Friday, April 20, 2012

RT Hangover

I’ve been back five days from the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention and…I’m still beat. Already looking forward to next year.

I’m insane.

But conventions are fabulous and I want to talk about why every writer, unpubbed or pubbed, needs to attend them. Why?

1) For the connections. Not just professional, but the friendships, the support, the chance to talk about everything! Submission, pitching, query, marketing, critiques, rejection, request.

2) For the fun. No kidding. It was…a blast! I invited a pirate to show up on Saturday and he was such a hit…even Susan Elizabeth Phillips took a pic with him and posted it on her FB page… Bluebeard, what a lovely man. At the end of the time I paid him for, he said it was such a blast! Where was the event next year? (Oh, love, if I had the money, I’d bring you to Kansas City!)
Writers are just like everyone else, we live a life very isolated and the need to burn off steam is very present. I went to…three…no, four…parties. My roommate went to five or six. I don’t remember.

3) For the inspiration. Nothing like talking to writer after writer, after editor after agent about what is going on. Who is looking for what, what is selling, what might sell, what you write, what they write. Bouncing ideas off each other. I don’t know how many people ended up in their rooms, at night, late…and wrote.

(I didn’t. I slept. Or put together swag or stayed in the bar or drank with new friends in their room – who ordered deep dish Chicago style pizza and handed me a drink called a Dirty Girlscount. Which tasted like a thin mint cookie. Christine Merrill and Corrina Lawson are…awesome!)

I made notes on a few stories. For me, the inspiration came in getting home and waking three mornings in a row with dreams. One of which…no, two of which, have been recorded and made note of for future stories. A new steampunk pirate that is set in the world I created with my two scifi erotic shorts and a new little short story.

What a writer shouldn’t do?

Do not put off going to conventions because you don’t have a MS finished. Do not decide you can’t go because you:

A) Don’t have anything to pitch. Trust me, you have things to pitch. Maybe not to an agent or an editor, but pitching isn’t always about getting the deal. Sometimes it’s about learning how to talk about your story by sharing it with other writers.

B) Don’t know anyone. Yes, you do. Through FB, through Twitter, through blogs. Authors you read want to meet you and talk to you. (Okay, this may not be true at the RWA Nationals, because a lot of them are there to do a lot of professional meet ups with editors or agents.) But it is so true at other conventions.

C) Can’t afford to go. Uh huh. There are cons everywhere and for most every price range. And it’s amazing how cheap a hotel can be if you put enough people in a hotel room. Food? Hey, I had cereal three times instead of eating in the pricey hotel restaurant.

RT, where I heard Renee Bernard present a loving tribute to Judi McCoy at the opening ceremonies. (Cried and laughed.) I sat in Club RT with Joanne Fluke and chatted about cinnamon rolls. At a party that evening, I scored two wine coolers.

The next day, I played Mad Libs with a bunch of panel attendees, tossing pirate rubber duckies, and made Katharine Ashe wear a tam-o-shanter perched on a headband. I announced my awesome costume shopping kharma at the Gaslight Social, on stage, introducing myself as 2nd Chance, the bartender on the Romance Writers Revenge blog! I harassed an erotic author sitting next to me at the E-Book and Indy Published Book Fair. (She took it well.) I convinced Jane to compete in the costume contest at the Faery Ball and she won two awards! One of which was the big one!

I played hooky on Friday and went to Chicago. And posed with THE BEAN!
That night I ate pasta prior to attending the Gangster Café Talent Quest.

Saturday? Bluebeard and the RT Bookfair. Where I harassed Renee Bernard and sold/signed books. (I spent a lot of time harassing people. Ah, the freedom of a pirate hat! Turns me into…someone who feels free to harass!) I gave away pirate rubber duckies at the Fan-Tastic Day Party, then pitched to Angela James that night at the Carina Press Cocktail Party. What’s not to love about conventions!?

So, what is your excuse for not going to cons? If you’ve gone to cons, what was your favorite part? If money and time were yours to spend freely, what con would you go to? Is it your dream to be a Guest of Honor? To speak? To present a panel? (Anyone know a good source for pirate rubber krakens? I’d like to try something new…)


Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

First - Holy Shitballs I freaking totally forgot to post Thursday's post! Sin you are a lifesaver and did an excellent job!

