I Am So Proud of You

Once a year, the Romance Writers of America association puts on a national conference. More than 2000 authors (from the 10,000+ total members), along with editors, bloggers, literary agents, and other industry professionals gather to talk shop, learn, network, and celebrate. The RITA and Golden Heart awards are announced, and much–MUCH–business is transacted.

The anthology, Dukes in Disguise, was born in the RWA conference hotel lobby in 2015. Another project, No Dukes Allowed, was born over a breakfast discussion this year (look for a novella antho next spring). The conference is exciting, exhausting, and tremendous fun. Good things always happen at RWA, but so, inevitably do some not-so-good things.

The RWA conference is stressful. Editors and authors who deal with each other long distance have this one chance to interact face to face. That can mean you learn at Conference that your contract won’t be renewed, or that your editor is leaving to work for a competitor. Aspiring authors have a chance to “pitch” their books to agents and editors, who might request to see the manuscript, or who might pass… again.

Emotions run high, and the “conference melt down,” is a thing. Before my first Conference, I’d read some “what to expect” article that warned that part of the deal for first-timers (and others) was to, at some point in the week, go up to your hotel room and cry.

“That is silly,” says me. “I’m a litigating buzzsaw of a tough old broad. There’s no crying at Conference.” Day Two, who was up in her hotel room, all teary-eyed over the experience of being fifty-plus years old, and for the first time of my life, not being any kind of Other in a professional space?

Above all, Conference is an experience of community. Over and over, I had a chance to say to a writing buddy, “I am so proud of you.” Julie Anne Long’s Aug. 29 contemporary, Dirty Dancing at Devil’s Leap, earned an unheard-of five stars from the Reviewers at Romantic Times. Regency author Kelly Bowen won the long historical RITA with A Duke to Remember, and Laura Lee Gurke took the short historical category with No Mistress of Mine.

Other writing buddies achieved quieter milestones, such as finishing a manuscript, pitching for the first time, or getting their first request from an editor to submit a manuscript. In all of these cases, somebody I know has spent years pursuing a dream, despite tough odds, setbacks, rejections, and wrong turns, and their tenacity and courage has been rewarded. Now multiply that times 2000.

The lift I get from going around for four days with, “I am so proud of you,” on the tip of my tongue is tremendous. I’m proud of us, of my writin’ buddies and of the people who help get our books into the readers’ hands. I’m proud of the readers, who think stories about love and honor are worth paying for and enjoying. I’m proud of RWA, for being an umbrella under which a diverse and talented group of people can gather and be glad.

I am so proud of my romance community. To whom do you, or could you, say the words, “I am so proud of you”? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Too Scot to Handle, because I’m proud of that book too.



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19 comments on “I Am So Proud of You

  1. I remind my daughter that I am proud of her all of the time.

    Commuting to law school & having a 40/hour week internship isn’t easy. I am so proud that she is learning to manage her time and resources. She gets up early, drives to her “job” and is at her office 30 minutes early each day. She is being mentored by a judge who has provided insight as to courses, certifications, clothing and has provided her with several career path suggestions. I am proud that my daughter has accepted all of this advice in stride. She looks professional when she leaves the house each morning and changed her course selection because she listened to her mentor.

    I am proud that she’s pursuing her goal and figuring out how to achieve her dreams!

    Glad you had fun at the conference and hope you have a great writing week!

    • She sounds like one terrific young lady, Sue, and well worth the pride you take in her integrity and dedication. I’m proud of my daughter times a zillion too, and she has occasionally said she’s proud of me.

      Two-hankie memories.

  2. I am proud of my kids, all of them, but am especially proud of Son Number Two this year.

    After being on an educational fast track from the time he was a high school sophomore he decided, one year into a PhD program, it wasn’t for him. He received a BS in physics and mathematics in four years (don’t try this at home) and then was duly accepted into a physics PhD program at a large, Midwestern university and HATED IT. He was going to just drop out but we convinced him getting his MS and THEN leaving was a better idea. He did, then moved back home.

    He has been floundering around for ten years (!)now. He’s worked for a professional symphony, he’s worked for a private practice physician and for a hospital’s IT department. He really didn’t know what he wanted to do or was good at any more but he’s kept his eyes open.

