Hi all! I have a number of sound bits to report.
Been too busy to post each one individually! Life!
First up, this weekend I am heading to Southern California, specifically Santa Ana just below Anaheim to hang with my writer pals and attend the SoCalRWA Writers Conference. Very much looking forward to that! As part of the fun, I will partake in their BIG book signing event. If you are in the area, stop in to see me!
Here are the details:
Date: Sunday, March 17
Time: 1:00 to 2:30 PM
Where: Doubletree Hilton in Santa Ana, CA at 201 MacArthur Blvd.
Sponsor: Barnes & Noble
Books Signing: Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Darcy Falls in Love
*Unfortunately, outside books are not allowed into the signing area. However, I will be bringing my new bookmarks to sign!
The Passions of Dr. Darcy will be released in LESS THAN 3 WEEKS!! Right around the corner! The official release date is April 2. I am very excited! Are you? I sure hope so! I am not conducting an extensive blog tour this time around. That is far too time consuming. I am trusting that my fans will be anxious to by this book. *fingers crossed* I will be celebrating, of course, here and at Austen Authors, as well as a few other places, so be on the lookout for that.
Today I am sharing an excerpt at Austen Authors. A never read wee bit for your reading pleasure! Pop over to read and comment.
The Passions of Dr. Darcy can be pre-ordered, print or eBook editions, so that your copy will arrive right on schedule.
My giveaway for an advanced reader copy has ended. Thank you to ALL who entered! Your entry helped me tremendously with Twitter messages, reviews, Pinterest and Facebook postings, and so much more! I wish I had more ARCs to hand out, but alas I am at the end. Congratulations to the lucky winners. I hope you enjoyed the early peek and would love to see your thoughts shared here.
The Pride and Prejudice Readers Choice project at Austen Authors is going strong. If you haven’t read the story so far, it isn’t too late to catch up! The previous 4 scenes can be read on The Writers Block. Yesterday it was my turn to take the reins! Following the scene written by C. Allyn Pierson, a bandit attack on the way to Pemberley left Mr. Darcy shot. Oh My!! How did I deal with the aftermath, while also weaving in the “readers choice” winning plot option which was that Lizzy found a pocket watch dropped by the bandit who shot Mr. Darcy? Come to the blog and see! I had a blast writing my part. Voting is over, and next up is Marilyn Brant.
Congratulations to Gen Wilson!
Gen’s name was chosen by random.org out of the long list of lovely women who signed up to be placed onto my mailing list as part of the awesome giveaway I sponsored during last month’s RWA Conference. Thanks to everyone and another mega congratulations to Gen! The prize is a signed copy of my first novel – Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One – and a DVD duo of the 1995 & 2005 adaptations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Whoot!
Every year for the past four years I have been blessed to recount the fun I have at the Romance Writers of America National Conference. This year is no exception, I am happy to say. Each year is better as I meet new people and grow more comfortable with the process. This year was the best by far, in large part due to the close locale and therefore the inclusion of my Yosemite Romance Writer pals: Sheri Humphrey (nominated for a Golden Heart for her manuscript A Hero to Hold), Sarah Simas, June Rodriquez, Kris Lynn, Elsa Bayly, and John Conway. I have so much to tell so shall not waste any more time!
Monday and Tuesday, July 23 & 24 – To my delight this year’s conference was held in Anaheim, CA just 3 hours away from Disneyland, which you all know by now is my favorite place in the world. So my husband and son accompanied me for the week and on these two days we focused on playing with Mickey and Co! A highlight for me was meeting my dear friend Kerry for a lunch date at Tortilla Jo’s in Downtown Disney. Dinner on Tuesday was with fellow Austen Author C Allyn Pierson and longtime pals Marie Force and Terry Spear at Bubba Gumps. Yum!
Wednesday, July 25 – On this pre-conference day I attended The Beau Monde Conference.
The Beau Monde is a specialty chapter of the RWA for Regency novelists and the mini-conference is greatly anticipated. A whole day of nothing but Regency workshops and fun! My pal Sarah Simas attended with me – yeah! We enjoyed a lovely breakfast then listened to Sandra Schwab teaching on Popular Magazines of the Regency. Most educational! Second Candice Hern shared her vast knowledge of Fashion Accessories with a stunning slideshow. Luncheon was delicious and replete with excellent company but the best part was hearing my dear friend and awesome author
Delilah Marvelle deliver her keynote speech. It was truly incredible and inspiring. After lunch the final workshop was with Isobel Carr giving a nitty-gritty image enhanced workshop on How Clothes Work for both men and women. Very enlightening. I learned so much!
In the middle of the fun I touched base with fellow Sourcebooks author and friend Cheryl Brooks as well as my agent Scott Eagan.
After a brief respite it was time for the Literacy Signing. This year it was held away from the hotel in the Convention Center. The room was enormous and much better designed acoustically. For the first year ever I did not end the 3 hours with a raging headache! In fact, the entire experience was profoundly improved. I had an absolutely blast. My pal Kerry again stopped in to visit me as well as a number of other fans of the Darcy Saga living in the area. I was also delighted to meet author Barbara Cole Tiller of Darcyholic Diversions who just happened to be in CA on business. What a fortuitous treat! And I must report that preliminary tabulations are that the Literacy Signing raised over $50,000 for ProLiteracy Worldwide. Fantastic!
