Friday, July 31, 2015

RWA 2015 - - Back to the Big Apple: Part Five

Saturday, the final day of RWA15, brings with it a mixed bag of feelings. There's exhaustion (We've been running at full throttle all week. We were bound to hit the wall sometime.), anticipation (for the excitement, glitz and glamour of the RITA/Golden Heart Awards Ceremony), and sadness (as we bid friends farewell, exchange hugs, and promise to keep in touch via social media until the next conference). There's also joy which was what I was feeling when I met one of my favorite people for breakfast early Saturday morning.

Teresa Medeiros is not only a wonderful author but also a kind, funny, generous woman. We've bonded over pets, books, chocolate and bacon. Mmmmmm........bacon!

Another emotion tagging along Saturday morning was nervousness. As anyone who has met me in person knows, I'm not shy about speaking in public, however, I admit to being a wee bit nervous about taking the microphone Saturday morning. Nancy Berland of Nancy Berland Public Relations, Inc. had asked me to be part of a panel presenting a workshop titled The Experts Share: The Hottest New Trends in Romance Publishing. (my first workshop gig) I was honored to share the stage with John Charles (RWA's 2002 Librarian of the Year who has reviewed for Library Journal, Booklist and the Chicago Tribune), Library Journal's Managing Editor Bette-Lee Fox, bestselling author and USA Today's Happy Ever After blogger Joyce Lamb, Library Journal's Kristin Ramsdell and Smart Bitches Trashy Books' Sarah Wendell.

My voice may have wobbled a bit at first but I quickly found my stride and had a lot of fun. (Sitting next to Sarah Wendell helped!) The room was packed, the audience engaged and enthusiastic, and it helped greatly that my wonderful friend, Louisa Cornell sat in the front row to smile and cheer me on.

Many thanks to Nancy Berland for her confidence that I could be a positive contributor to her wonderful workshop.

Having survived the workshop experience, I headed off to the Montlake signing for more books, chat time and photo opportunities.

The lovely and multi-talented Anna DeStefano.

Tiffany Snow's romantic suspense novels are getting great reviews!

I'm a fan of Gerri Russell's historical romances and looking forward to reading her new contemporaries.

I've known Terri Osburn since back when her writing was still a dream. I get fluttery butterflies of happiness for her each time I see her signing her books.

A lake, a hug and This Thing Called Love. Can't wait to read Miranda Liasson's newest!

Kim Law's Montana Cherries, released this week, is deeply emotional and my favorite of her books. I highly recommend it!

Holly Jacobs' books always touch my heart.

Can't wait to dive into Melinda Leigh's Minutes to Kill. Love me some romantic suspense!

I had a great time interviewing Nancy Herkness earlier this month and thoroughly enjoyed her newest book, The CEO Buys In (first in a new series) so I was, of course, looking forward to meeting her in person. She's a delight!

So glad I ran into historical romance author Alison DeLaine! Her next book from HQN, A Promise by Daylight, comes out August 26th. I'm counting the days!

Loved catching up with YA author Marni Bates (I adore her) while waiting in line. She's recently returned from a two month backpacking trip through Europe, exploring out of the way places and meeting her fans (she has many). Her photos are breathtakingly beautiful!

After re-packing my suitcase (everything fit!), shipping out the books I had gathered (more giveaways for you!), charging my camera battery, and taking a short nap, it was time to start getting ready for the big night. Lights! Cameras! Gorgeous gowns and shoes! It's the RITAs!

Jane Porter and friends.



Glorious shoes!

Double Golden Heart finalist, Sharon Wray.

RITA finalist Inara Scott.

Carolina Romance Writers support Golden Heart finalist Tracy Poole (she won!)

Besties Lindsey Faber and Toni Blake looking gorgeous.

2015 Avon FanLit Winner Eve Marie Perry and friend. 

RWA President Cindy Kirk

Sharing a table with Sharon Sala and Barbara Vey. We clean up pretty well, don't you think?

With my fabulous roommates, Lisa Lin and Lenora Bell. Lenora won the 2014 Golden Heart for historical romance and will have her debut novel published by Avon in the spring of 2016. Lisa is part of the 2015 Avon FanLit competition. I have confidence that one day I'll be buying her book too!

RITA winner Tessa Dare with best friends and critique partners Courtney Milan and Carey Baldwin. There's a whole lot of talent in that photo!

Suzanne Enoch and Karen Hawkins with "Chocolate Rita."

With the lovely Laura Lee Guhrke.

So excited for my friend, Juliana Stone who won the RITA for her YA novel, Boys Like You.

Golden Heart winner Kimberly Buckner.

The beautiful and supremely talented Sonali Dev. Her next book, The Bollywood Bride comes out September 29th.

