An Evening at RWA11: A tale of Lines and Limes

Once upon a time, in a city not too far away, there was a hotel. And in that hotel gathered thousands of women with one unifying purpose: their love of books…This is a story of one such lusty reader in that city, in that hotel, with those women…

My journey on Tuesday began with a long bus ride, there are a plethora of clean, cheap, non-stop, cheap bus choices with multiple departure times that mainly yuppies take from DC to NYC – did I mention that they’re cheap? Less than half the price of a train ride! But sadly the bus takes about 5 hours, while the train barely takes more than 2. When I first moved to DC after college I was obsessed with the bus to NYC, but n0w (6 years later!) that I’m older, wiser, and have a steadier income I think that was my last bus ride. Sitting stock still on I-95 for over an hour while watching tons of other people on Twitter who are taking the train from DC to NYC for RWA11 zoom along will change a girl’s mind fast!

So while I was annoyed about the traffic I arrived without incident just in time to have lunch with the one and only Kate of Babbling about Books and More. It was the perfect way to kick off the day, sharing our similar thoughts on Kiss of Snow (Walker + Lara 4eva!), catching up on family and work life, saying hello to Mho Fho, and I learned tons of behind the scenes tidbits on being a writer and the publishing industry from Kate, and she was even generous enough to bring a few books for me!

Next I walked over to my bestie from college’s apartment, she and her husband live super close to Time Square where the RWA11 hotel was, and were so gracious in hosting me to stay at their place in the middle of the work week. Plus it was an excellent opportunity to hang out and catch up with them, albeit for such a short trip!

After showering, primping, charging my iPhone for the many tweets and pictures I’d need it for, and emptying out my tote to fit in all the books I was about to buy, I marched out of her apartment with purpose…only to be slowed by THRONGS of people in Times Square – more than usual! It turned out the 5:30pm start of the RWA11 Literacy Signing was the EXACT same time of the red carpet premiere of Transformers 3. That link has much better pictures but here is mine I snapped quickly, not wanted to tarry in that crush of teeny-boppers and annoying tourists any longer than I had to:

You can *kinda* see Bumblebee

Even as I drew in a breath to sigh in relief as the Transformers madness began to thin – my throat closed up as a HUGE CROWD of women clutching large empty bags appeared in front of me. The line snaked through the hotel lobby, doubled back on itself in the hotel breezeway before streaming out along the sidewalk in front of the theatres. I got quite an eyeful of all the advertisements for the Addams Family Musical, who knew it was staring Brooke Shields? Well now I know lots about it after STANDING IN LINE FOR OVER AN HOUR. Literally from 5:45 to just before 7 fucking PM I was in line, by myself, with a spotty connection on my phone no less.

These signs were HIGHLY necessary to direct the foot traffic

Everyone was polite, patient, and quiet while waiting, the buzz overheard from those around me was that the ballroom was too small to let the thousands of us in at all once. So those that got there early or had conference badges were lucky to be admitted right away, but I was really really close to giving up and just going for a drink at the bar, literacy signing be damned. Ever since I learned how to make margaritas from scratch a few weeks ago I have been addicted, I think about them all the time, and have made myself SEVERAL (yummy pic of ingredients at my house) in the past week and standing in that line I was positively salivating for one.

Anyhow, I was finally admitted after going up 6 escalators in stages, and the warm rush of air from the ballroom, heavy with feminine voices raised in excitement, immediately brought a smile to my face and wiped all annoyance of standing in line from my memory.

Clutching my list of the 21 authors I wanted to meet close to my chest, I navigated the byways between long tables laden with books, authors seated in alphabetical order around the ballroom. I met almost everyone I wanted to, and was sadly correct that lots of books would be sold out by the time I got there, specifically Thea Harrison’s Dragon Bound. But I really couldn’t be upset, the energy in the room was infectious, even though I didn’t see any readers/bloggers/twitterers I recognized, whenever I met eyes with a stranger we would both sort of grin at each other like, “can you believe we are here, surrounded by authors we love?!”

The highlight of the author signing was meeting my….what to call her *wracking my brain for something non creepy*…my idol? Hmmm, we’ll let’s just say I LOVE Victoria Dahl, I love her books and I love her on twitter and anywhere else she shares with us on a personal level online! As a reader I prefer not to interact with authors too much, just my personal preference, but I just HAD to take a picture with the esteemed Ms. Dahl, the creator of several of my most favorite books and characters of all time (I’m looking at you Jane, Chase, Marissa, Jude, and Emma).

im surprised im not blurry in this picture as im vibrating with giddiness!!!

