Well it’s been a week, and I feel fully recovered enough to give you my name-dropping, book-hoarding round up of the Romance Writers of America National Conference that was held July 25th-28th in Anaheim, California.
First of all, the fact that it was held in Anaheim was a boon to me. I live in Southern California, and this meant that I didn’t have to pony up the expense of booking a hotel room. The drawback is, of course, less time to interact with my fellow authors and readers, less likelihood that I was going to have a chance run in at the bar at midnight with my favorite author, and a bit of a commute. But what the heck, I had a lot of podcasts and I’d been trying to get through the audiobook of Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White forEVER, so the drive wins out over staying at the hotel.
Day 1: Hello Again!
I drive down to Anaheim, pleased to find that the traffic really isn’t that bad. (Note: for those who are not Southern California natives, “not that bad” is a relative term.) I get through nearly an entire disk of Wilkie Collins’ Victorian legal mystery, and feel confident I’ll finish before the week is out. Thank heavens. Those Victorians tend to go on and on in their indecision.
I walk into the hotel, and immediately run into my fabulous editor, Cindy Hwang. She and I chat for a few minutes but she’s off somewhere, and I have yet to check in, so we part and I head to the registration, where the person who checks me in is none other than the fabulous Shana Galen! Again, we chat for a few minutes, as she checks me in and hands me my conference bag. In the bag are the first 8 books of my new collection. For those of you who have been privy to previous RWA posts, you know that aside from the chance to see and meet with authors and readers, the main reason I come to RWA is to get books. Lots of books. TONS of books. Books that I can revel in and dive through, ala Scrooge McDuck.
Desperate for some coffee, I find my way to the in-hotel Starbucks, where I run into none other than Liza Palmer. I haven’t seen her in so long, that we end up sitting and chatting while she is very obviously trying to get work done. Then, Megan Crane shows up and all hope of Liza getting any work done is down the tubes.
Together we check out the goody room (where people put all their free swag, available for the taking) the bookstore (but really, why buy books when I am anticipating getting SO MANY in the coming days) and the lobby. The lobby is going to get a lot of legwork from me in the next couple days, although I don’t know it then. The lobby opens to the bar, which opens to the pool, and it is a perfect Southern California day – dry and warm in the sun but still cool. You couldn’t ask for better.
Soon enough, it’s time for my meeting with my webdesign folks (Waxcreative, and you all should be ready for some wonderful new things to be put up here in the relatively near future) followed very quickly by the Literacy Signing!
The RWA Literacy Signing was held at the Anaheim Convention Center, and it was PACKED. People were apparently lining up for hours before hand. I, who am usually alphabetically seated in between the lovely Miranda Neville and the incomparable Brenda Novak, was subject to a bit of a change in the seating this year, thanks to RWA trying something new, and got to sit at a table with the marvelous Kieran Kramer, Olivia Drake, and RITA finalist Farrah Rochon.
People came. We signed books. I wore my The Lizzie Bennet Diaries T-shirt. I ran out of books. And by this point, I was very very tired.
The drive home is uneventful. I get through another TWIW disk. I collapse in bed once I arrive.
Book Count: 9 – 8 from the conference tote bag and 1 from Megan Crane, who knows of my Scooge McDuck fantasies.
Day 2: DRAMA
I drive to Anaheim again, and get through another disk of TWIW. At this rate I should be done by the drive home tonight. I am slightly displeased that I do not get to take the turn to Disneyland, but I’m not wearing appropriate shoes for it anyway.
I meet with my lovely agent, Annelise Robey, in the morning. One of the absolute best things about the conference is (excluding the free book glee) is the face time I get with the people who work so hard to help me write books. It’s not the same as a conversation over the phone. I am grateful for every second I get with said people and therefore spend only 70% of the time with Annelise gossiping about Robert Pattinson. We have work to talk about, after all.
Unfortunately, my meeting with Annelise means I miss the luncheon speech by Stephanie Laurens, which I read later, because it caused quite the hubbub. The jist of it (at least to me) was that readers are still reading – voraciously. So writes must still write. We are the two absolute necessities in the marketplace. Publishing might be undergoing some shifts, but reading is still reading and writing is still writing. That is not going to change. So we should all keep doing both.
In fact, the Stephanie Laurens speech encapsulated a feeling of excitement around the digital publishing phenomena that is now a huge percentage of the market share. While years past, it seemed like people were wary of digital publishing, this year everyone was far more inclusive of it. Because it is something in which we can all take part. There is no need for an ‘either/or’ philosophy. (And that’s about as philosophical as I’m willing to get in the blog post on the state of the industry).
I find I’m spending a lot of time in the lobby. You’ll just run into someone and end up talking and suddenly you’ll have missed the beginning of the next set of workshops. As such, I made it to one workshop this entire time. One. It was put on by Victoria Alexander, so totally worthwhile, but I still wish I had had more time to spend learning than gabbing.
