A trip to New York (or a quick recap of the RWA 2015 national conference)

I’ve lost track of how many RWA national conferences I’ve been to now (6 maybe? 7?), but this was my second one in New York. The first trip was a rollercoaster adventure of me and my anxiety battling it out in order to see all the sights: Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Museum of Natural History, Rockefeller Plaza, Times Square, everything I could cram into a few days including a trip to yarn and quilt stores. This time, I only had a day and a half so the list was shorter: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, Wicked, and the New York Public Library (BOOK NERD ALERT! Also, it was close and free.)

So on Tuesday, I started with a  taxi ride to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. On the way, I decided to never do that again until all my affairs were in order and I was ready to pass on to the other side. I spent five hours and still feel like a barely saw the museum. I listened to the posh museum director tell stories about selected pieces and got the most amazing plot bunny for a story I could never write. Masterpieces literally close enough to touch. I can’t really even describe it. These enormous beautiful tapestries and paintings I’d seen in textbooks. I stood in front of Rodin’s Burghers of Calais for a very long time because I couldn’t even believe I was there. Here are some pictures:

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

I knew it would take me a while to make it back to the hotel, so I left in the early afternoon and started walking the two miles back through Central Park. It was almost everything I imagined it would be. There were street performers dancing and singers. There was some sort of film crew filming something. The trees. The Mall. People walking dogs. And it was about a thousand degrees so there Cheryl was, just hoofing through and sweating like it’s my job. But every fourth bench, I’d sit down and think “I’m in Central Park.” I only took one picture because the heat was killing brain cells. Here it is:

Central Park

Central Park

So I make it out of the park and I’m walking. I’m walking and sweating. I’m walking and sweating and thinking of air conditioning and ice cubes and water. A tall drink of water.

Until I made it to 52nd Street. Which was barricaded as far as the eye could see. And there were police cars and police and crowds lining the street.

Because the president was in town.

Between me and the air conditioning.

And it would have been so cool to see, but I was melting. Not that it mattered! Here’s a picture I managed to get of the police that raced up and down the street.

52nd streetEventually the president in a limo with flags flying and an entourage of media in SUVs behind came through. This was exciting, but I really got excited when I got across the street because the hotel was near. After I solidified into a person-shaped mass again, I got my nice clothes on and went to see Wicked. I love Broadway. I really do. The show was amazing and so much fun.

Wicked

The next day, I walked to the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and took the tour. Also, I bought some things. If you’d like a chance to win a “What are you reading now?” tote (photo in the top right corner) and books, make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter by August 15! CLICK THIS LINK

 

Here’s a few photos from the library:

NYPL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS (this is coming to a close. Really. I promise!)
The literacy signing raised almost $50,000 dollars. Me? I had nice conversations with Brenda Harlen and Kathleen Harrington and my Avon editor Chelsey Emmelhainz and Harlequin Senior Editor Victoria Curran…and I looked like a total pro doing it.

Literacy signing

Meeting up with all the Heartwarming authors and editors there over dinner.

Pitching to new agents and editors is always an education.

Having a chance to chat with friends I’ve never met before like Avon author Jennifer Seasons (who shares my love for the show Psych and has the best bad luck in the world).

And the Harlequin party was at the Waldorf Astoria. Yes, that Waldorf Astoria. I had a dress I liked and there were full-on paparazzi moments (with Kate James and a piano, no less. It was total Fabulous Baker Boys and she was Michelle Pfeiffer. and I was all “Please let’s not get kicked out of this joint.” Debbie Downer. I own it.)

Sitting down with Dana Grimaldi who is so smart and makes my Heartwarming books so much better. Here’s a photo of me with Dana and Jennifer Snow.

PartyIf you like books and giveaways (of course, you do!), you should 1. Sign up for the newsletter. 2. Get over to http://www.facebook.com/CherylHarperRomance because I have another book/tote giveaway going and I have a few more planned so stay tuned!

 

After #RWA14: a return to knit shorts, and some NEWS

While I was in San Antonio last week, my choice of footwear downgraded every day from “nice but pinchy” to “at least I won’t pick up smallpox in the crosswalk.” Today I have no shoes at all. The writer’s joke is about how nice it is to wear yoga pants or no pants. I don’t own yoga pants, but no pants is no option either so I wear knit shorts that should never be seen in public but will keep me from being arrested if the unforeseen should happen.

But this is not a post about my bad fashion choices.

This is a celebration of the national conference in San Antonio and a small announcement: I’m starting a newsletter. Yes, I’ll be the last person to put words on the screen to do so, but I’m totally going to do it. I vow to send out this newsletter no more often than once a month (and probably less if I’m being totally honest) and to include stories, pictures of my dog Jack, random flotsam that floats to the top of my brain, and giveaways. To celebrate and build the list for the September 1 newsletter, I’m going to run a giveaway of one $25 Visa card, the winner to be chosen from people who subscribe by September 1. Yep, just subscribe to enter. Here’s the link to sign up for my awesome NEWSLETTER: http://eepurl.com/ZTY25 I will mail internationally but I think the cards are limited to US usage.

