Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

My 2008 RWA Report

I realized about a day in to the conference that I was not going to be able to keep up any kind of regular blogging pace. I’m not quite sure how I did it last year. I also was a bit paralyzed about the content of the blogging/twittering. Was anyone really interested in who I saw in the lobby because I swear, everyone was in the lobby at one point.

Day One

I arrived on Tuesday evening. Because of general stupidity on my part, I did not have a room for Tuesday evening. Rosie, Wendy, Kristie J, and Kate graciously let me sleep on the floor. Rosie brought me a sleeping bag and a pillow. She was too kind for words. We stayed up all hours talking about books and blogs. It was great fun. I missed the late evening chats when I left on Wednesday.

Day Two

On Wednesday morning I assisted in setting up the literacy signing. We were so efficient this year. I think it helped that the hotel was better prepared. The ballroom was bigger and almost all the tables were set up with tablecloths on them. Last year, the tables weren’t all set up and had to be arranged and re-arranged more than once. I recognized a couple of volunteers from the previous year. I also met Marcella White Campbell there. She’s a California native who is writing her first romance historical. I dragged her off with me to the Today Show thing.

I left the Literacy Signing early to have lunch with a couple of friends at the Slanted Door. It was a fantastic meal. I had Spanish Mackerel for the first time and it was just amazingly tender and delicious. After lunch, I headed back to the hotel for quick shower and change for the interview. A large group of us (10 maybe) tromped down 4th Street. About 15 minutes into the walk, we got a call from Kate asking where we were. I panicked. I had thought that the producer told me the location was on King Street. King, according to the Google Maps was a few blocks south of where we were walking. Kate, though, had gone some other way. We hailed a cab and piled in. The cabbie took us to a bookstore on King Street and thankfully there was the producer and reporter for the Today Show. Oye, though, the panic that had set in.

We wandered around a bit waiting for the cameras to show up. Beverly Jenkins came in and we kind of swarmed her like crazy fan girls. The Show taped her reading from Jewel. Jenkins’ books have a good sense of humor and I was disappointed when the reading stopped. (I have to pick up the book now because I want to know what happened).

Afterwards, the camera crew decided to shoot us individually. I volunteered to go first after no one else spoke up. I was terribly nervous. They interviewed Kassia, Marcella and Sarah and everyone did such a great job of talking about romances and what romances are about. It is too sad that the Today Show decided not to show but a tiny bit of the reader interviews, but obviously, it didn’t fit in with their story.

After the taping was over, it was about 4:00. I had to be at the raffle station for additional volunteering duties at 4:30. We walked back to the hotel even though poor Kristie needed a cab. We couldn’t get one to stop for us though. She made it, though. What a trooper. Sarah and I ran over to the local Walgreens to get cups and ice for the post Literacy signing blogger get together.

When I arrived at the signing around 4:45 pm, there was already a line to get in. I was assigned to be a floater for the raffle. I ended up checking in raffle baskets and then writing the names of the winners on a whiteboard. There were 38 baskets and each basket ranged in value from $100 – $500 or even more. One raffle basket contained over 100 books. It was pretty cool. I’m not sure how much money was raised but every penny goes to the Literacy charity.

I wasn’t able to go around the signing because of my raffle responsibilities. Jill Myles, my roommate for the event, took the pictures. Thanks Jill! Jill, who is a Pocket author with a back to back release scheduled for January 2010, was an awesome roommate. I can’t wait to talk about her books when they come out. Just in case you were wondering, it’s a succubus story.

After the signing, I took off with Jill to get liquor for the blogging party. I had a great time that evening meeting the other bloggers, so great in fact that Jill and I didn’t get to sleep until about 3 am.

Day Three

Thursday morning I had breakfast with Heather Osborn and Jozelle Dyer. Heather acquires for the paranormal romance or cross over genres for Tor and Jozelle acquires romantic suspense. Osborn’s first acquired book is set to be released in March or so 2009. Jozelle is having difficulties getting in just straight romantic suspense.

