More RWA stuff

I gotta write about this seminar I attended with Sharon Sala. She is so sweet in person. I ran into her in the elevators three or four times, so I decided to go listen to her speak. Her book, Jackson Rule, is one of my favorites of all time, btw. You should read it. For real.

Anyway, she was amazing. She made half the room laugh, and the other half cry, but not at the same time, obviously. She told this story about how she used to judge contests, and this writer had written her hero / heroine into a really tight situation. They were trapped in a gully, behind a wagon. Indians had trapped them down in a gully, the hero was shot, and the heroine tore a strip off her petticoat to bandage his wound. The woman had sand in her hair, dirt in her drawers, and hadn’t bathed in a month. That was the moment where the hero’s libido overcame him. How would you judge that entry? We all cracked up.

Now on to the exciting bit:

The Berkley party…

I wore my little black dress and waited nervously outside the ballroom for my agent, watching all the beautiful people strolling by. Nora Roberts looked fabulous in her peacock colored dress. She arrived with her friend Ruth, and then JAK wandered by. There was a lady in an animal print dress, and another wore this really gorgeous turquoise gown.

My intimidation factor went way up, as I waited. Dude, what the fuck was I doing there, right? But I stood my ground and Laura showed up soon thereafter with Wendy McCurdy. We went inside and were immediately offered roast chicken on sticks. I took some wine and tried not to look like I was scared to death. That was my first cocktail party. No, seriously.

I met Katherine Dante and Maya Banks. Talked with them a little bit. Laura and I circulated, met a few more people, whose names escape me. I’m really sorry about that. Some were agents, some were editors, and some were authors.

The funniest moment came when I was peering at a terribly tall blonde woman over the table and finally said, “Aren’t you my editor?”

I recognized Terri Schaefer from her picture on her website. Turns out she had come to the party with a friend, so it was just too funny for words. What a funny place for us to get together.

Laura stayed longer than she intended, and I lasted another half hour after that. I cut out and headed back to the room for a slumber party night. Much fun was had by all.

Today, I had headshots done. I haven’t decided if I will buy any of them as my official publicity photo, but I am cognizant that I need to have such a thing in my press kit (and how fucked up is that?) I hate having my picture taken, but some of them didn’t look too bad. I’ll take a wait and see attitude on that, regarding the proofs.

Attended the Q&A with Nora, who rocked the house. Patricia Gaffney was there, and she gave a great introduction. Some lady in the audience had the nerve to argue with Nora about whether Heather Locklear was any good in that Lifetime movie. Daaaaaaaang, that takes some balls. Ovaries. I mean ovaries.

There’s one dude at this conference who wrote his thesis on romance novels. He’s a popular guy.

We attended the luncheon, where Lisa Jackson was the Keynote speaker. I’m calling this the Lisa conference forever after. She was really good, though. Funny. And she did an anti-striptease on stage, by putting on more clothes than she started with.

After that, we met the Bitchery for drinks, which was awesome. One of them looked at my nametag and said, “You’re Annie Dean!” which was funny because my real name was on my badge. Candy and Sarah are twice as much fun in person, and I loved meeting the other commenters. Sarah then announced that she had a WWND? shirt made. I was stunned. Who knew this would turn into such a pervasive movement? I feel like I’ve started something like scientology. Does this mean we need to give birth in silence? Well, WWND? Yeah, I think not.

Candy even picked up the tab. Nice!

We wandered down to the last book signing, where we collected more loot. I saw PC Cast again, and got a signed book for Dee. (See, I DO love you, baby.) Finally caught up with Linnea Sinclair, who pimped Grimspace to everyone who stopped by her table. I hung out with her until time to head back to my room, where I am now blogging. Gonna call this post done, however, because I need to look at what I’m wearing to the RITA awards later.

Squee! I feel so official now. I am totally going to RT, and I’ll even have a book to sign.

But fun as this has been, I’m ready to go home.

More news

No, I’m not tackling RWA business stuff here because other people are covering it better than me.

