This week, in fact this very moment, many romance authors (myself included) are in New York at the annual Romance Writers of America® conference. Though I’m writing this post in early June, long before I’ve even left KS, I can tell you for certain that whatever I’m doing in NY on the day you’re reading this is quiet and calm compared to my conference of last year.
Last year’s conference, for me, was one that I will always remember as a highlight of my career…and most of what happened was WHOLLY unexpected and left me rather dazed (as you’ll no doubt be able to see by the photographic evidence that follows).
You see, last year I was a Golden Heart® finalist (along with fellow GLIAS’ers, Angi, Donnell, Maureen, Cat and Jillian)—which for those of you who don’t know is the largest unpublished romance writing contest in the country. So I expected to be busy with GH activities and to have plenty of fun at the conference, just because of that. But, unlike other GH finalists (some of whom had already snagged agents and sold books), I hadn’t even queried my book out until June, and hadn’t heard back from any agents yet other than two rejections—though I had gotten a few full requests. I was kicking myself for not getting on top of things sooner and for wasting my Golden Heart opportunities.
I was also a finalist in the Hearts Through History’s Romance Through The Ages contest and the Kiss of Death’s Daphne Du Maurier, both of which announce at RWA’s conference, so I did have those parties to look forward to. I arrived in Orlando a couple of days early for some vacationey goodness before putting my conference face on, expecting a nice, sleepy conference, not expecting to win any of the 3 contests I was a finalist in and not expecting any agent attention at all.
But then…two days into my little vacation, I got an e-mail from an agent I loved…she’d just finished my book and wanted to meet with me when she flew into Orlando. Could I meet her Thursday? OH. MY. GOODNESS. I jumped up and down with my roommate then replied calmly that of course, I’d love to make time for a visit. Then I squeed like crazy! I might be getting an agent offer at conference!
THURSDAY, JULY 29TH
That afternoon, I met with that absolutely lovely agent, who did make an offer. I was SO excited. I remembered my training, letting her know I had several fulls out and would like some time to consider the offer, and walked away from that meeting on air, returning to my room to get ready for the 3 events I was running between that night, including the two awards ceremonies.
Then, all wonderful and amazing heck broke loose.
I went to the Hearts Through History shindig, where Sweet Enemy ended up winning not only my category (Georgian/Regency/Victorian) but the overall Best of the Best. I was shocked. But not nearly as much as when the agent who judged the contest showed up to announce the winner herself AND then proceeded to make a public offer of representation in front of the entire room, declaring herself willing to get into a ‘monkey knife fight’ to represent me.
Me and agent Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Agency
Can you see the dazed surprise in my face? I'm so frazzled, even my hair is sticking out on the side! I thanked Barbara and the lovely people at Hearts Through History profusely, then told them I was sorry, but I had to run, as I needed to make it to the Daphne.
Arriving at the Daphne Death by Chocolate affair, I arrived to find that word of that very public offer had already spread and was greeted by a third lovely agent (who was also one of the Daphne contest judges) who said, “So I hear I’m going to have to get in a monkey knife fight?” I didn’t even know she’d been interested… I did go on to win the Daphne in my category (historical romance mystery), at which point I look back to the back of the room to see Barbara Poelle jumping up and down and cheering, even though she wasn’t my agent yet. I have to admit, my heart melted a little at that moment.
I look even more dazed at this point…at least I'd thought to re-tuck the hair.
FRIDAY, JULY 30th
I awake, wondering if yesterday was a dream. But by noon, I have two more agent offers by phone, and I’m off to meet agents Barbara Poelle and Holly Root for a charity luncheon I’d bid on (to support flooded Nashville, TN). At lunch, as part of the bid, they both deigned to wear Fez’s blinged out with “I (heart) Nashville and Heather Snow”. At lunch, Barbara and I get to know each other a little better and a good time was had by all.
SATURDAY, JULY 31stBy then, I’m spinning. I totally lose the Golden Heart to the lovely and talented Elisa Beatty, but I’ve met so many wonderful people and I know that I will be leaving Orlando in a much different place in my career than I was when I arrived.
Me with GH winners Elisa Beatty and Erica O'Rourke
Me with critique partners, Avon author Katy Madison and 2010 GH Finalist Elizabeth Burke
Me with my beautiful Mom, who flew to Orlando as my date, while hubby and son stayed at home.
When I returned home, away from all of the craziness, I weighed my different options (I’d received a few more offers by then) and did choose Barbara, for her smarts, her enthusiasm and her absolute determination to win me as a client. And I’m so glad I did. Within two months of conference, my book was sold—along with two others and away we go. "Sweet Enemy -- A Veiled Seduction Novel" will be available February 7, 2012 from Penguin/NAL Signet Eclipse!!!
This year, I’ll be wearing my first sale ribbon at the RWA Conference, and I expect to have a lovely time and meet tons of wonderful people and catch up with others I’ve met before. But I can’t imagine ever having another conference like the one I had in 2010.
But I sincerely wish a conference like that on other hopeful writers in 2011 and beyond…
SWEET ENEMY: A VEILED SEDUCTION NOVEL
Penguin/NAL Signet Eclipse
Available February 7, 2012
YOU CAN FIND HEATHER AT
GET LOST WITH THE CREW
Leave a comment this week and be eligible for Gift Cards or Books from The Crew (or autographed books they pick up at the conference). Drawings to be held on July 4th.
Heather is adding to the prize pool a $10 gift certificate to bookstore of winner's choice, as well as three random historical romances... Next year, she'll be able to give out signed books of her own, though!
Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only. If an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) is available, the author may utilize that option for International participants. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.
WHO is your favorite historical character (fiction or otherwise)?