RWA 2019: Golden Hearts and Purple Socks

Hey, friends! Anybody else feel like August is a complete whirlwind? In my case, it probably comes from having four kids and too many things to do before school starts. But for a few minutes, I’m taking a break from all those boring real life details to reminisce about my trip to New York City. Hard to believe it’s been a whole month already!

For today’s post, I’m going to give you all a sneak peek into both what it was like being a Golden Heart finalist, and attending my first glamorous Harlequin party.

The Golden Heart Experience

I seriously had no idea what it meant to be a finalist when I received that phone call back in March. I was expecting what usually happens in a contest–a friendly e-mail asking for my author headshot, several months of stalking the other finalists to learn more about them, and then one day the pain of waiting would be over when the winners were announced.

Come to find out, I was SO wrong. In fact, what made the Golden Heart so unique is the fact that you really win just by finaling, because you’re inducted into a sort of sisterhood that can last your whole career. Mind you, I was never in a sorority, but I can imagine this is a bit what it would’ve been like. Sadly, our group was the last–no more Golden Heart–but RWA assures us they’re working on a plan for an equally amazing program to help unpublished authors.

On Tuesday night, the Omegas met in person for the first time to enjoy a class dinner. It was fun trying to identify each other based on Facebook and author photos!
At our group dinner with Martha Hutchens and Tracy Brody.
Wednesday brought a rehearsal for the awards luncheon. Here I am with Martha Hutchens and Janine Rosche (standing in for Crystal Caudill), the other finalists in my category.
That night, after a nerve-wracking networking reception with agents and editors, the Omegas joined the RITA finalists for another celebratory reception.
The RITA and GH finalists for my category, with our certificates. I’m holding Crystal’s too, since she couldn’t be there. She was with us in spirit!
Thursday brought the awards luncheon, where we were all too nervous to eat! But it was a special experience to cheer each other on.
I didn’t win, but I was secretly relieved not to have to give a speech in front of two thousand people. 🙂 And like I said, all of us felt so enriched by the experience, we’d already won.

The Harlequin Party

With the GH awards luncheon over, I could finally relax…by attending my first ever Harlequin party the same night. Whew, what a day! This year’s party celebrated Harlequin’s 70th anniversary, and it was held across the street from the conference at the Edison Ballroom. The retro, glamorous vibe made me feel like a movie star! On the downside, being a new author, I hardly knew anyone. Introvert + room full of people who know each other = personal nightmare, lol. Thankfully I ran into a lovely lady I’d met earlier in the day, who is also new to Harlequin, and we were able to enjoy the party together.

They literally rolled out the red carpet. Photo by Sarah Merians Photography, used with permission.
The ballroom was gorgeous, and the food… SO MUCH FOOD. Ice cream sundaes, a chocolate fondue fountain, French fries, pizza. Harlequin knows how to throw a party! Photo by Sarah Merians Photography, used with permission.
All the authors. I’m in that sea of faces on the right-hand side, about halfway back. It’s like a game of “Where’s Waldo?” Photo by Sarah Merians Photography, used with permission.
One of the fondue fountains. See? I wasn’t joking about the food.
Selfie attempt with Kit Morgan.
The famous Harlequin dancing socks. Admittedly, I didn’t open mine until after I got home.

More Conference Pictures

Friday morning, I dragged myself out of bed early for a breakfast buffet and keynote address. I had the good fortune to meet some lovely authors, including LIS author Debby Guisti and debut author Jeanine Englert.
For lunch, I joined my LIS editor Dina Davis (center) and fellow author Carol Post (left) for high tea at a Victorian-themed restaurant.
Friday night wrapped up with the RITA awards ceremony and after-party. All dressed up here with fellow Omegas Martha Hutchens, Tracy Brody, and Becke Turner.

Wow, you guys, what an amazing week! I’m so thankful I got to be part of both the final GH class (go Omegas!) and attend my first RWA National conference. As you might be able to guess from the pictures, I only made it to one or two actual workshops. I did get to attend a couple of add-on retreats, though, so it wasn’t a total waste in the learning department.

As much as I enjoy workshops, I’d have to agree with the many other writers out there who say that one of the biggest reasons to attend a huge conference like this one is for the networking. Opportunities abound to meet agents, editors, and other professionals who can help you on your writing journey, including for those interested in self-publishing. And being with so many other people trying to do the same crazy thing is just plain fun.

Thanks for hanging with me on this walk down memory lane, and next time I’ll be back with pictures of food, as I eat my way through NYC. 😉

4 thoughts on “RWA 2019: Golden Hearts and Purple Socks

  1. Hi Kelly, My first RWA was also as a GH finalist. I didn’t know anyone either, but people were kind enough to adopt me. I left my 1 and 3 year old daughters with my parents and flew cross country to San Francisco. It was an experience I’ve never forgotten. It was many years later before I got to attend my first Harlequin party. My editor rushed my contract through so that I could attend all the Harlequin events since she knew I’d be attending RWA (San Antonio that year). My career seems to like cities that start with San. LOL
    Congrats on being a finalist and on your sale to LIS!


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