#RWA14 Conference for Introverts
(Originally published in my RWA chapter newsletter)
I attended the RWA National Conference this year for the first time. Anyone who has friended me on Facebook or follows me on Twitter probably knew what I was up to than anyone I saw in person.
I took a cab from the airport, showered, and flopped on my bed at the beautiful Menger Hotel. My view was…. Uh… well, that’s an historic brick wall, right? But the lobby is GORGEOUS. There are supposed to be ghosts. Are those assigned at check-in?
I had a room to myself for about the same price as sharing an official conference hotel room. This is both good and bad, as Massively Introverted Me could escape when I needed to and yet it meant I wasn’t included in any impromptu gatherings. It also limited my SQUEEing over authors or cornering editors I would otherwise have just happened to ride in the elevator with. It meant tromping through the mall and then outdoors, which was creepy at night and HOT during the day. Turn right at the Disney store.
Outfit: Black and grey striped maxi skirt and black lacy top.
I went to sign in, get my first bag of free books, and stand in the massive line for the massive book signing. Massive crowd. Massive trying to not actually SQUEEEEEEE out loud at all these authors. I got lots of pictures. OH MY GOODNESS! THAT’S [insert any of 500+ authors’ names here]! I spent *mumble* dollars on signed books, with profits to literacy charities. I love authors! I love books!
Dinner with some people I only knew online. Awkward, but happy, especially considering my general lousiness with matching up faces and names. Went back to my room and barely slept. New bed, weird noises, too much excitement, still jet-lagged.
Outfit: Demented Flamenco, gold strappy Birkenstocks.
I woke up with little brain function. My Facebook post: “Blrrrgrrrr? Urrrr. Cofffeeeeeeee.” Caffeine and some limited return to humanity achieved in the hotel restaurant. Two authors were having a reader breakfast. I was too shy to wander over and say Hi.
Went to five classes. Genres, Paranormal (“Paranormal is not dead. It’s the undead” – Nalini Singh), Feminism, Heroes, Advice for Self-publishing. Sylvia Day spoke at the luncheon keynote and gave us all some sexy-time books.
I dodged out for an hour and walked on the treadmill in my hotel and generally avoided people. I will probably never get to see the end of that episode of iCarly that was playing on the TV that I couldn’t turn off. Life is hard.
I tried to see Kristina Matthews at her signing, but she gave out all her books before I got there. And Melinda Curtis signed at the Indie event. SQUEEEE!
I skipped the AGM. Bad Phyllis!
Outfit change: Puffy shirt, black lace-up boots, metallic corset, elbow-length gloves. It’s the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal online chapter party! I had two beers, which is totally outlandish for me. By the end of the second one, I was falling asleep in all my Steampunk glory.
Outfit: Blue Chinese-cut shirt, black skirt, blue and black striped tights, black lace-up boots.
I skipped the general session after breakfast to do my agent pitch. My book is too short, that’s a non-mainstream time period and setting, wouldn’t you like to make it erotic? But send us a partial.
Twitter class: It’s ephemeral! But can haunt you forever! Be careful what you say! No one will see it an hour from now! Follow lots of people! But not more than follow you! Don’t Spam, don’t stalk, don’t poke the trolls!
More classes: old time medicine (they all died! Of infection! And bloodletting!), marketing, and deep POV. Christie Craig brought me to tears by exhibiting the hundreds and hundreds of rejections she received before being published. She had hit the NYT Bestseller list the day before. SQUEEE!
And my editor pitch: she said she liked it, but she didn’t think it was big enough for her publishing house, probably not even the digital-first houses, wouldn’t you like to self-publish? Or make it historical fiction? (She didn’t ask if I wanted to make it erotic).
Ha ha! I’ll show them all! I went to the trade show, where a digital-first publisher asked for a full.
And… did I go to a signing that day? Berkley? They had Anna Stewart on their sign, even though she doesn’t have a book out yet. Advance publicity! And I got more pictures of me with authors. SQUEEEE! And more books!
Friday evening: No publisher party for me. I slipped back to my room. Turn right at the Disney store. Alone. Poor me. WHAT A RELIEF! Comfy clothes! Bare feet! I got room service and only had to see one other person ALL NIGHT! Too bad I had no books to read….Was awoken at about 2 AM by spirit activity. Real humans. Surfeit of spirits.
Outfit: Striped dress that’s too short to wear without tights, but I went bare-legged and wore sandals because I was DONE. I saw others in flip-flops and sneakers, so it wasn’t just me.
At the breakfast general session, Karen Rose gave a speech about why we write happy endings. It was happy.
The very best class I took: Madeline Hunter talked about motivation. Lots of things clicked inside my head concerning the book I was pitching. Lots of things. Click. Click. All that clicking. I kept clicking into a class on conflict by Sarah MacLean (“Stuff happens while two idiots fall in love.”). Spoiler alert: Sarah won the Rita that evening for historical. SQUEE!
I met Smart Bitch Sarah (Can I say “bitch” in a chapter newsletter?) SQUEEE! She mentioned that 90% of Conference takes place in the bar. I had done nothing more than walk past the bar and, not seeing anyone I knew, not stopping.
Outfit change: Retro torch singer pink satiny dress with black lace overlay. Retro pink shoes that I obsessed about for months and only just got in time. Net stockings with retro back seams. Limited success with shapewear for the bad-eating bloat.
Dinner with some SVR chapter mates. People I know!
Of course, the feature of Saturday is the Rita/Golden Heart awards ceremony. Not all my favorites won, but especially in the huge categories, I couldn’t pick just one favorite.
And then afterwards, I said goodnight and goodbye to a lot of people. I ended up complaining about high heels and tromping back to the Menger Hotel with a NYT Bestselling author who had just presented an award. She introduced herself. Me, being massively suave, shook her hand and said, “I know.” SQUEE!
Outfit: Baggy khaki shorts. Old t-shirt. Birkenstocks.
Quiet breakfast in the gorgeous Menger dining room. Checked out of hotel. Met Patricia Rickrode for sightseeing. Cut in line in front of an author I admire (SQUEE!) to take the Riverwalk boat cruise. Alamo. Acquisition of souvenirs. Dragged Patricia to see the Menger. Bus tour (I don’t recommend). Rainforest Café (not local color, especially with the Ukrainian waiter).
Then off to the airport, where my airline thought they might get me home sometime after 2 AM. Maybe. They changed me to Patricia’s flight. Poor Patricia couldn’t get rid of me. And then home a little after midnight without luggage (which took my original route and arrived after 4 AM), and CRASH to bed.
It took me a week to recover.