Monday, July 30, 2012

RWA Nationals 2012

I'm back from Anaheim! I got in late and didn't sleep until 1:00 AM, but I'm still buzzing with adrenaline and residual caffeine (yep, I think the Starbucks staff were starting to worry about the lady who kept ordering triple shots of espresso...blame it on the time difference and lack of sleep). This was my fourth Nationals and it was phenomenal. I'll start by congratulating all the Golden Heart and RITA finalists and winners! I'll let you read the list of winners at the RWA website, but I will note a significant win...Carina Press author Fiona Lowe took home a RITA for contemporary single title. That's a huge milestone, not only for Fiona, but for Harlequin's Carina Press and e-publishing in general.

Don't click that keyboard yet! I have pictures, links and info coming up.

Let's start with Harlequin. If you hang at Harlequin's online community and ever go to a Nationals meeting, you have to attend the Harlequin PJ party. It's fun, relaxing and you get to meet all your harlequin online friends in person. Oh, and there are always fabulous party favors :). Check out the vintage Harlequin romance mug we all got this year. I'm drinking tea out of it right now.

Thank you to Jayne at Harlequin and anyone else involved in organizing the party! If I try to mention everyone I met, I know I'll forget someone, so let me just say that the entire Harlequin community (staff, published and unpublished writers alike) rock! These are truly wonderful, warm and supportive people.
Superromance authors Kathy Altman, Linda Style and me
Super sweet Kathy Altman and me at the PJ party
As for information I jotted down at the Spotlight on Harlequin Series session...

Updates have been made to their writing guidelines that include the latest word count changes, new series and more. I'll note a few things here, but take a minute (after this post :) to check out their new writing guidelines. Medicals are now being included in the Home and Hearth group, whereas Superromance, with it's 85k word count, is getting categorized as 'romance with more'. New lines include Kiss, a 50k flirty line coming out in Feb 2013 and Heartwarming, a 70-75k wholesome (yet with the complexity of a Supers) line looking to shift from reprints to new authors starting July 2013. Also, Harlequin Digital First is a new digital line that differs from Carina Press in that it's encompasses series books that carry the Harlequin brand. There are a few other new lines, and yet another to be announced in the next few weeks (if I understood correctly) so check out the guidelines link above!

The next Harlequin SYTYCW contest will be global and is set to launch on September 17, 2012. This time, the initial voting will be public.

And now for the RWA Literacy Autographing. It was amazing! I was having so much fun catching up with friends and meeting chapter members that I didn't get pictures of all of them (still kicking myself). But here are a few...
Superromance author Cathryn Parry and me
YA author Janice Hardy. My son loooves her books and I'd promised him an autograph.
Kathy Altman with her debut Superromance
Me and the always lovely Harlequin Desire author Olivia Gates
The very sweet Nas Dean from Romance Book Paradise and me. 
My dear friend Superromance author  Jeannie Watt  (I think you've figured out who I am at this point ;).  
The workshops were fabulous too. Even those of us who made it to Nationals couldn't make it into every workshop, but most are recorded. Here's the link to Bill Stephens Productions if you're interested in ordering a recording. Ruby Slippered Sisters Liz Tally and Darynda Jones did one on voice development that I heard writers raving about in the hall. I was at the PRO retreat and missed it, so I'm planning to order it along with many other workshops. I did make it to Michael Hague's talk. You have to listen to this man at least once in your writing career. I went to his talk last year as well, but I figured round two would help his words sink in deeper. You can check out his links in my left colum and catch up on some of his wisdom. A few other great workshops I attended were Margie Lawson's on openings and Debra Dixon's on conflict. Again, too many great workshops to list, but you can buy the recordings.

