This is by no means a comprehensive list, but I wanted to share a few of the things I especially like about the RWA Conference:
1. They offer a lovely Continental breakfast where you can walk in, sit down, and make new writing friends. This is my fourth conference since I started writing (five years ago) and I've begun many good friendships over plates of fruit and croissants. (I'm giving this hotel a big thumbs-up for putting two or three insulated pots of coffee on each table.)
2. With somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 workshops being offered each day, there truly is something here for everyone. The RWA Conference is like Disney World for romance writers—you can't possibly do everything, so you just strike out and enjoy whatever you find.
3. Every conference participant receives a big spiral-bound book containing all of the hand-outs for all of the workshops. If you miss a good workshop, just check your Handouts book. It's entirely possible that you'll find a large portion of the information presented in the workshop right there.
4. Free books, free books, free books. As many as you can carry home. I think I've already got more than I'll be able to stuff into my suitcases, but I imagine I'll pick up more at today's luncheon—they usually put two books on each chair. (Susan Elizabeth Phillips is speaking at today's luncheon, by the way. I'm looking forward to hearing her.) At registration we get a bag of books, and there are usually books available in the Goody Room. Yesterday I picked up two books from authors who had staged an impromptu signing just outside the breakfast room. And there are always the publishers' giveaways. A quick glance at the schedule shows that yesterday, publishers Ballantine/Ivy, Berkley, Avon, and Pocket gave away free books signed by their authors. Today, books will be signed and passed out by authors from Bantam, St. Martin's Press, NAL, and Warner. (I won't be in any of those lines. As I said, I have more than plenty of books already.)
5. Something new this year: a lounge for the published authors. We can enjoy a cup of coffee or a soft drink in a quiet room while chatting with friends, editors, or agents. Kudos to whomever came up with that idea.