Friday, August 08, 2008

RWA, day one. Our big adventure begins!

Before I kick-off my overview of my RWA experience, I just want to say that jet lag is a truly horrible thing, and it gets even more horrible as you get older!! We were away from home for a grand total of six days. During that time we had two 24-hour periods where we didn’t sleep at all, due to travel. So we lost two nights there. On the other nights we were trying to stay up to attend evening events, wearily poking up our eyelids, and then waking up at 3 and 4 AM with our bodies thinking we’d overslept. And there was no time for napping to catch up. Argh! If I get to do this again, I know I need an extra day at the outset where I do nothing but catch up on sleep and try to acclimatise.

Our big adventure begins! Tuesday morning and the alarm went off at 3.30 AM. The dead of night, and boy did I feel it. Met with Madelynne and Portia at Leeds airport. It was pitch black,and I had to say goodbye to my Real Life Hero for a whole six days. Waaah! Yup, I'm that bad. I love him far too much for my own good ;o)

Checked in and then breakfasted, ready for our short flight to Heathrow. This was the part I was most worried about, making that vital connection. If we were delayed and missed it, the whole trip would be messed up. Luckily everything went smoothly and we transferred onto the San Francisco flight in good time. My only regret at this point was that I had cancelled my assisted transfer. I have bone disease in my leg and walking isn’t good for me. When I saw both flights were from terminal one, it sounded easy. Ha! The last time I went through terminal one at Heathrow it was tiny. Apparently they cut it in half and shoved a freakin’ shopping mall in there. I live and learn!

The international flight mostly went well, too, and the time passed quickly because we were so excited about what was ahead. We talked a lot about writing and what we hoped to gain from the conference. The three of us all had slightly different hopes and it was interesting recapping at the end and noticing how the RWA experience fulfilled all our aspirations, and more, because there were so much on offer.

As an aside - just before the trip, I’d been bemoaning the fact I couldn’t remember much about my last trip to SF. I remember coming home but I didn’t remember the flight out. Getting old, it does that. ;-) I was grateful that my memory started dredging up details as soon as I got on the plane, proving that it’s all in there somewhere!

Everything was going swimmingly until late on in the flight there was a medical emergency. It’s not nice at all hearing “if there is a medical expert on board please come forward,” in that kind of desperate tone that tells you it’s very serious. Everyone on the plane was willing someone to stand-up, and no one did. It was hard to witness and our hearts went out to the very sick man a few rows behind us, and his family. I was hugely impressed by the way the staff handled it, giving him oxygen and attending to him until we landed. The airport paramedics came on board and took the gentleman off for treatment as soon as we landed. Phew. Fingers crossed he’s well now.

We got through immigration and customs quickly, and were soon queuing for a taxi. The temperature was said to be about the same as it had been in England, but the lack of cloud cover made it feel so much warmer, and the light was marvelous.

We arrived at the hotel. Wow! I have to confess it was overwhelming to find the lobby already jam-packed with women chattering excitedly and watching for their friends to arrive. I wasn’t expecting that, since I knew that many people weren't arriving until the next day. The vibe was exhilerating! We checked in and headed for our rooms.

You’d think getting some sleep at this point would have been a good idea, wouldn’t you? The thing was I knew it would be harder for me if I didn’t break the ice that first evening. I’m very shy when I first meet people and especially so in groups. There was going to be a lot of that. Luckily I had been invited to a function, a jetlag supper held by my wonderful agent, Roberta Brown. After showering and unpacking, I staggered back to the lobby and braved my nerves. I’m so glad I did! I got to meet a bunch of other authors, and Roberta herself. I was so nervous, but Roberta was wonderful, so warm and welcoming. She gave me a big hug and introduced me around. I got to meet so many lovely authors that I know from the internet, Lillian Feisty, Jax Cassidy, Kathleen Dante, Eden Bradley, Larissa Ione, Angela Knight, and many more.

The agency dinner was held at Buca Di Beppo, an Italian themed restaurant. We were in the “Pope” room and it was so much fun. The problem was I was fading fast by this point. I was sitting in between Eden Bradley, who shared a wealth of information about the publishing industry, and the talented agent Kristin Nelson. It was fascinating hearing about how agents relate to each other and how they handle and share industry news. These two ladies and the chatter around the table kept me focused, and Kristin kindly walked me home afterwards. Ahem. Yes, I was that bad. LOL! Apparently I looked very pale. Of course that’s nothing too unusual for me, ;-) but I did feel myself fading in and out as if I wasn’t really there. Surreal!

In the photo you can see Kristin Nelson on the left, moi, Eden Bradley, and Lillian Feisty. I don’t look too bad, considering - you can certainly see how happy I was to be there! I think the photo might have been taken by the lovely Kathleen Dante.

I’d been on the go for something like twenty-eight hours by the time I got to sleep that first night, but even as I got into my (very comfy!)bed, having flown halfway round the world, I was so thrilled to be there! The energy and the vibe in the hotel was simply amazing. I was barely able to sleep, despite my extreme exhaustion, because of my excitement about the meetings I had over the next few days. More on that tomorrow!


Portia Da Costa said...

That's a brilliant first day report! I can barely remember a thing... most of it is just a blur, with odd little moments of clarity.

Well done, you!

Saskia Walker said...

Thank you!I'm trying to get it all down before it slips away. ;-)) Tomorrow I reveal our stereotypical tourist behaviour. We should be ashamed. lol!

jax said...

I'm so happy we got to finally meet and I'm sorry I didn't get to say goodbye, but I hope to visit London or see you again next year. Big hug and kisses!

Saskia Walker said...

Jax, I had to resist sneaking you into my suitcase! You're far too adorable! :) Thank you for making me feel so welcome.