Monday, July 27, 2015

RWA 2015 - - Back to the Big Apple


One week ago today, I was zipping the suitcase and heading to the airport to embark upon my sixth RWA national conference adventure. This time, the destination was New York City and the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square. Bright lights! Bestselling authors! Junior's Cheesecake! Yes, I was excited. 



The fun began at the Charlotte airport when I ran into writers Jeni Burns and Anne Cooper. Along with author Nancy Northcott and her husband, we formed a merry band, heading off on another grand adventure with smiles, laughter and much anticipation. 








The conference kicks off Wednesday with their big Literacy Signing but I flew in early to spend some time with friends and attend a few pre-conference activities. Here are a few highlights:










Blogger/Writer (and NY native) Stacey Agdern and I met several years ago when we both reviewed at the (now closed) Romance Novel TV website. Being a local, Stacey knows all the best places to eat in the city.














Stacey took me to a fabulous BBQ restaurant called Hill Country Barbecue Market. If you're ever in Manhattan, I highly recommend it! It's low key, the meats are melt-in-your-mouth delicious and the service was terrific. It's also a few blocks away from Times Square so you don't have to deal with all the craziness of that tourist mecca.






Stacey, PJ, Roxanne







After dinner, we walked back to the hotel and decided to cruise the bar (the best place to meet and greet at RWA) where we ran into Roxanne St. Claire, Lily Everett/Louisa Edwards and Kristin Painter.


















The wonderful Sophie Jordan also stopped by to say hello!

















Tuesday morning dawned bright and early and, with barely contained excitement, I set off to explore the hotel and the surrounding neighborhood. I've been to NYC before and done the touristy thing a few times so, mostly, I wanted to see what had changed since my last visit. Our hotel is located in the theater district and I'm a huge theater fan so, of course, I had to check out what was playing.

My all-time favorite stage play, Les Miserables was playing just down the street but I didn't have any free time to go see it. One of my friends made up for me not being able to go though. She went twice!










I was out of my Smashbox eyeliner and decided to pop into Sephora (love that store) to buy a new one. Jenny (she was awesome) gave me a makeover along with my new eyeliner. I also picked up some awesome Urban Decay Naked 2 eyeshadow. I highly recommend both!










Kristan Higgins & her firefighter husband, McIrish



This particular Marriott is oddly configured with the main lobby, bar, and hotel check-in on the 8th floor. Because of that, and the weird elevators, there aren't as many opportunities for random sightings of authors and friends.








PJ with author Suzanne Ferrell


Most elevators have floor buttons inside the elevator. At this hotel, there is a panel of numbers in the elevator lobby (no buttons inside the individual elevators). You punch in the floor number you want to go to and the panel tells you which elevator (A, B, etc.) to go to. There is a set of panels for the lower room floors and a separate one for higher room floors.







Suspense authors Lena Diaz & Carey Baldwin



Therefore, if you're on a high floor and a friend is on a low floor, you could go the entire week without crossing paths unless you make specific plans. Weird. ;-) Anyway, if you hang out on the 8th floor, you may eventually see people you know or authors your admire...or both!










I met some friends for lunch Tuesday at St. Andrews Scottish Pub. There were rumors of "men in kilts." Alas, we didn't see any but the company was lively, the food was awesome and a well-known television/stage actor was seated at the table next to ours. We were discreet and didn't gawk...much. In photo: PJ, Sally MacKenzie, Heidi Hormel, Geri Krotow, Kim of SOS Aloha and Janet of Book Obsessed Chicks.








I ran into long-time friend - and one of my favorite contemporary authors - Terri Osburn. If you like heartwarming, small-town contemporaries with humor, sizzle and heart, give her books a try.




















It was wonderful to see fellow reader/reviewer, Paula Robinson! She and I share a deep love for the books of Roxanne St. Claire and Robyn Carr...and many others. :)












Hope Tarr (a LJS founder) reads from her work in progress


Have you heard of Lady Jane's Salon? It's a terrific romance reading salon where readers can gather to chat about what they're reading and hear authors read from their books or manuscripts. The salon meets once a month and the admission of either $5 or a romance novel is used to support charities in the location of the particular salon. There are salons all over the country now but the original in NYC remains active and vibrant with monthly readings.










In honor of RWA being back in their city, they hosted a salon Tuesday evening at the red velvet Madame X bar and lounge in Greenwich Village. The place was packed with enthusiastic romance fans and the readings were wonderful. Sonali Dev (right) read from her next book, The Bollywood Bride (out 9/29). The reading promises a story as stunning as her debut.












Lady Jane's is a great place to make new friends but I always seem to run into old friends as well. I turned a corner during a break and found friends, Stephanie Janulis and Mary Perry (now writing as Eve Marie Perry). Eve Marie is the Grand Prize Winner of the recent Avon FanLit writing competition. I'm so excited for her!









