Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Our Memories of RWA Nationals 2010

Terry Spear shares

My mission at Nationals was to find a wolf. Mice all over the place, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy looking dogs, and dogs named after planets. Wolves??? The closest I got was The Three Little Pigs in a store in one of the International Worlds in Epcot. Not that wolf. That's where they tell about a big, bad wolf. So the search was on.

But in the meantime, (I had flown to Orlando from Pensacola the weekend before where I had watched my son get married, and danced with him to a groom/mother dance--all very touching and I fought tears but didn't succeed when the bride, Malinie's sister cried during a speech, her brother did, and then my daughter did...that was it...and of course, Malinie's mother was crying beside me, so I didn't stand a chance. But it had a happily ever after ending and they went to Hawaii--and found all four of my wolf tales in B&N!!!!)...I was at the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Disney, and Epcot with my daughter before the conference really kicked in. So I missed most everything, but spent a lot of quality time (very hot humid, lots and lots and lots of walking for hours) with my daughter.

And after the wonderfully fun literacy signing where I sat next to Kerrilyn Sparks, vampire author, which seemed appropriate that my werewolves (since she has them in her vampire books) were nestled together with hers, I am happy to say my line was nearly as long as Kerrilyn's at times Wednesday night. :)

But the search for a wolf went on into the wee hours of the morning as we stayed out until 1 am, closing down all the theme parks night after night. In the early morning hours, I was back to blogging to fans, to keep them informed of all the fun that was to be had. I spoke as the keynote speaker for From the Heart Thursday night and loved meeting fellow authors from the chapter, then it was back to Epcot. It was my last night at any of the theme parks. No more chances to find a wolf. Not even in Norway, where I was sure they would include a wolf or two in their displays. No, not there. But much closer to home! In Canada. Woohoo, Canada! I found my wolf pup and so proudly displayed him on my table for the Sourcebooks signing on Saturday!

But before that big event, we had the Sourcebooks dinner! In the limo ride over there, here is Amelia Grey, Sharon Lathan and Robin Kaye. I think she was taking pictures without a camera! :)



Here is Danielle, our Sourcebooks publicist, hard at work, setting up the tables for the Sourcebooks signing. :)

This picture was taken by my good friend and critique partner Vonda, and her good friend, Dana, while she waited for me to sign a book for the Sourcebooks signing Saturday afternoon! Unfortunately, after all that searching to find a wolf, he's hidden behind Dana! :) But the wolf mug was sent to me by a fan, and proudly displays my wolf book marks!

Here are Sara Taney Humphreys, Olivia Cunning, Sharon Lathan, and Cheryl Brooks at the Awards Dinner that night all dolled up and ready to party!!

Like Sharon, I was so surprised to see all the Sourcebooks authors and I had a grand time meeting and visiting with you all! This was my third National conference, though I've been to Shreveport twice for their conference, to Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio. But I have to say that this conference was the best ever yet! And I can't wait to go next year and see everyone again!

Cheryl Brooks shares

When Nashville got hit by that devastating flood earlier this year, I figured the RWA National conference would be canceled. I still can't believe they got it switched to another venue so quickly. A truly amazing feat!




















I had this vision of all the goody bags saying Nashville on them and many of the workshops being eliminated, but such was not the case. And, according to one spokesperson, very few of those registered for the conference canceled.

I learned a ton of things, but the high points were Linda Howard's 12 Stages of Intimacy--no one, and I do mean NO ONE could have done it any better. Unfortunately, she announced that she was retiring from public speaking, which is a loss to everyone in RWA.

My Indiana chapter president, Sandy James, gave a fabulous workshop on the role of psychology in romance writing, called Freud Knows Romance. She had a packed room and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. I was very proud to be a part of it, even though all I did was pass out and collect the raffle tickets!

Our Sourcebooks Spotlight, signing, and dinner were all very enjoyable, but I was astonished when fully a fourth of the audience at the spotlight were Sourcebooks authors! We certainly have grown over the past 3 years! It was good to see those I'd met last year, but one of the high points for me was finally meeting Mary Margret Daughtridge (she looks like she belongs in that limo, doesn't she?)




















and Terry Spear!




















It was so much different actually knowing some people there; some from RWA and some I met at RT this spring, and just seeing familiar faces made me feel more comfortable.

