Happy women at a gathering


POSTPONED until 2023

Washington Romance Writers

2022 In The Company of Writers Retreat and Conference--Virtual

April 29-May 1, 2022

 The premier writing conference and retreat experience in the Washington D.C. area.



WRW Members Two-Day Ticket:

WRW Members Saturday Only Ticket:

WRW Members Sunday Only Ticket:

RWA Members Two-Day Ticket:

General Public Two-Day Ticket:

What To Expect:

More Retreat and Conference Bang For Your Buck —There will be more than 20 hours of continuing education master classes and workshops covering craft, business, and writing life topics that can help you become a more successful author. Your ticket entitles you to access the conference archives so you can “attend” the sessions you missed after the conference is over.

Master Classes —Each in-depth seminar is geared toward the experienced writer.

Workshops —Covering a wide variety of topics, these courses are meant to address the concerns of every writer, be they pre-published or one hundred books into their publishing journey.

Connecting With Peers —Writing can be a lonely business, so the retreat and conference is the perfect opportunity to meet or reconnect with your fellow writers. Stop in to Saturday’s open Zoom “cocktail” and “dinner” hours, and lunch on both days.

Pitch Sessions —TENTATIVE: On Saturday we will have opportunities for you to pitch your book to an editor &/or agent. Information on required pre-Retreat sign-up to come.

American Author —TENTATIVE: If you are a WRW member, submit your first page to be read aloud anonymously, then let VIP guest judges give you their HONEST opinions. Bring your own cocktails.  Warning: Submission critiques are not for the faint of heart. Send your submission to moderator Denise McInerney, dmcwriter@aol.com no earlier than 6:00 am on Monday April 25th and no later than 11:59 pm on Thursday April 28th. 

Come One, Come All…to the WRW Raffle/Auction — This year's raffle is anticipated to be entirely based in services--AMAs with editors, a one-on-one chance to polish your pitch with an agent, etc. Check back for more details!



Friday, April 29


4:45—6:00 pm

American Author (TENTATIVE)



Saturday, April 30


8:30 am






Talent Craft, and Platform—the Publishing Deal Triad

Amy Collins

Why do some authors get an agent and others do not? Why do some manuscripts and pitches garner huge advances and a juicy publishing contract and others just languish? It is possible to create a successful career as an author, but there are hard truths about what it really takes to "make it." Authors who have been querying agents or submitting manuscripts and not getting offers will appreciate this class in how to improve their chances of getting an agent or a publishing contract. This class will give authors a chance to evaluate what elements they possess and give them the tools they need to develop the elements they lack. I will gently and humorously teach what is needed besides a great book idea and talent. We’ll also cover tools to help with craft, market awareness, reader relationships and genre communities. The attendees will get a full evaluation of their current situation and will be given the tools they need to improve their manuscript and pitch for their next agent or publisher meeting.


Amy Collins is an agent with the Talcott Notch Literary Services agency with 30 years in the publishing industry as a book buyer and sales director for a large non-fiction publisher. She is a USA TODAY and WALL STREET JOURNAL bestselling author as well as an agent. Collins is a trusted expert, speaker, and recommended publishing consultant. In her agent role, Collins focuses on non-fiction/history, historical fiction, fantasy and sci-fi. She can be reached at amysadvice.com. She is on the national advisory board for IngramSpark, a member of Mensa, a featured columnist for Writers Digest, IBPA, and a trusted teacher at conferences world-wide. She has taught and spoken at many of the publishing industry’s top festivals and conferences including Scottish Writers Association, Publisher’s Weekly’s BookCon, Oklahoma Writer’s Conference, Rocky Mountain Writers Conference, AAPS, Dublin Writers Conference, BAIPA, PALA, St. Louis Writer’s Conference, Writers Digest, Las Vegas Writers Conference, and many others.




The Skeleton in the Closet: What Film Structure Can Teach Us About Crafting Our Stories

Harrison Demchick

The world of film is filled with comedy and drama, sci-fi and fantasy, thrillers and romance, and everything in between, but nearly every film boils down to the same three-act structure. Novels and memoirs are different, based upon a less precise formula of inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement. But there’s a lot we can learn about general story structure by focusing on three-act film structure. This talk will explore how and why stories are constructed, and how these lessons can be incorporated into our own writing.


