Fellow Berkley Heat author, Kathleen Dante, sent me this lovely photo that she took at the RWA Passionate Ink Chapter party (Thursday evening.) I like it so much I might have to make Kathleen my official photographer. :)
I think you can see how happy I was to be there. In fact, anyone following along with my RWA experience must surely know by now that I had a fabulous time! :) It was exhausting, and it took its toll on me, but it was worth every moment. A truly memorable occasion and a major milestone in my life. However, it did take its toll....to wit, Saturday was a complete washout! Not so much news to share today, folks.
Our Saturday timetable was somewhat predetermined for us because we were transferring out to the airport Marriott in the evening. We had to check in for our flight home relatively early on Sunday morning and we’d been warned about the marathon taking place in the city. A quiet night at the hotel close to the airport was appealing, although I did have plans for the day. I don’t want to go into details about what state I was in by Saturday morning, but sadly I didn’t make my daytime meets, and I also had to give my apologies for the Spice Briefs author dinner that evening. It was the right thing to do, and, although I was disappointed, I knew I had achieved enough. It was time to be good to my crotchety old body and rest up.
I spent the last few hours before checking out resting in my gorgeous room, enjoying the view and the surroundings. (It cost an arm and a leg, so I was determined to enjoy it. ;-) I had a double because my critique partner was booked in with me, but couldn’t make it. I felt guilty about all the space I had, but in all honesty it would have been torture for anyone to share with me. The jet lag had me wandering around the room wide-awake at 4 am. Nobody deserves a grumpy British woman at that time in the morning.
I packed while looking at the fog slip away from the city from my 17th floor window, you can just about see the last wisps in front of the hills here. The second photo shows part of the hotel building. I like the design, it was glamorous but practical, and I was astonished at the extensive conference facilities beneath ground level.
After struggling with my lunch, I decided to transfer to the airport hotel as soon as I could check-in, and basically slept until Portia and Madelynne transferred later that evening. The following morning we recaptured our experience over a leisurely breakfast and on the airport transfer bus. We marvelled at how the conference offered so much, and could satisfy the requirements of anyone from writers who are just starting out and wanted to learn about the industry, to published authors and industry pros.
Of course any large organisation will have its flaws and its criticisms, and I’m not saying that everything was perfect. Neither was my experience completely positive. I found myself blanked by a couple of authors who made it obvious they weren’t interested in chatting with me when I approached them, but with 2,000 people in one place, (in an industry that often makes us feel as if we need to compete with each other,) it’s going to happen. That’s life. Not everyone in this world is welcoming and warm hearted, but luckily the majority of the people I met were. My experience was positive. I took away vital knowledge about the industry, my genres, and my writing. I met with women who I’ve had online friendships with for several years, people I consider close friends as well as colleagues, and that was an opportunity I wasn’t always sure I’d have. I’m grateful for it.
Our flight home was full of little niggles and became an endurance test. Luckily no delays on flights, but we were surrounded by inconsiderate people. My armrest had been vandalised so I had nowhere to plug my headset into, no music or movies to watch. There was too much light flooding into the cabin to even watch the screen, and the man behind me thumped the back of my seat to punctuate his every other sentence. (Why?) The airline managed to forget my gluten-free meal request, and the baggage “handlers” managed to “remove” one of the handles on my brand-new suitcase, thanks guys.
We arrived at Heathrow, (Monday morning in England) somewhat delirious with exhaustion and relief. That curious state of mind resulted in several bouts of hysterical laughter while we waited for our connecting flight. We even managed to brainstorm some wacky book ideas, and Madelynne and I are going to hound Portia to write them all up. :o) Our endurance was then further tried by our domestic flight, which was on a teeny weenie plane on a blustery and cloudy day. A nice bumpy ride to finish off with.
Walking through Leeds airport, it was hard to believe that it was only six days since we’d left. It felt so much longer because so much had happened. Reunited with my Real Life Hero, I could barely stand up, but couldn’t have been happier. (Oh, and he hadn’t arrived with a full week’s beard growth and bloodshot eyes from playing computer games all night, as he threatened he would. ;)
Tomorrow I’m going to post a little list of things I learned about attending the RWA conference.