Saturday, July 25, 2015

RWA Round-Up

Once upon a time, when Wendy would attend RWA conferences she would blog every day - sometimes staying up until 2AM to get posts written. I ran on caffeine, very little sleep, and there were blog posts. However now I am old and choose to stay up until post-midnight having a grand ol' time with romance peeps and hence, no blogging. Or pictures.  I'm crap for taking photos.  Sorry about that folks.  Anyway, so how has RWA been this year?  Mostly good. I don't think this is the best conference I've ever attended (hard to top winning Librarian of the Year in 2011!), and while I've had nothing but positive interactions this year, the vibe seems a little off. But more on that in a moment.

My conference starts a day earlier than everybody else because Wednesday means Librarians Day. The photo is the giant pile of books that was at all of our seats before the day started - and that was before they opened up the Librarians Only Goody Room (MORE STUFF!).  I presented a panel with author Laura Florand on librarian/author partnerships and how we can work together.  Laura designed this presentation with Jennifer Lohmann (author and former Librarian of the Year 2010) but sadly Jennifer couldn't make the trip this year.  So Wendy was sent in to pinch-hit.  Luckily I had seen them give this presentation before, so I had a good feel for it already, and people seemed to like it, so go Team Laura, Wendy & Jennifer!

The Literacy Signing on Wednesday night was a madhouse - which I was prepared for.  Having been at RWA in NYC the last time it was here (2011), I remembered how cramped the ballroom was.  I will say it was well organized though.  They had us "wait in line" in a separate ballroom, where there WERE CHAIRS (!) where we could SIT DOWN (!) instead of standing in line for eternity.  Do that again next year will you RWA?  Sometimes you're standing in line forever and you're exhausted before they even open the doors.  Not so this year.

I spent most of Thursday going to various publisher sponsored booksignings and talking to authors. I also attended part of Barbara Freethy's keynote speech before I had to hussle out of there for a 9AM appointment.  Honestly, I can't remember what else I did now until the evening hours, when I had a couple of invites to cocktail parties.  Since I write for Heroes & Heartbreakers (a Macmillan Publishing entity), I made my way to St. Martin's party where I ran into Megan Frampton and KM Jackson.  Then, while waiting for my bartender to pour me the biggest glass of chardonnay I've seen in my life (I could have gone swimming in it), I saw Jamie Brenner AKA Logan Belle.  I've reviewed a lot of her books (Now or Never is the gold star winner) and she was so happy to see me, and so gracious - well it was a nice ego boost.  I discovered her work when I was at RWA in 2011 and got one of her books at a Kensington booksigning, so I feel like we've come full circle together.

After St. Martin's I made my way to the Avon party, where I hung out with the gals from All About Romance, had a nice chat with this year's Librarian of the Year and ran into Sarah from Smart Bitches.  I never see Sarah at these conferences - she's always busy doing her thing and I'm busy doing mine - so it was nice to chat with her.  I closed down the Avon party, having WAY too much fun, then came back to the hotel to gossip with Rosie and LB Gregg.  Kristie was the only sensible one of us - as she was already asleep.

Friday. Oh, Friday. Did I mention I had fun at the Avon party?  I didn't get a ton of sleep, so my butt was kind of dragging.  I went to breakfast and listened to Julia Quinn's keynote that I'm still processing.  I haven't had the chance to read any chatter about it outside of Twitter, but my reaction was mixed.  I can't exactly pinpoint why it irritated me at times, but it did.  Basically it was about not being able to please all of the people all of the time, crazy-ass reader mail, and then heartbreaking, emotionally soul-lifting reader mail.  Someone smarter than me needs to write about it. Jessica, this would be your queue.

I attended a panel that LB Gregg was sitting on - about conflict in LGBTQ romance and hit most of the publisher signings.  Then for dinner, Rosie, LB and I went to Bareburger, a crunchy granola sort of burger joint and OMG, was that ever yummy!  We got back in time for LB to get herself all fancy for the Harlequin party, and the rest of us ended up hitting the bar. Hilcia came in for the evening - and a huge group of us ended up closing down the bar.  So much for Wendy catching up on her sleep.

This morning my alarm went off and I knew it wasn't happening.  So I skipped breakfast and the Nalini Singh keynote to get some more rest.  I shipped the last of my boxes of books back to the office (I got so many books for work - So. Many.) and Rosie, Kristie and I had a nice lunch.  Now it's rest time until a 4PM appointment and getting ready for the RITA ceremony.

As for the vibe at this year's conference?  It seems off to me. I don't think it's because people are mean girls or jerks - I just think everybody is tired, possibly feeling discouraged. Some conferences feel so uplifting and positive, and this year people just look tired to me. Maybe that's because I'm tired? Maybe it's the chatter I'm hearing from authors who feel overwhelmed?  This new model of having to publish 39 books a year in order be "a success."  The drive that if you don't have something new out there every month readers will "forget" you and move on?  But again, this is just MY perception.  Other authors, other bloggers may be getting a totally different vibe.  I will say that the conference has been a positive experience (it usually is for me). I don't want anyone to read this blog post and think otherwise. Hey, it could be I'm just projecting (because I'm tired!) - but I don't think so.  Which means I hope the takeaway from this RWA conference is be good to yourself, take care of you.  Readers who will forget you in 2 weeks if you don't have something new out aren't necessarily readers you want (easy for me to say, but there you have it).

