Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What Day Is It Again?

If you visit this blog, then you know I spent last week at the Romance Writers of America National Conference. For those of you who have never been, the whole experience can be summed up in one word — exhausting.

But this isn't a bad thing. 

I hear writers say they go home from conference charged up and ready to write. This is never the case for me. I return home in a barely functioning coma from brain overload and lack of sleep. Though as the event progresses, I sleep in later and later each morning. No idea why they schedule 8:30 sessions, but I've never attended one.

Of course, saying this means if ever the day comes that I am on a panel, it will be scheduled at 8:30a.

Image courtesy of PJ Ausdenmore
This was my fifth go-round at Nationals, but my first time attending as a published author. Boy does that change things. First off, the pressure to pitch is off. Let me pause to do a happy dance here. Put me on a stage in front ten thousand people to MC a show and I'm good. Put me at a table talking one-on-one with an agent or editor and I'm a mess. 

I'm weird. We know this. Let's move on.

I also got to say things like "I'm attending my publisher's party this evening" and "I'm meeting with my editor this morning." And we mustn't forget "I'm having lunch with my agent." As a newbie in San Fran in 2008, I never thought I'd get to utter any of these statements. Still feels surreal.

Oh yeah. And there was this little thing about hitting #1 on the Amazon Best Seller list (for all genres), #5 on Digital Book World, and #10 on the Wall Street Journal list. That made life pretty sparkly last week, too. (Is that a tooting horn I hear?)

But above all this, it's still about the community. Laughing in the bar with friends. Laughing in the room with friends. Crying at the luncheons with friends. (The speeches were doozies this year!) Whether talking shop, shoes, or royal babies, this conference is about being amongst your tribe. Breathing them in, holding them close, and knowing you are not alone on this crazy and challenging journey.

I know this conference can be expensive. I know it's a tough time of year for some. I know many writers think they shouldn't attend without a finished MS or even until they're published. I've said it before and I'll say it again. 


Thank you to every person I met, walked past, or missed completely last week. You make being a romance writer the greatest job in the world. And thanks to Samhain Publishing for a rocking after party. 

Now share some conference experiences. Whether for your day job, a movie or TV show, it all counts. And if you could attend any conference in the world, which would it be and who would you want to see? (My daughter is desperate to get to the one with the Supernatural dudes.)


Marnee Bailey said...

I'm so glad you had a great conference!! I seriously seriously want to go next year. I am doing everything I can to get there. But honestly, couldn't they move San Antonio closer to New Jersey?

I am going to the NJ RWA conference in Oct. I decided this weekend. So, that'll be fun. Ter, you coming? Anyone else?

I do love being surrounded by other writers. That's been my favorite part about going to NJRWA the two times I"ve been. It's just such a great vibe. Writers are the best ever!

MsHellion said...

*LOL* I can totally see you being scheduled for an 8:30 am panel. *LOL* But it is reassuring to hear you are human and sleep in even during THIS WEEK of all weeks.

And those are magical phrases. I can't really imagine them for myself either...or if I do, I break out in hives because I wonder why they'd want to eat with me. :)

I want to hear about Kristan Higgins speech!! Please tell us more!!

Terri Osburn said...

Got my teeth cleaned this morning - she sand blasted me! - so I'm running late. Let me get this taste out of my mouth and I'll be right back.

Terri Osburn said...

Marn - San Antonio is close than San Diego, which is where we'll be in 2016. I'm looking forward to that one!

I'm aiming for NJRWA in October, but it'll depend on a few factors. Kiddo and the pooch, plus the day job. That's a busy time with the Christmas party planning. But it's not a definite no yet, so that's good.

Terri Osburn said...

Hellie, why wouldn't they want to eat with you? Assuming you wouldn't chew with your mouth open or hurl food across the room, they'd be happy to share your table.

These are really just normal people like you and me. That's one thing I've learned. They're insecure in ways, and happy to meet new people. They're just... normal.

Cathy Maxwell's speech was the perfect way to kick things off. Empowering and moving. Full of heart and joy. That woman is a gift. Just love her.

