Monday, October 7, 2013

Shining the Spotlight on Moonlight & Magnolias

I spent this weekend in Atlanta at the Georgia Romance Writers (GRW) Moonlight and Magnolias Conference.  A regional conference, M&M is smaller than RWA National in both number of days and number of attendees but don't make the mistake of thinking smaller means not as good.  GRW brings in top notch speakers and fills the schedule with excellent workshops.  Plus, a smaller regional conference is more intimate, affording attendees the opportunity to mix and mingle and have more in-depth conversations.  If you're a conference newbie, there's no better place to get your feet wet than at a regional conference.  There are many of them across the country (and in other countries as well).  I haven't attended any other regionals (though I have friends who give many of them high marks - the New Jersey conference being a particular favorite) but 2013 was my fifth M&M and I give it my highest recommendation!

Large or small, one aspect of romance conferences remains the same.  The shoes!  Whether you're attending a conference of 2,000 people or one of 200, romance writers and readers know how to rock the fabulous shoes and of course, your intrepid Romance Dish photographer was on the hunt for the best of the best to share with you.

Here's a look at some of the photo highlights of the 2013 M&M Conference.


Terry Poca kicks off our Shoes of M&M 2013 with these awesome gold delights. As conference co-chair, Terry was everywhere and comfy shoes were a must but who says comfy can't also be fabulous!


Heather Snow, Jean Willett and Elisabeth (E.E.) Burke light up the room with their beautiful smiles! Heather and Elisabeth were both double Maggie Award finalists this year.  Jean is a three-time Golden Heart finalist.








The 2013 M&M "Sister" photo!  PJ with the beautiful and talented Nicki Salcedo (her debut, ALL BEAUTIFUL THINGS will be published by Belle Bridge Books later this year).  We first met at the 2009 M&M conference and immediately bonded. We call ourselves the M&M twins and I couldn't ask for a better sister if I'd special ordered one.








Shoe alert!  I can always count on Tamara LeBlanc to wear some awesome shoes at M&M.  I spied these during Deb Dixon's workshop and pounced...er...politely asked if I could please photograph them..the minute the workshop ended.











Hanging out with my roommate, Louisa Cornell (unpublished Maggie finalist) and Romance Bandits Trish Milburn (published Maggie finalist) and Nancy Northcott (former Maggie winner).












Jennifer McQuiston and Romily Bernard hosted a party with signature cocktails to celebrate their new books.















Jennifer brought along one of her heroes who was quite a hit with the ladies!
















Cowboy boots are always in style.  These were worn by conference attendee Meda White.
















And speaking of books, we love these silver ones!













The lights went out in Georgia (not the whole state but the entire city of Norcross where M&M is held) for more than an hour shortly after this photo was taken but Jennifer and Romily never missed a beat. Great party, ladies!










GRW President Anna Steffl wore these gorgeous pumps.  Love that color!  Even better, she got the shoes for an amazingly low sale price.  We ladies do love our bargains!









Keynote speaker Deborah Smith, a New York Times bestselling author, had the audience laughing uproariously over her "crafts gone wrong." Here's an example of a great idea that didn't quite make it to the finish line.  It's supposed to say, "Southern girls say..."  As you can see, the stitching gave it an entirely different meaning but, according to Deb, "Southern girls may sag but they never flop!"   By the way, she ordered 20 shirts...and sold zero. Two of them went home with lucky people in the audience.








Deb Smith signing a "sag" shirt for Jennifer McQuiston.













New York Times bestselling author Jennifer McQuiston and former GRW President, Maggie winner and Golden Heart finalist Nicki Salcedo led a terrific workshop on leading a balanced life.  These two very busy ladies had some great ideas for getting it all done and keeping your sanity in the process.














New York Times bestselling author Haywood Smith is a lovely lady and a long-time GRW member. You can't spent more than a couple minutes with her without smiling.  It just isn't possible. :)











I'm not sure what I like better, the shoes or the pants.  They're both pretty awesome as is the person wearing them, USA Today bestselling author Lynn Raye Harris.  










Maggie finalist and 2013 RITA finalist Pamela Hearon's nail polish was as cool as her shoes.  In truth, I loved them both!













One of the highlights of Moonlight and Magnolias is the literacy book signing. Signing for the first time this year was Terry Poca, debut author and co-chair of this year's conference.










Cool shoes come out for the book signing too. Here's a pair worn by Melody Johnson who was attending her first M&M conference.










Heather Snow (a double Maggie finalist) came all the way from Kansas to sign her historical romance trilogy, Sweet Enemy, Sweet Deception and Sweet Madness. Have you read them yet?  They're wonderful!  Sweet Madness is one of my best books of 2013.










A conference highlight:  the amazingly talented Kim Killion (she designed our banner!) brought her staff to this year's conference, including two of her cover models, Harvey Gauden-Stables and Scott Nova. The guys were great sports, posing with numerous people throughout the weekend and never losing their smiles!









Debut YA author Romily Bernard and women's fiction/romantic thriller/paranormal author Marilyn Baron.  We love these ladies!









Do you attend romance conferences or conferences of another type?  Do you check out the fabulous footwear?  Do you still rock the high heels or, like me, have you entered the sneakers and flip-flops phase of life?  One person leaving a comment (U.S. and Canadian addresses only) will receive a signed copy of Summer is for Lovers by New York Times bestselling author Jennifer McQuiston.  

Check back this afternoon for highlights from Saturday night's gala Maggie Awards dinner and ceremony. We'll have beautiful dresses, gorgeous shoes and, of course, more shots of our handsome cover models! 

