Category Archives: rwa

A Quick RWA Recap

Let’s see if I can get this down without forgetting things!

I was in New York from late Monday until midday Sunday. Monday night, I mostly hid out in the room, ordered room service, and slept, though I did run into Damon Suede at the elevators on my way to the room. Tuesday, I found an Italian place off 9th for lunch, stopped by Duane Reade for water to keep in the room, picked up my badge at registration, and then went to see Come From Away (which I adored). I had a grilled cheese sandwich at Junior’s after the show and still got back to the room before my roomie, Sarah Anderson, arrived late after going to her own show (Hadestown, insert jealousy here). We both passed out pretty soon after that.

BroadwayMagnets2019Wednesday, I was lazy getting up (a theme that persisted through the week), but I grabbed lunch in the lobby before going to see Dear Evan Hansen (also amazing). I got back to the hotel in time for the second half of the RWA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion event, which gave some good information and highlighted specific points for improvement. I had dinner that night with my friend Marianne at The Smith, where I had amazing sea bass with vegetables. Mmmm.

Thursday, I actually went to panels! First I had lunch with Janet Nye at a Brazilian seafood restaurant (so good!), and then I attended four panels, on seasoned romance, building inclusive writing communities, STEM in romance, and novel prep for writing fast. All were great, though I wish Adrianna Herrera’s inclusivity program had been better attended, because it had a lot of extremely helpful information and suggestions. The day ended with a Rainbow Romance Writers chapter meetup (great to see everyone!), and then a group of us had dinner in the hotel restaurant afterward.

Friday: More panels! I did the writing sprints session first, then went to panels on consent in romance and on putting together series. That night, I had plans to have dinner with my family (my dad’s sister and her family live in northern New Jersey), but they had to cancel, so instead I went out with J. Leigh Bailey, Jenn Burke, and Kelly Jensen to a great Turkish restaurant. We had a great talk about writing and life and food, and we cheered for the RITA winners as they were announced via my Twitter feed. We also stopped by Schmackary’s for cookies on the way back to the hotel, yum!

(A note on the RITAs: I don’t usually attend—I went in 2018 because a good friend was nominated—but I watched most of the ceremony after I got back home. It was so great to see history being made; as Miss Manners would have described it, it feel into a special category of Proper known as HIGH TIME. Congrats on the whole team for putting together such a thoughtful program, and special kudos to LaQuette for her critically important speech.)

Saturday was a long day. I met Barbara Wallace for breakfast at the hotel and had lunch with Olivia Dade, Kianna Alexander, and Kaia at Sardi’s (I’d never eaten there!). Then I reported for duty as a volunteer at the book fair, where I helped a few authors find their spots before taking over as Alyssa Cole’s assistant. We had a great time, and she sold out books quickly, no surprise!

Saturday night was another show: The Prom, this time with Sarah. We wore prom dresses! We also ran into Farrah Rochon, who was seated just a couple of rows from us. (Hilarious show, for the record.)

Sunday was another sleep-in. I finally dragged my butt up and out of the hotel in time to get my car to JFK. My flight was delayed, but only about half an hour, so I still got home at a reasonable time. Exhausted, but HOME.

I’d try to list everyone I saw/hugged/talked to/etc. during the week, but I would be sure to leave someone out, so I’ll just say it was awesome to see everyone, and I wish I’d had time to spend more time and see more people. I’m also glad to see the progress toward equity and inclusion being made within the organization, and I hope that continues, but there’s a lot of work still be done to level the playing field.

Here’s my commitment: I’m going to increase my participation at the chapter level, with a focus on expanding inclusivity and outreach, and continue my personal efforts to highlight and boost work by authors who are members of marginalized groups. Like, for example, these 2019 RITA winners:

Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan
RITA winner for Contemporary Romance: Long

Bad Blood by M. Malone
RITA winner for Romance Novella

My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma
RITA winner for Young Adult Romance

Three-Way Split by Elia Winters
RITA winner for Erotic Romance

And now, it’s back to trying to write (hah!), prep for upcoming events like Dragon Con (more hah!), and get things done around the house (even MORE hah!). An apt quote I saw online recently (paraphrasing): Being an adult just means telling yourself “things will slow down after this week” for the rest of your life. It never ends!

Where to Find Me at RWA

I’ll be in NYC for RWA next week, arriving Monday afternoon and leaving Sunday afternoon. I’m not presenting or doing any signings this year, so I’ll mostly be attending panels and hanging out in the bar/lounge.

I have two events on my schedule: the Rainbow Romance Writers meetup, Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. in the bar/lounge area, and the Literacy Autographing, Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. (volunteering, not signing).

Hope to see lots of you there!

Where I’ll Be in 2019

I have four events scheduled for the rest of the year, starting off with the NECRWA conference in Boston and running through the Georgia Romance Writers conference in October. If you’ll be at any of these events, let me know so we can meet up! The full schedule:

NECRWA
April 26–27, 2019

Burlington, MA

BookFest Gwinnett
June 15, 2019
Norcross, GA

This inaugural event will be held at the Norcross Cultural Arts & Community Center. I’ll be on the main stage from 3 to 3:45 and doing a book signing after.

RWA
July 24–27, 2019
New York, NY

Moonlight & Magnolias
October 3–6, 2019
Peachtree Corners, GA

At the Georgia Romance Writers annual conference, I’ll be giving a workshop titled “Wrangling Manuscripts in Microsoft Word: Tips and Tricks for Authors,” covering topics like templates, Track Changes, and find/replace.

