Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm Not in Orlando, But . . .

If you are a romance reader who follows blogs, visits Facebook, or reads tweets tremendous and trivial, you know that the 30th annual conference of the Romance Writers of America is being held this week in Orlando (a change of venue due to the devastating floods in Nashville in early May). I’ve never been to one of these conferences. I may never attend one. Even as the romance writer/reader part of me thinks Nationals sound wonderful, the shy, hide-in-the-corner introvert thinks how terrifying the crowd would be. I do, however, enjoy the conference vicariously, and thanks to the miracle of social media, I can indirectly participate in it from shopping for conference clothes to making the exhausting trip home.

I spent way too much time Monday reading about the number of shoes RWA attendees were packing. The record among the tweets I read was nine pairs. If I went to a conference, I’d probably pack two pairs. If I don’t count kick-around sandals and tennis shoes, I’m not sure I own nine pairs of shoes, so I was intrigued by the thought of someone who needed ten pairs for a conference lasting less than a week.

Tuesday I followed comments from the early arrivals. The conference doesn’t officially begin until Thursday morning, but many attendees make a week-long event of it. I was happy to hear that Pirates Terri and Chance from RWR and the Romance Dishes (PJ, Gannon, Buffie, and Andrea) all arrived safely, as did Vixens Maggie, Tiff and JK. Most of Tuesday’s comments centered on fun at Disney World, famous author sightings, reunions with friends, and food and drink. The excitement was so potent that it almost transcended the virtual and became palpable at times.

Wednesday’s big event was the “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing. More than 500 authors from A to Y (no Zs on the list) signed books for eager fans. The proceeds from all the books sold during the two-hour event go to ProLiteracy Worldwide. Nora Roberts’s lines are notoriously long, and Sherrilyn Kenyon gets a lot of buzz. But newer lights in the Romance Fiction Galaxy got attention too. I lost count of the number of tweets that praised Tessa Dare’s books and clothes, and I read that Susan Sey sold out of copies of Money, Honey at the signing. (Yay!) [Addendum: Be sure to check out the Smart Bitches' music video of the signing.]

I’ve never been a collector of autographs, but I do cherish my signed-by-the-author books—including a Robyn Carr and a Susan Crandall, gifts from friends attending earlier RWA literacy signings. I’d love to actually meet some of my favorite writers who will be signing, but I’d probably be so awestruck that I’d be speechless. I have been enjoying the photos of the signing and other moments that friends and strangers are sharing. You can see some of the photos too at #rwa10’s hash album. Stopping by The Romance Dish every day to read dishly updates is part of my routine, and I know I can count on PJ and the others to have great photos. I always read AAR’s daily RWA reports, and the Harlequin blog offers interesting news about some familiar names. I’ve even added a column to Tweet Deck so I can read all the #rwa10 tweets. Do I sound obsessed? Just wait.

The big event, of course, is Saturday’s RITA and Golden Hearts Awards Ceremony. I love awards shows, and I think it’s a shame this one isn’t televised. I feel much more personally connected to the RITAs than I do to the Oscars, the Emmys, the Tonys, the Grammys, etc. I'd love to see Debbie Macomber receive the RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. I don’t know any of the Golden Heart finalists this year, but for the first time I have friends among the RITA finalists, writers whom I’ve watched make the journey from aspiring authors to RITA-nominated romance novelists. I’ll definitely keep an eye on Twitter for early announcement of the winners, and you may hear some loud cheers emanating from 400 miles or so northwest of the awards site.

You know those ballots for the entertainment awards you always see in magazines like TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly, and People? Well, I have my own ballot for the RITAs. It has all the nominees listed, the books I’ve read highlighted (38 of the 93 finalists), my personal picks starred (a never-to-be-revealed secret), and a space at the top to note the winners as they are announced. I don’t have a pick for romantic suspense since it’s the one category in which I haven’t read even one nominated book, but I have choices for most of the other categories. However, for two single-title categories--Historical Romance, in which I’ve read six of the eight nominated books (four by auto-buy authors), and Novel with Strong Romantic Elements, in which I’ve read five of the seven nominated books(also four by auto-buy authors)--I couldn’t make a choice for winner. I’ll celebrate if any of the books I love win.

I confess that looking over the list also makes me aware of books not on the list that I think belong with these that will be deemed the most excellent of 2009. Eloisa James’s A Duke of Her Own and Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie are glaring omissions from my perspective. Probably every romance fiction fan has a few favorites she thinks deserved to be included.

