An Evening at RWA11: A tale of Lines and Limes

Once upon a time, in a city not too far away, there was a hotel. And in that hotel gathered thousands of women with one unifying purpose: their love of books…This is a story of one such lusty reader in that city, in that hotel, with those women…

My journey on Tuesday began with a long bus ride, there are a plethora of clean, cheap, non-stop, cheap bus choices with multiple departure times that mainly yuppies take from DC to NYC – did I mention that they’re cheap? Less than half the price of a train ride! But sadly the bus takes about 5 hours, while the train barely takes more than 2. When I first moved to DC after college I was obsessed with the bus to NYC, but n0w (6 years later!) that I’m older, wiser, and have a steadier income I think that was my last bus ride. Sitting stock still on I-95 for over an hour while watching tons of other people on Twitter who are taking the train from DC to NYC for RWA11 zoom along will change a girl’s mind fast!

So while I was annoyed about the traffic I arrived without incident just in time to have lunch with the one and only Kate of Babbling about Books and More. It was the perfect way to kick off the day, sharing our similar thoughts on Kiss of Snow (Walker + Lara 4eva!), catching up on family and work life, saying hello to Mho Fho, and I learned tons of behind the scenes tidbits on being a writer and the publishing industry from Kate, and she was even generous enough to bring a few books for me!

Next I walked over to my bestie from college’s apartment, she and her husband live super close to Time Square where the RWA11 hotel was, and were so gracious in hosting me to stay at their place in the middle of the work week. Plus it was an excellent opportunity to hang out and catch up with them, albeit for such a short trip!

After showering, primping, charging my iPhone for the many tweets and pictures I’d need it for, and emptying out my tote to fit in all the books I was about to buy, I marched out of her apartment with purpose…only to be slowed by THRONGS of people in Times Square – more than usual! It turned out the 5:30pm start of the RWA11 Literacy Signing was the EXACT same time of the red carpet premiere of Transformers 3. That link has much better pictures but here is mine I snapped quickly, not wanted to tarry in that crush of teeny-boppers and annoying tourists any longer than I had to:

You can *kinda* see Bumblebee

Even as I drew in a breath to sigh in relief as the Transformers madness began to thin – my throat closed up as a HUGE CROWD of women clutching large empty bags appeared in front of me. The line snaked through the hotel lobby, doubled back on itself in the hotel breezeway before streaming out along the sidewalk in front of the theatres. I got quite an eyeful of all the advertisements for the Addams Family Musical, who knew it was staring Brooke Shields? Well now I know lots about it after STANDING IN LINE FOR OVER AN HOUR. Literally from 5:45 to just before 7 fucking PM I was in line, by myself, with a spotty connection on my phone no less.

These signs were HIGHLY necessary to direct the foot traffic

Everyone was polite, patient, and quiet while waiting, the buzz overheard from those around me was that the ballroom was too small to let the thousands of us in at all once. So those that got there early or had conference badges were lucky to be admitted right away, but I was really really close to giving up and just going for a drink at the bar, literacy signing be damned. Ever since I learned how to make margaritas from scratch a few weeks ago I have been addicted, I think about them all the time, and have made myself SEVERAL (yummy pic of ingredients at my house) in the past week and standing in that line I was positively salivating for one.

Anyhow, I was finally admitted after going up 6 escalators in stages, and the warm rush of air from the ballroom, heavy with feminine voices raised in excitement, immediately brought a smile to my face and wiped all annoyance of standing in line from my memory.

Clutching my list of the 21 authors I wanted to meet close to my chest, I navigated the byways between long tables laden with books, authors seated in alphabetical order around the ballroom. I met almost everyone I wanted to, and was sadly correct that lots of books would be sold out by the time I got there, specifically Thea Harrison’s Dragon Bound. But I really couldn’t be upset, the energy in the room was infectious, even though I didn’t see any readers/bloggers/twitterers I recognized, whenever I met eyes with a stranger we would both sort of grin at each other like, “can you believe we are here, surrounded by authors we love?!”

The highlight of the author signing was meeting my….what to call her *wracking my brain for something non creepy*…my idol? Hmmm, we’ll let’s just say I LOVE Victoria Dahl, I love her books and I love her on twitter and anywhere else she shares with us on a personal level online! As a reader I prefer not to interact with authors too much, just my personal preference, but I just HAD to take a picture with the esteemed Ms. Dahl, the creator of several of my most favorite books and characters of all time (I’m looking at you Jane, Chase, Marissa, Jude, and Emma).

im surprised im not blurry in this picture as im vibrating with giddiness!!!

