I Can Has Another Holiday?

I’m back from New York City and L.A., just in time for the launch of I Can Has Cheezburger’s 2012 daily calendar. My two cats feature in this most “awsum” publication. I’m a tad miffed that my cats got published with almost zero effort. All they had to do was look kewt. You can purchase the calendar through Amazon. Learn LOLcat-speak with this translator. (No purchase necessary for that.)

So…New York and the Romance Writers of America conference were nothing short of amazing. Thank you to the lovely people who showed up at our Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood workshop, The Road to Novel Completion. I hope you had as much fun as we did. For conference highlights, check out the RSS’s daily recaps:

  • Arrival Day with Anne Barton (who not only WON a Golden Heart, but also landed a book deal during conference!!!)
  • Day 1 with me (who had a fashion faux pas involving blue cake icing)
  • Day 2 with Hope Ramsay (fabulous Grand Central Publishing author who became a grandmother during conference)
  • Day 3 with Sara Ramsey (who was also a GH nominee this year and is probably having a very cool time in Germany right now)

Post-conference, I celebrated Fourth of July in true American style with NY native Jen McAndrews and my Brazilian friend Gabriela Lessa. Fireworks and fine diner food. Perfect. I stayed in a beautiful boutique hotel on West 44th Street. I’m convinced it’s haunted, but then I do have a very fertile imagination. On my way downtown to Greenwich Village, I spent a shamefully long time shopping at discount chainstores Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. (Actually, I’m not that ashamed — I came home with some amazing bargains and one not-so-cheap Italian leather handbag, but a heavily discounted one nonetheless.) I spotted Aussie designer Wayne Cooper’s clothes on some of the racks.

I officially became addicted to Broadway. I saw four shows, forsaking meals in order to do so. Wicked – wonderful. (Thank you to Kim MacCarron for making that possible.) How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying – Daniel Radcliffe; joyous. Catch Me If You CanAaron Tveit as Frank Abagnale Jr — great voice, great costumes and set design. Memphis – I’ll be honest and say it was my least favourite show, but I *adored* the ’50s dresses. The music was written by Bon Jovi’s David Bryan. The beginning of one song, to my ears, was slightly Bon Jovi-esque but otherwise faithful to the era.

A trip to the States would not be complete without some form of star-spotting. We bumped into Jim Parsons of Big Bang Theory fame as he exited the John Golden Theatre. My sister is gonna be sooooo jealous when I show her the video I took…of the back of Jim’s head. Earlier on my trip, my dear friend Tina Ferraro and I had a close encounter with Topher Grace in West Hollywood. He dined next to us at a chi-chi cafe on the Sunset Strip wearing mirrored aviator glasses and a sunburnt face.

I left with a few regrets — not stopping for a salty caramel ice-cream in Greenwich Village, not visiting the Guggenheim, not getting better close-up shots of the Chrysler Building’s foyer (I was kind of chased away by a vagrant), not having quite enough hot dogs.

Times Square -- obviously not for those who want some peace and quiet

Kim MacCarron and a conveniently placed Empire State Building

The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood workshop. L-R: Liz Talley, me, Jennifer Bray-Weber, Tamara Hogan, Autumn Jordon, Anne Marie Becker

Harlequin SuperRomance author Liz Talley. Isn't she SuperGorgeous? She kept us in line moderating the workshop.

The Pond - Central Park

Macarons at a chocolate shop opposite the Simon and Schuster building. (I will return for you, macarons!!!)

The view from the Metropolitan Museum's rooftop garden. Jen McAndrews very kindly treated me to the extraordinary Alexander McQueen exhibit.

Grand Central Station, where Jen and I experienced the miracle of the whispering gallery. We each stood in corners diagonally opposite each other, about five metres apart, and whispered to the wall. Remarkably, we could hear each other say, "Can you hear me???"

Jen, Gabi, and the Empire State Building

The Chrysler Building - as I mentioned ad nauseam to Kim, my favourite Art Deco building.

Bah humbug to the rude man who mocked me as I snapped this photo of "the pointy building."

Erica O'Rourke (whose excellent book TORN is out now, just a year after winning the Golden Heart!), me and Kim.

Bryant Park -- moments before I was chased away by a gardener with a leaf blower.

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And the Nominees Are…

Excitement plus in the romance writing world today! RWA gradually released the 2011 nominations for the RITA and Golden Heart Award and it set off a frenzy at the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood. Our Jamie Michele kept up a live blog as the finalists were notified and announced.

HUGE congratulations to all the finalists, including some very special people I know: Sharon Fisher (GH), Shoshana Brown (GH), Sara Ramsey (GH), Shelley Coriell (GH — I’m seeing a very cool pattern here with the ‘S’ names!), Anne Barton (GH), Gwynlyn Mackenzie (GH), Laurie Kellogg (GH), Lindsey Brookes (GH), Laurie DeSalvo (GH), and Simone Elkeles (RITA). Enjoy the ride, ladies! Can’t wait to cheer you all on at the July ceremony in New York!

Going by the small sample of entries I judged, it was a tough competition! For those of you who entered but didn’t final (or were disqualified due to postal kerfuffles!), congratulations to you, too! It takes a lot of work and courage to enter a full manuscript in what is known as the most prestigious contest for romance novels. I know it’s disappointing to miss out — many deserving people didn’t final — but pick yourself up, be happy for those who made it, and go work your tail off for the 2012 contest. Better yet, concentrate your energies on polishing and submitting to editors or agents. The fight to get published isn’t over yet! Mark March 29 on your calendar. At the Ruby-Slippered site, we’ll be commiserating with those who didn’t make it, handing out much-needed hugs and chocolate.

Now, I’m off to the beach to work on rewrites…and I’m considering changing my name to Sanessa — LOL!