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:
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.
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).
I also met the following fabulous authors either just to say hi, or to pick up one of their new releases:
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:
- 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*
- 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.
- It’s Always Been You, by Victoria Dahl: ARC from the author! *dies of excitement*
- Call Me Irresistible: A Novel, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
And then from Katie (thanks again m’dear *blows kisses*)
- A Matter of Scandal, Suzanne Enoch
- A Season of Angels, Debbie Macomber
- Under Her Skin, Susan Mallery
- Just Like Heaven, Julia Quinn
- Too Good to be True, Kristan Higgins
- Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart, Sarah MacLean
- 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!
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!
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.