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
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: https://soundcloud.com/user-620052388/rwa-2018-librarians-day-keynote-from-sonali-dev
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: https://www.instagram.com/p/Blor5SaBbMb/?taken-by=writerahaughton)
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.
- Intercepted, Alexa Martin
- The Accidental Beauty Queen, Teri Wilson
- The Wrong Kind of Love, Lexi Ryan
- Back to Your Love, Kianna Alexander
- Can’t Forget You, Rachel Lacey
- London’s Wicked Affair, Annabel Bryant
- Disorderly Conduct, Tessa Bailey
- One Match Fire, Lissa Linden
- Kissing Mr. Right, Michelle Major
- A Crazy Kind of Love, Mary Ann Marlowe
- At the Heart of It, Tawna Fenske
- Polaris Rising, Jesse Mihalik**.
- The Way of Beauty, Camille Di Maio***
*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.