There was no food at this year's awards ceremony so by the time we were seated at Junior's - after 11:00 pm - our crew was beyond hungry and in a comfort food frame of mind. Lenora opted for the cheeseburger (it was huge) while Lisa went with chicken nuggets.

I savored my steak fries and cheesecake.

And the charming Miguel was our waiter extraordinaire!

We headed back to our room, pleasantly full, happy, and ready to go forth and share the romance love until we all meet again next summer in San Diego.

And that, as they say, is a wrap!

What's your favorite midnight meal?

Will you be attending the 2016 RWA conference in San Diego?

Sky-high heels or comfy flats?

Which romance sub-genres do you enjoy reading?

One randomly chosen person who leaves a comment will receive a package of books and swag from my RWA conference stash. 
(U.S. addresses only)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

RWA 2015 - - Back to the Big Apple: Part Four

Sandy Blair, Susan Sey, Suzanne Ferrell, PJ, Joan Kayse

I always look forward to Friday morning of RWA conference week because I know I'll be starting the day with smiles, hugs and much laughter. How do I know this? I know, because Friday is the day that I have breakfast with wonderful friends Suzanne Ferrell, Joan Kayse, and Susan Sey. And this year's breakfast was made even more fun with the addition of Sandy Blair!

Friday morning's breakfast speaker was Julia Quinn, who is not only an accomplished writer but also a wonderful speaker. Her words were humorous and inspirational, moving us to both laughter and tears.

After breakfast, I was off to more publisher book signings. Here are a few photos from Grand Central, Harlequin, Berkley and Pocket:

The husband and wife writing team of V.K. Sykes (she's Vanessa Kelly). I'm loving their new Seashell Bay series, set on an island off the coast of Maine.

Elizabeth Hoyt's Dearest Rogue is one of my favorite books of 2015. And I adore her new haircut!

Have you read Laura Drake's contemporaries yet? Her book, The Sweet Spot won the 2014 RITA for Best First Book.

Stacy Henrie's Of Love and War trilogy is set during World War I. Now that the trilogy is complete, I'm looking forward to reading all three books.

I can't get enough of Paula Quinn's MacGregors!

Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis is an awesome beginning to her new series. I can't wait for more!

I'm so happy for Jessica Scott's success. Writer, soldier, wife, mom; this woman does it all!

What do hotel security guards do on their breaks? Read Julia Quinn, of course!

Stephanie Laurens is one of my favorite authors and a truly lovely lady. Also, I never tire of her wonderful Australian accent. Have you ever read about her journey to becoming a romance writer? It's fascinating!  Check it out at her website:

I met Marie Force at my first conference in 2009 when she was a debut author. I'm thrilled for the huge success she's achieved since then. She's worked hard for it and never gave up, even when the going was very rough. It's a lesson we can all learn from.

So happy Susan Andersen and I were able to find time in our schedules for a chat. Love her humor! Seeing her at conference always makes me smile.

If you think Kristan Higgins' books are funny, you should meet her in person! Sarah Morgan and Kristan Higgins a/k/a "the photo bomber."

Sarah caught on pretty quick.

And, of course, all was forgiven in the end.

RaeAnne Thayne is one of my keeper authors. I've been reading her books for years and enjoying every one!

If you enjoy paranormal romance, you'll want to check out Jeaniene Frost!

Grace Burrowes was a double RITA finalist this year!

I love Virginia Kantra's Dare Island series so much! Luke's story, Carolina Man was a 2015 RITA finalist.

I brought Jane Porter's new book, It's You home from conference and can't wait to curl up with it.

A newly published author from my city. So happy for Jessica Peterson! Check out her Hope Diamond trilogy.

Friday afternoon, I attended a Tea hosted by Eloisa James. What fun it was!

We gathered at the charming Boise Tea Parlor in the West Village for lively conversation and a delicious assortment of sandwiches, cakes, macarons and, of course, tea. I highly recommend the Provence Rooibos, a no-caffeine tea combining fruity berries with mild lavender. It was delicious!

Debbie Mason, PJ & Vanessa Kelly

Friday evening I enjoyed a lovely dinner out with good friends. The restaurant was next door to a busy fire station which created a fair bit of noise but the food was delicious, the service was good, and the company was outstanding. And I had escargot, which I adore and hadn't had in years. It was fabulous and I savored every delicious bite, even if others may have squirmed a bit at the notion that I was eating snails...and enjoying it. What can I say? I'm weird that way. ;-)

Mary, Stephanie & Kim

Back at the hotel, I made a sweep through the bar and ran into long-time friends, Mary, Stephanie and Kim.

Kim and PJ

I chatted with them for a while then it was off to bed for a good night's sleep in preparation for what promised to be a very busy Saturday!

Are you a photo bomber?

What food do you love that others may consider weird?

What accents do you never tire of hearing?

 Two people leaving a comment will receive a package of books.

(U.S. addresses only)