2015 Retreat 1The 31st Annual Washington Romance Writers Retreat was a huge success. Was there ever any doubt? None! Folks were excited to see old friends and meet new ones. There was great anticipation and expectations.

2015 Retreat 2The Retreat Committee, composing of committed WRW members, this year was chaired by Ms. Deborah Barnhart and Ms. Yvonne Yirka. These ladies gave their all in making sure that this year’s retreat topped the previous retreat. And they have succeeded.

Each year the retreat starts on a Friday with a Newcomer Orientation, a Welcome Reception, and a Dinner with a special guest speaker. This year we were honored by Ms. Bella Andre, Author of All I Ever Need is You. Having sold more than 4 million books, Ms. Andre’s novels have been #1 bestsellers around the world and have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists 23 times.

After dinner guests got to attend the Moonlight Madness, coordinated by Ms. Trisha Wheeler, Author of Soul Keeper and Ms. Yvette Bazzell. This year’s MM had a new addition to it―the coordinators invited small business to come and showcase their services. We had Ms. Denise McInerney of Stonewall Editing Services, Ms. Nicole Skuba of Bluetreedigital.com, Ms. Sohini Baliga of Proofreading Services, Ms. Tonia Moore Editorial Consultant, Ms. Merry Banerji of Anessa Books, and Ms. Robin Allen of Griffin Editorial Services.

In addition to the Moonlight Madness, there was the usual Free for All with Editors and Agents, hosted by Ms. Cathy Maxwell, Author of the Groom says Yes from The Brides of Wishmore Series. All editors and agents got to share a panel to discuss the latest in Romance Fiction.


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There was the Karaoke portion of the evening where guests got to listen to the multi-talented authors who took center stage singing old time favorites.

New this year, and I hope they bringing it back, was the Carina Press Critique workshop―opened to 8 selected participants. Including myself and for me that was the highlight of the event. Eight of us got to sit for over two hours with Ms. Kerri Buckley, Senior Editor of Carina Press. Prior to sitting down with Ms. Buckley we were told to submit the first three chapters of our WIP to Ms. Buckley and the other participants. The ambience was one of teamwork, support and respect. My suggestions to the powers that be, is that once word gets out this is going to be a poplar part of the retreat, not to mention important. So I believe that we should not hold just one, but several throughout the day, for attendees are going to want to be a part of it.

The rest of the morning held lectures: Ms. Kathellen Gilles Seidel gave a lecture on There’s a Place for Us: The Setting Your Work-in-Progress; Ms. Christi Barth, member of WRW and President of the Maryland Romance Writers talked about the Seven Steps to Sensual Tension; and Ms. Mary Kay Andrews talked about Coming Up with The Big Idea.

The Keynote Speaker for Saturday’s luncheon was Ms. Rita Clay Estrada, Author of Interlude in Time. Ms. Estrada was creator, co-founder and first president of Romance Writers of America (RWA), the largest genre writing organization in the world. Her talk was followed by WRW Service Awards and Marlene Awards Ceremony. Congrats to all of our winners.

We do not believe in all work and no play so members got the opportunity to have a massage. Afternoon lectures were hosted by Ms. Bella Andre, presented the Top Ten Tips for Indie Success; Ms. Gwen Reyes, from Fresh Fiction, talked about Reaching Your Reader and Market Like a Bestseller; Ms. Barbara Vey talked about Blogging. Late afternoon on Saturday those who submitted the first 250 words from their work in progress got to attend the WRW Presents American Author, where three editors provide advice about the dos and don’ts of the submissions.

The day continued with other workshops and appointments arranged for attendees with visiting literary agents and/or editors.

This year WRW was pleased to host Ms. Nalini Akotekar, from Spencerhill Associates; Ms. Kerri Buckley, Senior Editor with Carina Press; Ms. Jennifer Enderlin, Senior Vice President and Publisher at St. Martin’s Press; Ms. Miriam Kriss, from the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, to name a few. A sense of camaraderie, nervousness and anticipation always fills the air. We are rewarded as we see our colleagues emerge from their interviews with smiles on their faces, as they are invited to submit their writings. A peer’s success is everyone’s success.

The day starts to wind down with cocktails and getting ready for dinner and another guest speaker, Ms. Mary Kay Andrews, Author of

2015 Retreat 4After dinner everyone gathered for an Elvis Presley-themed game of “Romance Jeopardy”. Our lovely Ms. J.T. Bock took the prize as “Jailhouse Rock”. The competition was fierce, but filled with laughter, singing and cheering on.

By the end of the evening everyone was exhausted, but it was a great feeling due to the laughter, dancing and singing that seemed to never end.

Sunday, there was a sense of calmness, as folks attend a yoga class or another early bird special. Editors and Agents prepare for their journey home. Members’ passions are renewed. We got the opportunity to meet with Ms. Sara Reyes and Ms. Gwen Reyes from Fresh Fiction for a free 15 minute consultation to discuss marketing opportunities.

There is great anticipation, as there is an expectant of sad goodbyes, but with excitement as we prepare to spend another year of writing, connecting with our readers, and remembering to share our news and successes with our friends at the next WRW retreat.

But before everyone gets to go home to write, the final event is the famous basket raffles. Glorious baskets prepared by our members with different themes. This year’s raffle was fierce in both the finely decorated baskets and the amount of raffles sold.

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On behalf of WRW members I would like to thank the following ladies for the love, the energy and commitment in which they went about to make this one weekend-a-year last a lifetime:

Ms. Deborah Barnhart – Retreat Chairs & Programs
Ms. Yvonne Yirka – Retreat Chairs & Programs
Ms. Candy Lyons, President of WRW – WRW Board Liaison and Awards Booklet/Retreat Promo/Bios
Ms. Julie Halperson, Vice President – WRW Board Liaison
Ms. Kelly Maher – VIP Liaison & Transportation Coordinator
Ms. Angele McQuade – Retreat Registrar and Retreat Name Badges
Ms. Denise McInerney – American Author Coordinator
Ms. Deborah Barnhart – Rooming Coordinator
Ms. Christine Trent – Editor/Agent Appointment Coordinator
Ms. Marsha Nuccio– Editor /Agent Appointment Coordinator
Ms. Binnie Braunstein – Awards Booklet/Retreat Promo/Bios
Ms. Helen Hester-Ossa – Awards Booklet/Retreat Promo/Bios
Ms. Denny Bryce – Awards Booklet/Retreat Promo/Bios
Ms. Marjanna Bogan – Goody Bag Coordinator
Ms. Darlene Gardner – Retreat Room Setup
Ms. Lisa Dyson – Newcomer Orientation Coordinator
Ms. Keely Thrall – Romance Jeopardy
Ms. Tricia Wheeler – Retreat Recording Coordinator
Ms. Sandy Rangel – Book Swap
Ms. Angele McQuade – Name Badges & Onsite Registration
Ms. Jennifer Bock – Name Badges & Onsite Registration
Ms. Robin Allen – Name Badges & Onsite Registration
Ms. Taylor Reynolds – Pre-Retreat Booksigning
Ms. Jennifer Bock – Pre-Retreat Booksigning
Ms. Binnie Braunstein – Pre-Retreat Booksigning


 Making new friends and meeting with old ones

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