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Fun for Me and You

Feb
3

I picked up my first Harlequin Romance when I was 12, and I decided right then and there that I was going to be a romance writer when I grew up. Oddly enough, that actually happened, and I even write those romance novels for Harlequin. The best part of being a romance writer is getting to be a romance writer. It’s really fun when you see a book in the store and your name is on it. It’s lovely when people read your books and tell you that they like them and sometimes even that your books meant something to them or helped them in some way. It’s cool just telling people you’re a romance writer because you get all kinds of interesting reactions. I’ve also made a lot of wonderful friends who are romance writers. Each summer, the writers’ organization, Romance Writers of America, throws a huge conference (in a different city every year), and all the writers get together and sit in the hotel bars all day talking and drinking. I mean, we go to workshops and study our craft. Every year during the conference, Harlequin throws the best party ever for its authors. They hold the parties in neat places, like the Starlight Ballroom at the top of the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City or the Women’s Museum in Dallas. It was at an aquarium one year (what city was that?). Another time in Dallas they rented out Nieman Marcus. In Reno, it was in a casino. Wine and champagne flow along with chocolate fountains. And there’s always a band and lots of dancing. Lots of women dancing with women because, let me tell you, there are very few men at Harlequin parties. All the Harlequin authors dress up, eat some chocolate, drink some (a lot of) wine, and dance till midnight.


This romance writer gig, it is such a tough job.

I started out in romance as a fan, and I’m still a fan, so another great thing about being a romance writer is getting to see all the big-name famous romance writers at the conferences. Not that I’m a stalker or anything. OKAY, I AM.

I didn’t get to go to the RWA conference this past summer. (I was busy being a farmer.) I was going through some old pictures yesterday and feeling sad about missing all the fun last year–and I’m not sure I can go this year, either. So, here is a trip down memory lane in my life as a stalker, I mean, fangirl.

Here is Nora Roberts (The! Nora! Roberts!) dancing at the Harlequin party in Dallas in 2007. (Between the lady in the white and the lady in the black–see the woman with the short red hair and you can see a bit of her green dress? That’s Nora.)
noradancing0710
If you don’t know who The Nora is– Was your trip from your faraway home planet nice? I know not everyone who visits here is a romance reader, though, so I’ll be gentle. Nora Roberts is…a publishing phenom. To say the least. A superstar. She’s had, like, 150 books on the NYT Bestsellers list. She’s also a real person. Stalking her is the highlight of every RWA conference for me. I DID NOT SAY THAT.

Here, Nora’s getting her groove on at the Harlequin party in Atlanta in 2006. (Nora is pictured center, short red hair in the black dress.)
noradancing069
Nora, kicking up her heels at the Harlequin party in Reno in 2005. (Nora, center, in the dark green pantsuit. Forgive the deterioration in my photography the further back in time we go….) Do you notice a pattern here? I call this series my “Nora Dancing at the Harlequin Party” collection. I am always so close to Nora when I take these pictures because me and Nora, we are TIGHT. Like best friends.
norareno213
And then, the farthest back I could find on my computer because this was when I started using a digital camera, here is my very favorite “Nora Dancing at the Harlequin Party” photo EVER. This photo is from 2004.
noradance
Do you see that girl?!
noradance2
That girl DANCING WITH NORA?!

That’s my little princess! (Pictured here in the hotel before the party. She was eight years old.)
morgreadyparty
Here is Nora with Morgan and my mom.
momnora2
I told you we were tight. Nora is like practically part of my family.

Of course, I have other Nora! photo collections.

Nora sitting with friends at a hotel bar during the conference. (See way back there in the back of the photo, the table of women? Nora is the one seated on the left.)
noratable15
This one is from the “Nora Autographs Books” collection, again from an RWA conference.
norasigning14
Here I am, autographing books at an RWA conference.
mesigning7
Me, sitting at a table with friends at a hotel bar at an RWA conference. metablefriends8
(Kacey, middle, and Michelle, right. Want to visit more of my romance writer friends? Check out Jill. And Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I don’t actually know Susan! Elizabeth! Phillips! but I know that she reads my blog. SUSAN ELIZABETH PHILLIPS READS MY BLOG. She even commented one time. I can never wash my comments again!)