As Terri said - someone needs to save me from this day job...and it might be me. I've actually applied for a new job and have an interview on Tues. - really hoping for it - less hours, more money and moving into a niche in my career path that I would enjoy more. Win-win all around.

For now though, I'm officially doing 6 people's jobs - my own, my boss who is off for 2 weeks, my co-worker who is on maternity leave, and then the 3 people they laid off and gave me their work at the beginning of the year. Yeah, I'm so overwhelmed.

Now - to Chance's post!

I am so insanely proud of you! Seriously - you got out there and mingled and made this conference yours and I could not be a happier cheerleader. I've seen your pirate pictured all over the place on author blogs :)

I had to admit my "excuse" for not going is actually a deal I made that I feel I have to stick to and it is because I haven't finished the MS. I went to two conferences without a finished MS and I promised the hubby I wouldn't spend the $$ again until I had finished. Once you make a deal with him, he never backs off. :) Which is good motivation. I'm so close!

I love both RT and Nationals, but would also like to try Moonlight & Magnolias and some of the other regional conferences.

MsHellion said...

My excuses are: lack of money and lack of manuscripts. I would have to give up buying books and entertainment of any kind for a couple years to afford to go to one. I'd rather have the book. *LOL*

I went to the Spring Fling and really enjoyed it. I like smaller conferences--where they're more like workshops and you learn something. The ones with the parties and the awards frighten me. And demoralize me. *LOL* I'm not much of a partier...and I'm definitely not a winner, so not winning would just be a little symbol of the big picture. (Hey, I can only explain it--I can't make it rational.)

You're great at these conferences, Mo, you're a real inspiration. :) I think if I did break down and go, it would be because of you and Terri. :)

TerriOsburn said...

I love conferences!!! RT sounds like a total success! And I loved getting the regular updates. I even got to video chat with Jane and Chandra, which was fun.

I totally get the "I cannot afford to attend." But that's the only acceptable excuse IMO. I couldn't make Nationals last year. There was no money. Couldn't be helped. But it killed me.

Been attending Nationals since 2008. Didn't have a finished MS until 2010. But I made friends and contacts and learned a lot and just had a blast with every trip. To be fair, I'm a single woman whose kiddo is out of town during conference time, so this IS my vacation. I know if you have a hubby and a couple kids, they don't get why you get a vacation and they don't. :)

About the parties, Hellie, you have to remember this isn't like Jersey Shore partying. This is celebrating with a ton of other women JUST LIKE YOU. That's a big difference. And parties are not mandatory. The vibe alone still invades your bloodstream even if you spend more time in your room than in the bar.

I've done the big one and some smaller ones. All are fun. With the smaller ones, you have more of a chance to speak with the industry professionals who attend. I had pitch appointments with both Jessica Faust and Deidre Knight at M&M. I never would have gotten close to them at Nationals.

Well, I could this year, but who knew that would happen?? Oh, and I don't want to be keynote speaker or even give a workshop, but I admit, a little part of me wants to MC the awards. It's the DJ thing. I'd love it!

Maureen said...

Sabrina! Egads! Working six jobs and being paid for one sucks big time, keep us posted on how it goes!

That deal. Oh, that deal! I hear it again and again, the 'I can't go until I have a MS finished' stuff.

Conferences will inspire you to finish, will shift your writing mojo into a space that empowers it. Maybe not at the conference, though I've seen that. Maybe not right away, due to exhaustion...but it will work!

I think you'd really enjoy M&M. It's small, it's tight and it's a sweet little conference.

But I still hope a miracle happens and you make it to Nationals.

TerriOsburn said...

First, Scape, on the job thing? Been there done that. It's HORRIBLE. You have my sympathy and all my positive vibes that you get the new job.

About the "no finished MS" thing? Bullshit. Dude. Would you say, "I can't pay to get a law degree until I've actually won a case." That's insane. Nationals is like a one week Master class where you not only learn about the craft, you step full into the world you're trying to join. You of all people know this.

