I did want to share some of my experiences at RWA National with everyone. I flew to Atlanta so high with excitement I didn’t think I’d need a plane, and while the experience was bittersweet, it was also one of the greatest times of my life.

The workshops this year were top notch. My favorite of all was one called: Theme–Taking an Old Fashioned Concept and Turning It into an Effective Way to Market Your Voice. If you plan on ordering any of the tapes from this year’s event, I highly recommend this particular workshop. (And no, I have no ulterior motive to say that; no kickback, no secret pact with the workshop’s hosts.) This particular workshop was one of many where I left saying, “Okay, that makes sense.” But with Theme, I also walked out with a choir of angels singing. The ideas expressed clicked so well for me that I fully intend to listen to that tape over and over again while I write.

The Booksale for Literacy broke a record for sales this year. And I managed to make Irene Peterson‘s day by being her first customer for her book, Glory Days, at the Literacy Signing. Irene and I know each other through the LIRW June Luncheon. Irene, as a member of the New Jersey Romance Writers Chapter is a frequent guest as well as a fun and lively lady!

I managed to take in the Georgia Dome and the Georgia Aquarium on a sightseeing tour and found myself surrounded by people who wanted my business card at both places. It’s funny: inside the hotel five blocks away, handing out business cards is as common as shaking hands. We’re all writers, published and non-published, and we all want to extend our network. But on the streets (if you will), getting a business card from an author is a brush with celebrity! And I want to thank all the wonderful people who showed so much interest in what I do, how I do it, and when they could buy my book (February, 2007!)

Socializing was a blast! I arrived in Atlanta about twenty minutes ahead of my roommate, Amber Green, and when we went down to Registration, found ourselves in the company of two other dear friends: Shelby Reed and Cate Rowan. The four of us spent oodles of time together over the next several days, each time laughing, hugging, or just plain reveling in our friendship. At the Welcome Reception, we met two members of the Wet Noodle Posse, one who’d traveled from South Korea to attend this year’s event. They fit right into our group and we shared even more laughs. There were meals with people we’d never met before, and yet by the time dessert was served, we all felt like we’d spent the time with trusted friends. Truly, that’s one of my favorite aspects of National. The ability to click with someone you’ve never previously met. And it happens over and over again.

By Friday night, I was above the clouds. You see, I had talked to my editor and learned fantastic news regarding my second manuscript. Early Saturday morning, I couldn’t wait to call home to share it. That’s when the world tilted on its axis. While I was laughing, socializing, and soaking up the warmth of the people of Atlanta, a dear family member was fighting for his life. His prognosis was grim and suddenly, my good news left ashes in my mouth.

I am very fortunate, however, in some of my friends, particularly Amber Green and Shelby Reed. These two ladies, knowing how deeply I hurt, spent time with me on Saturday night to lift my spirits and keep me whole. I’m grateful to them for being my shelter in the storm. I love you, girls–never forget how much!

It may be eleven months away, but I’m already planning my trip to RWA National 2007 in Dallas, TX. Who’s coming along?