Monday, July 20, 2009

RWA 2009—Truly Serendipitous

I’m probably not being very original with how the next few blog posts will follow for the next week or so, but the RWA 2009 National Conference this year was one of many firsts for me! My first national conference workshop panel, my first time speaking at the Sourcebooks Spotlight, and our first Sourcebooks sponsored signing! I apologize for my lack of photos, but I’m not sure I have the brain power to maneuver them around in the blogger set up!


My Workshop Panel

I like to think I’m an OK public speaker—I’ve never been one that hated speaking in front of others, but I’ve never really been that person to volunteer either!! But I have to say, RWA was the perfect place to start out, mainly because everyone is so nice, but I was extremely lucky to not only be on a fabulous panel, but I had many of the lovely Sourcebooks Casababes there for support. Judi took pictures (and Mama J says thanks!), and many more sat in places I could easily see—and it was nice to see smiling faces. And I was incredibly humbled to have our dear editor, Deb, and our CEO and publisher, Dominique, in attendance as well. I sat next to Lori Foster (and had an OMG moment), Jenna Peterson was incredibly funny, and Michelle Buonfiglio (the mastermind behind this workshop) was awesome. I think we all had a lot to offer about online promotion, and I hope people took something useful away from it!


I must interject (to keep things chronological) that the author dinner that took place on Friday was superb—it’s nights like that that really put things into perspective. How wonderful to have one of our very first Casa authors (Michele Ann Young) mingling with our current authors, and many of our Spring 2010 authors, too! The restaurant was lovely, drinks were had, stories were told, and, of course, we traveled in style in stretch limos!


The Sourcebooks Spotlight

I want to tell you a story—Tuesday, July 14th, I was in Dom’s office with Deb on the phone, having a final meeting about the conference, when Deb says “Dom, did you tell Danielle about the Spotlight?” Dom looks over—“No! I didn’t!” Deb: “Danielle, after Dom discusses the Author toolkit, you’re going to speak about Marketing and PR.” And I said, “Ok,” but I meant “AH the day BEFORE we leave!” But, by the time Saturday rolled around, I was still on my high of doing well on the workshop panel, and the Spotlight was a piece of cake. The room was filled, the crowd engaged after hear Dom’s enthusiastic overview, and I think I carried it over well, so Deb could talk about her editorial process and submissions guidelines. After the spotlight, Deb and I were in that room for about 15 minutes after it was over, talking to anyone who came up to the front. It was great—people were getting it: Sourcebooks Casablanca is very different, innovative, and fully established as a romance publisher on the rise.


The Sourcebooks Signing

I must must must say that I know I underestimated the amount of books to send to Nationals… I follow the rules, and the rules suggested sending a box of each book…. Well, I should have known, 2500 avid romance readers would want more books. But I am happy to say that every single book sent was signed and given to a fan—and they were eagerly given. I do have pictures from the signing, and I will send them out soon! Every time I passed by one of the authors, they weren’t just signing, they were engaging the person waiting and talking. I took pictures of fans and authors, I met some of the bloggers who have been supporters. I watched what I consider so successful in this line. It was so amazing to see all of the work we’ve been doing over the past year or so really come together in a moment—10 Casa authors were present, and I think they did so wonderfully at their first RWA signing!


This year’s conference will be special to me, because it was the one I had the most handle on. I know there were things I could have done differently (and I have a long list of ideas and thoughts to implement next year). I LOVED being able to meet my authors face to face, talk about their books and promotional plans, and really, just chat. You’ve all become friends through our emails. I enjoyed hearing about what you want to see happen with your books, but also about your families and your travels, and all that we discussed.


And finally, as a truly serendipitous moment—Saturday, my little brother (who goes to the Naval Academy, and is much much bigger than me now) came to have dinner and go to a movie (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, natch). We had to go to a later show, and around 10:00pm we headed out. Guess who got off the elevator as we got on? None other than LA NORA herself, fresh from winning the RITA for Tribute. All I could do was stare… and my brother looked at me like I was insane.


When the elevator door closed I started shrieking: “DO YOU KNOW WHO THAT WAS? NORA ROBERTS!”

Alex replied “You mean that’s the author mom’s obsessed with and has a million books by?”

“YES!”

“Seriously? She was hot!”

So Nora, if you’re reading, there’s a midshipman at the US Naval Academy who finds you very attractive.


Back to work on Monday, telling everyone how much of a success the conference was, and even thinking about the plans for next year in Nashville. I can’t wait to hear about everyone else’s stories!