The night was not over with the signing. I powered down a bit of food and changed into my Regency gown for the Beau Monde soiree. Again with Sarah as my date and Austen Author Susan Mason-Milks as well we enjoyed fine music, fine finger foods, fine company, and fine dancing. As a Regency soiree should be! It was also lovely to welcome my editor Deb Werksman for a while.
Thursday, July 26 – The first official day of the RWA Conference dawned way too early for me! Amid chatting with friends I only see once a year I made it to one workshop – Inside the British Country House by Sandra Schwab – before the luncheon and keynote address by Stephanie Laurens. The food was delicious but Stephanie’s speech on the ever-changing publishing industry was mind-blowing. The transcript can be read on her website:
RWA Keynote Address by Stephanie Laurens
Immediately following this I dashed to Platinum room #8 where C Allyn Pierson (AKA Dr. Carey Bligard) and I were scheduled to give our workshop, What’s With the Bloodletting? Medical Care in England Before 1900. We got ready just in time for the people to file in. The room was a bit more than half full as we started. What a great success! We did fabulously if I say so myself. Luckily there wasn’t another workshop scheduled after ours because the audience had a ton of questions. All in all a marvelous presentation that we are certain helped many authors as they write medical related portions to their stories. Mission accomplished!
To unwind after this I sat in the lobby with Susan Mason-Milks and greeted a horde of folks as they wandered by. One of my top favorite things to do at conference!
Before dinner my YRW group attended a special event hosted by Van Gogh Vodka entitled “Romance of the Cocktail” with Cocktail Guru Jonathan Pogash. 3 tasty drink concoctions were served while Jonathan humorously entertained with the history of spirits and clever ways to include alcohol into a romance novel. Great fun! Dinner was with my YRW buddies at Downtown Disney – Tortilla Jo’s again – and then Sheri, Sarah, June, and I donned our comfy duds for the Harlequin Pajama Party. Candy and 80s music! It was a blast!
Friday, July 27 – Made it up in time for the Chat with Nora Roberts. I try to never miss listening to the Queen of Romance Novels. She is an amazing inspiration and super fun to listen to. This year was no exception. Afterwards I popped into the Avon signing to snag some reading material from favorite authors then hung out in the Starbucks with friend Kris Lynn, sharing my insights on social media and blogging, before meeting with my editor and agent. That went very well – more at a later date. Lunch was spent quietly in my room. Solitude needed for a breather!
Laziness was the order of the day it seems because I passed a delightful couple hours by the pool with Marie Force, Cheryl Brooks, and Grace Burrowes. Best part is connecting with friends over cold drinks!
Another workshop was attended, this one a panel on Social Media options, but no time for another as I needed to spruce up for the big Sourcebooks author dinner! This year we boarded a limo bus and sipped on champagne while driven the 30 miles to Newport Beach and
Maestro’s Ocean Club. Exquisite place! Those of us who have attended the Sourcebooks dinners since the beginning – that being 2009 in San Francisco – all agreed that this was the best one ever! The only negative was that our publisher the incredible Dominique Raccah had broken her arm on Monday and was unable to fly to LA. Such a bummer! Deb Werksman acted as the hostess with the mostest in Dominique’s stead and did a fabulous job. We had a private dining area with an outside balcony that overlooked to Pacific Ocean. Breathtaking views and cooling breezes as the cocktails and appetizers flowed along with great conversation. Dinner was beyond delicious. How we all managed to board the limo bus for home without cranes to lift us in is a mystery. A nightcap on the poolside patio with Sara Humphreys, Cheryl Brooks, Amelia Grey, and Tes Hilaire completed the perfect day.
Saturday, July 28 – My final day dawned even later. Too much party fun the night before! My husband and I joined Sarah Simas and Susan Mason-Milks for brunch in the hotel restaurant – a nice leisurely dining experience – and then I traipsed off to meet other friends at the Grand Central book signing. Obtained lots of Regency Romances from a few of my favorite authors while I was there. Next I grabbed a chai latte before heading to the Grand Ballroom for the Sourcebooks signing. We have grown to the point of needing our own big room! Pretty cool. I signed around 90 copies of Miss Darcy Falls in Love for appreciative fans. What fun!
Dinner was with my YRW group again before dolling up for the Rita awards ceremony. The presentation is always exciting, even if our wonderful Sheri Humphreys did not win the Golden Heart. *Sad face. Spirits were high all the way around and a relaxing cocktail on the patio was in order before ready to call it done on another stellar Romance Writers of America Conference. Good-byes were said in gradual increments, some not until the next day before we packed up for the drive home, and I am already looking forward to Atlanta, Georgia next year!
Here are a few more images in a slideshow format–
- Being escorted into and out of Downtown Disney because we forgot about the mini-vodka bottles in our bags after the Van Gogh Cocktail event. No alcohol allowed in Disneyland!
- Spying my agent Scott Eagan in his kilt – twice – yet still not snapping a picture! What is wrong with me?
- Talking about the Lord of the Rings movies and novel with Kris Lynn. Reliving the joy!
- The laughter when I flashed a slide of Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy during our workshop to counter Carey’s image of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. LOL!