Kristan's was mostly funny. She had a power point presentation that showed everything from her girlhood pictures to images from her and Jill's Man Wars. Ah, those were nice.

But then she got real. Shared personal stuff about being bullied as a girl (we've so been there), losing a child (this is when the tears really kicked in), and losing her father to a drunk driver (total blubbering at this point.)

It was an emotional ride, but somehow, at the end, we were all smiling through our tears. This is why I say you all need to go. Screw pitching. Forget about business connections. Those are great, but this conference is about friends, real life, love, and heart break.

Just like our books.

quantum said...

Love that picture.
Terri you are clearly in your element.
It is where you were MEANT TO BE.

I think everyone remembers their first conference talk. Mine was in Warsaw, in a huge auditorium packed with scientists, and the world's leading authority on my topic asked a question. I'm still not sure that I gave the right answer! LOL

Janga said...

Squeeee again, Ter, for the #1 on the Amazon Best Seller list (for all genres), #5 on Digital Book World, and #10 on the Wall Street Journal list!!! That is just so great--and what a perfect week for it to happen.

I've never been to a writers' conference, but I have been to many conferences connected to my profession. I always died a thousand deaths before I delivered a paper and counted seeing friends I saw too rarely as the best part. Honestly, my two favorite conference memories are of a day in D. C. when a friend and I cut all the sessions and spent the day at the National Gallery and a night in Charleston when a friend and I cut the partying to have a leisurely dinner at an off-the-beaten-track restaurant where we were majorly impressed by the service until our server confessed as we left that he had hovered around our table because he found our conversation so interesting. (We were not talking about Medieval narratives or intertextuality in Tennyson's poems but about a mutual friend we both adored, agreed would make our personal sexiest men alive lists, but would hate being married to since he was chronically unfaithful.)

And I too want to hear more about Kristan Higgins's speech and about EJ's acceptance speech. I'm still smiling and giving small cheers about the occasion of the latter.

Terri Osburn said...

Q, I have no doubt you not only answered correctly, but enlightened that leading authority. :) And I like the idea of being in my element. Other than radio, my element has been hard to find.

Janga - EJ's speech was wonderful, though I think she was a little too overwhelmed to keep it steady. She had her chocolate RITA, which is broken and petrified, but the fact it has traveled the world with her just so she'd have it when she finally won shows how important that award is.

She basically said never give up. Which was a reoccurring theme for the week. (And almost always is.)

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

I wish I'd had the chance to sit down with you, but at least I saw you in passing. And I just noticed I'm way in the background of this picture!

Yesterday was like being hungover for me. I sent a guest blog post without attaching the guest blog post, LOL. But I think this was the best conference yet, and I'm already looking forward to next year!

Terri Osburn said...

You are in the picture! We were two writerly ships passing in the halls. There were so many people I didn't get to sit down and chat up. Funny how when we first start attending, we wish we had all those appointments and book signings, then when we have them we long for the days we got to sit down and watch the hoopla from behind the potted ferns.

P. Kirby said...

If we can score tickets - not easy - hubby and I are doing Comic Con San Diego next year, which is my dream con, bucket list item, etc.

Dragon Con sounds fun; World Con might be tempting. I did the volunteer thing at the local Albuquerque Comic Expo, which was fun. Next year, I think I'll cosplay. Haven't decided what yet. Maybe Death from the Endless or Harley Quinn.

RT sounds fun, too.

The only other con I've been to was the ESRI convention in San Diego, which is kind of cool if GIS (Geographic Information Systems) is your thing. Nevertheless, hubby showed up midweek and we spent most of the time sightseeing. The worst part was that Comic Con was the week after, and I kept eyeing the posters, thinking, "I'd sooooo rather be doing that!"

*Wanders off to watch the video of Loki/Tom Hiddleston at Comic Con 2013. Again and again.*

PJ Ausdenmore said...

Terri, I think seeing you seated at that table as a published author was almost as much of a thrill for me as it was for you. So glad I manged to take a decent photo for you. You didn't know it, but I was struggling to hold the tears at bay as I took it. We've all come such a long way, haven't we?

