It’s been five years since that sunny day in 2011 when several board members from four Southern California RWA chapters met for lunch in San Juan Capistrano and pondered the idea of creating a joint venture to host a conference. After getting board approvals, each chapter chose two people to represent their interests on the committee, and we began to plan the very first California Dreamin’ Writers Conference.
I attended that lunch, as well as the RWA-San Diego board meeting, during which we voted to take part, and then I volunteered to serve on the first committee.
It’s not easy working with people you’ve just met or don’t know very well, but I have to tell you, there was something magical about those first chapter reps. They shared a like-minded vision, a strong work ethic, and a determination to provide the best speakers, workshops, and industry professionals we could find. And they were determined to put on the best conference ever. Since we had absolutely no idea how many people would attend, our budget amounted to a best-guess, fingers-crossed gamble.
After two years of hard work, some cussin’ and discussin’—and yes, a lot of laughter—the 2013 California Dreamin’ Conference took place at the DoubleTree Hotel in Santa Ana. It proved to be so successful and memorable that the four chapter boards voted to host a second in 2015.
The committee was exhausted, yet pleased by their effort. We each thought long and hard about making another 2 year commitment. But what a team! Those 8 chapter reps and a non-voting leader each raised their hands and said, “Put me in, Coach.”
After the 2015 conference, 4 of the originals committee members stepped down, and 4 new chapter reps took their place. I’ll admit, I was a little concerned about the change in the group dynamics, but guess what? The new committee has really come together this time around, bringing new energy, enthusiasm, vision, and creativity.
So thanks to the work of both past and current committee members, as well as the amazing contributions of TEAM Cal Dreamin’, our amazing, hard-working, behind-the scenes volunteers, our third conference is off to a great start—and I think it’ll be the best one yet!
Since 2002, USA Today bestselling author Judy Duarte has written more than fifty books for Harlequin Special Edition and Kensington Publishing, earned two Rita® finals, won two Maggies and received a National Reader’s Choice Award.
When she’s not cooped up in her writing cave, she enjoys traveling with her husband and spending quality time with her grandchildren.