I learned early in my career as a writer that the highs and lows are extreme. You are either super high (I made a new sale!) or super low (my book tanked). No where do emotions run as high as they do at the Romance Writers of America conference. If I walk through the hotel lobby, I’m likely to see a group of three or four authors laughing and toasting because one of the writers has just had a successful meeting with an editor or agent or found out great news about a book. Anything seems possible.
And if I keep walking, I’m likely to pass corners with a couple of authors huddled together in. One is red-faced and teary-eyed because a pitch didn’t go well, the editor did not request the manuscript, or a publisher has rejected a new proposal. The world seems to be ending, and the author’s career is spiraling down in flames.
I’ve been in both emotional places, and sometimes at the same time. In 2008 I was up for the Rita award for my historical Blackthorne’s Bride. The Rita award is an award given to the best books written in romance each year.
The interesting thing about being up for the Rita award that year was that I was also out of contract. I couldn’t find a publisher who wanted to buy another book of mine, and yet the industry was saying I was one of the best. Yeah. Talk about a high and a low. Unrelated to my highs and lows, our former JQ Emily McKay has a big high tonight. She’s up for a Rita for her young adult novel, The Farm. I know this is a dream come true for Emily, and I know we will all celebrate with her whether she wins or not. A nomination for the Rita is a high in itself.
One of our longtime members, Kristan Higgins, gave the awards luncheon speech today, and boy were emotions running high. A room of more than a thousand people laughed and cried along with Kristan. The RWA luncheon speeches are always memorable. I’ve never heard a bad one. Previously I thought Christina Dodd’s speech was the best I’d heard. Lisa Kleypas, Teresa Medeiros, Suzanne Brockmann, and Nora Roberts have all given speeches that resonated with me. But Kristan’s blew me away.
Hands down. Best speech at RWA ever. I laughed and I cried. And then I thought, okay, she made me cry. That’s done. And then she made me cry some more. And then she made me sob and then she made me so proud to be a romance author, I wanted to yell it from the top of the hotel.
Highs and low. Lots of highs and lows over the years, but one thing remains constant. No, make that two things–readers and friends. Readers remain loyal. Friends remain supportive. The Jaunty Quills, some of my best writer friends, remain steadfast. I can’t wait for the conference next year, and even though I know the coming months will bring both highs and lows, I anticipate those as well.