I’m finally catching up from my 2-week traveling stint in July, which is why today’s blog is covering Old News. But it’s a list (I heart lists) and it’s got pics, so it shouldn’t take up much of anyone’s time (except mine, because uploading pictures slows me down).
So…RWA 2013…summarized in 10 pics:
1. Traveling with these girls (Tasha on the left, Emily on the right). We drove hours (upon hours) together to Georgia, had adventures at every stop (and in between), laughed more than is legal, talked, plotted, drank, ate, stayed in the same room, and drove back to the Midwest even better friends than when we started. (And with 3 women, that is saying something. )
2. Literacy Signing. 450 authors. Hundreds of readers. It’s overwhelming and insane and a privilege to be a part of it. This year, we raised over $52,000 for literacy organizations. (This shows only HALF of the event. Behind me are all the authors from A-K and another gazillion readers.)
3. The speeches. Cathy Maxwell was the keynote (pictured below) and Kristan Higgins spoke at the awards luncheon. Cathy did amazing. She brought tears to our eyes and left us with the call to go kick ass with our writing careers, and while that may sound cheesy here, she was inspiring and touching. Kristan had a tough act to follow, and you know what? She followed it and so much more. She gave the hands-down best speech I’ve heard in all the conferences I’ve been to in 9 years. The main message was about how stories, even our “commercial,” often-snubbed-in-the-literary-world romances (actually ESPECIALLY ours) can make all the difference to a reader who is reading to escape some awful situation. Kristan had every one of the 2000 people in the audience in tears (damn her). I know this because when I went to a workshop by screen-writing guru Michael Hauge right after it, he apologized in advance because he was all emotional from Kristan making HIM cry.
4. Workshops. I went to a lot and yet missed so many that I really wanted to go to, due to scheduling conflicts. This year’s assortment was the best I’ve seen yet, due, in part, to the fabulous self-publishing track, which, from what I experienced, was standing-room only. (Below are Kristan Higgins, Robyn Carr, and Jill Shalvis, doing a chat on writing contemporary romance.)
5. Thursday night. Dinner with fellow writer Jeannie Watt and Victoria Curran, my former editor. We always have fun, but this year was particularly so. We went to Wisteria for some excellent food with a hint of Southern style in it. Afterwards, we crashed the Annual Harlequin Pajama party and hooked up with debut author Rula Sinara (left) and Jamie, Jeannie’s daughter (middle), shown below.
6. Harlequin Signing. Every big publisher has a signing at the conference, and because Harlequin has so many authors, they can only invite a fraction of them to participate. I was honored to be invited to be part of this year’s signing. The fun thing about it is that all the books at the publisher signings are given away for FREE, so they are a madhouse. It’s excellent for meeting loyal readers as well as brand new ones. Below is a new reader, Pamela Bell English, who was so sweet and enthusiastic.
7. The queen. One of the fun parts of going to conference is “Nora sightings,” (in the elevator, the bar, the hallways, etc.) Nora Roberts was one of the trail blazers for our genre and she is 100% inspiring, from her work ethic to her fantabulous stories to her shoe wardrobe. She always has a big line at every signing, and this year, Emily and I braved the line and got our picture taken with her. And yes, I was purposely touching her, hoping some of her awesomeness would rub off on me.
8. Harlequin party. Every year, Friday night means the Harlequin party, a private affair at the Ritz, just for Harlequin authors. The dance floor is always full of women (and the random male or two) decked out in their finest, from the minute the Harlequin Rah-Rah business part is over until the hotel forces us to leave at midnight (or after). Here’s the dance floor early on. It only got more crowded.
9. Rita night. Saturday night is the culmination of the conference, the evening-attire awards ceremony for the Rita and Golden Heart awards (best published romances and best romance manuscripts of the year). It’s a perfect excuse to wear some kick-ass shoes and a pretty dress.
10. Home sweet home. It’s always awesome to get home. This year, I was apparently missed by the boy cats the most, if that can be judged by being ALL OVER my stuff from the get-go.
That’s it for this week’s Old News. Next week, I’ll see if I can summarize our California vacation in 10 photos…also Old News.