Last weekend I took a chance and decided to run with the big dogs as it were, so I went to the New Jersey Romance Writers convention. A big deal for me because here I am, a published author (ePublished, but published nonetheless) but I've really not been to anything remotely like this.
So yeah, I was nervous about all of it. I think the drive was a large part of it- I just wasn't looking forward to that. There was a time that never would have bothered me but gone are those days.
It turned out I didn't need to worry about anything and well, I had a certified awesome good time. I owe a lot of that to my friend, Lisa, who convinced me to come and invited me to stay with her so we could go together. From the moment I showed up on her doorstep, the two of us couldn't stop talking! We were up until midnight that first night, seriously, talking about writing and publishing and about our projects and even fandom and how it affected me and my writing.
So, about the conference. First day after registering and checking into our room I went to the following panels:
Networking: Sowing the Seeds of Success.
Creating Realistic Special Needs Characters.
The last panel both Lisa and I wanted to attend got cancelled and moved to Saturday- which was on POV. So we crashed at our room, changed for the cocktail party and went to that. That's where it got so interesting to me.
Suzanne Brockman was the keynote speaker for this year's event and those that know me, know she's my hero and has been for years. She proved you could mainstream a gay relationship in a traditional romance novel and that people would love it. It doesn't hurt that a large number of her heroes happen to be Navy SEALs. (She's been writing about them for years, way before it became cool to.) She's a rock star as far as I'm concerned.
Somehow, not sure how exactly how, we ended up sitting at her table with her husband and parents and a couple of other people. Much to my shock. Lisa, bless her as she doesn't have a shy bone in her body— introduced us right off, saying how much we both enjoyed her books and asked if Suzanne wouldn't mind having her picture taken with me. She was delighted, and just as Lisa got it, the fire alarms went off and we had to leave.
We ended up standing outside the hotel, freezing our backsides off but still talking to Suzanne. Lisa then tells her I'm to shy to say so, but that she's my hero because she mainstreamed a gay relationship. Suzanne thought it was wonderful and we talked about Jules. When back inside, I explained that I wrote military romances about gay lovers, mostly during the Vietnam War but that I was also working on a WWII one. She said her son hated that somehow one gay character was always feminized and I said I had no room to do that- being that my men were soldiers or Marines. That's when she shocked me and asked for my card and book titles- to give to her son.
Seriously? Suzanne Brockman- NY Times bestselling author is asking me for my card and book titles? Well wow.
And that was how my first day went at the convention!
Saturday and we went to breakfast where Suzanne was the speaker. Then I attended three more panels:
The State of the Romance Market- I really enjoyed this one.
Q&A with Suzanne Bockmann. Lisa joined me at this one.
Deep POV- which was the one cancelled from the day before.
I wrapped up with one more panel after lunch- No One Cares You had a Muffin- which gave me some great ideas that I can use to get myself started on Twitter and more of a presence on Facebook.
After dinner out, Lisa and I relaxed in our room, writing and chatting. In checking my email, I found I scored another five kiss review for VN2- with Two Lips Reviews. I had a blast and would love to do it again. Nothing can top meeting Suzanne and her asking for my card and book titles. It was just such a wonderful time and that much more so because I was there with my good friend. For a while, I actually felt like a real author. My only regret- apparently no Lyrical or Breathless people there. I would have loved to meet up with some of them.
Totally worth every dime I spent to attend.