In lieu of a monthly round up, this month columnist Donna Alward is soaking up the sun - and excitement - at RWA 12 in Anaheim, California. Here's a list of her top ten things she's looking forward to on the trip!
1. My room mate Fiona Harper. I love her. She makes me laugh. She puts up with my neuroses. She's also my dinner partner so I never have to eat alone, and she has a fabulous sense of direction. For the duration of conference, she's my wife.
2. The Women's Fiction chapter Mini Conference happening on the Wednesday. The speakers lined up look fab and I've heard great things about last year's event. I'm going to soak up some major wisdom.
3. The Harlequin Party. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Best Party On The Planet. I look forward to dancing my ass off.
4. Laughing. A lot. I'm going to be hangin' with Fiona and other peeps such as PHS Editor Jenna Bayley-Burke and Barbara Wallace and Jennie Lucas and who knows who else - all I know is that we always have a really, REALLY good time.
5. Free books. I always find gems in the books that I end up bringing home from conferences, and usually some new to me authors.
6. Awards ceremonies. I have three to go to this year: The Booksellers' Best, The National Reader's Choice and the RITAS. I'm insanely nervous (but excited!) about all three. I even have dates! My senior editor is going to the BBA's with me, and my agent to the NRCA event. And for the RITAs? Well, I'm taking my wife (Fiona) of course!
7. The RITA reception. I expect to have several totally fangirly moments. The biggest question of course is, will La Nora be there?????
8. Lunch speakers - both the keynote and the awards luncheon. I'm particularly looking forward to hearing Robyn Carr. Some people skip the lunches etc. but I don't because I ALWAYS leave them so inspired and feeling incredibly positive. It's hugely affirming.
9. Meeting readers and writers at book signings. Writers are readers too, and it's always amazing to meet new people or people I've only met online. I didn't have time last year but this year I hope to go to a few signings as a reader and let myself be a fan.
10. And the top thing I'm looking forward to?
The whole experience. When I mentioned how affirming it is to listen to speakers, I also mean to add that the whole week is affirming. When you sit in a room of 1000 other writers, all in different stages of their careers, or in a workshop room of 50, or 100, or a lunch of three or four...it's something remarkably special. No matter what's going on in the industry, there's still an energy that runs through the whole event: we're there with like-minded people who just GET who we are. Not just get it - think it's totally NORMAL!
Donna's latest release is THE REBEL RANCHER, book 2 in her Cadence Creek Cowboys duet. Her October 2011 Romance, HOW A COWBOY STOLE HER HEART, is up for a RITA award- which will be handed out TOMORROW NIGHT! Stay tuned for a conference recap next week!