I volunteered for an hour at the Book Fair. Alot of people were interested in the new JD Robb hardcover which, unfortunately, wasn’t at the bookstore. Another very popular writing book was Save the Cat which is some kind of screenwriting help book.

Kathleen O’Reilly and I went to lunch at the Tadich Grill which specializes in fresh fish dishes. It was packed. We talked about Kathleen’s series books and how I appreciated the modern voices that she brought to her heroines and her authentic male voices. She told me about a historical that she was thinking about and that she was contemplating writing single titles. I thought she would do a great job writing a single title contemporary ala Susan Mallery. There seems to be a dearth of good single title contemporary writers who focus on the relationship and character growth and whose plot is not driven by some serial killer. O’Reilly could do a great job with that but I also confess to being very interested in her historical as well. I would love to see that come to fruition. O’Reilly is a very sunny person with a super infectious laugh. I wished that Jayne were here with us.

I was originally planning on going to the Internet Archive at the Presidio to see the Espresso Book Machine but was way too exhausted. I think (but can’t exactly remember right now) that I talked to some people in the lounge and then went up to my room. Angela James’ room was on the same floor and she came over and we laid on the bed, me comatose and she twittering.

For dinner, Wendy, Kassia Kroszer, Sarah, myself and Candy were taken to dinner by the Harlequin Digital Team. It was great fun to talk about ebooks and ebook technology and what Harlequin wants to do in the future. We were told that they were interested in hearing ideas from readers and that no matter how crazy the thought is, they want to know about it. We all bemoaned DRM and the multitude of formats. Harlequin’s Brief program is going well and they are launching a spicy brief line in November called Historical Undone. On Sunday I plan to do an open thread for readers to give ideas as to what Harlequin can do to make it better for readers. Start your creative thinking guys!

Day Four

I met with Pocket publicity for breakfast. Both Jessica and Jean Anne expressed interest in hearing from readers about how to sell more of their books to them. Information is not easily disseminated around their house so complaints about titles and covers don’t always make it to their desks. I told them about how I thought the Kresley Cole titles and covers were confusing. They were interested in hearing that. (The next book is titled Kiss of the Demon King and the guy is in chains so I’m thinking that is going to be memorable). We talked about the back to back release program and wondered if the pay off (getting on the list, increasing sales numbers) was equaling the costs (is the pace killing authors?).

I’m pretty sure I did something Friday afternoon but as I sit here right now, I can’t remember what it was. I know I went to lunch with Jill and we waited for Meljean to show up but after that? I can’t recall. Oh Wait! I remember now. How could I forget!! We got to see the Author Talk video shoot location. It contained a camera, a tripod, lights, and a rumpled king size bed pushed into the corner. You make up your own conclusions. I think I said that Gena Showalter’s books were the BEST EVER. Gena and Jill are funnier and prettier and smaller than in person. I think I could fit the two of them in my pocket.

Friday evening Robin, Sarah, and I went out to dinner with Kresley Cole and Roxanne St. Claire. It’s easy to see why these two are friends. They have the same great balls to the wall view on life. We ate at North Shore Beach and were led from the main entrance, down the stairs, past the cellar and into a room that had all the prosciutto hanging from the ceiling. Against the far wall was a long stainless steel sink with two huge candelabras full of dripping red wax. I had immediate flashbacks to the Dexter episodes I had watched on the plane trip to SF. I think I must have had a horrified look on my face because Roxanne St. Claire grabs my hand and says “Oh good, I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks this isn’t normal.”

We did eat in the prosciutto room, though. How could we not? It was such a fabulous dinner. I think we were so loud that you could hear us upstairs. During the dinner, Sarah began explaining about the great meal she had had the evening before. I leaned toward her, anxious to hear about it. I asked her “where did you go?” She gave me a funny look and said “You ate with me dumbass.” I think that exemplified my entire conference experience. What I did, I could not remember even a day later. It was like the fun was too much for my little brain that if I recalled the events, I might die of fun exposure.


