NEC

Since convention season is in full swing I thought I’d share with you 13 things I learned at my first writer’s convention in 2008 …

1. When in the presence of such authors as Susan Wiggs or Suzanne Brockman … it is rude to drool on their shoes.

2. NYT Best sellers don’t like you rubbing against them to see if their greatness actually transfers.

3. Sleep is overrated.

4. Always call for the guaranteed wake-up call, that way when you don’t receive it … your room is free.

5. If your roommate unpacks more little bottles of liquor than panties … you picked the right roommate!

6. When you go out to lunch, make sure the restaurant is young and trendy and you sit in the section with the cutest waiter.

7. Always set your cellphone alarm. (See #4.) Breakfast begins at 7 am even if you’re still in the shower.

8. Wine and lack of sleep are a baaad combination … especially in the presence of a hunky waiter.

9. Bring an extra suitcase for all the books everyone gives away.

10. Only bring half as much promotional material as you think you need. Remember … they’re all authors looking to promote their books too!

11. Authors always have a storyline on their mind … erotic authors should remember not everyone takes kindly to you sharing it with them. Okay, so this guy has nothing to do with that … but he’s pretty sexy and I couldn’t resist sharing him.

12. Agents and editors are only human. No matter how they glow or appear to walk on water … they are not demi-Gods … they want to contract writers with good books (and you have a good book) … Repeat this mantra as many times as needed to get through your pitch.

13. Whatever happens at the convention … stays at the convention … even if it isn’t in Las Vegas! (Refer back to #8.)

I just got home from the New England Chapter’s conference in Framingham, MA. This is the third year I’ve gone. I always meet up with old friends and get to put faces to authors I’ve only met on the internet. In the grand scheme of things … it’s a wonderful weekend.

It was a weekend filled with speakers and workshops, free books and socializing. I had fun. Really, I did. But the one thing these things always do, which they shouldn’t … is depress me. I know. I know. I’m supposed to leave re-energized and ready to tackle new writing projects. But writing conventions always seem to have the opposite effect on me.

It’s so hard for me to pick up books by the keynote speakers. Books that are in print by major NY publishers and for which, the author got a real advance. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m happy for the authors. I am. But at the same time … I’m envious. Yes, these women have worked very hard. They have toiled at their computers creating amazing characters with wonderfully compelling stories to tell. I don’t begrudge them their success. It’s just that … I want it.

I have been blessed with many things in my life, patience just isn’t one of them. I wanted to sit at my computer five years ago, pound out my first manuscript and become an overnight success. Yeeeeeah, well that didn’t quite happen. Not even close. I’m still working to build my readership and therefore increase my sales so that my writing makes me a decent living. (I was a teacher before this … so really, I’m not asking much. *g*)

I know when I go to conventions that seeing the success of others will set me back a couple of days. Never mind that it took some of these authors 10, 12 and in some cases, 20 years to reach the point where they’re at. Every new multi-book contract celebrated, every contest win, every print book signed just digs at me a little tiny bit and ratchets up my frustration. Then I have to come home and settle myself and remind myself that very little in the publishing industry happens quickly.

So you’re asking yourself why I go. Why do I put myself through all of that? The answer is … the authors. Authors are about the most generous, giving people I know. They commiserate with you over your heartaches and celebrate your triumphs. They share their journeys without reservation and help smooth the road for those that follow. There aren’t many professions that can boast the same. Besides … what’s not to enjoy about hanging with everyone in the bar? Oh, yeah, that’s another definite plus, enjoying the easy camaraderie of the profession.

I have no doubt I’ll go again next year. I just know that when I return I’ll need to set aside a couple of days to recouperate and get back on track. Unless of course I have my own six figure three book deal in the works. Hey … a gal can dream!

So I’m leaving today to go to the New England writer’s conference down in Framingham, MA. It’s only 2 days, but I live so flippin’ far from everyone I add a day of travel on either end. Anyway. I just thought I’d list all the things I love about this conference. (And they’re in no particular order.)

