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You may wonder why on earth, after going to bed totally wiped out in the early hours of the morning, I would want to wake up before seven am. The answer: continental breakfast, included in the registration, and scheduled for 7:30 to 8:30 am. Being frugal *coughcheapcough* I made sure I was there early enough to avoid the rush of like-minded fellow conference attendees, but perhaps I shouldn’t have bothered: the buffet tables were not opened until about 7:40, and the waitstaff started clearing out the first one (which was empty as the desert) at about 8:15. Mind, the food offered wasn’t anything to write home about—some fresh fruit, Dunkin Donuts Krispy Kreme donuts (thank you, Kim in Hawaii!),  a couple of fruit breads—but I confess that I’m still puzzled by how little of it there was, considering that there were 2100 registered attendees. (This is not a swipe at RWA, by the way: I blame this entirely on the hotel2)

The company, on the other hand, was great: I hailed down Jodi Henley, of Will Work for Noodles fame, and we were joined in short order by Lorena Streeter of Hearts and Handcuffs and Anna Alexander (who has a wonderful tag in her cards: Live for the day, to hell with the rest), and a bit later by Linda Nielsen and Nikki Enlow. Again, conversation flowed around the table—most of us strangers to each other until that moment, but easy with each other, comforted by the knowledge that we all were there because of our passion for books and reading (and, in their cases, writing those books 😀 )

And here is when things got surreal… (or more surreal, if you will).

I located the rooms where the different publishers’ signings were going to be held, Avon and Harlequin on Friday, and all the others on Saturday, and decided to camp myself at the door… a couple of hours early.

Why, you ask? Well, because last year I ended up being in line for the same couple of hours, only on my feet—though there was great conversation to be had, for sure *waving to Aymless and Victoria Janssen3*—and  for a couple of the signings, there were no books left by the time I got into the room. This year that was NOT going to happen, not to me, no way, no how.

So, to make an already long story not much longer, I got there and discovered, with delight, that there were comfortable couches in cleverly positioned alcoves across the way from the rooms, so I sat down directly across from the Avon signing. A minute later, someone else came by, asked if those were the rooms for the signings, sat her tote bag down by the door (which, I confess, prompted me to act like a two year old and say, “hey, I’m first in line!’ and move my ass over). A few minutes later, the line stretched down the corridor and pretty soon the noise was awesome.

Yes, apparently we were that noisy!

Of course, there was no way in hell or heaven I was going to be quiet for the next two hours—I’m naturally awkward in social situations, but hello, sitting on the floor in a five star hotel corridor waiting for a book signing? Totally my element! So I started talking with the people behind me—about books, conferences, books, authors, books… and suddenly I realized that I was talking to author Lori Brighton, and to Lucy Abarcia of Ever After Bookstore and to Kris Alice Hohls of Love Letter magazine—and who would be peeking behind them but May Boonpitak from Thailand? Squees and hugs and a flurry of “oh so great to finally meet you!” followed by “will you please take our picture?” ensued.4

Kris Alice Hohls

(I wish I had been dorky enough to ask everyone to hold up their badges for pictures!)

So we talked… for hours, as the line grew longer (and louder) behind us.

One hour to go, ladies!

At 9:45 on the dot: not quite there yet, ladies! (some books hadn’t arrived to the room yet)

I will not go into much detail about what happened after that door opened, mostly because I know I managed to make a total cake of myself many times over—with authors at both signings. Suffice it to say that I got an embarrassing number of books signed, and answered, “do you really want it signed to azteclady?” (with a resounding yes, thank you so very much!5 😀 ) more times than I could count—if I had even tried to keep track, which I was sane enough not to attempt.

Memorable moments: scaring poor Maggie Shayne by gushing about her Shades of Twilight series (something along the lines of, “and then you turned the bad lady into the heroine of her own book!” to which she graciously replied, “Rhiannon? Yes, I’ve always thought of those books as her series.”). Meeting Pamela Palmer. Making Anna Campbell laugh, again (there is something so incredibly appealing about Ms Campbell’s laughter, it’s a gift every time). Chatting a moment with Carla Cassidy about the well-remembered Pregnesia review (and her most incredibly classy response) at the Smart Bitches.

