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!
- 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–