- Welcoming New York Times bestselling author Jade Lee to Sourcebooks! She is so sweet and a load of fun.
- Having my handsome son Kyle oogled by all the women who said he should become a male cover model. He loved it, dimples flashing like crazy!
- Being video interviewed by Sara Humphreys–
In the upcoming weeks I have 2 BIG events planned that I invite everyone to attend if possible.
The first takes place online so will be easy no matter where you are!
The second is in Anaheim for those who live in Southern CA.
For the entire month of July I am one of the four Featured Authors at
Discover a New Love. Scroll down to the previous post for more information on that. Included in the month-o-fun is my “party” with Barbara Vey of Publishers Weekly.
Sharon Lathan—Wednesday, July 18, 7:00 p.m. CST
If you’re a Jane Austen fan, you won’t want to miss this one. No one knows more about Mr. Darcy than Sharon. Lucky for us, Lizzie and Darcy’s story didn’t end after Pride and Prejudice. The Darcy saga is chock-full of more adventures.
What do you imagine might have happened to one of literature’s favorite couples? And what about all the mash-ups we’ve seen recently: Zombies? Sea monsters? Sharon gives us the full scoop on an all-time favorite author. So get your questions ready!
- Two winners will receive a signed copy of any Darcy Saga title they choose
- The Complete Novels of Jane Austen
- A set of the 2005 and 1995 versions of Pride and Prejudice on DVD
- Free 6 month membership to Discover a New Love
The post will be up soon so you can start asking questions or adding comments at any time. I will be actively online with Barbara Vey on July 18. I hope many of you can stop in and chat! For more details this is the direct link to the “parties & events” page at DNL: HERE
The Romance Writers of America National Conference is in Anaheim this year. I am very excited about this not only because that means Disneyland (and you all know how much I LOVE Disneyland!) but also because I can drive rather than hassle with flying. Most of the events, such as my workshop presentation with C. Allyn Pierson on Medical Care in England Before 1900 can only be attended by those who paid for the conference. The one exception is the huge Literacy Autographing. Here are the details–
2012 “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing
Wednesday, July 25, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Proceeds from book sales go to ProLiteracy Worldwide, Read Orange County, and Literacy Volunteers—Huntington Valley.
No outside books are allowed in the event.
If you live anywhere remotely close to Anaheim, or fancy a trip to Southern CA for a holiday, I encourage you to attend the Literacy Autographing. Not only to see me, but to support this marvelous charity and to meet just about every romance novelist writing today. Click the link to read more details, such as parking and maps, as well as to peruse the loonngg list of authors who will be signing. I will be there with copies of my books and my gorgeous bookplates to sign for your copies at home.
I’ll be looking out for YOU!
My oh my, did I ever have a wonderful vacation! So much happened in the 2 weeks we were gone that it feels like we were on holiday for a month. I can’t begin to relate all of it. Instead I will share a few highlights and add some more pictures. They are worth a thousand words, after all.
First up, enjoy this slideshow of my activities at the RWA. For most of it I could not take photos – such as the workshops – or I was simply forgetful and did not whip out my camera! But I got a bunch of great ones from the signings and Sourcebooks dinner. Here ya go!
Now for a brief – very brief – rundown on my third RWA National Conference experience–
Technically the conference began on Wednesday, June 29 but per tradition the day before is chock full of activities. My husband and I moved hotels that day, just from one Times Square hotel – the Sheraton Towers – to the Marriott Marquis. That took a bit of time but we were fortunate to get right in to our room. I opted not to attend any of the Tuesday activities and instead rested up from our whirlwind NYC tourism of the days ahead. I did meet with my wonderful editor, Deb Werksman, and gave her the written proposal for my current WIP – simply titled Dr. George Darcy to make it easy – and after reading through the whole bit silently – the longest few minutes of my life – her response was: “Wow! This is amazing!” So needless to say, that got my conference experience off to a terrific start! More on that development as time passes.
That night was the Literacy Autographing. Once again some 500 romance novelists jammed in to an enormous ballroom and were then visited by hundreds more readers clamoring for autographs. It was mayhem! The sheer volume of this event is mind-boggling. And headache inducing. But it sure was fun! The best part is that this year the RWA authors brought in over $46,000 to benefit the cause of literacy worldwide. Fabulous!
Opening day began officially with a morning panel Q&A with best-selling authors Tess Gerritsen, Diana Gabaldon, and Steve Berry. It was a 90 minute session that was funny and enlightening. The diverse genres and personalities of the authors set a wonderful tone for the conference to come. Following for me was a meeting with the editorial assistant at Sourcebooks – Susie Benton, and then a meet up with my terrific agent Scott Eagan. Of course there were lots of spontaneous run-ins with author friends I haven’t seen for a year, which is always a highlight.
The luncheon on Wednesday was delicious and accented by a rousing speech by Madeline Hunter. Great way to keep the momentum going! From there it was off to the workshops! I attended a couple in between hallway chats. Never too late to learn something! I only made it to one signing besides our Sourcebooks one (Berkeley) but brought home a mountain of novels for my daughter and I to read.
Dinner that night was a special treat in that my hubby and I left the hotel to meet with Marsha Altman, an Austen Author friend that I have known for many years now but never met. Marsha lives in NY so it was a delight to spend some time with her. Plus she got us onto the subway for the first time! We ate kosher Indian cuisine and it was delicious. For more on Marsha and her novels – among them the recently released Ballad of Gregoire Darcy – visit Austen Authors.
