Things I've learned at National - part two

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My apologies if you aren't a romance writer or still feel mopey because you weren't able to attend the Romance Writers of America National Conference in New York City this year. You can always go next year and use some of these tips!

Even people at National don't get as excited about raffles as I do
I've been known to be a bit... enthusiastic about winning raffles. When I hear my name or number called, I know I'm going to burn about 500 calories. We're talking a celebration worthy of a Prize Is Right run, people. So there I was, all jittery as I stared at my ticket numbers during the YARWA event, where they had so many prizes I knew I just had to win something.

I swear, they called about a bazillion numbers. My seatmates were watching me carefully. Cecily, a gal I just met at National, won some Jennifer Echols novels, which made me envious. Then Michelle Rowen won a fantabulous loot bag. Roberta, another TRW chapter mate, won something, too!

Things weren't looking good for me. I overheard Maureen McGowan tell her agent to keep his eye on me. I thought it might have been about how awesome my latest manuscript was, but she was warning him about the Bonnie Win Dance.

I watched, heart racing, as others picked up really cool prizes such as autographed books, t-shirts, gift cards... even "big girl rejection" panties. Numbers were called. Small shouts of joy and mild whoops echoed in the lounge. Some numbers had to be redrawn because people had left.

But I was there, waiting.

Then something wondrous happened. The prize offerings moved on to author critiques, and Leah Hultenschmidt, Senior Editor at Sourcebooks, leaned over and handed me her tickets. Michelle did too!

It was like playing bingo with too many cards. My eyes scanned the numbers as quickly as I could while it seemed that they were being called out more quickly than before. (They were, actually, the board wanted to expedite things.)

Then one of Leah's numbers came up!

I squealed. I whooped. I shot up out of my seat and did the best Bonnie Win Dance I could do despite my sore feet. Unfortunately most of the agents and editors had snuck out of the room so they couldn't witness it. (I made sure to track down Leah and thank her the next day.) But everyone there knew I won -- and was excited about winning a prize!

Now back to my fantabulous win. I didn't win just any critique -- I won a critique from Eileen Cook! WHOO HOOO! So excited!

Amazingly enough, I met some more people after that.

And there I was, thinking it had been a brilliant night before the raffle draws started! Many thanks to the YARWA board, the awesome people who donated prizes, my chapter mates who brought along their agents and editors, and everyone I met and have yet to meet!

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 12:50 PM 3 comments

Things I've learned at RWA National so far

Friday, July 1, 2011

More people recognize me when I'm smiling
It's the freakiest thing. All I have to do is squint at my phone and my own chapter mates will pass me by without realizing who I am. But as soon as I smile at one person, five more appear.

The first timer ribbons and speaker ribbons colours look the same to me
I told a few speakers on Tuesday that they should really attend the First Timer's Orientation Session, including Winnie Griggs, the fabulous author running the session. Colour me embarrassed. She was very appreciative of me recommending the session, though!

Stay out of the pitch appointment bull pen as long as you can
This is what messed me up at my first National -- hanging out with so many nervous, stressed-out writers made me jumpier than a Cirque de Soleil member. This time I checked in 15 minutes prior and kept smiling, which, of course, led to me connecting with a lot of great people and took my mind off my nerves.

It's National, not Nationals
I have to thank Ali Cunliffe for correcting me on this one early in the week. I had no idea I'd been saying it wrong. Of course, that's the least embarrassing wrong thing I've said this week. ;)

Read nametags
Oh. Mah. Gawd. At least five times I ended up chatting up some "first timer" people who definitely have been here many times before. I thank everyone for being so nice to the girl from Toronto.

Don't hug people in a dark ballroom unless they hug you first
This kind of goes along with reading nametags. Even if you think you know them, you may not. 'Nuff said.

Taking breaks works
During my first National (in San Francisco) I attended every workshop I could and went out for lunches and dinners and drinks, oh my! This time around, I took time out for quiet times and I'm having a way better time.

The Marriot Marquis Times Square details:

The elevators
Even though I watched a video of how the elevators work at the hotel, it's still a surreal experience not having buttons to push while you zoom up 30 floors in a glass-enclosed bubble. These pods of terror triggered a lot of fears and created some new ones for me. Playing elevator bingo by checking off the letter of each elevator I took helped a little for a day or two, but not much. Le sigh. I'll get over it one day.

The room's toilets
You might describe them as "the flush heard 'round the world". And I thought the elevators were scary!

Well, that's all I have to say for now. I've got to get myself all prettied up for the awards as we cheer on Eve Silver, who's up for the RITA in the Paranormal category. Go Eve, go!

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 3:24 PM 2 comments