Wednesday, July 24, 2013

RWA Nationals 2013

RWA Nationals in Atlanta was AWESOME and, as always, I'm here to share pics! This was my fifth Nationals meeting and getting to wear that pink 'Sold' ribbon on my name tag was super cool. We all know romance writers are such warm and supportive souls, so there wasn't a hall or room I passed through where someone didn't see the ribbon and say congrats. Thanks to you all for making me feel so special :).

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 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.
I stayed at the conference hotel, The Marriot Marquis, and every elevator boasted book covers. I'm kicking myself for not getting a picture of the elevator with chapter mate and historical author Michelle Willingham's latest cover (hers are always incredible) and so many other authors, but another absolutely gorgeous one is fellow Harlequin Heartwarming author, Tara Randel's cover for Orange Blossom Brides.

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 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, 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
But I did get some PJ party pics!

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? :)
Okay, now let me give you a little back story on the next pj party pic. My dear friend Jeannie Wattt runs marathons and recently ran with a team all dressed in pink tutu's...even the guys. They called themselves the Tutu Twains ;). Anyway, those of us who hang at the Harlequin Superromance forum dared her to show up to the PJ party in said tutu...and not only did she do it...she won a cool Canada mug as a PJ prize :). And I was shocked when I got a mug too for being one of the forums newest authors!

Jeannie Watt in her tutu
Danica wearing her awesome 'I brought the awesome. What did you bring?' t-shirt (LOL)...and moi.

I also had the chance to meet online friend Superromance author Kris Fletcher. Kris is such a cool person!

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!!! 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!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


I've been doing a lot of shopping this week. Holiday sales didn't end until today and I wanted to take advantage. I know every now and then shopping for clothes and shoes is a necessity (as in, my favorite, can't live without it, long, black cardigan got eaten by moths recently), but I do not get a thrill out of shopping for clothes. I find it exhausting, though I am overjoyed if I find a piece that fits like it was made for me.

My top ten thoughts on shopping:

1. I could shop for house stuff for me...not.

2. Shoes must be comfortable. Pain free. No stilettos (I'm in awe of those who can wear them).

3. Every single person out there is my size in shoes and clothes, hence my size is never available.

4. Fluorescent lights in dressing rooms are evil. I'm now emotionally scarred.

5. Swimsuit section up ahead...TURN AND RUN! (note: just saw self under fluorescent lights)

6. Online shopping rocks, but I need to leave time for shipping :(

7. One dressing room I used this week (nice store) had no air circulating. The dress I was trying on was a tad small, but it was so hot, I probably could have just stood there awhile and waited for an inch to melt off my thighs.

8. My instinct is to go for black outfits. My son was chanting 'color' behind me in one store lol.

9. Getting locked outside the mall at 9:30pm...on the opposite side of the mall from where you a sure sign of an inexperienced mall shopper.

10. Ultimate moment: getting stuck in a dress seconds after the store lady knocked on my dressing room door to let me know the store was closing in less than 5 minutes. Sigh. At that point, I started laughing at myself. Out loud.

So are you a clothes/shoe shopper? A comfort gal or a fashionista who'll sacrifice comfort for the look? Or would you rather shop for home goods?

On a quick note, this Thursday I'll be blogging at the Heartwarming Authors blog about library memories, kids and ebooks and on Friday check out my USAToday HEA interview with Harlequin Romance author Jennifer Faye. I'll be back with links :).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Awesome July!

Happy July to all and an early Happy 4th of July to my fellow Americans! This month is already looking as awesome as a firework display :).

First, yesterday marked the launch of Harlequin Heartwarming's all new stories line up! In the past, the line was in a test phase, where previously published Harlequins (various home and hearth lines) were revised to fit the line's requirements. Last month, out of the 4 monthly releases, two were prev. pubbed books, and two were brand new. This month, they're all brand new stories and many are/will be by debut authors! Very exciting!

Secondly, it's RWA Nationals month and, as if that isn't awesome in and of itself, this time I'll be going as a PAN member, Harlequin author...and I get to wear a first sale ribbon! Yay! I'm so excited.

Thirdly, FOURTH OF JULY FIREWORKS!!!! I seriously love July 4th and all it's about. Plus, I'm absolutely crazy about fireworks.  I'm not talking about sparklers. I know they're fun but I've also seen a lot of eye injuries, so do be careful. I'm talking about the big sky display. I live in the country so they look extra brilliant against the dark sky. There's a park near us with a massive field and every year there's a live band, festivities and then an extraordinary fireworks show. Love it!

So I'm wishing you all a terrific July. What are you're plans?