Thursday, July 16, 2009

RWA - My first conference

I had a great time!

The Romance Writers of America (RWA) has a conference every year and one night of the conference is dedicated to their charity, Readers for Life. This one night allows non-conference members/readers to buy books and get them signed.

First, I'm not a romance reader. My bookshelves are filled with mysteries, horror and ghost stories.

A few years ago, I entered a contest and ended up winning a romance novel. Then, I noticed the same site had chats and chat giveaways. I love winning stuff so, I attended a chat. I lurked for my first few times until I got the hang of it. I ended up loving the community and even read a few romance novels. I prefer romance-mystery or romance-paranormal crossovers but, I learned an important lesson: romance does not equal crap.

I started reading blogs and getting involved in the romance community. People talked about different conferences and reader gatherings. Since I only liked a few authors, I never looked into them. This year, the conference was in Washington DC, a Metro ride away.

It was overwhelming! 500 authors and their fans. It was noisy, it was crowded, it was hot and I had a great time. I could have left after about 20 minutes but, I decided to wait for a friend and wander the convention hall and look at the other authors and other readers. Everyone was nice. I talked to authors, readers and even some of the hotel staff.

I had a short list of must-see authors. Out of 500 authors, I wanted to see 4: Terri Garey, Shirley Jump, Anna DeStefano and Samantha Hunter.

I am a big dorky fanboy, er...fangirl.

I was so nervous meeting my 4 authors, I babbled a bit. I'm pretty sure I said nothing of importance and repeated myself. The coolest thing was that all four of the authors recognized me by my screen name! It really made me feel appreciated as a reader. Some of them inscribed my books with my real name and my screen name. All of them talked to me as if I wasn't a big dorky fangirl asking for them to inscribe books.

I was looking a bit overwhelmed and author Hank Phillipi Ryan took the time to talk to me. She told me not to be nervous or worried about telling authors that I was a fan. Authors love to hear that people love their work. I've never read anything by this author and yet, she was nice enough to give me some nice verbal comfort. I didn't tell her I hadn't read her book but, I think she figured that one out on her own. She also gave me some cool lip balm with her name on it. I love swag.

I ended up meeting Nora Roberts. She had sold out of all her Nora Roberts books so, her huge line had disappeared. I hopped over to tell her that she and I had a 6th degree of separation and noticed that she had a stack of J.D. Robb books. I've never read Roberts but I really like the Robb series so I happily bought an expensive inscribed hardback copy for myself. After I left the table and man with two cameras came over to me and told me he was from the Washington Post and he had been taking my picture while I was talking to Nora Roberts. Figures. I should have dragged him over to one of my 4 authors.

I have been to author signings. Well, I've been to signings for two other authors. Ed McBain and Elizabeth Peters.

I was 20 when I saw Ed McBain and it was my first. I was so nervous and when he put his hand out to shake mine, I stuck my copy (VHS) of The Birds in his hand. He got a good chuckle. I was the youngest person in line, everyone else was over 40. I think he was a bit surprised to see me and that I knew he had written the screenplay to The Birds. I'm pretty sure I babbled then, too.

When meeting authors, I'm slightly calmer now but just as thrilled.

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