Social media is a magical place. I don’t know how I managed to learn about anything that happened in life before I started managing our social media accounts (read: getting stuck in an infinite scroll way too often). But now I do live in the Romancelandia bubble, so I learned about the Washington Romance Writers Hearts to You reader appreciation luncheon.
And so I found myself in Tyson’s Galleria–a mysterious place I have never before attempted to visit–on a Sunday afternoon, hoping against hope that I would not be my usual awkward self. Ingrid helpfully recommended that I lean in to the awkward. Sisters.
I had no idea what to expect, but once I arrived at the venue I realized that the event wasn’t really what I expected, if that makes any sense. It was…a luncheon. Imagine that. As a blogger, I had an assigned seat, as did librarians and booksellers. Readers seated themselves, and imagine my surprise to find myself seated with a reader who preferred thrillers to romance and another who didn’t read at all. But it didn’t matter, because the variety of conversation we had as the authors rotated among tables was all over the map. Books? Sure. Also crafting and quilting. We contain multitudes.
I was surprised at the number of names I knew (but hadn’t read 😬) in the group of authors who attended the event. And there were quite a few authors I hadn’t heard of. It was fun to find new-to-me authors (and receive a couple copies of new books!). I am always looking for books that will allow me to procrastinate while I am supposed to be finishing other books. And it’s always fun to have my own assumptions challenged. In my head, I know that anybody might be a romance writer, and within that subset they might write any heat level of sex. And yet…every now and then I guess I need a reminder that women with gray hair aren’t collectively prudish. My brain and my vision need to sync periodically perhaps?
So meeting authors and schmoozing was a primary goal, but it wasn’t my only consideration when registering for an RWA-affiliated event. One thing I wanted to know when I considered registering was how the infamous RWA implosion had filtered into this chapter. WRW’s Facebook page has a notification post that the chapter has made some demands of the national org that are in line with most of the other DEI demands we’ve seen all over the place. But this luncheon wasn’t the forum for this conversation, so other than being able to observe for myself that the crowd was unusually white for the DC metro area, I couldn’t draw many conclusions. My having the opportunity to attend an event like this – a fun event! – is a benefit of an organization like this. I really hope RWA gets some serious management training – and makes use of the training in real life – because I honestly don’t understand what the organization has been doing. I mean… Leadership is kind of a basic requirement, right? And you can’t be neutral on a moving train. If the national organization continues to fumble so hard so constantly, it’ll be difficult to continue to support affiliated local chapters. Which is a bummer.
I hope to continue to attend events like this. Being able to meet MIA SOSA in real life (!!!!!) was totally awesome. But more than that, getting to see behind the author curtain is enriching and fun. I also had the opportunity to chat with Christie Barth, Solara Gordon, Eliza Knight, Angelina M. Lopez, Hope Ramsay, and Mona Shroff. I also met other local bloggers who I’d love to connect with more. What fun! I’d love to do something like this again.
Way to put together a lovely event, WRW staff!