Thursday, August 5, 2010


Attending a RWA National conference always brings to mind these lyrics from one of my favorite Girl Scout songs:  Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver, the other, gold.  There was plenty of silver and gold glittering around the Dolphin and Swan hotels at Walt Disney World last week as, everywhere I looked, old friendships were being celebrated and new friendships were being formed.  I've said it before but it bears repeating.  Never, in all my years of involvement with corporate business and other organizations, have I encountered a group that nurtures the long-lasting friendships, mentoring and mutual support that one finds within the Romance Writers of America.  It deserves celebration and that's exactly what more than 2,000 women, and a smattering of men, did last week.  Here are a few of my friendship highlights!

Here we are in our Dishy shirts and pink tiaras, celebrating at the party hosted by the awesome authors of The Goddess Blogs.   This is the first time that all four of us attended the National Conference together and it was an awesome experience. 

I've been chatting with Kasey and Kellie at the Eloisa James/Julia Quinn bulletin board for some time now so it was a thrill to finally meet them in person in Orlando.  They are charming, talented women and it was a joy to spend time with them.  Here we are on RITA night.

The Romance Bandits are a group of women who share an extraordinary bond of friendship that began in 2006 and grows stronger by the year.  When one of their own was named as a RITA finalist this year, they were genuinely happy for her and when Beth Andrews won the coveted award for her book, A Not-So-Perfect Past, the joy that overflowed from the Banditas in attendance was unmatched. 

Two of my favorite Canadians celebrate their friendship at the RITA awards.  Juliana Stone wrote one of my favorite shapeshifter paranormals of the year, His Darkest Hunger and has the next book in that series, His Darkest Embrace, coming out October 26th.  Tiffany Clare is another bon-bon from the Eloisa James/Julia Quinn bulletin board who will be celebrating the release of her debut book, The Surrender of a Lady, on September 28th.  Lots of terrific buzz on both of these upcoming books! 

Robyn Carr knows a lot about friendship.  All it takes is reading one book by this talented author, or visiting her warm and welcoming Yahoo Group or attending her RWA National luncheon to know how important friendships are to her.  While the other Dishies were at Nora's keynote luncheon, I went to Robyn's reader lunch at the Big River Grille on the Disney Boardwalk.   As always, the lunch was a great time to catch up with Robyn, some of her author friends and other readers.  It was fun to visit with people I had met at last year's lunch and meet some new people I hope to see again next year.  Robyn's lunch is one of my favorite conference events! 

One of the people I visited with at Robyn Carr's luncheon was Nancy Berland, the vivacious and savvy owner of Nancy Berland Public Relations, the firm that represents Robyn, Sabrina Jeffries, Linda Lael Miller and Debbie Macomber, among others.  Nancy's firm is celebrating their 15th anniversary this year and Nancy very graciously invited us to attend their celebratory cocktail party.  Here's a pic taken at the party of the Dishes with the fabulous Debbie Macomber. 

And here's a photo of good friends Debbie and Nancy at the Harlequin party. 

Tessa Dare and Courtney Milan are two women who know the value of friendship.  Through thick and thin, and everything in between, they exemplify all the best qualities of true friends.  Here they are on RITA night, dressed to the nines and both celebrating their first time as RITA finalists. 

You always know when two friends see each other for the first time at conference.  They spy one other across a room, or the hotel lobby, or sometimes the walkway between the Dolphin and the Swan.  There's a brief moment of silence, then the smiles start to spread - so bright and wide they could light up the entire room - there's the inevitable squeal of delight and, just like in the movies, they run into each other's arms for a huge "welcome my friend" hug.   I handed out a lot of hugs at this year's conference and, yes, I admit to a few squeals too as I welcomed old friends...and met some new ones.  Here are some of my silver and gold friendship moments. 

Dear friend and fabu author, Anna Campbell 

I'm sure everybody heard the squeals when Anna and I first spotted one another in the Dolphin lobby.  We were like two dear friends who hadn't seen each other for a whole year.  Wait!  We are two friends who hadn't seen each other since last July in DC and our greeting reflected that.  Squeals...hugs...more squeals and more hugs!  We're noisy, affectionate friends who chatter non-stop and let the joy overflow whenever we're together.  Isn't that how friends should be?   

Teresa Medeiros - one of the nicest women you'll ever meet.

