RWA12 Recap!

Long post here!

So Andria (my assistant) and I traveled to Anaheim last week for the RWA National Conference, 2012. I’ve never been to Nationals, only to the regional Emerald City Writers Conference which is great—but not nearly as huge as Nationals. Over 2000 writers, aspiring writers, and industry peeps descend for a week of workshops, book signings, networking, and an awards presentation  that is—for this genre—one of the “Academy Awards” type ceremony of romance.

Headed to RWA--our beautiful Mount Rainier, from the plane.

Why I love living in the Puget Sound area. Seattle from the air.

Caught the sun in my camera--with Mount Rainier in the distance.

With that preface, here’s my recap of the RWA Nationals Conference.

First, the personal. So I got to have dinner with my editor—the second time we’ve met, but only the first time since we’ve been working together, and we spent well over two hours talking. It was wonderful and confirmed to me just why I love working with her. Not only is Kate a fantastic editor, but she’s a great human being, too. We had a blast and it feels so good to have finally connected.

I also finally got to meet some of the other Berkley peeps I really needed to touch base with, including the head of Berkley, the head of publicity, someone from marketing, and—once again—Jodi from publicity, who is just awesome-sauce on her own. I met my French publisher, and found out that I apparently am very popular with the French (which made me happy). So on a professional level, it was excellent networking for me. I wish my agent could have been there, but unfortunately, she couldn’t make it this year.

I also got to hang with some of my beloved author peeps—the ones who are friends as well as peers. I was especially thrilled to hang with Ann Aguirre. We met for breakfast and then just hung out in my room and caught up. Ann is one of the most down-to-earth, incredibly genuine people I’ve met in a long time, and we got to spend time together at both RT and RWA, and I’ve decided that some time, I’m going to drag her home and keep her. (Hey, Mom, can I keep her??? She followed me home!). I’m absolutely thrilled she won a RITA award—if anybody deserves one, she does.

I spent one lunch with Alyssa Day, another good bud of mine. We caught up on life, work, and everything in between. And I’m on an author loop with Kate Douglas, Ann Macela, Eileen Wilks, and Melissa Mayhue and we spent part of one morning together. It was as if we’d already met in person—we’ve been talking so long online about so much of our lives.

At RT, I met Shawntelle Madison, Kerry Shafer, and Leigh Evans, and it was wonderful to reconnect at RWA and hang in the bar with them. I’ve decided I need to convince them to move up here to the PNW so we can all hang out together on a regular basis.

Eileen Wilks, Kate Douglas, Ann Macela, and Melissa Mayhue

There were a lot of other authors I got to touch base with in person, who I’ve met on Twitter. That is one wonderful thing about these conventions and conferences—meeting up with your peers, talking about both our personal lives and business. Writers are hardwired in a different way and it’s really comforting to meet people who understand the weird mindset we tend to have.

So, reconnecting with beloved friends, and meeting new peeps was one great part of RWA.

And then there were the workshops. I didn’t go to many, but what I did attend was extremely helpful. Industry news that will be of help to me in promoting and marketing my books—because the truth is: selling books is an inevitable part of being a career author.

The bottom line is, we need to sell books in order to continue writing for a living, and in order to keep our contracts and pay the mortgage, and though it feels like a touchy subject at times, it shouldn’t be. Nobody disses someone working in retail for needing to do a good job in order to keep their position, but for some reason, there seems to be a hesitance about discussing the necessity for sales in order to keep contracts going. But the fact is, if my books didn’t sell at a good clip, I wouldn’t be able to write three books a year because I’d be off at a job that would pay the bills. I’d probably be writing, at most, one. If that. So yes, the workshops were good and I learned a lot.

By the Anaheim Convention Center.

The Anaheim Convention Center, where the Literacy Signing was held.

Setting up for the Literacy Signing, where over 400 authors would soon descend to sign their books.

Authors in action!

Another great thing at RWA was getting to meet some of my fans at the Literacy Signing. I was thrilled that my books sold out! And it was great to meet everybody. I’m always so humbled by how much you guys love my work, and it’s one of the greatest compliments that I can get to see you show up at the signings or hear from you online or via the mail. (Well, as long as it’s not hate mail—grins—that I don’t like so much). And also, it was so gratifying to meet other authors who love my work. I never expect my friends to read my work, but it sure feels wonderful when they do.

The RITA Awards ceremony was Saturday night, and I was asked to present one of the Golden Heart awards. I was honored to be asked, and it makes me smile to know I helped make Lorenda Christensen’s night so special by announcing her as the paranormal Golden Heart winner! People were dressed to the nines—we’re talking sequins and satin and silk and shawls.

Sitting on the balcony and looking across at the Hilton.

Another view from the balcony.

Staring down at my friends Sassy Outwater and Kody (her guide dog).

The travel there and back actually went fairly smoothly. The hotel was excellent—they were so accommodating and they had a FULL SERVICE Starbucks there—I mean full service! The staff was incredible, and they were always available to help when necessary. Andria and I were so impressed.

Oh yeah, and lastly—one of the wonderful perks—lots of free books! I emptied one suitcase of author swag for my fans, and brought it back filled with books. *grins* As if my TBR bookcase isn’t full enough!

So there it is, short recap of RWA12, and yes, I plan on being in Atlanta GA next year for the next one.

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