Thursday, August 5, 2010

RWA Orlando Musings

by Anita Mae Draper

The Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference in Orlando, FL was beyond my expectations. Twenty two hundred attendees converged at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel in the middle of Disney World with the overflow (me included) staying next door at the Yacht Club. This meant a 15 min walk to the conference venue every day (sometimes 2 and 3 times a day) in 32C/95F + weather. (Higher with the humidity.)

In this photo, you can see the Swan Hotel in the centre of the picture with the Dolphin being closer on the right. All of the conference events were held in the Dolphin.

My glasses fogged up every time I went outside before noon. And then when I tried to take a pic, my camera lenses fogged up as well.

My original plan to work as a volunteer at the workshop desk on Thursday afternoon fell through when the registration staff admitted they’d made a mistake and ‘hired’ too many volunteers. Since I didn’t have a volunteer badge in my registration bag, I didn’t need to serve. This meant if Silver came looking for me at that time, I wasn’t there. I checked a couple times, but didn’t see her. In fact, I didn’t see her anywhere during the conference.

I ran into Molli in the Goody Room, however, and then ate breakfast with her on Friday morning. It was nice touching base with someone from home.

I took Margie Lawson’s workshop as planned, but didn’t go to meet her in the lounge afterward. So much was going on and everything was overwhelming. I’d attended the 500 author Literacy signing where all the proceeds went toward Literacy programs, but the free book signing events put on by major publishers was a welcome surprise.

Here's another Goody Room photo.

Back to the book signings... they went on all day while the workshops were in session. It was crazy. I didn’t know what to expect when I stood in line for the Harlequin one, but soon found out when the doors opened and the line dispersed with everyone  making a beeline for their favorite author. The authors sat around the room at small tables with their books before them. As I moved from one favorite to another, I noticed other people move from one line to the next line, and the next, and the next, making their way around the room. After visiting and receiving autographed books from authors I knew, I wandered into the next book signing room where the same thing was happening. I stood in some long and short lines but the whole time was aware of missing the workshops.

This photo is of the keynote speaker, Nora Roberts aka JD Robb.

I attended a workshop entitled, So You Think You Can Pace? How to Disco, Waltz, and Hip Hop with Words by authors Margaret Daley, Laura Marie Altom, Winnie Griggs and Agent Michelle Grajkowski. It used different dances to explain how pacing works. Very unique and easy to remember.

Alexandra Sokoloff presented Screenwriting Tricks for Authors (and Screenwriters!) and explained story boarding techniques using the 3 act sequence.

Another workshop I took in was Megan Frampton and Liz Edelstein’s Tweet It, Blog It, Face It: Adding Social Media to Your Writing Life Without Losing Your Mind. They gave very basic information and about the only new thing I took away from this workshop was that My Space is dead. Hmm.

Other workshops attended were:
  • Sense and Sensuality: Tightening Tension Through the Five Senses
  • This Little Light of Mine: Women of faith writing secular books
  • Writing the High-Concept Inspirational
  • Talking the Talk: Writing Historical Dialogue

A few workshops—like the Donald Maass one—was too full so I bypassed it for another instead of standing through it or sitting on the floor and being unable to get up afterwards. Since I bought the CD’s, I’ll still get to listen to the ones I missed.

This photo shows all the books I received for free while at RWA Orlando. Some are autographed to me. However, the ones in the middle pile are autographed without a name and I'll be giving them away--except for the top 4 SuperRomance ones--on future posts. I just haven't decided if I'm going to let the winner choose or if I'll say which one is up for grabs.

I've uploaded 33 photos of RWA Orlando on my Facebook page.
Plus, I've written a couple posts about the trip with photos on my personal blog.
Question for today: Did you know about all the free autographed books that are given away at each national conference?


Liz Fichera said...

Lovely summary, Anita! So glad you had a fun time! It was fun to see your pics on FB too.

DebH said...

great summary Anita. i enjoyed your pix on your personal blog. since i'm not on facebook, i cannot see those pix *sigh*
either way, it sounds like you had a good experience and buying the CDs to cover missed workshops sounds like the way to go so you don't miss the nifty things like free books *whee!*
thanks for sharing.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Liz, I saw your comment on my Facebook photo page but don't think I replied yet. Oops.

Thank you for taking time to check them out and read my post.

If you like reading about the conference, check back for my next post... I'll be posting pics of all those freebies I received and how different authors promoted their books. Such an array of practical and whimsical freebies.

Sorry about the ad... I forgot to add it to my post and this seemed an opportune time. :)

Nice to see you here.

Anita Mae.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Deb, I know you're not on FB, but why not? They had to drag me kickin' and screamin' to join but I'm so glad they did now. It's the best way to keep in contact with friends and family.

I just realized I never did send you that email. Ah. Something else to do. Aren'tcha glad I'm not in a rush? LOL

Yeah, about those books... I still can't get over it. People were hauling boxes of free books around with them and since it's extra weight in your suitcase, they set up a temporary postal outlet just for mailing books back home. The boxes they used were the original ones from the publisher and I think someone said it held about 20 books apiece and costs $15 US to mail.

I'd read somewhere before I went that there'd be lots of free books so we left room in our suitcases, just in case. But the actual amount up for grabs is ridiculous. I bet some attendees went to all the book signings and then bought he CD's to listen to the workshops. They would've recouped their registration fee in exchange for a year's worth of reading material. LOL

Nice to see you, Deb.

Anita Mae.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Anita,
Wow, that's some pile of schwag you've got there! I've heard that attendees to national often mail home all their free books, but seeing all of them here is pretty awe inspiring.

Glad you had a great time and learned lots. I've heard the thing about Myspace being dead too. Wouldn't you know it? It took me forever to set up my page and now it's useless. I haven't ventured into Facebook land yet (still kicking and screaming) but I know I have to get there someday soon.

Would you go again, or do you prefer a smaller more intimate conference?


Anita Mae Draper said...

Jana, the advice about MySpace was that if you've invested a lot in your page, leave it up and keep checking it. No one really knows what the future will bring and it may pick up again.

Yes, I would definitely go again. But next time, I would:
- ensure I arrived well rested
- spend more time picking my workshops
- get to the workshops earlier so I get a chair
- arrange get-togethers with friends before I leave because my phone didn't work down there and wifi wasn't available

I'm getting very excited about the ACFW conference now. :)

Anita Mae.