By Sunday, my vicarious conference experience will have left me almost as tired as if I had actually spent most of the week in Orlando. :-)

What about you? Have you been following the news from Nationals? Have you ever attended a conference? Are you planning to attend one? How many of the nominated books have you read? Do you have RITA favorites? (The list of finalists is posted below. The bolded titles are the books I’ve read.) Are there books missing from the finalists that you wanted to see among them? Or are you indifferent to the whole conference topic and looking forward to Romancelandia settling into its usual routine? And how many pairs of shoes would you take to the conference?

Edited 7/31/2010 to add newly announced RITA winners.

Best First Book Finalists

One Scream Away by Kate Brady--RITA Winner

Grand Central Publishing, Forever

He Calls Her Doc by Mary Brady
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Superromance

The Gladiator by Carla Capshaw
Harlequin Enterprises, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical

Angel Vindicated by Viola Estrella
Ellora’s Cave, Cerridwen Press

The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay
Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books

Stolen Fury by Elisabeth Naughton
Dorchester Publishing, Love Spell

Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh
Random House Group, Shaye Areheart Books

Contemporary Series Romance Finalists

A Not-So-Perfect Past by Beth Andrews--RITA Winner

Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Superromance

From the Outside by Helen Brenna
Harlequin Enterprises, NASCAR

The Snow-Kissed Bride by Linda Goodnight
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Romance

Single Mom Seeks... by Teresa Hill
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Special Edition

Revealed: a Prince and a Pregnancy by Kelly Hunter
Harlequin Enterprises, Mills and Boon Modern Heat

The Christmas Love-Child by Jennie Lucas
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Presents Extra

One-Night Mistress...Convenient Wife by Anne McAllister
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Presents

Duty, Desire, and the Desert King by Jane Porter
Harlequin Enterprises, Mills and Boon Modern

I Still Do by Christie Ridgway
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Special Edition

Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure Finalists

Mountain Investigation by Jessica Andersen
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Intrigue

The Christmas Stranger by Beth Cornelison
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Romantic Suspense

The Soldier's Secret Daughter by Cindy Dees--RITA Winner
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Romantic Suspense

In Care of Sam Beaudry by Kathleen Eagle
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Special Edition

Silent Watch by Elle Kennedy
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Romantic Suspense

Cold Case Affair by Loreth Anne White
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Romantic Suspense

The Christmas Present by Tracy Wolff
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Superromance

Contemporary Single Title Romance Finalists

Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl
Harlequin Enterprises, HQN

True Love and Other Disasters by Rachel Gibson
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books

For the Love of Pete by Julia Harper
Grand Central Publishing, Forever

Too Good to Be True by Kristan Higgins--RITA Winner
Harlequin Enterprises, HQN

A Little Light Magic by Joy Nash
Dorchester Publishing, Leisure Fiction

Dirty Sexy Knitting by Christie Ridgway
Penguin Group USA, Berkley

Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis
Kensington Publishing Corp., Brava

Fireside by Susan Wiggs
Harlequin Enterprises, MIRA Books

Historical Romance Finalists

Wicked All Day by Liz Carlyle
Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books Romance

With Seduction in Mind by Laura Lee Guhrke
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books

To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt
Grand Central Publishing, Forever

Make Me Yours by Betina Krahn
Harlequin Enterprises, Blaze

Knight of Pleasure by Margaret Mallory
Grand Central Publishing, Forever

The Lone Texan by Jodi Thomas
Penguin Group USA, Berkley

Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas--RITA Winner
Bantam Dell Publishing Group

Taming Her Irish Warrior by Michelle Willingham
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Historical

Inspirational Romance Finalists

The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander--RITA Winner
Thomas Nelson, Inc., Women of Faith Fiction

A Lady Like Sarah by Margaret Brownley
Thomas Nelson, Inc.

The Gladiator by Carla Capshaw
Harlequin Enterprises, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical

Entertaining Angels by Judy Duarte
Kensington Publishing Corp.