I also met the following fabulous authors either just to say hi, or to pick up one of their new releases:

Here is all my fabulous RWA11 book loot – lots of signed copies, lots of personal notes from the authors, great bookmarks, and wonderful memories of getting them in person! 

The stack in front I purchased at the literary signing, and the stack in back were benevolently bestowed upon me by the lovely KatieBabs at lunch:

  1. A Courtesan’s Guide to Getting Your Man"" by Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan: reading this one right now, OH MY is it erotic *fanning self briefly before sticking nose back in book in rapt concentration*
  2. Follow My Lead"" and The Summer of You (Berkley Sensation)"", by Kate Noble: I am so frickin happy these are in mass market size now! My copy of her earlier release Revealed in trade size (that I actually got from her at RWA in DC in 2009) really messes up the neat row on my bookshelf.
  3. It’s Always Been You"", by Victoria Dahl: ARC from the author! *dies of excitement*
  4. Call Me Irresistible: A Novel"", by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

And then from Katie (thanks again m’dear *blows kisses*)

  1. A Matter of Scandal, Suzanne Enoch
  2. A Season of Angels, Debbie Macomber
  3. Under Her Skin, Susan Mallery
  4. Just Like Heaven, Julia Quinn
  5. Too Good to be True, Kristan Higgins
  6. Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart, Sarah MacLean
  7. The Tarnished Lady, Sandra Hill

But after all the chatting in the overpacked ballroom I needed that margarita! Visions of fresh limes were dancing in my head as I checked out and paid (no line this time) and headed up to bar. To be honest, I’m not sure which I was more excited for on this trip, meeting the authors and getting great books at the Literacy Signing, or seeing all the bloggers and twitterers I chat with online on the regular at the Blogger Bar Bash!

The gathering at the bar was super informal with people coming and going, stopping by just to say hi, or settling in with dinner and a drink for hours. We all stood or sat around a round table, greeting those we recognized by face, or using our twitter handles to jog memories. While some folks I knew from meeting them back in DC in 2009, I met quite a few people I’ve been talking to online, and also met plenty of people that for some reason I didn’t already follow and chat with! I would say 90% of the huge bar covering almost an entire 8th floor of the hotel were women from RWA, our corner had a lot of readers, but I know we were surrounded by other folks meeting up in their own little groups, like agents, authors, publishers, and other folks from the industry.

Here’s who I recall seeing while I was flitting about, but I didn’t get to meet everyone since we were all mixing and mingling so much:

Kate: so nice i saw her twice ;)

Wendy the Super Librarian: more like Super Blogger Bar Bash Organizer! and i was thrilled to congratulate her on being the RWA Librarian of the Year in person!

Christine: we met at BEA last year  so it was awesome to greet each other with a hug and chat all about our families, home life, and authors who make us *squee* ha.

Rosie: ok no one’s hug can beat Rosie’s hug. after meeting at RWA09 we’ve traded emails and chatted online when she’s actually online and although she had to run to another party just getting the hug and 5 minutes of conversation was worth it! 

Pearl and Sarah Tanner: i mean when else could you EVER meet Pearl from the Netherlands and Sarah from Switzerland?! they were definite winners for farthest travels that i met! And thanks Sarah for the recommendation of a present from  http://www.manor.ch/ for my friend who just moved to Switzerland.

Kristie: thanks for holding down the fort for all of us to have such a great corner to meet in!

And it was super fun to chat briefly with LB Gregg, Nath, Hilicia and Stacey as well!

@katiebabs, me and @ChristineA

 Very important to mention that I did finally get to order that margarita! And I was glad to have Wendy there to dissuade me from ordering two at once, so great was my craving, and I’m glad I didn’t because…sigh…it wasn’t that good *sad trombone* I think I’ve just gotten used to my oh-so-fresh ones at home that the pre-made mixed ones don’t taste great anymore, this one was too chemically. And when I had to call it a night to get back to my bestie’s apartment before it got to late it was quite the trial to find someone to pay for the drink. I felt terrible for the harried looking wait staff, and for any non-RWA peeps trying to get a drink at the Marriott that night, romancelandia seriously took over the place!

