Last year I spent a few hours at the Romance Writers of America convention in Anaheim, attending the Kensington cocktail party so I could meet and dine with my fabulous editor, Alicia Condon, and get to know a few of my fellow writers.
It was wonderful, but I couldn't spend more time than that because I had to arrange my big ol' book launch party that week for my first novel, OTHERKIN.
So this year I went all in, bought a ticket to Atlanta, wangled my way onto a panel, got my critique partner Elisa Nader to join me, and attended the whole dang thing.
And damn, it was FUN! (details and photos after the break.)
First, if you haven't been, you should know that these things take place in a giant business hotel (in this case the Atlanta Marriott Marquis), and that you pretty much never leave the hotel for days as you move from meal to workshop to party to meal to workshop to drinks to meal to... You get the idea. It's like a very happy prison where you learn from and schmooze with your fellow inmates, all of whom just happen to have committed the exact same crime as you. In this case, the crime is caring about fiction with romance in it.
The Marriott Marquis is a bit like a futuristic, gorgeous asylum, and I mean that in a good way. Here are some photos that show you the crazy rows of floors, all of which look down onto the central open area.
The elevators are not for those with vertigo.
The warren of conference rooms on three different levels was a bit overwhelming at first. But by the end of the event, we all knew it, and all the best spots for wi-fi, like our own backyard.
I flew in too late for the famed Literacy Autograph session Wednesday night, but I was up bright and early to register, nab an egg and some coffee at the breakfast (where we ran into... Jay Asher. More on that later), and headed on over to speak on the "50 Shades of YA" panel along with Alicia and writers best-selling Jennifer Estep, hilarious Marni Bates (who orchestrated the whole thing) and RITA award nominated Erica O'Rourke. We had a full house, thank goodness, and covered such topics as - sex in YA, gay characters in YA, swearing in YA, YA TV shows versus books, and more. Afterwards, a few of us went to breakfast and told ourselves that we had been brilliant. Truthfully, I think it went really well. I was proud to be up there with those women, so smart, funny, and insightful. We had some really great audience participation as well.
Meanwhile, Elisa had befriended the very friendly and famous YA writer Jay Asher. (If you haven't read his best-selling novel 13 Reasons Why, then stop right now and go get it. I'll wait. This is an exquisite book that has literally saved lives.) I tried to appear normal and not fangirl too much as we met him after lunch for hummus at High Velocity, one of the decent hotel restaurants we haunted throughout our stay. Jay is a funny, insightful, teddy bear conference expert as well as a writer who is hauntingly good at his craft. Exchanging stories with him at High Velocity was a highlight of my writing life, let alone the conference.
Onto the Kensington cocktail party! Oh, the free drinks and the goodie bags and this:
That's the cover of OTHERSPHERE on the cookies!
There were also many fabulous people to laugh with, like tiara-princess Marni Bates, here with her book cover cookie of INVISIBLE:
Hannah Jayne, who's latest book, TRULY, MADLY, DEADLY is YA!
And that was just the first day. Phew! It was exhausting but beyond excellent. That's enough blogging for one day. More on the blog shortly about all the juicy goodness that was Friday and Saturday.