|Signing Cowboy Heat at the L.A. Times Festival of Books. Thanks to my lovely friend Melanie for the photo.|
At the Romance Writers of America booth, sponsored by the Los Angeles and Orange County chapters of RWA, I had the chance to sign Delilah Devlin's Cleis Press anthology Cowboy Heat, of which my story "Remember" is a small part. I also was able to promote my new novella, Cowboy Valentine, which will be released by Samhain on Aug. 25.
I loved seeing friends and family, some of whom came from afar to show their support. I really enjoyed meeting new people, a couple of whom even brought their own copies of Cowboy Heat from home for me to sign. (So awesome.)
Besides signing, I was able to volunteer with other local authors at the booth, chatting up attendees and handing out copious amounts of free swag.
I'm happy to report that the romance readers at the Festival of Books were as varied and lively as our genre itself: shy, outspoken, brainy, sweet, spicy, men and women, all ages, all backgrounds.
A smiling, sharply-dressed woman marched right up to me and asked about joining RWA. She had just finished her first manuscript and was dying to know what to do next. I asked her if she had queried anyone yet. She said, "No, but in New York, I walked right into the offices at HarperCollins and demanded an appointment. The security guard let me go upstairs." When she got to the office, the receptionist turned her away. I told her I admired her guts.
An older, bookish gentleman was looking at all of the book covers on display in the booth. He said, "I know someone who wrote romance. He must be in his seventies now. A great big biker dude. He wrote one Harlequin a month. Not under his name, of course. His books were very popular."
I handed a little Latina grandmother a bookmark for Cowboy Valentine. She looked at it and said to me, "Some people don't believe in Valentine's Day. I do. I met my husband--God rest his soul--on Valentine's Day. We were married for 45 years. Every February 14, I hang a small Happy Valentine's Day sign under his picture in my bedroom. That way he knows I'm still celebrating."
Bonding with strangers over the romance genre was hands-down my favorite part of the whole experience. The enthusiasm I saw at the Festival of Books renewed my affection for romance. It also reminded me that I have, quite possibly, the best job in the world.