No, I didn't get to sign. I got to watch and take pictures and run errands, which was total awesomness from my point of view. First off, I was in sneakers and jeans--sheer bliss after five days of misery. I'd determined from the beginning that while I would love to have every single darn book in the ballroom, I had to restrict myself. So I kept to books from writers who'd been especially helpful and/or friendly throughout the week.
First off, then, was the lovely and simply loveable Bobbi Smith. Aside from hosting and directing the two-day pre convention workshop that was the most helpful event I've ever attended as a writer, Bobbi has one of those absolutely incredible personalities, the kind that makes you believe you can go out and do exactly what she believes you can do. I would happily spend a week or two brewing her coffee and taking phone messages for this woman--and I honestly believe I would learn more doing that that I did in four years of writing classes at college. She's one of my new idols.
Isn't Bobbi beautiful? I wish I could wear that color pink, but alas! Too much red in this redhead's hair.
Next on the list was Linnea Sinclair. I really bonded with her and Stacey Kade during their workshop on how to stay inspired, and bonded even more with Linnea when the subject of scam agencies and vanity publishers came up in the author's panel. She writes kick ass science fiction with kick ass heroines--not hard to understand at all since she's a kick ass kind of gal herself. It's been a long time since I've dipped my toes in the sci fi pool, and Linnea has convinced me to do it. I can't wait to read her book.
See what I mean? Linnea is an absolute firecracker!
I have to admit, by the end of the week I felt like a Misery-esque number one fan of Jade Lee. Her characterization workshop completely changed the way I look at my characters and if it weren't for her advice on pitches during the authors' panel, I would never have gotten the requests I did. But all that aside, it's really hard for me not to totally dig a chick who's as smartass as I am, writes the kind of fantasy I love, seems to have a similar outlook on writing and speculative fiction as I do AND who used my promotional document stands all over her table at the booksigning. It would be the equivalent of Albert Einstien using my abacus to demonstrate the theory of relativity and I totally ate that up. Here's Jade in one of her more serious moments:
One of my favorite new acquaintances during the entire convention, and once I got over being totallyu gobsmacked by even talking to her, I felt like I'd known her forever.
These pictures, by the way, took place before the doors opened. After they opened, I wasn't able to get any more great closeups and was barely able to get any books. Why, you may ask? Well, because there were at least 3,000 people streaming through the doors as best I could tell. It got to the point that it was so crowded that it actually hurt to turn to one side and avoid running into someone--which, I might add, very few people other than me and Cynthia Vespia were that worried about. We did creep upstairs to get a few shots of what the book signing looked like from above. This might help you understand.
Exactly. So while I did fight through the crowds to get books by Stacey Kade, Brett Battles and Robert Gregory Browne, I didn't dare take out my camera.
We had a great afternoon all in all. By the time the booksigning was over at three, all of us were exhausted. But, by the same token, I think we were all very happy. We'd made lots of great new business acquaintances and friends, finally put some faces to the online screen names, and hopefully attracted a slew of new readers to Aspen Mountain Press. Considering that most of our free time was spent in the bar (go figure) we ended up with a lot of fabulous talks and some amazing photo ops which I am under obligation not to post.
Until the post after this, because there's one more thing to tell you about RT that is really important.
Remember when I was named a finalist in Bobbi Smith's Creative Writing Challenge in the advanced writers' workshop? I got to wear that badge all week. It's amazing how many people actually take the time to stop you and congratulate you when you have a big FINALIST tag between your boobs. I'm assuming it was the badge...
At any rate, Saturday was the last big party of the convention. We had a prom, hosted by Dorchester Publishing. But it was important to me for another reason entirely: the winner of the Creative Challenge was going to be announced at that party. All week, I'd pretty much talked myself into believing that one of the other two writers was going to win. Both of them were talented young writers from what I'd heard of them in class. Besides, my storyline for Deception Enters Stage Left is so damn complicated! How could anyone possibly judge that manuscript from the first chapter, which is all we submitted for the challenge? Although I knew that chapter was clean technically and set my story up perfectly, I was more than happy to just be named a finalist. I'd already reaped so many benefits from that finalist position that I didn't dare to dream I'd actually win the darn thing.
So the party starts--and Jade Lee started it by doing the dance to TRHPS's Time Warp and then followed up with It's Raining Men--and there's no sign of any awards ceremony. We're sitting at out table and Bobbi came up with a teddy bear and congratulated me for being a finalist. So I thought, Well, that's obvious enough. The bear's cute though. I told the others I just needed to wait until the winner was announced so I could congratulate her and in case we were all called up onstage.
Shannon decided to go have a cigarette so he leaves, and not even ten seconds later Bobbi stands up and heads over to the stage, where they give her the microphone. I couldn't help but laugh; we were sticking around for this announcement and my husband was going to miss the whole thing. I opened up the camera and tried to turn it on--the darn batteries were dead. So karma was already stomping the hint home--you didn't win you didn't win you didn't win...
Bobbi announced the third place finalist first. To my shock, it wasn't me. The award was between myself and a really lovely young lady named Jennifer who I kept running into on every escalator in the whole darn complex.
But the runner-up's name wasn't Celina. It was Jennifer. Sandra Hicks (the publisher of AMP) and I just looked at each other in shock. Then Bobbi said, "And the winner of the Creative Writing Challenge with her manuscript Deception Enters Stage Left is--"
I didn't hear my name. I heard Deception and I was up on my feet, screaming and putting my shaking hands to my face like every Miss USA winner I've ever made fun of in the past. That whole winning with dignity and grace crap?
Right out the window.
I managed to make it onto the stage without faceplanting--in and of itself a miracle considering I could barely walk--and Bobbi handed me this beautiful plaque with my name and the manuscript name on it (which meant that she'd known all along that I'd won) and then she handed me the microphone while she snapped a medal around my neck. Don't get excited: it was a little plastic medal, but who cares? It was cute. So while I'm juggling plaque, papers and microphone in my trembling hands, I lift the microphone to my lips and all I can think of to say is--
Seriously Celina? Hi? You couldn't even have come out with a You like me; you really like me? Absolutely and stunningly humiliating. So when I got back to my table, all the AMP ladies hugged me and laughed at me for bawling like a little b*tch and then Bobbi came over and handed me the real bonus prize.
Her agent's phone number.
And right after all this went down, my husband meandered back into the room after his cigarette and I had to face the facts: not only had Shannon missed the whole damn thing, but I didn't even have a picture of it.
Que sera sera.
So there you have it. We left the party and went to the bar, where we downed two bottles of champagne and toasted each other. I held on to that teddy bear and plaque like they were the last life jacket on the Titanic and somehow we managed to get through the worst part of the convention.
Total RT stats: Six days. I was given or bought over thirty books. I gave away two hundred water bottles and five hundred document stands. I sent out ten full manuscripts: four to agents and six to publishers. I ran three pairs of hose in two days. I won one major award. I got one agent's phone number. I was introduced to a minimum of twenty-five NYT bestselling authors. I created one hell of a promotional space and had one half of the best 4 by 8 foot long banner there.
And several thousand fantastic memories.
So there you have it: a month in the life. Now my world goes back to normal. I concentrate solely on writing and editing from here on out, shooting for my 8000 words a day and getting Aurora Regency launched while promoting my new releases and editing AMP manuscripts. I get to focus on my house and family a bit more while I continue to chase after my professional goals.And aside from a few more RT pictures, this month in the life is over. I'm going to take a couple of weeks off (ha! fat chance) and get back into my routine.
Hope you've enjoyed the ride.