RWA National – Kick-off!

Wednesday, 7 am. Registration for RWA National.  Volunteers distributed badges, nametags, ribbons, schedules, and books!  Along with 5 paperbacks and a hardcover, we received a flash drive from Harlequin that holds conference handouts, a 14-page pdf file of Harlequin covers from 1949-2009, and 3 more complete books.  Cool!  At registration, I saw some old friends and met a few new fellow writers.  Some will sightsee today.  Some will be busy with board matters or other events.  Today is Librarians’ Day and the Chapter Leadership Event.

After a pleasant breakfast at the Stone’s Throw Washington DC 2009 RWA 079 Restaurant in the Marriott, my husband and I left for the Metro and more touring.  Out the back service door, down the hill, then across 24th Street and we were at the entrance.  We bought our fare cards and were carried down, and down, and down the escalators.  Mind the GapThe last time I rode the subway (aka/underground or tube) was in London a few years ago.  While Washington’s system is just as efficient, I sorta missed the sultry British voice reminding me to “Mind the Gap” as I stepped aboard.

The Library of Congress was our first destination.  Washington DC 2009 RWA 054My goal was some genealogy research and learning how the system works.  Before accessing books, I had to register for a Reader Card in the Madison Building of the Library, then walk back through the tunnel to the Jefferson Building.  Interesting.  The Jefferson Building is gorgeous, inside and out.  The intricate paintings and carvings on the ceilings are awe-inspiring.

Early afternoon we hopped back on the Metro for a quick ride to the “Federal Triangle” and a visit to the National Museum of American History.  The exhibit honoring the First Ladies held a special appeal, from Mary Todd Lincolns’ tiny waisted gown worn in 1861 to Jacqueline Kennedy’s classic pale sheath a hundred years later.  So much to see in Washington, D.C.!

When we returned to the hotel it seemed it had made a shift from teachers to writers.  A quick change and I was downstairs for the “Readers for Life Literacy Autographing.” Five hundred romance authors lined up at tables to sign, and at least triple that number looking to meet their favorites make a lasting impression.  Washington DC 2009 RWA 084

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Terri Brisbin talks with fan at the Literacy Booksigning.

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Beth Ciotta shows off EVIE EVER AFTER at RWA's Literacy Booksigning.

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Carla Cassidy signs LAST GASP.

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Where to begin?  

RWA National – KOD Tour

My husband and I arrived in Washington, D.C. Monday. We have a grand view from our hotel room window – Washington DC 2009 RWA 009the National Cathedral is stunning at sunset!  We hope to visit it sometime before returning home.

Our first action as tourists (other than prerequisite checking in…tipping the very helpful bellman… unpacking) was a stroll up to the National Zoo.  From the conference hotel, it is a 3 to 4 block walk to the zoo’s entrance.  The pandas all seemed to be eating, or sleeping.   A new elephant habitat is under construction.  Good seeing how huge and natural looking it will be.  Although there’s a cost for parking, like many other national sites in D.C. the zoo itself is free to visitors.  Quite pleasant for strolling.

Tuesday, 8 am. Kiss of Death met in the lobby for the annual pre-conference tour.  I enjoyed saying “Hi!” to fellow WisRWA member, Laura Iding.  Also met other KOD members I knew mainly by name from the loop.   We boarded.  On our way to the first stop, our driver treated us to a drive-by tour of some of Washington’s many memorials.

At the U. S. Department of State, we were greeted with courtesy and security then ushered into the Loy Henderson Auditorium.   Washington DC 2009 RWA 029The next three hours we learned about diplomats, foreign service, and counter-terroism.   Director of the Foreign Press Center, Gordon Duguid, gave a great Overview of the Department Mission and Function.  Michelle Bernier-Toth, Director of Overseas Citizen Services and Crisis Management presented a lively discussion about Overseas Citizen Servies.   The Deputy Coordinator for Programs and Policy, Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, concluded with a terrific talk on U.S. Counterterroism Efforts.   They all highlighted the morning with lively anecdotes while answering many of KOD’s authors’ questions.

We drove south to the National Abortoreum to enjoy a brief box lunch and a little more chatting with fellow writers under the shade in a serene setting.

The United States Postal Inspection Service was our afternoon destination.  USPIS We were met at the door and ushered in like honored guests.  A team of at least twelve Postal Inspectors greeted us with agendas, personalized name tags, and cold drinks.  An enthusiastic introduction was followed by a dynamic presentation by the Team Leader on the Anthrax Investigation.  After catching our breath, our large group was broken up into groups of 12 or so and rotated through five breakout sessions on topics that included Mail Fraud, Mail Theft, and Child Exploitation, among others.  I was awed not only by the Inspectors’ excitement in their jobs, but also the breadth of their knowledge.   They seemed genuinely excited to share their passion with us.  Lots of heroes in that group! 🙂

For a few years I’ve heard about the superb quality of the Kiss of Death Pre-Conference tours but have never been able to attend one.  Today I experienced this tour first hand.  The word “Wow!” falls short.  Thanks to the U.S. State Department and to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  Finally, my sincere appreciation to the organizers of this year’s event – Nina Bruhns and Debbi Ward.   Thank you, ladies!