My apologies if you aren't a romance writer or still feel mopey because you weren't able to attend the Romance Writers of America National Conference in New York City this year. You can always go next year and use some of these tips!

Even people at National don't get as excited about raffles as I do
I've been known to be a bit... enthusiastic about winning raffles. When I hear my name or number called, I know I'm going to burn about 500 calories. We're talking a celebration worthy of a Prize Is Right run, people. So there I was, all jittery as I stared at my ticket numbers during the YARWA event, where they had so many prizes I knew I just had to win something.

I swear, they called about a bazillion numbers. My seatmates were watching me carefully. Cecily, a gal I just met at National, won some Jennifer Echols novels, which made me envious. Then Michelle Rowen won a fantabulous loot bag. Roberta, another TRW chapter mate, won something, too!

Things weren't looking good for me. I overheard Maureen McGowan tell her agent to keep his eye on me. I thought it might have been about how awesome my latest manuscript was, but she was warning him about the Bonnie Win Dance.

I watched, heart racing, as others picked up really cool prizes such as autographed books, t-shirts, gift cards... even "big girl rejection" panties. Numbers were called. Small shouts of joy and mild whoops echoed in the lounge. Some numbers had to be redrawn because people had left.

But I was there, waiting.

Then something wondrous happened. The prize offerings moved on to author critiques, and Leah Hultenschmidt, Senior Editor at Sourcebooks, leaned over and handed me her tickets. Michelle did too!

It was like playing bingo with too many cards. My eyes scanned the numbers as quickly as I could while it seemed that they were being called out more quickly than before. (They were, actually, the board wanted to expedite things.)

Then one of Leah's numbers came up!

I squealed. I whooped. I shot up out of my seat and did the best Bonnie Win Dance I could do despite my sore feet. Unfortunately most of the agents and editors had snuck out of the room so they couldn't witness it. (I made sure to track down Leah and thank her the next day.) But everyone there knew I won -- and was excited about winning a prize!

Now back to my fantabulous win. I didn't win just any critique -- I won a critique from Eileen Cook! WHOO HOOO! So excited!

Amazingly enough, I met some more people after that.

And there I was, thinking it had been a brilliant night before the raffle draws started! Many thanks to the YARWA board, the awesome people who donated prizes, my chapter mates who brought along their agents and editors, and everyone I met and have yet to meet!

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