After Lady Jane's, we had dinner at Dos Caminos Mexican restaurant in the Village. Lovely ambiance, traditional Mexican food (delish!) and great company; the perfect way to end a wonderful evening. In photo: Lenora Bell, Lisa Lin, Stacey Agdern, Kate McMurray and PJ.







Be sure to stop by tomorrow for a jam-packed review of Wednesday's activities, including coffee and pastries with Sabrina Jeffries, a singing lunch with Roxanne St. Claire and more than 400 romance authors signing at the always exciting RWA Literacy Autographing!


Have you been to any of the Lady Jane's Salons? 

Do you enjoy the theater? What's your favorite stage play?

Who would  you be stalking...um...looking for in a sweep of the 8th floor bar and lobby?


One person who leaves a comment will receive a signed book from my conference stash. (U.S./Canadian addresses only)

47 comments:

  1. I am glad that you had such a good time. NYC is a fun place to have a conference. My favorite stage play is Wicked which I saw for the first time on Broadway.

    Considering how busy you have been and how tired you must be, I am surprised to see a blog from you so soon. Thanks for sharing your memories and photos with us. I look forward to reading more.

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    1. I saw WICKED for the first time on Broadway too, Cheryl. It was wonderful!

      I had planned to write this blog last night but, instead, I crawled into bed at 6 pm and slept for twelve hours! Yes, I was a week bit tired. LOL

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    2. 12 hours??? Wow! That just shows that your body really needed the rest. I am surprised that your furry companion let you sleep that long!

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    3. I haven't picked her up from camp yet. She comes home tomorrow. :)

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  2. It was so great to see you again this year at #RWA15!

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    1. You too, Jeni! It was a great conference and fun to see your smiling face all over the place! :)

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  3. I'm still sad that I spent part of a day in NYC but it was the week before you guys were there - I would have been so thrilled to run into any of you!!! We ate at Lombardi's pizza and mostly just people watched. I couldn't walk by the time we were deciding what to do in the evening lol. I saw The Lion King about 5 yrs. ago in NYC and loved it.

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    1. I'm sad we missed each other! That would have been so much fun to meet in person after all these years.

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  4. What a whirlwind! You were the calm and unflagging smile in the center of the storm.

    Cheryl - PJ is AMAZING! I don't know where she gets her energy but she's truly inspirational :)

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    1. Aw, thanks. You were an awesome roommate, Lenora. Hope your flight home was smooth. I imagine you're a bit tired today too!

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  5. What a whirlwind! You were the calm and unflagging smile in the center of the storm.

    Cheryl - PJ is AMAZING! I don't know where she gets her energy but she's truly inspirational :)

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    1. What a great recap PJ! :) You and Lenore were the best roommates ever-I had so much fun with you both last week!

      And I totally agree with Lenore-PJ was a non stop whirlwind. She put both of us to shame!!!

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    2. I don't know, Lisa. I think you two held your own pretty well. ;-)

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  6. Thanks for today's sharing and all your fab FB posts during the conference, PJ. You made us feel as if we were there too.

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    1. My pleasure, Janga. I had meant to post more throughout the week but there just wasn't time. My schedule was packed!

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  7. I've never seen it as a play but I would to see Mary Poppins

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    1. I love the Mary Poppins movie. Seeing it on stage would be fun!

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  8. It sounds like you had fun & hit quite a few restaurants with friends. If I was at the elevators, I'd like to catch a glimpse of any of these authors: Julie James, Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, SEP or Lisa Kleypas.

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    1. Kim, I saw all five! Watch the blog this week for photos of all of them.

      I was so happy for Meredith Duran when she won the RITA for Historical Romance:Long. It's her first RITA and richly deserved, in my opinion.

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  9. What wonderful photos and a fabulous experience. I would be thrilled to meet any author.

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    1. The majority of authors I have met have been warm, friendly and very gracious.

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  10. My favorite stage play is Phantom. Your lovely time is memorable.

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    1. I love Phantom but I haven't seen it on the stage yet. I want to!

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  11. I haven't been to Lady Jane Saloon yet but there is one near me in Naperville and I plan to go soon I heard its a lot of fun. My favorite play is Brigadoon (I know its old)...
    Yess I would be a stalker looking for authors I love but I would try to be discreet...lol I am glad you had a good time it looked like a lot of fun.

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    1. I love Brigadoon! It's one of my favorites.

      The Lady Jane's Salon in Naperville often gets top name authors. Hope you'll get a chance to go soon.

      Are you familiar with the Chicago North RWA Spring Fling Conference in May? It's a writers' conference but includes a book signing that's open to the public. Next year's conference is May 20-21 and includes feature authors Robyn Carr, Courtney Milan, and Christina Lauren. It's held at the Hyatt Regency Schaumburg. Other authors who will be there include Kristan Higgins, Julie James, Mary Balogh, Valerie Bowman and more. You can find a full list at http://chicagospringfling.com/conference-info/book-signing/.

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    2. PJ, yes i GO EVERY TIME THEY HAVE IT (EVERY 2 YEARS) In a few weeks Schaumburg library is having a booksigning and a forum there a lot of authors will be there and you need to register first so I am in. Love these things!! Met loads of authors I never thought I would like most of them are very nice.