1. Riding from southern Maine to Framingham with some Maine writers. I never get to see them for extended periods of time.

2. Finally getting to see my CP … JEN! I lubs Jen. I talk to her nearly every day, but we both live on opposite borders of Maine so we rarely see each other.

3. Food! They have delicious food and I neither have to cook nor do dishes. I’ll be in heaven!

4. Laughing – It seems like all I do. It’s the best workout for my abs. I love laughing.

5. Meeting Mima (and other Divas). This is the first conference I’m going to where I finally get to meet some of my friends from the internet. I can’t wait!

6. Workshops. There are always wonderful workshops planned at these things. I love just hanging out and listening to other writers talk about writing.


(Oh, baby … my kind of workshop!)

7. Books! Books! and more Books! Every time you turn around there’s another free book on your seat at your place setting. They’re everywhere. Not that I need more books for my TBR pile that’s now flowing out of the two huge book bags next to my bed, but I always want more! Mwahahaha …

8. Little bottles of liquor. They just seem to appear from purses, bookbags, suitcases … they’re everywhere! (Or maybe that’s just me.)

9. Brainstorming. I love to talk plots and twists. I’ll talk about other people’s stories, my stories, it doesn’t matter. Just talking all that writerly stuff is great!

10. Books on CD. The ride is soooo long I usually get to listen to two books on my trip. Great way to catch up on some books I’ve been dying to read, but don’t have time.

11. Amazing writers. They are all over the place. Along with their agents and editors. It’s fun rubbing elbows with them. I’ve met some NYT best selling authors and it tickles me pink every time!

12. Talking. There are so many people I can talk to my heart’s content and I don’t wear out one person. I don’t even mind when they pass me off … the lips just keep flapping. Really, for your own safety … step away from the moving mouth!

13. Getting away from northern Maine. I understand spring has arrived in other parts of the world. I can’t wait to see it for myself!

So, I made it home today! Exhausted and refreshed all at the same time.

The New England Writer’s Conference (NEC) was everything I hoped it would be. Writer’s, agents, editors, learning, networking, brainstorming and FUN! (And if anyone hears that I was naughty and a little wild on our “off” time… don’t believe ’em!) Everything I needed to perk me up and help me to push through to the end of my novella.

The keynote speakers at breakfast and lunch were Susan Wiggs and Suzanne Brockman. Both, incredible writers and awesome speakers who were very inspiring. There were so many successful writers at this convention that beyond these two women, I couldn’t possibly name all the wonderful writers who took time to do workshop presentations that were both informative and confirming for my own writing journey.

And okay, I’m going to admit this … I find some of it a little, well … daunting. No matter where you sit or who you speak to at meals, there were writers who have made the NYT best seller list.

Not every writer wants this … some are truly happy simply sharing their stories. That’s not the case for me. I want to write. I want to publish. I want to sell … A LOT … I want to make a living from my writing … and I want to be on the best seller list. And I want it … NOW!

But of course I am reality oriented. Very few writers have the joy of overnight success. Almost all talk about the difficult years of carving out writing time … of the numerous rejections before publication … or the horrible sacrifices they made to get their book published … and even now, when they’re well known … the rough patches they hit and still push through. Building a career takes time.

*sigh*

So, I’m sitting here counting the minutes until DH’s plane arrives (because it’s been a loooong week without him). Then it’s off to bed for a good night sleep in my own bed snuggled up to my man! And tomorrow I’ll type until my eyes cross and then pick up Little Boy Blue.

At that point I can happily proclaim “we all survived hell week”! and focus my attention on my writing and meeting that deadline.

Wish me luck!

UPDATE: Everyone’s home. Suitcases litter our front hall and clothes are piled high in the laundry room. My fingers are flying over the keyboard and my novella is unfolding. Now, if I can sneak in a couple naps and catch up on some of this sleep… all would be good!

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