Saturday, July 21, 2007

Friday at RWA

To make up for all the room service Thursday, Friday I didn't pay for any meals.

8:00 am, meet Leah Hultenschmidt at coffee house in lobby to get ready for our workshop. We met, I sleepily had a croissant and juice. (The croissant was the only thing I could eat. I hate sweet food in the morning--which means all those muffins, donuts, pastries, and Danishes are out. I look at them and get nauseous. The only thing "sweet" I can eat is fresh fruit. No sugar. [For some reason I don't like anything sweet after 10pm either. Weird, but probably good for me.])

8:30--Leah and I do our workshop on Title and Premise. It's a full house, the double room packed with SRO. Whenever people left (they workshop-hop--you have to, there's so much going on!), there were plenty of people to take their places. It was a success. Many people stopped by to ask us questions or pitch to Leah afterward.

9:30--Leah takes me to breakfast. Mmm fruit smoothie. Anyway we talk about how I'm doing at Dorchester (all good news!). We chatted about various books we liked (and didn't like), especially Naomi Novik's dragon series. Leah got me hooked on that series and we're both fans.

I "pitched" my next idea for a historical series. (Tease--it will be yummy! A "straight" historical romance, not paranormal.) I laugh at myself because I'm always giving advice to nervous new authors doing their first pitch. "Keep it very simple," I say. "Ask the editors what they like to read, don't make it all about you."

So what do I do? Ramble on about my series idea and the characters and take forever to get to the point. Good thing we were there an hour and a half, and Leah is patient and has some trust in me. We discussed the idea, and it's going ahead. I talked a little bit about another paranormal idea. That one is still vague in my head--but book 1 isn't due until the end of 2008, so I have a little time to ponder. :-)

Leah also gives me some good news--Immortals: The Calling has gone to third printing (The Darkening has too, btw). There was other good stuff, but I should probably wait until it's concrete before announcing.

At 11:45, I have another appointment: Lunch with Kate Seaver at Berkley. She took me off-campus to a nice restaurant called Hattie's in an area of Dallas that's been gentrified. There were cute shops, bookstores, and coffee houses around, and Hattie's was an elegant little restaurant serving up classic Southern food. (I recommend the buttermilk fried chicken salad--it was divine).

Guess what I ask Kate? How am I doing at Berkley? (Keeping track of three careers is so much fun.) She tells me Dragon Heat hit #27 on B&N and #47 on Bookscan. Woo hoo! Not bad for Allyson's "debut." We also talk about my upcoming books for Berkley's Heat line. These will be more erotic, more in the style of my Allyson James books at EC. Also about the anthology I'll be in with Robin Schone, Claudia Dain, and Shiloh Walker.

I like these one-on-one meals with my editors because there's time to do more than talk about me, me, me. We can chew the fat, talk about publishing in general, and more personal stuff. Most editors are big readers themselves so we can talk about books we love.

We go out to find a cab, and it's pouring rain. To me, this is wonderful because where I live has been bone-dry this year.

Wet stuff, fall from sky.

Rain smells so good, doesn't it? And makes such a delicious noise.

Back to the hotel.

Now I have a dilemma. I'm supposed to sign books for Berkley at 3:00. The Rita/GH reception is also at 3:00.

Here's the problem: If I skip the reception, people will call me a Diva because obviously I'm blase about being a finalist (NO! I am so excited!). If I skip the signing, people will call me a Diva because obviously I'm too lofty to interact with my readers. (NO! I love meeting readers!).

Sigh. Either way, I'll end up a snotty Diva.

Two things won me to the Rita reception: 1. I did not expect to win, so I wanted to pick up the framable certificate that says I am at least a finalist. 2. the Rita reception had champagne and chocolate.

I go to the reception, had a good talk with Sylvia Day, met Gemma Halliday for the first time, said hi to a lot of other authors I hadn't seen thus far. Got my certificate and champagne and chocolate. There wasn't much more to the reception than receiving the certificates, so at 3:45, I head back to the Berkley signing.

I walk into the ballroom and promptly trip on the stairs. My dang shoes slid out from under me, and my legs folded wrong, and down I went. I felt myself going, and just went limp (I only had half a glass of champagne, I swear!).

So I'm laying there, thinking the stairs are a comfortable place to take a load off, but everyone around me is distressed. There is talk of calling the hotel to get someone down there to help me. But I'm really fine. I did strain a muscle of my right leg, but I wiggled all my toes and rotated my ankles and knew I was ok. Nice people helped me to my feet and I recovered my Diva dignity and went on. (Those stairs should be looked into, btw. Another author fell on the same stairs and broke her foot.)

