Day Two (Wednesday for me) began quite early when I and my roomies had to leave our overflow hotel and return to the conference hotel by 8AM. We made it, stashed our luggage in friends' rooms, and I took off for breakfast with the Harlequin Presents authors. It was my first time meeting several of them. I knew Jennie Lucas and Kate Walker, but met Janette Kenny, Sandra Marton, and Sharon Kendrick for the first time. I also met editors Tessa Shapcott and Sheila Hodgson. We had a great time talking and eating, and I immediately felt comfortable and welcome (and yes, even a bit starstruck — Sandra Marton and Sharon Kendrick! I knew Kate Walker already, so wasn't as apprehensive, but wow, talk about Presents royalty, yes?).
After breakfast, the ladies adjourned to tour DC, but I had a workshop to prepare for. Kimberly Lang, Linda Howard, Linda Winstead Jones and I gave a talk at the Chapter Leadership Seminar about rescuing your RWA chapter and making it fabulous. Let's just say that shoes were a part of our program. 🙂 No, shoes have nothing to do with rescuing your chapter, but they do have everything to do with our obsession at the Heart of Dixie RWA. We do everything in fabulous shoes when at all possible.
The big event of the day, however, was the Literacy Autographing that began at 5:30. After a very quick trip to see some of my Pixie Chick sisters in Harry's Pub, I headed for the exhibit hall with my box of 15 books, bookmarks, autograph stickers, and some Hershey's kisses. I've been to the autographing before, but never as a published author. Because my book isn't available in stores yet, I had to take my own copies (hence the 15). I found my table, got set up, and prepared for a lot of sitting and smiling and maybe selling 2 or 3 books.
Beside me was the fabulous C.S. Harris, who was nominated for a RITA. I tried not to be fan girl, but she was wonderful and I couldn't help but gush about her historical romances written as Candice Proctor. She was very gracious about it. One of the big pluses about the signing was seeing old friends. Here is a photo of me with Alison Cunliffe, who I've known for about 15 years now and once toured through Germany and Austria with.
The signing lasted for 2 hours. It was noisy and busy, and yet there were many times when I simply sat and talked to the writers on either side of me. Yet somehow I managed to sell all 15 books. I was quite surprised about this, especially since only about 5 of them were to friends. There were also two ladies who simply wanted my picture. I'm not sure why, but I smiled and gladly let them take it. By the end of the signing, I was ready for the next phase — party with the Presents authors. I didn't get any photos of that, but we ended up in the lobby bar for burgers and drinks. It was quite fun.
I can't remember when I crashed into bed, but I'm guessing it was around midnight. Here's me at the signing. Tomorrow, my Day Three report. 🙂
Wow, DC was extraordinarily fun! I did so many things, y'all. Talked to lots of people. I had a blast! I used to live in DC, so touring wasn't high on my list of things to do. But one of my roommates, the lovely Pamela Hearon, managed to finagle a tour of the Capitol for us. I've been in the Capitol many times, but it's so beautiful I was ready to go back. And I'm glad I did!
The day started in the Rayburn Office Building where we trekked to Pam's Congressman's office and dutifully turned over all our liquids, signed a guest book, met the Congressman, and took a photo with him. Yours truly even managed to give the man a bookmark. 😉 Hey, he asked why we were in town. I do have to say that he was wonderfully gracious considering all the ladies in the photo, with the exception of one, were from Alabama and couldn't ever vote for him if so inclined. Nice man, truly.
After our tour, several of the ladies split off for sightseeing while Pam, Kimberly Lang, and I went to lunch at a place called Bullfeather's just down the street from the House office buildings. (Lunch was on the Marriott, btw. We were asked to stay in another hotel for one night and given quite a nice incentive to do so: a free room, cab fare, and $100 cash.) Later that evening, we all met up again and went to the Occidental to celebrate Kira Sinclair's birthday. A quick walk to the White House, and then we were headed back to our hotels for the night.
That's the end of Day One in DC. Tomorrow, I'll tell you about my presentation at the Chapter Leadership Seminar and my experience at my very first Literacy Autographing!
One more thing: today, I'm also blogging over at Kate Walker's blog. She's giving away a tote of signed books! Come say hi!
I'll be away all week at the RWA National Conference in DC. I won't be blogging, but I will be Twittering! If you aren't following me yet, what are you waiting for? Who knows what I'll post on Twitter, but I'll endeavor to do so frequently.
Oh, and one more piece of good news: my 3rd book has been accepted! THE PRINCE'S ROYAL CONCUBINE will be a March 2010 release in the UK. The US date is still to be determined.
A recent incident shocked me enough to realize that I need to remind any aspiring authors reading this to make SURE you vet the information you're getting before launching into a plan of action for conferences and/or submissions. Sometimes we accept the advice of well-meaning but misinformed people without knowing they are misinformed. It always pays to check for yourself.
While you'd think it wouldn't need to be said, here are some things you do NOT want to do:
1. Do NOT stalk editors and/or agents. Planning your time so you can “bump” into someone, and then refusing to go away, is not the correct course of action. Of course you need to be prepared, because there will be those elevator meetings sometimes, but don't haunt the restroom door in the hopes of running into someone. Or the buffet line.