Give me your number. I'm calling your hubby.

Maureen said...

Hellion - Though it sounds like it...I didn't go to that many parties. There are more I didn't than I did. And RT may not be the bang for your buck that it is for me. But I bet you'd enjoy the Nationals. Much more low key and only the one party/dinner. The RITA/GH banquet.

Unlike any RT party, which turns into a mosh pit of dancing in the dark, the Nationals keeps it a sweet dinner. The bar can get a bit noisy and rambunctious afterward...

I've heard about Spring Fling and I say if you've gone once and enjoyed it, see if you can fit it into the budget again. Like I said, stuff four people in that room, if you drive, bring a cooler with foods to cut down on the eat out bill...bring your own booze!

It's good to step outside the comfort boundaries now and then!

TerriOsburn said...

Hellie is driving distance from Kansas City. Just sayin'...

Maureen said...

I want to do it all, Terri. I want to present panels, speak, host... I'm a total media whore. Whether I'd be any good at them or asked to do them again? HA!

And the parties at conferences are...let me see...what to say... The ratio of guys to gals is what? 20 to 1?

Bluebeard totally enjoyed all the feminine many photos!

I did RT when it was much smaller and I left Saturday morning, before the biggest social stuff. My first conference. And I think that was right for me that time. The full personal of 2nd Chance hadn't been born yet.

Yes, I put on my pirate hat and my perspective shifts. Makes it all easier...even without the rum.

Maureen said...

Hellie could drive to KC? Hey, come down for a day! Just a day. Day passes are available and do it on bookfair Saturday and you'll see a bazillion authors and get books...and I'll save all my free ones, picked up throughout the conference, for you.

Scape, Terri is right...I know you told the hubby that thing, didn't know any better and you deserve a the time away after the spring you're having.

And don't ya want to be there when they call Terri's name?

P. Kirby said...

Mine is an odd variation on money...

Because I'll be gone and no one will be home to let my extremely high, maintenance dog out during the day (hubby works), there will be a pet sitting bill. He needs to go out several times because of his anti-seizure meds. Complicating matters is the fact that the damn dog is terrified of everyone except DH and I.

Ultimately, I need to get my sh*t together and figure it out. The plan is to go to RT next year, come hell, high water, or a traumatized greyhound. :)

Maureen said...

Ah, need a good pet sitter. One you can get the hound used to and who will maybe come and stay while hubby is at work... My doggers goes to doggie daycare while we're gone. And though she's a total whore for attention, she is adored at doggy daycare.

I'm not kidding. They film a YouTube video of the dogs playing every Thursday, and if she's see her pushing her way between every dog and the handlers. "Touch me! Touch me!"

Thank god she isn't aggresive about it. But still!

I know there is a conference in... Phoenix? If that would be closer... I do hope you make RT next year. I promise to show you around!

TerriOsburn said...

That is a real dilemma, Pat. I'm trying to get my mom to come house sit so I don't have to pay a fortune to kennel the three animals. Never mind the fact one of these cats would NEVER survive in a kennel. If I even got her there.

There is a service here who will come to your house. And they'll do preliminary visits to meet the pets and get to know them a little. Sounds like you'd need a service willing to put in a lot of time beforehand to make it work, but it might be an option.

Too bad you can't bring the pooch with you. That would make the conference interesting. Could you claim he's a service dog? Or rather, you're his service person??

Maureen said...

Okay, crew...slow beginning and I'm off fer Starbucks before I head to sewing class. Gonna be an on and off blogging day fer the bartender! Enjoy raiding the bar!

Janga said...

Thanks for sharing, Maureen. The pics, especially the pirate, are great. And I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the new job to work out, Sabrina.

I love hearing about conferences and experiencing them vicariously, but I'm such a super introvert that the thought of attending one terrifies me. Plus both money and health issues present obstacles. If I can overcome the latter two, I'll try to conquer my fears and make Nationals next year when they are in Atlanta again. I have a long list of friends I'd really love to meet face-to-face.

Maureen said...