I didn't get to see much of Disney World, but my only regret was missing out on Harry Potter, though I did get a T-shirt at the airport! My family and I were there when Epcot and Universal Studios were fairly new, but we went in early June when it was a bit cooler.

Yes, Orlando was beautiful, but it was also incredibly hot--and so were the waiters. LOL! Well, maybe just this one. . .



















That's my INRWA prez Sandy James on the left. I spotted him first, but she's the one who asked for a picture!

Sharon Lathan shares

This was my second conference, ever and of any kind. Last year I largely felt lost and to a degree like a fraud even though I did have one novel published. This year I largely felt as if I belonged, and if the fan-girl mania burst forth upon occasion (read on) somehow the gap between myself and the big-time authors did not seem as vast. I actually understood the PAN chats on marketing and BookScan figures. I nodded along with Jennifer Ashley when she spoke on how to handle bad reviews or when Elizabeth Hoyt gave tips on powering through when a stubborn muse deserts you. My confidence was firmer when unpublished writers asked my advice/thoughts on the business. All in all it was a marvelous experience that left me as exhausted as Washington DC did (probably worse since I was with the family and we threw in Disney World for good measure). It also charged my inspirational batteries and increased my pride in writing and working with the fabulous folks at Sourcebooks!

Here are just a few of my personal highlights--


Dressed up for the Beau Monde soiree. The entire Beau Monde chapter conference, held on Wednesday, was terrific. I hung out with Abigail Reynolds, met many of my fellow Regency writers, and visited with Michele Ann Young - a former SB author who is our chapter's president! So fun!

Finding the nerve to approach Eloisa James! She was amazing. We chatted about her fantastic speech last year and our mutual experiences in the NICU - mine as an RN and her's as a mom.
Being there when Judi Fennell had her I-just-won-the-Prism-award meltdown! Hehehe... I told you I was going to post it Judi! Congrats, my friend. We are so proud of you.
Looking up at the Sourcebooks signing and seeing Nalini Singh in my line! As you can probably tell from this ghastly shot of me, I was in a state of shock and awe! She waited some 15 minutes in my line for signed copies of my two novels. In a word: surreal.

I won't take up more space, but have to say that the high points were numerous. The SB Spotlight was wonderful, our dinner at Ceviche was loud but delicious and fun, both signings were terrific. But weaving through the signings and workshops and luncheons was visiting with my editor, publicist, marketing manager, publisher, and the truly astounding group of women who write for Sourcebooks. You are my friends and I am deeply thankful.

Mary Margret Daughtridge ringing in

Cheryl and Sharon have already hit the highlights, and I'll have to say meeting them was one of the highlights for me--in fact, one of the first things I did.

Y'all know how navigationally challenged I am. Well, both Swan and Dolphin hotels are organized around circular lobbies. Not that I always know my right from my left, but to find myself in a place that "turn right or left" means nothing was a nightmare.
So there I was on the first night, and I was so-o-o-o tired I was in a daze, and I knew I had gotten into the hotel somehow, but I couldn't remember, and I was just going around in circles, and finally I walked up to this kind-looking woman and said, "Will you please tell me where the door to the outside is?"

She looked at me, shock and confusion in her eyes. I was wondering if the question was something I should apologize for, when she cried out, "Mary Margret! I'm Sharon Lathan!" And scooped me into her arms.

For me, experiencing delight and genuine affection at seeing someone I had never actually met, and then repeating that experiencing it again and again as I met my other Casa sisters burnished the busy days and nights with charm.

Frankly, I've always wondered if it was possible to get to know people through blogs. I see now that it is.

18 comments:

  1. Every time I entered the lobby of the Dolphin, I was turned around, Mary Margret! As soon as my daughter left at 4:10 in the morning on Saturday, I knew I'd be totally lost, but except for standing there trying to figure out the maze a few times, I managed! :)

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  2. Terry, you should have heard me trying to explain to a friend how to get from the Dolphin to my room in the Swan. I realized I couldn't do it. However, I COULD navigate FROM my room to the Dolphin lobby.

    Feeling very smug, I told her I would meet her at the rotunda of the Dolphin.I didn't tell her that once there, someone would have to lead me out.

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  3. MM,
    The trouble with these events is that just about the time you learn where everything is and the best way to get there, it's over! Too funny that the person you asked for directions was Sharon!

