Friday, August 1, 2008

Romance Writers of America Sizzle in San Francisco

In need of a hormone rush other than my own mis-wired ones, I hop on BART and head to the San Francisco Marriott. I can’t imagine a *hotter* place to be than the Marriott’s lobby or to loiter at the bar bombarded by romance, sex and temptation.

No, the Marriott isn’t the hot spot for singles in the City. This week it’s better. The Romance Writers of America (RWA) are celebrating their 28th annual conference at the downtown hotel July 30 – August 2.

As an author, I discovered sometime back that romance writers put the define in fun. Especially at conferences. Every workshop is a moment to market, to tease and showcase the playful personalities of the word crafters who tempt, taunt and tantalize the reader page after page. Not to mention the cover art.

One step into the lobby and a palatable energy embraces me and I exhale slowly. With my meno-no-longer-in-pause, I greet the first woman with a conference tag and introduce myself. From Alabama, Connecticut, Maryland to Texas warm handshakes and friendly hellos tell me I’m in the right place. Hundred of attendees fill the lobby. I feel the heat. I search my purse for a paper to fan the flush.

More than the need for a sensual ride and peer connection, I’m here to support the Readers for Life program. Over 400 authors are on hand to autograph books, pose for photos, and promote literacy programs. The books donated by the various publishers are as varied in romance genre as the creators. With proceeds going to charity, I’m ready to open my pocket.

Entering the large conference room, I’m overwhelmed with the number of tables, countless authors, and animated chatter equal to a 6.7 quake on the Richter scale. Immediately, I recognize fellow authors: Debbie Macomber, Nora Roberts, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. More so, I wander up and down the landscape of tables and note names unknown to my book shelf.

Intrigued by the title, Kiss Her Goodbye, I pick up a novel by Robert Gregory Browne. Not only does his warm personality capture my attention, I’m drawn in by the first sentence and I’m sold. A native Californian like me, I snap his picture. A rare find.

Up and down the aisles of authors I wander. Listed alphabetically I’m lost in this new frontier of romance that reaches beyond the lust and sex of the past. Book after book, the works are rich in prose, plot and characters.

After ninety minutes, I arrive at XYZ neighborhood. Breathless, I need a rest and notice author Connie Brockway, idle at her table.

I glance at her book, Skinny Dipping, and say, “You must write humor.”

Her sparkling smile and vivacious personality answer the question before her words. I kneel by her table and for the next few moments we chat, author to author.

Up to a little Skinny Dipping, I add my dollars to the charitable event. We hug for a photo spot of like-souls – humor people are like that – exit with a smile and I return to my ABC exploration. Dont' we look happy in our photo opp?

No question, author Lisa Gardner, is a definite on my hit-list and Hide tops the pile.

Marketing trinkets of Hershey kisses, bookmarks, magnets and lavender heart-shaped lights highlight the displays. Author Kira Sinclair promotes “Sinfully, Sensual Romance” with sugared-vanilla bubble bath and the offer to “Relax with a Steamy Read!” I note the bottle is just the right size for two. Smart girl. I accept her offer, talk awhile and promise to do my best but I’m not sure how one relaxes while reading a steamy read. Have to get back with you on that.

I hurry to catch the E-list but the two-hour event ends before I cross the HIJK border. And Barry Eisler’s so cute. Damn.

In line Leena Hyat, Author Sound Relations, treats me to an Arnott’s TimTam, a “must” chocolate for romance writers and I’m good to go the distance to the cashier. No question, I’m refueled in more ways than one.

Soon, I’m back in the lobby. The liveliness in the room intensifies and shows no sign of quieting. Friends old and new relax in the lounge and bar area, Cosmos and bottles of red wine the common choice for the respite before the next day’s workshops. Conversations are over-the-back-fence casual and genuine.

Outside, the fog creeps through the streets. I board BART and decide to read Kiss Her Goodbye. A hard cookie to crack, I’m hooked from the first page and immersed in the adventure. I almost miss my train station. Robert Gregory Browne is a rare find.

Back home, I check the RWA conference for next year in Washington DC and read membership guidelines. Curled on the bed, I flip through No More Bobs and consult the cast, “So what do you think guys? Romantic comedy and a flight to DC?”


Allie Boniface said...

I'll be there - you should come!!

Marianne Arkins said...

Yay! I didn't know you were blogging. Yep, I'm going to do my best to be in D.C., too!

You should come.

Bookfool said...

Piles of romantic comedy, definitely. Not sure about DC, since I'm not longer an RWA member. Someday, you and I are just going to have to meet up somewhere in the middle of the country, Miss Cindi. It sounds like there was quite a monstrous crowd, but you made the best of your time. Good for you! Love the pic!