Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Unexpected

This year at the Romance Writers of America conference, I really had no idea what to expect except terror. I was presenting the Golden Heart to the next Single Title winner and I knew I’d either stutter, mess up her name, fall, or do something equally embarrassing. Reading aloud terrifies me. I think it’s a dyslexic thing. I have no problem reading silently, but reading out loud is the stuff nightmares are made of.

I flew into San Francisco a couple of days before the RWA conference and began trying to acclimate to the time zone. The day or two before RWA has become a bit of a mental vacation for me. It’s a time I can be by myself, have my own bathroom, and not be responsible for a blessed thing except my writing and me.

This year, I was at the tail end of my deadline and was at the point where everything in the story converged. The characters, the subplots, and the tension drew together and the manuscript seemed to write itself. The first few days of jetlag were great. I awoke at an insanely early hour, which was three hours earlier than the insanely early hour I already trained myself to awaken. I’d get up and write in my pajamas until I was sure the coffee shop in the Marriott was open. By the time I got coffee, I’d already been working for four hours. My slightly bijou hotel room contained nothing but a bathroom, a bed, and a cute little upholstered chair with a swiveling desktop the perfect size for my notebook computer. Attached to the hotel was an amazing restaurant coincidentally enough named after my heroine, Annabelle. Annabelle’s had fabulous food. After a nice nap, I’d go down for a late lunch, just me and my MacBook Air, and I’d combine my two favorite activities: eating and writing.

The staff at Annabelle’s quickly got used to me camping out at my favorite table between one in the afternoon and five. Having spent more time waiting tables than I care to admit, I was always asked if they minded, tipped well, and left before the dinner crowd arrived.

Annabelle’s and my room at the Mosser Hotel were two of the most writer friendly places I’d seen in a long time. I had discovered a writing nirvana.

In the three days I’d cocooned myself in my writer’s nirvana, I’d written about 8,000 words, and when it came time to join the fun of RWA, I never expected to wish I could just go back to my room and finish my book.

The other thing I never expected was to make new friends. I usually hang around with the same crowd, and yes, I saw them as well, but I’d run into people I knew slightly from one of my writers’ groups and after one drink, we were fast friends. They were great about dragging me along with them when I wanted to go back to my room and write. And thank God—they talked me into attending the literary signing. After about an hour, I walked through the K’s and saw Romeo, Romeo in book form for the first time! My Advance Readers Copies were stacked on the table on either side of my name. I almost fainted from shock—okay, maybe that isn’t the exact truth, I think I may have screamed.

I never expected to attend the book signing at all, and especially not as a signer! I have to thank Virginia Kantra (who is with me in the picture below) and Stacy Kayne for being so welcoming and lovely to a total newbie who by a quirk of fate was shocked and sandwiched between them.

The other unexpected thing was the fun I had with all the Casa Authors. Some of us had never met before and it took all of about 30 seconds before we were bonding. Sourcebooks, Inc. whisked us away from the hotel in limos to a beautiful restaurant where we were wined and dined. The food and booze were nice but the best part of it was the camaraderie that sprung up almost instantaneously. Now we’re not just Casa Authors, we’re more like Casa Sisters. Dominique Raccah, our publisher and CEO of Sourcebooks, Deb Werksman, our editorial manager and, Danielle Jackson, our publicist were so welcoming, we were all made to feel a part of the Sourcebooks family.

Finally, the end of the conference drew near, and as my good friend Michelle always says with her wonderful British accent, I was quite knackered.

Saturday, after the rehearsal for the Awards Ceremony, I went back to my room and my husband listened to me whine about being tired. He dressed in his best suit and helped me with all the snaps and zippers on my evening gown while I peppered him with questions like “Does this dress make me look fat?” I really wasn’t nervous which defies logic and got up in front of 2,000 people and read aloud, from a Teleprompter no less. With the exception of someone gluing the winner’s card to the envelope, presenting the Golden Heart for Best Single Title Contemporary Manuscript went well. There was no stuttering, nerves, nausea, shaking, or falling--there was only me and Susan Seyfarth on that stage, Susan making her acceptance speech, and me remembering mine and the unexpected and amazing things that have happened to me this year.

26 comments:

  1. Congrats! Sounds like this year's National was just as exciting as last year's, for entirely different reasons! Thanks for sharing the event with us!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Robin-

    Great commentary about the trip--I love that you just wanted to write the whole time :) And I'm glad presenting the Golden Heart Award went well; I know I would have been a nervous wreck!

    Danielle

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wonderful post, Robin! Your message was pure inspiration. So glad you had a productive, fulfilling trip. Can't wait to see your book!

    Best--Adele Dubois

    ReplyDelete
  4. Aren't you glad you showed up for the literary signing? Great post, Robin. Glad you found another Nirvana. Me thinks that when it comes to writing, you would find one in a closet :) You're that professional and consumed. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hey Robin,
    What a great post about an ab fab few days in San Fran. You are lucky to be able to write on the road. I always have such good intentions, but never seem to write a word in a hotel. I've come to realize I need the chaos of home to get anything done.

    Meeting you and the nonstop giggle fest on Friday night were among the highlights of my trip. I'm so glad Steven rated a brief mention at the end of your blog post. I thought you were going to forget him and how he trekked across country with you to hang out with 2,000 other women!
    Marie

    ReplyDelete
  6. Love the pics, Robin, you look so "authorly" sitting there!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great photos, and what a wonderful surprise for you.