We all had such fun but Kresley Cole abandoned us when we took off for the Harlequin dance. She had to meet with her “editor”. Whatever. When we arrived at the Harlequin party, everyone was leaving. I mean everyone. It was the dance of escape as portrayed by a thousand black glittery dresses. Actually there were still a ton of people, food and liquor at the party when we got there. The dance floor was so rocking that a tree fell down and had to be carried out of the ballroom. No lie. I saw it happen.

Day Five

Saturday was D-Day. I had my panel that day and so I was hungover and nervous. What a great combination. I hauled my butt out of bed and down to the Samhain Breakfast. Angela James was there looking disgustingly cheerful and pretty. I think I hate her. Am not sure. Still weighing it today. She handed out insulated mugs and luggage tags. Those were smart giveaways. I think there has to be something done to allow legitimate epresses to have a presence at RWA. I can’t think of what that is right now but we should discuss it here at Dear Author one of these days.

I spent the rest of the morning prepping for the panel discussion. I expected the room to be packed. We were allotted one of the larger rooms and every Nora event for years has been standing room only. There were probably less than one hundred people there. I was a bit grateful because of my nerves, but it didn’t really make sense that so few authors were interested. I know it’s not because all those 2000+ authors and aspiring authors know the difference between copyright and plagiarism or even what plagiarism is. I’ll write more about that on Tuesday but suffice to say that there was at least one panelist that was pissed off. (I’m not telling any tales. It was taped and that was said).

After the panel, we had lunch with Nora, Mary Kay McComas, Ruth Ryan Langan, Ann Marie Winston, and the indomitable Laura Reeth. I commented to someone who didn’t know Nora that you can tell how cool she is by the quality of her friends, ones she has had for decades. You will be hard pressed to find such an interesting, intelligent, and good hearted set of women at the conference. While I missed out dancing with them at the Harlequin party (see above paragraph and the great flight when I arrived), I really enjoyed chatting at lunch.

I got to chat briefly with Cindy Hwang in the lobby. I asked her if she would share anything ANYTHING about Nalini Singh’s angel book coming out in 2009. Like a frustrating tease, all she would reveal was that it is very good and that she thinks I’ll like it.

Leah Hultenschmidt invited me to sit down with her. We talked ebook tech. Dorchester is definitely going to be getting into the ebook market sometime. They are weighing technology alternatives. You can find about 200 of them at Amazon in Kindle format right now. It’s not that they want to limit themselves to Kindle format, though, and will be looking for ways to make the books available to other readers and in other formats.

Some random industry news.

  • Bantam has bought 10 of Mary Balogh’s traditional regencies and will be releasing them, starting 2009 in 2 for 1 formats. (ie. you get two books in one binding). Four stories (2 books) will be released each year.
  • One house said that historicals were going to overtake paranormals in a year.
  • Another house said that they weren’t taking anything without a hint of paranormal
  • Many agreed that the paranormal market is tight and new stuff has to be innovative and fresh.
  • Kensington is reportedly dropping its debut line and that means bad stuff for authors (and readers). UPDATE: Kensington is not dropping its debut line, but it does appear that it is harvesting a new batch of authors.

That’s about all I can remember right now. If you have a question, though, it might spark my memory.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Robin Bayne
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 09:47:23

    Thanks for the update, sounds like you had a great time : )

  2. KMont
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 10:01:18

    Girl, what a great summary! I’m like you, pack so much in I’m bound to forget something at some point. You did great though! Made me laugh, almost howl, as I imagined that tree coming down. It sounds like it was a wonderful experience overall. Thanks for your diligent accounting of the event!

  3. Michelle
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 10:06:04

    Thanks for the update! I’m glad you had a good time. Asking Sarah where she ate the night before when you had been with her is hysterical!

