After getting my room key, I registered and received my tote bag full of shiny new books. I was told that this was nothing and the free books would keep coming. I figured that`s nice but really how many could there be. A LOT. I had to leave at least thirty books behind in my room. Most people bought ups or FedEx boxes in advance (there’s even a FedEx store in the hotel) and shipped their books back instead of paying fees on overweight luggage. Unfortunately for me, shipping them to Canada would have cost me a small fortune anyway, so I left mine behind for the hotel staff.
The FIRST TIMER‘s badge. Oh boy. When they pulled this thing out at the registration desk I couldn’t mask my groan of disapproval. I already look like a little girl lost in a shopping mall and now you’re handing me a nice neon banner just in case anyone missed the terrified look on my face? I was assured by the women around me that it was the best thing I could wear since everyone would be extra nice to me. By the end of my conference, I realized they couldn’t have been more right. I found the strength to pass the full sized Starbucks inside the hotel without buying anything and I made my way over to the elevators.
I’m clutching my twenty pound bag of books and my carry-on when the single most amazing coincidence of my life occurred. Victoria Dahl, the reason I started writing, gets on the elevator with me. In total fan- girl fashion, I introduced myself between stuttering out how incredible she is. We awkwardly shook hands as I tried to throw my bags out of my way and she tried to reposition the fruits in hers. I had bid and won a night of drinks at the hotel bar with her through the Brenda Novak Auction and told her I was her date for the night. A few floors of sounding ridiculous and she had to get off. I spent the remaining floors staring at the closed elevator doors in shock like a moron. Lucky for me no one had to get on because my face was about three inches from the door. Holy crap. That. Was. AWESOME. I couldn’t have written a more perfect start to my conference experience.
So I get to my room and plop onto my fluffy king size bed like a twelve year old. No joke, I was this close to jumping up and down on the mattress. But, you’ll be happy to know I put on my big girl panties and contained my excitement.
The “Readers for Life” Literacy Signing. I got my act together long enough to freshen up after my eight hour connecting flight hell and head out the door for the Literacy Author Signing. Someone mentioned that I should get there a half an hour early and I’m glad I listened. The line was huge but everything was well organized and the entry into the main room passed quickly. I got to meet and get an autographed book from every author I had planned. Such an amazing experience.
An hour later, I make my way back to my room, passing the crowds in the lobby and at the bar. To be honest I was half disappointed at this point that I didn’t have a friend to share this experience with like all the other women.
It’s now six thirty pm west coast time and I’ve been up since three am east coast time. I have drinks at ten pm in the bar with Victoria Dahl. I was so tired I wanted to cry. Instead, I opened my room service menu, ordered dinner and took a nap.
At nine pm, the buzz from my cell phone woke me up. I dragged my lazy ass out of bed, pulled out my straightening iron, and got to work, because seriously, I couldn’t show up with pillow marks on my face.
Drinks with Victoria Dahl AND Jami Alden. Yes, that’s right, BOTH of them. Ms. Dahl was wonderful enough to ask me if I wanted to meet anyone else. I never thought this would actually happen though! My two favorite author’s in the world and I got to drink and tell filthy stories with them. THIS my friends, is what pure luck feels like. I drank greyhounds by a pool with my idols! We closed the bar at two am and I floated back up to my room a little tipsy. I couldn’t have cared less that I had to get up in five hours to get ready for my first ever conference workshop.
Within hours of arriving, I was in heaven. Surrounded by people who wanted the same thing as me. I fit in. I belonged. And I couldn’t wait for the workshops the following morning…well, not until the alarm went off the next day.
So, I’m curious, are you considering attending RWA this year? If you’re undecided, what is holding you back? Have you already signed up? Attended before? If so, please share your favorite part of the conference!