Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Live-blogging the RWA Conference - Day 1

The annual Romance Writers of America Conference draws over 2,000 published and aspiring romance authors for four days of editor and agent appointments, writing workshops, publishers' parties, chapter meetings, award presentations, and swapping industry news with other writers and publishing professionals. This year's Conference is being held in Reno, and from now until Sunday morning I'll be live-blogging it for you. I'll try to give you a taste of what's going on here at the Reno Hilton and who's doing what, but because every writer here has different priorities and opportunities, each of us will have a unique Conference experience. If you'd like to share mine, read on.

After more than eight hours of travelling, I arrived at the Reno Hilton hot and cranky and starving. (Who planned a Romance Writers of America conference in the desert in July?) My first priority was to dial the climate control in my room down to the single digits. Then after raising an eyebrow at a lamp shaped like a cactus and a sofa covered in a lariat-twirling cowboys on galloping horses, I looked out the window.

People, Reno is ugly. My second impression (the first being, of course, that it's doggone hot here) was of parking lots surrounded by oppressive brown foothills. Like Siberia, only with good food and none of that pesky permafrost. (Although permafrost sounds pretty good to me at the moment.)

Once you get past the cliched cowboy-and-cactus decorating scheme, my home for the next four days is actually quite comfortable. It's surprisingly spacious, with a good work desk and lots of tables and chairs. I was thinking earlier that I could have ten friends in here without cramping anyone. But the hotel lobby is a bit intimidating to someone who has never understood the allure of gambling. The bells and whistles and flashing lights made me feel anxious, not eager to try my luck. But even if I enjoyed that kind of thing, this isn't a vacation. Yeah, okay, I'll be doing a fair amount of partying with my writer buds. But I justify that by calling it "networking."

After I turned the air conditioning down and sighed over my awful panoramic view of all those dead hills, I ordered room service and my first meal of the day. I figured that in a hotel where the main attraction (after gambling) is eating, the room service couldn't be all that bad.

It wasn't. I had a hankering for potstickers, always a risky thing to order from room service, but these were actually quite good. Best of all, my late lunch/early dinner (depending on which time zone you're in) arrived in just 25 minutes.

I hope you're suitably impressed by my priorities: I haven't even unpacked yet, but here I am, blogging at you. As soon as I empty my suitcases and press a couple of dresses, I'll head downstairs to register for the conference and look up some friends. Then I'll stop by the Goody Room and drop off a basket of the snazzy purple pens I had made up to promote this blog. Conference participants are encouraged to wander into the Goody Room and take whatever promotional items interest them.) I will also be toting some pens, business cards, and Dove chocolates in my canvas "No Rules" bag and handing them out to anybody who looks remotely interested.

There's a mass booksigning scheduled for this evening from 6:00 until 8:30. In a ballroom filled with long tables, somewhere around 500 authors will be seated in alphabetical order, signing books donated by their publishers. It's a public event, and everyone pays cover price for the books. As always, RWA will give 100% of the proceeds to adult literacy programs. I'm not signing this year, as my first book is out of print, but I'll participate at next year's event when the Conference is held in Atlanta.

After tonight's signing I'll meet up with more than a dozen Steeple Hill authors for a late dinner. It'll be around midnight my time, but only 9:00 here in Reno. After traveling all day, I'm not sure I'll be much of a party girl tonight. Especially as I'm planning to meet several writers from the Steeple Hill message boards for breakfast at 7:30 tomorrow morning.

"Sleep this time," my husband admonished last night. He was remembering that two years ago, in New York City, I came down with bronchitis. And last year, in Dallas, I experienced my first-ever migraine. In both cases, I wasn't eating wisely or sleeping enough.

But everyone does it. This conference happens only once a year, so most of us cram an awful lot into the four days and nights. We can sleep next week, right?

Stay tuned. I'll shoot you some more conference tidbits when I next have some downtime.


Katie Hart said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Katie Hart said...

Snazzy purple pens sound neat. I wrote my entire first novel with Pentel R.S.V.P purple pens. And I agree with you about the boringness of cowboys and cactus.

Have fun in Reno!

(Sorry about the deleted comment - typos drive me nuts!)

Anonymous said...

Brenda, you take care of yourself,
but you city girls, There is nothing boring about a Cowboy ;-D

Jaynie R said...


Don't tease me about the goodie room. If you have a camera take pics of the promo items for me *sigh*

I am the ultimate promo item slut.
(can I say slut here? *g*)

lindaruth said...

I was in Reno a few years ago for a convention in September. Not much better, view-wise. It's not a city made for sight-seeing, that's for sure. And I too was somewhat disconcerted by the lights and mirrors and bells and stuff in the lobby, all trying to lure me into the casino area. I figured the idea is to get you in and never let you out.
But we did eat well and I got to see the Letterman, who were doing a show in the hotel.
Have fun.

Brenda Coulter said...

People, I'm pretty busy here, so I won't be able to respond to every comment and e-mail right away. But thanks, everyone, for reading my blog and for taking the time to post a comment.