Thursday, March 11, 2010

Traveling for Work!

One thing I love about my job is the opportunity I get to travel. It’s not anything too frequent, but I know that at least a couple of times of year, I do get to leave the office and still be connected to romance in some way! Of course, I’m talking about conferences!

I always encourage the romance and women’s fiction authors I work with to join RWA. It is such a great organization that answers so many questions, and can even serve as a support group on this crazy journey called publishing! The local chapters that meet regularly are amazing outlets for authors to learn about the industry, get ideas about what to do at any stage of the author experience they are at, and, as is the way when a bunch of women get together, make a few friends!

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the last two RWA National conferences—2008 in San Francisco (one of my favorite American cities) and 2009 in Washington, DC (which is close enough to Annapolis so I could see my little brother before coming back to Chicago!). Both conferences were near and dear to me. San Francisco because it was my very first conference, and I was blown away by the organization and everything that came along with it. Washington, DC because I was invited to be on a panel and talk about marketing and promotions on the internet for romance novels (like I actually know what I’m talking about?!?!).

And while these trips were mainly for work, I had an opportunity to see parts of the country that I really hadn’t seen before. When I was in SF, I had a couple of hours of downtime (surprisingly), so I went for a walk up and down the hilly streets, and came to a lovely open courtyard, where there was an African troupe performing. So I bought myself a lemonade and watched. Normally, I’m not one to do things like that by myself, but it was a lot of fun! In Washington, DC, aside from my Nora Roberts encounter, I finally felt like I was getting the hang of things, and it was amazing to see so many of our authors all together in one place. Who know what will happen in Nashville!

What have been some of your favorite memories from RWA Nationals? Or do any of you get to travel for your day jobs?


  1. Fun post, Danielle! I loved how you picked up a lemonade and watched the African troupe performing. I was at a hotel in Georgia once and heard this beautiful Jamaican tin (or steel) band while we were eating breakfast. I felt I was in the islands instead of in Georgia! As to RWA, when I went to Dallas, the most memorable experience was that it was Mary Kay Cosmetics and RWA romance authors...and a cowboy. He asked what all of us women were doing there. He was attending some rodeo meeting. We wanted to join him! But also, someone had ordered pizza, and the heat off the pizza(s) triggered the smoke alarm in the elevators and we had to go through an emergency hallway to get to our rooms to dress for the awards dinner, then walk all those flights of stairs in heels! :) But it made the night even more memorable!

  2. I agree with your advice to writers. The single most important writing career move I made was to join RWA and a local chapter, HCRW. I give it the top spot because it led directly to all the other career moves--things I wouldn't have known about otherwise.

    I liked that in SF you stopped and let yourself be part of what was happening. It's a simple pleasure we too often deny ourselves, isn't it?

  3. 2008 San Fran was also my first RWA National. On Friday afternoon of the conference, I was experiencing some overload, so I bailed for a few hours and went to see "The Dark Knight" at the IMAX about two blocks away from the conference hotel.

    Christian Bale. I needed that. ;-)

  4. I can't wait for conference in Nashville this year. I don't have a NR story, but she was in the lunch line behind me at my first conference and that was sort of surreal. Now I just see her in the bar and think, "There's Nora Roberts!"

    But I do have several memorable Susan Elizabeth Phillips moments. I stopped SEP to chat in the hotel hallway at one conference. At that time we were both writing for Avon. She asked if I was going to the Avon dinner, but I thought she meant another dinner, and I said I wasn't invited. So do you know she called Carrie Ferron (head of Avon) and wanted to know why I wasn't invited? So Carrie calls my editor, and my editor is trying to convince me I am invited. And I'm trying to explain how I know I'm invited and I was just confused--or maybe SEP was confused. So embarrassing! But SEP was really sweet to do that for me.

  5. Thanks for reminding me of last year's RWA conference, Robin - so many good memories. I was so impressed with the graciousness of all my favorite writers - Nora, SEP, Janet Evanovich - they were all willing to stop and talk. And I got to spend time with my agent, Elaine English, who is based in D.C. And that Sourcebooks dinner, where I met Deb and Danielle and Dominique and so many of you for the first time! It was definitely a "moment"!

    Terry - one cowboy and all those women? He should have gotten hazard pay for that meeting:)

  6. Hi Danielle,

    I absolutely love going to RWA conferences and have only missed two in my twenty plus years as a member. Just yesterday I was working on one of the blogs for An Earl To Enchant and I wrote about how lucky I was so many ago to sit in workshops given by Sandra Brown, Lyveryle Spencer, Nora Roberts, Linda Howard. The list is far too long to name them all. I gathered tips on writing from all of them and will be sharing some of them on that blog.

    I've had so many outstanding conference moments but I think my favorite conference moment has to be at my first Romantic Times conference in New York City. The famous and quite glamorous Babrbara Cartland was the guest speaker at ten o'clock that morning. She walked in from the back of the room wearing a frilly, bouffant, pink ball gown! What a lady!


  7. Hi Terry,

    What a hilarious story about the cowboy! I love it! When my brother came to the hotel in DC, he was seriously overwhelmed with how many women were there. I told him it could have turned out a lot differently if he had come in his unform!!

  8. MM--I agree completely about just stopping and being a part of the surroundings... I think when this happened it was Friday afternoon, so I was pretty burnt out at that point (so much screaming! hotel food!), and it was the perfect little time to just sit and let everything else happen around me!

