I want to tell you EVERYTHING. But there are so many high points of this year's national Romance Writers of America conference, that I'll just enumerate a few of them and let you finish your coffee in peace.
* Figuring out the true motivation for Book Two with my agent Susanna Einstein after we attended a mind-blowing workshop by Jenny Crusie on turning points. I admit, I entered that workshop with a level of I-Have-An-MFA-itis. Craft... Surely I know craft, right? But I left the workshop with oh-shit-I-have-so-much-to-do-itis. It's going to require another major rewrite, but dude, I love that. I'll eat that with a spoon and then have some more.
* Learning again that I have the greatest agent in the entire world. She is no less than totally awesome, and a kick-ass brain-stormer. I love it when she gives this half-grin and looks up to her left and says, "What if..." And ninety-nine percent of the time she's right, especially when she prefaces it with "This might be totally off the mark. Feel free to throw this right out." Then she's ALWAYS right.
* Having a push-up contest with Sophie Littlefield while singing "I am Woman, Hear me Roar." I can't explain it, but it was one of the best things that happened all weekend. (She won, by the way, but only by three. I got 16, she got 19. And yes, they were "boy" push-ups.) Wine might have had something to do with the contest, but I'll never admit it.
* Hanging out with Bella Andre, whose levels of joy and excitement, I swear to God, are completely infectious. She's also SO willing to share what she knows (and that, my friends, is a lot), and she's so much damn fun that I just love her.
* Seeing the cover of my book up on the screen at the Avon Spotlight:
What, you want to see it better? I know, but all I have is the prototype, and I don't want to wing it at you without checking with my editor. But I will. You have got to see it. I love it so much. (Admission: I squeaked and might have clapped a little when I saw it. May Chen, my editor, didn't even know I was in the room until I did that. Ahem. I am so cool.)
* Singing "Don't Cry For Me Argentina," off the balcony with Kristan Higgins. (Really. Wow.)
* Spending time in the suite my fabulous pensfatales and more were sharing. That felt like home base, and it felt like just the beginning of something much bigger.
* Having breakfast with Barbara Freethy while at the same time discovering her latest release was in the swag bag given to all conference attendees (along with Kristan's).
* Seeing Sophie Littlefield SIGN HER FIRST BOOK, A Bad Day For Sorry. (Hi, crime fiction, hardcover, St. Martin's. Nice.)
I say first book because not only do I mean debut, but this was also the first time Sophie had seen her book at all. Can you imagine?
We are so proud of her. Isn't she radiant? (That's half of Martha Flynn, by the way. I almost got her in there.)
Best embarrassing moments:
* Realizing that the invite to the HarperCollins cocktail party might actually be invite-only. Asking my editor about this. Misunderstanding her answer. And the subsequent super-cool UNINVITING I did of my agent. Hey, Susanna, new plan, the party is for authors only, can we meet another time? I waited nervously for her return text. Her response, It'll be fine. I was invited. AUGH! Classy me, yeah. But at least I cleaned up all right for the party:
You can't tell by the crappy camera phone picture (sorry, Lala has the real camera in Korea, something about a new nephew), but that dress also sports black fringe. I love that one.
* Kristan Higgins meeting a friend of mine who was wearing NO PANTS. Or a bra. But the no pants part gets me every time. She shook hands and everything. HAHAHAHA. (It is not my best-ever embarrassing story to tell, even though I told it so much at the conference to anyone who would listen that I'm still a little hoarse. If the owner of that story tells it, I'll link to it for DAMN sure.)
* Reaffirming to myself again that romance is the bomb. Romance is where it's at. Romance sells more than science fiction and mystery combined. Nora Roberts sells more than Stephen King and John Grisham. And as Sarah Wendell said when asked why feminists should read romance:
It’s a 50-plus-year-old industry comprised
mostly of women writers operating their own businesses and producing a
genre about women’s self-actualization, pursuit of autonomy, and
acquisition of sexual agency for an audience made mostly of women, who
buy over $1.4 billion dollars worth of books a year. No, no, nothing
feminist or even subversive about that.
I flipping love that. I keep intending to memorize in order to be able to lay it on the next person who mentions any bosom, heaving or otherwise.
And I have a strong theory that this might have been the very best conference I will ever attend. I am completely willing and happy to be proved wrong, but this year, I got to wear the ribbon that proclaimed to all that I had sold, the ribbon that made people grin at me in the elevator. I was allowed to freely wander the book signings where, next year, I'll be behind the tables, signing my little hand off. This year, I have all of the joy and none of the angst.
I savored every single teeny-tiny moment of it. Especially the weensy little pigs-in-blankets at the HarperCollins party. I was networking, yes. But I was also dunking wieners in mustard, and that made me very happy.
(Good grief, I was wondering why I felt so tired when it's only 9:30pm. I just realized it's because I've been awake since 1am Pacific Time, with only a couple hours of sleep! To bed! Yay! And tomorrow is nephew-getting day! Like Christmas only with a baby and no tree!)