Janga...I don't know how close Atlanta is to you...but, if the overwhelming conference experience is hard to a day. I know at the Nationals, it isn't check the badge constantly... Come for a day of just socializing, sit in the bar and grab people as they wander by...let people know you'll be there and do it that way...

Yes, it's best to get into all the panels, events, etc...but I've crashed conferences before just to see friends... ;-)

TerriOsburn said...

Janga - I suggest you start with M&M. It was smaller and more low key than I expected. Great panels and top industry professionals, but quiet and subdued compared to others I've attended. That chapter knows how to kick it up after the awards ceremony, but otherwise no parties. And even then you can sit and watch, which is what Chance and I did.

Again, that's what's great about a writing conference. Most of the attendees are probably just as introverted as you are. :)

P. Kirby said...

We do have some decent pet sitters around here. I think there's a matter of co-dependency on my part. A, I feel sorry for the sitter who has to deal with Mr. Peculiar, trying to coax him outside and back. Him probably not letting her approach him, so a walk is out. B, I just feel sorry for Mr. Peculiar, his house being invaded by a stranger and all. In the end, the problem is probably more me than him.

Like I said, next year, I'll work it out. Somehow.

quantum said...

Loved the pics.

Is it usual for a pirate to have goggles!? ..... or is this pirate steam punk.

Maureen, Is that creation your wearing a decorated busby bearskin?

One of these days I will fly over and 'do' America, visiting one of these meetings and perhaps combining with a science conf.

The romance meeting. sounds much more fun though! LOL

Maureen said...

Ter is right, Janga. You might find M&M a much easier con. And Terri did not sit back and watch...she danced! I sat back and watched.

Pat, I know the feeling. Mr. Peculiar will do his best to make sure you keep feeling all of that. Better to make sure you NEVER leave him. EVER!

Dogs are so good at that!

The trick is not to let it all become an excuse to not do the things you want to do but are scared to do. ;-)

Maureen said...

Q! Hello there! Bluebeard has added goggles to his accrutements. As all good pirates do, he adapts to what the situation calls for. As many pirates take to the sky, in great airships, he follows...

As for the fur??? Noooooo, I have a high feather fascinator clipped to my pirate hat...might look furry if you don't know what it is... ;-)

You should so make it over for the Nationals, Q. You'd be in seventh heaven for a chance to meet so many of the authors you read! Next year is Atlanta and then it heads back to New York...I think in 2015 or 2016. That's just a short hop over the pond, right?

Marnee Bailey said...

These pics look awesome! I think RT sounds great. I haven't been able to manage to flight somewhere for a conference yet. I've gone to NJ RWA's conference a couple years and this past year I went and visited with Caroline Linden. I'm hoping to get there this year though, for the whole thing. It's only an hour or so away and I think my littlest should be able to manage without me now for a night or two.

I was tempted with May's CT Fiction Fest in New Haven, but I think May's going to be a really busy month and I don't think I'll make it.

I did enjoy the conferences I've gone too. So much good vibe, being surrounded by other artists and people with the same goals. You can't beat it. I end up coming back all jazzed up. :)

Maureen said...

Exactly, Marn! It jazzes one up. I would be you'd really be ready for a nice break from the little ones... Plus you get to show off all the pictures of the little ones.


irisheyes said...

Late again, but great post Maureen! Thanks for sharing. You were right in my back yard and I didn't even know it! (I love your picture by the Bean!)

I think I'm a whole lot like Janga. Very introverted and not into all the meet and greet stuff. I did attend an EJ thingy at Spring Fling a couple of years ago, met up with Hellie and Sin and had a great time. That I could probably handle. Also, like Janga, I would love, love to meet up with all of my internet pals.

Don't throw tomatoes at me, but I don't really feel like a writer and I'd feel a little dishonest showing up to a writer's conference just to socialize. But I'd LOVE to socialize, so it's a different sort of rationalizing I'd have to do.

P. Kirby - I was just telling my kids the other day to forget about becoming a doctor or lawyer get into taking care of people's pets! There is such a demand for that in our neighborhood. When I was younger it was babysitting. Now it's pet sitting. And people are willing to pay very nicely not to have to board their animals. My kids love it and are good at it cause they get to go play with all the neighborhood pets.