Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Taking the Publishing World by Storm (or at least by a light rain)

So the Romance Writers of America annual conference began. Time to get to work!

We eased into this whole business thing by having dinner with my editor, Stacy Boyd, as well as Desire editor Charles Griemsman and Desire author Cat Schield. I'm going to be honest. After two straight dinners with beverages winding up on my lap, I was worried that some sort of fluid would be spilled on someone. This fear got even stronger when Cat let my child--Chief Spiller--play with her Ipad and the deluxe Angry Birds. I owe that woman. Big Time.

But we made it through dinner sans spill, thank God. The next morning was the first official Harlequin event, Digital Day. This is where nice people who know about things like Twitter and stuff tell me what to do. Like join Twitter.

This was mere moments before I was informed I had to join Twitter. Notice I'm still smiling. Here. Come follow me on Twitter

That evening, I had a truly productive, happy meeting with Stacy. She'd just finished reading the first Bolton book and was enthused. This was thrilling, because most of the time, I have no idea what I'm doing. It's great to know when it's working! So, if everything works according to plan, everyone else will have a crack at those Bolton Boy in 2013, with the two follow-up novels to A Man of His Word coming out in 2012. EXCITING!

Actually, let's just take a moment to pause. 'Exciting' is not nearly a strong enough word to sum up the happy fruit of my four years of labor. Let's all take a moment to jump up and down and scream "YIPEEE!" as loud as possible, okay? Because, trust me, that's what I'm doing right now.

Then I had Junior's cheesecake with Carolyn and Jennifer of Romance Novel News. Two funnier, nicer women I'm not sure I'll ever meet--emphasis on the funnier part there. I'm not sure we're allowed back in Junior's, though.

The next day I went to some workshops, listened to some speeches, and wore white pants without anyone--including myself--spilling on them. Then I went to a blogger's tea thrown by Harlequin--hey, I do occasionally review books for RNN!--where the lovely ladies made me wear a fascinator-style headpiece. It was a tea, after all. I met fellow new Desire author Andrea Laurence, which was a very good thing. 

That's me with Andrea on the left and Cat Schield in the middle (sans fascinators). The new Desire Authors!

That night, I went to one of only two chapter events I ever make it to--the Chicago-North RWA champagne party. For reasons that are best described as 'insane,' I took my husband and son. I seriously thought my hubby would have a glass of champagne while The Kid cribbed a few pieces of chocolate--and then they would leave. They were still there an hour later. The chocolate was Lindt, so The Kid looked like a chipmunk. I guess he was adorable enough to be allowed to stay.

After we all left, I went up, tucked him into bed, and went to the last party of the night--the Harlequin pyjama party--because Harlequin headquarters are in Canada, and that's how they spell it up there. I wore my fascinator.

As you can see, I have a twig on my head. Which was good, because Larissa Walker wore hers, too. Even though Larissa and Amy Wilkins made me join Twitter, they turned out to be a fun bunch of women. I won't even talk about how fun Vivienne Courtoise was. I think her bunny glasses say it all.

Thursday came and went in a rush. I went to the Harlequin Series Toast--where I drank champagne on a mostly empty stomach--and then, that night was the Harlequin Publisher's Party.

It was, in a word, crazy. NOT the kind of crazy where nearly nude male models wear fig-leaf briefs and pretend to be classic statues like David. But it was CLOSE.

Here's the funny story about the party. I didn't feel awesome to begin with--see above about champagne on an empty stomach, followed by a too-heavy dinner. I got crammed into a van with seven other ladies. After bobbing and weaving through the crazy city streets, we get to the Waldorf Astoria. That alone is awesome. I go to pay my share for the ride, and the rest of the van laughs at me. Little did I know that the woman who was in the front seat was Brenda Chin, senior editor of Harlequin Blaze. She paid. I was very thankful as I tried to remember if I had said anything embarrassing on the ride over.

