I am back! With swollen feet and an equally bloated credit card bill. But I loved New York. I’ll be posting pictures over on my Facebook page along with other random thoughts here later, but here are a few thoughts as I looked back at the Romance Writers of America National conference, 2011:
- the literacy signing on Tuesday night went wonderfully — I’d been worried that I’d end up sitting at a table twiddling my thumbs while the throngs passed by. I didn’t! There was always someone coming up to say hi. My pile of print copies of Personal Protection slowly dwindled, as did some of my postcards of my other books. AND Samhain had given me cards to hand out good for a $5.50 download from the Samhain site — they’d been handed out before the signing was over. I sat right across the aisle from Jennie Crusie, and a few seats down from her was the lovely Victoria Dahl who I had intended to stalk so I could introduce myself to her. My brain is dead now, but I did something that evening that had Victoria laughing and I did manage to get my picture taken with her. By the way, the event raised over $46,000 to go towards funding an adult literacy programs run by ProLiteracy Worldwide and their local NYC partner, ACE New York.
I’ll do a separate post on this event — with lots of pictures.
- I met fellow Samhain author Nikki Duncan who introduced me to Candy Havens (who taught the FastDraft course that has helped me stay focused on my writing as a career). (Long time readers of the blog may remember I’ve hosted both of them on my blog in the past.)
This is Candy and me at Harlequin’s Black and White ball at the Waldorf Astoria
Nikki and Candy invited me to join them for dinner at a lovely restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen. (OMG Tramonti’s on 46th Street had the BEST ravioli I’ve ever had! Thin light pasta, creamy ricotta stuffing. Perfect!) And to add to the great food was the company — Adrienne Giordano who is also a Carina author, Heather (HV) Long who sat at the far end of our group of 15 so we only got to finally talk as I was preparing to leave, and Margie Lawson! There were fifteen authors there, and I apologize to those I haven’t mentioned. I enjoyed your company, but I really am terrible with names.
- I ♥ Margie Lawson — I have taken three of Margie’s courses, as well as attending one she taught in person for the Toronto Romance Writers. I still pull out my notes and use them when editing. Margie is a ray of sunshine so I was pleased to run into her the following day and poke through the Goody Room with her. When Margie mentioned she needed chocolate I dug into my purse and supplied her with some special Laura Secord chocolates I’d brought with me to hand to special friends. *grin* Do I know how to win friends and influence people or what?
- Another special moment was the Harlequin Ball in the Waldorf Astoria — this deserves a post of its own, there were so many fantastic moments — like sitting at a table, surrounded by big name authors who I have put on my “I want to be like them when I grow up” pedestal, I had this “OMG what am I doing here? This is an invitation only event. For Harlequin authors!” moment, then realizing I was now a Harlequin author and I’d been invited too. For the rest of the night I fought this strange mix of “I belong” and “I so do not deserve to be here”.
- getting to say “thank you” to Jane Porter — I’d met Jane in person at my very first conference in Dallas in 2007. At that point I’d only just decided to try to take my writing to the next step and start submitting it. My critique partner Sue and I sat in on a workshop on writing the alpha hero and heroine that Jane was presenting (brilliantly, I might add, I still call on it when writing my books). Later we saw Jane in the lobby and she was kind and gracious and sat down and joined us for coffee. I hadn’t read any of Jane’s work at that point so I made a point of going out and buying some of her books and was hooked. You may remember that I put her “She’s Gone Country” on my “Favorite Reads of 2010” post last year. So when I saw Jane in her glittering gown sitting at a table beside me, I made sure I went over and thanked her for taking the time out to talk to me when I was a complete newbie. Once again she was all that was gracious and that memory has definitely gone into my “favorite moments of RWA2011” pile.
- dancing in the Starlight Roof room at the Waldorf Astoria. Yes, that’s right, I danced! I haven’t danced since 1976. Seriously!
- Jill Shalvis – like Junior’s cheesecake, need I say more? Well, yes, I do! Because Jill won the RITA on Friday night for her absolutely wonderful Simply Irresistible! I adore Jill’s writing — she’s another author whom I study (after about the fourth reading because she sucks me into the story with her brilliant writing that I forget that I’d intended to study her writing style.) I had hoped to meet her during the conference and I finally managed to meet her at a publisher’s signing on Friday morning. Her table was empty of books by the time I found her, but Jill reached beneath the table and pulled out a book she’d saved and signed it for me. Squee! (Come back later in the week as I plan on giving away a copy of her Animal Magnetism — no, not the autographed one, that’s mine. And I will hug it and pet it and call it George…)
(the Canadian “duct tape” flag is a gift from Vivian Arend as it was Canada Day)
- I loved meeting people I’ve only read about or followed on their blogs or through twitter or various loops. Lauren Dane, Beth Kery (who gave me really good advice about my swollen feet–more on that later), Kate Rothwell, Vivi Andrews, Shelli Stevens, Jennifer Spiller, Arianna Skye aka Sidney Ayers (who won a Booksellers Best Award during the conference), Keri Stevens, Taryn Kincaid, Leslie Kelly‘s husband Bruce who writes the Secrets of a Romance Writers’ Husband blog (though I’m bummed I never got to meet Leslie), Pearl from Pearl’s World of Romance, Joy from Joyfully Reviewed, Wendy Crutcher — RWA’s Librarian of the Year, aka Wendy the Super Librarian with her The Misadventures of Super Librarian blog…akk, there are so many people that I want to mention but my brain is dead. And there are so many I met only in passing though I’d wanted to spend time to talk to each and everyone of them and I’m bummed that I didn’t get time to speak with them more (looking at you Cheryl Brooks and Lauren Dane.) Then there were the hidden gems — fascinating people, some pubbed but also some who are not but they’re on the right track. I’ll be looking for them now, on the bookshelves or future conferences.
