Monday, February 11, 2013

Oh What a Day!!! Valentine's Day Celebrations with Romance Writers of America

Food? Inspiration? Celebration? Laughter and tears? Fantastic view? Food?

Did we have all that? You betcha – and much, much more.

Every February the Vancouver Island Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, to which I belong, hosts a celebratory lunch for its members to celebrate writing-related accomplishments and achievements from the previous year. Rightly deemed the annual 'Valentine’s Lunch,' an apropos time for romance writers, the day is one of inspiration and celebration – and food.

And this year's event was, of course, a success for all.

Awards recognizing writing achievements of all kinds were handed out, whether it was for first steps made towards publication in romance fiction; whether it was for further stepping stones made on the journey towards publication; whether it was a feather (in one’s cap) handed out for publication milestones; or whether was receiving recognition for volunteer work throughout the year in the chapter won by Lee McKenzie – all were handed out with support, applause and pats-on-the-back. There was a lot to celebrate, and we eventually ran behind schedule. But that was okay.

The drum roll vibrated on the windows of the restaurant we were in as winners from the in-house contest were announced. Members were previously invited to submit their writing for judging, critique and finalist placement in various categories. Awards, trophies and high-fives abounded as results were revealed.

Goal setting, especially for writers, is a big part of achieving what you want. An annual event at the lunch is a goals exercise organized by fellow member, Susan Lyons, in which members are invited to write down goals for the coming year. But it had me ignoring everyone as I busily scribbled down my own writing goals for the coming year. I had to be tapped on the shoulder to pay attention when my own Stepping Stone Award was handed out, an award achieved by setting and fulfilling my goals set the previous year - stepping stones towards greater writing aspirations.

This year’s venue, the Vista 18 restaurant on the 18th floor of the Chateau Victoria Hotel, lived up to its renowned spectacular view. A 360-view of Victoria sometimes interrupted our never-ending conversation, but not for long. As celebrations continued, we forgot to look outside, which is pretty silly given the view, but when you’re surrounded by fabulous, inspiring, supportive writers, well....I guess it’s pretty easy to forget where you are.

Then there was our fabulous keynote speaker, Jennifer McKenzie, who recounted her own journey to publication which resulted in her first novel published by Harlequin Superromance in January 2012 titled, ‘That Weekend...’ Her humour-filled, down-to-earth inspiring speech had most of us eager to ditch the event and race home to write.

But we weren’t that silly.

There was food to be had.

And who can ditch that?

Soup, spinach salad, beef, salmon or tortellini – we all were stuffed beyond our Spanx. Me, I had the tortellini, and I fought to lick the plate when I was done.

Then there was dessert, which is always a highlight for me, no matter where I am.

White chocolate latte mousse.

Let’s just say I thought I had died and gone to heaven, which I was pretty close to being in, anyways, given how high up we were on the 18th floor. And I know folks looking down on me from heaven were pretty impressed with my high level of self control. I didn’t tackle serving staff as they walked by with half-eaten dessert dishes from other members, demanding they give me the leftovers. Waste not, want not, and all that. But I was aghast – who could NOT finish THAT? Rest assured, however, the gluttonous, sweet-toothed dessert-freak I am maintained a sense of decorum - I licked only MY dessert bowl clean.

Oh, and maybe my neighbours’.

At the end of the day everyone left inspired, a little tipsy (not me), high on sugar (definitely me), and eager to head home and write.

Food? Inspiration? Celebration? Laughter and tears? Fantastic view? Food?

Yup – we sure had all that - and much, much more.


  1. It was a great day! Congratulations again on your Stepping Stone--and for achieving all those goals you laid out for yourself, and setting so many more! You go girl!

    1. It was a great day chatting with you! Thank you for your kind words!

  2. Such a fabulous lunch! May we all achieve our goals for next year!


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  4. Congratulations for achieving your goals, for the phenomenal number of page views (17,622) and for fine taste in deserts.