Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Highlights of the Conference

I wait all year for the RWA National Conference and it's over in a flash. Every year, without fail, I laugh, I cry, I talk myself hoarse, and I come away awed and inspired by the generosity and kindness of the professionals in the romance industry.

The theme to this year's conference, on my own terms: Love is power. Laughter is strength. Put it all together to gain individual and collective knowledge.


  • My conference was made by dear, dear friend and mentor Amanda McCabe—wonderful writer, funny, hard-working, stylish, meticulous, and above all, very thoughtful. (Ms. Wee and I adore her to pieces!)
  • Touring DC's monuments with Anna Campbell and Christine Wells
  • Rooming and chatting after 'lights out' with Amanda McCabe and Andrea Pickens
  • Meeting both the Smart Bitches in person together
  • Watching Pam Rosenthal and Joanna Bourne win their RITAs
  • Congratulating Louisa Cornell on her Royal Ascot and Daphne wins. (Somebody buy her already, for the love of God.)
  • Being the always marvelous Diane Gaston's date for the Harlequin Party (didn't crash it, nope, nope)
  • Attending the six-figures workshop and seeing how much Helen Breitwieser and Kristin Nelson adore their 2009 debut authors, Tessa Dare and Courtney Milan, respectively
  • Being impressed by the posh and bright person that Joanne Grant is
  • Falling in love with Sherry Thomas, and wisely running away before gushing it all in front of her
  • Catching up with Deb Marlowe—always cheers me up
  • Michelle Buonfiglio bowing to my bag
  • Pitching at a shout at the Harlequin Party and getting a request. In fact, all of my pitches happened at parties and I got requests on all. Perhaps that should be my modus operandi at future conferences
  • Hugging Romance Novel TV reviewer PJ
  • Having the fabulous Mary Jo Putney and Victoria Alexander recognize me and say how pleased they're to see me, and having the incomparable Anne Gracie asking various people where she could meet me and being thrilled once she did
  • Meeting fellow Twitterers in person: Sarah Wendell, Angela James, Jane Litte, Sarah Frantz, Malle Vallik, Kassia Krozser, Dominique Raccah, Don Linn, Pam Spengler-Jaffee, and Barbara Vey
  • Hugging PJ
  • Chatting with and raving about Kim Castillo, who's not merely an author's best friend, but a powerhouse in your corner
  • Watching La Nora kick up her heels at the Harlequin Party. Also seeing Jo Beverley, Stephanie Laurens, Katherine Smith, Jacquie d'Alessandro, Olivia Gates (bellydancing), and Julie Cohen (ooh, can she dance!) let their hair down. (Noticeably missing: Julia Quinn!)
  • Tearing up over and over during Eloisa James's speech. I've known her through her message board for years, and know of all the individual incidents that have charted her life, but hearing it all put together and realizing her courage and conviction through it all was simply WOW. (I'm even more in love her if that were possible!)
  • Hand-delivering a note to Julia Quinn from a fan (De Paul professor Eric Selinger's young daughter) and seeing how pleased she was to receive it
  • "May I take a picture of you?" I asked over and over again. "Of course" and "Sure" said the writers, dropping everything they were doing to pose with smiles at the ready. Graciousness personified.
  • Meeting the oldest debut author at 76, Pearl Wolf, and buying her book at the Literacy Signing
  • Watching how fast the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance is gaining in popularity and membership. (Kudos, Sarah Frantz!)
  • Hugging PJ
  • Eloisa James Julia Quinn Tea, Beau Monde Soirée, Banditas Bash, Smart Bitches Bootleg, Samhain Extravaganza, and the crown jewel, the Harlequin Party
  • Anne Stuart as the emcee of the RITA/GH ceremony was the right blend of humor and speechifying. Her various guises were absolutely hilarious
  • A thumb-drive with conference handouts and Harlequin art
  • Meeting new-to-me authors
  • Thriving in the constant hubbub of like-minded individuals
  • Adult conversations (didn't have to be X-rated for enjoyment)
  • Not dozing off in the 8:30am workshops
  • Two boxes of books (oh, yeah!)
  • Free eBooks by Books on Board
  • T-Shirt by Quartet Press
  • Being only a few blocks away from Obama, breathing the very air he was breathing
  • Meeting up with my cousin for dinner the night before I left DC as the perfect coda to a near perfect conference

2009 BESTS

  • Bookmark — Tessa Dare
  • Excerpt booklet — Tessa Dare & Courtney Milan
  • Postcard — Sara Lindsey
  • Pin & Pen — International Association for the Study of Popular Romance
  • Swag — Harlequin's 60th anniversary cover art goodies
  • Cookies — Tim Tams by Anna Campbell
  • Chocolates — Handcrafted by PJ
  • Snack Goodies — Home-baked by Kim Castillo at the Eloisa James Julia Quinn Tea
  • Party Outfit — Amanda McCabe at the Beau Monde Soirée
  • Wardrobe — Every single outfit by Michelle Willingham
  • Shoes — Silver nothings by Diane Gaston at the Harlequin Party
  • Purse — Julie Cohen's Mills & Boon book cover from the 1960s
  • Drink — Lemon drop with lime by Christine Wells
  • News — Kathryn Caskie's engagement

(Photographs in the next post.)


Julie Cohen said...

It was wonderful to meet you in person! And you were always smiling. :-)

Cara King said...

Now I feel so sad I missed it! Sounds like you had a fabulous time, Keira...

Becke Davis said...

It was great to meet you in person! Congratulations on your request!

Tessa Dare said...

Keira, it was such a delight to see you again! I only wish we'd had more time to chat, and I'd had more books to sign! Thank you so much for everything and best of luck to you with your own writing!

Keira Soleore said...

Julie, it was a complete fan-girl moment seeing you at the signing. Thanks for stopping by the blog.

Cara, you were much, much missed. :(

Becke, fantastic meeting you in person after all this time of counter comments on the Banditas blog.

Tessa, it is always a pleasure seeing you. I hope GOTH flies off the shelves and puts your debut on The List.

Diane Gaston said...

Keira, my only regret was not feeling up to touring with you and Amanda on Sunday. I'm sure I made the right decision, but I didn't like it!
You made the Harlequin Party for me!

Amanda McCabe/Amanda Carmack/Laurel McKee said...

Awww-it was great to room with you, too! :) I still haven't recovered from conference, sat around all day yesterday in my new First Ladies sleepshirt, LOL

Keira Soleore said...

Diane, no need for the guilt whatsoever. Slept 10 hours Monday and Tuesday nights, and I'm still so tired. Conference is hard, but unless I'm at death's door, I'm not forgoing it.

Amanda, that shirt is pretty. Pink, in all its shades, looks lovely on you. I was going through the photographs that people are posting, and your RITA outfit was gorgeous.

Anthea Lawson said...

It was great to meet you, Keira! So glad you're in this part of the country. Hope to see you at one of the local events~

Kate Diamond said...

Wow! What a great recap! I wish I could have gone. Maybe next year...

Keira Soleore said...

Anthea & Kate, welcome to the blog.

Anthea, it was wonderful meeting you. We had to go so far away to meet. :) I shall be at the ECWC. Are you attending?

Kate, it truly was a great conference. This was my third, and I cannot conceive of anything that would keep me away from Nashville next July. I will practice every economy necessary, but I will attend.

Alice Audrey said...

I bet Sherrie wouldn't have minded if you gushed a bit.