In which I squee loudly about shiny-happy things and also promote my friends.
The 2010 RWA National Conference! A time for panels, workshops, signing books for literacy, discovering new authors, visiting old friends and making new ones. And also time for various genre and chapter awards.
First off was the literacy signing where I signed The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker and had a lovely time chatting with readers and authors alike. Plus the signing raised $62,000 for literacy! Isn’t that cool?!
And then I had to play hookie for a bit and visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Because if I didn’t, I’d not only lose House Points… but I’d regret it forever and ever. It was AWESOME. Mind you, I’m easily pleased when it comes to HP. But the ride in the castle was spectacular, really felt like you were flying, Hogsmeade was beautifully rendered and exactly as imagined, Olivander was wonderfully played, the shopping was squee-worthy and the BUTTERBEER. OMG. Worth the price of admission. Like nothing I’ve ever tasted and yet exactly how I imagined Butterbeer. Genius. I was vibrating with happy.
Back to business: The great thing about RWA is that I’m constantly reminded how much I like the people in it. My fellow authors and pre-published authors are some of the neatest people in the world. It helped that my beloved Marianne Mancusi was one of the first people we saw in the hotel (I’m still trying to adjust to her living in Texas). Soon met up with the lovely Atlantis star Alyssa Day, hugged my dear Cindy Holby / Colby Hodge and met Cindy Dees over some cheese fries and the conference was off to a great start!
My friend and roomie extraordinare Sarah MacLean facilitated hanging with some wonderful people throughout the conference. Like Sophie Jordan (How excited am I for her RT Top Pick FIRELIGHT, a YA novel about Dragons?! So excited. Gorgeous cover, fab book trailer, and she's an awesomely nice person too!) and Gwenda Bond who won RWA’s Veritas Media Award for excellence in covering the genre, also got to see Tara Lynn Childs again, very excited for her next in her series too, not to mention the aqua highlights in her hair.
In a gathering hosted by Tessa Dare and Courtney Milan, (along with NAL author and buddy Sara Lindsey who I’ve not yet forgiven for moving out of NYC) two really great authors who I hadn’t previously gotten a chance spend time with, I was thrilled to find them as lovely hostesses as they are writers, which just makes me enjoy their books even more. I finally met Twitter buddy and fellow Gothic Romance author Erica Ridley who is as much of a live-wire as I am, and who uncannily understands me and my sense of humour- total soul-sister moments of awesome. I was reminded just how delightful Diana Peterfreund is, and we all lusted after Gwen Hayes' gorgeous cover for Falling Under with all the black roses. Gwen happens to also be exceedingly kind and sweet, which lessened the sting of cover jealousy. :) Are your TBR piles growing with this blog post? They should be!
Attended the PASIC soiree with my dear Delilah Marvelle where we waxed rhapsodic on many things, including her gorgeous new Harlequin covers. Chatted with former PASIC prez and unparalleled bestselling Thriller author Allison Brennan, who is ever a delight, and enjoyed chatting with the fabulous Jessa Slade over dessert, laughing at war stories over book covers.
Two panels of particular note were the Steampunk Panel facilitated by Suzanne Lazear of the Steamed! Blog, who was dressed in beautiful Steampunk regalia the whole time. So thrilled she’s found a great home for her Steampunk YA in Flux books, look for it next year. Cindy Holby / Colby Hodge was a panelist and fellow “Steampunk Lolita” kind enough as to mention my books as an example of using established characters from history in your re-envisioned Victoriana. Shelley Adina dressed in incredible regalia herself. Jennifer Jackson of the Donald Maas agency, who is one of the very best in the business, had great things to say from the agent perspective. Her opinion is sage, awesome, and uncannily correct. The core message was that Steampunk is still growing in popularity and visibility, and while it’s taken hold more strongly in Sci-Fi/Fantasy, crossing it into Romance still has a lot of possibility. Want to know more about Steampunk? Be sure to visit Steamed! and also make sure you get the whole Steampunk world-view by visiting Silver Goggles and Beyond Victoriana for multi-cultural Steampunk featuring amazing resources and people.
