Pre-conference Trip to Hogwarts
I spent $80 dollars to spend three hours in line and went on only one ride — AND IT WAS SO WORTH IT! I must do a separate post on this, but I just wanted to show you my favorite moment.
It was sweaty, sticky hot and we were in a ginormous line that wound around the park just to get into Harry Potter world. But the moment we passed the arch into Hogsmead/Diagon Alley and you saw the snow-covered rooftops, for a moment I actually thought I felt a burst of cold and I believed.
The best part of the experience was walking down the street and being immersed in the world. I took a gazillion pictures there, so I’ll organize them into a post later this week.
Met a Favorite Author (and didn’t burst into tears like last time)
I’m always torn about going to RWA and actually meeting authors I love. I was always afraid it might ruin that fourth wall and the fantasy. I want the stories and books to live in their own space and not be linked in my head to the person who wrote them.
The literacy signing was crazy this year! The room was huge and there were people everywhere. Bria Quinlan and I started from “A” and went alphabetically down the aisle, but after Tessa Dare sold out before Bria could get a book, we rushed straight over to Sherry Thomas. I managed to procure the second to last copy of His at Night. I was so giddy that Not Quite a Husband won the RITA for Best Historical Romance and I loved her acceptance speech.
Sherry told me she cried a bucket of tears while writing that book. I must have cried another bucket reading it. I haven’t felt so taken in by a story in a long time and I still have scenes from that book haunting me. We also got to chat a little bit about wuxia and Jin Yong. I was pleased.
I haven’t perfected Cindy Pon’s talent for photographing yummy food, but there was definitely plenty of it at the conference. Luckily, my personal trainer isn’t around. *looks left, looks right*
First up, I had afternoon tea at the Floridian with the Harlequin Historical authors and the editors from the UK. One look at the lobby told me that we were in the low-end Disney resort for the conference. The Dolphin is beautiful, but just take a look at the Floridian.
Anyone who knows me, knows that one of my favorite past times is afternoon tea. For this alone, I think I landed in the perfect publishing spot with Harlequin Historical!
I wish I took more pictures of the finger sandwiches and the little scones with cream, but I was sitting with my fellow authors and the HMB editors, so I tried to behave. Plus I was spending a lot of time eating.
It’s hard to capture the spirit of all the random meet ups that are so special about conference. The main meeting place was the fountain in the lobby. I like this picture even though it’s fuzzy because it shows a couple of us all converging there, unplanned, unposed, all with probably different places to go. It also has some of my closest and long-time writing buddies Gwen Hayes and Bria Quinlan as well as romance divas December Gephart and Victoria Janssen.
For A Shy Gal, I Really Like an Audience
I was able to use my teaching background and share my lessons learned about querying and submission in “Selling the Hard Sell”. This was my first time presenting this particular talk, so I feel it went well based on the audience response. I was going up in the same time slot with Donald Maass and Brenda Novak, so I was grateful to have a decent showing. Big thanks to my CP Kristi for snapping this photo from the back.
The Dress for Historical Success costume workshop was pure fun. I learned so much about costuming throughout the many popular periods in historical romance and I got to strut my stuff in Tang Dynasty costume, a fantasy of mine since childhood. I’ve decided to offer the twin swords used in the workshop as a prize as part of my Sept/Oct release celebration.
I’m still gathering the photos and editing the video from the workshop, so this one is also going to have it’s own post. Just a preview of me in the lobby with swords in hand (sheathed) after the workshop:
Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood Rules!
One of the huge highlights of conference was catching up with the Ruby Sisters. In my excitement, I baked ruby slipper cookies the weekend before heading to Orlando:
Dinner was at Kouzzina on the Boardwalk. I showed up a bit late coming from the literacy signing, so I missed the group photo in the lobby. Doesn’t everyone look fabulous?
And the gratuitous food shot. Kouzzina is Iron Chef Cat Cora’s restaurant. One entree would have been enough, but I had to go for the sampler: Greek lasagna, lamb burger and a spiced chicken with orzo. Every bite was fabulous! My drink was a special martini made with ouzo, also delicious.
So many great moments: Liz Talley and Addison Fox were signing for the first time. Jamie Michele was absolutely sweet, reminding us during rehearsal to give the envelope to the winner after announcing. She was the one who grabbed my envelope and gave it to me last year. Darynda Jones and Sara Ramsey and I sat at the same table for the GH/RITA awards and sipped champagne together while we cheered for this year’s finalists. And two more sisters, CJ Eernisse Chase and Elisa Beatty took home Golden Heart awards this year!
The Harlequin Party
I got in, got a ridiculously girly-looking martini glass, sat down, and looked around the beautiful room. Then I turned to Victoria Janssen and gushed, “It’s pretty awesome being a Harlequin author!” (See previous note about Jeannie not being able to play it cool.) Victoria replied in the fashion of, “Ah, young grasshopper…”
Fellow Ruby Sister Liz Talley (below), who writes for Superromance looked fabulous.
And I quite like this rather artistic photo of me with chaptermate Megan Kelly behind the roses. It’s actually the beginning of the night, so that’s not me passing out from exhaustion. I just always blink in photos.
My roomie and plus one, MG Braden, posed with Diva Dude Mike Myers for a photo.
I made a vow to try every dessert at the Harlequin party. I fulfilled that vow. I showed two of the most photogenic here, the Yule log style cake and the sorbet bar.
We danced for hours and I nearly lost my voice from singing and shouting. (The source of my sultry microphone voice at the RITAs, if anyone was wondering.) Amanda Berry didn’t let recent hip surgery or a cane stop her from hitting the dance floor. And I must say, I think her electric slide was still better than mine. (That dance was the electric slide, right?) I’d be in indebted to anyone who has a picture of Amanda dancing with her cane, by the way. Can’t keep a party girl down.
At the end of the night, I was a very happy, very sore grasshopper. My hip still hurts from dancing — maybe I’m doing it wrong?
RITA/Golden Heart Awards Ceremony
All dressed up….and I forgot my camera!! I presented the Golden Heart for Best Historical Romance this year and once again Kristi came through with a shot of me on the jumbotron.
The highlight of the ceremony had to be when bottles of Clicquot (get that? multiple bottles of champagne…the good stuff) appeared magically on the table, compliments of the general manager. The reason, of course, was that Roxanne St. Claire and Kresley Cole were sitting with us. Roxanne and Kresley are charming, gorgeous, talented and they must practice voodoo and possess magical powers.
Kresley won the RITA for best paranormal romance for her book, Kiss of a Demon King. I asked to touch her RITA statue for good luck because I’m a dork like that. The photo here doesn’t do it justice. Sara was able to get a better one. The RITA really is so shiny and pretty. Maybe one day, if I work really, really hard…
After the ceremony, the Tuesday critique group was able to get together for a photo. Dawn had gone back to her room since she had a drive early the next morning, but here’s Shawntelle, me, Kristi, and Amanda.
So that is it. Until New York, my friends!