Of course, the Big Book Signing on Wednesday night is really the Kick-off event for RWA National conference, but it doesn’t feel begun to me until the first workshops begin. I got up bright and early Thursday so I’d get to the workshop I’d picked out right on time. (I wore my pink & black striped summer sweater with the bow at the neckline and little clear beads with black dress pants, a black tux-style jacket to pull on and off when my temperature control issues flared up, & flat backless sandals–my feet FROZE.)
I chose a workshop on “Presenting with Pizzazz” about how to present yourself at your very best whether giving a speech or workshop at a chapter meeting or conference, or giving a radio/television interview. It was filled with great hints–some of which will do me no good. The speaker–who does this professionally–suggested getting out from behind the podium and moving around a little in a workshop. I might if it were not virtually certain that I would trip over something or fall off of something while attempting this. (The room where I actually did my workshop had a raised platform where the podium and speaker table was set–if I’d tried to move around any, I would definitely have fallen off the platform.)
But there were other hints that have already been a big help, like avoiding dairy before speaking (it clogs the throat), and tipping the glasses slightly forward to stop glare from lights. I’m going to have to figure out how to do notecards instead of big sheets of paper to have my “speech” on, but it was a great workshop.
I went to Haywood Smith’s workshop on Reinventing yourself and just loved listening to her talk. I remember laughing a lot. She had some good rules on when to re-evaluate, and lies to watch out for–none of which I can remember right now. The main thing was: This is a business and you have to take control of your career for yourself.
Then I was the moderator for a Query letter/marketing workshop by Lani Diane Rich called FINDING YOUR FUNKY BIRD. You will hear me fumble the workshop intro on the tape, because when I got up to introduce Lani and the workshop, I couldn’t remember the workshop’s subtitle (A New Approach to Marketing Your Manuscript) and didn’t have it written in front of me. So I just intro-ed it as Finding Your Funky Bird. Ah well. I got to do transparencies and play with the overhead projector. It was cool. Lani’s main point though was that you need to find the thing that makes your manuscript different from all the rest. The “funky bird” came from her manuscript that had the hero and heroine working together to rescue the heroine’s kidnapped victim from crooks that want only a rare funny-smelling parrot as ransom. That was her unique attention-getter.
THEN I hurried upstairs to meet with the eHarlequin hosts. Jayne and the other hosts had invited a bunch of the authors who participate on the boards to go to a lunch at a nice restaurant out in Buckhead. Enough of us to require about 3 minivan cabs. Problem was, our cab driver didn’t have a clue where the restaurant was. After driving to the totally wrong location, he had to call the restaurant and ask–the six of us who were in the cab together bonded as we drove all over north Atlanta for, oh, an hour and a half or so. Jennifer LaBrecque lives in Atlanta, and guided our impromptu tour: “This is the millionaire’s part of town–in that grocery you’ll see all the nannies with their kiddies–and coming up on the left, you’ll see the governor’s mansion…” Yeah, we saw the Georgia governor’s mansion–a BIG square house with 2-story pillars around all 4 sides…
Anyway, we eventually got to the restaurant where the other poor people had waited lunch on us. (Some of them had to get back, and took their meals to go. We are SO, SO sorry!) Oh! And the cab driver wanted Sapphire to PAY HIM!!!!! After he got lost and wandered all over the place, he wanted her to pay not just the regular rate for driving out there, but about twice the fee! I think she finally paid him most of it–but one of our company (Julie Miller, riding shotgun) had memorized his name and cab number, so we called the cab company and complained vociferously. (Okay, Jennifer did. I stink at that sort of thing.) And when I got out of the very back seat of the minivan, I got stuck between the middle seat and the door (hush!) and had a little “cork out of the bottle” action getting out–and have the Biggest, Nastiest, Ugliest bruise on my leg–shaped just like the hardware on the seat.
So, we had a wonderful lunch (I had shrimp and grits–I’m not a big grits lover unless there’s plenty of cheese, and these grits were wonderful–which gives you an idea of how much cheese was in them) with fabulous desserts, and by the time we got back to the Marriott downtown, it was 3:30, and I was late for my meeting with the Brainstorming Desireables. (You know who you are.) I know most of the ladies through the online loop, so I really wanted to get to meet the ones I didn’t already know. I at least know what Mary Lou and Carol and Franny look like now! Then I had to leave as soon as I slugged down my Coke to go meet Kerrelyn Sparks (of Vamps and the City and How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire fame) to get ready for the Published Authors Special Interest Chapter’s Editor of the Year award reception.
For the second year, I headed up the committee to choose PASIC’s Editor of the Year. I really enjoy doing this. A lot. Anyway, I met Kerry early so I could sign the certificates for all the nominees and make sure I had the right letters to read for the winners. That’s one of the reasons I like doing the Editor of the Year committee–I don’t have to work up any speech, just read the letters of nomination. The editors are nominated by their authors, who (duh) are writers and can write the best, loveliest thoughts in a fun and touching way. They do the work for me.
Patience Smith is the 2006 PASIC Editor of the Year, and Charlotte Herschner was named Editor of Merit.
Once I handed out the awards, I got to mingle. Lots of editors and agents come to the reception, and it’s a casual time to get to meet people. I met Adam Nevill of Virgin Press. Incredibly tall and broad-shouldered, shaved head, soul patch and the yummiest English accent–it was lovely just to stand nearby and bask in the testosterone, but I did manage to open my mouth and speak. Virgin Press has been doing erotica for the past ten years or so, but with the recent acceptability of the genre, it’s doing even better and they are looking for new authors and more material. They don’t want “porn language”, but other than that, pretty much anything goes. They’d love to see paranormal story lines. They do want a story along with the erotica. Cheek is a livelier, younger-in-tone line than Black Lace. Sort of the Sex in the City version of Black Lace. And I got a card and an invite to send something. I’m still thinking. (Because of a workshop at the very last timeslot on the very last day, which I will talk about when I talk about Saturday.)
Let’s see–I hung out and chatted with the ladies–Ann Roth, Jo-Ann Power and several others whose names I can’t remember now–after the party wound down, talking about the upcoming chapter conference in New York until Alfie Thompson came out to tell us to come get food before it got thrown out, so I collected some more cheese and some quesadillas and carried them up to the room where I basically collapsed. I got out one of the goody-bag books and ate snackies and read until the roomies turned up. Juliet and I also shared with Karen Kelley who writes for Kensington Brava. I don’t think I mentioned that before.
And that was my Thursday. I slept pretty good, considering that first thing Friday I was scheduled for my very first workshop given at RWA… but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.