Me, dancing at the Harlequin party.
medancing5x
See how it is? Me and Nora, we are almost like twins! I have so much in common with Nora, it is FREAKING ME OUT!! And I know if Nora read my blog, it would be FREAKING HER OUT, too. (Maybe for an entirely different reason…..)

This is Nora’s limo. It’s from the “Nora Driving Away” collection.
noralimo11
Do the things I have in common with Nora never end? I have a car, too!

Oh never mind……

I bet Nora really missed me at the conference last year.

60thlogoWell, that was my fun. Now for yours! I wish I could take you all to a Harlequin party with me, but I can’t. I can, however, be sure you know about this–celebrating 60 years of pure! reading! pleasure! Harlequin is thanking readers by giving every woman in America a free book. In fact, they’re giving away 16 free books that you can download from their website. There’s plenty for everyone, so get your own then share the fun with your friends, family, and neighbors. Visit Harlequin here to get your free books!

We :heart: free stuff!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on February 3, 2009  

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  1. 2-3
    4:38
    am

    How fun is that? Even famous people are stalkers!! If only I had been that romance author I had dreams of being………I could be a stalker of Nora, drink, dance, and be merry (at least once a year), and then move to the country and be a farmer!! :hissyfit: Oh Suzanne, you make me jealous even more!! :lol:

    And thank you so much for the link to the free Harlequin’s!! I’m downloading as we speak!!

  2. 2-3
    5:35
    am

    Thank you for another fun post and a gift too!

  3. 2-3
    5:56
    am

    Ahhh well especially for you… I carried on your Nora Watch. Sadly my photos failed (I blame Michelle Willingham for getting in the way and looking to gorgeous for someone who had a small baby) but i did dance with La Nora. You know that bit in ‘Dancing Queen’ where you go ‘See that girl” and randomly point at people as you sing out of tune (or is that just me?)… well Nora and I did the whole pointing, dancing, singing at each other (honest). She was obviously missing you so I was a substitute. I also got introduced… my funky snakeskin boots and incredible dance moves obviously worked. That or the large sign I had pinned to me saying ‘OFFICIAL SUZANNE MCMINN REPRESENTATIVE’.
    I missed meeting you in SF! Keep your fingers crossed I final in the Golden Heart so I have an excuse to go to Washington.

  4. 2-3
    5:58
    am

    Oh my goodness, I am so excited. I started reading Harelquin Romance when I was in elementary school. My mom and I gobbled them up as fast as we could get our hands on them. Now I think Nora Roberts is an awesome writer. If I could afford to actually print all those free books, I would definitely download them. If I tried to read them from my computer I would have one heck of a headache! Thanks for sharing your Nora collection.

  5. 2-3
    6:06
    am

    Wow, you get cooler and cooler all the time. :o) The! Nora! Roberts!

    Just remember though, I read her occasionally. I read you DAILY.

  6. 2-3
    6:08
    am

    Suzanne, LOVE THE PICTURES! I have one just like yours–“Nora Signing Books” in Dallas, 2007. I acquired several books at that conference, and when a friend and I went scavenging for empty boxes to ship books home, I lucked onto an empty HIGH NOON carton. There were lots of those! Finally got rid of the cardboard box, which suffered some in its trip from TX to IN, but it was a neat keepsake for a while. (Is that pathetic?)

    I looked rather closely at your Dallas pictures to see if I might be somewhere at the edge of one. Like, the one in the bar, where Nora and friends are in the distance? I saw Nora in that same bar, the first night of the conference. At the time she was sitting at a table just to the right of where you stood to take your picture. Not that I noticed, or fawned all over her, or anything. I was sitting with Maddie James at the next table, and we were VERY cool.

    Just FYI, I have a couple of fangirl pictures from when SUZANNE McMINN!!!!! spoke at a Kentucky Romance Writers meeting in 2007, too.

    Okay, enough sighing… I won’t be going to this year’s conference either. Hoping for 2010. In fact, I dreamed out it last night. Weird, huh?

  7. 2-3
    6:27
    am

    That is Ruth Ryan Langan, who is a longtime close friend of Nora’s. She’s also an author.

  8. 2-3
    6:34
    am

    Oh, you just HAD to post that picture of me pregnant and dancing! Ack. :moo:

    Since you missed last year, here’s one more Nora picture (hope it will let me do html):

  9. 2-3
    6:35
    am

    Nope, it wouldn’t go. Okay, here’s the link:

    http://www.michellewillingham.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/noraparty.jpg

  10. 2-3
    6:56
    am

    How totally cool!