Thursday was more of the same with one great story to add on: Last year my daughter stood in line for almost an hour to have a book signed by the incredible Sherrilyn Kenyon – The Dark Hunter series, among many, many others – but alas we had to leave for a scheduled engagement so she was unable to get the book signed. I have not been forgiven! Until now!! My husband Steve was lucky enough to run in to Sherrilyn in the elevator and told her about Emily. She told him to make sure we got a book signed this year. Well, fortunate for all of us, Ms. Kenyon was the speaker for the award’s banquet on Wed. so I bravely approached her and asked for a signature. She remembered the conversation with Steve and even Emily’s name! In fact, her exact words were, “Now you can tell your daughter you are off the hook for last year.” LOL! Of course I texted Emily right away and the number of exclamation points and happy faces were nearly uncountable. And, yes, she has now forgiven me!
To make the story even better, both Steve and I happened to again meet Sherrilyn at different times in the days that followed, and both times she mentioned Emily by name. That is incredible! And seriously, if you haven’t read a Sherrilyn Kenyon book, you should. Plus, her speech was simply stunning.
Thursday also included our Sourcebooks book signing, which was a blast, and then our dinner. Taken altogether it was an incredible day. I did attend a couple workshops as well, but socializing seemed to dominate the day for sure! I was interviewed for a segment on the conference that I have not yet seen, but do have a link to an About.com article on the conference that features my picture. Cool! That article can be read here–
Friday was a bit more low key. I started with a great breakfast at Johnny’s – yum! – with a group of writer friends, attended a stimulating discussion on the history of sex by the always titillating Delilah Marvelle (fabulous writer and good friend), learned a bit about media marketing, and then had another fun meal – pizza this time – with another group of friends. Why do the best times revolve around food? LOL! Also on Friday was the Spotlight on Sourcebooks and naturally it is encouraging to hear my publisher, editor, publicist, and sales manager talk about the company that publishes my books. Basically a state-of-the-union session!
Friday night this year I opted not to attend the RITA awards – although I was rooting for my pals Kendra Leigh Castle and Joanne Kennedy (neither won ) No, instead Steve and I ate at an Irish pub – double yum! – and went to see Mamma Mia! Thus ending the RWA experience with some ABBA 80′s fun.
The entire trip was beyond words to describe. My husband and I are coming up on 25 years of marriage – on July 19th to be precise – so this trip was definitely a second honeymoon. Between our wonderful week in Massachusetts with leisurely treks to New Hampshire and Maine, and then the week in NYC it was the perfect way to celebrate. Even if I was dubbed “sarge” for taking us on marathon treks to see it all! We didn’t quite see it “all” but we got close. Skip down to the blog entry on NYC with the slideshow and an update there. Or click this link to read my update and view the images:
We stayed over on Saturday July 2, and made it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We were there for hours and still only saw a fourth of the place, probably a sixth. That place is massive! I could not tear myself away from the medieval art, armour, and 18th-19th century art. Wow! I was in heaven. Here is another slideshow of a select favorites from the Met. Yes it is a lot of images but trust me, we took a ton more! These are merely the ones I adore the most–
Our big NYC finale was a lovely Italian dinner and then Wicked. Oh my! It was amazing! In the end we could not decide which play we liked the best since all three were so enjoyable. But, I have to say Wicked is the one I would go out of my way to see again. It was phenomenal. Ending the night with a slice of New York cheesecake was the last hurrah before catching a bit of sleep in prep for the flight home. Done for this year. Whew!
I have wanted to attend from the get-go but, man, is it ever expensive to fly across country these days! Add on the cost of hotels and entertainment and the cha-chink meter goes through the roof. But, in the end it was too tempting to pass up.
I will be traveling with my hubby and we intend to spend two weeks on the East Coast. Some of that time will be in the Massachusetts region north of Boston for a leisurely week of hanging by the ocean – the Atlantic this time! – and casual drives through Maine, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. Naturally we will visit Boston and Salem, among any other hot spots I can add to the agenda.
After that we will take the train from Boston to New York, just to make it fun and not hassle with a car, and spend the last week there. Part of that time is the conference, of course, but we also have tickets for a couple tours and for a Broadway showing of The Phantom of the Opera. Oh my! Can you even believe how excited I am for that? I doubt it!!
The main purpose in bringing this up nearly a month in advance is that I will once again be partaking in the 2011 “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing to benefit ProLiteracy Worldwide. This is a phenomenal charity and this yearly event sponsored by the RWA raises hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. It is a very worthwhile cause. I urge everyone who live in the vicinity of New York to try to come to the signing. It is open to the public, free of charge except for whatever books you purchase, and with over 500 romance novelist present to sign books you are bound to meet someone you love. Maybe that would be me! But even if not, there are a load of fabulous authors to pick from. The full list of participants for this year’s event is here:
It will be held on Tuesday, June 28, from 5:30–7:30 p.m. at the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square, Broadway Ballroom.
I would love to meet some of you, so be sure to pop by my table.