After a bit, my brain was fuzzier than ever, my ears had a permanent buzz going on, and by the end of the hour my tote bag was so full of shiny, awesome books, that it threatened to sever my shoulder from my body. I felt no pain, though, nor did I realize that time was passing, until someone mentioned that there would be a line for the awards luncheon…  and when I looked at my cell phone (who wears a watch these days, really?) I realized I was already late for a workshop I wanted to attend: the Q&A: Inside Digital Publishing, with Jaci Burton and Angela James—so off I went, loaded with books, to find the Americas Seminar room again (I knew I had passed it at some point already, dammit!).

Jaci Burton and Angela James took a few minutes to talk with conference attendees after the session ended.

Jaci Burton

I am saddened that I was so late because I only got the tail end of the session. It’s not that I have ambitions to write and get published—far from it—but I just love knowing how things work, particularly in publishing (books and reading are my passions, after all). Still, there were several cool (if not necessarily seriously illuminating) moments: the little bird that flew through the open door and hopped about for a few moments, shamelessly begging for something to eat—only to fly right back out the door as people (yours truly included) started to scramble for their cameras. Meeting writer J.C. Hay, who waited until after the session was over to introduce himself to Jaci Burton—something about spending quite a bit of time turning around every time he heard her name 😀 —and who commented how happy he is to have discovered the many subgenres of romance, and the RWA, and how much he was enjoying himself, as well as learning. Taking a picture of another very, very—extremely, in fact—elusive life form: one Shiloh Walker!

How about them apples? 😀

By this time I became aware that I was really, really hungry (did I mention that there wasn’t enough food at the breakfast buffet?) and that the afore mentioned line for the awards luncheon was probably growing by the second, so I said my reluctant goodbyes to both Jaci and Ms James, and headed back to the ballroom to try and find a table somewhat close to the front. Which I did *booty dance* though I don’t remember who I had lunch with! (I think Jami Alden was there…) (yes, yes, yes: conference brain struck early and often, and it’s still here, by the way). I do remember that I laughed at Ms Krentz’s speech—repeated attempted career murder anyone?—but I left right on the dot of two, to trudge out to the car and drop off the seventymillion pounds of shiny books I had schlepped with me from the first two signings… because, grasshoppers, there were two more signings that afternoon (Berkley and Pocket books), and I needed room in my tote bag!

The second set of signings, held in the same set of rooms as the morning ones, was another success for me—not so much in the number of books (though it’s embarrassingly high—and no, I ain’t telling, nor counting for that matter), as in the many enjoyable conversations I had while sitting on that same carpet (though this time, alas! I was about the twentieth or so person in line) waiting for the doors to open. I was engrossed, completely into laughing and chatting when I felt a caress on the back of my head. I turned around and who should I see but Kristie(J)? I jumped to my feet and, like one possessed, I dragged her to the front of the line where Kris Alice Hohls was sitting with Lucy Abarcia, and fulfilled my promise from the morning4:

Kris Alice Hohls and Kristie(J)

And when the doors opened again, it was the crazy—the shiny, shiny piles of books, the authors, the books!, the readers and more authors, the shiny books!, the conversations while waiting in line to get a book signed by an author, the signed books!, the noise… *happy sigh* Utter, absolute bliss for yours truly—headache? Who cares about a measly headache when there are books! and authors and other readers to meet?

Memorable moments: meeting Jess Granger and, at her very generous suggestion, getting a signed copy of Beyond the Shadows (now I can mail my read copy to my beloved 😀 yay!). Meeting Margaret Rowe aka Maggie Robinson. Getting a picture of Ann Aguirre aka Ava Gray and May Boonpitak 😀 and another with the awesome, awesome Vivian Arend. Having Cynthia Eden stand in line—behind me!—to get a book signed. Getting my greedy little hands (yes, they are little) on a signed copy of Nalini Singh’s Bonds of Justice6. Chatting for a moment with Angela Knight about Jane’s Warlord… (There are more—I know there are, but I can honestly tell you that I don’t remember anything more!)

Pictures from the signings (not quite in alphabetical order–and I would love it if any of you kind readers would identify the authors in the last few images, because I have many more signed books that I have pictures and I cannot, for the life of me, remember who they are. *hanging head in abject shame* Thank you in advance!)

Ann Aguirre and Vivian Arend

Anna Campbell and Gayle Callen (aka Julia Latham)

Brenda Jackson

Carla Cassidy

Courtney Milan

Eloisa James

HelenKay Dimon

Jaci Burton

Jenna Petersen

Jennifer Ashley (aka Allyson James)

Jess Granger

Tanya Michaels (thank you so much, Kris Alice!) and Jill Shalvis

Lorraine Heath

Maggie Robinson (aka Margaret Rowe… or viceversa)

Maggie Shayne

Nalini Singh

Nancy Gideon

Pamela Palmer

Sharon Sala

Kate Noble (thank you, Katiebabs)

C. L. Wilson (thank you again, Katiebabs!)

Anne Mallory (thank you, Jane!)