Robyn Carr's awards luncheon speech was very inspiring and the GH/RITA awards ceremony emceed by Victoria Alexander was both funny and romance movie nostalgic. And the ever elegant and gracious J.D. Robb earned a laugh when she accepted her RITA and said that Nora would be jealous :)

Me and Kathy Altman at the awards ceremony
I wish I had more pics from the ceremony. I wish I could list the names of every writer I connected in friendship with, but I don't want to hit the sack at 1:00 AM again, fry out blogger, or succumb to another triple shot espresso. Withdrawal's a b...big pain :)

I'll end by saying that being surrounded by so many talented, warm and inclusive writers, editors, agents and publishers is an extraordinary, almost surreal experience. I found myself enveloped with encouragement, enthusiasm, understanding, friendship, wisdom, knowledge and so much more. In fact, I left feeling so motivated and inspired that I used the two hours I had before my flight home to write. I sat at my gate, whipped out the Alpha Smart, glanced left and right to make sure no one was reading my draft work, and went at it. So inspired was I, that I never heard them announce boarding for my flight. Luckily, I glanced up in deep thought and snapped quickly back to reality when I realized what was happening, LOL. Anyway, I'm home now and ready for another year of writing.

Happy writing and reading to all.


  1. Wow! It sounds like you had a marvelous time. Thank you so much for the photos.

  2. This is off topic but I just had to mention how much I enjoyed Kathy Altman's debut, The Other Soldier. (HS Jul 12) I just finished reading it last night. What an emotionally touching story.

    1. Wow, Kaelee, THANK YOU!! That is so, so kind of you to say! I'm thrilled that you enjoyed the story, and I really appreciate that you bought the book! You made my week, Kaelee! :-)

  3. Hey Kaelee! You're very welcome and I totally agree about Kathy's debut. I know she'll love it if you have the chance to stop by for her interview here next Monday (Aug. 6th).

  4. Rula, it was great meeting you! This is an excellent recap, btw--I miss the conference already!

    1. Cathryn, I so enjoyed chatting with you as well! I look forward to keeping in touch! :-)

  5. Sounds like a great time was had by all. Thanks for the info on Harlequin.

  6. Thanks for the recap, Rula! It was almost like being there. Almost... LOL
    I plan on going to Atlanta next year!

  7. Rula, it was so, so wonderful to get the chance to finally meet you in person! You are such a peach, and an obvious favorite at the conference. And everyone, she always looked so elegant! You should have seen her at the awards ceremony! :-) Thank you for the rundown--it's amazing how two people can be at the same conference and never attend the same workshop! But at least we got to enjoy the Harlequin PJ party together. Thank you so much for all of the wonderful pictures! You made me feel like a celebrity! :-) And yay, you, for getting right onto that AlphaSmart! I expect big news from you very soon!!

  8. Hey Cathryn! It was great meeting you too!

    Hi Anne! No problem, and I'm sure Harlequin will be posting more on their site...exciting changes!

    Hi Jennifer! I'm hoping to go to Atlanta too. These meetings are great muse joggers :)

    Hey Kathy! I'm totally blushing right now. Thank you for your kind words. You're so incredibly sweet. And first book out girl! You ARE a celebrity! I can't wait to post your interview on Monday :)

  9. I can see what a great time you had! I haven't been to Nationals. In 2014 they're here in San Antonio. I hope we haven't moved by then :)

  10. Hi Rula!

    It was wonderful to meet you in person and thanks for this recap!

    I hope we get the chance to meet again someday!

  11. Thanks for the recap of all the Harlequin news! I'd heard some of it during the conference, but some I'd missed! Harlequin certainly doesn't rest on its laurels. The next year will be very exciting.

    Love the mugs!!

  12. Hi Carol! I hope I get to meet you when they're held in San Antonio :)

    Hi Nas!Ditto!

    Hi Julia! It's great to see you here :) I love that mug too. Wish I had a set of four!

  13. I have a blast at the nationals. Janice Hardy's workshop was great and I had a great time hanging out with her.

    I'm looking forward to next years. :D

  14. Hi Stina! I can't believe we didn't get to meet face to face. We'll have to set up a meeting spot next time.

    Janice is a great person, and her blog The Other Side of the Story is a super craft source too (link on left). My son has already read her Shifter series, but I got him Janice's autograph on The Shifter as promised :)

  15. Hey J.L.! It was great and doubled up as a writer's retreat for me...time away from the kids with everything revolving around writing. A dream!