It's Friday, so there's no better time to share stories from the lively party scene at the Romance Writer's of America convention last weekend! Each year, romance publishers host parties for RWA attendees, and let's just say romance authors know how to get down with their bad selves.
At the Kensington party, we heard the best romance story at the convention—and it was true! A couple we were chatting with had met on Honeymoon Island, where the woman was a ticket-girl at the state park and the man was a hotdog vendor on the beach. He sent notes to her through her coworkers daily until finally, she agreed to go on a date with him. And the rest is history! Trisha also met the love of her life: Sticky Toffee Pudding. [Actually, this was not a first meeting but the continuation of a long and storied relationship. —Ed.]
Next, we met author Sidney Bristol at the Ballantine party, who, as a rodeo clown turned erotic romance author, perhaps had the most interesting career path of any writer we met at RWA! This party also featured the best guacamole I have ever eaten.
Forever's cocktail party in the Tower of the Americas put us high above the beautiful city of San Antonio with some fabulous views. There was also a choose-your-own pasta bar and Forever's signature drink: the divine peach and strawberry infused Angel's Kiss.
The Best Guacamole: Part II was featured at the Berkley party, along with a prickly pear margarita and more shrimp than I knew what to do with. (I'm lying; I knew exactly what to do with it.)
But the true star of the RWA party scene was this Shrimp Tree spotted at the Avon cocktail party. You've never really seen anything until you've seen a waiter carrying around a large bamboo stick with coconut shrimp branching off of it. It was elusive, for the shrimp was almost immediately snatched off, but we were able to get a picture of a slightly de-limbed Shrimp Tree.
The tables were scattered with miniature fans and paper flower pins and hairclips crafted out of the pages of romance novels. They also had a green screen set up, where Trisha and I were able to pose for this portrait:
The Harlequin party is the final publisher party of RWA, and with a giant dance floor and a lively DJ spinning the smooth tunes of 2004 Usher, it's hard to resist busting some moves. The other difficult thing to resist was the dessert bar of brownies and s'mores. (I resisted neither.)
Truly, the romance world knows how to have fun. From great food to fancy cocktails, a good time was had by all.
The lovely paranormal romance author Nalini Singh was a little starstruck after snapping this pic with romance royalty, but granted the (decidedly less royal) BookPage editors a picture. Singh is a master of the paranormal romance genre, writing long before vampires and zombies sunk their teeth into the masses a few years back. Her latest book, Shield of Winter, was recently reviewed by BookPage.
You can check out all of our coverage of the 2014 RWA conference here.
The RITA award is the most prized of all publishing awards for romance authors. Presented at the RWA conference each year to the authors of the romance novel deemed the best in its category, the statuette is a coveted item in the romance world. The categories span the genres, from contemporary to romantic suspense, and the list of finalists features some of the most talented authors in romance. To wit, our very own romance reviewer Christie Ridgway was a RITA finalist this year for Beach House No. 9!
Of course, the winner's list always has some real gems, and we've reviewed a number of the authors in this year's RITA winners' circle. Harvard alum Sarah MacLean won in the Historical Romance category for No Good Duke Goes Unpunished, a pre-Victorian exploration of underground boxing rings and complex desires, and Susanna Kearsley won in the Paranormal Romance category for The Firebird, a tale filled with psychic powers and a love reborn.
Previous RITA winners include Laura Griffin's action-packed Scorched, which was a romance top pick in 2012. Sarah Morgan (author of our top pick in romance for July, Suddenly Last Summer) has also been honored with a RITA, along with historical romance writer Eloisa James and Jill Shalvis for her popular contemporary romance series, Lucky Harbor.
The RWA Hall of Fame is reserved for authors whose books have been nominated in the same category three or more times and includes reader favorites such as Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jo Beverly.
The RITA winners' pool certainly harbors quite the community of successful women! We'll be posting about RWA into next week, so be sure to continue checking in on the blog.
This weekend, Trisha and I had the pleasure of attending the annual RWA Conference. RWA (Romance Writers of America) is an organization that supports and advances the careers of romance authors, and the RWA conference is a four-day gathering of publishers, writers and supporters with over 2,100 attendees. It is held in a different city each year, and this year it was held in San Antonio, Texas, home of the Alamo and puffy tacos.
The conference is a fast-paced affair. Days are packed with panels about pitching novels to publishers and developing realistic characters, as well as book signings by favorites like Nora Roberts and Jill Shalvis. It all culminates in an award ceremony for the best books of the year in which the winners recieve a RITA or a Golden Heart award. And at night, there are parties! Fabulous parties with great food, plenty of drinks and incredibly friendly guests.
That's the thing about RWA: It's a gathering of the friendliest, most helpful bunch of people you'll ever meet. The romance writing community is famously supportive, and the RWA conference is a chance for writers who have been sending emails back and forth for months to finally meet in person. Many authors we met said they couldn't have finished their book if it wasn't for the support of romance writing chatrooms and friends along the way.
Stay tuned for more posts about RWA, including romance trends to look out for, a roundup of the party circuit and more!
Nadine Gordimer, Nobel Prize-winning author, has passed away at age 90. Brilliant, prolific and unafraid of controversy, Gordimer was a champion of civil rights during the South African era of apartheid. With a deep and empathetic understanding of South African culture and politics, Gordimer fought tirelessly for the persecuted and oppressed.
In an interview with BookPage’s Alden Mudge in 2007, Gordimer spoke of the deep influence reading had on her life. "I began to write very, very young in the small gold-mining town in South Africa where I was born…. By the time I was 12, the librarian at this local library, who was also a friend of my mother's, allowed me the freedom of the library. I wasn't confined to the children's section. I read everything from D.H. Lawrence to Thucydides. Nobody was guiding me. I was like a pig in clover and I found what I wanted and what was nourishing to me. The local library was unbelievably important to me. It was my real education."
A literary giant and champion of equality, Gordimer will be keenly missed. You can read our full interview with Gordimer here.
Maybe it's me, but there's just something about hot summer days that makes me want to read about murder—and lots of it. So of course I'm ecstatic to kick off Private Eye July, our month-long celebration of mysteries and thrillers!
And the crime fiction features aren't limited to our July print issue, either. Keep an eye out of the Private Eye July magnifying glass, and stay tuned into The Book Case all month long through Facebook and Twitter for plenty of extra goodies.
Just a few things to look forward to:
Happy reading, mystery lovers!