RWA 2011 – New York City

One of my favorite parts of being a writer is meeting kindred spirits!  Writing is largely a solitary pursuit.  So I appreciate every chance I get to hang with other writers, editors and book people.  Last week was the annual conference of the Romance Writers of America, where two thousand such kindred spirits gathered at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.  It was a whirlwind week, full of gorgeous parties and fascinating people.

I hate to be all name-droppy.  But conferences are all about people.  And I’m so incredibly grateful to so many of them.  So here goes…

Candle 79

My editor, Valerie Gray, is not only a phenomenal editor, but also an incredibly thoughtful person.  She took me to organic, vegan restaurant Candle 79 (I’m vegan and love organic food).  By the end of the meal, I was stuffed full but could not stop eating the soy ice cream that accompanied the peach dessert that came in a martini glass.  Mmmm.

Cocktails at SD26

My literary agency, Trident Media Group, hosted a beautiful cocktail party at SD26, a restaurant near their offices.

Here I am with Valerie Gray (middle), and Reka Rubin (left), Harlequin’s subsidiary rights manager.  Wish I had gotten a picture with my fantastic agent Kim Whalen!  (Thank you, Kim!)

Algonquin Hotel

Later that night, I continued on to another party.  It was at the famous Algonquin Hotel, where Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table used to meet (thank you PASIC, for a fantastic night).  I have loved Dorothy Parker’s poetry and her sharp wit for years, and was amazed to be inside this landmark of the New York literary scene.

Me and historical romance author Katharine Ashe in the Round Table Room at the Algonquin.

Katharine is not only beautiful, kind-hearted and an amazingly talented writer.  She’s also a professor and mom to a young son.  She’s one of those “I-don’t-know-how-she-does-it-all” people who gives me hope that it can all, somehow, be done.

Black and White Party at the Waldorf

Every year, Harlequin throws a massive party where several hundred ladies (and a handful of men) take off their shoes and shake it like wild things on the dance floor.  This year, they actually distributed dancing socks for us to wear.  Here are a couple of photos:

With Tiffany Shiu, my PR Liaison at Harlequin.

And again with my lovely editor, Valerie Gray.  Did I mention how fantastic she is?  😉

New Friends

I got to hang with Maggie Shayne, who generously took the time to read my book and lent me her support in the form of a glowing quote.  I feel like I want to put her in the category of “old friends,” since I have read and loved her books *forever*.  Maggie has been writing Twilight Vampires since 1993 – long before (ahem) others.  Her latest book, Twilight Prophecy, came out in April; the last book of her Wings in the Night series, Twilight Fulfilled, comes out in October.  Aside from being an amazing author and an absolute star in the romance industry, Maggie is all positive energy and a shining example of someone who lives from the heart.  She’s such an inspiration to me.

I also got to know Karen Doornebos, fellow debut author whose book, Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, releases in September, 2011.  Call it coincidence or synchronicity, but we randomly sat next to each other at a workshop and found some striking commonalities.

Got to chat briefly with Kerrelyn Sparks and Caridad Piñeiro, who both blurbed my book, at the literacy signing!  Witnessed a thrilling moment when Deanna Raybourn announced she had become a NYT Bestseller for the first time!  I can’t even list the other authors and editors I met – there were so many amazingly cool people.  I’m still getting to know the Harlequin team, and am grateful for all their hard work and support of my books.

Old Friends

I got a chance to meet up with very dear friends, Sarit and Trevor, and their darling little daughter Sophie.  I’ve known Sarit and Trevor since our first year of law school, when we all lived near each other.  Now, they’re both New York lawyers.  We strolled around the city and had dinner at a charming little French bistro on the Upper West Side.

Sarit (cream suit) and Sophie (pink t-shirt) on the piano at FAO Schwarz.

Workshops

Learning – I don’t think I will ever stop wanting to learn about the craft and the romance industry!  Dozens of workshops were offered at the conference.  Highlights for me included the “Seven Deadly Sins of the Second Novel,” given by Courtney Milan et al. – one of the best panels I’ve ever seen.  These ladies were so honest and open with their experiences of writing their second novel, and I’m really grateful.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips – wow.  One of my all-time favorite authors.  The volunteer at the door said, “It’s packed – people are sitting on the floor.”  I said, “For her, I’d be happy to sit on the floor.”  SEP blew me away.

On Saturday, I stayed an extra day to attend a 7-hour workshop given by screenwriting master Michael Hauge.  He gave an amazing, nuts-and-bolts overview of his take on three-act structure.  Well worth staying the extra time, even though I had to caffeinate myself with extraordinary amounts of Starbucks to fight off conference fatigue and stay focused.

Homecoming

On the way home, the airline lost the bag full of books I had collected at the conference.  Boo hoo.  Keeping my fingers crossed that the books will make their way home soon!

My husband and wiggly little pug Dexter were waiting for me, wanting to hear about my trip and share their tales of adventure, too.

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