  11. 2-3
    7:01
    am

    Holy Carp-Susan Elizabeth Phillips reads your blog? You’re more famous than I’d imagined! I love SEP’s books! Can I come touch you? I mean, you have met and talked to Nora, you rub elbows with the likes of Susan Elizabeth Phillips!

    Thanks for making me laugh each morning!

  12. 2-3
    7:07
    am

    While it is good to have a hero,someone to admire as you do Nora,You are all that for us. As Heidi mentioned we read others occasionally,we read you daily!!

  13. 2-3
    7:27
    am

    I don’t know how I feel about those pictures of you. You’re not holding a gun, or milking a goat, or lecturing chickens… it’s just weird. I’m not sure I can handle this. Next time you should totally bring Clover with you.

  14. 2-3
    7:53
    am

    :purpleflower: Suzanne, someday I’m sure you will have your very own stalkers!! I’m so happy your blog and articles are going well. You bring joy and humor to your “blog people”. If the positive feedback on your blog is any indication, you will WIN the Bloggie award!!!!! Good luck! I guess I’m just jaded, but I’ve known a romance novelist since she was little!! LOL! Have a great day! :sun:

  15. 2-3
    7:56
    am

    :heart: P.S. Morgan looks absolutely precious!!!!!!!!!! :fairy:

  16. 2-3
    8:12
    am

    That is so cool. I wish you would be able to go this year. I could come out and tend the animals for you while you are gone!1 I have cookies! I’m sure Clover would be okay with it! I love Giant Puppies! (Um as long as when you go there’s no snow!)
    Thanks for the link to the Harlequin site. I love reading and I would like to read these books too.
    I still can’t find your books here. I’m bummed cause I want to read them!

  17. 2-3
    8:14
    am

    I started reading Harlequin romance books when I turned 12 also. Just love them! Thank you for the link to the free books!

  18. 2-3
    8:33
    am

    princess is so cute in that dress, like a real fairy princess.
    some day, when I’m at the harlequin party taking secret pics of you, don’t-freak-out!

  19. 2-3
    8:48
    am

    I thought I was your best friend ever!!! DANGIT!!! LOL Princess is just always been a cutie hasnt she? I LOVE the dress she is wearing there. I hope you win the blog contest, cuz I voted for you and not someone else!! You KNOW what I mean.. wink wink… LOL Hey, if you get a chance – stop over to my blog. I have a baby calf being born on it….

  20. 2-3
    8:48
    am

    Wow – I had a great time this morning at your parties! I’m more of a SciFi, vampire, mystery reader but I have devoured some of Nora Roberts’ books, especially the recent Hollow series. I WANT to read Suzanne! But my county library system does not have any, although I keep requesting them. I’ll find you one of these days, though.

    Princess was an adorable and – apparently – very poised 8-year old. It’s obvious that she was very comfortable in those surroundings. :purpleflower:

  21. 2-3
    9:27
    am

    NORA ROBERTS IS GREAT. I HAVE READ OVER 40 OF HER BOOKS AND LIKE HER STYLE OF WRITING. YOU KEEP GOOD COMPANY.
    I READ YOU EVERY MORNING. AND DO I ENJOY YOUR COUNTRY LIVING.

  22. 2-3
    9:56
    am

    You crack me up! I love reading your blog. Thank you Jill Shalvis for pointing the way here. I like Nora Roberts but she is not on my reread list. I am halfway through her Tribute book right now.
    And like the other gals here, I read your blog daily!! Love your writing! Love Princess! Love Coco! Love love love Big PUppy!.

    Uh, does this make me a cyber stalker??? lol :happyflower:

  23. 2-3
    10:09
    am

    LOL, yes, your ever present Nora stalking at the conferences. Such fun! :wave:

    Hey, there is cute Michelle dancing in her preggo state. I never looked that cute pregnant!

    Thanks for the headsup on the Harlequin free downloads!

  24. 2-3
    10:48
    am

    love the vehicle photos!! And I bet Nora R. doesn’t have a goat.

