Wednesday, July 6, 2011

East Side, West Side, All Around the Town

Last week, more than 2100 women and men - including me - gathered in New York City for Romance Writers of America's 31st Annual Conference.  It was an exhilarating, exhausting, educational, entertaining week and I loved every sleepless minute of it!  Here are a few of my highlights.

Cathy Maxwell & PJ

I arrived in NYC Monday afternoon and met up with the always delightful    Cathy Maxwell at the airport.  After what surely was a record-breaking taxi ride into the city (I'm convinced all NYC taxi drivers are training for the Nascar circuit) I checked into the hotel, unpacked and headed out with Cathy, Kim Adams (SOS Aloha) and Kathryn Anderson (Washington (DC) RWA) to have dinner at Kellari Taverna, a lovely Greek restaurant a few blocks from our hotel where the food was delicious and our waiter even more so! 

Later Monday evening Kathryn and I ventured out (via another "interesting" taxi ride - this time our driver carried on an extremely colorful shouting match with the driver of the delivery truck next to us for several blocks) to meet other romance lovers at Lady Jane's Salon at the Madame X Bar and Lounge.  The place was packed with readers and authors who had come to hear Sarah MacLean, Leanna Renee Hieber, Karen Rose, Carrie Lofty, Diana Love Snell, and Eloisa James give readings from their books. 

I was thrilled to finally meet paranormal author and fabulous tweeter extraordinaire, Keri Stevens...

catch up with friends Stephanie, Mary and Santa...

...and meet the wonderful Lisa (a Dish regular!).

I also caught up with friends from as far away as Australia and finally connected with my favorite Georgia peach, Nicki Salcedo!  If you're ever in the NYC area on the first Monday of the month, do yourself a favor
Kathryn, PJ & Nicki
and check out Lady Jane's. Founders Hope Tarr, Maya Rodale,  Leanna Renee Hieber and Ron Hogan will make sure you have a wonderful evening!

After Lady Jane's, I headed for the Atrium Bar - the best place in the Marriott to see and be seen...and take more photos!

Juliana Stone & Karina Cooper

The BonBons (as those of us who met at Eloisa James's bulletin board call ourselves) were out in force.  It was great to see so many familiar faces though we sure did miss those who weren't able to come this year (like J Perry Stone, Terri O and my fellow Dishes!)  I also caught up with Canadians Tiffany Clare and Juliana Stone, two of my favorite people to hang out with.  Juliana introduced me to Avon author Karina Cooper who is taking the romance world by storm with her new Dark Mission series.  I haven't read Karina's books yet (they made the trip home with me) but I sure am looking forward to diving into them. 

Karina Cooper & Colleen Gleason

There were many people I never saw at last week's conference but Karina and I kept running into each other everywhere we went and I'm so glad we did.  Have you ever met somebody that you instantly liked?  That's Karina.  She's smart, funny, quirky, rocks fascinators and sky-high heels with panache and I absolutely adore her.  If you're ever at a conference or booksigning where she's present, don't miss the opportunity to make her acquaintance

Caroline, Diane and Anita Mae
 After checking out the scene in the Atrium Bar, I headed back to my room around midnight then stayed up until almost 2am chatting with my roommates. I usually room with Gannon, Buffie and Andrea but, since none of them were able to go this year, I was rooming with three women I'd never met. We arrived complete strangers but after five days of sharing beds and bathrooms, I left with three good friends and memories I will cherish. Big thanks to Caroline Godin, Diane Burke and Anita Mae Draper for being great roomies and for your never-ending patience with my high-energy conference personality. They nicknamed me the "energizer bunny." I can't imagine why! ;-)

Hardworking RWA Staff kept the conference on course.
Tuesday morning brought one of my favorite conference activities: volunteering at the registration desk. Everyone has to register and many take care of it on the first morning so it's a great opportunity to meet and greet a lot of authors, bloggers and readers you might not otherwise see.  This year, I was seated next to fellow volunteer Kris Kennedy.  Two hours side by side with one of my favorite authors.  What a fabulous way to kick off the 2011 conference!

Sabrina Jeffries & PJ

Tuesday afternoon, fellow blogger Limecello (so great to finally meet her in person!) and I headed to Bricco (a local Italian restaurant) for a luncheon hosted by Sabrina Jeffries, a favorite author who just happens to be one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. 

PJ, Cail, Sheridan, Freshechelle, SuzyQ & Donna

What fun it was to not only spend time with Sabrina but also meet (some for the first time) many fellow posters from The Goddess Blogs.  A good time was had by all!

Have you ever been to a booksigning?  I'll bet you've never been to one like this year's RWA Literacy Signing!  Wow, what a crush!  New York readers turned out in droves to meet their favorite authors and buy books for literacy.  The signing was scheduled to run from 5:30 to 7:30 but at 7:00 there were still over 400 people who hadn't even made it into the room.  Many authors stayed late and Sherrilyn Kenyon (who, imo, is a Romance Rock Star) stayed until every single reader who wanted to meet her had the opportunity to do so.  I was told the next day that she was there until after 10:00pm.

