Saturday: the final day of the 2014 Romance Writers of America National Conference. What were my thoughts upon awakening this morning? Did they center on my sore feet or my swollen knee? Or, perhaps, the fact that I hadn't had more than 5-1/2 hours sleep per night since Tuesday? No. When the alarm sounded at 6:00 am, I immediately thought that it couldn't possibly be the last day of conference. I still had more to learn in the outstanding workshops. I needed more time to visit with friends I only see once a year or, in some cases, every three or four years. There were people I hadn't yet met. I needed more time! But, alas, conference time was nearing it's end so I would just have to make the most of this last day in beautiful San Antonio, Texas and hope it was enough to carry me through to RWA 2015 in New York City.
|PJ & Joan Kayse|
I kicked the day off at breakfast with some of my favorite people: Romance Bandits Joan Kayse, Suz Ferrell and Susan Sey. These ladies will always start your day with a smile...and they write some great books too. Check them out!
The breakfast speaker on Saturday was New York Times Bestselling mystery-suspense author Karen Rose. Her speech was inspiring and set the tone for the last day of one of the best RWA conferences I've attended.
The morning and afternoon were filled with workshops and publisher signings and I did my best to learn, see and photograph as much as I could. Here are a few random photos:
Molly O'Keefe: 2014 RITA award winner of Best Contemporary Romance for Crazy Thing Called Love. (Read Janga's review here.) We love Molly and her books!
Historical author Monica McCarty. I adore her books! She's been on my auto-buy list since her debut and further cements her position with every book she writes. The Arrow, the ninth book in her New York Times bestselling Highland Guard series, will be released on August 26th.
Emily March, another New York Times Bestselling author I've been following for many years. Her Eternity Springs series is a cross between contemporary romance and women's fiction and never fails to satisfy. With each of her books I know I'm going to be treated to a beautifully written, complex, deeply emotional story filled with love and hope. Can't ask for much more than that.
Connie Brockway for many years and had been missing her all week. I'd reconciled myself to the fact that I probably wouldn't see her this time around when I walked into the Montlake publisher signing just as she was getting ready to leave. Squealing and hugs ensued, then we pulled Julia London into the circle for a group hug and photo op. If you follow Connie online, what you see there is exactly what you get in person. She can take you from "hello" to full out laughter in mere seconds and when she gets together with Julia London, all bets are off! Connie's next book, The Songbird's Seduction will be out in September. Julia's current book, Return to Homecoming Ranch was released in July.
With the day winding down it was time to get ready for the big night, the 2014 RITA and Golden Heart ceremony. In rooms throughout the hotel, people were dressing in their finest as they prepared for the announcement of the "best of the best" of books and manuscripts for the year. If you've read my previous conference posts, you'll know that I love photographing the gorgeous shoes you see throughout the conference and tonight is the time for those shoes to take center stage. So, without further ado, I present the Shoes of RWA!
Just because you're in a cast doesn't mean you can't be stylish. Right, Kristan Higgins?
Red and silver seemed to be popular colors this year and, of course, you can never go wrong with classic black.
Golden Heart winner Lenora Bell wearing her lucky "Golden Heart" shoes. After accepting the award for Best Historical Romance manuscript, she may still be wearing these shoes! :)
Theresa Romain's 1920's inspired shoes. So cute!
When in Texas...
The RITA/GH ceremony was fun, exciting and inspirational with plenty of laughs courtesy of this year's host, Simone Elkeles (she gets my vote to host every year), a sometimes poignant, sometimes hilarious video of several authors talking about the books that introduced them to romance and a heart-felt tribute to Bertrice Small by Eloisa James. Here are some random photos from RITA/GH night.
Jade Lee, RITA Finalist Elizabeth Hoyt and Sally MacKenzie. (with apologies to the unidentified person on the far left)
Trish Milburn and Sally Kilpatrick
RITA Finalist Cathy Maxwell.
Golden Heart Finalist Marnee Bailey and her husband.
Tawny Weber (who received her 25 Books award from Harlequin) and RITA finalist Beth Andrews.
RITA Finalist Anne Gracie.
RITA Finalist Tessa Dare with Zoë Archer.
Julie Anne Long, RITA winner Sarah MacLean and RITA Finalist Toni Blake.
RITA winner Susanna Kearsley.
RITA Finalist Tessa Dare, Golden Heart Winner Lenora Bell and RITA Finalist Courtney Milan.
He wasn't nominated for any awards but he sure did spend a lot of time posing for photos! Here's Simone Elkeles' date for the evening, her good friend, model Alexander F. Rodriguez. Such a nice guy! I took a photo of him alone but then he insisted we have someone else take one of the two of us together. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :)
With another RITA/GH ceremony in the books you might think this is the end of my final RWA14 blog, but no. There's more! An after party in Cathy Maxwell's suite and an introduction that would turn out to be the highlight of my week brought the 2014 Romance Writers of America national conference to happy, uplifting and inspirational end...if you ignore the fact that said party was "raided" by hotel security. But that's another story... *grin*
Caroline Linden wore earrings that were a replica of the coveted RITA statuette.
And here's the lady herself: Rita Clay Estrada, the co-founder of Romance Writers of America and the woman for whom the RITA award is named. With her is Mary Tate Engels, a charter member of RWA. Both ladies were warm, welcoming and an absolute delight to visit with. I was honored to meet them.
Katharine Ashe and Rita Clay Estrada.
Do you wonder if published authors ever have 'fangirl' moments? Take my word for it. They do!
Thank you for tagging along with me on this year's RWA journey. I hope you had as much fun reading about it as I had experiencing it!
What's been your favorite part(s) of this year's RWA blogs?
Have you read any of the 2014 RITA winners (listed below)? Which ones?
Are you a dress-up or dress-down kind of person?
Any questions about the conference or my conference blogs? Ask away!
We have three prizes up for grabs today.
A package of books from my conference stash (U.S. only)
A signed book from my conference stash (Canada only)
A book of our choice from bookdepository.com (international to any country to which bookdepository ships)
Winners will be randomly chosen from comments posted by 11:59 pm EST Sunday, August 3, 2014.
2014 RITA Winners
Best First Book: The Sweet Spot by Laura Drake
Contemporary Romance: Crazy Thing Called Love by Molly O'Keefe
Erotic Romance: Claim Me by J. Kenner
Historical Romance: No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean
Inspirational Romance: Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano
Paranormal Romance: The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
Romance Novella: Take Me, Cowboy by Jane Porter
Romantic Suspense: Off the Edge by Carolyn Crane
Short Contemporary Romance: Why Resist a Rebel? by Leah Ashton
2014 Golden Heart Winners
Contemporary Romance: "Too Good to be True" by Suzanne Kalfman Kalb
Historical Romance: "Charlene and the Duchess Factory" by Lenora Bell
Inspirational Romance: "My Lord Valet" by Kristi Ann Hunter
Paranormal Romance: "Beyond the Fire" by Marni Folsom
Romantic Suspense: "Chasing Damn" by Denny S. Bryce
Short Contemporary Romance: "Yesterday's Promise" by Sarah Cannon
Young Adult Romance: "The Thing with Feathers" by McCall Hoyle