RWA Blogaganza 2011 Part 1: Susan Elizabeth Phillips et al

4 Jul

The “opening” night of the Romance Writers of America national conference is the “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing, where hundreds of authors sign their books for you, and all the proceeds from book sales go to programs that promote literacy. This year it was Tuesday, June 28 and the event raised something like $50,000. It’s held in a big ballroom, jammed to the rafters with authors, conference attendees and romance novel fans.

Diana Gabaldon was my first victim. She was near the door, and I’ve read three of her “Outlander” series books, so I pounced.

Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon poses tirelessly. I look shiny because I have a lot of sunscreen on.

I try to have something to say to these authors besides, “I like your books.” In this case I really did, because I had been to the Alexander McQueen (late fashion designer) exhibit at the Met earlier in the day, and two of his lines involved Scotland. Ms. Gabaldon’s books are about a couple in 18th-century Scotland, so I thought she’d be interested. She at least pretended that she was, but who knows? She was on a panel the following day at the kick-off session and proved to be quite witty and not a little bit bawdy. It was fantastic.

These autograph sessions are crazy, like what I imagine the opening of a Walmart in a Southern town is like. Thousands of rabid women waiting behind a barrier for the doors to open, then WHOOSH! in they go. This time the conference was in New York though, where even the employees of the Marriott Marquis are trained in crowd control, probably by SWAT teams. In other words, nobody got trampled. Which was nice.

I also went to see Jayne Ann Krentz. I became a fan of hers during last year’s conference, where she was a keynote speaker and I also went to two of her workshops (one given in tandem with Susan Elizabeth Phillips). I had heard of her even before I started reading romance novels, and last summer listened to several of her older books on tape since I knew she’d be at the conference. I was pleasantly surprised and have branched out to reading her historical novels which she writes as Amanda Quick. She’s not only a top-notch writer, she’s a compelling speaker and funny workshop-giver as well.

Jayne Ann Krentz

Jayne Ann Krentz, whose writing is as vivid as her hair color. I am still shiny from sunscreen.

I also got to see friends at the signing, which made me feel more like part of the author community. I fantasized about sitting at one of those cramped little tables myself, a pile of my books off to the side, signing, signing, signing. Joanne Kennedy was there, along with Allie Pleiter (aka Alyse Pleiter), who is a sorority sister of mine. Couldn’t find Ashley March because they put her out of alphabetical order, which was a nasty and mean trick.


Last but hardly least, my patron saint, Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I think I only gushed a little, but I DID gush, believe you me. But get this—she REMEMBERED ME. From last year. Oh sure, I’ve posted on her Facebook page here and there, and I sent her one or two emails (seriously, just one or two—I am NOT a stalker. No really, I’m not), but I was severely flattered when I walked up to her table and she immediately asked how the writing was going. I gave her a tiny, adorable box from Teuscher with two champagne truffles inside, which she seemed to appreciate, saying it was better than getting a big box of chocolates because then you had to share. And she graciously posed for a picture and signed a hardcover of her latest novel, CALL ME IRRESISTIBLE. (“To Colette— All the best with your career.”) Love her. LOVE HER.


  1. Diana McOwen Says:

    First of all the shine is a signal of youth so stop blaming it on sunscreen. You look terrific! Second, OMG!!!!!! I love Diana Gabaldon and am so very jealous. Maybe it’s the name. Nahhhhh. I love her Outlander series.
    Thanks for all the updates. I think it is terrific that you are pursuing this dream. You go Colette!!!!
    Diana (McOwen)

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