Developmental editor Harrison Demchick came up in the world of small press publishing, working along the way on more than eighty published novels and memoirs. He’s also the author of 2012 literary horror novel “The Listeners” and short stories including “Tailgating” (Tales to Terrify, 2020) and “The Yesterday House” (Aurealis, 2020). As a screenwriter his first film Ape Canyon was released in April 2021. Harrison is currently accepting new clients in fiction and memoir at the Writer’s Ally (https://thewritersally.com/).




Inside the Lines: A Game Plan for Writing a Winning Sports Romance

Sports romance is one of the more popular subgenres in the industry. And it isn’t any wonder why. Is there anything hotter than an athlete? Romance readers don’t think so. But there’s more to the popularity of sports romances than just hot bodies. How do you write a compelling athlete hero your readers will want to root for? Join USA Today bestselling author Tracy Solheim for an overview of how you can make your sports romance novel as authentic as possible. No sweating necessary.


USA Today bestselling author Tracy Solheim writes books with shirtless men on the cover. Some of them are actually bestsellers. The books, not the men. When she's not writing, she's practicing her curling… bottles of wine, that is. She's been known to cook dinner but no more than two nights in a row. Most days, she'd rather be reading, which to her is just necessary research. She lives in the suburbs of Atlanta with her husband and a neurotic Labrador retriever. Her two adult children visit but not often enough. (See the note above about cooking.) See what she’s up to at tracysolheim.com









The Plot and Structure Master Guide: How One Simple Document Can Make Your Story’s Structure Stronger

Erin M. Brown, MA, MFA

From MFA programs to Pixar movies to LA writers’ rooms—patterns of structure, plot, and character development show up time and again. Throughout the ages, master storytellers and researchers have shown us that story is more than a simple three-act structure. But does using a specific story structure help or hurt the way that we create a story? Does story mapping, outlining, and meeting specific plot-point targets slow us down, creating cookie-cutter stories? Or does story mapping speed up the creative process and actually make us more creative? Finally, is there such a thing as a “great map” that can help us develop our stories more easily? Join this session for story structure wisdom and hands-on takeaways, including a Master Map distilling plot and structure guidelines from the likes of Joseph Campbell, Blake Snyder, Michael Hauge, Houston Howard, and more.


Erin M. Brown, MA, MFA, is the author of 10 books (fiction, nonfiction, academic, children’s). She’s been a professional writer and editor for over 25 years, helping authors master story writing through speaking, personal coaching, and dozens of online courses in multiple venues. She has been a university writing instructor (two universities) and Writing & Communications Curriculum Development Lead (for a third university) overseeing the university's writing course content, as well as developing multiple college writing curricula and programs for students across the world. Erin has enjoyed speaking to audiences for over 30 years and has judged numerous book and anthology contests, including first and second tier judging for the Vivians and Ritas. She currently works with well-known authors for fiction writing course development and Hollywood A-listers for story development. She directs one of the largest online writing programs for teens, overseeing 20+ writing teachers, and continues to develop fiction writing curriculum for students worldwide. Coffee mug or espresso in hand and surrounded by her collies, Erin writes from Michigan. Visit https://erinbrownconroy.blog for more.




A Procrastinator’s Guide to Productivity: How to Beat the Monster and Get Sh!t Done

Alyssa Alexander

Been working on the same manuscript for years without finishing it? Overwhelmed by the length of your publishing or marketing to-do list? Or are you just avoiding writing, even though you want to realize your dream? This workshop discusses why we take the path of least resistance, the fear (and effectiveness) of deadlines, the habits that block us, and then provides practical tips to increase your productivity or writing time—and actually get sh!t done.


Alyssa Alexander is a USA Today Bestselling author who survives the cold Michigan winters by penning romance novels that always include a bit of adventure. Her books have been translated into multiple languages, received Top Picks from RT, Publisher Weekly Starred Reviews, and nominated for RT Best First Historical. When not working at her day job, writing, cleaning house, scaling Mount Laundry, or doing any of the other tasks a wife, mother and writer must do, she can usually be found with a book in her hand. And maybe a drink with a paper umbrella.




