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Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Happiest Place on Earth

Lisa and Tessa Dare
To many people, the happiest place on earth is Disney World or Disneyland. However, if you pose that quesion to romance authors, readers, publishers, and more, that place also includes RWA's annual conference. This year, both places were together! Sadly, PJ and I were unable to attend the conference in Anaheim...or so we thought. While we weren't physically there, we were able to enjoy the experience vicariously through one of our regular visitors, the lovely Lisa. This was Lisa's first RWA conference and she was sweet enough to share it with us through a series of animated texts. Boy, did we enjoy it! Please welcome her as she nows shares her experience with all of us! Welcome to the spotlight, Lisa!



 
My first time at RWA was such an amazing experience! I met so many lovely kind talented women, saw/met some of my favorite authors in person, bought/picked up way too many books, and learned so much from the workshops.

I flew to LAX Tuesday and arrived there early afternoon local time. I have to say, even though it was only a three hour time difference, it really threw me for a loop. But I managed to arrive at the Marriott safe and sound, check in, and meet my roommate Isobel Carr. As I was so tired and loopy, the rest of the day was a bit of a blur, but I do remember going out to dinner, and just sitting in the hotel lobby meeting and talking with folks, including Miranda Neville, Sarah MacLean, Heather Snow, Erin Knightley, and many others. And yes, Nalini Singh walked by me at one point and I nearly had a meltdown and I believe SEP was about 10 feet away from me at one point too. Lol

Waiting to get into the Literacy signing
The next day I slept in late to recovery from the jetlag and ended up meeting some friends to go out for lunch. We had a great time hanging out and having fun before we got to the Anaheim Convention Center to wait in line to attend the Literacy Signing. I had already told myself since it all went to charity, I didn’t have to feel guilty about splurging on books. ;) My friends and I definitely had fun waiting in line and spotting authors as they came walking into the signing. One of our favorites, Tessa Dare, saw us and came over to chat and give us some swag before she went in. Last year at the signings, there were some technical issues and there was a long line and wait to actually get into the ballroom where the signing took place. This year, we got in in a matter of minutes, which was great.

Inside the signing
I confess I did go nuts at the signing. For those of you who’ve never went to one before, the experience is quite intense and surreal. Imagine a huge ballroom full of hundreds of romance authors and readers in one place. It was definitely fun, but a bit overwhelming at the same time. Another wrinkle this year is that normally, besides the big name authors (Nora, Julia Quinn, JAK, SEP, Christina Dodd, etc), all of the other authors are seated alphabetically. This year, RWA decided to do something different, so it made it a bit more difficult to find the authors you wanted books from. They did provide a map but I promptly lost it, which is typical of me. ::Sigh::  .  I was lucky that for the most part, I was able to find and touch base with all the authors I wanted to see that night-Tessa, Julie James, Maya Rodale, Sarah MacLean, Courtney Milan, Miranda Neville, Stefanie Sloan, Jo Bourne, Jill Shalvis (thank you Andrea for getting me hooked on the Lucky Harbor series, lol), etc . I attempted to meet La Nora, but the line was ridiculously long, and I thought that since I’d have the opportunity to meet her and get a book from her at the Berkeley publisher’s signing, I could wait to meet her later and give the non-conference attendee readers a chance to get books from her. 


After the signing, Tessa was generous enough to invite us to go out to dinner, and Regency author Sara Lindsey joined us. It was a lovely evening and we all had a great time. And when they found out my birthday was the Sunday before, they all insisted on having cake, candles, the song, and the whole bit. It was an amazing birthday celebration and I couldn’t have asked for better people to share it with. But part of me is still in disbelief that Tessa Dare and Sara wished me a happy birthday!! GAH! Lol A conference highlight for sure.

Lauren Willig, Lisa, Sarah MacLean
Thursday was the first full-fledged day of Conference for me and I attended lots of great workshops including Romance 101, a basic nuts and bolts workshop on how the romance publishing industry works,  Sarah MacLean and Lauren Willig’s workshop on how to create memorable heroes and heroines, and the spoken and unspoken “rules” of romance publishing with Avon editors Lucia Macro, Esi Sogah and author Wendy Corsi Staub. (Hint to all writers-do NOT kill the puppy!)  Then it was off to the Keynote Luncheon, where Stephanie Laurens gave a very insightful speech about the publishing industry, all the changes that have been happening, and how it affects writers. I thought her message was very profound and inspiring-at the end of the day, despite all the changes and challenges that come with publishing, our job as writers is to write stories that connect and resonate with readers and we mustn’t lose sight of that. If we’ve done our job, the rest will fall into place, no matter what changes and challenges come our way.
After that I went to Julie James and Beth Kery’s workshop on writing contemporary romances, which was immensely helpful to me as that was what I’m currently writing.  I picked up lots of great advice and tips from their workshop.  What made it extra fun was that I got to spend some extra time with Maya Rodale who attended the workshop with me and was my seatmate at the luncheon. J

