Two Thousand Romance Writers Walk Into a Bar…

Stop me if you’ve heard this one:

Two thousand romance writers walk into a bar in Denver…

Wait. There’s no punchline here because that’s exactly what going to Romance Writers of America® Annual Conference is like. And it’s no joke.

Everywhere you turn, there’s a familiar face from social media or from conferences past (this was my sixth consecutive, and seventh total RWA!)—and in some cases you strike up a chatty conversation with a lovely woman in the checkout line of the Sheraton only to discover you’ve been talking to a superstar author all along. And unfamiliar faces become familiar when you get trapped in an elevator with them <waves to Wendy> and/or practically kidnap a conference newbie who seems cool and invite her into the fold <waves to Elisa>!

But it’s always difficult to write a post-con wrap up. Especially since I landed in Denver several days early to hang out with my OG HBIC 6, so much of what remember fondly was “you had to be there” kind of moments. And while they’re great, warm and fuzzy things to wrap around the cockles of my coal-black heart, those memories don’t really do much for you, dear reader.

(Except, in the end, they do, because surrounding myself with my Romance Baes makes me a better person and ultimately a better writer.)

There’s so much good book news to be had at Nationals: celebrating book deals, new releases, award nominations, wildly amazing reviews, and getting your hands on coveted ARCs. Here’s a quickie list of GOOD THINGS for you, Citizen of Romancelandia, to celebrate…

1. I held a drawing for newsletter subscribers to get their hands on a giant box of swag + books I picked up at RWA. That winner has been contacted. But I’m also going to have to do another giveaway of my gently-read books because I picked up SO MANY. So BOLO for that—make sure you’re on The A-List.

2. I plowed my way through three ARCs I was DYING to get my hands on at the conference. I cannot recommend highly enough that you pre-order Tessa Dare’s The Governess Game. If you follow me on social media, you’ve already seen me gushing about it. But y’all, seriously, historical is my jam, and if it’s also yours, you do not want to miss this book. I FELL IN LOVE with our rakish hero on page four when he attends his ward’s doll’s funeral and it only got deeper as the book went on. TGG is charming and tender and funny and sexy and THIS IS THE FEEL-GOODEST-ROMANCE I’VE READ IN A LONG TIME AND I JUST WANT YOU TO BE HAPPY TOO.

(Speaking of, I’ve got some #BeHappyReadRomance swag with your name on it. Just drop me a line and I’ll be happy to send you a sticker from my swag series.)


3. The awards ceremonies at RWA saw me celebrate old friends and new as they were nominated for awards. (And hey, I was also a finalist for the National Readers’ Choice Award and that was super fab.) My darling Fran Strober Cassano (aka Frannie) is the Cathie Linz Librarian of the Year Award recipient, and my heart is super-duper full because it is an honor bestowed upon an incredible woman and advocate for the romance genre. You should definitely follow Frannie on Twitter @FranniesRomance.

4. A bunch of people I adore were nominated for RITA®, but Lexi Ryan and Alexis Daria brought home the golden girls and I couldn’t be more proud. I first met Lexi in person officially at RT in New Orleans about a thousand years ago (but unofficially at an infamous house in the Quarter a bunch of my friends rented), and I have loved charting her career. Smart, determined, gracious, giving. That’s Lexi…and that’s also Alexis Daria. Watch their acceptance speeches and you’ll fall in love with them too. <3

We got to snag a pic with Lexi before the ceremony began--and before I took my hair down from its "curling bun". My sparkle rainbow clutch (a pencil pouch from Target) was definitely on point. (L to R: Mary Chris Escobar, Alexis Anne, Alexandra Haughton (aka me!), Lexi Ryan, Laura von Holt, Lindsay Emory, and Julia Kelly.)

We got to snag a pic with Lexi before the ceremony began--and before I took my hair down from its "curling bun". My sparkle rainbow clutch (a pencil pouch from Target) was definitely on point. (L to R: Mary Chris Escobar, Alexis Anne, Alexandra Haughton (aka me!), Lexi Ryan, Laura von Holt, Lindsay Emory, and Julia Kelly.)

5. Speaking of speeches. Suz Brockmann brought. down. the. house. in her Lifetime Achievement Awards speech. I urge you to watch it (it’s around the 56 minute mark in the video RWA posted). I was so happy to be in the room where it happened. Everyone deserves an HEA. And I was also lucky enough to have a seat at the Librarian/Blogger/Bookseller Luncheon where Sonali Dev delivered an incredibly moving and deeply poignant address we should all listen to:

6. My darling friend and conference wife Lindsay Emory got A Very Important Email before the Golden Heart Luncheon that caused me to burst into the happiest tears. The Kirkus STARRED REVIEW was published this week for her print debut with Gallery Books, The Royal Runaway: “This imaginative, absorbing, and empowering story is a must-read.” You can read the full review here.

If your clicker finger isn’t broken already, click on that gorgeous cover to pre-order your copy.

Total confession: maybe I got a little weepy the night of the RITA® awards once we got back to our room because I imagined a future when Lindsay is a finalist and she’ll spend that night with Mr. Emory and not me. The love of a conference wife is strong, though. I’ll survive. (It's also possible I posted a pictoral of our love affair on my insta:

Okay, I meant this to be a quick list and here I am going on and on. I’ll post a list* of books I picked up and am excited to dive into…and encourage you to look them up as well.

