Monday, July 20, 2009

I Survived Nationals

I did it. I survived my first National RWA Conference. It was exhausting but it was definitely an experience I’ll never forget.

Wed, Day1:
The 3 hour train ride up was well worth the $44 round trip ticket cost. No DC traffic headaches to deal with, no overpriced parking. I did get hit on by a George Costanza clone which was both oddly flattering and a little weird at the same time. Hey, I’m a 44 year old mom – I’ll take what I can get. Thank heavens my chapter mate Stephanie was with me and my roommate. She guided us Metro virgins through the system and got us to the hotel with hardly any trouble. Okay, so one of my suitcases did tumble down the escalator – luckily, no one was seriously hurt and the wine was in the other suitcase so it didn't break.

After a speedy check-in (the Marriott staff was awesome) we ate an early dinner and then went to the Readers For Life Literacy Signing. A packed house is an understatement. It was shoulder to shoulder from one table to the next. I think I got a little claustrophobic for a minute or two so I made bee-lines to my friends’ tables, bought their books and escaped with only minor damage to my credit card.

After a very expensive, very strong beverage at the bar, we went back to our room, which was very nice, if you discounted the split personality AC – it was either arctic blast or nothing – but the weather was so nice (no humidity in DC, go figure) that it wasn’t too much of an issue. My roommate snoring, the ladies next to us chatting into the wee hours and the frisky newlyweds above us made for a 1st sleepless night for me, but after a purchase of earplugs, I was good to go for the rest of the week.

Thurs, Day 2:
Janet Evanovich’s opening speech was very entertaining and for the first time, I got an idea of how many people were attending this thing. I now know why RWA has to find hotels with gianormous ballrooms to hold everyone. Someone said there were between 2500-3000 people registered for the conference. I believe it.

I skipped the AGM because by the time I got there, it was standing room only. Instead, I relaxed with friends, then went to the luncheon where Linda Howard regaled us with tales of her insane family, then attended the PRO Retreat workshops in the afternoon. That night, my roommate and I went to the FF&P Gathering where we had dinner and applauded the Prism Award winners. I was a little disappointed because afterwards there was supposed to be an agent/editor panel, but I guess there were scheduling conflicts so there was an author panel instead. Still informative. Later, we cruised through the Moonlight Madness Bazaar where I only intended to browse but ended up buying 2 beautiful necklace and earring sets from Lisa Arlt. At least they didn’t take up too much room in my suitcases.

Fri, Day 3:
Workshops, workshop, and more workshops. Then it was off to my agent pitch, which I almost missed because I didn’t hear them call my group and was chatting away with other nervous pitchers. I’ll have to say, I think my interview with Roberta Brown went very well. She said she hoped I write as well as I pitch, because she thought my book sounded fantastic. I’ll be emailing the 1st five chapters to her this week. *fingers crossed* Another enjoyable luncheon where Eloisa James spoke, then more workshops. After a quick dinner with friends, we hit the sack early.

Sat, Day 4:
More workshops, one interrupted by a fire alarm complete with sexy firemen. They can rescue me any time. *G* Throughout the week, I attended many of the Spotlights, including the one with St. Martins. I wanted to get a feel for the editor who requested my full manuscript off the Merritt Contest. Afterwards, I gathered my courage and introduced myself to her, wanting to put a face with a book. She immediately knew which book I was talking about and said that she was reading it right now. That took me a bit by surprise and I got a little tongue-tied. I didn’t want to put her on the spot and ask what she thought of it so far, so I couldn’t tell if she was liking it or not. I guess since she’s still reading it, it must be a good thing. At least I hope so. She said she’d be in touch with me next month. Guess who will be jumping every time the phone rings in August?

Then it was time to get dressed for the RITA & Golden Heart Ceremony. I had heard it was a big production and it didn’t disappoint. Anne Stuart was hilarious as emcee, everyone’s gowns were gorgeous and I even got to hold one of the RITAs at the reception afterwards. That sucker is heavy! Someday I hope to hold my own. *G*

Sun, Day 5:
We took our time packing. I didn’t have too much trouble since I planned ahead and had left room for books (some bought, most free – yeh!). I was amazed at how many people got so many books they had to mail them back before they left. My roommate’s suitcase was busting at the seams and it took both of us to get it up on the luggage rack on the train. The ride home was slow, but uneventful – no guys hitting on me this time – and I was so glad to see the hubby and kids waiting for me when the train pulled into the station. I think I’ve recovered for the most part. I doubt I’ll be going to Nationals in Nashville next year, but New York is a definite possibility!


  1. It sounds like a lot of fun and hard work, Brenda. Good luck with your book. I wish you every success and please let us know when it's published so I can buy a copy.

  2. Thanks for sharing your impressions and experiences at Nation. :)