I find my placecard for where I'm supposed to sit, but my books are gone. Kate Seaver tells me they put out a stack, and people snatched them away (shades of the goody room). Oh well!

I met up with Marjorie Lui and Allysa Day who were signing their Berkley anthology. The last ones were going as I walked up. Oh well. We talked with some of the RBLromantica ladies (I love them!), plus Sylvia from The Good, The Bad, The Unread blog. These ladies love romance, and are so enthusiastic.

(There has also been controversy that bloggers were at RWA at all--big heavy sigh. I think they should be there, if nothing else to see that authors are people! Not faceless entities who don't interact with humanity. You know, Divas.)

I think after that I talked with people in the atrium, before I got sucked into the Borders store (again!). It was Tina Gerow's fault. I saw her in there buying something. I hadn't had much time to talk to her this conference because she was staying in the overflow hotel. (Tina writes for Kensington as Cassie Ryan.)

I chat with Tina who was buying an interesting book (how to keep toxic people from keeping you from your goals). I have mostly learned how to do that--I've trained myself to not listen when people try to pull me back from what I want to do. (Aside: Some people try to pull you back not because they're hateful, but because they have the best intentions. They don't want to see you hurt. But sometimes you do have to go through pain and scarring to get to the other side. Sadly, sometimes I hear myself trying to over-caution people. I try not to.)

The store has some great non-fiction resources for writers as well as the novels of many of the authors/speakers at the conference. I was pleased to see big stacks of Dragon Heat and Immortals: The Calling. I bought a fun book on vampires plus a book on crime detection for writers.

No chocolate this time. :-)

I went to the goody room to pick up my leftover stuff, because they were going to close up the room and do whatever with leftovers if authors didn't collect them. I was pleased to see ALL my Queen's Handmaiden cards gone (I did oversized cards about the size of a trade paperback). Only about half the bookmarks went, but I had left a ton, and so did everyone else. :-) But I'd pretty much made my goal.

4:30. Dorch authors meet up in the lobby to take the magic bus to the Dorchester dinner. Gracious there are so many of us! We filled up a huge tour bus, almost every seat full. I sit with Pat White, who I haven't seen for a while. She's doing well at Harlequin. Erin G. (our new mom), goes through the bus and makes sure no one's missing, then we head through slums to a fun Mexican restaurant.

The only downside to a dinner is you can only sit within shouting distance of a few people. In my case: Marjorie Liu (looking cute and pretty as usual), Barbara Vey of PW, Stephanie Rowe, and Linda Keller, who won the 2007 Bookseller of the Year award (Yay!). Leah also sat with us, but she was hopping up to talk to others constantly (which is what I should have done). (Ask Barbara about the anatomically correct signs on the bathroom doors.)

Stephanie shared funny stories, and Marjorie and I talked about how we both liked to stay at home (in our caves), and how we are both so thankful for our current jobs (full-time authors), for several reasons. She gave me some tips on how to make my mailing and conference-going life easier, for which I heartily thank her. (See, you learn things outside of workshops!)

I was sitting close to Robin Popp and Leigh Greenwood and never got to say a word to either of them! Noise level.

Marjorie, Barbara, and I left early, sharing a taxi back to the hotel to slide into the Berkley cocktail reception (another problem with RWA--almost ALL the publisher parties are Friday night, so if you write for more than one publisher, you party hop.) We got to the Berkley reception before they finished, and talked to Kate Seaver.

Claudia Dain was there! Woo! Hadn't seen her in a while, and we're going to be in that anthology together at Berkley. (She asked if I'd finished my story--she's so cute!)

(At some point during the day, can't remember when, I met up with Susan Squires too. Squires! One of my favorite ladies of all time. She's still going strong at St. Martin's Press.)

I was invited to share a cab to an off-site hotel to crash the Harlequin party (apparently, everyone crashes the Harlequin party). But I decided to call it a night. My legs and feet were aching from my fall, and I wanted to get out of my shoes. I did hear all about the party (Emma Holly interviewed in the bathroom and so forth), so I felt like I was there. :-)

I watched more of my DVDs and did some yoga stretches. My legs felt much better after that and I slept like a comatose dog again.

Saturday, the Big Day, dawns.


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