  9. Hi Tamara--Friday afternoon is usually when I hit that conference wall, too! Good idea seeing The Dark Knight; Christian Bale remedies most situations, I would think :)

  10. Shana--Isn't it great to learn that those authors we idolize are just normal people? I love hearing stories like yours! SEP lives in Naperville (the same city as Sourcebooks, Inc. headquarters). Sometimes I wonder if I could just find her, lol!

  11. Joanne--I'm sure Nashville will be just as fun; and this year, you won't be one of the newbies ;)

  12. Ah yes, the Nora encounter! That was priceless and I have shared that story with many, many people!

    Yep, the RWA conferences are totally rad man (like CA speak there) and I can hardly wait for Nashville!! WhooHoo! It will be so fun.

    Of course, you are correct that it is a wonderful learning experience as well. I came away from DC (my first conference) with a renewed attitude. It was amazing.

    Sadly I had no time to go beyond the Marriot in DC. For Nashville we plan to incorporate it into a family vacation. I hope to visit my dad in Mississippi, my brother in Pensacola, and as much as possible in between those places and Nashville. I have never been to Tennessee so am thrilled for the chance. Hope to see all my Casa sisters there!

  13. Amelia! You mentioned one of my mother's faves--Lyveryle Spencer. I've yet to read one of her books, but I'm pretty sure my mother owns every single one of her books!

    I love the willingness you find among authors to literally help out other authors, who essentially could be their competition! We'll be back in NYC in 2011--can't wait!!

  14. Sharon--one day, I'll really speak to her, aside from waiting in line to get her autograph at the literacy signing, lol!

    Your plans sounds great to extend Nashville into a family vacation! There's so many great and quirky places to travel between the spots you mentioned :)

  15. I did attend the RT Booklover's convention in Florida, Danielle. I'm loving the travel theme this means I'll get to post more faery pictures. :}
    Loved your star-struck moment with Nora!

  16. Love that opening pic! I heart Audrey! :)

    My career life was short-lived. I had four years working and kids came along. My one and only trip for work took me to the corporate office in Denver, CO. That was my first time traveling by myself. It was so weird! *sob* I got lost and turned around in the Denver apirport. Some nice man practically held my hand all the way to the shuttle desk. I was so embarrassed (especially when I told my hubs. He got a good laugh. My lack of navigational skills is well known!) :) Men!

    I can't wait to go to a conference! I've never been. I will probably have to wait until 2012 when it's closer and my kids will be older. I'm going to soak up every minute of the experience!! Here's hoping I'll be an author instead of a reader when I do go! *le sigh* :)

  17. I HATED traveling for work. But then I got to go exciting places like South Central LA, Redding in July, Ventura County during the worst flooding in twenty years... Ah memories!

    My very first RWA conference was Reno in 2005 and I had a great Nora encounter too. During the awards luncheon, my friend and I arrived late enough that the onlytable had a big fat RESERVED sign on it. We sat down anyway, after politely asking the 3 people there if it was all right. Those 3 turned out to be Jayne Ann Krentz, Christine Feehan, and Berkeley editor Cindy Hwang! They said fine as long as there was one space left. So we and 2 other unpubbed writers sat down.

    Guess who ran in and sat in the empty chair just as the awards started?!?! Yup, Nora Roberts, who shoved her salad aside and immediately dug into her cheesecake dessert! I knew right then she was a woman after my own heart! She'd just put a big bite in her mouth when she realized she was about to be called to the stage. She muttered, "Oh, sh*t, and took off RUNNING." It was a HUGE ballroom and we were in the back. She took the mic and said, "I won't need the treadmill this afternoon." And yes, when she came back to the table, she FINISHED that cheesecake!

    looking forward to Nashville!

  18. Hey, what a coincidence! I just faxed off my RWA membership form yesterday, so as soon as that's processed, it'll be official! It's fun to hear about everyone's conference experiences. Deb Werksman just asked me if I plan to go to this year's, but I probably won't make it to Tennessee. Looking forward to NYC in 2011 though!


  19. Kathryne--Looking forward to your post on fairies!

    Sarah--The first time I traveled was strange, too! It's strange doing things all on your own.

    AC--Love your NR story :) It seems like everyone has one at some point from RWA! What a fabulous way to meet so many amazing authors!

    Tawna--Congrats on joinging RWA! I think you will love it and find it so beneficial. Hope to see you eventually at one of these conferences!!

  20. I went to San Francisco too and it was awesome! My hubby and I rented an apartment for the 3 days prior and spent the whole week there. Saw Muir Woods. (My favorite.) Nappa Valley, drove up the coast...truly beautiful.

    I wish I was going to Nashville...I haven't been there--yet.


  21. DC was my first conference of any kind and also the only time I've ever gone anywhere on a plane by myself. But what made it memorable was meeting in person the people I'd only met online or on the phone. It was great fun and I can't wait for Nashville!

  22. Great post, Danielle! I loved the picture too.

    I can't believe you actually found time to wander off on your own during the conference. I waited until afterward and ended up catching my DH's cold he brought with him. *sigh* I would have loved to have seen the African troupe.

  23. Ash--we will miss you in Nashville! Isn't SF a great city? I was still in high school the last time we went (on a family vacation), so I didn't get to indulge in the delights of wine country, but we did drive through and along the coast and it was unforgetable!

    Cheryl--it was great meeting you! I won't forget you doing shots at dinner ;)

    Robin--LOL--it was that point in teh conference that I hit where I just have to get a way for a minute and not think and regroup. In DC, though, I waited until the end because I got to hang out with my brother, and we saw Harry Potter and then the next morning to the National Zoo. Good times!!