Lisa and Carey Baldwin
Thursday night/evening would turn into one of the top highlights of RWA for me as I had the incredible opportunity to go out and have dinner with Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan, and Carey Baldwin, all of whom are lovely talented and generous women. The chance to spend some one on one time with them was incredible and I’ll never forget it! After dinner, the ladies of The Ballroom Blog (Lauren Willig, Kate Noble, Miranda Neville, Sabrina Darby, Sarah MacLean, and Tessa) had a get together at the bar, and I had the chance to talk with some of the regular guests and the authoresses which was a real thrill. And Tessa was also kind and generous enough to sign her backlist for me so now my entire Tessa Dare collection is autographed. Yay! J  Thank you Tessa! She really is one of the nicest sweetest people you’ll ever me, and an amazing writer to boot.

Julia Quinn and Lisa
Friday morning started bright and early for me as I had breakfast with Golden Heart finalist Wendy LaCapra, who writes Regency historicals. Then it was off to the Avon/Harlequin publishers’ signings. (I know, I probably should have gone to the workshops but the allure of free books was too much, lol) and I was able to attend the spotlight on St. Martin’s Press. It was really valuable to hear directly from SMP editors what their process is like, what they look for in queries and submissions because they were all a little different. In the meantime I got to meet and have a chance to chat with Sophia Nash, Anna Randol, Delilah Marvelle, Victoria Dahl, Michelle Willingham I also got a chance to get a picture taken with Julia Quinn which was a total OMG moment. J  

I met up with Sara Lindsey for the Awards luncheon, where Robyn Carr gave a wonderful speech. She talked about her long publishing career and what it meant to be a “success” as she’s been writing for decades but only hit the best-seller lists a few years ago. She was so warm and funny and I loved the message of her speech too, to not get caught up in the rat race, what success truly means, and to never lose our joy and enjoyment of writing, which was why we all got into the business to begin with! The quote from her speech that has stayed with me is this “Success is not measured by fame or fortune or power. Success is measured in moments of satisfaction.” Powerful, right??  I also got a chance to meet YA author Marni Bates during the Awards Luncheon which was a wonderful treat. She, Sara, and I ended up lingering and chatting long after the luncheon was over! After that there were more signings and workshops. And yes, I attended one entitled “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Writing Sex Scenes but Were Afraid to Ask.” It was interesting to say the least, lol.

Julie James and Lisa
After workshops were over, I was able to meet Julie James for a drink. I had screwed up my courage earlier to ask if she’d like to get together and she was nice enough to say yes! J She and I spent some time out by the patio and hotel pool. It was definitely another conference highlight for me. Julie is smart, kind, and extremely talented author. I felt very lucky to have gotten the chance to spend some one on one time with her!

Friday night I decided to take it easy and gave myself some r&r and downtime. I had been basically going non-stop since I arrived Tuesday afternoon and definitely needed some time to myself! I know I probably could have went downstairs to meet and network some more, but I felt I needed the rest.

La Nora and Lisa
Saturday morning started bright and early with the Berkeley signings where I got to finally meet LA NORA! I can’t tell you all how nerve-wracking it is to be up close and personal with a legend like Nora. I nearly hyperventilated, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I did my best to eek out a few coherent sentences when I finally came up to her at the table, and as is her wont, Nora was absolutely gracious and thanked me. She signed my book and took a photo with me, and I was on my way. I then sped over to chat with Julie James again for a bit, and then it was time for me to go to the workshop The Ballroom Blog authoresses were presenting after a quick dash over to the Ballantine signing where I got a chance to spend a few minutes with Stefanie Sloane and Kate Noble. I had promised I’d attend and speak up so I did. The Ballroom authoresses did a great job of explaining how they put their blog together, how they make it work, and how they use it as a platform to reach out and interact with readers. And yes, they gave me a shout-out when I raised my hand to comment which was incredibly kind and generous of them. After that, I grabbed lunch with a friend over at the Hilton, and it was back to the Marriott for more signings and workshops.  The last workshop of the day I attended was Make It Work! Getting Your Novel Down the Runway with Miranda Neville, Heather Snow, Deb Marlowe, and Michelle Marcos. They had great career tips and dos on how to deal with reviews good and bad, book sales,  promoting, how not to compare yourself with others and that ultimately, it’s about doing your best, improving, and building and increasing your reader base. It was really informative and I got a lot out of it.

