This year, Romance Writers of America had their annual conference in New York City! And the coolest thing is, every year, RWA does a massive author signing, open to the public and the book sales benefit literacy programs!
Last time RWA had their conference in NYC, I hadn’t branched out in my romance reading–I was only reading a few specific authors here and there and didn’t totally own my romance geekiness.
This year, I went. And my friend Jess met me there (she reads romance sometimes; when we decided to go to the signing, Jess downloaded several romance novel samples on her Kindle). She asked me to make a list of the authors I *really* wanted to meet so we could make a game plan because there were a TON of authors scheduled to sign.
I was sure there would be lines and omg, how early should I get there, how big would the crowd be, how does this thing work, I hate crowds, I’m awkward… I sent an email to Smart Bitch Sarah from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and not only did she write me back, she made a post out of my email on the website!
Anyway: I arrived at the Times Square Marriot Marquis around 2:45 and after climbing the escalator to the 5th floor, where signing was, I was sent to a general waiting room on the 6th floor. It was another ballroom with rows of chairs. So I sat in the first seat of Section 7 and texted Jess, who was on her way, and looked over the signing room’s diagram once again. I was given a tote bag. They let the sections go down pretty quickly and by 3:05, my section was on its way downstairs.
Because of the way the room was configured, I decided to go meet Alisha Rai first. I’ve read her Forbidden Hearts series. Alisha had the last of that series available, so I got one for my friend Nali. Alisha asked me how my literacy signing was going (“It’s my first one,” I told her. “I just got here!”) and then asked me how to spell Nali’s name. When I told her (and Nali is Indian-American, like Alisha), Alisha smiled really wide and signed the book and I departed her table.
I then bopped over to Alyssa Cole‘s table. She had a bit of a line, so while I waited Jess arrived and joined me. We got to the front. Jess got a signed copy of A Prince on Paper while I got a copy of Can’t Escape Love signed. Alyssa had cute buttons, too!
From there, Jess and I ventured into the alphabetized rows of authors to look for Courtney Milan. On the way, Jess was like, “What was the name of the author who wrote the book about the Latina dance teacher? I read a sample…” and we turned our heads and that author was there at the end of a long table of authors—Priscilla Oliveras!
She didn’t have books to sign because there was a publisher mix-up with shipping, but anyway, we spoke to her for a while and she was really kind and signed a bookmark for Jess.
Then Jess and I traipsed down the aisle until we found Courtney Milan. While we joined the end of her line, someone ahead of us noticed my t-shirt, which a lyric from Hamilton on it: This is not a moment, it’s the movement. She asked me where I’d bought the shirt and asked if she could take a picture of it. Then I realized the woman I’d been talking to was author Rose Lerner, who with Courtney Milan and Alyssa Cole, wrote a novella for Hamilton’s Battalion.
Jess and I got up to Courtney Milan and she, too, noticed my shirt, Jess mentioned that I was a fangirl, that we enjoyed Courtney’s Twitter, and I was the one who foisted Courtney’s books on my friends. Courtney thanked me for being “that friend who tells their friends ‘you need to read this book now'” and pointed out that she had one copy of After The Wedding left and copies of her novella Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure. I’d already read After The Wedding, so Jess took that one and I took the novella. Courtney also pointed out her stickers and pins, so we took one pin each (I took an extra sticker for Nali) and we profusely thanked her. She was so cool, guys.
We walked down a different aisle and came across Sherry Thomas, who writes YA fantasy, historical romance, and historical mystery. I’ve loved her writing for ages, so I practically skipped up to her (there was nobody else there) and said hello. She asked us where we were from, said we were like the third people who’d come by who were from Queens (lol) and asked us if we worked in the city. I told her I’m a library grad student and she said, “Oh! We love librarians!” She signed a copy of The Hollow of Fear for me!
After her, I’d exhausted my list of “must meets,” so I told Jess that if she wanted to meet Julia Quinn (author of The Bridgerton series, which is becoming a Netflix series!!) that we totally could. It was only 4pm! We’d been there only an hour! The Bridgertons were among the first ebooks I read on my then-new first Kindle and I’m soooo excited about the series. Julia Quinn was all out of books, but we went up to say hi anyway, had a bit of a chat with her, talked about how exciting the series was, got bookmarks, and then took our leave toward the cashiers.
It was so fun and it went so smoothly and I had “put on my extrovert on”, so chatting with these authors didn’t feel too weird or surreal. I’m so glad I went!