Friday, July 8, 2011

This One Book Camp (#RWA11 pt. 1)

Posted by: Keri Stevens
Last week, I lost my Romance Writers of America national conference virginity in a hotel on Times Square.

This was the second trip to Manhattan I’d made in my entire life. During the first, I sprouted the seed of an idea that became Stone Kissed, so I knew chances were I’d get lucky in Manhattan. 
Lindsey,  me, Toni. The people behind us are fascinated by the singer passing plates with one hand while he belts into the mike with the other.

My first bit off luck was tagging along with Toni Blake and Lindsey Faber as we had dinner at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. Broadway hopefuls sang standards while we attempted to carry on meaningful conversation. At least I think it was meaningful. After a less-than-stellar ride from the airport, I had a more than my fair share of the wine on the table, so while I’m sure we solved the world’s problems and saved publishing, I can’t impart any wisdom to you.

Yes, the songstress is standing on the bench behind Toni. Things like this make it difficult to save publishing.
My roommate-extraordinaire and source of my Prize-Winning Hot Rollers (it will make sense in part two) was Gabriella Edwards, author of Until Emie. We worked Monday. We worked hard. I mean…HARD. Our first stop: The Museum of Sex. In the words of Jenn Spiller, we learned things that day we cannot unlearn.

Notice how I have no photos of this outing? None? That's because my three compatriots flat-out refused to let me get pictures of their smiling faces peeking out from behind the antlers of a life-sized statue of three stags engaged in sweet loving. It would have been the Brady-Bunchest photo of the conference, I'm telling you. But no!

Jenn, a recovering New Yorker, devoted herself to training Gabriella and me in the art of hailing a cab. That evening, I poured myself into my first round of spanx and we hailed our way to a special edition of Lady Jane’s Salon, which was a mad crush.’s Ron Hogan was master of ceremonies, and we listened to readings from six amazing new and established paranormal and historical romance authors. I admit it. I was tired. That museum had drained me (insert your own joke here) so when I settled into the leopard-print bean bag to listen, it took the entire crew from Romance University to pull me back out.

Bordello-style decorating at Madame X, home of Lady Jane's Salon. Yeah. I could work here.

Tuesday morning, Gabriella and I decided to take a leisurely stroll through Central Park.  This is what happened:

Tuesday afternoon, we registered for the conference proper. From that moment on, the Name Tag Phenomenon began. Instead of making eye contact, strangers in the elevator stared at our chests. If they knew our names, they smiled and introduced themselves. If not…their eyes slid away. Which brings me to my first (and perhaps only) Advice to Future Conferees: 1. Make eye contact FIRST. 2. Smile. Then, and only then 3. Look at the name tag as you introduce yourself.

It takes practice. I had a hard time with it, myself (and yes, I managed at one point to re-introduce myself to someone I'd met only an hour earlier because I didn't not tag-skim first.)

But squinting at chests and then turning away is rude. Tired, cranky, introverted writers don’t want to give each other the impression that we’re not worth one another’s time, do we? Of course we don’t.

Wednesday, the conference began in earnest. 

Did you go? What advice do you have for Future Conferees?


  1. Thanks so much for the pictures, and for sharing some of your experiences! I so wish I could've been there. It looks like you had a really great time.

  2. That does it. Next time I'm going with you guys. :)

    Thanks, Keri for an awesome post! I worked way too hard in NY and while it was all for a good cause, it's posts like these that make me reassess my priorities.

    Gabriella, you'll be happy to know my cat was fascinated with you in the video. I'm not sure what that means, but it's a little concerning. :)


  3. Hi Keri (waving madly)

    I'm so glad you had a great time here in NY and yes, Lady Jane's is a wonderful atmosphere for romance readings. I'm so glad you had an opportunity to go.

    For me, putting faces to names was the highlight of the conference. I quickly decided to order the CDs and prioritized networking to workshops. It was great to meet you and so many people I speak to online.

    Thanks so much for the pictures. They are really terrific. I'm already looking forward to Anaheim!

  4. Next year's conference is in Anaheim. I'm already trying to prepare myself for what shenanigans Keri Stevens might get us up to at Disneyland.

    Good point about the name badges. I must admit, not looking at the badges first did get me in a bit of trouble. I kept saying, "What do you write?" to non-writers.

  5. How fun! I went to NYC with my mom in 2000 and went to that restaurant (okay, probably a LOT of people who've been to NYC have eaten there, so maybe it's not THAT big of a coincidence, but still). Hopefully those nutty singing waiters who were there when I was have moved on to greener pastures!

    The name tag thing happens at class reunions, too...and we supposedly KNOW those people!

  6. I totally look at name tags first - I have no shame. And poor facial-recognition skills. ;-)

  7. Ah, but Jeffe--do you then roll your eyes and look away if you DON'T recognize the person, or at least attempt a quick smile?

    And Jenn, I'd much rather be mistaken than be snotty (or perceived that way).

    Though next year I totally plan to NOT wear my name tag. Then I'll get the whole, "Who's she? She must be somebody important!" buzz. Perhaps someone will try to pitch to me when I'm in the bathroom stall!

  8. I loved seeing all the pictures and twitter comments! So glad you ladies share the RWA love!

  9. That sounds like a LOT of fun! Glad you had such a good time :)

  10. I've eaten at Ellen's!!! Isn't it a blast? I love the carousel video, too!

    I agree that the whole nametag thing is really awkward. I firmly believe we should all wear nametags on our backs, poster-sized so people don't have to squint. That eliminates a) the boob staring and b) the awkwardness of seeing a familiar face and having to pointedly look down if you've forgotten the name.

    I'm looking forward to seeing all your pictures! (Are you SURE you didn't sneak one of those stags?)

  11. Keri, it would not have been the same NYC experience without you! You made it incredibly special for me. BTW, I do have the "frolicking" stag-stag-doe pic! I can be bought, peeps!

    Anyway, Jenn Stark you are more than welcome to hang with us. But unlike Vegas, what happens with us...goes in someone's blog! :-) And as for your cat, I don't know. Was it happy to see me? Maybe he/she's my long lost median? I must meet the cat!

    Jenn Spiller, it was great to hang with you. I'm gonna try to make Anaheim, but I'm looking at RT for next year. Don't know if I can swing both.

    Becke, I love the back-tag/poster idea. You should make that suggestion. LOL!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...