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.)

Frannies-Romance-Alexandra-Haughton

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: 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.

*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: Q4 Full Speed Ahead Edition

If you've been thinking 2017 is a pretty spectacularly crappy year, take heart: it's almost over. Say what? Yep, you read that right. Quarter Four Approacheth. 

I did my Q4 re-prioritizing yesterday, and it was just what the doctor ordered. (I shared a little bit about it as part of my #ReadWritePlan post on Instagram.) Especially since I was just coming off some away time in the mountains, it was the perfect time to reflect and reassess. 

Last week saw me at the WFWA (Women's Fiction Writers Association) Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico, meeting new friends and spending time with old ones. I took a class with Lisa Cron. . . and taught one of my own--though "taught" might not be all that accurate. Mary Chris Escobar and I co-presented a hands-on workshop session on building blogs (hi!) and websites. 

The whole week was craft- and life-affirming (I met my mom down in the mountains for a little girls' getaway after WFWA...it was fabulous) and I cannot wait until my ten-year plan is complete and I can have a home in the mountains! (But first, I've got to sell a lot of books--or maybe marry a billionaire.)

So to stay on track with that life-affirming high, here are my #5ForFri. I hope they bring joy to you, too (how could they not since they're all about books?!): 

  1. Julia Kelly's newest historical will be out October 9th and if you haven't preordered it yet, I don't know what you're waiting for. It's stylish and sexy. The Look of Love (The Matchmaker of Edinburgh Series). 
  2. And speaking of sexy, Madame de Boudoir (aka Laura von Holt) is launching the fiction part of her mer-pire (mermaid empire) in October, too. My alter-ego is building out her website and artwork for her covers, so you won't want to miss out on when she unveils them. 
  3. I'm all caught up with Lindsay Emory's WOMEN WITH BOOKS podcast episodes, thanks to a week of road trippin. Super eager for more conversations with my favorite authors and new-to-me authors. Make sure you check it out while you're doing the dishes or strolling 'round the neighborhood to get in your steps. 
  4. Last week while I was in New Mexico for WFWA, I got a bunch of great women's fiction book recs. I'm starting with two STAR AWARD nominees: Barbara Claypole White's ECHOES OF FAMILY and Julie Christine Johnson's IN ANOTHER LIFE. (When I publish my women's fiction novel, I suppose I'll have to add in my middle name, won't I?) 
  5. There's still time to enter to win BOOKS, and a Kindle Fire, and a May Designs gift card in our #ReadWritePlan extravaganza. You didn't even have to post anything to the September Planning Challenge--there are lots of ways to enter. But hurry because it ends soon. 

#5ForFriday: whoops edition

I was having such a gorgeous Friday, I forgot to hit publish on this blog post when I finished it yesterday. 

It's Friday! It's March! I blogged about the coming of spring yesterday and pretty much coughed rainbow glitter sprinkles on everyone. Today, I'm just as disgustingly happy. 

So it is without further ado that today's Five for Friday is... 

LEXI'S FAVORITE THINGS edition:

Money can't buy happiness. But sometimes it can buy some things that make us happy. Here's a quick rundown of what I am loving (and loving to share!) lately. 

More on the essential oil front, the ladies of HBICNation have adopted dōTERRA's MOTIVATE as our essential oil blend of choice.

I can't describe it. It's just magic. (Includes: Peppermint Plant, Clementine Peel, Coriander Seed, Basil Herb, Yuzu Peel, Melissa Leaf, Rosemary Leaf, Vanilla Bean.)

I've put a bunch on order, so if you'd like to try the gloriousness for yourself, email me...or another rep you love. <3

Aura Cacia Chakra Balancing Oil: whether you believe in the woowoo or not, this stuff smells fantabulous. I shared with my ladies at the #HBICRetreat2017 and we love it's subtle scent. And the power it brings. (Sing out, sisters!)

You can grab yours at Whole Foods, Sprouts, or Amazon. One bottle lasts forever, even if you use it incessantly. Ahem. 

I've been reading some nonfiction lately that I highly recommend. (I took an introductory course on Mindful Self-Compassion in January and have lots. of. thoughts.) I'd love for you to pick these books up so we can chat about them!! (I bet your library has them on Overdrive and in print. Get on the waiting list or grab your own copies.) 

And my final item of beauty for the day...my neighbor's Texas Redbud. It's mesmerizing...

I posted an InstaStories on it blowing in the breeze yesterday--it was magnificent.

Didn't see it? Don't miss another moment of AH hilarity (and fabulousness): make sure you follow me on INSTAGRAM and watch my stories. <3