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Sunday

It was a very sad (and still exhausted) aztec who dragged her ass out of (a very comfortable) bed around thirty minutes past oh-dark-hundred along with Kristie(J) and SLWendy. Both of them and Rosie had ungodly early flights back home, so the plan was to vacate the room, check out downstairs and be in a taxi (along with Rosie’s roommate, L.B. Gregg) by 5:30am. Despite the fact that no bellperson was available (I don’t think the management of the Dolphin realized how many of the 2100 conference attendees were leaving before dawn…) we managed to drag ourselves and our possessions downstairs and to the front desk without incident.

There I stayed with the bigger suitcases while Wendy and Kristie got in line (yes, in line—did I mention a bunch of people checking out before dawn?) to check out—and managed to catch a greeting, a goodbye and a hug from Beth Williamson, who was also leaving.

Once Wendy and Kristie had straightened their hotel bills out, we took thirty seconds for a picture, and then it was time for schlepping books, boxes, backpack and weary body to the car for the half hour drive home—then crash for something like six hours straight.

Exhausted and sleepy aztec, Kristie(J) and SLWendy

In no particular order, all the things I forgot in previous days’ recaps (or, memorable moments throughout the conference): (more…)

Saturday

Mapquest tells me that I live some 37 miles from the Dolphin, which makes for a good forty minutes drive on weekdays—plus, the fuel gauge in the rental car was dipping perilously close to the big E—so I got myself up and ready at some truly ungodly hour in order to be at the hotel on time for… yeah, you guessed it: the second edition of continental breakfast, Dolphin version.

Adding weight to my desire to be on site early was the fact that there were going to be five (yes, you read that right: FIVE) publisher signings on Saturday, the first (Ballantine) starting at 9:00am—and the line, oh yes, the line! was bound to be fierce. I confess that it made me a bit sad that I had to skip Writing Fight Scenes, a workshop given by Angela Knight that started at 8:30—but priorities are priorities, and this is where it’s truly clear that I’m a reader, first, last and foremost: the lure of books! shiny! books! free! books! signed to me!

No contest, really.

So I called Kristie(J) while fueling, and about forty minutes later, after dropping off my overnight bag in their room again, we got back down to the ballroom, ready to tackle the lines for the donuts. We talked a bit about our plans for the day and I promised to save her a spot in the line for the St. Martin Press book signing later in the day (two words: Lisa Kleypas). We were joined, surprisingly enough, by SLWendy a little later—and I finally got to take the picture I had been waiting for since Tuesday:

I’m not sure you can see it clearly (will someone explain my camera to me, please?—in words of one syllable, thank you) but our very own Super Librarian is wearing… Karen Scott! 😆

*ahem*

With that bit of business out of the way, I went back to the well known hallway with the couches and the women sitting on the floor by the doors of two very unimposing rooms…

(more…)

Friday

You may wonder why on earth, after going to bed totally wiped out in the early hours of the morning, I would want to wake up before seven am. The answer: continental breakfast, included in the registration, and scheduled for 7:30 to 8:30 am. Being frugal *coughcheapcough* I made sure I was there early enough to avoid the rush of like-minded fellow conference attendees, but perhaps I shouldn’t have bothered: the buffet tables were not opened until about 7:40, and the waitstaff started clearing out the first one (which was empty as the desert) at about 8:15. Mind, the food offered wasn’t anything to write home about—some fresh fruit, Dunkin Donuts Krispy Kreme donuts (thank you, Kim in Hawaii!),  a couple of fruit breads—but I confess that I’m still puzzled by how little of it there was, considering that there were 2100 registered attendees. (This is not a swipe at RWA, by the way: I blame this entirely on the hotel2)

The company, on the other hand, was great: I hailed down Jodi Henley, of Will Work for Noodles fame, and we were joined in short order by Lorena Streeter of Hearts and Handcuffs and Anna Alexander (who has a wonderful tag in her cards: Live for the day, to hell with the rest), and a bit later by Linda Nielsen and Nikki Enlow. Again, conversation flowed around the table—most of us strangers to each other until that moment, but easy with each other, comforted by the knowledge that we all were there because of our passion for books and reading (and, in their cases, writing those books 😀 )

And here is when things got surreal… (or more surreal, if you will).

(more…)

Thursday

Despite all my good intentions of the night before, I had a rather late-ish start—I didn’t manage to get to the parking lot until just minutes before noon (though I once again snagged a great parking space) so I basically carried my overnight backpack with me to the keynote luncheon.

