Wednesdays always start early for me at the RWA National Conference. It's my morning to volunteer at the conference registration desk, a tradition I began with the first conference I attended, back in 2008. RWA has a wonderful staff but there aren't enough of them to run a conference this large. They need the assistance of volunteers to do everything from checking people in to moderating workshops to setting up signings to checking badges at the door. Volunteering is fun, rewarding, a great way to meet people and, for four lucky people, very profitable. You see, every day of the conference RWA randomly chooses one person who volunteered that day to receive a paid registration to the next year's national conference. That's almost a $500 value folks. If you're planning to attend next year's conference in New York City, I highly recommend signing up to volunteer. Honestly, it's one of the highlights of my week.
|Eloisa James & Hellie|
Lunch was next up on my schedule and my lunch date for Wednesday was another wonderful Aussie friend, Kandy Shepherd. Kandy is writing for the Harlequin Romance line now and has a wonderful contemporary series set in a fictional Australian coastal town. The first two books in the series are The Summer They Never Forgot and The Tycoon and the Wedding Planner.
The actual conference doesn't begin until Thursday but festivities kick off Wednesday evening with the giant Literacy Signing, usually preceded by small author/reader parties. This year I attended two such parties Wednesday afternoon; one hosted by Sabrina Jeffries and another by Eloisa James. Sabrina's party was held at Rita's on the River and included the surly taxi driver I spoke of in yesterday's blog. He may have been the only rude person I encountered in San Antonio but he couldn't dampen the spirits of a group of happy women ready to party. The fabulous frozen margaritas at Rita's on the River may have helped too. Here's a photo of Sabrina pouring.
At Sabrina's party I was delighted to meet fellow readers who I have known online; readers such as Kristy Birch and JacknSusan Knight (screen names). Kristy and I were both going to Eloisa's party at the historic (and apparently haunted) Menger Hotel so we set out together to catch a taxi to our next destination. Remember, it was really HOT in San Antonio at 3:45 in the afternoon. Alas, there wasn't a taxi in sight so I ducked into a western clothing store and asked for directions. The associate (or maybe the owner?) was a stereotypical Texan with big hair, a big hat, kick-ass boots and plenty of sparkle. I wanted so bad to take a photo of her but was afraid I might offend so I didn't ask. Anyway, she was sweet as apple pie, gave us directions and told us the Menger was "right around the corner." Not exactly, but pretty darn close. We managed to walk there with a minimum of heat-induced "glow." At Eloisa's, we made more new friends (are you sensing a theme here?) and had a lovely time getting to know everyone.
It seemed we had just settled in at the Menger when it was time to be off again. This time, our destination was the Marriott Rivercenter and the Literacy Signing, a huge, crowded, crazy book signing with 400+ authors. Visualize a kid set loose in the world's biggest candy store then replace the kid with readers and the candy with authors and their books and you'll have a good idea of the frenzied excitement that filled the room. It's best to have a "battle plan" when attending this signing. Otherwise, you're sure to miss someone...like I did. I made one swipe through the "S" tables and didn't see first-timer Anna Sugden (one of my favorite people) so I moved on, intending to return later. I never made it back. Didn't get a photo of her at her first signing. That makes me sad but you won't be sad if you win a signed copy of Anna's terrific new contemporary romance, A Perfect Trade.
Here are a few of the many photos I did take at the signing.
|Rita Finalist Courtney Milan|
Rita Finalist Courtney Milan
Elizabeth Michels and Trish Milburn
Kristan Higgins and Double Rita Finalist Jill Shalvis
Rita Winner Sarah MacLean
PJ with Susan Andersen and Stephanie Laurens
Historical Author Valerie Bowman
The Literacy Autographing raises money to support literacy in the city where the conference is held. This year's signing raised more than $53,000. You can see more of my photos from the signing at my facebook page.
|Beth Andrews, Donna MacMeans, Tawny Weber, Anna Sugden|
You might think I'd be exhausted by this time and you'd be right (grin) but I had one more social obligation with a group of some of the best women on the planet: The Romance Bandits. The Bandits generously offered drinks at RWA to the Brenda Novak Auction for Diabetes Research and I won the item!
We met next door at Maria Mia's Mexican Restaurant for drinks, dinner and a rousing good time. They are some of the nicest, most generous, most talented authors around and I adore them. If you aren't familiar with their multi-author blog, do check it out.
And that does it for Wednesday. Be sure to come back tomorrow for the next installment of RWA 14: What Happens in San Antonio!
As you may have gathered, we did a lot of eating and drinking at RWA 14 and, being as we were in San Antonio, many of those drinks and dishes were Mexican. So tell me, what's your favorite type of food? Do you have a favorite drink? Do you enjoy trying new dishes or do you stick with your favorites?
If you could have dinner and drinks with any author - or authors - who would you choose and why?
If you could attend the Literacy Autographing which authors would be at the top of your "must meet" list?
Do you have any questions about the RWA Conference?
One person randomly chosen will receive a package of books and swag from my conference stash. (U.S. only)
One person randomly chosen will receive one signed book from my conference stash (Canada only)
One person randomly chosen (international - not Canada) will receive one book of our choice from bookdepository.com.
Winners will be randomly selected from all comments left by 12:00am Saturday, August 2nd.