Did anything truly serendipitous happen to you at this year’s conference? OR do you have a story from a year passed?

25 comments:

  1. I can barely see the screen to write. Turns out I was allergic to the eye shadow I wore on Friday and Saturday nights. Other than that, things went quite well for me at the conference. It was really great meeting everyone!

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  2. When I was at the Dallas conference one year, Mary Kay ladies were too, and a small group of Texas bronco riders. Now, one of the cowboys asked a group of us ladies what we were there for...and we told them we were romance writers, but we wouldn't mind sitting in on their meetings for material for our stories. :)

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  3. Danielle,

    Great post--loved reading of your RWA adventures. And loved meeting you.

    I didn't know you had a brother at the Naval Academy! Tell him thanks for his service.

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  4. Great stories about conference. Glad you had such a good experience.

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  5. Danielle!
    I had my own Nora moment (or I should say my daughter did): Check out who Emily got to meet on her 14th birthday:

    http://mariesullivanforce.blogspot.com

    It was an unforgettable moment, made totally possible by my fearless child congratulating Nora on her RITA win.

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  6. PS--your two public speaking moments were outstanding! You represented Sourcebooks and Casa extraordinarily well!

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  7. Danielle,
    You rock! You did a fabulous job on your panel and the spotlight. I can tell you--the three D's of Soucebooks impressed everyone with their professional enthusiasm and winning smiles. I'm sure all the ladies present left the room wanting to be a Sourcebooks author. And I'm reluctant to speak for all the Casababes, but maybe they won't mind me saying that all us who were at conference felt very special, very papmered and very blessed to already be a Sourcebooks author.
    Thanks, Danielle, for all you do for us!
    Amelia

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  8. We Sourcebooks Authors ROCK!!!!

    Great synopsis Danielle. You should write mine because I, as you are WELL aware, suck at summing up, so it shall be several pages long! We had an amazing time and although I am still exhausted and my feet still hurt, I wish it was July 2010 already.

    Your brother's words were fabulous. You really should email them to Nora. I bet she would love it!

    Thanks for everything Danielle. This was my first conference and nothing, I mean nothing, could have made it better. The 3 Sourcebooks Ds are amazing and we are so blessed.

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  9. Wait, I realize that I should say that the 3 Ds could have done nothing to make it better. It would have been better if Linda, Terry, Mary Margret, and the rest had been able to come. Start planning ladies! You have all year. :)

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  10. Ack, Cheryl! That's awful!!!

    Danielle, you presented so well! You're a natural.

    My surreal moment was after the SB Spotlight and at least 5 people started lining up behind me for (what I thought was) the chance to pitch to Deb. Turns out, they were waiting to speak to me! I heard how I waved and said hi to one of their friends in the hallway and she turned to them and said, "Do you know who that was? Judi Fennell!" I had a total out-of-body experience on that one.

    The signings were so much fun. Gaelen Foley and I forged a nice friendship at the Literacy signing (it never hurts to have a NYT author sitting next to you - you get the overflow from her line taking pity on the new author and I sold a few books when they started chatting to me while waiting for her). Then to see those people lined up before the SB signing - I know many people come for the free books but there were people in that line who made a beeline for their favorite Casa authors. It was so nice to be on that side of the table.

    The Spotlight was awesome (or, as Dom says, brilliant) and I loved being able to finally put 3-D faces with our online images and voices/inflection/mannerisms etc. with my fellow Casa authors. Friday night's dinner was a great time and I loved meeting our new authors.

    I've been to five other conferences with RWA but this was my first as a published author with a book to sign (and those ARCs to give out - can't wait for feedback on those). It will always stand out in my mind and our 3 Ds made it that much more special, as did Anne Cain, my cover artist who introduced herself to me at the end of the Spotlight (and, man, did I hug her! LOVE my covers! There's a picture on the www.WickedlyRomantic.blogspot.com blog of Anne and I).

    Thanks, Danielle. Glad to hear Mama Jackson liked the pictures!

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  11. Cheryl--

    I'm sorry to hear that you were allergic to your eye shadow. It it's any consolation-you looked great! Happy to hear your first conference went well otherwise...

    Danielle

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  12. hahahaha, Terry that is FUNNY. I'm sure they offered a ton of inspiration!

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  13. GREAT post Danielle!

    LOL about your brother saying La Nora was hot! I'm sure she'd enjoy hearing that.

    Your workshop and the Spotlight were excellent! Yes, Sourcebooks' 3 Ds ROCK!

