Every year writers in my part of the world look forward to the RWNZ conference, which is always exciting and full of opportunities to meet amazing people, to rub shoulders with big names like Tess Gerritsen and Bob Mayer, and to schmooze with agents and editors like Jessica Faust, Sue Grimshaw, Lucy Gilmour and Angela James. It's a chance to form valuable friendships - the kind of friendships that help writers stay (even moderately) sane during the year. It's also a place where A-HA moments about our writing tend to happen, and where careers can take a whole new direction. This year all of that was overshadowed by the death of Sandra Hyatt, a warm, witty romance writer, a mother and a wife. Everybody loved her. One minute she was there - having a great time - the next day she was in hospital - and not long after that, she was gone. She is mourned by many, many people. She was such a fun person to be around.