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August 3, 2010

I attended the RWA National Conference this year.

Inspiration comes in many ways.  There are so many things that can inspire on a daily basis but my favorites come in the forms of “lightbulb” events.  Those are the ones that make a difference.

On a writing scale, I was surrounded for 4 days by people who were both gracious and all talented. Our favorite icons took time away from their own writing to come and inspire others. I learned various information on craft and theme and dialogue. I learned about publicity and marketing. I met with editors, agents and writers. Throughout the whole conference though, there were certain nuggets of inspiration that has made a difference in my career and my life I’d like to share.

Writers inspire me. Writers who work hard. My icons such as Suzanne Brockmann, Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Linda Howard and Nora Roberts are my American Idols in the romance industry. I heard all of them speak, and they each write different type of books and had different advice for both the published and aspiring author but one theme pushed through them all.

Writers write.

They seem to have a pretty glamorous life. NYTimes bestelling authors who have money and fame  and  public adoration. But once you get to the nitty gritty, you realize they do the same thing you are doing every day. They just write. Some for two hours. Some for 4 pages. Some more and some less. The writing is not marketing or revising or editing. Just writing.

Not very glamorous, huh?

More like the commoner such as me.

They all took precious time from their writing to go to the RWA conference. Most of them admitted they stopped attending conferences because it took up too much time. As does blogging. Sure, they pay for a publicist, but they always honored the integrity of the job and their work: they write first. Then everything else comes next.

Nora Roberts  says she is her own boss and mean as a pitbull. There are no sick days or whiney days allowed because this is a “real” job and it doesn’t have many sick days or vacation days. I think once we begin demystifying and realize the most important thing is writing and getting new work on the page, we even the playing field. Nora Roberts had one line to write for when she began. We have many – new markets are actually opened thanks to e-books. I came away with a positive energy from all the editors and lines looking for fresh voices. They want to buy if it’s good. If we write enough, it will be good enough.

 RWA members inspired me. I was lucky enough to hook up with some fabulous women who seemed like my writing soul sisters. We shared wine and laughs and plot and suddenly it didn’t feel so lonely.  Everyone had different stories to tell about the market, or their struggles or their sale. We all had butterflies in our stomach at our pitch – and high fived afterward. These are people from Texas and CA and Atlanta and the Black Hills (shout out to Amy!). They inspired me to keep the friendship going and meet them next year at National. I feel more comfortable reaching out to new authors I admired because they were so happy to talk to me and realize I love their work. Everyone was gracious and enthusiastic and my networking “net” expanded more in these four days than the past year. This inspires me.

Disneyworld inspires me. At the laser show in Epcot, I watched the countries light up one by one. Crowds merged together in awe over the showers of sprinkles dripping from the sky, set to haunting notes of music that made my heart swell in all of the clichés I have ever written. I felt as if we were one in this world, and not separate.

Walt Disney inspired me. My girlfriend was able to do the back tour of Magic Kingdom and told me a beautiful story I need to share. There is a sculpture in Magic Kingdom of Walt with Mickey Mouse. Mickey is pointing down the road at something. If you follow, you will find a bench where Roy, Walt’s brother, sits beside Minnie Mouse. There is a space on the bench that is empty.

Walt Disney knew he was dying and only had a short time left. The story goes like this:

Walt Disney: “Mickey, I’m not going to be here much longer, old buddy. I need to leave but you’re going to be ok.”

Mickey:  “Don’t leave. I want to go with you.”

Walt shakes his head sadly. “No, you can’t come where I’m going, Mickey. But when I leave, I want you to walk over there.”

Mickey turned his head to where Walt gestured and pointed his finger. “Over there?”

 “Yes. Roy is going to take care of you. There’s a spot for you next to him and Minnie on the bench. This will always be your home, Mickey so never be afraid.”

I teared up imagining that scene. Love inspires me.

Books inspire me. When I read something where words sing and romance is hot and plot moves and I go into a fugue state into another time and place – I am inspired.

My children inspire me. They are loving and open to every new thing thrown their way. They may react with fear or trepidation or enthusiasm but they are present for every part of life and it inspires me to create the same present tense type of day for myself. My children make me to look at the world differently and strive to be a better human being.

When Jake was graduating pre-k, the teachers listed what each child stated he/she wanted to be when grown up.  I proudly skimmed through the notes such as firefighter, superhero, astronaut and doctor. When I got to my son’s name it read: Chicken robot. Yep. Chicken robot. My son did not just want a career – he wanted a whole new species.  After the initial rush of laughter and embarrassment, I realized how awesome my son was. Nothing held him back – his imagination and vision was vast and held no boundaries.

