This was my second time attending Nationals. As I told Gerri Russell who sat next to me at the massive Readers For Life Literary Signing, the first time I attended was San Francisco in 2008 and about 2 months after that I found out I was pregnant with my youngest child. So my eight year hiatus was filled with having a kid.
The first time I attended I was fairly green. I pitched, which went nowhere in the end but I’m still glad I did it and attending workshops. Attending RWA Nationals as an author with Harlequin was a WHOLE different experience. Busy doesn’t even begin to describe it.
I was nervous about flying and then meeting all these fantastic people I’ve only talked to online. My flight to San Diego was pretty much filled with the Toronto HQN team. Thankfully, I had audio books to distract me from the fact I was thousands of feet in the air.
And I knew, waiting for me in San Diego was my two roomies Amalie Berlin and Tina Beckett.
Wednesday is a bit slow, so it was the perfect time to catch up with my editor. I’ve met my amazing editor Laura McCallen before, because she’s Canadian, but in the UK so she comes home to visit. We had an amazing light appetizer/lunch/drink thing (I really don’t know what to call that meal) in the nearby Gas Lamp District where we caught up and talked shop. I love my editor. After our chat she introduced me to Bronwyn Scott who is also a Greyhaus Literary Agency Author.
The kick off for RWA was the Readers for Life Literacy Signing, where the publishers donate the books and the proceeds go to local literacy funds. Books not sold would be donated to local libraries and the Naval base.
At the literacy signing I got to meet a special volunteer! Traci Douglass who is active on the Harlequin writing forums (like me). She’s SUPER sweet. At the end of it, as I was leaving, I got to FINALLY meet the amazing Scarlet Wilson from Medicals who is absolutely delightful.
The next day was jammed pack filled with workshops, open houses and meet and greets. I attended most Open Houses and Meet & Greets that day, but I got to attend some fun workshops like Kindle Worlds. I was asked to be involved in one and I had questions, so this workshop answered all my questions and gave me a lot to think about.
At the Mills & Boon Open House I FINALLY got to meet Robin Gianna, Lynne Marshall and Louisa George. I also got to meet the UK team that was there, Sheila Hodgson, Byrony Green, Kathryn Cheshire & Linda Fildew. And of course, my editor Laura McCallen.
In an elevator I met Sara from Harlequin Junkie (You never know who you’ll me in an elevator!). And I attended the glorious keynote address of Beverly Jenkins who gave an inspiring speech about diversity in romance, which I’m all for given my family’s diverse heritage and the fact that I love writing diverse characters. My editor encouraged me to continue writing my diverse characters.
As Beverly Jenkins said about romance writers (paraphrasing her) “We are the sh#t!”
Friday was the busiest day. I attended my first ever Harlequin Signing. Wow. I had never been to a publisher signing before. It was crazy, but before the crazy all began I got to meet Sarah Morgan, who I gushed over like a crazy person. I also got to meet Pamela Hearon (who is a doll, love her), RITA winner Sarah M. Anderson, RITA winner Maisey Yates and Caitlin Crews. I also FINALLY got to meet Susan Carlisle of Medicals who is just wonderful.
As soon as the Medicals lunch was over we went straight to the Medical Author luncheon. We had a delicious lunch overlooking the Harbour.
I was completely nervous about meeting the UK team, I mean these are the people who say YES or NO to your books. My fears were completely unfounded the whole Harlequin team, every editor from all three offices I met were so nice. It made ever so proud to be part of Harlequin.
After our lunch and a picture Laura wanted of all her Medical authors who were there, I attended a Susan Elizabeth Phillips workshop on characterization. I tried in 2008 to attend an SEP workshop as they’re not recorded ever, but couldn’t get in. It was complete magic to get in this time and it was worth it. She’s an amazing speaker.
Then I napped. Jet lag, time zone change and the fact every function Harlequin held was filled with ice creams, cookies, wine, chocolate. Man. My agent told me to suck it up! Drink coffee. Instead I ended up eating a brownie, falling asleep and drooling chocolate onto my pillow. Just as Tina Beckett who walked in and saw me.
At night it was time to get ready for the thing I was most excited about. THE HARLEQUIN PARTY! It was my first time attending and I was not disappointed. I’m usually quite shy and feel awkward getting up to dance, but once that music is started and you see Nora Roberts out there, I was not so shy any more. I danced like I never danced before. The wine did help. LOL
I also got dragged into a photo booth with the Medical gals and Laura where I ended up looking like the Pringle’s Chips dude’s sister.
Saturday was low-key for me. I did have revisions which were due three days after I returned from Nationals. Cruel, right? KIDDING! The revisions were for a Duet coming out in Spring 2017 with Robin Gianna. Since we share the same editor and we were all there, we had an editorial meeting pool side under the palm trees, the way every editorial/revision meetings should go. So look for His Pregnant Royal Bride in the Royal Spring Babies Duet in the spring!
After the RITAs where I was cheering hard for the amazing Scarlet Wilson in her double RITA nom, I went to bed because that brought Nationals to a close. Sunday I started the long day of traveling back to London, Ontario.
And my flight back home was filled with the Toronto HQN team too.
Oh and I have new book out this month. My fourth for this year (My 11th overall) TEMPTING NASHVILLE’S CELEBRITY DOC. I wrote a lot last year. LOL