What a Week It Was!Sunday, August 10, 2008 8:36
Well, it’s taken me a week to recuperate and get back into the swing of things since I got home from San Francisco. Was it all worth it? Damn straight!
I was supposed to be at the RWA National Conference as a writer. I started writing only a year or so ago, so I was really looking forward to learning more about the craft. But who was I trying to kid? I was 99.9% reader in San Francisco. I couldn’t help myself. Everywhere I looked were authors I’d been reading for years, authors who I just discovered, and even newer authors who I hadn’t yet discovered while at the conference. And the books! You’ve all seen my TBR mountain. You all know how bad my addiction is. There was no way in hell anyone could have kept me away from the books in the city by the bay, no matter how they tried. So while I did learn a little, I had a dream of a week just schmoozing and staring in awe the majority of the week.
I had some wonderful highlights during the hustle and bustle of the conference. The first was meeting two of my all-time favorite authors, who have also become friends. First is Sandy Blair. I started reading her books because of the time travel elements that appear every so often in her Scottish historicals. But I joined her fan club because she’s one of the nicest, sweetest ladies I’ve ever met. So it was a thrill, indeed, to meet her in person. We had lunch together a couple of times, had drinks together, just chatted, laughed our tails off — she’s a great storyteller even outside of her books — and I enjoyed my time with her immensely. I will remember each and every one of those moments forever.
Added to all that, I found some friends to get re-acquainted with while schmoozing with Sandy B. It was great to meet author Tracy Garrett since getting to know her when I interviewed her online last year, and soon-to-be-published-I-just-know-it Suzy Welsh from the Romance Bandits is a hoot and a half and it was nice to chat with her outside Sandy B’s group. I also met author Jo Davis, who just had her debut book, Trial by Fire, released last week. You know, I started talkin’ with a southern accent after spending time with all those Texas ladies!
My next highlight came when I met author C.L. Wilson. We’ve been chatting online for the last year or so after the release of her first two books, Lord of the Fading Lands and Lady of Light and Shadows. Her series of Fae and magic and flying jaguars has captured not only my imagination, but the world’s. It was so enjoyable meeting this lady who has such a lyrical voice when writing, an imagination that takes you away into fantasy so that you never want to leave. Cheryl is a delight. She’s so friendly, open and honest, and getting to know her was a pleasure. She also joined Sandy B. and me for lunch on our first day in San Francisco. Let me tell you, I haven’t laughed so darned much and so darned hard in a very long time. Author Susan Edwards also joined us at lunch, along with several other friends, and a good time was had by all and another wonderful memory was made.
If you haven’t read Cheryl’s books yet, you should. There’s very few authors out there who can string ordinary words together and make them sing like Cheryl. The next two books in the series, King of Sword and Sky and Queen of Song and Souls, are being released this October and February 2009, respectively. Start now and I guarantee you will be mesmerized and anxiously awaiting those new release dates.
Then there’s the Goody Room that’s a highlight at every conference. My heavens, what an oasis and/or cacophony, depending on how you look at it and when you were there, of activity and goodies that was. And everything there was free! Books, buttons, bookmarks, candy, ink pens, CDs enticing you with book excerpts, business cards and flyers advertising anything and everything, and so much more filled table after table throughout the room. You had to be quick in that room too. No thinking you can come back later and pick up whatever you were looking at. No guarantees whatsoever. You had to make quick decisions and stick with them!
The Literacy Signing on Wednesday night was almost ovewhelming. 500 authors just waiting for you to walk up, chat for a minute, and buy a book. What reader wouldn’t be in heaven while in that room? I met more authors there who I’d corresponded with online or had gotten a thank you for reviewing their book: Melissa Mayhue, Nancy Haddock, Lorraine Heath, Jill Shalvis, Lisa Kleypas, Kresley Cole, Kathryn Smith, Lynda Sandoval, just to name a few. Then there were the authors that I’d read and loved for so long and newer authors who have given me hours of reading pleasure: Shana Galen, Jennifer Ashley, Shana Abe, Susan Crandall, Marianne Stillings, Christina Dodd, Julia Quinn, Gena Showalter, Elizabeth Hoyt, Bonnie Edwards and the list goes on and on. And so many more than I’ll ever be able to remember! It was a spectacular night and all topped off quite nicely when we learned the next day approximately $60,000 had been raised for literacy. Good show!
There were other book signings the last days of the conference, and I had been warned to take large totes, rolling and handheld, and to be prepared to ship box after box of books home. Pffft. We were able to drive to San Francisco, who needs to ship the books back home? I did. Four of them. Four big, big boxes of books. I’m glad I took all the advice given to me. I definitely went prepared and I’m sure I was a sight lugging all those books across that big old hotel for two days!
My last huge highlight was meeting author Melissa Mayhue for dinner at Bubba Gump’s on Pier 39 our last free night of the week. What a lovely lady! Not only is she a wonderfully talented author, Melissa is one of the sincerest, kindest people I’ve ever met. And there’s something about authors and humor. Twelve women together with writing in common and we laughed and laughed. And laughed. For several hours. I made a few more new friends that night and hope to keep in touch in the future.
In fact, I made new friends throughout the entire week, even some from my area. It was a great time to share experiences and knowledge and I’m so glad I was part of it. It was a time in my life that will never be forgotten, even when I attend another conference in the future. The first time is special and the people I met will always have just as special a place in my heart.
Oh, the writer in me? Yes, I did go to workshops and I did learn some. So maybe the next time I’ll have more percentage points on the writing part of it all. I have a feeling, though, the reader in me will emerge once again because she just has to be part of the fun.