I had my best RWA xperience ever this year (and I've attended 15 or so of these annual Romance Writers of America Conventions, including one at Disneyworld, so that's saying a lot.) Here are the top 10 things that made this year so special, in no particular order.
#1. Road Trip with my BFFs.
It's really too seldom that adult woman have the equivalent of a raucous teenage slumber party, but road trips become just that with my pals and me. Thank goodness we do this. It's such a great bonding experience, even if we are threatening to smack each other by the time we get home. (Lovingly, of course.)
#2 Hanging out with my heroes!
Here I am with Superstar Brenda Jackson at the Harlequin signing where we gave away books to happy readers. Hanging out with the authors I most admire is another of the thrills of every RWA for me.
#SuperBonus: I attended a romantic suspense workshop so I could get to meet my idol, Karen Robards. After, as I gushed, she stopped me and said she had a whole shelf of my books and that she thinks I'm an amazing writer. That was my favorite moment of the entire con and was far better than winning the RITA would've been. She later emailed me a cover quote for my next book, which you'll soon see decorating my website, my Facebook page, my Twitter account, my blogs, and possibly on a bumper sticker on my car and a T-shirt I'll never take off. I left that room blubbering, and quickly emailed my daughters and agent, called my fiancé, and texted my editor, all on the way to find and inform my roomies.
#3: FREE BOOKS!
I even scored a copy of Karen Robards' latest, THE LAST VICTIM, among many others.
#4: Making new friends!
I got to meet the fabulous Gwendolyn Overland, psychologist and “Authentic Voice coach,” author, and then some, and we formed a bond I think will last forever. Wish I had got a picture of her. There's a great one at her site, though, www.expressivevoice.dynamics.com (click the About tab.) Her services are fabulous for authors, IMO. She's also an aspiring suspense writer. Since I'm an aspiring self-help writer on the side, we connected like two pieces of a puzzle. 🙂
#4-#8 RITA NIGHT
I just love RITA night, whether I'm a nominee or not. Several of my favorite things about conference pertain to RITA night, so bear with me.
#4: Getting all dressed up (embracing my inner Barbie.) Here I am with Sharon Sala in our RITA Evening Gowns. Those are real pearls around my neck. A huge strand of them, courtesy of my roomie Michele.
#5: Being treated like a queen by my editor and agent, (Tara Parsons and Eileen Fallon respectively) at a dinner at the Ritz, and even by the staff, who made us this creme brûlée as a lovely surprise. They all called us by name as we walked to and from our table. It was straight out of Pretty Woman.
#6: The elegance of the Awards ceremony itself! It always just takes my breath away and reminds me that this is a really big deal.
#7: Sitting at a reserved table with other nominees, cheering for the winners and meaning it, even the one who won in my category, and earned her extra special Hall of Fame RITA for winning 3 times in the same cat. (Kresley Cole for Shadow's Claim. Well deserved!) None of us won that night, but we had just as great a time just being together.
I just loved that we were able to have tables and desserts this year, rather than the theater seating with dessert served elsewhere, post ceremony, as we so often do.
#9: The View from My Hotel Room
I don't know what building this is. Is anyone does, leave it in comments, will you?
#10: The Ride Home, (which just so happened to coincide with National Ice Cream Day.)
Pardon my expression. I was holding the iPhone, and it's hard for me to concentrate and look nice at the same time. Go figure.
And of course the best part of all, was being enfolded in a strong, loving pair of arms upon my return.
But oh, there was so much more! I got to reunite with Maggie Mae Gallagher, to spend time with Eileen Dryer, to finally meet Joyce Lamb of USA Today's HEA Blog, to escort first timer Stacy Snyder, a girl I've known since she was eleven years old, around her first RWA, to finally meet Tara Parsons, the new executive editor of MIRA, the absolutely fabulous workshops, the half hour I spent catching up with old pal Lisa Gardner and her adorable mom, and just so so much more.
This was really a great RWA Conference for me. If you're a writer, you should really go if and when you can. If you're a reader, and RWA comes to a city near you, you must come to the Literacy Book signing on the Wednesday night of the conference week.
Before conference, I was muttering that I didn't want to go anymore. Too expensive, too long, too exhausting, too much time away from the home and hearth that are my life's blood. Afterward? I can hardly wait for next year in San Antonio!