A First Place win for "Snapdragon" in the NECRWA Awards (And a Generally Great Time Had By All)
You know what they say about fifteen minutes and fame. So when I was named a finalist in the New England Chapter RWA's Reader's Choice Awards and invited to the conference to revel in the honor, I figured I'd better absorb whatever warmth I could from my day in the sun. I've been having a really good year in terms of awards, but they're not something to take for granted. At the time, the other book I'd been entering into awards had won exactly zilch. I figured, maybe this was it!
There were other compelling reasons to attend the conference. Beverly Jenkins was giving a masterclass on small town romance, and let's be honest--she could've been giving a masterclass on underwater basket weaving. I still would have wanted to go, because Beverly f*ing Jenkins! They were also having a book signing, and in my paltry year as a romance author, I'd never had a chance to sell books at such an event.
So I packed up my suitcases--two, because, books, had a bunch of promo stuff made for my signing table and hopped on a plane--the red eye, at that. In terms of the award, I expected nothing, because, why get worked up about that kind of thing? I'd already met one amazing new fan from the chapter by virtue of entering the award and, in my book, a final is a win.
It is hard to convey how much fun I had at this conference. It was worth it for the New England accents alone. The first highlight of my conference was, of course, Beverly Jenkins. Remember how there wasn't a dry eye in the house after her RWA Lifetime Achievement Awards acceptance speech last year? (Seriously. I did the ugly cry.) At her masterclass, she had us ROTFLOAO! Not only that, she stayed the whole weekend, which I hadn't quite expected. A lot of times, headliners as big as she is have better things to do. But she hung out, and even though I only spent a brief amount of time with her, it meant something to me that she was there.
Highlight number two was meeting the amazing Jade Webb, who was my table-mate at my book signing. We had a ton in common--we both write on the steamier side of romance, it was the first book signing for both of us, and we are both awesome in all of the important ways. She also brought cake pops. TBH, she kind of had me at cake pops. Hanging out with her the rest of the weekend was the icing on the...you know :)
It got even better. I met another fan, a blogger named Jane who belonged to the chapter--she'd been a judge in the category Snapdragon was entered in and was partially responsible for the final status of my book. She came right over to my table and introduced herself and I signed some copies for her. And she wasn't the only one. Other people actually bought my books. Like, more than a few.
Mind you, people, this is still just the first day of the conference. Friday. The awards weren't until Saturday. I didn't even tell you about the agent and editor appointments--another reason why I was there. Following a lovely dinner with new author friends Suzy Duffy, Satin Russel, and an ER Doc named Sterling, and more well-thought-out breakout sessions throughout the next morning, I did go to agent and editor appointments and got interest from everyone I saw about the three manuscripts in my pocket.
So, yes. I could have left the conference then and gone home and been soooo happy I'd come. Boston to California is a bit of a haul, a lot of money for an industry with razor thin margins, and between writing retreats and other industry events that span weekends, a lot of being away from my family.
But the awards luncheon came. Twenty-four hours before, I had gone in knowing only one person. When my table found out I was up for an award, they told me if I won, they would send an uproarious cheer. Long story short, I did win. And I had the honor of accepting the award from chapter President, Jackie Horne, who has also written a very generous review the month before, and who spoke even more generous words to me as she gave a tight hug. My table of amazing new friends did loose ear-splitting shouts in support of me, someone they barely knew, but rooted for anyway.
All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you.