds like a really good time. I saw the photos on facebook. It would be so cool if the Love inspired series would have aussie books or books from other countries.
    I hope next time there will be more inspriational books along with yours at a book signing.
    Thanks for sharing I enjoyed the post.

  2. Thank you for your comment. I too would love to have Aussie Steeple Hill books to read - including my own of course!

  3. Lovely post, Mary. Your excitement (and exhaustion) sizzle on the page : )

  4. Thanks so much for sharing. It sounds like an encouraging time for you! {{hugs}} We'll miss you in Indie.

  5. Oh I would love to read yours in the LIH range Mary. I loved your lovesong presents ones.
    Having the editor may give hope for books from here and other international settings (one can hope)
    It is so good seeing more Aussie inspirational writers coming out. We have a few at our christian bookshop here.

  6. Mary, it was wonderful to catch up with you in Sydney, and also to see Laura and Karen :-) I'd also love to see more Aussie Christian fiction titles available here!

  7. Sydney was a great time to catch up with the other inspirational writers instead of only by email. I could only be there for the day, but it was inspiring. Hopefully, next year there will be other Aussie Christian Fiction writers beside you at the book signing, Mary!

  8. So sorry not to have responded before to your great comments as have had to be offline for several days. It was a wonderful time but didn't realise how weary I was until back home! And now we watch for all the excitement and news from the ACFW conference in Indie, Valerie! Perhaps there will be more news about Steeple hill and LI submissions.