*A partial list. I grabbed a few more from friends for my keeper shelves and a bunch for the big giveaway.

**Sci-Fi/Fantasy isn’t typically my thing, but I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS ARC. SPACE PRINCESSSSSSSSS.

***I’ve already read this, but I’m stoked to have a paperback so I can do a pretty bookstagram post with it.

Oh yeah! I also helped raise $38,000 at the #Readers4Life ProLiteracy signing.

I'm sure Blue, the hockey hottie, was responsible for raising at least 1% of that--or at least a few pulse rates.

Five for Friday: Have You Lost Your Mind (?) Edition

Okay, I'm kind of cheating because some of this Five For Friday gloriousness happened yesterday afternoon. However, once you hear that I spent over half my day driving home for Father's Day, you can't really blame me too much for relying upon near-past events to round out my list. 

But I'll start with the actual Friday stuff for journalistic integrity: 

  1. I'm settled in in my #satelliteoffice here at Haughton House with sweet poodle-brother Max keeping an eye on me plus the cupcake by my side. (Reader: I need that cupcake. Today was a doozie.) Oh, and this reminds me. What is perfect with a cupcake? A cup of earl grey. Hold the line, I'll return shortly. 
  2. Ah, that's better. Continuing on. I got in some great incubation time while driving west today. It was like being in the shower (where 83% of all my great ideas happen)--but not, for obvious reasons. I even managed to record some of them with voice dictation without them ending up too weird and illegible AND I squeezed in a few hands-free calls with some business partners and my mermaid mogul life coach glitter boss extraordinaire, Laura von Holt. And I cannot wait to share some of this genius with you, but a few aren't my secrets to tell, so I'll wait. Patiently. Gah. 
  3. Three total strangers complimented me on my dress today. (Uh, which in the interest of full disclosure was the same one I wore yesterday.) 

Which leads me to numbers four and five on the list that actually happened yesterday (in the same dress) but were so fabulous they totally have to count for today. 

I met sweet Bodhi the Giant (pictured below with his big sister). 

My design alter ego Romanced by the Cover gave local writing bestie Lindsay Emory's brand a little facelift and we spent yesterday getting everything all set up and transferred over to her new site. (It's really purdy, you should check it out...once you've finished reading this blog, natch.)  

BUT it didn't end there, my friends. We also used our face-to-face time to do a little world domination scheming and plotting. Literally. Because we have both lost our darn minds and are going to write A BOOK IN A WEEK. 

*Let the record show: Lindsay was the first to lose her darn mind and decide to write her Christmas book in a week. But since we're going to be releasing our books within a week or two of each other this fall, I somehow got roped into the BIAW experiment too. 

**Let the record show: "I somehow got roped into the BIAW experiment too" is code for FOMO ALERT. And also maybe a little friendly competition. 


Not that it's a competition. At all. Not that Lindsay Slacked me a picture of her FB announcement (Exhibit A, to the right) because I can't log on to FB, or anything. :) 

Y'all, I can't wait to share with you more about Mistletoe Key and our books--and the books to follow that will be set in the same world!--and the process of writing the first draft of my Christmas book (set for a November 13th release!). 

After yesterday's #DreamDoDominate meeting, I'm beyond excited to see how these characters I've dreamed up fit with the other residents and tourists of Mistletoe Key, Florida--our sunny, romantic island where it's perpetually Christmas in paradise.

Except it's not paradise for my heroine, who is a total Ms. Grinch. But don't worry, Hunter "Blue" Bowen, bona fide hockey god, is gonna turn her frown--and her whole world--upside down. 

Make sure you're following Lindsay on Facebook (and all her other social media, for that matter). From what we chatted about yesterday, I know she's plotting out a love story that's gonna knock your socks off. 

OH YEAH. I GET TO MAKE A MAP!!!!!! #5ForFri bonus. ;)


Five for Friday: Cloak and Dagger Edition

Secrets. Secrets. Secrets. I've got em. I keep em. 

My top beautiful moments for today are alllllll about the secrets. But I'll give you a little hint: 

  1. I could fill the top five spots on my Romanced by the Cover work. Doing lots of projects for people I love. AND I AM LOVING IT. We are talking hot historicals, sexy contemporaries, some westerns, branding projects, web design. All the (secret) pretties all the time!
  2. I have a SECRET MANUSCRIPT on my eReader right now and it's so good I'm having to use it as my reward to get through the administrivia of the work day. I'm only allowed to read it for 30m before I go to bed. . . but I snuck some in this morning. Because I'm a rebel. 
  3. This time last week, I was on vacation with my mom (and that was a beautiful thing), but I'm delighted to be back in my secret satellite office at Haughton House and taking care of business like an HBIC
  4. I made a bomb-ass Arnold Palmer this afternoon. My secret? Brew one old-fashioned Lipton tea bag with an earl grey (I typically use TAZO) and mix with lemonade of your choice. (Today, we went to HAPPY HOUR at Sonic, so I had fancy lemonade and amazing ice.)
  5. Finally, I'm doing some big soul work taking Laura von Holt's CIJourney course. It's eight weeks of pure magic...and a lot of hurty inner work. But it's beautiful. Today's assignment unlocked some secret stuff like whoa. 

What secrets do you have? My lips are sealed. ;)