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.