Friday at the conference started with the Harlequin book signing (see previous blog) and I think I went to a workshop before the Rita Reception. This was followed by the Carina Press cocktail party. Yes, my liver was working hard that day because straight after that we had the the Harlequin Party.
But back to the Carina Press cocktail party. Angela James loves a cocktail and she had this amazing one as the signature drink. I asked the barman if he could knock back the alcohol content as it was 5pm and I had to pace myself for a big night 😉 and Bob the Barman just looked at me as if I had half a brain and said, ‘it’s all alcohol!’
Shh, don’t tell Angela but I failed her and had to water it down with pineapple juice.
I had so much fun meeting up with Carina Press authors and here I am with Tina Joyce who is also a fabulous Medical Romance author too!
The Harlequin party at RWA is something I have heard about over the years as ‘the party’ to attend so I was thrilled that this year I got the chance. Held at The Hyatt, Anaheim, the room was decorated with floating candles, lush, red roses and beautiful orchids.
The dessert bars lined the walls but I was so busy dancing I forgot to eat. I didn’t forget to drink though 😉 I hydrated with water and then offset that with dancing and champagne! I think Australians drink a LOT more champagne than Americans as I had to ask for it specially at every function I attended.
The Harlequin Medical Romance Authors can seriously cut a rug and we danced ourselves silly. Here is Connie Cox, Lynne Marshall and Louisa George.
I also discovered the Presents Authors can dance and Jennie Lucas and I had loads of fun dancing to the Tina Turner iconic song, ‘I Will Survive.’
Saturday was filled with workshops, the Rita rehearsal, which dented the bubble of denial I had been in…I would have to actually attend the night …and great conversations with good mates, Kandy Shepard and Vanessa Barnveld.
Alison Stuart and I glammed up and headed off to Roys, a Hawaiian cuisine fusion restaurant where we met Angela James, the executive editor of Carina Press, Malle Vallik from Harlequin and Carrie Holden a CP assistant. As the awards night started at 7.30pm we were eating at a time usually reserved for retired seniors from Florida and this crew had only just come from the Carina Press lunch! I indulged in a couple of Mai Tais along with the most beautiful fish.
Then it was back to the Marriott for the awards ceremony. Jayne from the eHarlequin community interviewed me on the red carpet…a 12″ square of red carpet 🙂 She had commandeered a boomerang from the Outback Steakhouse (no names, no pack drill) which I had to throw. I can’t wait to see the video of that!
The ballroom was enormous and filled with huge tables of ten and Alison, Angela and I were on table ten along with fellow Aussie, Darynda Jones who was nominated for ‘Best first book.’ Both of us
thought we were unlikely to win and I said, ‘Well the flip side is we don’t have to dust her.’
When Darynda won, I thought, ‘Well, that’s table 10’s allotment for the night.’ Mine was the next category and I was never more stunned when my name came out. All I can
remember is hearing Boomerang and then this almighty roar went up and it was all white noise after that.
Alison was hugging me and Angela James was as speechless as I. Time seemed to slow down to nothing and then I realised I had to go up onto the stage…after all I’d been to the rehearsal where they’d said that.
Angela seemed stuck to the spot so I grabbed her hand and we started walking. Halfway to the stairs I
said, ‘How the hell am I going to get Rita home?’ If you have never seen a Rita in the flesh she is huge and weighs 3kg!!! (6.6 pounds)
I had written bullet points on the back of a business card a month earlier and shoved it in my evening bag. By the time Linda Howard…yes, Linda Howard!! had given me the statue and I got to the lectern I was shaking. My fingers couldn’t get the card out of the little pocket so money, lipstick and tissues spilled out and I attempted to make a joke based on an expression I had heard at the rehearsal which I figured was American. Turns out it must have been regional to
the woman. Ever cracked a joke in front of 2500 people and got silence?
Thankfully I finally pulled the sucker of a card out of the bag. When I saw the bullet points I felt a bit calmer and although I wondered if it was a coherent speech people said it was. Only huge mistake was naming my eldest son first in
the family thank you rather than my husband! I called them all by the wrong names at
home all the time so I think I might be forgiven.
This book weathered 38 agent rejections and 12 print-house publisher rejections before finding a home at Carina Press. Reading the twitter feed made me realise that Boomerang Bride is not just Carina Press’s first Rita but the first digital-first book Rita. That is kinda special and it validates the belief I always had that the book was a good story.
After that it was a blur of photos and hugs and I was overwhelmed by how
generous my writing friends are. It was a heck of a night. Rita herself glows golden and survived being X-rayed twice and dusted down as she made her way through security. She came home to balloons and flowers and serenely takes it in her stride. Me? I’m still happy dancing albeit through a fog of jet lag.
Oh, and if you haven’t read Boomerang Bride yet, Carina Press has it on a super sale right now for $3.99, down from $5.99 so snap it up now!