Saturday, January 24, 2009

I Met Rhonda Penders!

The House of Ale in Hollywood, Florida, was mobbed. One one side of the restaurant, patrons ate with relish. Peoples voices ran into each other creating a cacophony of noise that filled your senses and made it hard to distinguish one persons words from another. I was able to finally get around people to ask where the Florida Romance Writers were having their pre-cruise party. A youngun directed me to the right and I saw a mob of people. One or two I recognized right away.

The first person I saw was Rose Letson. Rose is a generous and caring person who spent most of that night helping to sell books for those who brought them to sell. Or driving people back and forth from their hotel. Since I had to drive over an hour to get there from West Palm Beach, she offered to let me stay at her house. She even offered to come and get me. She is one of a kind....

Then I turned to Jianne Carlo, who is my critique partner. She is also treasurer of the FRW and devotes a lot of her time to the effort too. She was wearing heels despite a badly hurting foot. Women, what we do to ourselves. I am crazy about her. I took care of my cost business and saw Traci Hall. When I met her she was president of the FRW and dragged my butt to the place, kicking and screaming over my agoraphobia. Her husband Gregg was there, he is the most supportive guy I have ever met. Her long blonde hair shined in the dim lighting.

To me it was overwhelming. I am not a go to a bar kind of person and I don't think I have ever been to a place like the Ale House before.

Everyone sparked with life. An adorable lady wore a hat like Minnie Pearl. One girl looked awfully young and very Gothic, while the woman she was talking with could have been her grandmother. What an amazing mix, but then romance writers come in all shapes and sizes. The lovely and talented Patrice Wilton sat with me. Mona Risk came and spoke to me. I just love her accent, and she is such a warm and welcoming person.

Patrice pointed out a very young, handsome, guy to me. I have no idea who he was, but he looked young enough to be my grandson. He had hair like Prince and was apparently from some big New York publisher. The always lovely Heather Graham, dressed impeccably in a dark jacket spent a lot of time with him. So he had to be a biggie.

Dayana Knight was there, although she had a headache and left early, poor thing. She is such a sweetheart. Editor Callie Wolf came, hoping to meet her boss for the first time. The editors of TWRP are scattered all around the country, and other countries too. To me it looked like mass confusion. Toni Andrews was there, and poor Lyn Armstrong. Another person whose accent I love. Poor Lyn couldn't go on the cruise, she never got her Visa in time. A Visa she had applied for over eighteen months ago. She smiled, but I know she was bummed.

Then Patrice told me to come with her and meet Rhonda. We walked to the table she was standing by. Someone introduced me to the very nice and very talented, Liane Laverentz. Sharon, I forget her last name, a new member of the FRW sat there just thrilled to death, her eyes starstruck. I met the others at the table, but my partzeimers made me forget their names. I am so bad.

Then there she stood. A little bit of a thing wearing a Wild Rose Press t-shirt, even though it was in the fifties. She had short, light brown hair, and rosy cheeks. Her smile stretched from one side of her face to the other. The little pixie glowed. The very first thing she did when we were introduced was to give me a big hug. As soon as she heard you were one of her authors, the adorable woman would give you a huge bear hug. I didn't expect her. When you think of an owner of a thriving publishing company, you think matron. But she is just the opposite. What a wonderfully special lady!

Rhonda spent the evening, going from one of her writers to the other. Getting to know each one. At one point she came to our booth and was looking for our own Maggie Touissaint. Maggie happened to be sitting in the booth behind me. We all pointed her out to Rhonda, and Rhonda went to her table. Well Maggie, tall, slim, and elfen came alive. She literally leapt over the man sitting next to her, (her husband?), just to get that special hug from Rhonda.

It just shows you how much everyone loves Rhonda. I can't tell you how lucky I feel just to have been there. I couldn't afford the cruise, boy was I disappointed. I've been reading some of the emails from FRW people who had the time of their lives. I hear there was a lot of karaoke singing going on. And someone mentioned that Heather Graham was the queen of it all.

What a thrill it was for me to meet Rhonda. I'll bet RJ is just as fabulous. She truly cares about us all. And that my friends, is one hell of a great thing. Our press is the very best, and you just can't beat that! I feel so lucky!! Maybe next year I can go on the cruise, wouldn't that be cool!


Mona Risk said...

Mary, what a nice blog. We had a great time at the conference-cruise/ How I wish you were there. But wait till I see you and I will tell you all about it.

Dayana said...

Hi, Mary!

It was a fun party:) Though I left early, I too, was thrilled at the chance to meet Rhonda, Liana, and so many others.

I was fortunate enough to spend the day with Rhonda today, and I have Liana as a houseguest for the rest of the weekend. I will most certainly be blogging about my special weekend.

And I have to agree with you, Mary. Rhonda is a very special lady. Warm and uplifting. She is AWESOME!


Kathleen said...

The pre-party sail was just the beginning to an amazing conference. Oh, and that young editor with the great hair who works for a big name publisher? He took my latest work home with him for a look-see. Yahoo! And if you email me, Mary, I'll tell you who that sweet lady in the hat is!
Great blog. You were missed!
xox, Piks

Traci said...

I loved that you came to the party, Mary - you looked so pretty! I am glad that you met Rhonda - I talked to her a few times on the cruise, and she is charming.
Next conference, I will help you save so that you can be there too!


Lyn Armstrong said...

I love the blog. Yes, I was bummed that I couldn't go to the cruise, but that is okay. Next time I'll be the first on the ship with my party hat on!


Catherine Bybee said...

*banging fists on desk* I wanna play!

Thanks for posting this. It sounds like everyone had a fantastic time.

Maggie Toussaint said...

I'm forever in your debt for being called tall, slim and elfen. Enjoyed your post!


Mary Ricksen said...

Well Maggie, you are!

Roni said...

Mary, I just found this blog and I"m so sorry to be late to the party! Thank you thank you for the kind kind words. You made me blush! My favorite part of this job is when I get to meet my authors in person. Thanks for letting me come along with all of you and cruise even though I learned real fast that I do indeed get sea sick :(

Miss you guys! Thanks for the memories.


liana laverentz said...

I just found this post, too. Thank you, Mary, for the mention. It was a pleasure meeting you--so glad you came to the party. Crowds tend to overwhelm me, too, so I am glad we both persevered.

Write on!