As for the rest of my trip – well, you know me. I will have my trusty Mac LapBookPro and iPhone so will definitely be keeping in touch as the fun allows. Stay tuned…..
At times it seemed like all I did for those 4 days at the Dolphin was eat and talk. No doubt I did an incredible amount of both, but I did have time to absorb information at the workshops and glean from conversations. Some served to cement ideas/thoughts already known, but other information was new. All of it needs to be assimilated and applied, which is an ongoing process as I advance in this business.
Let me start with what is most exciting: I already announced that my editor wants Georgiana’s love story (scroll down if you missed that news). I am SO excited and happy about that, as you can imagine, and have been writing like crazy. However, I remained a bit unsure of my future beyond that due to what I perceived as hesitation on my editor’s part for stories about secondary characters. With a bit more clarification during a face-to-face conversation I now comprehend that Deb’s hesitation was only so I would not have high expectations. It had nothing to do with Sourcebooks fearing poor sales or believing it too risky. In fact, I was assured that sales for the Saga continue to be fabulous – thanks to all of YOU! – and that they are extremely pleased. Furthermore, they support me as a valued author and Deb encouraged me to write whatever is in my heart. She assured me that they do not want me to go anywhere and she trusts me to give them stories they will love.
Whew! I know some of you will laugh and say, “I told you so, Sharon!” That’s OK. Deb laughed at me too, said my anxiety was “cute,” and praised my humility. LOL! Nevertheless, I will remain diligent when it comes to this business and my career. Nothing is certain, trust me! What I will write after I finish this novel is unclear to me, but I feel a huge weight lifted. Maybe Dr. Darcy’s story will be told after all!
Whew! It has been a crazy 2 weeks! Actually, more than 2 weeks since we left home on the 18th of July and did not get back home until August 2. I honestly do not know where to begin in recounting my adventures. We did so much as a family and then I attended the Romance Writers of America National conference in Orlando for more excitement. Monday we began the looonnnggg trek home, getting delayed at SFO, and were all so exhausted once we arrived at the humble abode. Now I am trying to get through the piles of clothing, unpacking, and sifting through the photos. Headway is being made, but at a snail’s pace!
I know I will need to separate the memories over several blogs. First I will start with the conference since that is freshest on my mind and also to correspond with our group blog at Casablanca where several of us are sharing photos and memories.
I will get to the main conference in a moment, but for me the fun began early on the 28th. That is the day I transferred to the Dolphin Resort at WDW and started my RWA fun by attending the one-day conference held by the Beau Monde chapter of the RWA. The Beau Monde is an online chapter exclusively for Regency writers and I joined up after last year’s RWA. Many times the learned ladies of the Beau Monde have kindly given me answers to those tough questions not easily found with a Google search. Knowing they are there to assist is a wonderful boon. Each year they hold a separate conference the day before Nationals officially begins and like the amazing organizers of RWA who miraculously rearranged the affair after Nashville sadly flooded and Orlando stepped in, these gals threw the Beau Monde conference together with startling efficiency. And did a fabulous job at it! It was a day of workshops interspersed with a delicious breakfast, luncheon, and afternoon tea. The choices of food and lessons were numerous and tough to pick from, let me tell you! I went with Delilah Marvelle’s titillating talk on the “disreputable lady,” Janet Mullany’s outline of Regency servants, and Sabrina Darby’s interactive discussion on adapting modern situations to the past. In between I visited with old and new friends while eating myself silly. How awesome is that?
Later that night, after the Pro Literacy Signing (more on that in a moment), was the Regency Soiree. I was super excited about this since it was my first opportunity to dress as a Regency lady, ballgown and all! My gorgeous gown was sewn by a dear friend of mine named Rachel, a marvelously talented young lady only 14, who fashioned a stunning garment perfectly tailored to my matronly dimensions.
Above with my daughter Emily, who came with me and was my ladies’ maid! And another of the dress. Below is a closeup of my hair, and posing with fellow Sourcebooks Austen author and friend Abigail Reynolds.
As I mentioned, a break from Regency events was taken for the annual Literacy book signing. Like last year I joined over 500 authors with books to sell and sign for the public, all proceeds going to benefit the cause of literacy worldwide. I had a blast! Sadly I was not seated beside Stephanie Laurens like last year, but that hardly mattered. The crowd was huge and I signed a bunch of books. Highlights personally included fan Michelle who drove many miles with all 3 novels in tow for me to sign. How cool is that? I was additionally blessed by visits from longtime fans Carl and Charly, and Seli and Robert, both couples driving long distances to see me and other favorite authors. We managed to dine with each couple during the course of our stay in Orlando, adding to the incredible delight of my conference.
So much already and that is just the first day, BEFORE the RWA conference technically began! Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were filled to the brim with speakers, workshops, luncheons, endless chats with fellow attendees, meeting with friends, appointments with my publicist and editor, and Sourcebooks events. Wowza! The special moments are myriad and photos are in my Portrait Gallery.