I’m just covering what I’ve been doing. Last night, after the Goody room, where I got more free books, Carrie and I chilled in our room for an hour and then went to the welcome reception, where we met some nice ladies named Judy, Chris, Lynn, and Michelle. Food was good, full taco bar and another table with fruit, cheese, vegetables, and dip. Nice. Except the cheese.

I was so excited to get my hands on sharp cheddar. Dude. This wasn’t real cheese. It was like…pasteurized imitation cheese food that looks like real cheese, smells like real cheese, but when you bite into it…wow. So wrong. I took a bite, and made a horrible face, so Carrie promptly ate some of hers to see how bad it could possibly be to make me look like that. And then she made the face.

Then we went to movie night, where we totally MST3K’d the film of choice, Romancing the Stone. More free books, Meg Cabot’s latest. She had a book trailer with an interview up on the big screen at first, just running in a long loop. Not too many people showed up. We actually had a party to attend that we forgot about. Oops! The plus side was that we were able to stuff our bags full of bottled water and soft drinks. Shhhhhh, don’t tell! They’re charging four bucks for a Coke around here!

Checked out the bazaar, which didn’t have anything I couldn’t live without, and then we went back to the room for a totally slumber party night. I don’t remember what all we talked about, but I laughed so hard I almost snorted my Diet Pepsi. We also couldn’t find our ice bucket, so we called the front desk for technical support.

The poor woman immediately asked, “Did you look in your credenza?”

“In my cre-whatta? You mean the TV cabinet?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“We’re not big TV watchers, so no. Hold on, I’ll look now.” Pause. “Oh. Here it is! I’m sorry, I swear we haven’t been drinking.”

She sounds dubious. “You sure about that, Miss Ann?”

Great. She knows my name. This will become new slang, shortly. “So drunk, I couldn’t find my ice bucket with both hands.”

Anyway, we stayed up later than we should have, and skipped the early first seminars this morning. We needed the sleep. Went to a couple in the late morning, and one was more useful than the other. Now I’m about to head out to lunch, and later tonight, I have the Penguin cocktail party with Laura. Eeeeeeeeeee! Deets on that tomorrow.

I’m totally meeting a lot of cool authors. Seen Nora and JAK and talked to others. Everyone has been really friendly, except for one bitchy old lady. You know who you are, Hagatha!

RWA Update

Hey, ya’ll! Did you miss me? Here’s what I’ve been up to.

The days before the conference passed in a flurry of packing and personal grooming. Highlights, manicure, pedicure, facial all needed to be done right before I left. Also had to make a last minute shopping run because the clothes I ordered from Penney’s didn’t arrive in time.

By 12:40am on Wednesday, I had everything packed, my music ready to go, and the ebooks I wanted to read loaded on my PDA. I laid down with my husband for two hours of cuddling and talking (which he fell asleep in the middle of), and then I crawled out of bed and hit the shower at 2am. Got ready to go, and waited for my driver.

Jorge arrived at 3:25am, and got me to the airport in no time. Not much traffic at that hour. When I got inside, I saw that most everything was still closed. I managed to find one open money exchange, where I bought dollars for pesos, and then I got in the massive queue waiting for American airlines to open.

That took about 45 minutes, but once the line began moving, it wasn’t too bad. After I received my boarding pass, security was a breeze. Headed down to gate 30 to wait for my plane, and found to my dismay that none of the breakfast places were open either. I listened to the Fray, and eventually snagged some bottled water at a mini mart that opened up just before I took off.

American airlines, I would like you to know that flight 1066 from Mexico City was seriously crowded. I wound up sitting next to a crotchety old dude, and I had the toddler from hell behind me. To make matters worse, we developed technical issues and sat on the runway like an hour before they managed to get us in the air, all while Grumpy next to me sighed and growled, and the toddler wailed one octave above my comfort level. I was so close to pulling a Latifah. You know that movie where she loses it on a plane, and is all, “UPGRADE MY TICKET! PUT ME IN FIRST CLASS. I don’t care what it costs, I gotta get out of here!” I was so close to doing exactly that, cos damn, those people were annoying.