It was hard to say goodbye, I really think I made my trip too short, that even though I still don’t think I would want to invest in actually purchasing the full conference “ticket” to go to all the panels, I should have stayed an extra day to find time to meet with all the other twitterers and bloggers I missed seeing Tuesday night. But I was happy to get back home to my hubby, our puppy, and my margaritas with fresh limes of course!

And that is the (rather long and detailed) tale of my journey to one day of RWA11…and then I lived happily ever after with my new books.

A lyrical preparation for RWA11

You better watch out
You better pack light
Better update TBR’s
I’m tellin you why
RWA11 is coming to town!

I’m making a list
And checking it twice
Gonna buy books both naughty and nice
Lusty reader’s coming to town!

I see you when you’re tweeting
I know when my Google Reader updates
I don’t care if you’ve been bad or good
So say hi to me for goodness sake!

Sometimes I express myself best through song, repurposing lyrics for my own needs just works for me!

I leave tomorrow morning for a whirlwind trip to NYC for Romance Writers of America’s 2011 National Conference. Besides all the bookalicious stuff, I hope to have some down time to catch up with my bestie from college who I’m staying with, and will also be going in to the NYC office of my company. 

I went to RWA in 2009 when it was just a hop, skip and a jump from my house in DC, back when the blogging world was shiny, new and fascinating to me. And back when I wrote 20 blog posts a month 0.0 hard to believe, I know!

Is 2011 your first RWA experience? Or are you considering going for the first time next year? Want to know what it’s like? There are a TON of awesome #RWASurvivalTips and prep posts out there, but here are my posts from 2009 when I was a newbie (I didn’t go last year, the trek to Orlando was a bit too much for me, but I can NEVER say no to NYC!)

As you can see I did not pay the $500 or whatever it is to attend the conference conference part. Like all the workshops, networking luncheons, panels, etc. Back in ’09 I thought, “oh I’m just a reader, that stuff isn’t applicable to me, I wouldn’t belong in there.” Well I was just plain old wrong, it is A HUGE MIX of readers and authors, people in the “industry” or people who are just fans of certain authors, not every panel will be super interesting to just a reader, but we are always welcome, and you will also see other non-authors/non-editors etc in the conference conference part. So if that stuff interests you GO FOR IT. You just won’t see me there :) I’m not into blogging enough to justify the cost, but the 100+ free books you get for being an attendee of the official conference is still very tempting. Maybe one day I will do the conference part, but for now I’m happy to just buy the books and do the social gatherings!

Speaking of, I’m doing my research right now for this year’s Literacy Autographing in the Marriott Marquis Ballroom, I want to have my list of authors I want to meet and books I want to buy all set by the time I hit the madness at 5:30pm tomorrow! Their list of authors isn’t really the best visual for me, so I like the way this list of who will be there is divided up, even though I don’t think I’m be participating in the trading cards part, ha.

Then I shall shoulder my bag of newly purchased lusty books and head to Wendy the Super Librarian’s Blogger Bash in the Atrium afterwards!

I’m following the #RWA11 hashtag and am so freaking pumped to see everybody! While back in ’09 I didn’t have a smart phone, but assuming AT&T gets service I should be live tweeting, and I will definitely write up some posts about my trip! Hope to see some of you there!

NYC here weeeee coooooooooommmmmmmee!!!!!!!!!! 

Got Your STD (and other true love stories) Vol. II

Like last summer, we have STD’s all over our house. I’ve written more emails with the title Got Your STD this year than ever before, and the bride-to-be is always glad to hear it came through mail ok!

Our fridge in Vol. I of this post was pretty crazy, but I think we’ve trumped that this year, and we haven’t even gotten the invitations for all the weddings yet! Like last year’s post I’ve also gathered some fun romance tidbits to pass along, more on that below. But check out our Save The Date covered fridge! 

 

If you follow me on twitter you may have already seen that pic, as I shared the consequences of so many events with my followers: DRESS SHOPPING. Thank you to all the lovely ladies on twitter who virtually accompanied me on that excursion!

Between the six weddings, all the engagement parties, showers, rehearsal dinners, etc…I definitely needed plenty of new dresses, especially since ALL (except one) OF THE WEDDINGS are for hubby’s fraternity brothers, so each wedding will be the same group of people. Sadly that means very little outfit repeats, people.