10 THINGS I LOVED ABOUT THE RWA 2014 CONFERENCE

10. The Riverwalk is lovely. Really. And if you can see it from the inside of an air conditioned bubble, July is a nice time to explore. I took a boat tour and then I started walking. Walking was a bad idea. And I don’t know if I ever recovered from it. But the tour guy was great: educational, funny, and we didn’t crash into anything. All good. This stage is featured in Miss Congeniality. I put my life on the heatstroke line to get this photo. Please enjoy.

photo (4)9. The literacy signing was so much fun. I sat next to Lynn Raye Harris. And I snagged some of her traffic, a skill I’ve gotten much better at over the last year. I sold most of my Avon books and talked up Heartwarming to sell several of those. Here’s my view and evidence of my solid merchandising skills. Retail jobs for the win!

photo (3)

8. I also gave away so many pens and sticky note pads I feel vindicated in giving the UPS guy a muscle twinge (he’s strong but it was a lot of boxes).

7. I did not cause an international incident with my stomach distress. I also only missed one or two events. I consider this a personal victory.

6. I discovered that Heartwarming Senior Editor Victoria Curran and I would probably be the best of bosom friends (something about Canadians makes me think in terms of Anne Shirley. It’s a thing with me) if only she didn’t live alllll the way in Canada. I might need to renew my passport to take a trip to see the Harlequin mothership.

5.  I met the Harlequin Heartwarming authors at the conference and I am telling you that these ladies are so smart and business savvy and on top of that they will make you laugh and encourage you when you need it. That’s an amazing group to be a part of and I feel so lucky to be included.

4. I caught up with Avon friends and am reminded how awesome romance writers can be.

3. I went to the best workshop on conflict. I think something clicked in my brain. I’m hoping it wasn’t the Pepto Bismol causing misfires.

2. I got to sit down with Avon editor Chelsey Emmelhainz and just talk. It was great.

1. On the twelve-hour drive home, I did some heavy thinking about what I need to do next. I also have three new ideas that I want to write right now. I hope that wasn’t the Pepto Bismol causing misfires too. More seriously, I spent some timing thinking about whether I should drop an idea I was trying to force because it’s in a hot genre now to go with what I know and love. I think I might even know the answer but whether I’ll go with it remains to be seen.

Writing conferences are expensive and the travel can be hard (especially when you’ve picked up the plague somewhere) but they are such a creative boost. Being surrounded by the energy of positive people like romance writers is the kind of shot I need to keep struggling and working at this. If you haven’t tried it, maybe it would be the same for you. Next year: NEW YORK. I hear if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

Now, go sign up for the newsletter. And check out my Facebook page. I have another contest going there, along with pictures of my dog Jack.

 

 

 

#RWA14, stress dreams, and a giveaway

I can always tell when I’m about two weeks away from a trip because the crazy dreams start. Sometimes I’m in college and failing a history class because I never knew how to find the classroom. Sometimes there’s a maniac clown after me and all the doorways are tilted. Listen, don’t ask. I have a long list of dreams that just…I can’t even explain. I’ve gotten pretty used to those. Last night I had a new one:

I’m fully clothed but in the shower. With me, although I don’t know it at the time, is a an author whom I’ve never met. Because of our last names, we are usually near each other at book signings. In real life, I know what she writes and that she has an impressive sense of style and fashion. More than once I have admired her shoes. In my dream, she’s a zombie. And in this world, zombies hate water. So I’m in the shower, but she’s hidden behind her own black shower curtains inside the shower and I’m dumping buckets of water over her shower. In my dreams and in my real world, bucket = old Country Crock container. Just so you get the full visual. So I’m dumping. And dumping. And dumping. Every now and then there’s a mumbly growl from behind the black curtains. Finally I get smart and pull down the handheld shower thingy and aim it over her shower curtains.

Then the water pressure dies.

So I’m in the shower with an angry zombie.

Somehow I grab her by scruff of the neck, but she’s doing that cartoon glance where she’s looking obviously at my hand and back at my face and back at my hand and back at my face. When I look down, there’s a fang sticking out of my hand. Everyone knows that zombieism is contagious through the bite, right? I don’t know why she had fangs. Also, she must have introduced herself by saying “I’m a zombie” because she looked pretty undead to me. Except for the fang sticking out of my hand.

I did not notice her shoes in the dream. Also, this is why I do no prepping for doomsday. Instead of smashing her with the handheld shower thingy, I reach inside. When doomsday comes, I’ll be the first to go. It’s okay.

When I woke up, I had my dog in a wrestling hold that’s probably called the double chicken wing or something creative and he was all “What the what?”.

No animals or zombies were harmed in this dream episode. But now you will understand why I’m a zombie in San Antonio.

STILL, IF YOU’RE NEAR SAN ANTONIO ON JULY 23, COME AND SEE ME! This is the video from Atlanta’s literacy event. It’s cool.

At the literacy signing, I’ll have my two latest books (Santa, Bring My Baby Back and A Minute on the Lips, I think) and some freebies (and I know where at least one zombie is sitting. I’ll protect you. You trust me, right?).

bracelet (1)I’ll also have some of these bracelets to give away! If you want to win one before that or you aren’t in the San Antonio area, here’s a chance to win your own: Heartwarming Authors Blog.