Finally hit Dallas around 11am. I wind up in a shuttle van full of Herbalife people. They rank up there with Mary Kay and Amway sellers for sheer scariness. They were all, “We’re going to the mansion to for the ‘potential’ seminar tonight!” And I was like, dude, please don’t drink the Koolaid.

I was so grateful when I arrived at the Hyatt, and I saw normal looking women wandering around. Quick check in. I had a guy named Lazaros, who was totally working his Euro accent. He was doing his Fabio voice while he helped me, and when he got finished with me, he said, “If you need anything, anything at all, you just call Lazaros, ok?” Daaaaaamn, Hyatt, who knew?

I went up to my room, unpacked, and then went down to register and pick up my dress for the RITAs. No trouble in either locale, so I went back up and took a nap. I had been up for like 36 hours at that point. Still no sign of Carrie, my roommate. Her flight was canceled and then they lost her bags, so she was totally stressed by the time she rolled in. I had lunch, which was fruit salad, at the coffeshop, and a random RWA member came up to me and practiced her mad networking skillz before running off to interogate someone else.

At four, I met up with Laura, my utterly awesome agent. She is adorable and charming in person. We hung out and chatted, and then Carrie joined us. We had a great time talking about books (and male prostitutes), and then we went to the Literacy signing, where I was supposed to be signing books. Except I didn’t have any, sooo… they were kind enough to put “sold out” sign on my spot. Incognito, I wandered around and chatted with various authors, such as Jeri Smith-Ready, Linnea Sinclair, Patricia Sargeant, who is a sweetheart in person. I bought books from Amie Stuart and Robin D. Owens as well. A random woman ran up and hugged me and squealed, “OMG, there’s Jayne Ann Krentz!” who was sporting a particularly festive dye job.

When I turned around, she said, startled, “Oh, you’re not my friend!” I was like, like, aw, after we hugged and everything… I looked at the woman she thought I was, who was smaller, had long black hair, brown eyes, but we were both wearing red shirts. “Oh, I can see why you would make that mistake,” I replied, with a certain ironic inflection. She ran away like my sarcasm scared her.

Afterward, Carrie and I headed upstairs to get in line for a table, just before the rush. We ate dinner at Parrino’s with Laura, where male prostitutes came up again. What can I say, after Lazaros in the afternoon, it was on my mind. Loooong meal, but we had a good time.

Carrie was worried about her lost bags, and feeling pretty damn tired. I was busted. Laura rushed off to a meeting, having said, “Who am I to deny people my charms?” She’s way fun.

The roommate and I went to the room and crashed, but at 1am they delivered her bags. She bubbled about it, and I blearily mumbled my congratulations. I’m glad I took the bed away from the door, so when strange men come knocking in the middle of the night, she has to deal with them. Not that this happened more than once, in case our husbands are reading this. No, indeed. No strange men. Just the bellboy.

This morning, she got up extra early and got ready first, which makes her the perfect roommate for me. I got ready after, ambled down and got a capuccino and a muffin, then found my way to the PAN meeting, all the way in Union Station. I met Ann Christopher and Connie Cox, and saw Patricia Sargeant again. The meeting was fruitful, and I learned a bit, even though they didn’t really address my question. I asked about the shelving segregation issue, and the book buyers talked around it, hinted at niche marketing, and then fobbed it off on the publishers. Meh.

Found Carrie in line for the luncheon. Food was great, and Lisa Kleypas spoke. She’s a cheerleader type, and I wasn’t too sold on the whole armadillo thing. She gave a very girlpower speech, though, and got a few real laughs.

I’ve gotten 9 free books so far, including the coveted Sherry Thomas ARC. Mwahahaha! Eat your hearts out, suckers! I skipped the General Meeting to catch you guys up on what I’ve done, and now I’m about to head out to lurk outside the Goody room, which opens back up at four. I’ve heard that Dorchester just dropped off a bunch of books, and I need more free ones!

More social stuff tonight. I’ll update ya’ll about that tomorrow. Hope you’re having as much fun as I am.