Basics of Editing and Proofreading

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter

Authors can make their manuscripts stronger by spending some time on self-editing and proofreading their work before submitting to agents and publishers, and especially before self-publishing. It can also help to understand the basics of these processes before hiring or working with an editor or proofreader. This session will explain levels of editing, the difference between editing and proofreading, how to find and work with editors or proofreaders, and resources for finding them or becoming one of them.


Ruth E. Thaler-Carter has been presenting popular in-person and virtual speeches for organizations, associations, and nonprofits for many years about topics such as editing and proofreading, freelancing, websites, grammar, interviewing, and more.





Make Goodreads Work for You

Diane K. Peterson

Goodreads is the largest online community of readers in the world. This workshop will empower authors to embrace their Goodreads presence and learn to deal with negativity. Five aspects of Goodreads to be discussed are: strengthening your author profile, interacting with readers, checking your book records, using promotional tools, and seeking help. Make Goodreads work for you!


Diane K. Peterson is a retired school library media specialist who promotes the romance novel industry as an researcher, speaker, and reviewer. Most recently she has been contributing information to the RomanceWiki to help build the history of the genre as well as reviewing romance novels for Novels Alive. Diane leads classes and workshops for authors and older adults (Osher program). A compulsive “fixer,” she uses her status as a Goodreads librarian to correct and improve book records and assist authors. Website: www.dianekpeterson.com




Editor/Agent Q&A (TENTATIVE)



Sunday, May 1




Your Pacing Score: A Numeric System for Finding Slow Spots (And Tips to Fix Them)

Arielle Haughee

One of the most common issues in novel drafts is pacing. Too fast? Too slow? Saggy middle? The initial challenge is gaining perspective on your manuscript. That’s where a scoring system can help you analyze your scene flow and determine slow spots. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to score your scenes, determine the appropriate flow of pacing, and get top tips for how to adjust your scene as needed.


Arielle Haughee (Hoy) is a six-time RPLA-winning author and the owner of Orange Blossom Publishing. She is an editor, speaker, and writing coach, and was previously the Executive Vice President and Conference Chair for the Florida Writers Association. She was honored with the President’s Award from FWA in 2020, and in 2021 Pling’s Party was awarded Children’s Book of the Year.




Pump Up Your Prose

Ava Cuvay

Strengthen your writing! Give your story a six-pack that has nothing to do with your hero's abs. Ava Cuvay offers a list of "rules" to apply to your craft to help beef up the power of your story and keep it from being flabby and weak. Excellent for beginning writers, and a good refresher for more advanced writers.


Ava Cuvay is an award-winning bestselling author of sci-fi and paranormal romance featuring sassy heroines, gutsy heroes, passion, and adventure, often set in a galaxy far, far away. She resides in central Indiana with her own scruffy-looking nerfherder and kiddos who remind her daily she’s not nearly as cool as she thinks. She offers lively presentations and is passionate about helping other writers achieve their publishing goals. She believes life is too short to bother with negative people, everything is better with Champagne, and Han Solo shot first. When not writing, Ava is thinking about writing. Or wine. And she’s always thinking about bacon.





Writing More Diverse and Inclusive Romance

Jeevani Charika


Why bother writing books with a more diverse cast? What does ‘diverse’ mean? We’ll cover writing what you know and writing what you don’t know, cultural misappropriation, and tips and guidelines for writing characters who are outside your sphere of experience.


Jeevani Charika writes multicultural women’s fiction. She also writes romantic comedies under the pen name Rhoda Baxter. Her books have been shortlisted for various awards. One of these days, she’ll actually win one. Jeevani is British-Sri Lankan. She loves all things science geeky. She also loves cake, crochet, and playing with Lego. You can find out more about her (and get a free book by signing up to her newsletter) on her website. www.jeevanicharika.com




The Modern Author’s Press Kit

Sarah N. Fisk (Sarah Nicolas)

An author’s press kit should include all the information that might be needed in order to book media appearances, event appearances, publicity opportunities, or selective marketing avenues. A press kit is not a one-size-fits-all document, but should be customized for different applications. Author, event planner, and former book publicist Sarah Nicolas will break down every item an author should have in order before contacting journalists, retailers, bloggers, event planners, publicists, or anyone who might take an interest in you as an author.