    I hope the Mary Balogh traditionals are ones I’ve never been able to find copies of. That’s great that they’re publishing two-in-one as opposed to following what they did for The Ideal Bride – which I still bought and really enjoyed.

  4. Ana
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 10:13:44

    Great coverage.

    I am still staring at this right now though:

    The next book is titled Kiss of the Demon King and the guy is in chains so I'm thinking that is going to be memorable

  5. jude
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 10:50:53

    Fun recap. I think a lot of us can identify with the “Where did you eat?” episode. :)

    Until next year!

  6. Wendy
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 11:31:56

    Great, great news about the Balogh reprints. It made my little librarian reprint lovin’ heart go pitter-patter. Sucky news about Kensington’s debut program.

    Oh, and while I don’t entirely agree with that one house about historicals overtaking paranormals – I do think historicals are making a comeback. Of course I never bought the theory that the sub genre was “dead” to begin with.

  7. Jayne
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 11:47:17

    One house said that historicals were going to overtake paranormals in a year.

    Oh my gawd. You just don’t know how happy this makes me.

  8. Michelle
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 11:51:42

    Ditto, Jayne. If these historicals show more variety in terms of setting (time and place), I may not know how to contain my joy. I do fully appreciate a great regency romance, but I want more choices.

  9. karmelrio
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 11:56:45

    Interesting tidbit about Kensington possibly dropping its debut authors line. Because Kensington editors were talking about the program in glowing terms at the “Focus on Kensington” publisher session… hmm….

  10. Jessa Slade
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 12:05:50

    Thanks for the recap & especially for the industry tidbits. It’s those little things you miss when you don’t go to Nationals. Did you meet any first-time authors that stuck with you?

  11. Ciara
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 12:10:59

    It was so much fun to meet you! I had a blast at my very first conference, and hopefully next year I won’t be so completely star struck and therefore more talkative. Ha. one can always hope.
    See you next year in DC!

  12. Sarah Frantz
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 12:23:08

    “It was taped.” Where do I get a copy?

    Disappointing news about the plagiarism panel and I STILL wish I could have been there.

    Thanks for the recap–sounds like a blast. I cannot wait for next year.

  13. Larissa Ione
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 12:43:31

    I so wanted to go to the plagiarism panel! :(

    I missed a lot of great workshops, but will buy them on CD as soon as I get home.

    And that tree at the Harlequin party? FELL ON ME. Leave it to me to be INSIDE a building and still get hit by a fallen tree…I swear, I have the worst luck when I travel!

  14. Danielle
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 13:28:05

    Thanks for the recap — I can’t believe Kensington is dropping the Debut Line. From that line I’ve found many new wonderful authors.

  15. Little Lamb Lost
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 14:17:39

    I loved reading your update. The experience sounded exciting and fun.

  16. Keri M
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 14:33:39

    Sounds like you had a blast and a darn good time. *sigh* I would love to go to one of these events one of these days. Now get some rest!

  17. terrio
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 15:52:41

    I was selling tickets at the signing and now I’m upset I missed meeting you. I know what you mean about everyone being in the lobby at some point. That place was crazy. A bit overwhelming really. And I didn’t go to the plagiarism panel because I thought it would be too packed to get in. Every workshop I tried to attend was packed to standing room only and I got tired of sitting on the floor. I bet that might be why more people didn’t go.

  18. MaryK
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 16:20:24

    I really appreciate all the photos. It’s nice to “see” authors I’ve only known by name. The literacy signing sounds awesome. I hope to go someday when it’s close enough to me.

    Did you hear of any particular books we should be looking forward to, other than the angel book?

  19. carol
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 18:16:06

    Thanks for the recap. Any news about Lisa Valdez and Patience? And Lisa Kleypas new contemp?