I also met the following fabulous authors either just to say hi, or to pick up one of their new releases:

Here is all my fabulous RWA11 book loot – lots of signed copies, lots of personal notes from the authors, great bookmarks, and wonderful memories of getting them in person! 

The stack in front I purchased at the literary signing, and the stack in back were benevolently bestowed upon me by the lovely KatieBabs at lunch:

  1. A Courtesan’s Guide to Getting Your Man"" by Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan: reading this one right now, OH MY is it erotic *fanning self briefly before sticking nose back in book in rapt concentration*
  2. Follow My Lead"" and The Summer of You (Berkley Sensation)"", by Kate Noble: I am so frickin happy these are in mass market size now! My copy of her earlier release Revealed in trade size (that I actually got from her at RWA in DC in 2009) really messes up the neat row on my bookshelf.
  3. It’s Always Been You"", by Victoria Dahl: ARC from the author! *dies of excitement*
  4. Call Me Irresistible: A Novel"", by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

And then from Katie (thanks again m’dear *blows kisses*)

  1. A Matter of Scandal, Suzanne Enoch
  2. A Season of Angels, Debbie Macomber
  3. Under Her Skin, Susan Mallery
  4. Just Like Heaven, Julia Quinn
  5. Too Good to be True, Kristan Higgins
  6. Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart, Sarah MacLean
  7. The Tarnished Lady, Sandra Hill

But after all the chatting in the overpacked ballroom I needed that margarita! Visions of fresh limes were dancing in my head as I checked out and paid (no line this time) and headed up to bar. To be honest, I’m not sure which I was more excited for on this trip, meeting the authors and getting great books at the Literacy Signing, or seeing all the bloggers and twitterers I chat with online on the regular at the Blogger Bar Bash!

The gathering at the bar was super informal with people coming and going, stopping by just to say hi, or settling in with dinner and a drink for hours. We all stood or sat around a round table, greeting those we recognized by face, or using our twitter handles to jog memories. While some folks I knew from meeting them back in DC in 2009, I met quite a few people I’ve been talking to online, and also met plenty of people that for some reason I didn’t already follow and chat with! I would say 90% of the huge bar covering almost an entire 8th floor of the hotel were women from RWA, our corner had a lot of readers, but I know we were surrounded by other folks meeting up in their own little groups, like agents, authors, publishers, and other folks from the industry.

Here’s who I recall seeing while I was flitting about, but I didn’t get to meet everyone since we were all mixing and mingling so much:

Kate: so nice i saw her twice ;)

Wendy the Super Librarian: more like Super Blogger Bar Bash Organizer! and i was thrilled to congratulate her on being the RWA Librarian of the Year in person!

Christine: we met at BEA last year  so it was awesome to greet each other with a hug and chat all about our families, home life, and authors who make us *squee* ha.

Rosie: ok no one’s hug can beat Rosie’s hug. after meeting at RWA09 we’ve traded emails and chatted online when she’s actually online and although she had to run to another party just getting the hug and 5 minutes of conversation was worth it! 

Pearl and Sarah Tanner: i mean when else could you EVER meet Pearl from the Netherlands and Sarah from Switzerland?! they were definite winners for farthest travels that i met! And thanks Sarah for the recommendation of a present from  http://www.manor.ch/ for my friend who just moved to Switzerland.

Kristie: thanks for holding down the fort for all of us to have such a great corner to meet in!

And it was super fun to chat briefly with LB Gregg, Nath, Hilicia and Stacey as well!

@katiebabs, me and @ChristineA

 Very important to mention that I did finally get to order that margarita! And I was glad to have Wendy there to dissuade me from ordering two at once, so great was my craving, and I’m glad I didn’t because…sigh…it wasn’t that good *sad trombone* I think I’ve just gotten used to my oh-so-fresh ones at home that the pre-made mixed ones don’t taste great anymore, this one was too chemically. And when I had to call it a night to get back to my bestie’s apartment before it got to late it was quite the trial to find someone to pay for the drink. I felt terrible for the harried looking wait staff, and for any non-RWA peeps trying to get a drink at the Marriott that night, romancelandia seriously took over the place!

It was hard to say goodbye, I really think I made my trip too short, that even though I still don’t think I would want to invest in actually purchasing the full conference “ticket” to go to all the panels, I should have stayed an extra day to find time to meet with all the other twitterers and bloggers I missed seeing Tuesday night. But I was happy to get back home to my hubby, our puppy, and my margaritas with fresh limes of course!

And that is the (rather long and detailed) tale of my journey to one day of RWA11…and then I lived happily ever after with my new books.