My fellow SB authors are dear to me. Our group continues to grow – and that is wonderful – but there are several of us who have been around since the beginning of the romance line. I met with Mary Margret Daughtridge, writer of the SEALed series, and then Terry Spear, writer of a fabulous wolf-shapeshifter series. Meeting these 2 ladies for the first time after all these years was simply amazing. On top of that I got to hang with Robin Kaye, Marie Force, Amelia Grey, Cheryl Brooks, Abigail Reynolds, Judi Fennell, Lydia Dare, Joanne Kennedy, Julie James (not SB but I love her!), AND the newer authors too numerous to name! Some perspective: the first RWA dinner hosted by SB was 2 years ago in San Francisco and there were 10 of us. This year there was over 20! And that isn’t all of us by a long shot! It was rousing fun, let me tell you.
Our dinner was held on Friday night at a restaurant named Ceviche with Spanish-style food that was to die for. Two super stretch limos took us to the place, our party of writers enhanced by the presence of our publisher and CEO, the delightful and awe-inspiring Dominique Raccah; our fabulous editor Deb Werksman; the best publicist in the business, the adorable Danielle Jackson; and our new marketing manager Liz.
Earlier that day The Three Ds – Dominique, Deb, and Danielle – held the Sourcebooks Spotlight. These ladies are powerhouses, let me tell you! Hearing them speak so passionately about Sourcebooks and their united vision for the company and the romance/fiction line is truly breathtaking. The room was filled to overflowing, a goodly number those of us who are already fortunate to be published with them, but many many more who listened intently to the speeches and then flocked forward to take cards, submission guidelines, or chat with the Ds. It was amazing as always.
On Saturday it was our turn to hold a book signing. Our room still isn’t quite as full of authors as the Harlequin or Berkeley ones, but we are growing fast! The crowd was every bit as large. People stood in long lines until let in to meet those of us signing, and I am humbled to say that the line for me was perpetually the longest! Ladies, and one man, waited over 15 minutes just for my 2 books and I signed continually for 2 solid hours. It was unbelievable. It was fantastic to chat with so many people about Jane Austen and my vision for the Darcys, while signing until my hand was cramped. But the big WOW moment was when I looked up to see NYT Bestseller author Nalini Singh standing before me with the sweet-voiced entreaty for both my novels. I am here to tell you, and Emily will attest, that I almost had a heart seizure! I slipped into total fan-girl mania!! Thankfully Nalini was gracious, even posing for a photo.
I was slightly more composed when I encountered Eloisa James on the escalator, but probably only because I had glimpsed her in the hallway about 10 minutes prior so was semi-prepared. She was Lovely with a capitol L. We talked for a good 15 minutes, some about books but mostly about how her speech last year moved and inspired me, on several levels, but partially because of her experience as the mom of a premie in the NICU. This interlude was a high light to be sure.
Take it from me, I am only scratching the surface. I didn’t mention Galean Foley’s Beau Monde speech, or Nora Roberts or Jayne Ann Krentz. I didn’t touch on the things I learned that will help me to be a better writer and deal with this crazy business. And I haven’t said a word about the great report from my editor and publicist! You will just have to bear with me a bit longer on some of that. For now, pop over to the Portrait Gallery to see a bunch more photos. I still need some time to unpack, sleep, and assimilate all of it. Trust me, I will share more and talk about the family visits that were beyond fantastic.
Finally, right? I am home, it is Monday morning, and I slept for 9 hours straight! Sorry for the delay in sharing my news but the last 2 conference days were jammed from early sunrise to well after the sun was set. I am not complaining as it was fabulous. I have loads to share, so be warned that this may be a long post! First off: I created an album in the Portrait Gallery for the photos I took. It isn’t all of them, but quite a few and more than I could feasibly post here on the blog. So if interested, here is the link: RWA Conference 2009 We all took tons of pictures and will be sharing, so I will add as I receive more. Also, all of us who were there have been blogging and sharing our experience, so if curious to read more about this great event, visit Marie Force, Julie James, Kendra Leigh Castle, Casablanca Authors, Judi Fennell, and Cheryl Brooks. **Cheryl will understand, but I must warn that her blog is X-rated! So do not scroll down past the RWA info unless you are ready to see more than you may prefer. LOL!
OK, my experiences….. Friday the 17th did start right off, but there wasn’t an early workshop I wanted to see so I took my time leaving the hotel and did write the previous day’s events on the blog. But once I got to the Marriott it was non-stop! I attended a workshop that, frankly, did not include the info I anticipated so was a disappointment, especially when I was torn between two choices. Oh well, live and learn: sit toward the back so it is easy to slip out! Then I attended the workshop on Online Promotion that our own Danielle Jackson was a part of. It was so great. Danielle did a fabulous job for her very first public engagement and all the information offered was apropos to this internet-based world we live in.
The Awards Luncheon - It focused on giving awards for those support people, such as the volunteers and librarians, and was held in the ballroom. The guest speaker was Eloisa James. She is HUGE in the Regency romance genre of novels. In fact, I began reading “Duchess in Love” while on the plane (She signed the copy for me!) and it is really good so far. Her speech was outstanding. Humorous and very touching. She focused on persevering amid the hardships and the negativity, a topic that resonated deeply within me since I struggle with this.
