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.
Wednesday, 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!