2005 RWA National Conference
Linda Hurst: Day One (July 27, 2005)

For me the RWA Convention began on Tuesday the 26th, when I ran into Jayne Ann Krentz at the Reno Airport. JAK has been my number-one author for a long time and I was gratified that she still remembered me after 2 years. The airport was a busy place for me, my brother left after a week long visit at 12:15 and my best friend Cathy arrived for the convention at 12:30.

Cathy and I attended the day long Bookseller/Librarian’s day sponsored by RWA on Wednesday. The program started at 8:30 with registration and ran until 5:00. When I first saw the scheduled speaker’s for the day on the RWA site, I thought I had died and gone to heaven – a reader’s dream of who she would like to hear speak. Fortunately, the day lived up to it’s billing and we had a wonderful time. The speakers with comments on their talks are as follows:

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Nora Roberts and Susan E Phillips on Women Who Win – Nora and Susan spoke separately and then answered audience questions. One quote from Nora stuck out for me : “You will never win if you quit.” Simple but profound – my personal motto has always been “nothing ventured nothing gained” and Nora and Susan’s vision of winning heroines fits well with my philosophy.

Suzanne Brockmann on Military Heroes – Suzanne gave a very moving discourse on her interviews with reluctant SEALS. These are not men who brag about their exploits, but are strong silent-types who just go out and do their jobs. Perfect material for alpha romantic heroes.

Suzanne’s description of BUDS/Hell week was especially daunting and her story of a true hero who made it through the week only to be threatened with a second week of Hell brought tears to the eyes of many of those attending. This poor guy had no skin left on the palms of his hands and as they told him he would have to get through another week, his only thought was DUCT TAPE!! Yes, this hero figured he could wrap his hands in duct tape and make it through another week–what a man! Fortunately, it was a test by the instructors and he was not forced to endure another week of hell–but he was willing to do it if it meant becoming a SEAL. A true hero and how could you not love him?

Jennifer Greene on The Appeal of The Category Romance – I was very happy to meet Jennifer as I have been a long time fan of her series romances. Jennifer’s report was reassuring that the category romance is not going away any time soon. The shorter story format is still popular and often less disappointing then a padded book in single title form. The shorter format forces an author to be succinct and creative within a prescribed format; but authors continually push the walls. I gathered that Harlequin was bending a bit on their format demands – due to reader demand for that “something different.”

Panel discussion featuring: Monique Patterson (St. Martin’s Press), Anna Genoese (TOR) and Beth De Guzman (Warner Books) – Each of these editors gave an overview of what their house was doing in the field of romance and frankly it was a relief to hear how jazzed they each were about their upcoming offerings.

Tor is expanding into Chick Lit (who isn’t?) and also developing an imprint of romances with “older” women (over 35) as heroines. In 2008 they are starting a Romantic Suspense line with a roster of known romance authors whose identities are a closely guarded secret.

Warner’s is excited about several of their new romance authors and is also expanding with a new Chick Lit imprint called 5 Spot. This line will be a little different as it will contain both fiction and non-fiction. The first book for the imprint will be The Virgin’s Guide to Everything. After all we are all virgins at something, aren’t we <G>.

St Martin’s has an exciting line up of new books coming, with emphasis on Romantic Suspense.

Lunch and a talk by Linda Howard – Linda took us through her ‘typical’ writing day. Suffice it to say, she spent more time taking the dogs out, doing the laundry, fixing food (including feeding a calf) then she did writing. After starting out early, she finally got to work on her book at 7:30 PM. Linda was hilarious and had the whole room laughing – not a surprise to anyone who has read Mr. Perfect and other humorous books by Howard.

Jayne Ann Krentz: “Are We There Yet? Mainstreaming the Romance” – JAK’s answer to this question is a resounding yes! Pointing to Romance’s sales figures and the fact that many of long time romance authors are now going to hardcover as proof of her assertion. There are reader’s who only buy hardbacks and romance is now reaching that audience along with Women’s and popular fiction

JAK also pointed out that books written by and for women have never gotten respect and times for women’s authors have never been better then now.

The afternoon was concluded with a long presentation about presenting romance in libraries–which as I am a bookseller not a librarian I skipped. A delightful short story was delivered by retiring romance author Maggie Osborne concluded the day.

We promptly headed for the “Goodie room” which was actually two rooms packed with free books and promo items. What a haul we made – we could barely carry our freebies to the bell desk for storage while we went to the Literacy Booksale and Signing.

The Literacy Booksigning

For a reader entering one of these book signing events is just Nirvana! Imagine four hundred authors in the same room, all eager to talk to you – as well as sign and sell you a book. Only thing better was the free signings, which I will tell more about later.

Unfortunately, I have degenerative arthritis in one knee and after standing and walking through the book signing for nearly four hours, I had to resort to a wheel chair for the rest of the conference, with Blythe Barnhill – not only my Pandora partner, but the co-coverer of this conference – being nice enough to push me. My knee was killing me, but as I look at the nearly $200.00 of signed books I now have to read – I think it was definitely worth it. Besides all of the money went to Literacy programs and 50% of the money will stay here in Reno – my “new” hometown.

All of this activity, and the convention doesn’t really start until tomorrow!


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