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A lyrical preparation for RWA11

You better watch out
You better pack light
Better update TBR’s
I’m tellin you why
RWA11 is coming to town!

I’m making a list
And checking it twice
Gonna buy books both naughty and nice
Lusty reader’s coming to town!

I see you when you’re tweeting
I know when my Google Reader updates
I don’t care if you’ve been bad or good
So say hi to me for goodness sake!

Sometimes I express myself best through song, repurposing lyrics for my own needs just works for me!

I leave tomorrow morning for a whirlwind trip to NYC for Romance Writers of America’s 2011 National Conference. Besides all the bookalicious stuff, I hope to have some down time to catch up with my bestie from college who I’m staying with, and will also be going in to the NYC office of my company. 

I went to RWA in 2009 when it was just a hop, skip and a jump from my house in DC, back when the blogging world was shiny, new and fascinating to me. And back when I wrote 20 blog posts a month 0.0 hard to believe, I know!

Is 2011 your first RWA experience? Or are you considering going for the first time next year? Want to know what it’s like? There are a TON of awesome #RWASurvivalTips and prep posts out there, but here are my posts from 2009 when I was a newbie (I didn’t go last year, the trek to Orlando was a bit too much for me, but I can NEVER say no to NYC!)

As you can see I did not pay the $500 or whatever it is to attend the conference conference part. Like all the workshops, networking luncheons, panels, etc. Back in ’09 I thought, “oh I’m just a reader, that stuff isn’t applicable to me, I wouldn’t belong in there.” Well I was just plain old wrong, it is A HUGE MIX of readers and authors, people in the “industry” or people who are just fans of certain authors, not every panel will be super interesting to just a reader, but we are always welcome, and you will also see other non-authors/non-editors etc in the conference conference part. So if that stuff interests you GO FOR IT. You just won’t see me there :) I’m not into blogging enough to justify the cost, but the 100+ free books you get for being an attendee of the official conference is still very tempting. Maybe one day I will do the conference part, but for now I’m happy to just buy the books and do the social gatherings!

Speaking of, I’m doing my research right now for this year’s Literacy Autographing in the Marriott Marquis Ballroom, I want to have my list of authors I want to meet and books I want to buy all set by the time I hit the madness at 5:30pm tomorrow! Their list of authors isn’t really the best visual for me, so I like the way this list of who will be there is divided up, even though I don’t think I’m be participating in the trading cards part, ha.

Then I shall shoulder my bag of newly purchased lusty books and head to Wendy the Super Librarian’s Blogger Bash in the Atrium afterwards!

I’m following the #RWA11 hashtag and am so freaking pumped to see everybody! While back in ’09 I didn’t have a smart phone, but assuming AT&T gets service I should be live tweeting, and I will definitely write up some posts about my trip! Hope to see some of you there!

NYC here weeeee coooooooooommmmmmmee!!!!!!!!!! 

Life imitating art (books) Vol I

I live my life with my nose in a book. Not to say I don’t experience things in real life, but more often it happens that I will see something in person, or be having a discussion with a friend and realize I’ve only read about it before, whether it’s place, person or thing. When I first moved to DC I felt like I knew what SE DC was like after reading about the neighborhood in James Patterson’s Alex Cross books, as that’s where the detective lives and the neighborhood is described in such detail.

Sometimes I learn about a statue mentioned in a historical fiction book, a work of art a heroine was compared to, the type of architecture of the hero’s ancestral home, and then I finally see the statue or painting in a museum, or hear someone point out a column and I realize “oh so THATS what Georgian architecture looks like?!”

So what I’m leading up to is a specific thing that’s been on my mind that I’ve only read about…I’m not explaining this very well…argh.

An alternate title for this post should have been, “Why Crows Creep Me Out”

Subtitle, “Because of what I’ve heard about them in works of fiction.”

Crows really creep me out, y’all. I think of them as evil familiars, harbingers of bad luck, manifestations of mean mythical creatures, or just plan old bad omens.

So crows are everywhere, lots of them in DC, and every time I hear that caw caw, or see them ruffle their feathers in a tree above me, I shiver and look away. Crows are dark. And ominous. They have creepy eyes. They eat carrion. They are BIG. I am scared of them. And here is why:

1. Bambi – yeah, that’s right, starting off with an EARLY memory here!!! This is embedded in my brain: the crows circling above the hunter’s fire in the movie. And the cawing dear lord the cawing haunts my dreams.

