Next year, I will attend my 7th consecutive National RWA conference. While I still think RWA is an awesome organization and enjoy the conference, I must be honest: A bit of the thrill is gone. The level of anticipation and excitement that I felt in the early years is not as high. Probably because the experiences I have each year do not differ as drastically as they did in the beginning, when everything about writing and the industry was brand new to me.
Well, last month, I regained the ‘thrill’ – that sense of excitement and anticipation – when I participated in the Women’s Fiction Festival in Italy 9/27 - 9/30. Why? Well, off the top of my head, below are a few thrill-inducing reasons (and if you want to experience a bit of it for yourself, check out the video - in Italian - of the festival highlights) …
Italy. The thought of Italy, by itself, makes my heart go pitter patter. The conference was in Matera – in the Sassi district, which is the ancient part of the city, steeped with beauty and history along twisty, stair-stepped, stone streets. Getting lost was a joy – and an aerobic workout.
Food. From fettucine, tossed with bacon, mushrooms, and tomatoes in a cream sauce, to golden, moist swordfish medallions, flavored with olive oil and subtle spices, to Saltimbocca, thin, flattened, breast of chicken topped with prosciutto and cooked in butter – everything was flavorful and fresh. Not once did I eat a bad meal. And the coffee, ahhhhh – a caffeine addicts paradise. Strong, bold and fully loaded.
Global Perspective. Agents, editors, and guest speakers from the U.S, Italy, Great Britain, and Germany gave insight into publishing in their parts of the world, while the efforts of an extraordinary group of volunteer translators insured everyone was able to understand their presentations. Attendees, both writers and readers, were from different countries, which rounded out the international feel.
Conference. In addition to the staple ingredients of a writers conference – agent and editor panels and appointments, book signings, author/subject matter expert/special interest presentations – there were outside events that immersed attendees in Italian culture: A welcome reception in the upscale Ana Boutique; classical music performances; a night-time stroll through the Sassi; a ‘happy hour’ feast of wine, olives, and hors d'oeuvres in the piazza Sedile, while actors recited love poems in Italian, Romeo and Juliet style; wine and hors d'oeuvres in a romantic cave setting that was once an olive oil mill; and so much more.
Elizabeth Jennings did an outstanding job in organizing the conference, while the multilingual Bridget, Lorena, Micky, and Theresa did an amazing job translating each session into Italian or English for the attendees. The Women's Fiction Festival is a unique and special experience, to be savored by readers, as well as writers, men, as well as women, and conference junkies, as well as those, like me, who’ve lost the thrill of the conference.
If I can ever get caught up, I plan to blog more specifically about the conference and my experiences in Matera, plus the delights of Ischia (especially it's spectacular spa, Poseidon), a beautiful island off of Naples, that a group of us went to post-conference.