I've also gotten some nice, encouraging comments about this blog from several people. Folks who lurk and don't necessarily comment.  I want to say that I appreciate those encouraging words more than you know. This hasn't been the easiest year for me, blogging-wise. I do think there is room out here for quirky, goofy little individual blogs like mine, but it's really easy to lose sight of that in the wake of Big Blogs and Promo, Promo, Promo. Blogging is different from what it was when I started doing this a billion years ago (OK, 12), but there's still value in being out here on the fringes.  Which means like romance heroines being heroes of their own stories?  I guess Wendy is the hero of her own blog.


lamlovestoread said...

I love you blog. It's nice getting perspective from a librarian who loves romance I'm not a big fan of westerns but will always read you blog. It's nice hearing about the conferences I can't go to them like hearing about your experience. I look forward to more great blog posts in the future.

Nikki ( said...

Well, then a high five from another lurker. I really enjoy your blog, and I don't even remotely have similar book taste to you. I just enjoy your passion for it all, and I enjoy reading about people's love for books. So yey.

S. said...

Wendy, I'm happy you had a good time despite the off moods and the tiredness. How I wish I lived closer so I could go one
Happy reading!

Wendy said...

Thank you for the nice words everybody! I had a great time, and it's always fun connecting with people in person that you normally just interact with online.

What I find so interesting is that each conference is different, sometimes boiling down to what city we're in that year. New York literally is the city that never sleeps - maybe that's why so many of us were tired? Will next year in San Diego find everybody with a laid-back surfer dude mentality? Time will tell :)

Kim in Baltimore said...

Aloha, Wendy! Great seeing you out and about at RWA! I enjoyed the conference and agree everyone was tired ... because the conference plus NYC can be exhausting. Regarding the vibe, I picked up on that same vibe at several smaller cons in the past year, thus leading me to pitch the workshop that was accepted at this year's conference, A Tale of Two Bloggers - How to Promote Your Book (and have a life). Kim Rocha and I wanted to assure authors that they don't have to kill themselves on social media (and drain their bank accounts) to promote a book. We told them to invest some time in doing it right through a few media outlets ... and then go write the next great book.

See you next year in San Diego!

Hilcia said...

I had a wonderful time Friday night with everyone. Thank you for all the book recs. I have a great place to begin now. :)

Ani Gonzalez said...

Thanks for the write-up Wendy. I'm glad you had a nice time in the Big Apple. I didn't attend the meeting, but have been following it through social media, and, yes, everyone seems a bit overwhelmed by the new career expectations (more writing, more releases, more social media). I hope we all find some balance in the coming year. It can't be all work all the time.

Kristie (J) said...

I wrote up my blog post and then came here. I also noted that I missed the individual and unique voices of straight up reader bloggers. It's people like you and me and Rosie, Nath, Ames and others who need to keep it going.

liztalley said...

You are the superhero of your own blog and I often drop by (but rarely comment). I love your reviews. They're thoughtful, stream-of-conscioius (in a very good way) and honest. I'm always happy to see you in person and to pop by every week or so to see what you're reading.

FYI, I left in the middle of the JQ speech to put on makeup before the HQ signing so I didn't scare people. Can't render an opinion. But it was nice seeing you at the lit signing :)

nath said...

Hey Wendy!

It was great to catch up with you! Hope the travel home was good :) Wowzer, that pile of books for the librarians. Impressive :P Curious, how many books did you end up shipping home?

This being my 2nd RWA conference only, I couldn't pick up the vibe... but it does feel like everyone is trying to find their balance. I think it is easier for established authors... while new authors must feel more pressure to write to be remembered. To get a chance.

Wendy said...

Kim: I'm curious if other genre writers feel the same sort of pressure that romance authors can? Sometimes I think because there is so much published within the genre there's more emphasis on "getting noticed" by readers. I mean, do newbie mystery writers worry about this stuff?

Hils: I LOVED seeing you again and was so happy we could spend some time together. And hey, it gave me and Kristie another excuse to talk westerns.

Ani: Amen. I've feeling overwhelmed right now and I'm not trying to publish any novels. Surely there's some balance to be found somewhere?

Kristie: Because there is nothing better than squee'ing and ranting about books with the ones you love :)

Liz: It was great seeing you too! What I found interesting about JQ's speech is that I truly think it depended on "who you were" in that room. My impression is that authors loved it, and those of us on the reader/blogger/commentary end of the spectrum were more reserved.

Nath: I shipped four boxes. Three large ones, and one smaller box that probably at one point held category romances for the Harlequin signing. I had thought I picked up books mostly for work - and then I saw everything I got at the Harlequin signing. I might have gone a little insane with the category romances. Um, just a little.