An Eye for an Eye by Irene Hannon
Baker Publishing Group, Revell Books

The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen
Bethany House Publishers

Breach of Trust by Diann Mills
Tyndale House Publishers

The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y'Barbo
Random House Publishing, WaterBrook Multnomah

Novel with Strong Romantic Elements Finalists

The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay
Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books

Scandal Sheet by Gemma Halliday
Dorchester Publishing

Red's Hot Honky Tonk Bar by Pamela Morsi
Harlequin Enterprises, MIRA Books

The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O'Neal--RITA Winner
Bantam Dell Publishing Group, Discovery

Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn
Harlequin Enterprises, MIRA Books

The Accidental Bestseller by Wendy Wax
Penguin Group USA, Berkley

The Virgin's Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth I by Jeane Westin
Penguin Group, USA, NAL Trade

Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs
Harlequin Enterprises, MIRA Books

Paranormal Romance Finalists

What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown
Sourcebooks, Inc., Casablanca

Untouchable in Deep Kiss of Winter by Kresley Cole
Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books

Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole--RITA Winner
Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books

My Forbidden Desire by Carolyn Jewel
Grand Central Publishing, Forever

The Fire King by Marjorie M. Liu
Dorchester Publishing, Leisure Books

For the Earl's Pleasure by Anne Mallory
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books

Darkness Unknown by Alexis Morgan
Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books, Pocket Star

Covet by J.R. Ward
Penguin Group USA, Signet

Mortal Sins by Eileen Wilks
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Sensation

Regency Historical Romance Finalists

Surrender of a Siren by Tessa Dare
Ballantine/Bantam Dell

Scandal by Carolyn Jewel
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Sensation

Tempting Fate by Alissa Johnson
Dorchester Publishing, Leisure Books

A View to a Kiss by Caroline Linden
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books

Revealed by Kate Noble
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Sensation

What Happens in London by Julia Quinn--RITA Winner and New RWA Hall of Fame Member
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books

Lord Braybrook's Penniless Bride by Elizabeth Rolls
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Historical

Romance Novella Finalists

"A Little Night Magic" by Allyson James in Hot for the Holidays
Penguin Group USA, Berkley, Jove

“The Robber Bride” by Marjorie M. Liu in Huntress
St. Martin’s Press

“Annalise and the Scandalous Rake” by Deb Marlowe in The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Historical

"Charlotte and the Wicked Lord" by Amanda McCabe in The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Historical

“This Wicked Gift” by Courtney Milan in The Heart of Christmas
Harlequin Enterprises, HQN

“On a Snowy Christmas” by Brenda Novak in The Night Before Christmas
Harlequin Enterprises

“The Christmas Eve Promise” by Molly O'Keefe in The Night Before Christmas--RITA Winner
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Special Releases

Romantic Suspense Finalists

One Scream Away by Kate Brady
Grand Central Publishing, Forever

Waking the Dead by Kylie Brant
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Sensation

A Dark Love by Margaret Carroll
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books

Whisper of Warning by Laura Griffin--RITA Winner
Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books, Pocket Star

Stolen Fury by Elisabeth Naughton
Dorchester Publishing, Love Spell

Dark Country by Bronwyn Parry
Hachette Livre, Hachette Australia

Promises in Death by J.D. Robb
Penguin Group USA, Putnam

Kill for Me by Karen Rose
Grand Central Publishing, Vision

Young Adult Romance

Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog
Random House Group, Delacorte Press

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
Hyperion Books for Children

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles--RITA Winner
Walker Books for Young Readers

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books, MTV Books

The ABC's of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro
Random House Group, Delacorte Press

Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing


vi said...

I'm a big romance junkie. I too have been following RWA happenings. Facebook and blogs are my sources. Regarding shoes, Christina Dodd brought 17 pairs. Spanx has been a popular item to pack.

I would love to attend Nationals, but I have never aspired to write. My calling is to read romance. :) That's why I am strongly contemplating attending RomCon. I have never done such a geeky thing like this.

With the RITA's I'm upset Nalini Singh or Meredith Duran didn't get nominated. I'm rooting for Sherry Thomas to win.

MistyJo said...

Janga, I'm limited with shoes, too. My small shoe collection mainly consists Birkenstocks and Crocs. If shoes aren't comfortable, then I'm not wearing them. Also, I wouldn't even consider wearing Spanx in Orlando's heat.

I had planned to attend this year's RWA in Nashville, but when the conference was moved to Walt Disney World, I had to change my plans, probably for the best. I would have been torn with making decisions: meeting friends and favorite authors or playing in my favorite parks...the ultimate TORTURE! I'm finding the shared photos by friends and authors on facebook to be bittersweet. I love seeing them, but they make me wish that I was there.

Janga said...

Vi, somehow taking 17 pairs of shoes sounds like something Christina Dodd would do. Did you see the pics on her FB page? She looks great!

I've never read Singh, although I've heard lots of good things about her and her books. I agree that Meredith Duran is finalist material. I'd be glad to see Sherry Thomas win too, but I'll also be happy if Carlyle, Guhrke, Hoyt, or Krahn wins. The only reason I omitted Jodi Thomas from my list is that she's already in the RWA Hall of Fame. I like to see the RITA joy spread around. :)

Janga said...