Okay, no. Disaster averted. Into the Waldorf! Where I promptly discovered I was not on The List. As in, not going to the party. This is the moment where panic set in. "But I write for Harlequin!" I said in a voice that was not even a little whiny. An Official Person was called over, I handed over my business card, and was shunted to the side.

Sheer panic.

But then my knight in shining armor--better known as Charles Griemsman, Desire Editor--walked up with USA Today Bestselling Author Day Leclaire. "What are you doing over here?" Charles asked. "I'm not on the list." I swear, the hackles visibly went up on Charles' neck. "You're not on the list? Oh, we will see about that!"

Luckily, before Charles could go all velociraptor on someone, the Official Person said I could go in. I was given my pair of socks and the green light.

Yes. Socks. With Harlequin embroidered on them. Before I could grasp that, I found myself standing with Day and Charles in front of a Harlequin backdrop with the world's Grumpiest Old Man Paparrazi. "They tell me 300, and now they say 500. It's elder abuse, I tell you--Elder Abuse. Now smile!" Trust me--smiling was the only option at that point.

So I go in, carrying my socks.

So, it turned out that you need socks because everyone--and I mean EVERYONE--dances. No exception. They fly in the same DJ every year, and he plays the same set list to open. Editors, publishers, NYT Best-Selling Authors--they all take their shoes off and dance. Every single person.

So I danced. I wandered past the custom-made cupcake and ice cream bars. I drank Shirley Temples at the open bar. I yawned while boogieing. Finally, after 2 1/2 hours, I had to go to sleep.

So I wander down to the street, plaintively asking if anyone wants to share a cab ride back to the conference hotel. Three nice ladies say sure, and ask me what I write. We chitchat back to the hotel, and I get out my money to pay my part. All three women kind of laugh at me. "Honey," the tall one says, "You're in a cab with three editors from the Toronto office."

Oh. I was very thankful as I tried to remember if I had said anything embarrassing on the ride over. No, I think. So good to go there. But thus, the major money-saving trip: Always catch rides with editors. They put cab fare on the company tab.

Friday was also good. I slept in past the first session--Shirley Temples take a lot out of a girl!--but made it to the session I was moderating, "How to Make Yourself Irresistible to Editors." An editor wound up requesting a partial of Mystic Cowboy after that. And thus, my business trip was complete. Mission Accomplished!

So while I didn't necessarily take the Publishing World by Storm, I did manage to take it by a Light Rain. Many thanks go out to Andrea, Cat, Charles, Stacy, Day, Blythe Gifford, Rebecca Finley, and everyone else who helped make my trip insanely productive and fun!


Hannah said...

I'm really proud of you sister. You be fa-moose!

Sarah M. Anderson said...

Thanks, Nanner! I feel like a moose--but that's just all the champagne and Shirley Temples talking!

Sarah M. Anderson said...

My husband is adamant that he did NOT stay the whole time. He insists that it was my imaginary husband and child. Hmmm.

Smarty Pants said...

I'm glad you had fun. The HQ party is like nothing else. It's my highlight of the year. I should've told you who you were in the van with. :)

If it makes you feel better, I drove in the cab back to the hotel with the sr. M&B editor. And of course, my friend threatens me and says I better not throw up on her as we climb in. (My last martini hit me like a freight train.) I was no where near nauseated, but super embarassed!


Sarah M. Anderson said...

Andrea, I feel better knowing that I wasn't the only one struggling with that whole 'ride with strange editors' thing!

Joshua Lenon said...

Better get used to it. Parties and comped rides are burdens the famous must bear.

Blythe Gifford said...

So fun to hear what you were doing when I was not watching. Thrilled it was all great. For those few days, we ALL take the world by storm. Glad you enjoyed it all.

Sarah M. Anderson said...

Joshua, you are so right. Staying up past my bedtime was a serious burden! And Blythe, thanks again for your many kindnesses!

lucylucia said...

Oh how great Sal! I can't wait to hold one of your books!! ya!!!

Mom said...

My Goodness Gracious....Great Balls of Fire. Wonderful.

Sarah M. Anderson said...

Thanks, Lucy, and Mom, I really know that feeling now!