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  12. I've never been! I'd love to go to more plays though.

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    1. I always want to go to more plays. *grin*

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  13. You're amazing, PJ! I'm so overwhelmed by NYC -- it's so big & there are so many people in it! -- I chicken out. I find a handful of places that don't frighten me & I just go to them again & again. Next time, I'm following your lead & exploring!

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    1. I love exploring new cities, Susan. Maybe it's because I was exposed to them at an early age but they really don't bother me. It was great seeing you! :)

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  14. Waves hi to PJ.

    Never been to Lady Jane's Salon. My fav play.. would be a toss up between Les Mis or Wicked. Both wonderful. So many wonderful authors to "bump" into on the 8th. :)

    Ann M. (spelled correctly)

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    1. *Waves back!*

      Those are both wonderful plays. I'd love to see Les Mis on Broadway one of these years. A friend who went (twice) last week told me they've completely changed the set for the show and it's terrific.

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  15. Looks like everybody had a great time!
    I do enjoy shows - used to go in to NYC at least once a year to see a show, but it's so expensive & exhausting. Once I win that lottery I'm going to go in & stay over like you did & take in several shows. Never did get to see Wicked, Mama Mia or Les Mis or even the Lion King - they would all be on my list to see.

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    1. I'd love to see Lion King on stage. I've heard it's brilliant.

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  16. I haven't been to any of the Lady Jane Salons. Have not seen much theater do not have a favorite. Would be looking for Nalini Singh.

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  17. I've never been to a Lady Jane Salon - it could be a lot of fun. I've not been to the theater in ages ..... never really had a favorite but there's a ton of plays I'd love to go see. And in my usual indecisive state, I'd be tripping over myself trying to track down a huge list of authors and not be able to prioritize. ;-)

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  18. Thank you PJ for sharing your experience in New York. Now after seeing your pics I don't feel so bad that I didn't make it..I've plans to visit Lady Jane's Salon for sure. Love Hope Tarr's books.
    I would love to see Wicked .There are just too many wonderful & talented Authors I'd want to run into to list so I'll just say Betrize Williams, Nora Roberts, Sabrina Jeffries & Mary Balogh.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

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  19. My goodness PJ, you've certainly been very busy at RWA! Thanks for sharing all you pics, looks like so much fun. I would love to visit one of the Lady Jane's Salons someday. I do enjoy watching plays though I don't get to see many but my favorite is a tie between Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera. As for stalking, I have a whole list of authors I''d be looking out for, including Jill Shalvis, Julia Quinn, Julie James, Julie Anne Long and Nora Roberts.

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  20. PJ, one of the highlights of my conferences is always when I get to see you. I'm so glad we got to hang with you at Lady Jane's Salon and next year can't come early enough. Hopefully I'll even get a chance to see you before then!

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  21. I have never been, in fact I had to look up what it was. Considering I have barely traveled outside of Texas since I moved here when I turned 10 it isn't surprising. I also have never been to any plays although since my youngest loves dance so much I hope to take her to see the ballet sometime soon.

    Being a newbie at a conference like that there are too many authors I'd want to stalk to name...

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  22. I am just getting caught up on emails -- so I read your posts backwards. Ironically, I commented that I ran into some people over and over and others I totally missed. Paula Robinson was one I saw half a dozen times. Everywhere. :) But I wanted to meet Terri Osburn. I love her books and I wanted so much to meet her in person. Shoot. I thought the same thing about the hotel set up. I found it difficult to "run" into people like I have at past conferences. I didn't have time for a show although there were at least three on my "really wish I had the time" list. I took pictures of the Les Misérables marquee and posters for my daughter who is studying musical theater. She was Fantine in the community production two years ago. NYC is certainly an exciting place. Next time I am going to get restaurant tips and recs from the locals.

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  23. I do love the theatre. I have seen several - The Best Man a few years ago - great - with Candace Bergen, John Larroquette and the guy from Will and Grace, not Sean and Jessica from Murder She Wrote Show, sorry those 2 names escape me.

    Would love to see R Carr, S Mallery hanging around and Jill S.
    patoct

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  24. I would just go to people watch :) sounds like such a fun event! Thanks for sharing!

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  25. Great pics, PJ!! And lots of lovely familiar faces! It was great to see you in NYC!! :)

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  26. Don't need any more books, but just wanted to say how lovely it always is to see you in person, P.J. I'm looking forward to all of your "de-brief" of the conference. Glad you had a super time.

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  27. PJ - I loved revisiting the conference through all your great photos! Will look forward to seeing more.

    And I haven't been to a Lady Jane's but hear so much about them, I really need to give one a try.

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  28. My brother keeps claiming he is going to get us tickets to see Phantom of the Oprah! I have been waiting several years now so fingers crossed I get to see it one day. But I think once I finally get to the theater I'm going to LOVE it :)

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