You can't help but want to hug Teresa Medeiros. She's one of the nicest, kindest, most genuine people you'll ever well as being a terrific author. I came home from conference with an arc of her next release, The Devil Wears Plaid, which I read in one day. It's an exciting and romantic adventure in the Scottish Highlands and I loved it! More on that later...

Bandita, Joan Kayse- who always makes me smile.

Don't let her fool you.  Joan Kayse has a wicked wit that hides behind that sweet and caring face.  Check out her blogs at Romance Bandits for the proof.  She's a talented writer and good friend.  She's also single-handedly made my chocolate turtles world famous! *grin*
With dear friend, Keira Soleore

Keira and I have known each other a long time...since the early days of Squawk Radio and the Eloisa James bulletin board.  A kind and gentle soul, Keira is also a gifted writer and an amazing fount of historical information.  She has one of the most beautiful smiles I've ever that reflects the love and kindness of her heart and soul. 

Lisa Kleypas & Christina  Dodd - Does it get any better?

Christina Dodd and Lisa Kleypas are two people you can't help but adore.  Again, (I seem to be using this word a lot but it's true) they are genuinely kind and caring women who immediately put you at ease and make you feel as if you've known them for years. 


I first met Christine Wells and Anna Campbell in person last summer at the Washington, DC conference and felt an immediate connection to both. Seeing them again in Orlando was one of the highlights of my conference and I can't wait to do it all over again next year in New York!

Kate Carlisle

Have you read Kate Carlisle's books? She's a terrific writer who hit the NYT list with her debut book and continues to soar with each book she publishes. Yes, despite her success, she remains grounded, humble and one of the sweetest women I know.

Sis-in-law, Kitty & niece, Jenn who guest reviews for us at the Dish.

When this year's conference was moved to Orlando, I immediately contacted Kitty and Jenn and said; "Let's do this together!"  I'm so happy they were able to join us for both the Literacy Signing and RITA night.  We had a blast!

Eloisa James is an extraordinary woman.  University professor, NYT Bestselling author, world traveler and one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people you'll ever meet.  I love this photo of her taken at the Literacy Signing. So much joy!

New friend, debut author,
Lila DiPasqua

Lila DiPasqua is a new friend I had the pleasure of meeting at this year's conference.  Her debut book, Awakened by a Kiss was just released and I can't wait to read it.  I hear it's fabulous!  Lila will be here to visit with us on August 9th.

I hope you've enjoyed meeting some of my silver and gold RWA friends.  Let's do it again next year!

Tell me about your silver and gold friends.  One lucky commenter, randomly chosen, will recieve a package of goodies from the conference!




  1. Thanks for sharing your pics, PJ. I loved the Dishy shirts and tiaras. I do hope I'll get to meet the Banditas in person soon.

  2. Great to see all the pictures, PJ! And yes, RWA does foster friendships that last a lifetime. My first RWA experience was so pleasurable all due to the fact that I was with some great friends -- you, Gannon, and Andrea!!!

  3. And of course all the lovely people I got to meet for the first time and those I reacquainted with.

  4. Jane,I'm sure you'll meet many of the Banditas next year in New York if you're able to attend. They're wonderful!

  5. Loving all the pictures, PJ! It's like reliving Nationals---good times! Getting to see old friends and meet new ones, especially some of my new favorite authors, is the best part of RWA.

  6. What great pictures, PJ! I totally wish I had gotten to go to the signing this year, but FL was just too far away. One of the parts I think I missed the most was seeing so many people we only 'see' online.

    I also really missed discovering new authors. The one you suggested to me last year is on my auto buy list now!

  7. I keep repeating to myself like a mantra, some day, some day, some day, I will get to go to the conference although I would mostly like succumb to fan-girlitis at the first siting of any of "my" authors.

    I did get to meet some of the Banditas (including the GR), I have to say I was in awe and I grinned for weeks. When I arrived at the restaurant where we were meeting I was asked if I was there with the Golden Rooster and I said yes, as a matter of fact I am! What a treat to see Donna MacMeans, Joan Kayse, Nancy Northcott, and Cassondra Murray all in one place. The only thing I can remember about what I ate was Cassondra's approval of medium rare so it must have been steak..LOL

  8. Cail, I wish you could have been there too. I met a lot more "online" friends from facebook, twitter and various boards this year. We decided RWA needs to put twitter/screen names on the badges next year. I lost track of the number of times I heard; "You're pjpuppymom!" lol!

    Hope to see you in New York next summer!

    Glad the author rec worked out for you!

