RWA 2014 Recap… and A Gold Stowaway

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Fresh back from the 2014 RWA national conference in San Antonio, Texas… with some unexpected carry-on luggage, a few new friends, and a sleep deficit that will take me well into September to make up for. But let me back up. For those of you who are curious about all the events that take place at RWA, here were some of my highlights.

“Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing

I flew into San Antonio on Wednesday, the same day as the literacy autographing, so I may have prayed incessantly for an on-time flight and good weather. Call me a little paranoid, but after being delayed for almost four hours on my way to ACFW last year, I wasn’t feeling all that trusting of weather or airlines. But thank the Lord, the flight took off on time, landed on time with all luggage intact and present.

Enough time to check in, get lunch, pick up the books that had been overnighted to my hotel after the first shipment of books were lost, and then over to the literacy booksigning at the conference hotel!

To say it was a madhouse would be an understatement. Five hundred authors and check out lines that wrapped several times around the hallway. But, in the end, RWA raised something like $57,000 for local literacy charities.


My table at the 2014 “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing

RITA/Golden Heart Finalist Reception

On Friday afternoon, RWA held a lovely champagne reception for the RITA and Golden Heart award finalists at the Marriott Riverwalk, complete with chocolate fountain (don’t all writers love chocolate?) There we had a chance to mingle with other finalists and the RWA board, and we received our finalist certificates. I also had the chance to record a hilarious selfie video with fellow finalist Lizbeth Selvig. I’m stalking her YouTube channel, waiting for it to come out.

I really should have taken more pictures…


My fellow finalist, Elizabeth Byler Younts, and I with the gracious and charming Victoria Alexander.

RITA/Golden Heart Awards Ceremony

To say I was nervous about the ceremony was an understatement. However, the emcee, Simone Elkeles was absolutely brilliant–funny, polished, and entertaining. The fact I remember this says something, because I remember almost nothing of that night through my nerves. I didn’t even remember to have a friend snap a picture of the screen when the finalists were being announced!

And then those words that I had convinced myself I wouldn’t be hearing: “And the RITA goes to… Five Days in Skye, by Carla Laureano.”

I somehow managed to get up on stage, freezing like a deer in the headlights along the way. I vaguely remember Victoria Alexander telling me, “Well, come here and get your award!” I took it, think I hugged her, went to the podium… babbled on a bit before realizing I really needed to read my speech because my brain wasn’t working clearly enough to remember what I wanted to say… managed to get off stage without falling down the stairs in four inch heels, and then had my picture taken by the conference photographer.

I then endeavored to get lost on the way back to my table, thanks to a combination of nerves, brain deadness, and being half-blind from the stage lights. When I finally collapsed back into my seat, I think there might have been hugs from my friends. There were definitely congratulatory text messages and tweets on my phone (thanks, everyone for the Twitter party!). Fortunately, my nerves had worn off by the time they got to the second category in which I was nominated, and while neither Elizabeth nor I won won that one, I console myself that NORA ROBERTS ANNOUNCED OUR CATEGORY and therefore kindasorta knows who we are. (Yes, I’m a fan. No, I didn’t meet her. Boo.)

I still wasn’t thinking all that clearly, so I didn’t get many pictures, but here’s one that a friend managed to snap…


Me with my RITA award, photo courtesy of Seekerville.

Don’t you love the lovely red-eye effect? That’s the problem with having cat’s eyes… even the red eye tool on my photo editor doesn’t get rid of it completely…

And what the beautiful lady looked like on my hotel desk…


Like they always say at the Oscars, this lovely lady is HEAVY!

And her current place of honor on the table that holds all my author copies and mailing supplies. I think this perfectly sums up my life: a “major award” wedged between my file sorter and the lamp I swiped from my son’s room, for which I never managed to find a more appropriate shade.


Reading back this blog post, I think I still might be stunned. But let me sign off with this: I’m grateful for the huge honor of winning this award–for my debut novel, no less–but even more grateful for the opportunity to be nominated alongside my lovely, talented, and equally deserving friend, Elizabeth Byler Younts. And if you’re looking for some summer reading, may I make a pair of recommendations? :)

Five Days in Skye Cover

Promise to Return


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  1. Thanks for sharing your experience. It was such a great story. Congratulations!

    • Thanks, Sandy!

  2. So proud of you and Elizabeth! Glad you had an amazing time :) You looked lovely.

    • Awww, thanks Laurie! Wish you’d been there!

  3. You’re amazing, my bright shining friend. So blessed by our friendship. There isn’t anyone else I would’ve wanted to have this experience with!

    • Thank you, Elizabeth! I’m so honored to have been nominated alongside you. :)

  4. Well deserved. I’m thrilled for you, sweet friend!! I can hear God cheering, too.

    • Thank you, Paula! Can you believe it was only two years(ish) ago that we chatted on the balcony at CCWC? Love you!

  5. How exciting for you, Carla! Mighty nice trophy too!. You deserve the recognition and applause!

    • Thank you Lisa!

  6. Congratulations, Carla! Sweet trophy for a sweet writer!

    • Awww, aren’t YOU sweet? :) I keep doing walk-bys of my office just to make sure I didn’t imagine it all!

  7. Congratulations on your award, Carla. I bought Five Days in Skye shortly before going to Scotland for an all-woman tour of castles and gardens with author Liz Curtis Higgs. Though I had intended to read it before the trip, time got away from me, and I read it after returning home. I loved the way you told the story, but it was even more special to me because I had just been to the Isle of Skye! What fun to say, hey, I was just there where they are! Our group stays in touch so I recommended your book, and many of the other women have read it and enjoyed it, too, Just wanted to thank you! Looking forward to your next book!

    • Thank you, Barbara! I’m so pleased you enjoyed the book, and also that it brought back great memories of the trip. I’m hoping to go back soon myself. (And thanks for recommending it to others–that warms an author’s heart. :) )

  8. Congratulations, Carla! Great fun to read about your experience. After I read your post at Seekerville, I downloaded your book. Now I need to move it to the top of the ‘to read’ stack. May this be the first of many.

    Nancy C

  9. Thank you so much, Nancy! I certainly hope you enjoy it! (And Seekerville was great fun…)

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