photoJust a few thoughts to add to Lynn’s.

It was a pleasure to meet her, as well as AAR Senior Reviewer Jane Granville.  We also met AAR readers, including SusanDC and Sandlynn, both of whom we all know so well from our message boards.  It’s always fun to put a face to an online personality and this year was no exception.

During the conference Lynn and I met with several people very prominent in romance publishing – who are, of course, also big decision-makers – and I think there was a very positive take-away on both sides.

Seriously.

I also second Lynn’s thoughts about Linda Howard’s speech.  She is funny and irreverent and such a keen observer of human nature – all of which we already knew from her books.

Lynn and I also met with several authors for drinks and coffee and sliders in the bar.  We also made it to parties hosted by Ballantine and St. Martin’s and we thank them very much for their hospitality and the great company.

And then there’s the Harlequin party.  What can I say about this one?  Every year this is the time when everybody lets their hair down and I can’t say enough about how incredibly gracious and generous they are to throw such a great party.  They flew in the same DJ who rocked the house in San Francisco in 2008 and it was a great, great time.  (Jessie’s Girl and Love Shack – what more can you ask?  And as a friend of mine memorably said, “it’s a special moment when you see INSERT NAME OF FAMOUS AUTHOR HERE WHO SHALL REMAIN ANONYMOUS SINCE WHAT HAPPENS AT THE HARLEQUIN PARTY STAYS AT THE HARLEQUIN PARTY walking it out.”

At every conference there does seem to be a buzz (a few years ago historicals were “dead”), and this year it was steampunk, as well as some talk about digital publishing, though I think there is more confusion than enthusiasm about the latter.   Digital publishers have some ‘splaining to do before writers wary of the financial model will see it as a viable option.  As for RWA recognition, they are well within their rights to establish financial benchmarks for RWA recognition – hey, anyone can say they’re a publisher these days – and I think they recognize the need to define the terms fairly for legitimate digital publishers and writers.  Let’s hope for progress.

And speaking of finances, the publishers I talked to all reported that romance was doing well at their houses, while other divisions aren’t.  As typically happens in these situations, even the cash cows face cutbacks though I did hear from one publisher hope that they were over – at least for now.  For the most part, parties seemed to be as lavish as they have been in the past, though one publisher celebrated their authors with a cocktail party instead of the traditional dinner.  I think the authors were just fine with that.

As for actual author news, some I can’t tell yet (good things are coming!), but I did hear other news already reported on our Cover it Live feed:  Liz Carlyle moved to Avon and Teresa Mederios left them for Pocket.

With regards to the Washington Post piece about which everybody was buzzing, I think the piece was not all positive, but considering the incredible level of snarkdom normally directed at romance by that paper when they bother to mention it at all (somebody from WaPo actually got an award from RWA for positive press coverage and, as a daily reader of that paper, I don’t know what the hell for), I don’t expect much.  Well, maybe no open sneering would be nice. Honestly, I thought on balance, it wasn’t half bad.

There was something about the layout of the hotel that resulted in fewer casual sightings of people you know than I’ve experienced in the past and I’m sorry about that. Unless you made previous plans to meet, chances were that you wouldn’t see them, so I missed saying hello to some people I’d hoped to.

Ultimately, the conference is tiring (okay, exhausting is more accurate) and largely filled with bonhomie and affection and good wishes for each other’s success. We all feel passionately about this business. We all care, too. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of that.

Big takeaway for me from RWA 2009:  A bridge was built that I think could be very productive for both entities.  I’m looking forward to exploring some exciting new territories.

-Sandy AAR