    He’s been accepted into Northwestern University’s Law School (not a easy thing), into a MLS program created for STEM majors and begins in a month. He’ll end up being a consultant and is interested in health care issues including HIPPEA and technology, something that is very *hot* now. This is a nine month program and will be intense. His financial aid package is good (and he has no debt from his BS and MS)so this should work out.

    I am proud of him for many reasons but mostly because he KNEW something was out there for him, he just didn’t know what. I am proud of his father and me too, for being able to give him a place to lick his wounds, heal after disappointment, and feel safe enough to finally decide what he wanted to do with his life. He is a smart kid and he’ll go far. But it took at bit for him to trust in himself.

    • What an interesting story, and a testament to patience. Sometimes, waiting for answers is too hard, but I can’t imagine what it took to walk away from PhD program. Hard to the tenth power.

      I often think about the foster kids I represent, and what a terrible handicap they face as young adults, not having that place to lick their wounds. It can make ALL the difference.

  3. I’ve never been to the conference but it sounds Hooghly emotional, in all ways. I look forward to making it in the near future. If I could thank anyone,it would be my youngest daughter. At seven she was diagnosed with bone cancer of right shoulder. After we spent eleven and a half months in hospital and major surgery to remove and replace shoulder with titanium I can truly say I’m so proud of her. She taught me what true strength was. Both physically and enotionally. That was 20 years ago. Today she”s a healthy and happy young woman.
    Carol L

      • I like “hooghly” too–or yugely, as we’re saying in some circles these days. Aren’t kids wonderful? I took a shift at this conference hanging out with a writing friend’s daughter, and it was the best part of the conference. Little people have such big hearts.

  4. Congratulations and thank you for all of the great books. I would say to my mother that I am proud of her. Because she left the only country that she knew in her late twenties to marry my father. She left her family without really knowing the culture or speaking the language. But some fifty plus years later she has raised a family and lived a life without really becoming fully cynical in any way. She never learned the language but she still worked and did well. Now at 86, she faces open heart face surgery but she trusts her Lord. So I am proud of my mother. Have a blessed week!

    • Will keep your mom in my thoughts this week. If it’s any comfort, my dad got through a ruptured appendix at age 91, and Mom bounced back from a stroke at age 86. That is one tough generation, and your mom sounds like the one thing she will never, ever do is quit.

  5. My husband. He has almost single-handedly moved our entire apartment full of stuff to our new home in the past month. I am disabled so every bit of the hard stuff was his to do, and he did it with even temper, and a joke at the ready. I have never been so proud of anyone.

  6. I think getting a book written is a major accomplishment & getting it published is amazing! I’ve seen many posts about RWA – looked like a lot of fun, but hadn’t thought of the stressors you mentioned. I hope everyone had an overall good time, got some good ideas (that’s great about another anthology) and lots of support & camaraderie!

    • RWA National is different from any other professional conference, in a wonderful way. My only frame of reference for professional conferences was lawyers or dressage riders. Those gatherings could be fun and informative, but RWA is about mutual support, sharing expertise and resources, connecting, and celebrating. It’s part boot camp, part pep rally, and part superheroine/hero convention. I wish more readers could participate, because I think they’d absolutely get what’s going on there.

  7. I am incredibly proud of both of my kids. My son is working towards his master’s degree and plans to earn his PhD in biology – endocrinology is his focus. My daughter is a year away from earning her double major bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology. Maybe more important than their academic skills and achievement, they are caring young adults who avoided the pitfalls that so many teens and young adults stumble into: no major partying disasters, no naked photos circulating, no grandkids for me for several year. (it’s sad how many of thier contemporaries have dealt with this issues)

    Today I am also proud of my 6 year old niece. She was baptized today. She is a very exuberant and energetic child and has a hard time quietly sitting still for any amount of time. She was on her best behavior during the service — then asked her parents if she could run around for awhile before the reception.

    • I agree with you. The academic honors are worth celebrating, but the honorable values are the greater treasure, and no all “smart” people have them. Your niece sounds like a darling, and I’m sure you have the pictures to prove it!