- Like at Lori Foster’s, I couldn’t believe the number of people I met from Canada! I finally hooked up with Vivian Arend, but I also met fellow Carina authors Julie Rowe, and Vanessa Kelly and her husband Randy (who makes up the other half of VK Sykes), Kelly Boyce. I also met fellow Samhain and Harlequin author Donna Alward, along with fellow TRW members: Crystal Rider, Michelle Rowen, |RITA nominated Eve Silver, and our PRO liaison Bonnie Staring who shared tips on surviving the elevators…more on that later. (a PRO liaison works with the members who are seeking their first contract, or may have even been published but haven’t met the RWA’s Published Author’s (the next step in the ladder) requirements).
- And I met Lynsay Sands – another Canadian author whom I’ve been reading and wanting to meet for years who is also on my “I want to write like her” list. (Lynsay has a wonderful mix of drama and humor that I adore and I own every one of her Argeneau books, including several copies of some as I forget that I’ve pre-ordered them and then pick them up at the bookstore the day they come out. That says a lot because I normally don’t like vampire stories but Lynsay sells it!)
- Last but not least I have to mention how glad I am that Gizmo Guy was there with me. He’d get up long before me every morning and head downstairs to buy bagels and fruit from the street vendors and bringing them back to the room to set up breakfast before waking me up. Whenever I had to take the elevators from the 18th floor (and he was with me) he’d position himself in front of me so when the doors opened, I wouldn’t be faced with the blank glass wall and 18 floor drop. He kept me grounded when surrounded by all the other people waiting for an elevator and panic started to set in.
Other things I discovered:
- This one I knew already — I do not like glass elevators, the Marriott was no exception. I am not a fan of heights, so being forced to use glass elevators made every trip on the Marriott’s elevators an exercise in endurance. It didn’t help that right before the literacy signing on Tuesday night, GG and I got stuck in one. Can you say “PANIC ATTACK”? I also discovered that I can handle the glass elevators if there’s only me and a couple other people in them, especially if I could place my hand flat on the front panel. But surround me with people and claustrophobia also kicked in. (That was a first. But it may be because the elevator that we got stuck in was packed — which was probably why we got stuck.) So yeah, I spent a lot of my day planning how to NOT have to take an elevator. Which meant that I spent a lot more time taking the escalators between the first and eighth floors while avoiding going to my room up on the 18th floor. Or visiting people on the higher floors when invited.
- sore feet stop a lot of plans– they’re still sore and swollen. GG and I walk a fair amount but this is the first time my feet have swollen on me. To the point where I can’t feel the middle three toes on my left foot. I wore sensible shoes when I was exploring the city, I even wore sensible shoes in the hotel. They (and my body) failed me. I plan to spend the next few days with my feet up. Thanks to Beth Kery and a few other people who recommended I soak them in a bath of hot water followed by cold. It does work, temporarily. But of course the next day I was back up and on my feet and the cycle began all over again.
- I have become a shoe junkie and even took pictures of people’s shoes in addition to, and sometimes instead of, their faces.
- 500 authors and their fans at the literacy signing make a LOT of noise. The constant hum/buzz of conversation was nearly deafening. I may make a mental note to take a pair of ear plugs next time. But of course I’d have to take them out to talk to people.
- the noise level at the Harlequin ball also claimed some of my hearing…but OMG it was fun!
- internet at the hotel cost nearly $20 a day by the time they added in taxes. I splurged for a couple days then didn’t sign on again, hence my quietness here.
- Putting workshop notes on a flash drive instead of handing them out saves paper, and is a good idea, except when the recipient doesn’t have a computer that takes flash drives. Yeah, I only took my iPad (that doesn’t have any USB slots) so the “book” with all the workshop handouts the RWA handed out wasn’t useful until I got home, and by then it was too late.
- Once you’re a pubbed author, you don’t get a lot of chances to attend the workshops. My days were filled with meetings my editors, my publishers, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, cocktail parties, balls, and hookups at the bar. It was a sacrifice but I’ll manage 😉 Especially since I purchased the CDs of all the recorded sessions.
- I brought Canadian chocolate to hand out — somehow I kept forgetting about it and I ended up bringing a big Aero bar and a Coffee Crisp bar, along with a small box of Laura Secord chocolates home with me. That wasn’t supposed to have happened. Guitar Hero gave me a great big hug when I handed it to him, but still, it was meant for my US/International friends. :/
- No matter how comfortable the hotel bed is, I always sleep better in my own bed in my own home. But I wish I could get maid service here 😉