I had the chance to meet so many incredible people I couldn't possibly list everyone's name here. Actually, I feel guilty about that because I loved meeting every one of you (you know who you are) but in the rush to get these pics up for everyone to enjoy, I'm mortified that I might forget to mention someone...so I'm mostly going to stick with who is in the pics...but know that every hello and every minute of chatting with each of you was special to me and I won't forget any of it.
First of all, I felt like I was on cloud nine the entire meeting, so I'll start with a photo I took from my plane window on the way to Atlanta. The photo doesn't do justice to the incredible storm we flew over.
One of the first people I met in person (we'd met on the Harl. forums) was Harlequin forum moderator, and total sweetie, Danica. She just sold to Harlequin Love Inspired so we both got to wear 'Sold' ribbons :).
I had a incredible view from my 44th floor room window, but as you can see in the second pic, there was a storm brewing...
One that yours truly got caught in, along with best buddies Superromance authors Kimberly Van Meter (she's taking the pic) and Jeannie Watt (left), writer Jamie Dallas and me. We wore those disposable rain ponchos (bags) as we ventured through the city, got up close and personal with MARTA (a transit system adventure), and got lost in the rain. Given the chuckles and head turns we earned, I think we sort of stood out...especially when something like five cars in a row drove through a flooding gutter along the road and sent tidal waves of water all over us. Don't let the bags fool you...my jeans in the pic are soaking wet. However, given the heat and humidity, we all got a nice sauna spa treatment in that plastic LOL. We had the best time and laughed to tears on that adventure ;).
I also had the chance to see my friend Superromance author Cathryn Parry, who is such a sweet and genuine person. She not only gave a great workshop with author Dani Collins, but also won a Bookseller's Best Award for The Long Way Home! Congrats, Cathryn!
And for those of you who hang out at harlequin.com, you know how lovely Jayne Hoogenberk is online and what a beautiful and inviting community she manages. Well, you should meet her in person. She's an incredible hostess who clearly loves Harlequin and its authors...and she always looks so classy and elegant...even in pj's (but I didn't get her pic at the Harleqin PJ Party, so you'll have to trust me on that).
|Jayne Hoogenberk and me|
|H. Love Inspired author Barbara Phinney sporting party accessories|
|Harlequin Romance authors Donna Alward and Shirley Jump. Two fantastic and fun ladies.|
|Me and Donna. You know how with some people it feels as if you've known each other since elementary school? :)|
|Jeannie Watt in her tutu|
|Danica wearing her awesome 'I brought the awesome. What did you bring?' t-shirt (LOL)...and moi.|
And fellow Heartwarmer (what I like to call we Harlequin Heartwarming authors ;) Karen Rock...I can't remember who snuck the bunny ears in that one lol.
And the most special reunion of the trip...Jeannie, my editor Victoria Curran and me (below). Without Jeannie and Victoria, I wouldn't have a book coming out in January! All Harlequin editors are top notch in the industry, but I believe Victoria is truly gifted at what she does. Her remarkable insight, understanding and the time she took to nurture and guide me as a writer (even when I was a newbie several years ago) made all the difference. I'm a lucky gal!
|Superromance author Jeannie Watt, Senior Editor Harlequin Heartwarming Victoria Curran, and me|
|Me, Jeannie Dallas and dear friend, Superromance author and owner of Blue Otter Editing, Amy Knupp|
And another with Amy, Victoria and Jeannie below. (I'm skirting captions because blogger isn't cooperating)
Thank you Jayne, Danica and Sarah (sorry I missed getting a pic with you) for hosting such a great party!
On Thursday I attended the Harlequin Heartwarming Open House with Jeannie...the same open house she took me to last year when I pitched the story that ended up selling. It was a surreal moment, having come full circle to the same event that landed me a contract. And I think I blushed to death as Victoria Curran told my story to all the writers in the room. Fingers crossed for all of this year's pitchers!
On Friday, Heartwarming editors Victoria Curran and Kathryn Lye were beyond generous when they took all the Heartwarming authors at Nationals to a divine dinner before the famous Harlequin Party. Heartwarmer Cynthia Reese couldn't make it and was missed, but pictured from left front to back are: Cindi Myers, Jennifer Snow, me, and Melinda Curtis...then right front to back are: Tara Randel, Victoria Curran, Kathryn Lye and Karen Rock.
We then burned off all those calories by dancing at the Harlequin Party. Let me tell you, it was my first time and it was the BEST party ever!!! Below...me and Jeannie...
Me and Harlequin American author Megan Kelly. If you read my interview with her, you'll remember that Megan was the author who reached out at my very first Nationals meeting in DC and met me for dinner just to answer questions and make me feel welcome. I'll never forget!
Me and Amy Knupp...
There were so many other author friends I wish I'd taken pictures with, but it was such a busy meeting I didn't have the chance.
Saturday night was the Golden Heart and RITA Awards Ceremony and I have to say congratulations to all the finalists and winners! The photo below was taken right after the ceremony. Victoria Curran and me...
And of course I have to share what I put together for the Goody Room (for those who haven't been, it's a room full of author promotional material and swag gifts for the taking). I had pens and business cards made with the title and release date of my upcoming debut book, The Promise of Rain, and since the heroine in the book rescues baby elephants orphaned by poachers, each pen came with a little baby elephant :).
Those are all my pics folks. Like I said before, I met so many people from the Harlequin team and forums and wish I'd taken more pics, but I will say that they were all phenomenal people. Everyone was incredibly kind and welcomed me with open arms into the Harlequin family. Thank you all.
And I got to meet dear online friends who have found success with other publishers or self-publishing and again it was so great to get to chat in person. The support and friendship among writers at RWA Nationals is palpable. It's truly an incredible experience just to be there surrounded by all that positive energy and knowledge.
The workshops and luncheon speakers were great. If anyone is planning to buy lectures (I think you can get them individually through RWA...there's probably a link at the main site...shout out if you can't figure it out), I think hearing Michael Hauge at least once in your life is a must. I go listen to him every single time. There was also a great lecture on taxes, finances and the writer with Diane Kelly, Laura Alford and Donna MacMeans. Gosh....and so many more! Too many to list!
Thank you to RWA for masterminding such an incredible gathering for the networking, education and support of romance writers. Thank you to everyone who was so kind to me. Thank you to everyone at Harlequin...literally everone...for making me feel like a princess and welcoming me to the family. Thank you to Victoria for caring so much. Thank you to all my writer friends for being you.
I can't wait until next year! San Antonio guys! Start saving :). And to any readers out there, remember that the Literacy Autographing is open to the public and an awesome way to meet your favorite authors!