Carrie Lofty, Zoe Archer, Sherry Thomas, Jade Lee and agent Kevan Lyons put on a great panel about Unusual Historicals. Visit Unusual Historicals for the pulse of this most exciting part of Historical Romance / Fiction. Core message here is that you might be carving out a harder road by using unique and untried places / settings / scenarios, but a good book will out, as each of these women have awesomely proven.
Had a lovely Dorchester soiree where I got to catch up with Liz Maverick who's also now working at Macmillan in audio marketing – I know, we both live in NYC but its funny how it takes conferences to catch up, met Jennifer Ashley and had a fan-girl moment, met new Dorchester authors such as Kerri Nelson and Alicia Dean (very excited to read Heart of the Witch), she and I traded books and talked about our love for the horror genre.
And then it was time for The Gathering; this year a Steampunk costume party for the Prism Awards. Sponsored by the Futuristic / Fantasy / Paranormal Chapter of the RWA, the Prisms are awarded each year for excellence in the genre and broken down into the various subcategories supported within the chapter, so essentially, for those of us that write it, it’s a jury of our peers and means a lot to us. Jeffe Kennedy is an absolutely wonderful president (check out Petals and Thorns!) and our Web-Diva Allison Pang (whose debut comes out from Pocket next year!) was there as quite literal wing-woman to the awards. The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker finaled in the Fantasy Romance category and was eligible for the Best First Book category. I was up against authors that I know and love. As you all know, Miss Percy and her tale is the ‘book of my heart’ – and so... when she won the category… and then won Best First Book… there were some tears, some screams, some dancing and lots of jumping up and down. And a lot of thanks. Thanks to the FF and P chapter, and huge thanks to my editor Chris Keeslar at Dorchester, who took a chance on me and this oft hard to categorize book – and who was there to cheer me on. It was so meaningful to win two Prisms when he was there to see it. I met so many wonderful FF and P members, was really impressed by all the costumes, and cheered wildly as one of the nicest ladies in the business, Cynthia Eden, also took home two Prisms. It was an incredible night to say the least. I think my crazed-thrilled expression says it all. I’m still reeling from the honour – I’m humbled and so grateful, because it means so much for a book that struggled to find its way in the world.
When all was said and done, I got the chance to celebrate with just about everyone I’ve mentioned above, with the awesome addition of Serena Robar. My roomie Sarah MacLean in particular made sure I was well taken care of, and Gwenda made sure I was treated to some champagne – thanks ladies! Got a chance to see my Lady Jane’s fellow co-founder Maya Rodale looking lovely in a tiara and enjoying her fellow Avon ladies, like Tara, Sophie, and Katharine Ashe.
And then in fine fashion, we closed down the very Dolphin itself with the likes of Shiloh Walker, whose books I so enjoy, so it was a thrill to meet her and she was gracious enough to tweet a picture of me and one of my pretty Prism statues. Thrilled to run into Stacia Kane (always one of my favourite people to see and to party with because I so dig her style and she makes me laugh). She also writes a damn good book. People, if you don’t know her Chess Putnam series starting with Unholy Ghosts, get on it. Really incredible Urban Fantasy.
And now I’m off to England! I’m so excited to be signing at Forbidden Planet August 5th at 6pm! So excited to return to my soul’s home and drink in some atmosphere and research! I turned in Strangely Beautiful #3, THE PERILOUS PROPHECY OF GUARD AND GODDESS to my editor just before traveling, so now as I let those edits percolate, I’ll be on a mission for Strangely Beautiful #4 details. And remember, you don't have long to wait for more Strangely Beautiful goodness! Sept. 28th - A Midwinter Fantasy releases, including #2.5 "A Christmas Carroll" - Preorder!
Strangely Beautiful blessings!