  9. Those pic's look great! I love the tiara one as well. ^^ I have so many silver and gold friends. ^^ I have to admit the best is my sister though. We're only 1 year and 11 days apart so we've always been close. It's just as we turned adults did get actually start a friendship. ^^


  10. I will get to go to the conference although I would mostly like succumb to fan-girlitis at the first siting of any of "my" authors.

    Believe me, Dianna, you wouldn't be alone. I even saw big-name authors having "fan-girl" moments!

    The Bandits are terrific, aren't they? I'm so glad you had the opportunity to meet some of them!

  11. We're only 1 year and 11 days apart so we've always been close. It's just as we turned adults did get actually start a friendship. ^^

    Melissa, two of my brothers are in a similar situation. They're 16 months apart. As kids, they weren't all that close but, as adults, they've become the best of friends.

  12. PJ, FABULOUS blog!! and thank you for sharing experiences and photo's :D I can't get enough!

  13. Thanks, Okie! I'm glad you're enjoying!

  14. These pictures and blog postings have been great. I must ask though, does a member of your group take the pictures or do you constantly flag down strangers to take the shot? LOL

    I bet social networking has really helped you stay in touch with long-distance friends.

    My sister has always been my best friend. We're close in age and are fortunate to always have gotten along.

  15. Penfield, I take a lot of photos which is why I don't appear in many of them. Over the past couple years I've gotten better at asking people to take the pics so I can be in more of them. The photos from this conference, that I'm in, were taken by the other dishes, author friends, my family and total strangers. Turns out it's a great way to meet people! :)

  16. PJ, I loved this post! I had fun reading about your thrilling time at RWA and seeing all the lovely photos.

    Hmmm, Silver and Gold friends (BTW, I teach that song to my students!): Definitely at the top of the list in first place 3-way tie are my two sisters and my mother. My friend Kate and my new friend Shari who has helped me tons with a lot of things including watching my Shary at the drop of a hat.

  17. Penfield said; My sister has always been my best friend. We're close in age and are fortunate to always have gotten along.

    How fortunate you are! I have four younger brothers and I love them dearly but I always missed having a sister to do all the "girly" stuff with.

  18. Great blog and fabulous pics, PJ! I love that RWA seems to be a big annual reunion, lol. Again, fingers crossed that I get to join in all the fun next year! The list of authors I'd want to meet would be so long, I may have to make RWA an annual thing to meet everyone. ;)

    As for friendships, I don't know if it's just me, but I tend to see friendships in degrees. There are many people whom I'm friendly with, but they're more like acquaintances. My close friends, the ones I've known for years and are almost like sisters to me, really trust, and can tell anything to, is a much smaller group.

    I think this quote from Diane Farr in her book The Girl Code kinda sums it up: "The only thing you really need to get through anything in life is girlfriends-value them accordingly."

  19. Thanks, Deb! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. How fun that you teach that song to your students. There are good lessons in the lyrics!

    It sounds like you have a wonderful circle of silver and gold friends. That you treasure them is clear.

  20. Buffie, I'm so glad you enjoyed your first national conference experience. I'm looking forward to sharing many more with you!

  21. "The only thing you really need to get through anything in life is girlfriends-value them accordingly."

    Lisa, what a wonderful quote! It really sums it up, doesn't it?

    Like you, I have different circles of friends. Some are casual acquaintances that I only see occasionally while others are the long-time, tested by fire friends to whom I can tell anything. That circle is much smaller but, surprisingly, some of the people in it are ones I've met online. How amazing that some of my dearest friends are those who live on the other side of the world.

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  23. It's terrific to see all your pictures, PJ. They are the next best thing to having been at the conference. I remember singing that song too-eons ago. :)

    One of the wonderful things about friendship is that the silver has a way of turning into gold and there's always more silver to discover. Some of my golden friendships are almost life-long--my younger sister and a few friends that I bonded with in schools (from kindergarten to grad school); others are online friends that I met through Squawk Radio and Eloisa James's earlier bulletin boards. They all--or rather you all--bless my life immeasurably.

  24. PJ, I read this article with a smile on my face the whole time. It touched my heart to see all the wonderful friendships.

  25. Wonderful post! I adored seeing all the pics. So nice of you to share the fun. :)

    Never been to a conference, but I look forward to meeting all the awesome people I've grown fond of via blogs and FB. I can't wait!

    LOL I would definitely be a swooner when it came to seeing some of my fav authors. I'd just wilt like a silver screen actress. *wink wink*

    Fun site, glad I found you gals!