After the luncheon I met with my editor, Deb Werksman. I just love her! We chatted for over an hour, covering everything both personal and professional. Of course, it was primarily a chance to talk about the current events but also to discuss my future. Deb is very smart and Sourcebooks as a company has a philosophy of building authors, of helping them discover their niche, of planning beyond the “now” to the whole career arc. I so appreciate Deb’s honesty, even when I may not agree! She is very gifted in listening, understanding, offering her experiential opinions and insights, and meshing it all together to a conclusion that fits all of us. I love that I can talk about Loving Mr. Darcy but also plot for what I hope to be doing 2 or more years down the line. It is far too premature to say anything specific, but I will say that there are surprises on the horizon and I am feeling very, VERY good about being able to pursue my dreams of writing Kitty’s story and the adventures of Dr. George Darcy. And I also feel confident that if inspiration leads me down another path, whether historical (my heart) or contemporary, Sourcebooks will be there for me. An author can hope for nothing else. I will, naturally, keep you posted as is appropriate.
Several workshops followed and I employed my newfound knowledge of staying toward the back so I could slip in and out! That way I got to hear portions of a couple topics I was interested in. The one I loved was “Why We Love Mr. Darcy: Insider tips on the Historical Market.” Naturally the Mr. Darcy in the title captured my eye, but also because it was led by bestselling, award winning historical novelist Julia Quinn. It really wasn’t about Austen-related historicals, but about the genre in general. Very good information and I learned a tremendous amount.
After that I had no time for additional workshops as I had to get gorgeous for our Sourcebooks Authors Dinner. I have LOADS of fabulous photos, so please head to the Gallery to see them! Greeting everyone was the first fabulous part. A few of the ladies I had not yet run into, like the stunning Amelia Grey and beautiful Michele Ann Young. Others I had only been able to briefly chat with, like Robin Kaye, my longtime internet buddy Abigail Reynolds, and Loucinda McGary. And there were some new writers too! So we gabbed for a time in the lobby before piling into the 2 stretch limos provided by our publisher. Talk about fun and feeling special! The restaurant was called 1789 and we dined in a private room on the third floor. It was amazing and so great to be able to freely chat without external noise to interrupt or dampen our conversation. Of course, we raised the voice levels pretty high all by ourselves! The food was delicious, but truthfully I do not think it would have mattered as we were having too much fun. Dominique Raccah – CEO and Publisher of Sourcebooks – gave us an in-depth update on the business aspects of the Casablanca imprint. Then she and Deb had each author talk about what they wrote, always following it with humorous and glowing commentary from their perspective. I can’t express how marvelous the whole evening was, so let me simply say that it was magical.
Saturday dawned way too early for my taste, but there was a workshop I HAD to attend! I met Cheryl for breakfast, then headed to “Lessons of Firefly: Learning from the Works of Joss Whedon.” I have freely stated in previous blog posts that I am a huge fan of this show, so I simply had to be there. And, no, Nathan Fillian did not show up, shirt on or off, but there were photos! LOL! The interesting aspect is that Jacqui Jacoby used the brilliant writing that made Firefly and the movie Serenity so fantastic as a lesson in how to write in a novel. It was very well done and I learned more than I anticipated, I will confess. Next I popped in to a couple other workshops and managed to get a few more signed books for my daughter and I to read.
At 11am was the Spotlight on Sourcebooks. Had to attend that! Dominique, Danielle, and Deb – The 3 D’s – gave their presentation and it was wonderful! Dominique is somewhat flamboyant and a ball of energy. Her enthusiasm and passion for books is so incredibly apparent. I could write a whole essay on this astounding woman whom I so admire and genuinely like. I am unbelievably fortunate to be a part of this organization! The room was filled to standing-only capacity, free books and flyers were given away, and all of us were present to support our house. My series was highlighted with the news that Target has taken me on revealed to all and I was singled out by Dominique. It was quite a thrill. Don’t my covers look awesome on the big screen?
Lunch was next, a group of us leaving the hotel for a change of scenery. We were joined by Marie Force’s daughter Emily who was in town to celebrate her 14th birthday with mom! More on darling Emily in a bit. No time for anything after lunch as we had our official, separate Sourcebooks author book signing. This is the first year it has been done! The Landmark Casablanca line has so expanded that we needed our own room. The waiting line was long and we were mobbed. The only mishap was the inexpectation of such a remarkable turnout, so none of us had enough books! Mine were gone in about 20 minutes, even though I tried to write slow! I apologize profusely, as does Danielle and Dominique, for not realizing what to expect. It is still a learning curve for us as a romance line, so next year we will be way more prepared! But it was fun while it lasted. My tagline: “Happily ever after comes true.” Nice, huh? I have to confess that it was the most fun I have had in a long time and I am so very proud of the novel I and Sourcebooks have produced. A personal, hearfelt thanks to everyone who rushed to my desk and expressed happiness to be acquiring my novel. I do pray you enjoy it and share your pleasure with other potential readers. Or write to me! I remember you all and would love to hear from you!
The last, big event of the conference was the Rita and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony that night. This is the Oscars for Romance Novelists. It is a huge event with all the glitter and glitz one expects from such an event. I sat back and simply enjoyed it. I still did not know most of the authors being nominated, but am proud to say that there were a large number I did! Including some I can now think of as, at the least, acquaintances. Such as Stephanie Laurens who won a Rita. It was glamorous and exciting. But the pinnacle of it all was as we were leaving the ballroom and who should be walking directly in front of us but Nora Roberts! #1 fan Marie Force was shaking with nerves, but her bold daughter steps forward and congratulates Ms. Roberts on her new Rita win. Nora, gracious and absolutely gorgeous, stops and says thank you. Marie finds her voice and mentions that it is Emily’s birthday, Nora extending a big smile and wishes for a happy birthday. Then she agrees to pose with Emily for a candid shot! It was utterly amazing! Even I, an embarrassed non-reader of a Nora Roberts novel, was awed to be in her presence. But she was kindness itself.