Although gabbing is awesome. Especially when it is a preordained meet up at the bar for all of The Ballroom Blog authors and readers! We plan to meet in the bar that night, so before hand Miranda Neville, Sabrina Darby and I go to dinner in Downtown Disney (which, it should be noted, should not be attempted in even the shortest of heels. Ouch.) and then make our way to the bar to meet up with all the fabulous people who read and laugh with us at The Ballroom Blog. It was a wonderful event, and one for which I wish I had some pictures. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay long, because of the commuting, but was glad for every moment I got with the wonderful readers.
I drive home. I do indeed, finish The Woman in White. Onto the hoarded podcasts!
Book count: 11. 2 new ones that Liza Palmer grabbed for me from the Stephanie Lauren’s luncheon. Because she too, is aware of my addiction.
Day 3: So. Many. Books.
Friday brings with it the first day of my gorging on books. The first free book signings are occurring, and I line up with the rest of the eager readers, a faint sheen of perspiration dotting my upper lip, a gleam of consuming madness in my eye. I try to make small talk with people in line, but it does little to quell my anticipation.
I get so many books. So. Many. Books.
This is admittedly, one of those times I could have foregone the book-getting and attended a workshop or two, but clearly, I have a sickness. Someone call Intervention. My book gluttony is only vaguely interrupted by a lunch with the darling Sarah MacLean, and a meeting with my lovely editors at Berkley.
Oh, and I leave the Marriott to help the gorgeous Maisey Yates do a hotel switcheroo. (I’m happily wearing flatter shoes this day) Clearly, I needed the air. When I get back, I run into Miranda Neville and debut author Megan Mulry at the hotel bar, and we have a quick beverage before I change my dress for that evening’s cocktail parties.
A note on cocktail parties. They are awkward under the best of circumstances. But when one is driving, and therefore one cannot really drink, the awkwardness can be more apparent. The awkwardness of trying to eat large shrimp while standing, for example. Someone should teach a class on to how to do that properly. The awkwardness of being near awesome Nalini Singh and not knowing what to say. I don’t know if any class can fix that. But I manage to eat my shrimp without total embarrassment, and meet some awesome new people, (hi Julie James!) and soon enough, it’s time to make the drive back again.
I’ll admit it, the commute is beginning to wear on me. But there’s only one day left, thankfully.
Book count: I lost trip sometime during the third trip to my car with more books.
Day 4: My Workshop Debut!
Saturday is the last day of the conference, and it is the day of my own house book signing, which is scheduled for 9 in the morning. Unfortunately, I am under the misapprehension, that it was scheduled for 9:30 in the morning. So when I stroll in at 8:59, thinking that I am comfortably early, I find that I am in fact, very nearly late. But luckily there are a few choice minutes for me to set up my table, my bookmarks, and steal a copy of soon to be RITA-winning Joanna Bourne’s The Black Hawk (with her permission, of course) before they open the doors and let everyone in.
Everything goes really fast. I’m so happy that I get to see so many wonderful and excited readers, and that they are all eager to read If I Fall. But my books are gone so quickly, there is a happy benefit: The Ballroom Blog is the subject of a workshop that I thought I was going to have to miss, due to my presumed conflict with my house’s book signing (see misinformed about the time, above). Thus, I get to dash across the conference hall and jump into speaking at my first ever workshop.
I honestly have no idea what I said. You can download the recording of the workshop here. Tell me if I sound weird.
Today is a short day for me, because I have family plans that evening. Thus, I unfortunately, miss my fellow Ballroom Blog authoress Tessa Dare winning the RITA for Regency Historical Romance at the awards ceremony that night, but it is beyond awesome and I can’t wait for her to bring it to the Ballroom. But all in all, it was a wonderful conference and I at this point, an so tired I needed a whole week to recover from it.
Book count: unknown. Here’s a picture though…
For those of you who were at the conference, I hope we got a chance to meet and talk, at least a little bit. For those of you who weren’t, if you are an author, an aspiring author, or a reader, I highly recommend the experience. There is so much to learn and so many people to see — it is beyond a great community of people who are supportive and encouraging (truly, minimal professional jealousy). And I only got asked if I had read 50 Shades of Grey about 4 times, so I consider that a win.
And for those of you who are as avid lovers of free books as I am, rejoice! I SHARE. I managed to grab a few extra copies of books, so I am going to be doing special impromptu giveaways in the next few weeks. (This is aside from my regular website contest, which is always running). Want to get in on it? Well, I’ll give you a hint. It might be a good idea to follow me on twitter.
That’s all for now (and whew, that’s a lot!). It’s back to the grind for me, so stay tuned in the future – and until then, sweets, happy reading!