I had my very first fan sighting--meaning I was sighted by a fan. Right after signing in at the conference registration desk, I hit the ladies room. While I was washing my hands, a woman at the sink next to me eyed my badge and did a double take. "Are you one of my authors?" she asked. I thought she must have been with my publisher, or perhaps one of the industry professionals I had scheduled meetings with. It didn't even occur to me she might have been a reader. "I don't know," I said. "What's your name?" "Sophie," she replied. No bells rang. "Who are you with?" I asked, still trying to place her in a professional context. "Facebook!" she replied. Then she gushed about how excited she was to meet me, and how she hoped to meet many more of her favorite authors. What a great start to my conference! Sophie, wherever you are, you totally made my day.
Wednesday evening, we hosted a Literacy Book Signing. Over 400 romance authors (not me--maybe next year!) signed books for avid readers. All proceeds went to several literacy charities. I met romance readers who had traveled hours to meet their favorite authors. Being published in the genre doesn't squash the fangirl in me... it just gives me more frequent access to my own idols.
|l-r: Tessa Dare; Fangirl Grinning her Fool Face Off|
|Mary Jo Putney, who wisely advised we take two pictures.|
In addition to the marvelous Tessa and Mary Jo, over the course of the conference I met huge names in romance like: Eloisa James, Jo Beverley, Eileen Dreyer (who I gushed over, and who was very laid back about it), Cathy Maxwell (who I cried on, and who was very kind about it), Kristan Higgins (who I accosted with a hug, and who hugged me back).
Besides the New York Times bestsellers you all know and love, I got to hang out with lots of writing buddies, new and old: Synithia Williams, Kwana Jackson, Micah Persell, and so many more.
There were cocktail parties and luncheons with uplifting and powerful speakers.
And--oh, yes!--the workshops. Approximately five zillion workshops jam-packed with information on craft, marketing, research, and career paths. Spotlights on individual publishing houses. More book signings (I came home with over 40 novels. I might have a little problem.). Parties, open houses, awards dinners... and I didn't even make it to the RITAs, our industry's version of the Oscars, recognizing the best romance novels of the year. One of the Boycelings was bound for summer camp, so I scooted out of conference a few hours early to get in some snuggle time before he left.
Y'ALL. No wonder I'm still worn out. What a great conference it was. If you enjoy reading romance novels, keep your eyes peeled for a conference near you (in 2014, RT will be in New Orleans and RWA will be in San Antonio). Those are your chances to rub elbows with your favorite authors and take home the best new releases. And if you're a romance writer, I really can't emphasize enough how worthwhile it is to attend these events. I came home re-energized and brimming with inspiration for my work.