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Despite all my good intentions of the night before, I had a rather late-ish start—I didn’t manage to get to the parking lot until just minutes before noon (though I once again snagged a great parking space) so I basically carried my overnight backpack with me to the keynote luncheon.

Since I literally didn’t have time to find Wendy, Rosie, Kristie or anyone else I already knew, I was delighted to run into Bradford Bunch ladies Beth Williamson and Juliana Stone, who graciously invited me to sit with them.

As luck would have it, we were close enough to the front of the line that we got a table just behind the camera that was trained on the podium and projecting to the large screens strategically placed throughout the ballroom—excellent! Later we were joined by Ms Stone’s roommate, and also by Mindy Klasky, Nancy Yeager and Christina Watson.

Juliana Stone (right) and her roommate
Left to right: Christina Watson, Nancy Yeager and Mindy Klasky

As always when romance readers gather, there was little awkwardness and plenty of topics of conversation during lunch, up until the moment when RWA President Michelle Monkou took the stage. We were all stunned and delighted to find out that more than $55,000 was raised during the literacy signing (after taxes). This means that, over the years, RWA has donated over $687,000 to literacy efforts in cities across the country. I am sure I speak for readers everywhere when I say, thank you!

After Ms Monkou, Nora Roberts stepped up to the podium and held the crowd—all more than two thousand of us—spellbound with her speech. (more…)