Lisa and Courtney Milan
Tessa with her RITA and Lisa
After that it was time to grab something to eat and get ready for the RITAs! I would also have to pack since the shuttle for the airport was leaving at 7:30 am the next day. I won’t bore you with the details of that, but I will say that everyone was gorgeous and looking their best when I made it to the ballroom. The RITA Ceremony was lots of fun, and emcee Victoria Alexander did a great job. I was so excited for all of the winners but none more so than when Tessa won for A Night to Surrender! I was so excited and thrilled for her! I was lucky enough to be able to find her after the ceremony and congratulate her in person. A Night to Surrender was a wonderful book and a well-deserved win for Tessa. I couldn’t imagine a better way to end RWA!

I did end waking up at the crack of dawn (not really but it sure felt like it, lol) the next day, checked out, got on the shuttle, and made my way to LAX and home.

My first RWA experience was so phenomenal and I want to thank everyone who helped make it so special, including Andrea and PJ who were there in spirit cheering me on and were there for me every step of the way. Thanks so much ladies! I can’t wait for next year’s conference in Atlanta!

Andrea here: I can't wait until next year, too, Lisa!! Dear Readers, Lisa got to meet a lot of great authors including THE Nora Roberts! Have you ever been to a book signing? If so, who did you meet? If not, who would you love to meet? Tell us and one lucky commenter will win a book and some swag from my prize stash!

52 comments:

  1. Congrats, so Jealoes, how fun, love to meet, lesliebklelly, Jill salvias, Vicki Thompson
    Kimh

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    1. I haven't met Leslie Kelly or Jill Shalvis but I've had the pleasure of meeting Vicki Lewis Thompson on several occasions and she's an absolute sweetheart. I hope you have the opportunity to meet her one of these days!

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  2. Thanks for sharing your pics and experience at RWA, Lisa. I've never been a conference of book signing. I would love to go to one someday and meet Lisa Marie Rice and Pamela Clare.

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    1. I hope you make it to a signing one of these days, Jane. They really are so much fun!

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  3. Wow, you've met some awesome writers. I would love to meet Sarah Maclean & Julia Quinn. Always wanted to tell them how much I enjoyed their books.

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    1. I'm a fan of their books too. I hope you get the chance to tell them in person one of these days.

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  4. Did you have fun!! I have never been, but would love to. Love Julie James and Jill Shalvis. I always send messages to authors I like, but to actually meet one would be unreal. Thanks for sharing your pictures with us.

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    1. Julie James is one of the sweetest people around. I hope you get a chance to meet her one of these days!

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  5. I was so disappointed that I wasn't able to attend this year's conference. Thanks, Lisa for making me feel like I was there, even though I was really on the other side of the country! :)

    I've been fortunate to meet most of my favorite authors over the years. A new author I'm looking forward to meeting in person is Heather Snow. I'm hoping I'll be able to do that next year in Atlanta!

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  6. No, I've never been to a book signing but if I was ever lucky enough to attend RWA conference, I'd love to meet Julia Quinn and Stephanie Laurens...two of my top ten favorites!

    I recently discovered a group meeting monthly in a restaurant in a town nearby. The group is called Lady Jane's Salon and they have 3 different authors reading from their books. Several of the authors from the surrounding area attend so it's a great chance to meet more of my favorites!

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    1. Lady Jane's Salon is wonderful, isn't it? I've been to the original in New York City and it was so much fun. You have a great group of authors in your area!

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  7. I've never been to a convention, and the only book signing was at our local elementary school when Robert Munsch was reading his book to the kids. (He was wonderful.)
    Since blogging in 2009, I have "met" a lot of writers online and would love to "meet" them all in person. Alas, that is not possible. The one person I had at the top of my list is no longer: Sandra Hyatt. She passed away last year, just when her career was taking off. I was fortunate to "talk with her" online in blogs and emails several times, and always enjoyed her sense of humor and "take on life". I still miss her very much.

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    1. Sandra Hyatt's death was a huge loss to the romance reading community and to those people who were her friends, both in person and online. Some of my closest friendships are with people I've "met" online and have yet to meet in person. This internet world is a wonderful thing!

