RWA Redux

Ugh.

I’m sitting in the Marriott lobby again, killing time before I head to the airport to fly home. I’m trying to amalgamate (don’t you love fancy words?) everything I learned over the course of this conference, and all I can think about is a) my butt hurts (these seats aren’t exactly cushy) and b) I’m sooooo ready to go home and sleep in my own bed.

Let me start at the beginning.

The literacy signing, the event that kinda sorta kicks it all off the day before the workshops start, was a madhouse. The line stretched through the atrium, around the elevator bank and back toward the bar. Inside it was crazy; several bigger name authors had tables along the edges, enabling people to line up and sort of stay out of the way, but the authors in the middle were less fortunate. People would stop and chat in the middle of the aisles, making it even more difficult. But I managed to snag a few new books, and chatted briefly with Delphine Dryden, Cora Carmack (who’s a total sweetie, by the way) and Cara McKenna, who told me about the book she’s got coming out next April. She’s got one out this fall, and yes, I’ll be reading it, but…I really want the one in April. And at Delphine Dryden’s suggestion, I stopped by Christine D’Abo’s spot and picked up a sampler CD that included a sneak peek of her new book.

It rained that night.

The first day of workshops started early for me. I hit the Carina Press spotlight and found out more about what they’re looking for, how they’re hoping to improve, and what they’ve been doing well. If you’re curious, here’s two of what I think are the biggest things: they’re looking to reduce output by the second half of 2014 to focus more time, energy, and money on each title being released (I consider this a big, big plus, even though it will likely make getting through the slush pile more difficult), and Angela James said she wants a paranormal series that is NOT about vampires. You hear that? NO VAMPIRES.

The Adrenaline Shots for Plots workshop was crazy crowded. Like, standing room only, people sitting on the floor crowded. I stayed for maybe 15 minutes before my ass started to protest (much like it is now) and left. I went back to the same room for a workshop on contemporary romance.

I met Harlequin Super Romance author Mary Brady in the bar that afternoon, as well as Carina editor Rhonda Helms. Talking to Mary was pretty awesome-she’s been writing for Harlequin for some time, and coming to the conference for some time, and chatting with someone who’s been in the business for as long as she has, through all its shifts and changes and tweaks, reminded me the romance genre has come a long, long way and it’s going to continue to grow and change.

By the way, Rhonda Helms wants paranormal New Adult. Like, she really wants it.

It rained again that night. I think. I’m pretty sure it rained every day I was here.

Friday was more of the same. Workshops, hanging around in the lobby, using the free wi-fi, hanging around in the bar, chatting with random people. I met Jennifer Armentrout’s assistant completely by chance and had a lengthy conversation about New Adult with her. I learned Nora Roberts is a pantser and is a fan of Channing Tatum. I skipped a workshop in the afternoon after I remembered it would also be at ECWC this fall.

By Saturday, I was starting to feel pretty worn out. It’s a lot like college – not a lot of sleep, the sleep you get isn’t all that great, you hurry from workshop to workshop, and alcohol loosens your tongue and you have to try really, really hard to not make a fool out of yourself.

While the workshops were great, you really do come here for the people. There was the woman from Clearwater, Florida, sitting next to me at lunch the first day, telling me about the publisher books signings and how her roommate didn’t know until the second year she attended the books were free. Mary Brady, of course, and Stacy, Jennifer Armentrout’s assistant. I chatted briefly with Tiffany Riesz and PJ Schnyder. I finally met a few of my Twitter followers in person. There was the young woman in the bar who was just as big a Nalini Singh fan as I am, and she squealed when I told her who the hero was of the next book (no, I’m not going to tell you, you’ll have to go to Nalini’s blog for that. That way I can’t be accused of spoiling 🙂 ) And Jodie Griffin and Julie Moffett, both Carina authors, who took the time to tell me how the submission to acceptance process went for both of them.

One of my chapter mates met Sue Grimshaw (Sue Frickin’ GRIMSHAW). Totally jealous. And she chatted with Candace Havens, editor at Entangled, and found out she’s also looking for paranormal.

(I feel so much better about my chances with Iron Jewel now.)

You lose your voice, you stay up way too late, you drink too much, you eat shit that’s bad for you and even though you swear you’re going to make use of the hotel’s gym, your work0ut clothes languish in your suitcase. You pick up more books than you know what to do with because oh, hey, those publisher signings? The books are free. Your badge lanyard or your wallet or your bag become stuffed with business cards, and you try to remember everyone’s name and ultimately fail. You think that three days of workshops and networking can’t possibly be enough to cram everything in but by the time it’s over, you’re tired and think if it went on any longer, you’d keel over.

In short, RWA is something you attend at least once. Will I go again? Probably. Will it be any time in the next couple of years? We’ll see.

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