  20. Jess
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 18:36:29

    Thanks for sharing your experiences at RWA, Jane.
    I am glad you had a great time volunteering and meeting people.
    Congrats to you and fellow bloggers like Sarah and Candy for providing forums for intelligent discussion of romance and other important matters.

    “Patience” is listed on borders website to have a Jan 09 release, but nothing about it on Amazon or BN.

  21. Ann Somerville
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 18:44:43

    Is it too much to hope that the reason your panel was so poorly attended was that all the authors present had educated themselves thoroughly after the Cassie Edwards debacle, and therefore didn’t need any more information?

    Yes, I thought it probably was :(

    I will happily pay for a copy of the panel tape, however much it costs. I’m sure it would be fascinating.

  22. Charlene Teglia
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 19:01:27

    Yay for the news on Dorchester ebooks. And…I’m shocked about your panel attendance. I cannot believe it wasn’t packed.

  23. Gennita Low
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 19:09:59

    Hi Jane,

    It was so lovely meeting you and SBSarah!

    Saturday is a tough day for a panel to get the usual attendance. I was wondering why they’d scheduled it then, since early Saturday is when authors have signings for their respective houses and also, many attendees tend to sleep in after the Harlequin party. So 100 people is actually quite amazing for Saturday!

    Unfortunately, I had an editor meeting scheduled then too and couldn’t be there. I’m planning to hear it on tape, though, along with all the other wonderful workshops that I missed. Hurray for RWA tapes!

  24. Jessica Barksdale Inclan
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 20:17:11

    Missed talking with you this year, Jane, but I saw a nice little bar scene with you, Nora, and crew. Thought it would be weird to interupt. But glad to read your update, and interesting about Kensington. Nothing was said at the Kensington party amongst the folk, so it was news to me. Very interesting.

    I was at home recuperating Saturday and didn’t do the whole RITA shindig, or I would have gone to your panel. I can only handle two days of editor/agent/signing/panel stuff before the brain blows.

    Anyway, hope to say howdy at DC, and, as always, I love to follow your thoughts here.

  25. Jennifer McKenzie
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 20:19:15

    Man! Heather Osbourne told me you were at the conference when I did my pitch appointment and I was hoping to catch a glimpse and breathe the same air.
    *mournful sigh* It was not to be.

  26. Sara Reinke
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 21:24:27

    Hi, Jane,

    I’m sorry I missed your panel discussion, too. Most of the workshops I really wanted to attend fell on Saturday for some reason. I was in the Author Talk room, too — I’m so sorry we weren’t introduced! I had a blast and can’t wait to see what the final product looks like. I completely agree about Gena and Jill being tiny and gorgeous, LOL. I ran into Gena on the elevator and kept staring at her like a guppy, thinking, “I should know this woman. She looks soooooooooo familiar to me…” LOL

    I’m glad you had fun. This was my first time attending and I had a blast.


  27. apoorwriter
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 02:46:51

    Thanks for the write up. Sounds like you had a lot of fun.
    btw Does anyone know how to get hold of conference tapes?

  28. Shannon Stacey
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 09:00:25 is where they’ll be (unless they changed companies) when they become available. I hope it doesn’t take long because I can’t find any tidbits from the H/S spotlight, so I’m going to buy that one first.

  29. Gail Dayton
    Aug 07, 2008 @ 16:23:38

    AND, the RWA workshops will be downloadable off the internet this year. So you can order whichever ones you like. I always get the whole set so I can listen to them all.

    I went to the panel (The insistent silver-haired woman in the middle who asked about Piracy)– wanted to stay for the opportunity to chat with you and Sarah (Nora scares me too), but had to go do something else (which I can’t remember now.)

    Oh! And MY book is coming out from Tor in March, bought and edited by Heather (shameless PR: NEW BLOOD, Victorian steampunk fantasy with no vampires, despite the title). She did say she liked it, right?

    Hmm. Nalini offered me an ARC exchange–I think I should ask her for the angel book…

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