...in San Francisco. 25 years ago. (Because the last time I was there I was, um...younger. :-) But I'm going back. Oh, so soon. And I will reclaim it.
I suspect it's still roaming around Ghiradelli Square, awaiting my return. It's invariably accompanied by a large, chocolate-covered ice cream sundae. "You've missed me, Marilyn," it's murmuring, the voice of decadent temptation. "C'mon. Taste the luuuuvvv."
So, yes. Like the nearly 2,000 members of RWA who'll be in attendance, I'm looking forward to this year's National Conference. An exciting perk (aside from it taking place in my Chocolate Mecca) is that I'll get to present this year's Golden Heart Award for "Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements"--the category my manuscript According To Jane won last year--and I'll get to watch someone else stumble up to the microphone in a semi-mute state of shock, sputtering words she'll have no recollection of 10 minutes later. You just can't buy fun like that!
I'll get to see friends and acquaintances from prior conferences and online loops. I'll get to cheer on my roomie Simone Elkeles (who's up for a RITA in the YA category)--whoo-hoo! I'll get to catch up with my lovely agent and finally meet my wonderful editor. And, oh, there'll be cocktail parties and late-night chats and interesting workshops and loads of books/dessert receptions/enthusiastic writers/adventure. And, for me, there'll also be vitamin C tablets (to ward off the colds I always seem to catch post-conference), a fully charged iPod (for when I need a musical break) and stern self-warnings not to let my circuits get so overloaded that I reach for too many chocolate treats as energy pick-me-ups (because I do that...every year).
Gotta love the thrill of an event that has so many people excited about romance and reading. I look forward to being there. To seeing warm, familiar faces. To meeting new ones. To anticipating reuniting with friends who won't be at this conference but will be in D.C. next year (we'll miss you folks this week!). And to all the smooth milk/dark/white chocolate that awaits. Heart-shaped and otherwise.