Another Conference Is in the Books | RWA 2016


Author Beverly Jenkins

Thursday’s luncheon speaker at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) annual meeting was Beverly Jenkins, an author of more than 30 novels whose focus is 19th-century African American life. As diversity was a major topic of conversation at this year’s get-together, Jenkins did her part, relating the history of African American storytelling, from slave narratives in 1760 to poems and Pauline Hopkins’s works in 1900 to Sandra Kitt, who in 1984 became the first black woman to write for Harlequin. “If anyone says black romance has no history, you know better,” Jenkins said. Jenkins has been with Avon for 23 years.


One program that might have legs for future conferences was the Avon 75th Anniversary Trivia Happy Hour, held on Friday, July 15, at 6 p.m. Animated fans and authors in teams of ten tried to outdo one another in Avon-ness. Questions were read by Pam Jaffee, senior director, publicity and brand development for Avon Books and Harper Voyager, with verification and tie-breaking duties falling to various Avon staffers. Our table, Fabio’s Floozies (team names were also vying for prize distinction—Hit Me with Your Best Scot was the winner), were aided immensely by the presence of author Gayle Callen (also writing as Emma Cane)—who really knows her stuff—in addition to RWA 2015 Librarian of the Year Lisa Schimmer and Long Island librarian Francine Cassano. We didn’t win, but we had a great time.


Author Alyssa Cole


Authors (l.-r.) Olivia Waite & Rose Lerner












And what might have been the best program ever was the Hamilton Sing-along on Saturday, July 16, 2–4:30. OMG-squared. It was truly amazing. Set in motion by authors Alyssa Cole, Rose Lerner, and Courtney Milan, who obviously are huge fans of the Broadway and possibly universe-rattling phenomenon written by Lin-Manuel Miranda based on the book by Ron Chernow, the event featured attendees singing/hip-hopping/mouthing along to the show’s cast album. Had more than five of those people even seen the show live (including the tour)? They were just avid fans and enthusiasts who let it all hang out. They certainly were not throwing away their shot!

oliviacardBest business card that librarians will love belongs to author Olivia Waite.

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox ( is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"


  1. Gayle Callen says:

    Bette-Lee, what a great review of the conference. Thanks for the mention–but you didn’t give yourself enough credit. You had a lot of those Avon answers, too!