As I clicked the "accept charges" buttons the RWA web page, I knew I was taking a gamble. Again. I was spending a lot of money, money I hadn't earned, to go to New York City and attend the RWA National Conference 2011. But I had a good feeling about this conference and I'd earned the money to go via saving money by doing a lot of home improvements myself (and with the help of friends). Plus I'd been typing for quarters for a while and I'd payed myself for "trying to get published" letters. Every one of those letters garnered another $1, $5 or $10 in my savings for the trip.
My good feeling turned out to be better, initially, for other people going that I would room with while I was in NYC. My CP Sharon Wray finaled in the Daphne and the Golden Heart. Another friend finaled in the GH. More people finaled that I knew and I was thrilled for them.
I did NOT final in the GH. That kinda stung for a bit, but then I figured at least I KNOW great writing when I read it. Besides, I was beginning to feel like a good luck charm.
Apparently the cosmos thought so, too. And out of the blue, two very special people, published in different genres, asked if I would pick up their prizes for the Readers' Choice Awards in one case and in the Daphne in another if they should "by some miracle" win their category. Of course! Why not? I figured it would be fun as long as I didn't hit the champagne till AFTER they won.
So off to the conference I went via a long drive to DC to see old friends and give my darling teen time with her BFF in Centreville. Then I hopped on the Vamoose bus in Arlington, VA and rode up to NYC with my CP and future roomie, Sharon.
The first night we were in town, we chilled, and I met a lot of amazing published authors in my favorite category line, HQN Mills & Boon Presents/Modern Heat (Riva), and Medical. I had a serious fan girl moment when I met the delightfully charming Carole Mortimer. I think my tongue just went haywire and danced around the room, but in the end we had a lovely discussion about her heroine in one of her Duke series -- her favorite and I loved this heroine, too. So we just talked about our favorite subject: writing. I had the great fortune to meet Sandra Marton, Melanie Milbourne and more fabulous authors during that night and the rest of the week. MORE ABOUT THAT LATER.
Any rate, Wednesday morning arrived and I went to the Readers' Choice Awards. This was a swank deal put on by the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America. Champagne Mimosas, breakfast, coffee, and a 20 year celebration. Two of my Heart of Dixie Cohorts joined me from OKAY LISTEN HERE, Kathy Bone and Jean Hovey aka Alicia Pace. I sort of got confused when the final was announced for our friend Melanie Dickerson's books and thought she'd won, but apparently I handled my confusion well. OKRWA likes we southern ladies.
Anyway... MELANIE WON! Best New Book for 2011!!! THE HEALERS APPRENTICE won!! Woohoo. I got to go back up and say thank you for real. It was a great moment. I truly enjoyed it.
Later that night, Sharon and I got ready for the Kiss of Death Romance Chapter's Death by Chocolate party during which the winners of the Daphne would be announced. Wow. Sharon was nervous. I just hated wearing my Spanx, but hey, I looked fabulous in my new blue dress so all was well. We went down to the party, got platefuls of goodies and I got wine and we chatted at the finalist table with other finalists. They were all in different categories so we could cheer happily for each other!
So finally, my dear friend and CP, Sharon WON THE DAPHNE for best Romantic Suspense, Single Title, in 2011 for unpublished writers. That was the best news!! The best win for an RS writer. It capped our day and set the tone for the rest of the conference. Then it was time to wait for my friend, PAULA GRAVES' published category RS announcements.
And lo and behold SHE WON THE DAPHNE for Category Series RS for her book, CHICKASAW COUNTY CAPTIVE!! How cool is that? I was so stoked for her. Another win.
Two other dear Southern Magic Unpublished authors I love were also at the Daphnes. Heather Leonard placed second in the unpublished paranormal RS category and Louisa Cornell WON the unpublished Historical RS category.
Wow! This was beyond exciting. By Thursday the news had gotten out. Apparently, my Lucky Charm status had reached epic proportions. Another friend and fellow GIAMx4 buddy, rubbed shoulders with me and guess what? Yup. She WON THE GOLDEN HEART FOR CATEGORY SERIES. Woohoo. There are more stories, more cool wins, more amazing victories.
I had a great time at the conference. Wonderful and amazing people opened up to me. I learned a lot. I laughed a lot. And I really enjoyed my status as a Lucky Charm.
Stay tuned! More Lucky Charm stories on Friday!!