Monday, August 5, 2013

RWA 13 Atlanta—RITA day!

The final day of the conference began with another quick trip to the gym and the Corner Bakery before the Kensington book signing. Kensington had provided a huge stack of Surprising Lord Jack for me to sign and give away, and I’d bought—at a deep discount—most of the books I had left over from the big book signing on Wednesday. I was able to give a book to everyone who stopped by—and I still had one left.

After the signing, I met one of my French editors...

RWA with French ed

...and then grabbed lunch with a couple of friends. I had to dash from lunch to the RITA rehearsals and then on to “Giving to Get: Creating Free Digital Content to Promote Your Print Book,” the workshop panel I was on with Kensington editors Alicia Condon and Audrey LaFehr as well as fellow authors Victoria Alexander and Donna Kauffman. My roomie snapped this shot:

RWA K panel

I’m not sure how much I added to the discussion, but I certainly learned a lot. I was taking notes throughout the workshop.

After the panel, I scurried off to get dressed for the RITAs and then go to dinner with my agent and editors. (I just got a new editor; I met her for the first time at RWA.) I enjoyed the dinner, but I was a little on edge—at the RITA practice, they’d stressed being on time. One of my other “must haves” at conferences is my watch. I don’t wear it much at home, but I rely on it when I’m traveling to get me where I need to be when I need to be there. However, my watch is more utilitarian than elegant. It didn't go with my fancy dress, so I left it in my room. Fortunately my agent came through and made sure I wasn’t late. We even had time to take some pictures before things got underway. Here I am with my agent and editor.

RWA RITAs with Jessica and Audrey

I was afraid I might be nervous during the awards—my category wasn’t until close to the end—but I wasn’t. I even managed to get a picture of my “moment” in the sun when they announced the Duchess.

RWA screen shot RITAs

I didn’t bring home a RITA, but I had a fabulous time anyway. I was just so delighted to have the opportunity to go through the process again since I’d been so overwhelmed by everything when I’d been a Golden Heart finalist back in 2004. This was my chance to travel roughly the same path, but with some sense of the greater picture—and knowing so many more people!

I won’t lie to you. It would have been really, really cool to have won. Of course, then I would have had to give my lame acceptance speech. And, well, I've been around the block enough now to know that winning a RITA doesn’t mean you’ve reached the pinnacle of your career. Writing careers don’t seem to have pinnacles—they are more like amusement park rides, going up and down and sideways.

Years ago I happened to walk out of a RITA awards ceremony next to a woman who’d been a double finalist but who hadn’t won either category. She’d remarked to her companion that she felt like such a loser—and I had stick my nose into their conversation to point out that she was not a loser at all. I promised myself right then that if I was ever up for a RITA, I would not feel like I’d lost if I didn’t win. And I didn't. Especially when the lights came up and I looked at all the other finalists who weren't holding RITAs, I truly felt honored to be among such wonderful, amazing authors. And of course I love Eloisa James, who did win my category!

And I brought the RITA finalist flag home! It’s very cool, too. I put it up on the shelf in my office to remind me of all the fun I had in Atlanta.

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