    Both signings I did were a tab overwhelming, but I loved the energy and enthusiasm in both cases! I was happy to be on an 'end' in the Literacy signing because as large as that room was, there were soooo many people and the noise was sooo loud it felt claustrophobic. I was lucky enough to sit next to Amanda McIntyre who has written literally dozens of books for Harlequin. Having the head of Harlequin's Single Title line (Valerie Gray) come up to gush over Amanda and being introduced to her was a bit of that surreal moment for me.

    I couldn't believe the crowds at our Spotlight and our Signing... Yes, I can coz Sourcebooks Casablanca ROCKS!!!

    Nevertheless, I was STUNNED at the number of people lined up for The Wild Sight, including the Prez Elect of RWA Michelle Monkou!! I thanked her sincerely for the job she was taking on and admitted *I* wouldn't attempt it for any amount of money. ;-)

    We ARE lucky to be CasaBabes and I received many compliments on our books, covers, editor, AND publicist!

    ONWARD to Nashville!

    AC

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  14. Libby! It was great meeting you, too! I loved talking books at the dinner.

    And I will pass on your kind words to my brother :)

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  15. MM--

    We hope you will be there next year! Nashville is going to be great--Deb, Dom and I have already started discussing ideas!

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  16. Marie,

    YAY for Emily meeting "La Nora;" they even matched--beautiful in blue.

    And thank you for your comment about the workshop and the spotlight!

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  17. Amelia-

    Ladies--a big part of why the signing went so swimmingly is because Amelia was in our room at 2o'clock on the dot, helping set up. A BIG thank you for that!!

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  18. Sharon,

    I am so glad to have made your first "offical" conference experience memorable. It was a lot of fun, and we can only expect to do more next year!

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  19. Judi--

    Yay for your first conference as a published author! I know this was the case for many authors, and it was very special to be a part of. And thank you for your lovely moments as well--it sounds like you had a great time!

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  20. Cindy!

    Michelle Monkou is lovely! I met her at our signing, too. And you are right, the crowds at both the spotlight and signing were amazing! I think it's safe to call this conference an astounding success!

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  21. Great stories, Danielle!

    When National was at the Queen Mary in 1982 we shared the ship with a Rugby team. Made great fun for dancing and drinks in the bar. :}

    And at the very first conference in Houston, a friend and I were in the hotel bar when a cowboy type came up and said he was taking me dancing.

    Linda

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  22. Great post, Danielle~

    You, Deb & Dom--the triple Ds--were all great at the Spotlight.

    The literacy signing and the Sourcebooks signing were phenomenal and it was wonderful seeing all the casababes. I had a fabulous productive time. Now all I have to do is catch up on all the sleep I missed!

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  23. Haha, Linda--those are great stories as well! How wonderful to have seen RWA in it's beginnings!!

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  24. Robin-I hear you about catching up on sleep! I vow to go to bed early tonight :) It was GREAT seeing you and everyone!

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  25. I'm so very late in commenting, but I slept most of the day. This conference was my first, the push factor (besides meeting my online friends). . .Casablanca! I'm one of those that hopes she's good enough to one day be a Casababe. And I absolutely stepped outside my box on this one. I had never flown commercial and was scared to death. I had never been on a train. The subway was terrifying and I got shut in the door. I had never traveled east of the Mississippi. Do to finances I've never taken a vacation with my family and there was a part of me that felt uberly guilty for leaving hubs and the kids at home. I had never even spent more than two nights away from my kids in nineteen years, and I've only done it twice.

    I had intended to attend many workshops and only made it to the Pro-retreat, and of course the spotlight on Sourcebooks. I had intended on going to the zoo to take pictures, but chose to stand in line for Judi's ARC.

    Every brick wall I climbed was worth every moment of RWA. There is not one part of me that holds any regrets for money I spent that probably shouldn't have been, or things I might have missed in a once in a lifetime opportunity.

    There is something about Casablanca that sets a fire, not just in me, because I could feel it and see it in those sitting around me. There is something special about the Casablanca team. Can I just say how awesome Dominique was in her presentation? She was so filled with enthusiasm. She exuded this power that made so many of us hungry to tap into it. Deb continued in the same enthusiasm. Y'all believe in what you're doing.

    And Danielle, you did fabulous. I never would have known this was your first conference.

    I'll be talking about the Sourcebooks spotlight for a long while even if I never become a Casababe.

    CasaRocks!

    I'm very thankful that my roommate had the idea to arrive almost an hour early to the author signing. I came away with some fabulous books!

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