    I signed No Regrets on Wednesday so did not get a chance to see you that evening, but did enjoy meeting you at dinner.

    May there be many more signings and dinners in your future.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You screamed. Trust me - I've got the voicemail on my cell phone to prove it!

    And I just finished (re)reading Romeo, Romeo last night - and it's even better than I remembered!

    Gotta love limos, champagne and Casa-sisters!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm so happy for you--and so bummed I didn't get an ARC of your book. I'm so looking forward to reading it. You do the 007s proud, girlfriend. {{{Hugs}}}

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am so glad we didn't let you go back to the bar and forced you to join us for the signing. Who knew what greatness awaited you! I am honored to have the first book signed by the future NYTimes Bestselling author, Robin Kaye! It was a blast meeting you and celebrating with you. Can't wait to do it again.
    Blessings,
    Mary L.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks so much, everyone . Especially Mary whose name I didn't use to protect the not-so-innocent. She outed herself so that I can thank her again. You and your cohort are the best.

    Marie was right, my husband did fly across the country and was brave enough to attend the awards ceremony with me. He also fared pretty well while Marie, my Casa Sister, interviewed him at the bar in the hope of shattering his Domestic God image. She didn't get any goods on him and, after a few drinks, admitted defeat.

    Michelle~ I'm sorry I missed your signing. I started at the As and got sidetracked at the Ks so I totally missed the Ys. You'll have to sign my copy the next time we get together. I bought one of all the Sourcebooks I could get my hands on.

    Pat, I'll see what I can do for you when we hit Jersey. Us 2007 GH girls have got to stick together.

    And Judi~ Why do I have a feeling you're going to blackmail me with that message?

    Hugs to all,

    Robin :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Robin,
    It was sooo great to be able to meet you (and so many others) face-to-face! This was my first limo ride and I'll certainly NEVER forget it! (still having nightmares as I'm sure Danielle is too! HA!)

    Having YOU (my Casa Sister) and Susan (my Bandita, Smoov) up there on stage together was the highlight of the awards ceremony! I almost yelled myself hoarse, much to the chagrin of the people sitting in front of me. ;-)

    AC

    ReplyDelete
  13. You're not going to keep those hours at National next year, are you?! I might have to sleep in the bathtub!!

    Do I get one of those signed books? Or do I have to cry and pout?! :)

    So proud of ya!!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I was admiring your dress all night. Wow. I always intend to get to RWA early and then don't.

    I can't wait for the next book.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Very good Robin! And it was great to meet you this year.

    Linda

    ReplyDelete
  16. Another great RWA experience! Thanks for sharing, Robin. I hope every year is just as much fun for you.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Robin,
    So impressed you got so much writing done! By the time I arrived I could barely hear my own thoughts. Was a blast!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm sure I would have screamed,too! Sorry I missed all the fun. Maybe next year...

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wonderful post Robin! I am still coming down from my high, and all I had was the dinner and Sourcebooks Spotlight to squee over. I am not sure my little heart could handle anything else, but I sure intend to try by next year! It was lovely meeting you and the other Casa Sisters. What a wonderful family to be a part of and I sooooo appreciate the warm welcome. By the way, I snagged a fab picture of all of us, along with the 3 Ds (Deb, Danielle and Dominique), that I would be happy to send to anyone who did not have a camera. Just email me at babysavr@pacbell.net

    Tootles! Sharon Lathan

    ReplyDelete
  20. Robin,
    You did a fabulous job presenting! And I'm looking forward to settling down and finally getting to read my copy of Romeo, Romeo :). Great seeing you and so many of the Casa authors in SF!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Robin, I'll have to wait until next year to meet you (if I can talk my wife into going to Washington so I can go to Nationals). Looking forward to reading your book.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Robin,
    Fabulous story about your ARC's showing up at the Lit Signing without you! It's a terrific story.

    And way to put the rest of us (read: me) to shame, with all the writing you got done while at conference.

    I really enjoyed meeting you at the GIAM meet & greet, and hope for the very best things for you in your career!!

    Kris

    ReplyDelete
  23. Kris Kennedy!
    I was a GH judge and LOVED Wanting Finian. Congrats on your win! Much good luck with the book.
    Marie Force

    ReplyDelete
  24. Robin,

    National was incredible. This was my first time. I volunteered to help set up at the literary signing. One of the books I arranged was none other than Romeo, Romeo. I got all excited because I know it's your debut novel. What a lovely cover!

    We're both on Amy Atwell's GIAMx3 loop. I was an inspirational GH finalist this year and love hearing how a GH winner from last year went on to sell.

    You did a fine job up on the stage. I was most impressed.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thanks so much everyone~

    I wrote the blog on the plane home on Tuesday while suffering from a cold my domestic god brought with him to San Francisco and shared with me. I wasn't even sure it made sense.

    Kris, Marilyn, and Sharon it was great meeting all of you at Nationals.

    Keli, thanks for putting my books out and for the complement.

    Best,

    Robin :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Dear Mom (Robin)
    I feel you mom. I would be afraid to stand up in front of that many people and read. I can't believe that you wrote 8,000 words! Did your books look boutiful on that table? I can't wait until I see the books on the shelf in a bookstore or in Wally World(Wallmart). I hope on your next blog you put a picture of you in your dress. Did you get to party wih Nora Roberts this time around?

    Love
    Anna K.

    ReplyDelete