2. Do NOT misspell names on your query. Names are kind of unforgivable since you should be able to check and double check the correct spelling — especially if you've gotten a business card from the individual. I once got a letter from a utility company that referred to me as Mrs. Barris. Jarring. And if you want to compare yourself to another author, use caution — don't say J.R. Rawling when you mean J.K. Rowling.
(Seriously, this should be obvious, but you'd be surprised.)
3. Do NOT take as gospel every word said by the woman sitting next to you at your RWA chapter meeting — even if she does seem to know a lot. If you're a PRO member, download those PRO booklets and read, read, read. Then ask questions of published authors (or experienced PROs) you TRUST to give you good advice. Check and double check, because if someone tells you to stand outside the restroom door or linger in the buffet line looking for a publishing professional, it's probably not the best advice.
(I did once listen to something someone told me when I was very green, even though my gut told me otherwise. The result was a rejection, of course. This was a long time ago, and believe me I learned.)
4. Do NOT send the same query for the same book to the same agent who just rejected it. Rework the query or submit somewhere else. Wish I could find the link, but I read a post last week about someone who kept submitting a query for an adult novel (not that kind of adult!) to a children's book agent. She finally got frustrated and wrote back telling him to stop because she didn't represent that type of book, which she had politely tried to tell him over the last several months. His reply? That she was an agent and therefore he would keep querying her because it was his job to query agents about his book. Talk about clueless! And, oh yeah, agents know each other. You can bet his name is now making a viral loop through Agentland as we speak. And not in a positive way.
5. Do NOT think you know it all. I've met these people and it's frustrating as heck. I know I don't know everything, but I'm pretty sure this stuff I just said is true. But you be sure and double check it before listening to me, you hear?
What kind of crazy advice have you ever gotten? Good advice? What sort of horrible hi-jinks have you seen at conferences? We've all heard the manuscript under the door story, but have you ever seen its equivalent? Thankfully, I haven't, but I know at least one person who I think would do it. Sadly, some people don't listen.
Finally got the SF pics onto the computer. Here's me with the RITA/GH board. No names on the board, but still too cool to know I was a finalist in one of those categories listed there.
A pic of the Heart of Dixie ladies after the ceremony. L to R from back: me, Linda Winstead Jones, Marilyn Puett, Linda Howard, Kira Sinclair, Beverly Barton, Kathy Bone, Jean Hovey. Front L to R: Kimberly Lang, Stephanie Jones, Andrea Laurence. Don't we look happy?
My Harlequin editor Sally Williamson (she's the thin gorgeous one) posing with me after the RITA/GH ceremony. Yes, in spite of not winning, I was happy. 🙂 It was a fun night, and quite the honor to be among the talented group of 2008 finalists known as the Pixie Chicks. Look out in the future, btw, because the Pixie Chicks are going to blog. We don't know when, we don't know where, but we're working on it. 🙂
Ten things I learned at the conference (or in the conference city):
1. Never tell people you haven't had a cold in over two years. Kiss of death.
2. Double-sided tape does wonders to keep your bra from showing.
3. Spanx really are the bomb.
4. 400 women + open bar = hilarity for sure.
5. San Francisco really is freezing in July/August.
6. Seals smell bad.
7. No one ever escaped from Alcatraz and lived to tell about it.
8. Lining up for pitch appointments feels oddly like lining up to see the hangman.
9. Free books make some people crazy.
10. The conference will end and you'll realize you never met up with/talked to several people you wanted to see.
What have you learned recently?
Y'all, conference was a blast! I was busy from the moment I arrived to the moment I left. Appointments, meetings, running into friends, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, chat sessions in friends' rooms, etc. It was non-stop. I didn't sleep much, didn't eat as much as I probably should've, danced my tail off at the Harlequin party, and managed to contract a nasty cold somewhere along the way.
After staying an extra two days to see Chinatown, the Muir woods, Fisherman's Wharf, and the wineries in Sonoma, I boarded a plane for home. Everything went fine until the connection in Dallas. I sat on a plane for 45 minutes because a catering truck bumped the engine. Finally, the plane was declared unfit to fly and we had to go back to the waiting area. Ten minutes later, a new plane was found. After a 10 minute train ride to the International terminal, a 20 minute wait to board, and a short wait on the plane itself, we were on our way. I arrived home only an hour later than I was supposed to.
I've been sleeping most of the time since, so this post isn't likely to be too coherent. You'd probably like to hear about conference, though. The best part: being a Golden Heart finalist. The worst part: the lack of sleep. I got to a couple of workshops, but not as many as I would've liked. I had a couple of impromptu pitch sessions, which were fine, and my two appointments which both went very well.
One of the highlights of my conference was meeting my Harlequin editor, Sally Williamson. (I have pictures, but they must wait until I feel a bit better.) We spent two hours talking about all kinds of things, TSMR included, and I am so blessed to be working with her. She knows her stuff and she's going to whip me into shape before too much longer. 🙂 I have every confidence that I'll be a Presents author someday.
I think I've used up my allotted energy for the time being, so I'm ending this post and hope to be back with something for tomorrow. If you went to conference, what was the highlight for you? If you didn't go, did you get lots of writing done?