Back home again... Although I'm nowhere near caught up, I did manage to download my pictures from the Orlando RWA National Conference today. I have over 200 of them...and, even splitting them into two parts, I know it would be impossible to share them all without overloading poor Blogger--LOL. So, Mickey, Minnie and the Disney World gang will have to wait until my next post (I went to 2 parks!), but below are a collection of some of the writing-related things I did and some of the truly wonderful people I got to spend time with at the Swan & Dolphin Resort this past week. (BEWARE: Overuse of exclamation points ahead.)
The first big evening event was the Literacy Signing on Wednesday night--my first time taking part in it, alongside about 500 other authors! I gave away postcards, book excerpts and Starbucks VIA coffee--plus, I signed a bunch of books, the proceeds all going to literacy. That day, I also got to meet Edie Ramer in person. (Finally! But we forgot to take a picture--darn!) I saw RWA National Board Member and friend Ruth Kaufman, fellow Chicago-North WF writer Eliza Evans, Cherry pal Melina Kantor , fab "Pink Carnation" series author Lauren Willig, Golden Heart finalist Maureen McGowan (yay!!! did ya hear me screamin'?!) and so many RWA friends. At long last, I met RITA finalist Jennifer Echols (just LOVE her YA novel Going Too Far), caught up with RITA finalists and fellow Chicago-North chaptermates Courtney Milan and Laurie Brown (so proud of you two!), chatted with some enthusiastic and very nice librarians and booksellers at the networking event, and did a video interview with Fresh Fiction! (Thanks, Gwen, for making it so fun!) But that's not all...
...also on Wednesday night there was the Booksellers' Best Awards. According to Jane was a double finalist, and I was thrilled that it came away with "Best Single Title" of the year. Given the incredible writers in my category (Robin Kaye! Karen White! Toni Blake! Susan Mallery!), I can't express how honored I was to win it this year. I also had the pleasure of sitting with fellow finalists Robin Kaye and Caroline Fyffe (pictured left) who are ALSO my 007 Bond Sisters from our year as Golden Heart finalists. It was wonderful to get to see them again at BBA (and at the PASIC party) and, later, to get to catch up with our fellow 007 sister, contemporary/paranormal erotic romance author Lexi Ryan!
During the Lit Signing and at the BBA Ceremony, I got to meet RITA finalist, Booksellers' Best finalist and all-around awesome romantic suspense author Kylie Brant! She and I were seated next to each other during the signing (it's alphabetical, of course :), so we decided we needed to pose here as the "Brant Bookends"--LOL.
No conference would be half as fun without TKA friends Mel Francis and Maria Geraci (left). So, so glad I got to spend a little time with you ladies--it wasn't long enough!!
The incomparable Nora Roberts spoke during our Keynote Lunch, and it was only made better because I got to share the experience with wonderful writing friends Curt Walters, Pamela Cayne and Robin Bielman. I am, however, STILL wondering what that odd ultra-green vegetable was on our plates... It tasted like zucchini, but it looked a little like a tiny, green UFO...
On the subject of food (ones I can actually identify), good friend and RITA finalist Simone Elkeles hosted a chocolate and champagne party that featured these delectable treats. YUM!!
At the Kensington party, I had the chance to finally meet up with talented women's fiction writers Terri DuLong (next to me) and Mingmei Yip (far right). After email-only correspondence, I was SO excited to get to talk with them in person!
Also at the party (pictured left) was Karen Auerbach, Kensington's very kind and extremely hardworking Director of Publicity and PR, standing next to New York Times bestselling author Hannah Howell, who also won a Booksellers' Best Award for "Best Long Historical." YAY, Hannah!
Before the big RITA/Golden Heart Ceremony, I had the opportunity to eat dinner with lovely Kensington authors: Kate Douglas, Rebecca Zanetti, Cynthia Eden and Debbie Mazzuca (on right)...
...and Laura Moore, Angie Fox and Erin Kellison (on left)...
...and Pearl Wolf and Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe (with me pictured between them on right). What a fun, laughter-filled table!!
Then the awards started! See how gorgeous authors Erica Ridley and RITA finalist Ally Carter are in this photo on the left?! Yeah...and they're both REALLY nice, too!
And I got to meet--for the first time!--Girlfriends Cyber Circuit pal Maggie Marr; Women's Fiction-RWA prez & RITA finalist (for her most excellent novel The Last Will of Moira Leahy) Therese Walsh; and lovely Magical Musings writer Michelle Diener, who'd flown in for the conference all the way from Australia!!!
Here are friends and Chicago-North chaptermates Laura Moore and Blythe Gifford!
Pictured above are several of my fellow Chicago-North chaptermates looking absolutely beautiful in their fancy dresses!
Simone Elkeles made Chicago-North so proud when she won the RITA for her YA novel Perfect Chemistry. (Whoo-hoo, Simone!!!!) She and the awesome Meg Cabot posed on the right with Ms. RITA ;).
And, finally, after passing around the (very heavy!) golden statue, Karen Dale Harris, Simone Elkeles w/RITA, Sara Daniel, Lisa Laing, Erika Danou-Hasan and I posed for one last picture. It was an exciting--sometimes exhausting--conference, but so many great things happened. And I even managed to go to a few workshops in between the parties, luncheons and award ceremonies--oh, yes, AND I made it to 2 Disney parks! But more on that next time...