After spending hours in DC’s 100+ degree heat I happily found two funky dresses, more unique than I would typically wear, but I wanted something “special.” Here they are, with hubby’s quote about how “special” he found them…http://twitpic.com/224x3b

So we’re off to North Carolina today, and not only am I looking forward to this mini-college-reunion, Eastern Carolina BBQ, Diet Cheerwine (just as good as the regular, but doesn’t make my teeth squeak), and saying “y’all” more naturally in every sentence, but also, and best of all, seeing two great friends get married in all the pomp and romance circumstance of a sure-to-be-lovely wedding.

Man oh man I was so emo and full of schmoop at my besties wedding last year, and with all these romantical-celebrations coming up I’m sure to get my quota of Real Life True Love this year!

I love those romance in real life stories, romance novels are fun and all, but real peoples’ stories are more chilling and thrilling to me. Here are a few that’ve caught my eye:

     1. Famous author PC Cast was featured in the Daily Mail as her story is too good not to tell. Thrice-divorced and visiting Scotland for research for her new book, check out who her tour guide was:

Definitely click the link above and read the whole article, so sweet and moving!

     2. When Queen of DC blogging LivitLuvit shared this I about died – super cute Top 10 Geekist Marriage Proposals on Mashable. I’m sort of over the twitter proposals, not very romantic to me at all, but the LOLcats one is adorbs.

     3. Lastly July 10th is apparently a Very Popular wedding date with our friends’ wedding and three celebrity weddings all taking place that day! Hopefully I’ll be too distracted by our festivities to mope about oneof  my favorite Good Looking Gentlemen, John Krasinski, going off the market that day.

I’m hoping to get some reading in during our 5 hour car ride down there today, because our time is very booked up this weekend. Hope you all enjoy yours too!

March 2010 lusty reading list

Hey peeps, yes I DO exist! Now don’t faint like little red in that M&M commercial, I’m no Santa, but my existence has similarly been called into question recently.

This will be brief but COME BACK TOMORROW FOR A BIGGER ONE (twss). What with the 60 hour work weeks I haven’t written any posts or commented on any of your blogs but I’ve been working on a few comeback posts in bits and pieces and will be dedicating some time to cleaning out my Google Reader, so look for all that on the flip side.

In the mean time, busy as I’ve been, I at least didn’t slack on the reading front!

March 2010

Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson A (highly recommend, occasionally read more like a news article and there was room for improvement, but one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in a LONG TIME)

Honor’s Splendour, Julia Garwood A- (really not the greatest book, but the old skool writing and plot line, the extra scenes making it a longer read, and over-the-top-without-apologizing-fot-it alpha hero impervious to pain, cold, hunger etc really tickled my fancy.)

In for a Penny, Rose Lerner A- (pretty much lived up to the hype. I loved this book, but didn’t LOVE love it.)

The Rogue, Celeste Bradley re-read (VERY racy sex scenes, forgot about that, but the love story didn’t quite work as well for me.)

Sunshine, Robin McKinley B- (in terms of unique characters, plot and worldbuilding Sunshine gets an A, but for pacing, plot holes, hanging threads, and narrative style it was a C- for meeting my personal preferences. I was frustrated a lot.)

Heart Of Stone, Jill Marie Landis B- (my full review here)

Suddenly You, Lisa Kleypas C+ (I’m usually a slave for Kleypas historicals, and the premise and first scenes of this book were so amazing, but went downhill from there for me.)

This Heart of Mine, SEP C+ (ew, a few quirks really turned me off. I still love SEP and the book as a whole was fun, but little bits that I can’t share without spoilers squicked me out)

Ashes in the Wind, Kathleen Woodiwiss C- (the romance started way too late for me, the Hero spent the first half of the book married to the Heroines cousin and living in the same house with her whole family!)

