RWA to NYC to JKR

July 31st, 2006

So I spent the latter half of last week in Atlanta, Georgia, attending the twenty-sixth Romance Writers of America conference.

A lot of people, when I mention that I have been a member of this organization since 1998, ask, “Why? You're not a romance writer.”

Au contraire, mon frere! I am and have always been a writer of romance, since third grade when Vicky Greer's story of a fish who found romance under the sea won Best Story of the Class and was hung in a place of honor on the wall by Miss Mize's desk, and my story, which did not have a wedding at the end, was all but ignored, and hung by the coat closet.

I learned a valuable lesson that day, my friends, and that is this:

The reading public (including me…Vicky's story was AWESOME) wants romance. Even if it is between fish or same-sex amoebas.

So as soon as I signed my first historical romance publishing contract, I took my agent's advice and joined the Romance Writers of America, an organization I strongly urge all aspiring authors to join, since it taught me more about publishing than any of the other author organizations I also joined at that same time COMBINED (no offense to those organizations, of course).

So I was extremely honored when the RWA asked me to be their keynote luncheon speaker at this year's annual conference in Atlanta (it rotates venues yearly so that all members get a chance to attend). Here I am, speaking:

(What I am thinking in this picture: Gosh, my feet hurt.)

I have to say, it was really fun. It's nice to talk to people who all feel the same way you do about something (in this instance, that if a book doesn't have a romance in it, what's the point?)

Everyone at the conference was SO nice, and RWA gave me a set of beautiful Waterford crystal champagne glasses to thank me for speaking (not to mention paid my way to Atlanta, as well as for my hotel room, and even waived my conference fee), for which I will be sending them a formal thank you letter later, in which I won't mention that I would have done it all for free to thank THEM for all the help they and their members have given me over the years.

And my publisher donated tons of books to give away at the luncheon where I spoke (although they ran out of books pretty early on at the literacy signing the night before):

(Here I am thinking: Gosh, my feet REALLY hurt.)

But the best part was that I got to meet a lot of new writers (and readers) as well as touch base with old friends—like author , Megan Crane, whose books I love, and Laurie Gold, who owns and operates what I'm pretty sure is the largest and most comprehensive romance review site on the web, All About Romance (not to be confused with Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels, the snarkiest—in a good way–romance review site on the web), and who was the first (and pretty much only) reviewer to notice my historical romances and actually say nice things about them, for which I will always be eternally grateful. AUTHOR'S NOTE: I just remembered someone else I met in Atlanta–Sandy Coleman, who gave SHE WENT ALL THE WAY a Desert Island Keeper review on All About Romance! Sandy, you rock!

My only regret was that I didn't have time to say hi to more people. Actually, it wasn't so much a time factor as it was…my shoes. One of the tips I gave participants was to wear comfortable shoes. But did I follow my own advice? No. So my feet are currently swathed in Neosporin and Band Aids….

…which might be why, after making it through my YA event at the Margaret Mitchell house (where I got to meet Chicks with Sticks author Elizabeth Lenhard and her BRAND NEW BABY) in addition to having my photo taken on Margaret Mitchell's bed:

(Here I am thinking: Ahhh…finally, my feet don't hurt.)

…and then making it through my adult book event (with bestselling romance authors Stephanie Laurens, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Julia Quinn), I fell down the stairs of the stage during our standing ovation, and skinned my knee.

Anyway, now my blisters and I are off to New York for my Today Show appearance on Friday to talk about HOW TO BE POPULAR…unless of course I get bumped for the war.

But that is not ALL I get to do in New York, people. I am going to see JK Rowling, Stephen King, and John Irving at AN EVENING WITH HARRY, CARRIE, AND GARP at Radio City Music Hall! Yes!!!

Don't worry, I will totally try to find out who is dying in Harry Potter 7, but at this point I don't even think I will be allowed near JK thanks to my recent letter to her. Oh well.

In closing, I will add only that to all of the many, many people who said such nice things to me at the conference (and also at the Margaret Mitchell House), thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I too hope you will one day be asked to give the keynote luncheon speech at RWA….

…and that when you do, you will be smart enough to wear comfortable shoes.

More later.

Much love,

Meg