Before I launch into days 2 and 3 of RWA, wanted to let you know that Live to Read is holding a mind-bogglingly huge 150+ book giveaway as we speak. I'm giving away copies of OTHERKIN and OTHERMOON here. But be sure to check out all the giveaways. Nothing better than free books!
My first real day at RWA, Thursday (read about it here) was fabulous and exhausting. So I must admit that Friday morning, rather than getting up brightly to attend one of the many informative workshops, I slept in. I'm not a morning person at the best of times, and the travel + lack of sleep before + late night cocktail parties was a recipe for snoozing. My roommate, Elisa Nader, worked quietly on her laptop while I (gently, I swear) snored.
More awake memories after the break.
So my first real event that day was, well, lunch. (Have I mentioned that I'm not a morning person?) And it was a lunch with Natshya Wilson, the head of Harlequin Teen. (I found a 2011 interview online with her here on Beyond Words) Natashya is a powerhouse editor, mom, reader and a great lunch partner. She's the one Harlequin put in charge when they created Harlequin Teen, back in 2009, and given how the line is now so popular and chock full of amazing books, you can tell what virtuosi Natashya and her team are. Like me, she loves animals (she majored in Animal Science) and knows California well, although she and her family now live in New Jersey.
There's a whole story about ordering a turkey club and getting a chicken sandwich THREE TIMES instead, but you kind of had to be there. Suffice to say that we got free cookies (yay!) and now have a very funny story to grin about when we see each other again.
Do you think turkeys are offended when chefs mistake chickens for them? Or are they just so fricking delighted?
Elisa and I attended a career-oriented workshop with the hilarious, quirky, best-selling Cherry Adair, who kept us in stitches as she doled out sage advice.
I needed to do copy edits for OTHERSPHERE, so I went up to the hotel room. But I was still slaughtered with the tired, so my eyelids insisted on closing and I semi-napped for a little while. Thank goodness I did, because the evening was jam-packed with awesome.
First, Elisa and I ventured out of the hotel (gasp! There was a whole world outside!) into the city of Atlanta to eat at a marvelous restaurant called Woodfire Grill. Everything cooked there is in season and super fresh and so creatively put together in ways that lazy me will never master.
We had a three-course meal complete with drinks made from organic local Bootlegger Vodka. First up, the roasted beet salad, so fresh and delicious with figs, toasted hazelnuts, and lettuce in a white balsamic vinaigrette, then I had the stuff morel mushrooms filled with ricotta and drizzled with something tasty called pine shoot syrup. For my main course I had literally the best fish I've ever tasted, a smoked black grouper with fennel and and something called tomato jam that tasted like the most delicate, mouth-watering barbeque sauce you've ever had.
Oh man. My mouth is watering now. And I could use a "Farmer's Daughter," which is the name of the drink I had, made with vodka, mint, and ginger. But I need to do more copy edits, darn it.
After dinner, I headed over the rockingest party at RWA, the one hosted by Harlequin. I had no idea how crazily great it would be, but I should have known! Open bar, and even more dangerous - open dessert bar. Oh man, now I wish I was there! Here's a dark-ish shot I took with my phone.
Then I heard the strains of my favorite Rollings Stones song, "Honky Tonk Woman" and I had to get on the floor, which was a seething mass of mostly women, all dressed beautifully, but not afraid to get down.
On two screens behind the jiving bodies the covers of Harlequin novels were projected.
If your heels were killing you (not me, I don't wear them - I'm tall enough, thanks), or if you just wanted to slide across the dance floor, there were free hot pink socks! I didn't put them on, but I had to snag a pair as a souvenir.
As book devotees lined up outside, Elisa (who is a published author herself and yet went above and beyond to support me throughout the days there - love you, Elisa!) helped me set up my own little table covered with free copies of OTHERMOON. Here I am, photo by Elisa. You can see the other authors' tables, which filled the conference room. I'm wearing my RWA badge, and my hair isn't half as bad as I thought at the time. Still lacking sleep, but so happy and grateful to be there!
Once the doors opened, book fans descended, and all the books were signed and gone in around 10 minutes. Victory!
I flew out that night, arrived home late Saturday night, in a post-conference haze, but so happy I went. Thanks to all who made it so great!