Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Post National Conference

Well, I made it through another Romance Writers of America National conference, this time in Dallas, but am not sure how I survived. *grin* I mean I am still in one piece, my mind is still working, I have some voice left, and I can still smile, although some have said the smile looks more like a grimace but that could be old age. There was good news and bad news and absolutely awesome news, but first the bad so we can get it out of our system and get all that good karma in here.

I had the room overlooking the railroad tracks and from approximately midnight to 5 a.m. the freight trains came rumbling through downtown Dallas, creating what I could only describe as a 3.8 good old California earthquake. Not enough to make you jump out of bed and run for cover under a door jamb, but definitely enough to make you thump the pillow and curse. And this was a five star hotel? I know you do things differently in Dallas, but what were y'all thinking?

Besides the trains, I roomed next door to the party goers from hell. We're talking mature women here, not teenagers or young adults on a wild vacation away from authority figures. They shrieked! I mean laughing and shrieking until 1 and 2 a.m. The second night I kept thinking they'd go to sleep soon, but when 1.45 a.m. hit I gave them the old college dorm three thumps on the wall. It worked. The next two nights they were as quiet as mice. But did a frustrating nights sleep (I figured I got about four hours) help with my 9 a.m. pitch to the agent of my dreams? We'll see. Sha-Shana Crichton did request to see my work and I have diligently put that package together and that baby flies tomorrow. She's an interesting lady and I've heard wonderful things about her, I can only hope.

I had an appointment with John Scognamiglio who is the Editor-In-chief at Kensington Publishing. Just his title had me quaking in my boots. He was very quiet and nice and my pitch was done in two minutes, he handed me his card and said send the full manuscript. I had chosen to pitch my romantic adventure, Gone Tropical. I couldn't believe my luck and I still had about six more minutes of time on the clock. What to do, what to do? Should I say thanks and leave, or make conversation? I had no idea what to do. So I talked. (I know I would talk to a tree stump, in fact sometimes I do.) Anyway, after a couple of minutes passed and he figured he was stuck with me, he relaxed, I relaxed, and he actually smiled a couple of times. Let's hope he likes my work because I could see myself working with him. There's an intelligence but a sweetness about him. There are lots of barracudas in this business, a lot of harshness, but I don't get that feeling about him. Yesterday I went over my manuscript again, today I'm printing and doing a straight through read, then I'll reprint and hope to have the manuscript to him by first thing next week.

I met a ton of wonderful well-known authors and got to chat with old friends and hung out with chapter mates in the lounge and the bar and learned more about them. My old critique group is moving ahead in leaps and bounds. My friend Trish didn't win the Golden Heart for her category but she was offered a contract while at conference and she was talking with an agent. She's extremely happy! Haven't heard yet about her deal as I'm sure she is going over that contract with a fine tooth comb. My friend Lynne who has three medical romances out and I think a couple more in the works, gave her first RWA workshop, a collaboration with several other authors, and did a wonderful job. She's so poised as a speaker. My friend Thieme drove up from Houston and she looked happy and relaxed. She has two books coming out with Medallion Press.

I see all of this business and development in my friends achievements and although one might expect me to be envious, I'm not. I'm proud to know them and happy for their success, and I think they've all worked diligently to get to this place. Sometimes I do wonder why I've been left behind. Yet, on the other hand, I have a clear vision of where and how I want to grow in this business, so in the meantime I just keep learning and my writing keeps on improving, and I give myself rewards for every tiny step that I achieve along the way. It's a long journey but a worthwhile one and it's all about the writing. Publication is nice, but it isn't the only benefit one gets out of putting pen to paper, or in this case, fingertips to keyboard.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Well, the last part of June was exhausting both emotionally and physically. Three lovely women I was connected to in some way, all passed away. One was a friend, an actress from the late fifties and sixties, a talented lady who continued to teach acting classes into her late seventies. We only saw each other at Thanksgiving or a holiday party in the last few years but I always admired her. Another was an artist, the mother of a friend and a woman I knew well, she was also very talented and continued to show her amazing art creations right up until the end. I saw her last at Christmas. The third lady was the aunt of a writer friend, the woman who raised her like a mother, and influenced her giving support and encouragement for her creative abilities. I didn't know her personally only through my friend. All of these women died quite suddenly and were active, vibrant participants in life, right up until those last few weeks or days.

I thought about all of this as I remembered each woman's life and what they had contributed. I realized that is what I truly want. To depart this world still active and doing something I feel very passionate about, giving something back, contributing even if in some small way. It gives life purpose. It gives you energy and it keeps you young. Anything you learn, anything you create, requires energy of thought and action.

Then I was bitten by a black widow spider. Yikes! I was surrounded by death. And yes, she met with a swift passing, in case you were wondering. It stung like crazy, and I wanted to tear at my leg. It was night and there was no way I was going to drive myself to the emergency room and be billed $500 for first aid I could do myself. I visited the internet and read up on everything I should do and found that for most old people like me the venom isn't deadly. Whew! Guess there is so much poison in me it doesn't matter. Heh.

So I played doctor. I washed it off and applied Neosporin and ice packs. Then I took some Benadryl. Anyway, the leg swelled, and something like cellulitis extravasated into the surrounding tissues making me look like I had a two inch reddish-purple butterfly tattoo. Sexy! I went to bed and wondered if I'd wake up the next day. Anyway, I did, so I called the doctor the next morning and he asked if I felt dizzy, did I have any shortness of breath, was I sweating excessively. I laughed, it was 112 degrees Fahrenheit that day. I think he was a bit annoyed that I laughed, but it was funny. A week later it's almost gone. It has been two weeks and there is still a hard lump beneath the skin, but no more tattoo. I kind of miss it.