Tune in Friday for more highlights and photos from RWA11, including pics from the Literacy Signing, Goddess Blogs party, Robyn Carr's readers party and the Berkley cocktail party!

The boxes I mailed home from RWA have started to arrive and we have lots of goodies to give away so let's have a contest.  Tell me how many photos you think I took during the RWA conference.  The person who guesses closest to the correct number will win two books of their choice (from the books I brought home) and swag from the conference!



  1. I love the recap. I'm going to guess you took about 80 photos.

  2. Wow, what a wonderful time everyone had. I love the pictures and I love the stories. Keep them coming. I have never been to a booksigning and will make it a goal to do so and attending the RWA Literacy Signing is one of the places I'd go.

    I would guess you took 526 pictures for the RWA conference.

  3. PJ

    Looks and sounds like you had a fantastic time maybe one day I will get to one it is one of my dreams.
    I have so loved going to the conferences and conventions that I have managed to get to here in Australia and have met Sherrilyn Kenyon and Diana Love and have to agree they are lovely Ladies.

    At a guess I would say around 1000 photos.

    Have Fun

  4. Morning Everyone!

    I had planned to recap the conference in one blog but as I was writing I realized it's just not possible. It was such a wonderful week and I have so many memories and photos to share with y'all. I have a feeling it may take three or four days to cover it all!

    Helen, I'd love to be able to attend one of your conferences someday. I love spending time with you Aussies! We sure missed Anna Campbell this year but I'm so glad I was able to spend time with Christina Brooke (Christine Wells) and Joanne Lockyer.

  5. Jane, stay tuned. There's lots more to come!

    Na, I hope you'll have the opportunity to attend a booksigning like this one day. It's quite an experience!

  6. Thanks for the great recap of the conference! I would love to go one day.
    I guess you took around 350 photos.

  7. Thanks for sharing, PJ. I love all the posts and tweets about the conference, and the photos add another dimension to the vicarious experience. I can understand why your roomies named you the Energizer Bunny. Just thinking about all you did in so short a time makes me tired. lol

    Is there one moment of this conference that you consider the most unforgettable, one that will always be your first memory when you think of RWA 2011?

  8. Thank you for the post and photos, PJ! I enjoyed reading it as well as your notes on FB. WOW! What a great time you had in NYC!

    I think you took...400 photos. ??? ;)

  9. Claudia, it's an amazingly energizing experience. I always come home completely exhausted and, at the same time, filled with creativity and ready to take on the world.

  10. Wonderful blog post, PJ! It looks like you had a great time. I can't wait to read your next post on RWA.

    I'm going to guess you took around 1200 photos. :D

    When I go somewhere really fun I always take a ton of pictures.

  11. It was so much fun to see you! I finally unpacked yesterday (we had company all weekend) & found the yummy chocolates, which I ate immediately as a reward for removing 62 pounds worth of stuff from my suitcase. Yum!Thanks so much!

  12. Janga said, Is there one moment of this conference that you consider the most unforgettable, one that will always be your first memory when you think of RWA 2011?

    Sherrilyn Kenyon's speech at the Awards Luncheon. I'd heard parts of it before when she was keynote speaker at the Moonlight & Magnolias conference in Atlanta but she went into more depth this time around. She's such an inspiration!

    You can read Sherrilyn's speech here:

  13. Thanks, Deb! Glad you enjoyed. More to come!

  14. Antonia, I had a wonderful time!

  15. Maggie, I'm so glad we got to spend more time together this year. I really enjoyed it! Watch my upcoming RWA recaps for photos of you. :)

  16. Thanks for allowing us to visit New York vicariously through your wonderful pictures. I like being able to put names with faces< both authors and fellow bloggers.

    I'm guessing around 500 pictures!

  17. Thanks for sharing your RWA memories with us, PJ! :) It was lovely to meet you at Lady Jane's-it was totally insane but a lot of fun, lol.

    But I am totally looking forward to attending the whole RWA conference next year. I'll be a completely newbie, so I'll probably be the one walking around like a lost puppy needing to be rescued, lol. But now I know all I have to do is hang around with you since you're obviously a pro, and I know you'd take pity on me right???!!! ;)

    And since you've told me how many pictures you've taken, I won't guess-not fair, lol.

