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Friday, July 24, 2009

Blog 5 of 5!

PLEASE NOTE! This series is about to end. Feel free to pass it along to anyone who needs a good laugh and is considered a conference for the first time.

Now, before I tell you about my experience at pitching to an unknown editor, let me tell you about the Harlequin Ball the night before. Each year, my publisher puts on a ball. They go all out, and this year, it’s extra special because Harlequin is 60 years old. And it’s always held at the Grand Ballroom of the Ritz Charlton. A bunch of us authors climbed into a cab and off we went. Excitement was as high as the heels and nerves were as weak as our bladders. A stop in the restroom was in order.
Whoa. Stop. Pause. Hold on to the moment. The restroom was the fanciest I’d ever been in. They even had towels instead of paper, with which to dry your hands. I asked a fellow author to take my picture.
“Would you like it on the throne?” she quipped.
“No, but this Queen Anne chair in front of the marble make up table and gilded mirror would do just fine.”
Pictures were taken, and we went off into the ballroom. Some incredibly talented and inventive person had chosen the decades theme, with each small bar featuring a bevy of fancy cocktails from that decade. Beside them was a selection of famous desserts from that time period. I had tapioca pudding from the fifties, chocolate fountain from the eighties, and crème brulée from the nineties.
One gal sat down at our table, a long red drink in her manicured hand. “It’s a Singapore Sling! I haven’t had one of these since grad night!”

(Those of you concerned for my well being please note that I did NOT drink any of those that night.)
We danced, sang, “Fame, I want to live forever,” yakked and talked and had a fabulous time.
But at midnight, and each of us being our own Cinderella, we were finally kicked out of the room. I danced my way into the cab, and up to my room, waking up those patient roomies of mine as I sang out “It’s raining men!”, until they shoved me into my jammies and into my bed.
The next day brought a definite need for coffee. I had that editor appointment for which I had been so well prepared. Now, just to find that piece of paper and head off into the bowels of the hotel.
And I mean bowels. It had a row of loading docks, and the first day, we’d all been down there for the literacy signing. Remember me mentioning that? Two thousand plus romance writers, about a third signing books, and line ups for the likes of Nora Roberts and Debbie Macomber rivaling Russian lines for soup shortly after the war.
But today, tables upon tables, each a few feet apart, covered in snowy tablecloths, with two chairs. At the near end, the parade marshal trying to keep order. We were to line up, five rows, ten minutes before our appointments, and marched down the side of the echoing room, the sergeant major keeping time. One author, not a retired soldier like me, likened it to a cattle call. I can see that. But I know my army husband would have loved it, despite the fact he told me he’d rather watch paint dry than attend a romance writers’ conference.
I met the editor, a nice man young enough to be my son.
I pitched four projects.
I got four rejections.
Oh, well. It wasn’t for lack of preparation. Or maybe it was. Who knows? I didn’t mind, and was kind of secretly glad that part of the conference as over and done with. Mind you, there wasn’t much of the conference left. The grand finale, the awards night went nicely, with more glitter and sparkle than the Oscars. Heck, even the old ladies polished up their walkers for this one.
But remember I mentioned that rich food, and my simple system’s reaction to it?
It caught up with me. Big Time. Heartburn hotter than all those feet shoved into sling back heels for several hours. I had to escape as soon as the evening ended, but found myself stuck behind some glittery lady whose walker wouldn’t allow much more speed than the thickening crowd would allow.
Upstairs at the reception, the food needed better access, and many authors got nothing for their patience. I however, found the buttered shrimp and Beef Wellington hidden behind a large support pole, but the heartburn won out. I had to return to my room.
And apparently, so did my roomies. And their friends. So, clad in jammies, I sat and chatted and schmoozed some more, until everyone was tired.
Then I checked out. Yup, checking out at one a.m. beats fighting the crowds at seven, in order to catch my ride to the airport, generously supplied by another author and her gentleman husband.
My first conference was over. I thought I was schmoozed out, until I met some other authors at the airport. But I did learn a lot, one good thing being how the lovely southern ladies, “Bless your heart,” and what it really means. Thank you, Lenora!
But most importantly, thank you, roomies, who shall remain nameless at their own requests, because of that big foot of mine heading for my mouth at the worst possible moments. I loved it. I loved Washington, and I loved meeting all those gals I’d only talked to on line.
Thank you all of you, for making this newb’s memories so delightful.

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