Curvalicious: A Different Kind of Heroine, A Different Kind of Publisher

Today brings a guest post from Karen Jones, Promotions Manager of Accomplice Press. As you know I’m a big proponent of curvy women and I may have blogged a little feast for your eyes on this before, but there are only maybe 2 to 3 good romance novels that come to my mind where I’ve read about more voluptuous heroines. So when Karen contacted me about their new Curvalicious line of romances I signed right up. For any writers reading my blog, make sure to check out the end of her post for the writing competition!

~~~~~~~~~~~

As women, writers, wives, lovers and publishers the staff at Accomplice Press understands what true romance is all about.  It has nothing to do with your weight and everything to do with how you feel inside.  Curvalicious is romance at its finest; our curvy, intelligent, self-confident, sexy heroines will land the man of their dreams and have a happily ever after without losing a single pound or changing who they are on the outside.  These stories may be short in length but they will be filled with great dialog, intriguing plots and characters that women of all sizes will relate to.  Romance is about fantasy but everyone has a different idea of what that is so we are releasing two sub genres.  Curvalicious Sweet will have sensual love scenes, but no explicit language or sex and Curvalicious Spicy will have erotic romance containing explicit language and sex scenes.

Curvalicious is just what the book industry needs and Accomplice Press is the company to make it a priority.  We are a full service, boutique style publisher focusing on manuscripts that are often overlooked by the large warehouse presses.  DJ Alling is our brilliant CEO, Editor, Co-founder and the creator of this book line.  She beautifully explains why Curvalicious is so important to her in this quote:

“Society and the media have convinced women that men won’t find you attractive if you wear double-digit sizes.  This is reinforced by the romance book industry.  The leading terms used to describe a heroine are slender, thin, lithe, small, and tiny.  Real women read romances, and real women deserve to be able to relate to the heroines.  Romance stories are about fantasies, and as a large woman, I personally do not find it satisfying to fantasize about a man touching a body that I can’t relate to.  I also happen to know that men love women of all sizes.  Sexy comes from within.  That is why I created Curvalicious.”

Our mission at Accomplice Press is to give new authors a chance to share their voice with an audience that is ready to listen.  That’s why we are so happy to announce the Curvalicious writing competition.  Beginning on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2010 we will begin taking entries at curvecontest@accomplicepress.com.  We will be accepting submissions in two different categories, one sweet and one spicy.  All the requirements and details are available at Accomplicepress.com.  The competition will end at midnight on May 14, 2010. On May 28, 2010 two winning entries will be chosen, announced on Accomplicepress.com, then contracted and published in ebook format.  The top three submissions of each category will also be included in the first Curvalicious print anthology.  In conjunction with this writing competition Accomplice Press will also be holding a general ‘open call’ to all authors, with original manuscripts, who use their voice in unique ways that push the boundaries.

Accomplice Press may be the new kids on the block but we have years of experience and are dedicated to literary excellence.  Please share us with your friends.  We will be launching other specialized lines this July when we attend Romcon in Denver.  To keep updated on news and upcoming events please join Accomplice Press Chatter at Accomplicepress.ning.com

I Love…

I’m fairly ambivalent about Valentine’s Day. Don’t love it or look forward to it in great excitement, don’t hate it, nor does it annoy me. It’s just there, another day to tell and show hubby how much I love him. However; I did really adore a blog post by one of my favorite blogger’s Pioneer Woman, in honor of this love-filled holiday. It lists some of the things she loves, and since I’m on vacation right now this isn’t too hard of a post for my sun-baked mind to come up with.

I LOVE…

our rescued mutt, Kedzie

my spot on the couch

goat cheese

fleece jackets

Simon and Garfunkel

nutella

Nalini Singh’s books

flip flops

thunderstorms

spooning with the hubby

ruffles, bows, or ribbons on my clothing

jasmine green tea

when my parents visit me

reading by the fire

rare steak

the romance novel section of a book store

the smell of fresh cut grass

jeans that lift my butt up

Britney Spears

Riesling wine

the happily ever after ending of books

Grease

memories of my sister and I at our all-girls summer camp

the way hubby proposed

What do YOU love?

In my suitcase

There are A LOT of books in my suitcase right now. Before I tell you allll about them, I feel like I must preempt any comments that might be made about the size of this pile – so please see my previous grinchy e-book post.

Alright, back now? Great, now feast your eyes on this:

*happy sigh* Nothing like a nice pile of books to put a smile on my face. This heap is a mix of old, new, library, won and purchased books, quite the eclectic sources. I won an advanced copy of The Lost Enchantress from Dear Author, it’s released on January 5th 2010. I just started reading it and really like Eve, her family history of enchantresses, and how her family’s past coincided with an intriguing man named Hazard who suddenly appeared in her life!

After visiting my family in Chicago this week we are off to see hubby’s for a few days as well, so in preparation for those plane rides and quiet hours relaxing away from the family I also brought along:

And just in case those six books don’t last for seven days I also purchased the VERY LAST copy my bookstore had of Kelly Meding’s Three Days To Dead this morning. I can’t help but feel that all is right with the world when I have a huge stack of never-before-read books at my disposal, it’s like no matter what else happens they guarantee many hours of happiness.

How about you, any mass quantities of reading you have stocked up for the holidays?