~PJ






41 comments:

  1. I always enjoy seeing the pics from these conferences/conventions.

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    1. Thanks, Jane.. I enjoy taking them for you! :)

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  2. So much fun to look through thank you.

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  3. I wish I could have gone, but I had stints put in my kidneys to help with kidney stones. I did get to go to the rwa this year and had a blast! Hope I'll get to go to another signing to meet some fabulous writers next year!

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    1. Ouch! Hope the stents are helping, Kim.

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  4. What a great shoe review and general review of the M&M conference. I did get to see Terry Poca's shoes at breakfast Sunday morning and I didn't recognize Tamara's shoes. I was too busy looking at the gunslinger's Glocks. But she is always an original and a great person. We were on our way up to Jennifer and Romily's party when the power went out so we went to the bar instead. Sorry we missed it. It was so nice to see you at the conference.

    Marilyn Baron

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    1. Hi Marilyn! Always great to see you too!

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  5. Hello... who rocked the silver/black evening ensemble at the Maggie Awards Dinner?
    YOU did lady!
    Thank you for all the awesome support for GRW and for coming to MM13 PJ and we all hope to see you again next year, if not before.

    And yes... Mr. G-S and Mr. Nova. They were pretty perfect, weren't they?

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    1. Awww...you're such a sweetie. Thanks, Pam!

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  6. As always with your conference pics and reports, I feel as if I've experienced a bit of the conference right along with you. Thanks for sharing, PJ. I look forward to Part II.

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    1. You're welcome, Janga. Always happy to share! ;-)

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  7. Love the lovely photos. So special and appealing. thanks.

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  8. Such a delightful post with wonderful pics which I enjoyed.

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  9. Wonderful time, wonderful friends. So much to learn at Moonlight & Magnolias. I do have one small complaint. What about us ladies in the comfy-non-sexy shoes? I think we should start taking photos of those so I don't feel left out. :) Love you, PJ. Proud to have you as my sis.

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    1. Another request for comfy shoe pics. Guess I'm going to have to search them out next time!

      ♥ you too!

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    2. In that category, would be my SAS sandals. Not flashy, but I can walk in them.

      Marilyn Baron

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  10. I love checking out the shoes and drooling over them. So wish I could still wear heels! Good to see you again, PJ, and yes Moonlight & Magnolias rocks!

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    1. I can't wear them anymore either, Debbie. I think that's why I enjoy taking pictures of them so much.

      Congratulations again on winning the Romance Dish raffle basket!

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  11. I so enjoyed the pictures. I have always thought that Moonlight and Magnolias was the most romantic name for a southern conference!

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    1. It is romantic, isn't it? It's a great conference!

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  12. I'm definitely into the comfy shoes, but I do like some to be stylish too - I'm tall so I was never comfortable in very high heels - now I'm glad because my feet didn't get messed up like my Mom's had. This conference looks like so much fun - looking forward to more pictures.

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    1. I wore high heels for too many years which is why my feet are now totally messed up. The lessons we learn the hard way. ;-)

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  13. I haven't attended any book conferences. When I am dressed up, I always wear high heels. I'm short, so I need the height. :)

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    1. I'm short too, Kim which is why I always wore heels...when I could wear heels! :)

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  14. I enjoyed all the pictures. I usually wear small heels or flats except for special occasions.

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  15. Love, love, LOVE! I miss everyone so much!

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  16. I've never attended a romance conference, but I love the pics. I also fall into the sneaker/comfy shoe phase of life, PJ. LOL If I tried to wear some of those shoes I'm sure I'd fall and hurt myself. :D

    Marcy Shuler
    bmndshuler(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  17. Thanks for the peek at the conference. I attended my first romance conference this past June - RomCon in Colorado Springs, CO. It was great fun. We incorporated it into our summer vacation. A nice idea except we had out 15 year old grandson with us. My DH and grandson spent the time visiting Colorado Springs and Denver and pretty much stayed as far away from the hotel as they could. It didn't help that the focus this year was on erotica and BDSM. Meeting some favorite authors was great. The only downside: my husband insisted on mailing all the books and swag home rather than drag it around for the 4 week trip. The box with most of my books in it never made it home. My husband works for the post office and is now wishing we had insured it. We've put a trace on it, but it gets to Memphis, TN and disappears. A small box was ripped open and books were missing. I have mailed books and things for years, and this is a first. Worst part is the books I bought, all the signed books, and all the books by my favorite authors were in that box. My husband encouraged me to go next year, but by myself next time. Maybe it was the shirtless guys in leather pants?

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  18. I love checking out these conferences vicariously through other peoples eyes! I never get a chance to go so it's much fun to look through everyone's photos and get recaps on the good parts! Thanks for sharing with us!

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  19. Unfortunately, I don't get to go party at these conferences but they sure look fun! Maybe one day I'll actually get to meet everybody! Then I can check everyone's footwear up close :)

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  20. You're the best, PJ! It is always a pleasure seeing you. It wouldn't be M&M without you :-)

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  21. Great recap! Love all the shoe shots!!! It was great to see you as always! :-)

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  22. Aw, what an awesome recap, PJ! Now I want to turn around and do it all over again. Good seeing you again, too!

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  23. Great article. Was nice to meet you at M&M!
    Debbie Herbert

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  24. Hi PJ,
    No, I've never attended a conference for readers or writers. Shoes, I'm definitely in the tennis shoe category.

    Love to see the conference through your eyes.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  25. Thanks for sharing the pictures and recap of the M&M conference. I have never been to a conference, but would love to go. I can't wear high heels, and usually wear SAS shoes for comfort.

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  26. Sorry I'm late in commenting. I LOVE THIS!! What a great post.
    Thanks PJ!!!!

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