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  8. Lisa, I'm so glad you had such fun!! Wow, all those authors in one place; hard to imagine!

    I have been to a couple of book signings. My indie bookstore used to have a fall brunch and invited Midwest authors to speak. Cindy Gerard, who actually only lives about 10 miles from me, was the featured guest once. But, I have also met her while at the bookstore because she is always popping in there to talk to the owners Bobby and Donna. (Basically Books, Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

    I also went to a luncheon 3 years ago to hear Julia Quinn speak and for a Q & A session. Since I love her books, I was thrilled!

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    1. Andrea and I are looking forward to seeing Julia Quinn this October. She's the keynote speaker at Georgia Romance Writers' Moonlight and Magnolias Conference in Atlanta.

      How cool that you routinely run into a RITA winning, New York Times bestselling author at your local bookstore!

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  9. Andrea and PJ,
    Thank you for letting me guest blog here at The Dish and for sharing my RWA adventures with you both and other Dish guests and regulars!

    I really did have a blast and you two endured my squeeing and fangirling texts with grace and aplomb, which was, by me, appreciated. :)

    While I got a chance to meet so many of my favorite authors and new authors/friends at RWA, an author I'd still love to meet is Lisa Kleypas. Hope she'll be there next year. *fingerscrossed*

    I can't wait to get together with you both next year! :) *hugs*

    Karen H-Lady Janes's Salon is wonderful, isn't it?? :) I've been to the original in NYC and always have a fantastic time. I love going every chance I get!

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    1. Lisa, I really hope Lisa Kleypas will be in Atlanta, too!!

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  10. Lisa! What great pics and what a great narrative! Thanks for sharing. I haven't been to a convention yet, but I hope next year I can go. *fingers crossed*

    And good to "see" you again, even if it's just in pics. :)

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    1. Hi, Marnee! If you go next year, you'll have to find us! :)

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  11. I went and saw Elizabeth Boyle, Julia Quinn, Pamela Palmer and Rachel Gibson when they came to a town close to me. Went to see Rachel Ray as well once. Oh, and Jude Deveraux. I would LOVE to see Eloisa James.....I want to meet them all

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    1. Hi, regencygirl! I'm jealous that you've met Elizabeth Boyle. She is an author I'd love to meet. :)

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  12. Thanks for sharing your RWA conference experience with us, Lisa. How many great authors you met! Maybe I'll see you in Atlanta.

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    1. Janga, I hope you'll plan to come to Atlanta. I'd love to meet you!

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  13. Lisa has photos posted with a few that are high on my list--Julia Quinn, Julie James, Nora Roberts, Tessa Dare. What a wonderful trip! Thanks for the post, Lisa.

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    1. I hope you get to meet them one day, LSUReader!

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  14. I was suppose to go to the one in Pittsburgh a few years back but my sister canceled out on me at the very last minute and she was half of the transportatiion (sigh). I would like to meet everyone but just a few would be Kathryne Kennedy (my new found favorite author) and Jill Shalvis who has such a zanny sense of humor and the Romance Bandits and Jaunty Quills and, and and lol.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear your trip was canceled, catslady. I hope you're eventually able to make a signing close to you!

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  15. I wish I could have attended RWA and hoepfully will one day. Imagine all my favorite and soon to be favorite authors in one room, so fun! I'd love to meet Nora Roberts, Lisa Kleypas, Linda Howard, Sandra Brown, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and so much more.

    I'm glad you were able to touch base with most of the authors you wanted to meet. That's a day well-spent :)

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    1. Na, the literacy signing is so unbelievable. I really hope you're able to go to one some day!

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  16. No, I've never been to a book signing. I'd love to meet Stephanie Laurens, Lisa Kleypas, Tessa Dare, Eloisa James, or Madeline Hunter! Except I'd probably be to tongue tied to say anything to these amazing authors!

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    1. LOL! I was tongue-tied at my first signing and I still get that way after all the signings I've been to. ;-)

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  17. I'd like to attend an author signing someday. However, my list would be a long one: Judith McNaught, Sherry Thomas, Julie James, Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, SEP and many more.

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  18. Great pictures, Lisa! Thank you so much for sharing. I've been to RWA twice, and a few other conferences and books signings. It's always a thrill to meet my favorite authors and an even bigger pleasure to discover what lovely, down-to-earth people they are. :-)

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    1. You've got that right, Gannon. Most are just as excited about meeting readers as readers are about meeting them!