Misty, I'm glad I'm not the only one missing the shoe gene. I like to look at pretty shoes, but comfort is my #1 criterion too.

There are lots of Bon Bons MIA at Nationals this year. Most of them are hoping to make NYC next year. Maybe you can too. Or what about Georgia's Moonlight & Magnolias conference in the fall? Atlanta's not that far from you, and I hear smaller conferences have definite advantages.

Santa said...

Never say never, Janga. Stick with me and I will lead you gently into one of the best experiences as a writer and a reader of romances.

I decided not to attend this year because I wanted to work on getting my ms out to query. I miss National and everyone who attends so much. I love the buzz. I adore seeing everyone again and putting names to faces.

I am attending this year's RWA-NJ conference in October. They do a marvelous job.

I do have to say I am stoked that next year's conference is in NYC. It's my home town...well, sorta.

irisheyes said...

I, too, am living vicariously through everyone attending. Unfortunately, I'm not on Facebook and don't plan on joining so I'm sure I'm missing out on a lot of the best photos - which makes me really sad. But I love reading the day by day accounts of all the happenings.

I was actually toying with attending this year when it was in Nashville cause I have relatives that live there. Guess it just wasn't meant to be. Terri is trying to talk me into Moonlight & Magnolias. That's a possibility too. We'll see.

I'm like you, though, Janga. I think the crowds would seriously freak me out. So, if we ever do make it we'll have to hang out together and try to look inconspicuous! LOL Might be hard to do if all of our outgoing pals show up, though.

irisheyes said...

Oh, forgot to mention that I'm a minimalist when it comes to shoes too. I have feet issues and am most comfortable in my New Balance. I always go by the addage that if my feet are happy so am I!

quantum said...

All this talk of shoes reminds me of Cinderella and the multi-author story at EJ/JQ BB!

I think I could devise a story in which Janga and Irish get to the conference/ball with the help of a benevolent Fairy God Mother and some magical shoes.

In my version you would both be escorted on the arms of a charming English prince. Oh. And I'm sure that the prince has a brother who could bring Vi and Santa and Misty as well. Anything for a dreamy HEA! LOL

Looking through the list of finalists I was shocked not to find Sophie Kinsella, or Catherine Anderson or Robyn Carr.

I'm getting quite attached to the Virgin River folk by the way .... and learning quite a lot about child birth. When Jack delivers Mel's baby, I couldn't stop reading. What an awesome experience for a guy!

MsHellion said...

I'm hoping The Lost Secret of Happiness wins. I enjoyed that one a LOT.

I thought Christina Dodd said she brought 13 pairs of shoes? 17, 13--anything over 5 was way too many to me. Heck, 5 pairs for a 4 day conference seemed a bit much. But I'm a flipflop person.

vi said...

Ladies, you are right. Christina Dodd did bring 13 pairs of shoes. Susan Elizabeth Phillips brought 7.

I'm so excited about the RITA's tonight. Can't wait to find out who the winners are!

PJ said...

Janga,I'm determined to get you to a conference one of these days. So many people would love to meet you in person!

I'm glad to hear you enjoyed our updates at The Romance Dish. Unfortunately, we had some problems with uploading at the hotel (probably overloaded their network) but we'll be blogging and sharing photos all this week. (also giving away great books and "stuff" from the conference).

You should have seen all the fabulous shoes!

Santa, we missed you!!!

Janga said...

San, the thought of New York scares me to death. I'm strictly a small-town girl. Maybe I'll make Nationals in 2013 when romance writers return to Atlanta.

You are such a people person. I know you missed being in Orlando, but you did get some writing done. Right?

Janga said...

Irish, we can hang out together behind our outgoing pals and let them do the meeting and greeting while we enjoy looking on and whispering to one another. LOL! You thing the extroverts will let us get away with such behavior?

Janga said...

Q, you think Cinderella was an introvert? I don't know how Irish feels about it, but it would take some strong magic to turn me into a willing princess anticipating the ball. Of course, with your knowledge of science and love of romance, I'm sure the magic in the shoes you gave us would be potent. :)

Janga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janga said...

Hellion, another member of the minimalist shoe brigade! Yay!

And I'm with you on The Lost Recipe for Happiness. I loved that book. I loved The Secret to Everything too.

Janga said...

PJ, there are people I'd dearly love to meet, but I don't know about Nationals. I do hope to make M & M in 2011, so I'll meet at least some of you there. In the meantime, I'll be checking in at The Romance Dish.