  25. 2-3
    12:00
    pm

    I TOO love Nora Roberts!! Thanks for sharing your pics – you and your daughter look lovely! I got to meet Nora Roberts in 02 at a signed she did for The Villa – she was fun to chat with and had a great sense of humor!! :snoopy:

  26. 2-3
    12:56
    pm

    I was your age when I began read Harliquen romance novels. And, Nora Roberts is one of my favorite authors! And, now so are you!Princess truly is a Princess in that little white gown! :butterfly:

  27. 2-3
    1:10
    pm

    Okay, Suzanne, that’s about a gadzillion mentions of NORA, who probably doesn’t read your blog while she’s eating lunch, and ONE mention of me, who does. I’m just sayin’….

  28. 2-3
    1:12
    pm

    SEP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    But I don’t have any pictures of you dancing. :dancingmonster:

  29. 2-3
    2:17
    pm

    LOL!! SEP, better watch out! You might become Suzanne’s next target if you happen to be dancing. ;)

  30. 2-3
    2:27
    pm

    Holy Cow! Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jill Shalvis read Suzanne McMinn’s blog just like I do!! This is probably as close as I will ever get to meeting any of you in person. :cry:

    Morgan looks just like a princess in those photos!

  31. 2-3
    3:15
    pm

    Princess got to dance with Nora!!!!!!

  32. 2-3
    3:37
    pm

    It’s official, you are way more fun that I am!

  33. 2-3
    4:25
    pm

    Exactly what Susan said!!!!

    (I’ve got to be the only person never to have read the Nora hahaha – I do have a bunch of her books in my TBR pile but really writing all those books has kept me from starting because from what I’ve heard – you can’t read just one – and I like to read in order too lol). But I HAVE read SEP and Suzanne McMinn and loved their books ;)

  34. 2-3
    5:13
    pm

    Ah, the Nora pics. I remember those fondly. I’m still in complete awe of her, lol. I once did a signing right next to her and never once had the nerve to so much as open my mouth. I think it was the 2004 conference you have pictured here! And as for SEP, sigh. I could go to a desert island with any of her books and any of Nora’s and never need another thing.

  35. 2-3
    6:57
    pm

    That was interesting and amusing and fun!! :snoopy: I enjoyed all the pictures and the commentary!

  36. 2-3
    7:10
    pm

    Hi. This is my first time reading your blog. I found you through CandidCarrie and was drawn by the name of your blog. (“Chickens in the Road” is a long-standing joke between a friend and I.)

    Anyway, I really enjoyed reading your blog. Love your style and sense of humor.

    When you asked if we were beginning to sense a theme, *I* thought it was the fact that Nora! wears a lot of green, lol.

    I’m a teacher but SO want to write. It’s what I want to do when I really grow up. Good for you for doing it!

  37. 2-3
    9:51
    pm

    I love your site. I looked at all the other sites you are in competition with over at the Bloggies. I think you have them beat. Good luck. I appreciate all your hard work that goes into keeping your blog up.

  38. 2-3
    10:58
    pm

    I will never be able to pick up a Nora Roberts book again with out thinking of her stalker – oh I mean fan!!!
    I’m glad to have stumbled across your blog – I now need to spend some time in your archives!
    Cheers

  39. 2-7
    10:37
    am

    I’ve thought about being a romance writer (I was an early romance fan as well) but as it turns out, I’m not a very romantic person. This was a great post. Very funny!

  40. 9-12
    4:55
    pm

    Suzanne you are awsome!

  41. 9-16
    9:22
    pm

    I love reading Nora Roberts! Oddly enough I stumbled upon your blog looking for a recipe, but after reading most of it I know I have to go pick up some of your books too! I love your style!

  42. 11-25
    7:20
    pm

    Ok, I have to say that this had me giggling, and then chuckling and then all-out laughing, because I’m pretty sure I’d be a Nora-Stalker, I mean friend too! I can totally relate!
    Thanks for being awesome! Like Nora!

  43. 12-23
    4:34
    pm

    I found your blog through SAM-E and I am stumbled on this post. I am more starstruck by SEP than Nora Roberts…honestly. I love her. I love her humor. I love her football players. Bobby Tom Denton, what what!

    You are the coolest, for the mere fact that SEP reads your blog.

  44. 12-23
    4:35
    pm

    Gah. I* stumbled on this post. Not I am stumbled.

  45. 1-26
    1:23
    pm

    I’m actually rereading a couple of nora roberts books now (vision in white and bed of roses) now all I have to do is get the last two in the series and I’ll be good to go :).

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