Okay, so after last year the bar was set pretty darn high for the Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta. I was actually a little nervous that it wouldn’t be quite as magical as my first time.
BUT THIS YEAR WAS EVEN BETTER!
Where to begin?
Well, I was able to meet a few pretty cool people…
Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
Cherry Adair and I even joked around before the Literacy signing!
Speaking of the Literacy signing…I got to hang out a little with Shea Berkley before things started to get crazy!
What can I say? We’re pretty classy ladies.
I loved every second of the literacy signing, especially when some of my AMAZINGLY AWESOME fans showed up to my table! I can’t tell you ladies how much that meant to me. Seriously. It was so wonderful getting to meet you!
(Pictures unavailable. I was too busy geeking out)
And then…well, then I really lost my mind.
Because I got to meet Ally Carter!
I am a huge Ally Carter fan. Huge. I love everything about the Heist Society series, so meeting her in real life was…unspeakably awesome. And I mean that literally. I think all I managed to say was, “I love your books!”
I’m thrilled to confirm that she is every bit as awesome in real life as I imagined.
Here’s the funny part: all of this excitement happened before my 50 Shades of YA panel. That’s when the awesome kicked up to a whole new level!
Jennifer Estep, Erica O’Rourke, Nina Berry, Alicia Condon (our editor) and I had so much fun discussing the limitations imposed upon YA authors when discussing taboo subjects like sex, drugs, and
rock and roll alcohol. They were absolutely brilliant and it was a pleasure and a privilege just to sit next to them.
But I must admit, I didn’t have high expectations for attendance at our panel. It was at 8:30 AM!
In my experience, authors don’t tend to do well with morning hours. We avoid them. At all costs.
So I sort of assumed that there would be a handful of bleary-eyed writers chugging down coffee while they half-heartedly listened. And trust me, I would have been thrilled with that.
It was a full room.
And afterwards, Katie McGarry and Kady Cross introduced themselves to me. Because they were excited to meet me! Which still strikes me as hilarious because…have you met them? They are made of AWESOME!
So I’m trying to play it cool and not just blurt out, “I think we should become best friends FOREVER!” when they glanced over my shoulder and whispered, “Did you know that Jay Asher was here?!”
Jay Asher, New York Times Bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, attended the 50 Shades of YA panel.
*Insert geek out here*
It gets crazier. He saved a seat for me at his table so that we could chat before Kathy Maxwell brought the house down with her luncheon speech.
Just in case you were wondering, Jay Asher is a ridiculously nice person with a great sense of humor. Oh, and he can dance.
Time sort of moves funny at a writers conference. I tried to enjoy every second to the fullest, which means that I slept little and lost my voice by the time I left the conference. But some of the highlights include:
I had dinner with Tessa Dare, drinks with Julie James, Tracy Deebs, Emily McKay, (and some other lovely people whose names are evading me right now) and a slumber party with the fantastic Hannah Jayne.
And then I partied with most of these people after the RITA awards!
Here I am with a whole bunch of awesome YA-ers! (Back row, l-to-r) Bria Quinlan, Holly Bodger, Amy DeLuca, Jay Asher, Darcy Woods, Me, Cecily White, (Front row, l-to-r) Jennifer McGowan, Kim MacCarron, and Shea Berkley.
It was a great night. I mean, you might think authors are a pretty staid bunch…but that goes right out the window as soon as the music starts playing. And okay, so maybe there were a few line-dances. But that just made me feel like I was in What A Girl Wants (Remember that movie? Back in the good ol’ days when Amanda Bynes seemed like she had it all together) and this was just the big group dance number!
And I definitely had a few pinch me, I must be dreaming moments with my friends.
Unfortunately, three hours later I was suffering from either an allergic reaction or a bizarre case of food poisoning. I’m not kidding. The lovely Cecily White and a romance-writing stranger found me shaking and vomiting in the handicap stall in the hotel bathroom. This is so not the kind of information you really needed to know about my RWA experience, but I’m mentioning it because I think it shows the extreme kindness of the writing community. One thing I picked up on quickly was that every woman there was ready and willing to extend a helping hand.
Even if that meant spending their last night at the conference tracking down Sprite and saltine crackers for me.
I feel like the media often portrays women as back-stabbing, passive-aggressive monsters who will do anything to eliminate their competition. That could not be further from my experience at this conference. I’ve never felt more supported, both creatively and personally.
These woman accepted me for me. Even if that included quoting One Direction songs at random intervals, much to Tracy Deeb’s chagrin.
I need to thank my lovely roommates Andrea, PJ, and Lisa for making the conference such a great experience. And to all the authors it may seem like I’ve forgotten; trust me, I haven’t. I love you ladies!
The next morning I boarded my flight to Ashland, Oregon. It was only a quick trip, but I was able to see my family–and meet the most important man in my life!
Smiley Riley with Auntie Marni!
I can’t wait to make up stories with him!
And then I caught a flight back to LA for the Teen Author Reading Night where I met Eve Silver, Jessi Kirby, EJ Altbacker, Francesca Lia Block, and Cecil Castellucci!
It was a fantastic evening that deserves it’s own blog post. But I seriously need to get back to my writing. See, I have these characters making out on a couch and–
I’ve already said too much!