|Lisa and Tessa Dare|
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!