How’s that for a picture? Two superstar authors feelin’ the love after a successful booksigning.

Hey, it was a moment for me, too.

Last weekend I attended the 2010 Washington Romance Writers Retreat and, it’s safe to say, a good time was had by all. The weekend started off in the traditional way: A multiple author booksigning at Turn the Page, a bookstore in Boonsboro, Maryland, owned by Nora Roberts’ husband Bruce Wilder. The signing headliners were Nora herself, the great Charlaine Harris, and the equally great Roxanne St. Claire. According to reports from the store manager, the crowd was double that of the year before. Then, it was off to the retreat.

For years the retreat was held at Hilltop House in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, an historic (and haunted) hotel set on an incredibly scenic view of the convergence of the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers. Sadly, the retreat lost its West Virginia home several years ago when the hotel was closed for renovation. The homelessness didn’t last long, however, and for the past two years it’s been held at the Holiday Inn attached to Carradoc Hall, an estate dating back to the mid 18th century, in Leesburg, Virginia.

Highlights of the weekend for me included a hilarious keynote address on Friday by Roxanne St. Claire, an off-the-record editor/agent panel on Friday night, and Charlaine Harris speaking twice. Her first talk was on how to develop compelling background characters and the second on her “overnight” success – after 25 years as a published author. And then there is Romance Jeopardy. Kathleen Gilles Seidel spearheads the madness and the first thing you learn is that there’s one overriding rule: This game is not fair. This refrain is repeated over and over (and over and over) again during the unruly (and totally not fair) competition. The team I was on with Roxanne St. Claire and Ginjer Buchannan, Charlaine Harris’ editor, did not win. It may or may not have been ignominious and that’s all I’m going to say.

On Sunday morning I shared a panel with Barbara Vey, the Publisher’s Weekly blogger, with author Susan Donovan serving as our moderator. Barbara covered the ins and outs of social marketing and I weighed in on reviews. As in whether or not they matter. Guess what I think? I think they do and I hope I convinced the authors and editors in the room that they do, too.

photoOne more little item worth mentioning.

His name is Cheeto. According to the hotel manager, he showed up about 2 months ago and he’s made himself at home. He’s fed and cared for by the hotel staff and guests (I fed him three times) and had his first vet visit scheduled for last week. He seems happy and the staff and guests seem to enjoy him very much, but he’s such a lovely, friendly, incredibly sweet kitty I’m hoping his best friend on the staff will take him home. Fingers crossed for you, pal.

– Sandy AAR