Seated in the lounge of the Marriott River Center hotel, on the Riverwalk, in San Antonio, Texas, I ease back into the comfortable leather chair and embrace my surroundings. RWA 2014 is well underway! I like to play a little game of trying to put a name to a face without glancing first at the name badge. I get it right 60% of the time. There are a ton of new-to-me faces.
When a superstar passes by I smile, inhale, attempting to draw in some of their energy, and then I let the breath out and wish them calm. They need it. I’m certain of that. Seriously, those authors must feel like well-known actors when at National. They have a presence to maintain, and a following that stands in awe of them. And yet, deep down they’re no different than we are. They still worry that maybe they have after-lunch spinach in their teeth, or they’re having a bad hair day, or maybe they’re fretting because they added a few pounds since the event the year before.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips walks by, calm, lovely, focused. Cathy Maxwell gives an amazing, relaxed, and honest keynote address at the Golden Network retreat. Heather Graham hugs me and gives honest down-to-earth advice. Nora Roberts gives her Chat with Nora unflustered, answering questions on the fly that would take me ten minutes to formulate. Then, with 200+ published books behind her, Nora lunches with friends in the open bar, just like the rest of us. We all give her space. Nobody approaches. We respect that she deserves to eat in peace and quiet.
Then there is the Literacy autographing event:
All around me old friends meet and new friends greet, and the energy level is high. I revel in this community and recharge my batteries. RWA is my touchstone: A time to reflect on what I’ve achieved, work out my next moves, brush up on technique, meet with industry personnel, and network with friends old and new. I hang out with authors, Lynne Marshall, Trish Cerrone, and Dee J. Adams, enjoy meeting with Tonya Plank, and Kelly Hartog. I dine riverfront with my GH sisterhood, The Firebirds.
I spend three hours, unexpectedly, talking with Gwen Hernandez who wrote Scrivener for Dummies. And I attend open houses. I congratulate Sarah Vance and Christine Ashworth on their finals in the ImaJinn contest, and Carol Ericson for taking first place in the short contemporary award at Bookseller’s Best. I wait in anticipation of the GH and RITA awards: Jennifer Haymore, Samanthe Beck, Robin Bielman, and T J Bennett, are in the running.
I head on over for my pitch sessions. I’m a veteran, although it has been a couple of years since my last pitch. There to greet me at registration are Maria Seager and Carol Ericson, both from LARA. They smile and wish me luck. Carol tells me to mention her name, because I’m meeting with her editor, and Barb Han had said the same thing. I do that, and the editor responds enthusiastically with how much she loves her authors. It was a natural segue from my introduction to the pitch, and put me at ease, so thank you ladies for your support and generosity. I love how authors build each other up. I did get a request for a full manuscript. Then I met with an agent who remembered me from her blog, which she closed a few years ago. She had taught me so much, and I told her that. She asked for a full manuscript.
While there is no guarantee on these pitches, it’s nice to know that two doors opened fully. The final answer might be no thanks, but that’s okay. All we can do is keep trying, keep growing, keep moving forward. RWA truly is all about networking, honesty, generosity of spirit, loving connections and building upon those connections.