    Terry,
    I know what you mean about finding wolves. I was on the lookout for Harry Potter stuff and didn't see anything until I got to the airport! Of course, it would've helped if I'd gone to the theme park, but I just didn't have the energy for that!

    Sharon,
    You looked perfectly lovely in your Beau Monde outfit. The era becomes you!

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  4. Man, I had such a fabulous time!! I keep trying to pinpoint the best part, but it is just impossible.

    MM, thanks for sharing how we met. That was absolutely priceless and I will remember it forever. Love you!! And I am SO glad you were lost. LOL!

    I finally figured out my way around, as long as I stayed within the same few corridors. I discovered from my family on the Sunday after it was all over that there was a whole area of restaurants on the first floor! Had no idea! They had the place wired way better than me.

    See ya all next year!

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  5. Ladies, great group post! It's so exciting to hear all about the conference and how much fun you had! And Sharon, I big jealous you met Nalini! I didn't even know she was there!

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  6. Just want to say that as my first year as a Sourcebooks author,you guys rock! Everyone was so lovely and welcoming. Readers, this is not just an act. Everyone here really supports one another. So nice people and talented authors. What more is there?

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  7. Sharon,

    I have to say I lo-o-o-ve the Beau Monde costume. Makes me wish I wrote Regency so I could dress up like that.

    Do you think they would let me come if I pretended to write regencies?

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  8. What a great post! I had such a blast meeting all of you ladies. You all made me feel so welcome! I look forward to officially being part of this outstanding group of women.

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  9. Oh thanks for sharing the the conference with me! I was one, unfortunately, who had to cancel. Olivia and I were going to room together but Orlando just wasn't possible. Next year.

    Loved the blue satin regency dress.

    Glad you posted Judi's meltdown. I'm so proud of her.

    I have to admit, I have a special spot for Sourcebooks and their authors. :-)

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  10. Thank you all so much for sharing! I was sad I couldn't be there, and it was wonderful for you all to post this so I could enjoy it vicariously. Hope to meet you all next year!

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  11. Cheryl, Mary Margaret, I had such a great time talking with you both at Ceviche. Thanks for taking a newbie under your wing for the evening!

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  12. It was so wonderful meeting all you wonderful ladies. Since this was my first RWA conference I was feeling quite lost - but not for long! You all were very gracious and friendly I had such a great time. Thank you!!

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  13. LOL Lisa! I wish I could say Nalini and I are now BFFs, but a quick snapshot and giddy 5 minute conversation will have to suffice!

    Shana (Shane) it was lovely to meet you too. I only regret that the table was too spread out, the food endlessly flowing, and noise level so high that we could not mingle more. Next year!

    Thanks MM! Here's an idea: A SEAL dives deep and discovers a hidden time machine. Perhaps in the ruins of Atlantis! He goes back to the Regency, where naturally all the ladies swoon since he is by far and away the hunkiest man in breeches ever to be seen. His superior skills and cunning saves the war with Napoleon, history being kept on track due to him, and in the process a lovely Regency maiden wins his heart. Together they travel back to the present, living HEA. There! You are a Regency writer and can join the Beau Monde! I am SURE Deb would LOVE it!!!

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  14. Sara, it was fabulous meeting you! So glad we sat together at the Ritas. Next year you will be the savvy SB author welcoming other newbies!

    Glad you made it home safely, Amanda. I loved getting to know you. Thanks for joining our end of the dinner table! See you next year.

    Start planning now, Sia and Kathryne. I would love to see you both next year and finally meet for real. :)

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  15. Thank you all for welcoming me into the fold!

    Everyone was so warm and friendly. A huge thanks to Dominique, Deb, Danielle and Liz for being such lovely and generous hostesses. The Ceviche restaurant was fabulous!

    I look forward to seeing you all again in New York!

    Tracey

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  16. I still think of all of us as newbies, Tamara, and we newbies have to stick together! It was fun chatting with you!

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  17. Oh Sharon, I love it! A SEAL, time-travel regency--how could it miss?

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  18. Oh, lord, Sharon, you DID post it! Ah, well, I got to relive that wonderful feeling again! Thanks for taking the picture!

    Loved reading all of your memories, ladies. I'm in awe that you had the time to post them, and with pictures. I'm still recovering from all the traveling (17 days out of 31 in July! and two parties this weekend). Real life should be starting back up for me tomorrow, once I get caught up on bills, etc. today.

    It was a great conference and I loved meeting those of you I haven't met before!

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