The happiest loser – like EVER: One first timer/GH finalist’s perspective on RWA Nationals and Romance Rock Stars.
So the Romance Writers of America Annual conference in balmy Orlando is over and I’m still trying to digest the experience. It was A LOT… It was SURREAL… IT WAS AWESOME! Here’re some of the random, and often surprising, experiences I’ve been able to process so far:
Nora Roberts EATS just like the rest of us. Jeanne Adams and Anna Campbell are two of the NICEST people you could ever meet. (And they liked my gown.) Having experienced several publisher signings, I now understand what it is to be “book drunk.
Nationals was like the Warped Tour of the YA world: Meg Cabot, Ally Carter, Melissa de la Cruz, Kelley Armstrong, Tera Lynn Childs, Lauren Stransnick, Simone Elkeles (who won the Rita for Perfect Chemistry), Tina Ferraro, Jennifer Echols, Cyn Balog, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Diana Peterfreund, Wendy Toliver, Jeri Smith-Ready, Linda Gerber, Tricia Mills, Gwen Hayes, Kristi Cook, Sophie Jordan and lots of other rising YA stars.
I not only met these authors, but in many cases I hung out with them, I talked to them, I tried not to have too many fan girl moments in front of them. I’ve got my new BFF, aka Meg Cabot, on video saying my name (and not in the context of a restraining order). I have pictures with Meg but I also have pictures taken by Meg. And I can’t say enough about the wonderful Ally Carter. My favorite picture is one where I’m sandwiched between Meg and Ally. (Hopefully, I’ll have my pictures up soon.)
I didn’t win the Golden Heart for the YA category. My dear friend Erica O’Rourke did and I couldn’t have felt more proud in that moment. The other GH YA finalists, my margarita gang, have become my sisters on this journey and it was an honor just to be among them. Plus other non-winners of the night were Ally Carter, J.R.Ward, and Nora (writing as J.D. Robb). With such a distinguished list, how could I ever call myself a loser? I won! I WON BIG!!! *tearing up*
I came home exhausted, with blisters, and more books than I could ever hope to read. But most importantly I came home with a sense of community. RWA is no longer this removed organization, of which I happen to be a member. It’s my organization, my peers, a cornerstone of my career. AND I CANNOT THANK THE RWA STAFF AND BOARD ENOUGH FOR THEIR HARD WORK IN PULLING OFF THIS MIRACLE!
So what was my BIG take away from this conference? It was totally worth the expense, the travel, and even the stifling Florida humidity to grow my craft, network, and celebrate with this rich community of authors. RWA Nationals is not just about the Noras and the Megs, it’s about passionate writers in all stages of their careers coming together to share their dreams. Where a yet-to-make-a-name-for-herself author can come for four days and feel like a Romance rock star.