Friday, July 20, 2007

The Sisterhood of The Traveling Shoes

This is a reprint of the conference wrapup I posted over on Romantic Inks earlier in the week. I'm putting it up here just in case you missed it (and because I'm too lazy to do another blog entry right now). :)
I just got back from a whirlwind week in Dallas, where I (like 2000 other crazy, wild, star-struck and sleep-deprived women) attended the RWA Signature of Success conference. I could easily sum it up in three words (i.e., It Was Awesome!!), but I thought you guys might like to hear a little more detail than that.

There were workshops and signings, free goodies, free books, chapter parties, publisher parties, hallway reunions, drinks in the bar, breakfast with editors, lunch with agents, and a final blowout award ceremony filled with excited, happy women decked out in gorgeous evening gowns. And chocolate. Did I mention the chocolate? It was everywhere. The elevator chats raised the eyebrows of any non-writing hotel guests who overheard them (“he’s an doctor and she’s a sports photographer and he agrees to get her pregnant not knowing that she’s already had a least one secret baby with his arch-rival, a hunky surgeon who dumped her for their marriage therapist…”). I came away exhausted and happy, stuffed full of new ideas, writing tips, industry tidbits, and of course… chocolate. But do you know what I came away with that struck me the most? It was the incredible sense of camaraderie that comes from being among people who all have the same dream, the instant affinity between people who’ve never met before, the cheerfulness and good will that surrounded me, and the amazing graciousness of so many “big-name” authors. (I was also amazed at how often the talk turned to shoes! How many pairs everyone packed, how many were cute, how many were excruciating, who was wearing what, what size they were and where they came from. While I heard a lot of “What do you write?”, I also heard a lot of “Where’d you get those shoes?” Instant bonding, girlfriends! Instant bonding! LOL)

“But Terri, (you say), enough with the shoes. Give us details; names, dates, places! Does La Nora really have a husky voice? Does Sherrilyn Kenyon only wear black? Is Susan Elizabeth Phillips really as nice as people say she is? Why does J.R.Ward wear sunglasses at night?”

Want the real scoop? Let me give you a few little tidbits about some of your favorite authors as I experienced them:

Julia Quinn is as genuine and down-to-earth as any person you’ll ever meet. Julia’s RITA acceptance speech was the most joyful, heartfelt thing I’d heard in years, and she had us all laughing and smiling right along with her.

Teresa Medeiros never stops smiling, and knows how to pay a compliment. She made her way across a crowded room just to say hello, and in doing so, made my night.

Jacquie D’Alessandro has eyes that sparkle with fun and a mega-watt smile that lights up a room. Her little alligator purse was adorable – it looked like a real alligator (as in green, four legs, a tail, and a mouth full of teeth)!

Kathryn Caskie not only looks like a beauty queen, she’s beautiful on the inside, too, and knows how to make a newbie author feel at ease when she’s sitting at a table full of industry bigwigs. Talking with her about dogs and kids kept me from dropping salmon all over my dress.

Julie Ann Long has a impish, mischievous quality that makes you wish she lived next door to you so you could gab over a glass of wine on a regular basis. Laughing with her while sitting at a table full of industry bigwigs nearly caused me to drop salmon all over my dress.

Sophia Nash would look glamorous in a potato sack. (Not that she’d wear one!)

Elizabeth Boyle is outspoken, warm and highly intelligent. She used to work for Microsoft, and believe me, when Elizbo speaks, people listen.

Gayle Callen instantly makes you feel like you’ve known her for years. There’s absolutely nothing intimidating about chatting with someone about whether it’s a good idea to wear white pants to an early morning breakfast. Or whether it’s a good idea to wear white pants at all. LOL

Anna Campbell is upbeat and bubbly, with a fabulous “Aussie” accent. It’s always a party when Anna’s around, and you want it to go on forever just so she’ll keep talking.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips really is as nice as people say she is, and then some! She’s gracious and warm and kind. I want to be her when I grow up!

Sherrilyn Kenyon obviously likes to make a statement, and while I’m not quite sure what wearing a swan on her head during the literacy signing was supposed to be a statement of, it certainly got people talking!

Nora Roberts definitely has a smoky voice, and she’s much more approachable than one might think. When she’s sitting at a table in the lounge area, the crowd parts around her like Moses at the Red Sea — everyone whispering, staring, and afraid to speak. Yet she’s nothing but polite and friendly to anyone who does, and must’ve posed for a gajillion pictures.

J.R. Ward does indeed wear sunglasses at night. Why? The only reason I can figure is because, baby, when you’re cool, the sun’s always shinin’! And did you know that J.R. is also Jessica Bird? Jessica won a RITA for Best Short Contemporary with her Silhouette Special Edition, “From The First”.

There were more people and more details, of course; sharing a cab with Toni Blake, riding the Avon bus with Suzanne Enoch, reminiscing with Robyn DeHart, admiring Kathryn Smith’s adorable party dress. I know I’ve left out a lot, and I know I sound like a star-struck fan girl, but honestly, I’m still reeling from the whirlwind of the last few days.

Any questions about any of your favorite authors? Just ask. If I don’t know the answer, I can probably make something up. :)

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