Melanie – WHC, and Converse, Texas:
I arrived in San Antonio a couple days early, thanks to hitching a ride with an online critique partner who just happened to be working in the Houston area the week before the RWA14 conference. You gotta know I jumped at the chance for three hours of one-on-one with the awesome Melanie Pikor. Shortest trip ever, thanks to sharing writing, promotion, and publishing ideas—not to mention a bit of Lalala reminiscing. When we passed a road sign noting “Woman Hollering Creek”, the giggles never stopped. Melanie could have written ten different books based on that phrase, alone. And THEN she saw the exit sign for Converse, Texas. Yup, stopped and took pictures, but this is Texas and if you’ve pulled off the side of the road, I guarantee, a nice fellow will stop to lend aid. Cool Dude pulled in beside us, off in the fairly flat ditch, and made sure we were okay. Sweet guy! Ask Melanie about that sign, or WHC, next time you see her!
My very good friend, Janet Nash, was unable to attend the conference this year. She’d registered, like most of us, back in January. Temporarily sidelined by a surgical procedure a week before the conference, she had to cancel. Undaunted, she made her own version of Flat Stanley for a couple of her friends. I know of at least three Flat Jan signs floating around RWA14, and it’s amazing how many times Flat Jan turned up. Jan, herself, might have missed this year’s conference, but Flat Jan sure had a good time! Fingers crossed that next year she’ll be there in person. Love you, Jan!
We arrived in San Antonio when the Fertilizer Convention was in full swing at our hotel. Talk about “raining men!” Well, long story short, within three days, I’d checked into four different rooms. Nothing bad, just a logistics thing. To summarize, I’m tipping my hat to Marriott Rivercenter Hotel Manager, Toby, for making our stay the best, ever. We ended up in an oversized king-sized suite. Seriously, the suite was huge. My roommies and I , Mary Behre and Wendy La Capra, really appreciated the extra space. Perfect H.E.A.!
The Book Signing Event:
It was an honor and a huge thrill to be signing my debut novel, THE 25th HOUR, published by Soul Mate Publishing at RWA14’s “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing on Wednesday, July 23rd. A few members of my husband’s family were able to attend, and they wandered the rows of tables, awed at the grand assembly of published authors. They’ve always supported my writing, and are notably proud of my achievements, but they said that seeing the massive crowd, in person, really put my writing life into perspective. And, getting to meet a few of my fans—in person—was one of the highlights of the conference. Thank you, everyone, for your continued support!
This is Kathryn Jane, my super-sweet friend who lives up in Canada. Check out her books, her BLOG, and FB page. She’s one of my go-to gals for all things horse related. Trust me, she knows horses. Well, a while back, I’d mentioned on FB that I couldn’t find any Lilac silk flowers anywhere in Houston. Since they don’t grow this far south, apparently the retail trade believes we don’t need to have the sillk version, either. Well, I’m from South Dakota where Lilacs thrive. I love them so much, they’re in my story and they’re on the cover of my book. How could I have a book signing without a few Lilac sprigs to decorate my table? Argh! The ever-so-lovely Kathryn Jane said she’d bring me some when she came down for RWA14. She never forgot, and they arrived in pristine condition. I’m blown away by her thoughtfulness. She’s true-blue. Bless her!
$hopping: handbags, boots, and books!
What’s a road trip without a little shopping excursion, planned or spur-of-the-moment? If you know me at all, you know I’m the last to hit the mall. And, everywhere we went, there were books galore. Love that! Well, San Antonio knew what they were doing when the built a mall that was actually connected to our hotel. You betcha, I trekked through it several times…and dropped a few $$$ in my wake. Did I mention, books? Brought over 25 of them home. Yea! The first time I went to the mall was to walk with my roommate, Wendy La Capra. Walked out of the mall with a nifty new handbag. Another great find was my blinged-out boots. Won’t be wearing these anywhere near a horse or corrals, but they’ve got book signing events written all over them. I’m thrilled with my purchases, and such great deals! Totally worth driving in from Houston more often. [[waggle$ eyebrow$]]
The Trade Show:
RWA sponsored a vendor trade show, first time ever, and Soul Mate Publishing was there. A huge crowd spilled into the room when they opened the doors, and we stayed busy all afternoon. We had SWAG, free books, and a video for all to enjoy. Four SMP editors were on hand to visit with attendees, answer questions, and take pitches: publisher and senior editor, Debby Gilbert; and editors, Char Chaffin, Cheryl Yeko, and me, Janet Clementz. (Yeah, that’s my real name.) There was plenty of space to mix and mingle, and tasty refreshments in the center of the room made for an enjoyable afternoon. Truthfully, we were so busy, I didn’t get a chance to check out the other vendors. Good job, RWA!
Long time chapter member, Ruth Kenjura, is known for having her annual “Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate Party” during one evening of the conference. You never know who’s going to show up, and it’s always great fun. The first time I attended, I lost my voice due to laughing so much. I do my best to make it every year, but sometimes I just can’t, and this year it happened again. <sigh> Here’s a little of what I missed. Next year, I vow to be there!
The Lalalas: I’m thrilled to be among this powerhouse online critique group. Our members live all across the country and throughout the world. Since we rarely get to see each other in-person, except for our national conferences, this year we made a special point to gather on a couple different dates and times. Due to our individual schedules, you know, like editor/agent meetings and such, it was impossible to get everyone who was in attendance into one photograph. And, check out the drink menu. That’s my special drink, “J’s Release” featured on the billboard, and was created just for me by Johnny Kimball, a bartender in Nashville, in honor of publishing my first book. Click on the two pictures to expand the photos and see all the members. Between the two, we’ve captured most of the members who attended RWA14.
With this much networking, awesome workshops, and conference fun, you know we’re all looking forward to RWA15. Look out NYC, here we come!