  18. Looks like you had a great time! I'm going to guess that you took around 450 pictures

  19. let's see what the math works out to:

    about 5 days + events/sightseeing - seminar/meeting + parties - major fan girl moments + tons of people - having to much fun to remember to take photos + "gotta catch this moment for memory/blackmail" moments = estimated 365 pictures


  20. What fun! I will guess 250. :)

  21. Oh my! Those were some lovely photos. Thank you so much for sharing!
    I'm guessing 769 photos. What the heck.

  22. Laurie G said, I like being able to put names with faces< both authors and fellow bloggers.

    Isn't that fun? One of my favorite parts of conference is meeting the authors, bloggers and readers that I've gotten to know online. Now when I read their comments, tweets and updates at facebook, I'll have a face and voice to go with them!

  23. Lisa, you're going to have so much fun next year! Don't worry about being lost. You'll be wearing a "First Timer" ribbon on your badge which is guaranteed to have people introducing themselves to you and asking what they can do to help make your conference a positive experience. Hopefully, I'll be there to help you too! :)

  24. Maria, it was a wonderful conference!

  25. Gamistress66, I love your formula! lol!

  26. Laney, I had such a hard time choosing which photos to use. Once I have a little more time (lots going on around here this week) I'll post them all on facebook.

  27. Back to the kitchen. I had some work done while I was gone last week and now I'm putting everything back together. The contents of ten cabinets are covering the dining room floor and need to be put back into their proper "homes."

    I'll check in again during my next break!

  28. Hello,

    Fun post - looks like you had a great time in NYC and at the conference. I'm assuming there wouldn't be a guessing contest unless you took a lot of photos - although, everyone's definition of a lot differs - so I will take a shot in the dark and say 342.

  29. I'll guess you took 256 pictures. It looks like it was a great week!

    user1123 AT comcast DOT net

  30. Thanks for the recap.

    I'll guess 175 pictures.

  31. PJ, as always, your conference blog is entertaining and wonderful. The next best thing to being there, but oh, how I wished I'd been there. :-)

    I'm dying to attend Lady Jane's Salon one of these days---it seems like such a grand time.

    I'm guessing you took close to 1000 photos. Let's just call you the Energizer Bunny Photographer Extraordinaire. *g*

  32. What a great post, PJ! As always, it was so wonderful to see you at the conference. New York was fabulous and my daughter and I fell in love with the city *g*

    I'm already looking forward to next year :-)

  33. It looks like a great time. I'll guess you took 222 pictures.

  34. PJ, I love reading your blog!!! It almost feels like I was there.

    I'm giggling over your roomies calling you the Energizer Bunny!!! I have no idea where you get all your energy. It's tough to keep up with you! LOL!

    Looking forward to Friday's blog and seeing more pictures.

  35. Sounds like a wonderful time, wish I had been there. I am going to say 120 just to be different.

  36. I'm guessing 334 pictures. Hope you had time to have fun in between taking all those pictures, LOL.

  37. Wow, what a great time you must have had!

    I'm going to guess 300. You must have spent some time taking it all in, not just taking pictures.

  38. I am going to guess that you took about 450 photos. Thanks for the giveaway.

    smccar1 at hotmail dot com

  39. Great pictures, PJ! I'm enjoying your recap thus far and can't wait for Friday's blog! I'm so glad you had a great time!

  40. The photos are always fun. My guess 236.

  41. Love Love the recap, PJ! and great pictures too.

    my guess, around 650 photos ? :)

  42. Thanks for sharing some great pics with us. I think that the total of all the pics you took during the RWA, plus sighseeing, seeing various friends etc. might be around 289.

  43. PJ,
    I always felt welcome and relieved when I walk in a room and saw you. You project such warmth, which every newbie needs!
    Thank you so much.

  44. Commenting late .... love your recap! Great meeting you ... and thanks for the room!

  45. PJ it was so great to finally meet you at the luncheon and TGB party! Loved your recap and am looking forward to seeing more pics. If I had to guess, I would say about 800 photos between the camera and phone.

  46. It was wonderful meeting you, PJ. I'm so glad you took a lot of pictures because I am terrible with a camera and George is worse! Either I forget to take them entirely or I lop of everyone's heads. George is still getting used to his iphone camera so the pictures of our breakfast with Connie and Eloisa are a series of really short videos!

    We still had a blast in NYC so I am aready planning on RWS 2012 in Anaheim. One question If I ame not a writer, how do I join the RWA to be there as a participant?

    I'm going to guess you took 613 pictures; 13 is my lucky number, but I know you didn't take that few!

    Looking forward to your continuing posts from RWA.

  47. Jennifer D, you're right, I did take a lot of photos. Although, I suppose "a lot" would vary depending on your own definition. ;-)

  48. Stacie, it was a wonderful week!

    Penfield, glad you enjoyed. More photos to come!

  49. Gannon, I hope you do make it to Lady Jane's one of these days. You'd enjoy it!

  50. Beth, it was so nice seeing you and your lovely daughter. Glad to hear you both had a good time!

  51. So pleased and honored you put our Lady Jane's Salon on the roster of what was clearly an events-packed conference week.

    Hope Tarr
    Co-Founder, Lady Jane's Salon