Since I literally didn’t have time to find Wendy, Rosie, Kristie or anyone else I already knew, I was delighted to run into Bradford Bunch ladies Beth Williamson and Juliana Stone, who graciously invited me to sit with them.

As luck would have it, we were close enough to the front of the line that we got a table just behind the camera that was trained on the podium and projecting to the large screens strategically placed throughout the ballroom—excellent! Later we were joined by Ms Stone’s roommate, and also by Mindy Klasky, Nancy Yeager and Christina Watson.

Juliana Stone (right) and her roommate
Left to right: Christina Watson, Nancy Yeager and Mindy Klasky

As always when romance readers gather, there was little awkwardness and plenty of topics of conversation during lunch, up until the moment when RWA President Michelle Monkou took the stage. We were all stunned and delighted to find out that more than $55,000 was raised during the literacy signing (after taxes). This means that, over the years, RWA has donated over $687,000 to literacy efforts in cities across the country. I am sure I speak for readers everywhere when I say, thank you!

After Ms Monkou, Nora Roberts stepped up to the podium and held the crowd—all more than two thousand of us—spellbound with her speech. (more…)

Just as I thought, once RWA got going, there was no way on earth (or in hell) that I would be able to blog—or read other people’s blogs for that matter. Conference brain hits early and hard! Knowing this was going to happen, I made a point of having paper and pen with me at all times, naïvely thinking I would remember to take notes during the day.

Yes, I know: of course it didn’t happen.

Still, I took pictures like a the crazy woman I am and I’m hoping *sending vague prayers upwards* that a visual prompt will help me remember at least some of the highlights… Plus, of course, all the cards I tucked on the back of my badge. Really, some memories should surface.

Right?

A couple of things I forgot to mention in my previous post: first, that while sitting with the bloggers at the Dolphin’s lobby on Tuesday afternoon, I saw Eloisa James walk by. I said her name out loud, and she looked over, smiled… and walked just a tad bit faster… I think I’m scarier than I know 😉

Second, when AnimeJune joined us there, she was coming back from (in her own words) indulging her obsession with all things Disney. She sat down, exhausted, and put her feet up. Then she noticed our badges and wonderful, roomy, pretty, heavy-duty tote bags, and asked where the registration area for the conference was. When told that it closed less than ten minutes later, she jumped up and literally raced across the lobby. Amazing, the reviving powers of the shiny, eh?

And without further ado, here’s the first part of my way too long and image heavy round up: (more…)

Sounds ominous, doesn’t it?

Well it wasn’t—quite 😀 but it started with just a tad of stress.

For reasons that have nothing to do with anything, I haven’t driven a car for a number of years (nine? ten? something like that) but in order to attend RWA—which is happening just over 35 miles southwest of my house—I have to drive down there. And back. Every day this week.

Freaking out time chez Aztec (and don’t give me the “like riding a bicycle” thing—I’ve been riding the bike for over five years now, and I’m still not comfortable with it).

But lust (books! fellow bloggers! books! authors! free books! did I mention books?) won over fear. So yesterday, with more than a little trepidation, I rented a car and drove down there a little before two. It was… an interesting experience for someone who stresses over stuff as much as I tend to do, and more so because the Walt Disney World complex? compound? is literally a city within a city—one I’m not familiar with, full of long empty roads that loop and twist and turn and separate (buses only, service access, etc.).

It was with no little relief—and some pride—that, about forty five minutes later, I managed to reach a parking lot right by the Dolphin side of the Dolphin and Swan Resort without incident. (Okay, so I had to stop and ask once—but I was within sight of the hotel, which should count for something right?)

Now, for those (few) who don’t know, (more…)

RWA 2010…

Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Posted in: Azteclady Speaks, RWA 2010

Here I come!

For the second year running my beloved has gifted me with the registration to (and the means to attend) RWA’s National Conference. Starting this afternoon, I’ll be up to the top of my head in romance bloggers, romance authors, and romance books.

Bliss.

I wish I could promise to post interesting, timely pieces on who I meet, what I see and hear, etc.–but I can’t. The days are going to be long and every second of every minute of every hour of them is going to be packed: with people to see, books to lust after, workshops and chats and Q&A to attend.

So I plan on wearing comfortable shoes, carry a couple of tote bags (one empty, inside the other one–which should be almost empty) and remember to take the camera with me everywhere. With any luck I’ll be able to put something together after the fact, like I did last year.

See you on the other side!

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ps If you hear loud, intermittent squeeeeeeeeeeing sounds over the next few days… it’s probably me.