That pretty well ends the adventures for me. A few snacks at the reception and teary good-byes to all my friends, and I was ready for bed. Funny thing: I was so exhausted, missing my family, and dying to sleep in my own bed, yet sad to leave. It was an incredible experience and I already can’t wait until next year when the conference will be in Nashville. I have only scratched the surface in relating all the fantastic conversations I had and in assimilating how profoundly I was affected by all I learned. My heart was rejuvenated, my purpose refocused, my determination bolstered, and my confidence restored. I had great fun, created lasting memories, established relationships, and marketed myself well, but most importantly I renewed my joy in writing and reaffirmed my place as a novelist. Some will continue to try to rob me of that title and to tarnish my accomplishments, but they will fail. Because like it or not, I am a published novelist! It is a cemented fact that I now wholly grasp and will never forget.
Good morning everyone! Yes, I am not getting around to posting anything about yesterday – the first official day of the Romance Writers Conference in Washington DC – until today. No, I was not out until the wee hours of the morning partying! Rather I was exhausted and needed to charge the camera battery last night. LOL! This morning, Day #2, I do not have a workshop I am interested in until 9:45 so I have the time to tell you a bit about yesterday.
Thursday the 16th of July was the official start of the conference and the Opening Session was held in the Marriott ballroom with a welcome address by best selling author Janet Evanovich. You all know my confessed sin of not being hugely familiar with most romance novelists, so although I have seen Janet’s name on the shelves I have never read one of her books. That may soon change because if she writes half as humorously as she speaks, her books must be side-splitting hysterical! She was fantastic. The room was rolling with laughter and claps. It was a wonderful way to open the day. As you can see from the fuzzy photo, the ballroom is HUGE so it was difficult to see her on the stage and even the big screens were far away. And I was sitting only mid-way in the enormous room!
After that I had breakfast with Marie Force, and then did some wandering around and general chatting with folks until the luncheon. The morning was taken up with the RWA General Meeting that I was not really interested in attending. I ran into my editor, Deb Werksman, and briefly said hello before she had to dash off for a meeting. Then I met up with my publicist, Danielle Jackson. We sat together for the luncheon, along with fellow Sourcebooks author Cheryl Brooks, and I got that photo you wanted Becky! Isn’t Danielle as adorable as I always say? She is a gem and the Casablanca line of romance fiction would not be as successful as it is without her input. In fact, Ms. Jackson has been promoted to Associate Publicist! Congratulations Danielle!!
The workshops began in earnest that afternoon and the first of my dilemmas occurred: Which one to choose? Luckily the sessions are all recorded and can be purchased later, or downloaded from the internet, so it isn’t a traumatic decision. I first chose “Dynamic Dialogue” with Allie Pleiter. As it sounds, she spoke about ways to use just dialogue to give greater punch to your story. Lots of info I knew but some new pointers as well. Session 2 was an even harder choice as there were 2 workshops I wanted to go to PLUS the “Chat With Nora Roberts.” After hearing the advice of several longtime attendees, I decided the chat was a good option and I am glad I did. Nora Roberts was amazing. So regular, blunt, funny, but also a very serious author who – let’s face it – knows this business better than anyone on the planet! It was a Q&A type session and I learned a great deal in the 45 minutes we were there. Sorry the photo is so poor, but we sat toward the back as we wanted to hit up the Avon book signing before it ended.
The book signing was incredible. Fun fact I did not know: All the books are free! And, obviously, you get them signed! I was surprised and proud to discover that I knew a great many names of the authors in the room. Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Kerrelyn Sparks, Suzanne Enoch, and Gayle Callen (Who is also Julia Latham, my literacy signing table-mate and she remembered me! How cool is that?) Many others I did not know, I admit, but I picked up about 13 books for my daughter and I to enjoy. I met Gaelen Foley, whose website I frequent for her wonderful glossary (where I pilfered much of my glossary info) and her incredible articles. She was lovely and gracious. Sadly her books were already gone, but we chatted for about 10 minutes while I thanked her for the data she has provided for me and other authors. Just can’t say enough about how nice she was. In fact, they all were. It was great fun!
The last workshop of the day was with Lauren Willig on “How to live in another century or just sound like you did.” She is an author of historical romance as well as a historian, so her insight in how to research was phenomenal. I took lots of notes! But then she spoke of the practical applications to we who write “fiction” – and I “…” the word fiction because I think too many readers, especially of the Austen genre, forget that in the end it is a novel! Not a treatise on the Regency or on Jane herself. Great information. And Ms. Willig was energetic, entertaining, and cute!
I ended the day having dinner with Marie Force and Cheryl Brooks, then running into a number of other ladies as we meandered through the vast and packed Marriott lobby. Still, I was back in my room be 9pm, ready to relax and get to bed early. After a long chat with my sweet hubby! Now I am up and rearing to go for another long day! More from me later!