Sarah N. Fisk is a former mechanical engineer who made the switch to publishing in 2011. They have worked in the publishing industry as an editorial assistant, author’s assistant, publicist, and art director. Sarah is a former Pitch Wars mentor, board member, and Agent Liaison. They host the podcast Queries, Qualms, & Quirks and have a passion for spreadsheets. Sarah is one of the founding members of Disability in Publishing.









Getting Your Rights Back from a Publisher

Dean Wesley Smith

There are steps that can be taken to get your rights back from a publisher so you can republish or resell your work. They are sometimes easy, sometimes hard, sometimes not possible for 35 years. If you have a book lost to a publisher, this is the session for you.


Considered one of the most prolific writers working in modern fiction, New York Times and USA Today bestselling writer Dean Wesley Smith published far over two hundred novels in forty years, and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction books. He has over twenty-three million copies of his books in print.


At the moment he produces novels in four major series, including the time travel Thunder Mountain novels set in the old west, the galaxy-spanning Seeders Universe series, the cold case mystery series, Cold Poker Gang series, and the superhero series starring Poker Boy.


During his career, Dean also wrote a couple dozen Star Trek novels, the only two original Men in Black novels, Spider-Man and X-Men novels, plus novels set in gaming and television worlds. Writing with his wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch under the name Kathryn Wesley, they wrote the novel for the NBC miniseries The Tenth Kingdom and other books for Hallmark Hall of Fame movies.


He wrote novels under dozens of pen names in the worlds of comic books and movies, including novelizations of almost a dozen films, from X-Men to The Final Fantasy to Steel to Rundown.


Dean also worked as a fiction editor off and on, starting at Pulphouse Publishing, then at VB Tech Journal, then Pocket Books, and now at WMG Publishing where he and Kristine Kathryn Rusch serve as executive editors for the acclaimed Fiction River anthology series. He took over the editorship of the acclaimed Pulphouse Magazine in 2018.


For more information about Dean’s books and ongoing projects, please visit his website at www.deanwesleysmith.com





Free Alternatives to Microsoft Word

Crystal Ramos

Microsoft won’t tell you this, but there are other options out there besides Word. In this workshop we will look at Google Docs, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, WPS Office, and Focuswriter (programs subject to change based on what is current at the time of retreat)and discuss their pros and cons as well as where to download them without viruses tagging along.


Crystal is a Maggie award winning writer with an MA in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University. She also worked at a computer repair shop for almost five years and made it through her undergrad without using Microsoft Word.





Creating an Audiobook for Your Literary Masterpiece

Flo McCahon

As audiobooks continue to be the fastest-growing segment of book sales, many authors are considering an audio version of their book. This presentation provides information to help authors decide if this is an avenue to pursue. We will look at current statistics for the market, provide options for producing the book, and the necessary steps to complete the process to offer an audiobook as part of the author’s products


Flo McCahon (aka Millie Mack) writes the Faraday Murder Series featuring amateur sleuths Carrie and Charles Faraday. The series includes both print, ebook, and audio versions. And she just completed her first culinary mystery for her new Irish Bistro Murder Series. Besides her mystery books, Millie also writes a blog all about mysteries at www.darkandstormynights.com. The blog features mystery authors, detectives, and techniques. And to challenge the reader’s mystery knowledge, there is an assortment of word search and crossword puzzles.




Social Media 101: How to Harness the Right Social Media to Promote Your Book

Jenna Grinstead

In this course, we'll explore each of the major social media platforms that are popular today including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Snapchat and Tiktok. We'll discuss their target audience, how they are successfully levered by authors to build their platform, and how to decide which platforms best fit your author brand. We'll also discuss tools that can help you build and maintain a social media presence more effectively.


Jenna Grinstead is a whimsical Midwesterner with a penchant for magic and a deep desire for a world where the weird and different are embraced and celebrated. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University where she studied journalism. She found a way to turn her imagination and creativity into a career in marketing while writing romance, young adult, and middle grade fiction. She has conducted workshops and spoken on writing, world-building, social media, and marketing for writers, students, parents, and business owners. When she's not plotting her next story you can find her devouring novels and mint chocolate chip ice cream in her house with California poppies painted across the garage.




Closing remarks