Hey all! Sorry I’ve been gone for so long from here. I’ve been battling some pretty severe sleep deprivation issues along with terrible seasonal allergy attacks that have left me exhausted with no energy to post or read. But I had such a good time at the RWA Spring Fling event this weekend I wanted to share it all with you.
Spent a lovely three days surrounded by fellow romance writers, learning more about my craft, making all sorts of new friends, overcoming my fears and dancing and partying. 🙂 I have to thank my very good friend Gina X. Grant for telling me about this event in the first place and then hooking me up with her fellow Toronto friends/writers – Olivia, Sherry, Sarah and Wendy – who were there for the event, too. We all got along so well and I didn’t feel like a lost soul.
The event was big – about 500 people. And as I suspected, being an m/m writer, only about 1% of that was my genre. There were 12-14 people in the only m/m panel they had, but I found out there was only one person last year. So we’re starting to make our presence known! And everyone I met, when they asked what I wrote, no one turned their nose up at me, but rather were interested in how I, as a straight woman, started writing gay fiction.
Needless to say, I made friends with the other women who attended the m/m panel and bizarrely enough, one of them was in the Hot Night critique session! That’s the event where I had to get up and read my steamy sex scene with my firemen. This gal, Lisabeth, was fearless and she volunteered to go first. After the positive feedback she received, I got up my courage and read next. I had over half the room give me feedback, both verbal and written. It was neat to see these traditional m/f romance writers tell me my two guys were really hot. 🙂 So I needn’t have worried people were going to get up and walk out.
The panels themselves that I attended were very informative. Two in particular. One was on writing contemporary romance, as opposed to historical or sci-fi or paranormal. I loved the description in the program book – “How to write 300 pages without demons, death or world destruction”. Ha! Anyway, all of the panels were given by award winning, NY Times best selling authors with dozens of books to their names. I found it very interesting that all of the points that they brought up about writing a successful contemporary story, I already incorporate into my own! That really gave me confidence in my writing skills.
Then I attended one on writing romantic suspense. I don’t write traditional suspense, with a murder mystery, etc. but since all of my characters are cops or firemen or paramedics, my stories are suspenseful because of the danger their job brings. But I knew she was going to be talking about law enforcement, etc. Well I nearly fell off my chair when she told everyone that she highly suggests people look into taking local citizen police academy classes! Just like I have! So I raised my hand at the end and said how much I agreed with her, what an invaluable experience it was for me. She was really pleased and a bunch of people in the room were looking at me, impressed. 🙂
Then two crazy things happened to me on Saturday that put me in the spotlight, in front of all 500 people. At lunch I ended up winning a Barnes and Noble gift card in a raffle so had to go up and accept it. Which was cool. I couldn’t believe I won. Then things got totally nuts that night at the Gala Dinner. It was a “dress up” event with dinner and a keynote speaker, a silent auction and then dancing. When we went into the ballroom there was a paperback book at each place setting, donated by the keynote speaker. Everyone just pretty much put them to the side and forgot about them as the evening went along. Right before the dancing was to start, one of the organizers went up on stage and said they had a special raffle – a “first dance” with the DJ. We were to all take our book and flip to page 111 and someone had a piece of paper there. Yeah, you can guess what happened next. Suddenly I’m staring at the words “YOU’RE THE ONE!” and before I could stop myself I said something like, “Holy…” giving myself away. Well all of my Canadian friends heard me and start howling and clapping. So much for trying to pretend I didn’t see it! Busted! Next thing I know all 500 women are clapping and I’m being called up ON STAGE with a freaking SPOTLIGHT on me! The DJ appears from the corner and OMG, he was this incredibly tall, handsome, well built African American man. He takes my hand and kisses me on the cheek and the next thing I know, music is playing and we’re dancing on stage and everyone is still hooting and hollering and clapping. He starts doing all these sexy moves and spinning me and then he’s on his KNEES in front of me, running his hands up my legs!! I must have been 20 shades of red at that point, laughing my head off, and these women are just going NUTS. The dance finally ended and he kissed me again (did I mention he smelled incredible?) and thanked me and I got to leave the stage amidst even more applause. IT WAS THE MOST SURREAL EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE.
I was a pretty popular person there afterwards. 🙂 I had a zillion women coming up to me – even in the bathroom! Two of the organizers saw me and wanted to thank me for being such a good sport. When they came up with the idea they didn’t know if it would go over too well, so they were thrilled I had a good time with it, even though I was embarrassed as hell. *g* Later on I took my winning raffle ticket and got a proper photo with the DJ and everyone on the dance floor started clapping again. My friend Sherry has the pic on her camera, so as soon as she emails it to me I’ll be sure to post it.
The conference wrapped up the next morning, so it was a fantastic way to end my very first RWA event. One of the gals from the Chicago North chapter of the RWA wants me to become an official member now. And my Canadian friends made me an honorary member of the TRW and have invited me to fly up in just a couple weeks to attend an event up there. And it looks like I’m going to do it! Never been to Toronto and I’d love to see them all again, especially my buddy Gina, who started all this. 🙂
Whew! Sorry that got so long-winded! Just had a really good time with lots to share!