  26. Love the pics and LOVED meeting you ladies. You're all fabulous. Seriously! Let's do it again next year. ;)

  27. Wonderful pics. Looks like you had so much fun. Makes me want to be there. Hopefully, some day.
    My golden friends are my mom and sis. They are two people I can share anything with including books.

  28. OMGosh. I'm humbled and deeply touched. Thank you, PJ for that paean.

    PJ, lots of friendships came out of Squawk and EJJQ, and one of the best was you. You've always been incredibly kind to me, and there's not a single person whom I know and who has met you who doesn't think likewise.

    This conference I saw a very different side of you that has made me truly admire you: your business acumen and your networking ability.

    You and all the Romance Dishes have made yourselves into a large presence in the romance world of reviews in such a short time. As friends and business women, my hats off to you four.

  29. Aw PJ, the feeling is mutual! I looked for you my other Romance Dish friends every chance I got because it made me enjoy the conference more just to see your smiling faces. You guys are truly one of the best things to have come out of my experience with Squawk Radio. Smoochies! :)

  30. It was wonderful to meet you PJ and Gannon! Kasey and I were tickled pink to see the photo of us on your blog. We had an amazing time in Orlando, and such fun keeping in touch now with all the wonderful people we met. Thanks for sharing all these pictures.

  31. PJ, I just love this post! There's so much warmth and friendship in your pictures and descriptions.

    I'm beyond grateful for my conference friends. After Nora's wonderful keynote address, my roommates and I laughed and hugged imagining what we'd be like thirty years from now. We have so much fun together. They are two inspirational romance authors and an erotic romance author -- and I write sexy historicals -- and we're perfectly matched! :) Other old friends I cherish seeing each year, and last week I met some lovely silvers. (Now I'm feeling weepy with happiness. Must dry my eyes and go write for a bit!)

    So fun seeing you ladies at the Lair today. Thanks so much for stopping by! :)

  32. Janga said; One of the wonderful things about friendship is that the silver has a way of turning into gold and there's always more silver to discover.


    Janga, I love that you have enduring friendships that began in your childhood. What a rich and wonderful heritage you all share.

  33. CherylC said; PJ, I read this article with a smile on my face the whole time. It touched my heart to see all the wonderful friendships.

    That's how I felt last week as I observed all the wonderful bonds of friendship at the conference. I don't think I stopped smiling the whole week.

  34. Sarah, I hope you'll have the opportunity to meet those online friends and authors one of these days.

    Thanks so much for finding us. We're happy you're here!

  35. Beverley, I already felt as if I knew you from The Season but meeting you in person was one of the highlights of my conference.

  36. runner 10 said; My golden friends are my mom and sis. They are two people I can share anything with including books.

    How fun that you can share your love of books with two people who are so important to you. My sis-in-law, niece and I are like that. I was thrilled that they were able to join me in Orlando last week!

  37. Keira, thank you for your kind words. I'm truly blessed by all of the friendships that originated at Squawk Radio and the original EJ bulletin board. They have stood the test of time and grow stronger each year. And who knew way back when that so much talent would emerge from that circle of women!

  38. Thank you, Teresa. Christina (Dodd) and I were talking about Squawk Radio at the conference. How could I have known, when I got Christina's email telling me about her new multi-author blog, that it would lead me to so many wonderful new friends?

  39. Hi Katharine! Thanks for stopping by. It was such a delight meeting you at the RWA signings. I'm reading your debut, Swept Away by a Kiss right now and thoroughly enjoying it.

    Everybody, Katharine is the special guest over at Romance Bandits today. Stop by and say hello!

  40. What a fun column. My sister and my mom (who live out of state, so I don't see nearly enough of them) are my silver and gold friends, along with my next-door neighbor, friends from high school (looooong time ago) and friends from my church community.

  41. Thanks so much for taking so many pictures while we were there, PJ! I really enjoyed rooming with you, Gannon, and Buffie. We had SO MUCH FUN!!! Can't wait to do it again!

  42. PJ

    Thank you so much for the photos and what fantastic post true friends are like pockets everyone needs them.