A Little Drippy

I never had a chance to write up a post about RWA. Let’s just say it was a great week and I saw a lot of awesome people, and I’ll tell you why I never wrote that post.

When I got home late that Sunday night—my flight from Denver got in at 10:30PM—my parents were still awake, so I stepped in to their room to say hi and then headed downstairs to crawl into my bed. As I walked into the room, I saw a dark spot on the top corner of my mattress. I looked closer, looked up… and saw that two of the ceiling tiles overhead were sagging, soaking wet. (As was my mattress.)

It turns out that Dad had discovered a leak from the toilet in their bathroom the previous Wednesday, while I was gone. It looked like something small, so he just turned off the water, and they either used the hall bathroom or turned on the water just long enough to flush. He didn’t call me about it because he didn’t think it was a big deal and didn’t want to bother me on my trip.

It was a big deal.

The water had seeped under most of the bathroom floor, the vanity, and the hallway on the other side of the wall. It had also dripped down into the insulation between floors, the ceiling tiles in the drop ceiling in the basement, and down into the floors below in two rooms. And, of course, onto my mattress.

We’ve had a restoration company out to assess everything and set up to dry it all out. The bathroom flooring and vanity are gone, along with the wet insulation and ceiling tiles and a bunch of baseboards. They’re hoping not to have to redo the flooring in the hallway and in one of the downstairs rooms, but that’ll depend on how well they dry out.

Most annoying is that the hallway damage is right outside the only other bathroom upstairs, so the setup to dry that out blocked that bathroom. That means no upstairs bathroom, which means my parents have had to move into a hotel while the work is done. (And me too, mostly to be around to help them as needed, but also because the insurance offered to cover two rooms.)

The good news is that Mom and Dad (he cares less, LOL) will get a brand-new vanity and new flooring in their bathroom. What was there was fine, but it was basic builder-grade stuff, so this will be a definite upgrade. We’re also going to try to get their shower surround changed out to make it more accessible.

Thankfully, insurance will be covering the bulk of all this. We’ll pay a deductible and for the shower, since that wasn’t affected by the leak, but beyond that, it’ll be the cost of the shower work and then anything else extra we decide to do.

The biggest annoyance with all of this is the upheaval. We’ve been plugging away at getting unpacked and settled, but we haven’t been able to do much the past couple of weeks because of the leak, and now we’ll be out of the house over another weekend. I am going to come over during the weekend and do what I can, but every day the repairs take puts us farther behind on everything. And I’ve been relegated back to sleeping on a sofa or airbed until I can get my mattress replaced.

OH, and on top of all THAT, a few nights ago a light fixture in the kitchen fell with a huge kablang, scaring Mom and me out of a year of life. Thankfully, nothing broke, but since the fixture itself is so heavy, we’re going to look for something lighter to replace it with. Which means another repair/handy person in to install it.

Of course, all this I’m not getting much writing done. I have a full manuscript due to one publisher and sample chapters to another, and I haven’t written a word since I went to one of the writing sprints session in Denver. I’m hoping sleeping in a real bed for a few days will get me back on track.

So, I’m hoping to have some good news to report soon, both on the housing front and on the writing front. In the meantime, I’ll keep right on slogging through.

Just keep swimming, right?

From New York, With Love

I’m just home from a whirlwind trip to New York for the 2015 Romance Writers of America conference. It was a fabulous week, filled with meet-and-greets with lots of author friends plus a few NYC locals, plus some really good content on the pro-writing side of things.

I only made it to two panel sessions during the conference, but both were great. The first, “Diversity in Romance: Why It Matters,” featured five authors (four POC authors) who had wonderful things to say about, well, why diversity matters. One of the panelists, Alisha Rai, compiled a Storify of many of the tweets from the panel. (I especially loved her “duke-fic” analogy, LOL.) The second panel, “The Human Experience: Throwing Away Stereotypes and Creating Realistically Diverse Characters through Empathy,” included the awesome Farrah Rochon, who was also on the first panel (and who I assured I was not stalking!), and Suzanne Brockmann.

Yes, diversity was a big topic of discussion at RWA this year. It’s one of the ongoing issues in the romance genre, and one that’s changing, albeit slowly. Romances about and written by people of color, LGBT people, and people with disabilities are gradually becoming more and more common and are working their way into the “mainstream” of the genre, rather than being relegated to the sides—though that still happens too. It’s a slow process to change decades of industry practice, but many amazing, smart women are making it happen.

(Adding a bit to the discussion, while I was at RWA, my July Outside the Margins post went up: Mainstreaming the Rainbow.)

One of the best things about RWA is that the “official” events are just the tip of iceberg. I attended a grand total of four events: the Literacy Autographing, the two panels, and the RITA/Golden Hearts awards ceremony. The rest of my time was spent in small groups or one-on-one discussions with other industry professionals. I was part of a critique workshop on Thursday afternoon that gave me some great insight into one of my works in progress, had a meet-up with members of a Facebook author group, and ate several meals with author friends. But mostly, I spent many hours just hanging out in the lobby, chatting with whoever was around. I met so many people I’m afraid to list them for fear of leaving some out!

So now I’m back home, tired and brain-dead, but at the same time energized and ready to dive back into my works in progress. Too bad I’m still booked up with Dragon Con and my sister’s wedding on the horizon!