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)