This year's conference was excellent; one of the best I've attended. I used to organize large conferences in my former job. It was challenging, rewarding and fun but, all in all, I'd much rather be a participant!

I think I may manage to catch up on my sleep by next week. Maybe. ;-)

Congrats again on the #1 Amazon ranking as well as the other lists. So freakin' proud of you!

Terri Osburn said...

Pat, I think I see more buzz about ComicCon than any other conference I know of. Such a big deal, and it must be heaven for fans of that stuff. If you do cosplay, I hope you'll share pictures. I imagine with your artistic ability, the costume would be spot on and incredibly detailed. (Not that I have any idea how that characters is, but still fun.)

I'm aiming for my first RT next year. It's more nerve-wracking to know I'll be face to face with readers instead of industry folks and other writers. A whole other level of insecurities sets in when I think about it.

Terri Osburn said...

Aw, PJ. Now I'm getting misty just thinking about you getting misty. LOL! If I hadn't been in a fog from running the TGN Retreat all day, I might have been more of a mess.

I do remember, when I first sat down, this physical wave of anxiety washed over me, and a voice in my brain starting yelling, "Abort abort! We do not belong here!!" It only lasted a minute or so, but took me by surprise.

The tight quarters and fact I couldn't escape easily was the only thing that kept me in that chair. Thanks for the congrats, and the cinnamon rolls. :)

Maureen said...

Shit. I had a great comment and it disappeared. I think my laptop is haunted.

Let me see, what did I write? Something about threatening PJ with death if she didn't get that picture... Cons...blah, blah, blah...

Best memory? Judi and her 'humping fairies' comment at an RT. Many a student will never forget that... I miss her so at RT...

Con I'd go to? Toss up between SteamCon in Seattle and ComicCon. SteamCon because I know it's great. But I do want to attend as a pubbed/con author. A dream I have...

ComicCon because I've never been and it looks insane.

I like insane.

Next year's RT will be good. I'll be there to hold your hand, play tricks on you (did I just say that outloud?) and make sure you have a good time.

And congrats on having your "I'm an author at a con" cherry popped. Hope it was all you dreamed of!

Hee, hee.

Now, this bloody thing better post...

PJ Ausdenmore said...

LOL! Maureen, I took your "nudging" very seriously! Terri can tell you!

Maureen said...

Well, ya know, PJ...pirates don't ask, they threaten... You took my threat with great spirit!

And it's a great picture! Thank you... errrr, I mean...give me that! Ye avoided death this time!

Terri Osburn said...

PJ was great about the pictures. In fact, I think we had to take 2 so she could use the one on her phone to share right away.

You put the fear of the seas in her, Mo!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

My favorite conference moment was taking YOU to Pier 39 in San Francisco. I was so proud to be there as you got your first look at the Pacific Ocean and California sea lions. :-) Plus, that was my first conference as a "published" (but not yet released) author.

Glad you had a WONDERFUL time. Wish I could have been there.


Terri Osburn said...

That was a marvelous day, Cindy. Thanks again for doing that! I couldn't imagine getting that far across the country and then never leaving the hotel, but it almost happened! I got a terrible sun burn, but it was worth it.

Hope you'll make it to San Antonio next year. We'll be taking Texas by storm!

Maureen said...

Auntie...did you tell her how at night, they leave the pier and wander the streets of the Fisherman's Wharf, sucking the souls from the unsuspecting?

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

LOL, Maureen! Why do you think she wouldn't leave the hotel?!?!

San Antonio is a pretty city, Terri, but I like New Orleans even more and I can't afford the time or the money to attend both RT and RWA. Right now, I'm leaning heavily toward RT (I've never attended).


Terri Osburn said...

Oh, then I'll still get to see you. I'm about 95% sure I'll be in New Orleans. I've never been there or to RT so I'm excited.

Maureen said...

It's gonna be such fun introducin' ya all!

Terri Osburn said...

Introducing who all?

Maureen said...

Introducin' ya all ta RT! And all the nuances, differences, etc.