Love inspires me. Sacrifices for family, friends or a spouse.  Decisions to give up money and fame to pursue a passionate dream. Being brave to risk your heart being broken. Again. and Again.

Here’s to writing and following our passions and doing the hard work so we can then enjoy the good stuff.

Here’s to good friends who cheer us on even though they have never met us.

Here’s to the endless capacity of the human heart which sometimes disappoints but mostly awes me.

Here’s to inspiration.

Drop me a line and let me know what inspired you.

❤️ Leave a comment → 


  1. Jen, Glad to hear you’re inspired. Writing is mainly sitting your rear on the chair and as my granddaughter used to say “Grandma’s making words.” I’m not sure what inspires me other than those magic words, What If. That was one of my favorite questions as a child and still carries on to this day.

  2. Liz says:

    Glad you had a great time. Plan to go next year when its in nyc.

  3. Seriously? You’ve book NYC already? Can you even do that?

    Hmm. What inspires me. I dunno. Sometimes it’s a really, really fabulous, lyrical story told by an awesome wordsmith. Sometimes that depresses me. Sometimes it’s an usual story and an impressive imagination. And sometimes that depresses me. Sometimes it’s really snappy dialogue, like they used to sling around in 40’s movies. And sometimes it’s reading something pretty crappy and amateurish. And sometimes that really, REALLY depresses me.

    A lot of times I find “The End” pretty inspiring.

    (Don’t mind me. Haven’t had dinner yet and I’m in a MOOD.)

    • jennifer121 says:

      You are hysterical! No, haven’t booked NY officially, it’s just knowing that I will. And yes, sometimes good writing depresses me too because I think I can never do this, but most of the time it gives me something to strive for. Will you go eat, for heaven’s sake!

  4. Wendy Marcus says:

    Hi Jen!
    I had a great time with you at national! Loved your post….Actually…you inspire me. Always happy, motivated, energetic. How the heck do you do it?

    • jennifer121 says:

      Lord, Wendy, that is the nicest complement – thank you. To be honest, I feel the same way about you – just call us the mutual admiration club!!!

      • Wendy Marcus says:

        I don’t feel very happy, motivated, or energetic right now. Revisions….GRRRRRR. And glasses….GRRRRRR. And my birthday is on Saturday…..GRRRRRR. Oh I’m happy to keep having them…the alternative sucks….I just wish the numbers would start going lower instead of higher. It’s a mental thing!

  5. hthurmeier says:

    Well, I have to say that YOU just inspired me. What a beautiful post about life, love, family, and writing. Thank you for this post! It sounds like you had a great time at national. I’m thinking of attending next year.

    Chicken Robot? Awesome! I love the silly things kids say. My 5 year old says she wants to be an artist and a princess. My 3.5 year old wants to be an artist and a rock collector. (Daddy’s an artist). Kids keep us young, sometimes make us feel old, and always entertain!

    • jennifer121 says:

      HI Heather,
      Thanks so much for checking in. I hope you attend National next year since it’s in New York and I know we will have a great time. Thank you so much for the complement on my post – honestly so many of the things that inspire me come from the people around me. By the way, I loved your blog, I need to link yours to mine. Your kids are the same ages as mine so you go through the same trials and happy times that I am going through. What a journey! Hope your writing is going well!

  6. Amy says:

    Hey Jen!

    Women inspire me! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, men are great (well, better than great, but that would need a whole second post:) but it’s the women who make the world go round. Following through on all those practical, seemingly insignificant details that make life function smoothly yet are SOOO not glamorous or sexy.

    And the conference inspired me. Meeting wonderful, wonderful women who share a passion and outlook on life. THAT inspires me.

    So, in a nutshell . . . what Wendy said!

    Amy Strnad

    • jennifer121 says:

      HI Amy,
      I am so glad you checked in! I am so excited about our project. And as for inspiration, you are right – women absolutely blow me away every time and inspire me… I think that is why we love writing romance novels so much…

  7. Wendy Marcus says:

    Oops. Birthday next Saturday….a whole nother week to dread it!

    • jennifer121 says:

      Don’t you dare dread it! That’s why you have friends and family, to celebrate the day you were born because without you, the world would be an emptier place. Who cares that we are getting older? I hate what it does to my body, but my mind keeps getting stronger and stronger! We should hook up for a drink to celebrate – my birthday is 9/10 – let’s bring it in with some wine!!!

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