2. Irish Mythology:

  • Nora Roberts: I can’t pin this to a particular Nora Roberts book, but I feel like some of hers have mentioned things like “If you see 3 crows sitting on a fence someone close to you will die” as she’s all about Irish lore.
  • Red Branch, by Morgan Llywelyn: found this on my parent’s bookshelf one summer when I was in middle school, I’m 100% positive NONE of you have read this, but there was definitely something creepy about crows in this retelling of the Hound of Ulster’s story from Irish mythology (you’d like this if you like The Mists of Avalon)
  • In the Mercy Thompson series one of the Grey Lords is a crow, a reference to the war goddess or battle crow in Irish mythology – Badb.

3. The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper: oh god oh god *squeezes eyes shut* just thinking about these books and the crows in them makes me shudder a little! Will sees crows everywhere, is chased by them, is chased by people who turn into crows while trying to figure out what is changing in his life and that he is part of a magical world, and he learns the rooks are the servants of the Dark. I haven’t seen the movie (The Seeker) but I heard they did a good job visuals of how scary the rooks/crows are, can’t find a clip, but here is a poster. This is Will waiting at his bus stop…soooo creepy! I could not wait for that bus with those rooks watching me.

And this was the cover of my copy of the book from the first time I read this series when I was in middle school, can you blame me for becoming scared of crows? All these negative associations of crows/rooks started for me when I was so young!

4. The evil brother, Professor Screw Eyes, from We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s story – I seriously doubt any of you lusty reader readers have seen this cartoon kids movie, anyone…anyone? *crickets* Well anyways Professor Screw Eyes is constantly surrounded by the beady-green-glowing-eyed crows and check out what happens to him at the end of the movie!!!!!

One of the scariest things about crows is there are always so many of them! The image of a tree covered in crows, with them all rustling their huge wings and cawing is just too much for me.

So that is the story of how my real life is affected by things I read in books. Yes I have a crazy, overactive imagination, yes I still duck and flinch when I see black wings out of the corner of my eyes, yes there are more of these examples to come. And yes, no matter how fabulous some people in real life think crows/ravens/rooks might be (even if Jeremy and Mrs. Frisby were friends in The Secret of NIMH were friends) because of what I’ve seen of them in fictional books and movies I will NEVER like them!

What about y’all? How is your real life affected by fictional works?

Library Loot: Paranormal, I wish I knew how to quit you

Dear Paranormal Romances, Urban Fantasy, YA Paranormal, and cliff hanger series of any kind – I wish I knew how to quit you. Seriously 99% of the books I see recommended on twitter and blogs are of the Paranormal/UF variety. Any time I add a book to my wish list, holds list at the library, TBR…anywhere…seems to be part of a PNR/UF series.

And I can’t stop myself from reading them. (Unless they’re only about vampires…those I just can’t do right now). So here is my loot this week:

 1. <a href=”Eon""“>Eon, by Allison Goodman – first off, it’s bothering me enough to mention, but is pretty silly to whine about…i am VERY confused by all the different titles and covers for this book! i know the author is an Aussie, but still the four covers and four different titles for one book annoy me personally /rant. i saw the Book Smugglers post on the second book in this duology recently and knew i must must must read them. YA magical adventure starring girl-disguised as boy? yes please!

 2. <a href=”Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega, Book 1)""“>Cry Wolf and Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs – i just started reading Patricia Briggs…behind the times i know, but again, im picking up all the PNR/UF series that come so highly recommended, so of course these are on it! My last library loot got me into her Mercy Thompson series, so while i wait on hold for the most recent installment there i thought i’d get started on the Alpha and Omega series.

 3. <a href=”Must Love Hellhounds""“>Must Love Hellhounds anthology by Charlaine Harris, Ilona Andrews, and Meljean Brook – reading three short stories by some of the best PNR/UF authors out there that are really just teases to their larger world-building in their series is NOT a good way to quit the genre! after reading this this weekend im SO much more tempted to pick up more of their stuff! To be honest the Britlingens Go To Hell by Charlaine Harries was super weird and not my cup of tea at all, but it did make me miss Sookie and Eric a bit, even though i got really annoyed at that series. AND i’ve been really good with Ilona Andrews and only gotten addicted to her The Edge series, but the story in here about Andrea from the Kate Daniels series is a SERIOUS temptation to get into that one too. sigh. It’s a rough life guys.

And when I thought of the quote in the title for this post I OF COURSE had to go watch several clips from the movie, specifically the short titular one here. I watched the longer version and got weepy, man oh man their love story just SLAYS me, and my google image search of the quote prompted so many other photos that mad me sad. But then I found this one and HAD to share, obvi. You’re welcome.

shirtless jake gyllenhaal addiction > my current addiction to PNR/UF series

 Library loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader and Claire from The Captive Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.