**DISCLAIMER: There is an obnoxious amount of exclamation points in this post—but that is how RWA made me feel, so get over it.**
To see part 1 of my adventures at the Romance Writers of America national conference in Orlando, click here.
I woke with a shot of adrenaline. “OMG—You’re teaching today!” So, I went over my PowerPoint again, fixed my links (don’t ask), and set out toward my designated room.
When I got there, I realized I forgot the one thing they specifically told me I needed: a Mac LCD projector hookup thing-a-ma-jiggy. Fear not—I had left it in my room—however, I had to sprint down the escalator (you never realize how slow those things really are until you’re in a hurry), across the ginormous lobby, back to my wing of the Dolphin, up to the fifth floor, and then back again. In my adorable, but not-if-you-have-to-walk-in-them (and especially not-if-you-have-to-run-in-them) 3″ black heels.
So much fun!
I cursed myself as I threw my computer bag this way and that, in search of the stupid plug (“Great—now, you’re going to be late, sweaty, and out of breath for your session!”).
But all was well. Just got some blisters, but that’s it.
And get this: People actually showed. A good amount of them—to see me! Or to see my session! Even though the Harlequin book signing (where NORA ROBERTS was signing), the Avon book signing (where MEG CABOT was AGAIN signing at a time I couldn’t see her—boo!), plus a ton of other fabulous sessions were going on at the same time! (All grammar nerds, no doubt!)
And people wanted to hire me to edit their manuscripts! (Not that I don’t already do this—I do!—but it was great that folks liked me and what I had to say enough to want to entrust their babies to my care. That’s a huge deal!)
So, I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening riding my session high—relieved things had gone well and ready to relax and enjoy the rest of the conference.
We (Cambria, Kaylee, and I) went for sushi, and I had eel—unagi! Kaylee and I referenced the episode of Friends where Ross has “unagi,” and I fell in love just a little more with her. 😀 I ate California rolls (mmm!) with roe (<—ew, but whatever). I ate dragon rolls—with spicy tuna in them. Translation: I really lived on the edge that night!
We took a hundred of pretty much the same three pictures (see above), in attempt to get the perfect one, and we ended up hanging out with Wendy Toliver again (yay!) and awesomesauce women’s fiction/nonfiction author Jenny Gardiner. During said hang-out, I revealed my not so secret fangirl crush on Meg Cabot and how I was super excited for the next morning, when I could finally meet her at her “chat” session.
More pictures. More fun!
I danced out of bed (yeah, not really), so thrilled about my first chosen session of the day—the moment I’d been waiting for (well, other than my session) was about to commence: “Chat with Meg Cabot”!
I got to the room, and she was late . . . and I seriously thought to myself, God does not want me to see this woman for some reason. Woe is me! But then, we found out she was just doing her make up outside the room, and she arrived shortly before a panic attack ensued.
She was fabulous. I don’t know how she does what she does—I really don’t! She basically talked and answered questions for an hour, and after that . . .
. . . I got her to sign my Princess Diaries! And I took a picture with her!*
Chat with Meg Cabot!
Meg Cabot and ME!
I was dying. And all my friends made fun of me (in a loving way, of course) the rest of the day.
Kaylee and I had a mound of fries for lunch and went to some fantastic sessions—I can’t wait to blog about them!—and publishers’ book signings (including one, where two agents, an editor, and an author simulated what happens in an acquisitions editorial meeting. Very eye-opening!).
Exhausted, I thought I’d have a few hours before the 2011 RITA & Golden Hearts Awards Ceremony to pack up all my newly-acquired books, relax, and get ready. This was not exactly to be*, but I did eventually get my books packed and shipped.
The RITA & Golden Hearts Awards Ceremony was inspirational. I teared up a lot of times, listening to the acceptance speeches, and it really made me feel like I was a part of something big. And important. And, most of all? It made me feel like this is really . . . possible.
TWITSOM & M.G. Braden
Cambria, Leia, Kaylee, and me
Us with Shawntelle Madison
Afterward, I hung out in the lobby, took a million more pictures, and said my goodbyes to all the amazing folks I’d met throughout that week.
