9/10/09

RWA Nationals Recap, Part I

I know, I know. It was mid-July. Shut up.

I departed first thing Monday morning with the girls in tow. The plan was to take the train through Chicago to South Bend, where my parents would take custody of the girls and I would catch my flight to DC. Unfortunately, the early morning wake-up, my travel nerves, and the worry I always have while ferrying the girls through the Chicago public transit system did a serious number on my stomach. I threw up several times on the South Shore train. I was terrified that I was coming down with the flu. However, by the time I arrived in my connecting city, Detroit, where I had to seriously hoof it from Concourse A to Concourse C--serious exercise to work out all the kinks!--I was feeling almost 100% better.

Ann arrived to the hotel shortly after I did. We met up with my friend Karen from Kenosha, who was in DC for a long weekend's visit with an old friend of hers, Tracy. Tracy was able to pick us up in her car, and the four of us went to dinner at a fantastic Turkish restaurant. It was all family-style which meant a lot of sharing and trying new things. Then, at the end of the night, our conversation turned to where Ann had gone to college. Turns out she, Karen, and Tracy had all gone to Ball State and had been there during overlapping years. Small world! Ann and I tried to go to bed at a decent time, but as has become our tradition, we stayed up way too late with all sorts of giggling silliness.

Do you know what this post needs? More spiders!

Tuesday was all about sightseeing. Ann, Karen and I started at the Lincoln Monument and worked our way inward toward the Washington Monument. Then Karen had to catch a plane back to Kenosha. Ann and I grabbed a quick lunch before heading over to the Holocaust Museum. This was an intense experience to say the least. I can't even describe the difficulty of being there. Eventually we were joined by Ann's friend Ivette. The cattle-car nature of the main exhibit was a little too much for them to handle, so they left to get some air while I finished up. The sheer size of the museum is numbing and overwhelming and scorching, in turn.

Ann had twisted her ankle a few months ago, and it was acting up by the end of the afternoon. After we grabbed another bite to eat, she went back to the hotel while I traveled on to the American History Museum. It had been closed back in November of 2007 when Keven and I were in town, so I was happy to get the chance to see it. I spent most of my time in the Lincoln exhibit and in the WWII section of the "Price of Freedom" exhibit. That's where I found this video of Danny Kaye. Remember that 4F meant a man was unfit for service, while 1A meant he was eligible.

Upon returning, I spent the rest of the night in the bar with Victoria Dahl, Shiloh Walker, Jade Lee, Lousia Edwards, and many others. Quite a party, and the conference hadn't even officially started yet.

Wednesday morning, I was up bright and early to do my volunteer shift in the librarian goodie room. Surprisingly, my fellow volunteer was Courtney Milan, a friend of mine from Chicago North who'd recently moved away. We had two hours of setup and chatting. Afterwards, Ann and I attended the library's luncheon and sat with Monica Burns and Jennifer Greene. Stella Cameron was the delightful speaker.

The luncheon was followed by a meet-and-greet with librarians and booksellers. I met and chatted with some fantastic people, many of whom knew my work and gushed about how good my debut was. Talk about an ego boost! When sitting here in Kenosha, it's hard to truly fathom that my work is out there and available for public consumption. This was the first chance I've had to experience the results of that. I met Anthea Lawson, who is fantastic, as well as Wendy the Super Librarian and the marvelous Sherry Thomas. Wendy and I were scheduled to do a video interview for Romantic Times on Saturday afternoon, and we commiserated about how equally nervous we were about the prospect.

And then it was time for the big show--the literacy signing. I freshened up and headed down there. I had a seat! With my name! And 15 of my books ready for signing! My biggest worry was that no one would come by to see me, or that none of my books would sell, but I was on my feet practically the whole two hours. People kept stopping by to introduce themselves, including RWR editor-in-chief Kathleen Addey. I sold all but four books, which was a lucky thing because I had given away my 20 suitcase copies to the librarians and had wanted to have a few to distribute during my workshops.

I spent the next two hours eating room service and watching SYTYCD. Afterwards, people began to arrive for the pajama party Ann had planned. (I'd say Ann and I, but she did all the planning! I was just a happy host.) We probably had 30 people in attendance over the course of two hours, until security called the room at exactly midnight to ask that we keep the noise down. Much drinking, laughing and revelry were had by all.

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