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  19. Thanks for a great post! I'm so jealous!!! I would love to got to a signing and RWA is on my bucket list :)

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    1. That's a great goal to have on your bucket list, Erin! I hope you're able to check it off one day.

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  20. Great blog, Lisa! Brings backs memories of the conference I attended (Orlando). It is always so much fun meeting authors and seeing that they are "real" people too -- LOL!

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    1. Ah, memories of Orlando make me smile. :-)

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  21. It just sounds so wonderful!! I've never met any of my fave authors in person!! So cool and I'm so appreciative of your sharing!

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  22. I've been lucky enough to attend the RT book signing when it was in Orlando, and then the RWA Literacy signing the next year when it was moved to Orlando. This year I timed my vacation to Florida to visit my sister so that we could go the the RWA Literacy signing together. We had a ball. One of the highlights for me was meeting Jennifer Estep, Tessa Dare and Nora Roberts. We also attended a party before the signing that was given by Sabrina Jeffries, that was a blast too.

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  23. I haven't been to any book signings. J.K. Rowling would be someone I want to meet... Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Julie Anne Long all seem a lot of fun too.

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  24. oh my god.. i'm so jealous >__< i so wanna meet all my fave authors, and ask them to sign my books.. when will that happen.. anyone have plans to swing by indonesia and my hometown?

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  25. I have never been to a book signing but it sounds like it was wonderful to have all those great authors in one place.

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  26. I have a few favs that I would love to meet. I got to meet charlaine harris a couple of years ago. I w2ould love to meet julia quinn, lisa kleypas, susan wiggs, and lauren dane.

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  27. I've never been to a book signing, but it sounds like fun. I'd like to meet Gena Showalter.

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  28. I have been to book signings, mostly local authors. However, Sharyn McCrumb did speak and do a signing at a local college and I attended and got her to sign a book. She is also a relatively local author.
    There are many authors I would love to meet. I would put Julie Garwood at the top of the list. She was THE author that turned me on to reading romance.

    Thanks for the post. I would love to go too.

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  29. I've been to a book signing that was work related. We sponsored Mem Fox to come & speak. She writes the most amazing picture books for children. She spoke very well & was gracious in signing all my books.

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  30. I have been lucky and honored to meet PJ, Vavessa Kelly, Eloisa James, Connie Brockway, Miranda Neville, Shana Galen, Terri Osborn, Nina Rowan, Christina Dodd, Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, Katherine Ashe, Galen Foley, Sarah Maclean, Stephanie Laurens

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  31. If I missed naming anyone, please forgive me! Great blog, Lisa! That was the RWA of a lifetime! Here's to RWA/2013 in Atlanta. I hope we can meet there.

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  32. How fun for you Lisa. I am happy your first RWA was exciting and worthwhile.

    First I should say: Romance writers are some of the NICEST, SUPPORTIVE, most GRACIOUS people in the world!

    My first one was in 2009 in D.C. I was very nervous, I don't like to travel alone. I met Gayle Ann Williams in line as I was getting a quick snack before the literacy signing. She was gracious and kind and took me "under her wing" Put me at ease immediately. Reassured me that I would have a great conference. Etc. She was with me when I met the first person in the literacy rows (back when they did have them alphabetically) Cherry Adair! She introduced us. (They are in the same chapter in Washington State.)

    I went on the get books, autographs and photos with two of my favorite authors -- Linda Howard and Nora Roberts. Legends, in my mind! I also got my picture with Janet Evanovich, who was sweet and patient. I have it and all the others on my "inspiration" board next to my desk

    I knew Roxanne St Claire from a book signing she had done in Michigan the year before, but to get to meet her again was great. She was extraordinarily generous and invited me to sit at her table at the luncheon. (Linda Howard was the speaker!) Little did I know I was sitting with very talented & well-known authors like Toni McGee Causey and Allison Brennan.

    Another author I wrote to before the conference to tell her how much I liked her books, was Lori Wilde. It was a real treat to meet her in person. She and I have kept in contact. (Not hard for me -- but she's a very busy lady.) She took the time to have a drink with me in Orlando at the conference the next year. Cool!

    I remember meeting so many authors who at the time I really didn't know their work - but since I have come to love. RWA conferences can be a blast. I am truly sad I have had to miss the last two. I am looking forward to next year in Atlanta. :)

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  33. I have never been lucky enough to go to RWA or a book signing. I would love to meet Nicola Cornick, Nicole Jordan, Nora Roberts, Catherine Coulter, and Rosemary Rogers.

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