By the end of the second set of signings my brain seemed to be floating somewhere a foot (or six) above my head, so I stopped by the room to get my backpack and say my goodbyes, and then headed back home—at the truly advanced hour of five something in the afternoon! Party animal, I iz not. 🙁

Still, I can’t truly regret going home, for I had a restful evening and night and got up early the next morning…

*   *   *   *   *

2 Dear Lord, Disney prices! $12 for a refrigerated sandwich?
3 How did it happen that I didn’t see Ms Janssen even once during the week??? 🙁 (eta: apparently I did see Ms Janssen but didn’t recognize her! If memory serves (highly iffy) we shared an elevator ride—or perhaps just crossed paths near the elevators?—on Thursday evening, very very late.
4 Great story: when I mentioned that I was hanging out with Kristie(J), Kris made me promise to introduce them—which happened that very afternoon, in the line for the Berkley signing—and it warmed the cockles of my cold little heart to see Kris TOTALLY  fan-girl Kristie, gushing about Ramblings on Romance, etc. and what Kristie’s blog means to her. Across oceans and continents, we are all connected—awesome!
5 In one of those great synchronicity happenings, Samhain author Xakara posted about this at Beyond the Veil—I had to comment, of course.
6 I had every intention of buying my own copy at the Literacy Autographing, but by the time I reached Ms Singh’s table, she had sold them all—I was not surprised in the least but more than a bit sad, which made getting it on Friday all the sweeter.


  • Once again, great recap and fun pictures! May from Thailand was my roommate and we both struggled to pack our suitcases to maximize book intake.

    I would like to correct the Breakast menu – it included Krispy Kreme donuts! They were the only reason to give up sleep! They are sold $10 for a dozen in the Hickam Commissary – supposedly they are flown in each night.

    I also saw Hawaiians bringing back dozens on our flight from Vegas (the number one vacation spot for Hawaiians – we do not have gambling or lotto). So I am curious why the Hawaiians do not build a Krispy Kreme factory here!

    And we have a date next year to find the ultimate (and cheap) lunch in NYC!


  • I think my new spiky haircut confused a lot of people. Of course, I didn’t recognize you, either. *is sad*


  • AL: The author with the “?” very curly blonde hair is Berkley author Kate Noble who writes wonderful witty historicals. The author with the ?? is CL Wilson of the Lords of the Fading Lands fantasy series.

    Wonderful pictures!

    Will you be going to nationals next year in NYC?


  • Jane
    August 6
    9:07 pm

    I think that’s Anne Mallory in ???. Love the pics.


  • Aztec Lady,

    Thanks for sharing your pictures and highlights. Sounds like your ‘second time around’ was a priceless experience. Wish I could’ve been there too. 🙂

    Natalie Acres


  • Heh. I’m an elusive life form??? I like that…


  • Azteclady, it was truly a pleasure to finally meet you, and thank you for carving out some time from your very busy schedule to sit down and chat with me. I loved spending time with you.

    See you in NY next year! 🙂


  • Shiloh, at least there are no extant images of you to date–so yeah, that qualifies you as an elusive life form!

    Jaci, it was sooooo utterly cool to spend some time just chatting with you–and Biker Dude too! Thank you so much *hug*


  • wow…it’s like a whole ‘nother world, out there beyond the workshops and crazy people like me. It was cool seeing you. You make me wish I was a reader again. 🙂


  • It was wonderful to meet you, Azteclady! Hope to see you in NY 🙂


  • Jodi, point of view, yes?

    Ms Singh, thank you! (and here’s hoping–and saving all the pennies–for NY)


  • Kris Alice
    August 10
    2:41 pm

    Hi AztecLady!! Loved meeting you in person and can’t wait for NY.
    Fotos: Next to you and Jill Shalvis is the fabulous Tanya Michaels http://www.tanyamichaels.com/


  • Thank you so very much, Kris Alice! I think I’m down to one ‘unknown’ author now (which, considering conference-brain memory loss, is excellent odds)


  • You’ve done an amazing job at recapping your adventures at RWA. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and all these amazing photos!


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