    After going to my first romance readers conference here in Australia in Feb 09 I met so many wonderful authors and made so many many wonderful friends I am now on the EC for The Australian Romance Readers Assoc and am loving it. This coming weekend the Australian Romance Writers are having their conference at the wonderful Crown Plaza at Coogee on the beach in Sydney and I will be there ARRA in conjunction with RWAus have organized a book singing event on the Friday and I will be attending the awards dinner on the Saturday night and I am soo excited.
    I will be meeting up with old friends and I will be making lots of new ones as well whoo hoo

    Have Fun

  43. Oh Helen, I know you are going to have a wonderful time at the conference!

    Please tell Nalini that her American stalker, er, friend says hi!! :P

  44. My mom and grandmother (who has passed) are my Silver & Gold friends. Unconditional love personified. I always thought that everyone's mom & gram are like that. Wrong. I am so blessed. I am tearing up just typing this!

    I do have great BFFs that are not blood whom I adore. Friendships like these should be worn like jewels.

    Thank you for this post!

  45. Great post! Love the pictures, too!

    As for my friends, they are scattered throughout the country. We don't get to see each other that often especially since there are hubbies and kids considerations. I don't live anywhere near my high school friends and I'm about 50 miles from the nearest college friend.

    I do have many friends who live a lot closer to me (in the same county even). I know I can rely on many of them if I were in need. I also have a couple of cousins relatively nearby, within an hour's drive anyway.

  46. Wow, PJ....I am humbled and so touched! You are one of my main peeps, no doubt and I um, did just savor the last turtle today. Hmmmm...

    Mine! Mine! It was all mine! Bwhahahahaa....


    As to wicked, only a little around the edges. I mean I TOTALLY refrained from analogy on Kate's blog about staying cool in Orlando and the mention of nut covered frozen bananas. I did. Really :-)

    Hope all ya'll are coming to M&M as Lisa and I are going!


  47. PJ, your photos are fabulous, as always! I remember that song from Girl Scouts.

    One nice thing about silver friends is that if you keep them around (or they keep you around) long enough, they become gold.

  48. As most military wives (husbands) discover, when you marry a military man (or woman) you become part of a large sisterhood. Even without knowing one another well, you understand each other and are there to help when it is needed. Our old unit meets every 2 years and it seems like only yesterday we were chasing our toddlers around the yard. We are retirees now, but the relationships are the same.
    My friends I grew up with, I see only every year or so. With my best friend, we sort of pick up where we left off.
    For those Gold and Silver Friends, time has changed us and our circumstances, but the friendships have remained the same.

  49. What great pictures, PJ!

    You are always one of my favourite people to run into at conference!

    It was a great conference. I had a lot of fun and can't wait for the next one! See all you lovely Romance Dish ladies next year in NY!

  50. Hey PJ! What a fabulous post! I was running around like a crquazy woman yesterday and didn't get over here. When I did, and read your post, it was quite a moment. I love conference for just what you mentioned..those "OH! SO good to see you!" moments. Great friends (the WRW gals), people I've met on line and on blogs (and Keira's just all out gorgeous, isn't she?), fascinating editors and agents, and true sisters of the heart, like the Romance Bandits. Grins. To meet so many of the Bandita Buddies - and I'm still pouting Dianna about not getting to meet YOU - is a tremendous highlight. And no matter how many books I write and sell, no matter how many times I may hit the lists or do something spectacualar (may that be many times!), I'll still be the biggest fan-girl-evah when it comes to Nora, Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love, Jo Beverly, Maggie Shayne...the list could go on forever. :> There's just that "Squeeeee!" moment...heehehee.

    Now too, I have all of you at the Dish to look forward to jumping up and down and hugging, next year in NY. Grins.

  51. Joanie T, I'm going to beg to differ with you. A little wicked around the EDGES?

    Harrrrupf! Two words: Creme Brulee. (And here you thought I was going to say prairie dogs) Three more: chocolate chip cookies...

    Yeah, you're plenty wicked. And PJ, you're so right about that sharp wit. Zing!

  52. Wow, PJ, I got really teary reading your post. So many people I love to see and you're all SOOOO far away. You know how I adore catching up with you - so glad we managed a bit of sensible conversation amongst the madness. Well, as sensible as we ever get! Gannon, lovely to see you again and, Buffie and Andrea, it was an absolute delight to meet you both.

    PJ, seriously, that's a gorgeous post and thank you for including me as one of your gold friends. You're absolutely one of mine!!!! Hugs!!!



  53. Silver and gold friends: grade school classmate Paula
    High school Paula, Debbie, and Ellen
    College Marybeth and Cherie, Neighbors, Gladys, Carol, Angie and Shirley!!

    As you mature it's nice to keep in touch with people that you've known through out your life.

  54. my grand father love him such a sweet person who lives in atiohter country