And Cambria, Kaylee, and I made plans to room together next year. 🙂
*And then, some thing really sad happened, but that is for the next post.
I took 22 pages of typed notes (yes, I am a freak), so I will definitely be posting lots of installments of “Pointers from the Pros” (like, probably for the next six years!)—and I still have a few from the SWA conference to roll out as well!
It was an amazing five days, though. Here is a rundown:
I missed the “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing (where about 3,600 attendees bought books and got them signed by 500 (yes, you read that right) authors—RWA raised $55,000 for ProLiteracy Worldwide, Orlando’s Adult Literacy League, and the Nashville Adult Literacy Council—all in two hours!) because I had made my travel plans too late in the day (a.k.a. *before* I knew MEG CABOT was going to be there!!!).
Thank God for Twitsoms (Twitter soulmates!!!), because mine (Cambria Dillon) not only bought Runaway for me, but she also waited in line and had Ms. Cabot herself sign it—and all before we’d even met IRL (in real life, for all your leet-speak impaired).
Here is my Twitsom (left) getting my book signed by Meg freaking Cabot (right). How lucky am I??
Okay, so after I threw my stuff into my room, I hightailed it to meet Cambria in person—pretty much immediately. We went to dinner with three other super-cool chicas: paranormal romance writer Kaylee Ruddle, debut YA novelist Gwen Hayes (please check out her Web site—it’s beautiful!!), and the newly-agented and fully awesome Leia Rice.
Cambria and I classed it up with some Sam Adams, while everyone else drank pink champagne and other equally dainty drinks. The five of us had a faboo dinner, complete with a free tiramisu and lemon shallot (<—is that that it was, ladies? I’d never had it before), since there was “a problem” with my order (I believe the problem was that one of our THREE servers forgot to put it in . . . )
Then, we went off to karaoke, where I chickened out, like I knew I would. Still a karaoke virgin. But at least I got to meet YA author Wendy Toliver (with whom I’ve been exchanging e-mails for the past two years)! She was awesome, and we all took some pics to commemorate the night.
Wendy & me!
From L-R: Kaylee Ruddle, Leia Rice, Cambria Dillon, me. This was before Kaylee & Leia's *awesome* rendition of "Don't Stop Believin'."
We had a lovely lunch, where, gee—who was it again? Oh, that’s right—NORA ROBERTS gave the keynote address! One of the highlights of her speech? When she said, “You know, people always like to tell me that I had it easier than they do today, because it’s so much harder to get published now. You know what I say to them? ‘Bullshit.'”
Ms. Roberts’s speech was quite quote-worthy that way, and had I not been scarfing down delicious key lime pie, I might have taken copious amounts of notes. Alas, I opted for fat. But I got chills several times, as she talked about her great love for all things RWA and how she met some of her very best, life-long writer friends there. It made me get the warm fuzzies for my new BFFs, Cambria and Kaylee. 😀
I went to the RWA PRO Retreat pretty much all afternoon, where there was not only an editor panel, an agent panel, and a talk by novelist Stephanie Feagan, but agent and author extraordinaire Donald Maass (or, as I like to call him: The Donald) spoke! (More to come on all that in “Pointers from the Pros.”)
Between the afternoon workshops and dinner, I kind of freaked out for two reasons: 1) MEG CABOT was there—and I saw her in the lobby!! And I was so afraid I wasn’t going to get to meet her, it was like torture! 2) As you can see, there were people like MEG CABOT and NORA ROBERTS and THE DONALD speaking at this conference . . . and then . . . ME! So, the weight of just how awesome it was that somehow *I* was going to be speaking on Friday morning started inching up my esophagus, and I felt crazytown with excitement (and, also, nerves).
We (and by “we,” I mean Cambria, Kaylee, and I) kept it low key for dinner and ate with some other cool chickadees, including December Gephart and Bria Quinlan—where Bria, Kaylee, and I discussed everything from Buffy to Firefly. True soul sisters! Then, we met Romance DivaM.G. Braden for drinks before turning in pretty early.