The best thing about romance readers is they believe in hope. Better endings. The ability to change and grow. For the past week, I’ve been in Florida for the Romance Writers of America National Conference, and as I’m writing this, my heart is simply full of love. I’m smiling as I type.
Yes, it’s great not to be wearing heels (I’m barefoot at the moment and plan to stay that way). I’m so happy to be home! But I was so happy to be there, too. Let me tell you about some of the highlights of this past week.
The board meeting. I’m on the RWA board, though I’m going off in a couple months, so this was my last face-to-face meeting with the remarkable people who give so much of their time and talent to make RWA a forward-thinking, professional, welcoming organization. The AC was on hyperdrive in our room for hours—I’d guess it was 55 degrees in there—and when Engineering admitted defeat, I put on my Angry Mother face and got us 27 down comforters. And that’s how we finished the rest of the board meeting, folks. Wrapped in blankies. I also got free drink tickets for everyone in that room, which I think will probably get me a service award or something.
The friends. I got to see people I rarely see in person. Some old friends, some new, some Twitter friends, some “we met my first conference and I was in awe of you” friends (looking at you, Brenda Jackson!).
On the first day of the conference, I was meeting some new-ish authors in the lobby, and it was really loud, so we just bopped up to my room and chatted for an hour or so, and I loved that.
My Plotmonkey friend, Anne Renwick, won two Prism Awards—best steampunk and best first book—and you probably heard my happy sobs when she found me in the lobby late that night. I dragged her around to show off her awards to all my other friends and texted her husband and was just so stinkin’ happy to see all that work pay off.
The speeches. Beverly Jenkins, first of her name, descendant of slaves, slayer of words… If I spent the rest of my life standing on my feet, cheering for Miss Bev, it would not be enough to convey my love and admiration for this woman. Susan Wiggs was funny and warm and wise, just like you’d expect.
At the librarian/blogger /bookseller luncheon, Brenda Jackson told us of her own journey, her family’s past, and the way reading empowered and informed her, and how thrilling it still is to read a book that transports you.
I mentioned the friends, didn’t I? Some years, there are certain people who light up your heart. Lorelei, Julie, Geoff, Alyssa, Sonali, Xio, Virginia (and Mike!) Caro, Pintip, Elly, Damon, just to name a few of dozens. I’m so lucky! Writing has given me some of the best friends in my life, and I’ll always be grateful to RWA for being the catalyst for those friendships.