Editors often suggest that a writer should start her story with a hook, or an inciting incident, or, in the case of a mystery, a body.
So here you go.
That is a man in white boxer briefs, standing on a San Diego bar with motorcycle gloves and a helmet covering his, um, steering column.
Chapter One - the Setting
This was my third RWA National Conference to attend and, like the first two, it did not disappoint. Also, like the first two, it defied my expectations. San Diego was better than I expected it would be - the sun, breeze, coastal temperature put everyone (okay, me) in a happy mood. The city is walkable, has tons of attractions and restaurants and our hotel, the Marriott Marquis Marina was an outstanding place for a conference. It was large, clean, the staff and service were impeccable and there were so many chairs and places to meet friends and colleagues.
Chapter Two - the Introduction of the Heroine
I've discussed in my previous blog posts about RWA Nationals (here and here) that there are always unexpected surprises that occur at the conference so this year, I came prepared. I came to conference open to whatever magic might be brewing. As I told someone on my last day, I may not learn what I want, but I learn what I need. This year the standouts were Beverly Jenkins' keynote, getting to watch Love Between the Covers again (which is now available on iTunes and Amazon - go NOW and watch this uplifting documentary about friendship, self-determination and making dreams come true) and an amaze-balls two hour creativity workshop that I'm still working through, brought to us by Lori Wilde and the Indra's Grace yoga crew from "back home" in Texas. I also got some great tips from Rachel Hollis on social media which was pretty cool since she's sort of awesome at all the platforms.
I signed at the Readers for Life literacy signing and at the Avon book signing where I was happy to just be in the same room with that amazing group of writers, and I gave out my buttons to readers, to librarians, to people I made a personal connection with. I thought long and hard about what my swag should say this year and in the end, I just wanted to spread a positive message about the thing that we all love so much.
It was so fun to watch people's faces go from "oh yeah, I'll take your crappy pin" to "Man, I need this" or "This is awesome." It made my day and I hope it lifted them a little too.
Chapter Three - the Heroine Finds True Love
Warning - this chapter contains explicit fangirling which may offend those readers who aren't awesome and don't have friends. Or hearts.
The best best best part of any conference, but this one in particular, was my girls. The women who preached from the stage, the ones who listened to me debate minute career decisions while under the influence of tequila, the ones who immediately "got" me, the ones who made time to get to know me. I am always in awe of this sisterhood, this sorority of Romancelandia. That doesn't mean that there weren't those who got snippy or had bad table manners or tried to put me in my newbie place. Yeah, yeah, whatever. You do you. I do me. And I choose to celebrate talented writers and inspiring women. I choose to smile at everyone and drink with anyone who asks.
I finally got to tell Diane Kelly, the president of RWA, how she was the first person to welcome me to DARA and tell me she thought my vampire lawyer book sounded really good (let's just say this shows how warm and supportive she is). I got to tell Sarah Wendell how I talk to her in my head and that she sounds sexier in real life (I don't think she reported me to the police.) There were so many other awesome moments and so many new friends, I just can't list them all. Check out my social media and that of Alexandra Haughton, Julia Kelly and Alexis Anne for more fun pics of our adventures (and late night videos!.)
Chapter Four- the Happily Ever After
I left #RWA16 leaving uplifted and convicted (and almost 7k words written - whoop!). Most importantly, my tribe is stronger than ever. And even though I feel a leeetle like Margot Blythe when I say this, isn't that the best kind of happy ending?
Epilogue - the Cruel Cliffhanger
If you want to know the story of the man in the tighty whities pictured above, I'll be posting it in my next newsletter, along with some really fun giveaways and promos and book news, as always. Sign up here to get the scoop!