After my mild panic attack on the Friday of Chicago North's Spring Fling, I managed to calm down. Jenny had trouble coming up from Illinois to pick me up, so in order to get down to the hotel before the fabulous VIP dinner (Why yes, I'm a VIP!), I just stole the car from Keven. Grocery shopping had been accomplished in advance. No worries.
I arrived in time for it to start raining. Jenny mentioned that the last two Spring Fling conferences have also been held during rain storms. I remember dragging my luggage in through a downpour in 2008! After changing for dinner I wound up eating with the lovely Joelle Charbonneau and Blythe Gifford. I know the idea of conferences is to mingle with new people, but I wasn't quite up to that yet. I needed to be buffered by my friends! Also at our table were Jade Lee, Kim Castillo and Caroline Walters, a fellow Chicago North chapter mater.
Afterward we mingled for the Librarian and Booksellers' event, where I ran into Courtney Milan and Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. I haven't seen Courtney since she moved from Chicago to the Pacific northwest, and Sarah since the last RWA National conference. Always good to catch up with some serious smart and snarky bitches.
Eventually we joined Julia Quinn and Erica Ridley, who I finally recognized after she clubbed me with a clue-by-four. I think that over our chocolate-covered strawberry deserts the word "crepuscular" came up, as did discussions about mermaids and Harriet Klausner. Later I chatted with Golden Heart finalist Erica O'Rourke about "Doctor Who," specifically the wonderfulness of No. Eleven, and then hung out with chapter mates Barb and Rhea. They'd both taken my April workshop on elevator pitches and were happy to share their successes in delivering them. So proud!
Come the next morning I was all ready to mingle. I had breakfast with a ton of new folks, then set off to moderate Jade's fantastic workshop. I was up next, then, with my workshop on research and point-of-view. My turn-out was a little low, about twelve people, but we were up against four other workshops. I'm actually quite pleased they stuck around!
Liz appeared around lunch time, and then it was time to mingle in the lounge. Tasty adult beverages did not flow so well. The hotel staff kept shutting the bar! We wound up hanging out with two chapter mates--inspirational author Allie Pleiter and newly zombie-fied author Jesse Petersen--and made inappropriate jokes that shouldn't be repeated. Check out these two covers. Both are romances! I love this genre.
Below, I'm sandwiched with Joelle, Deb and Liz. *big kisses* Of our little Broken Writers clique, only Nancy Parra wasn't there with us for the photo because she was teaching her own workshop. She wound up getting a request from an agent, which is exciting!
Then came the book signing. I'd brought 12 copies of WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS, which was a good thing because I sold almost as many of them as I did SCOUNDREL'S KISS. One woman dragged her friend over to chat about my books and force her to buy one, and a very enthusiastic agent introduced herself so as to gush about my work. Who knew? I adore praise from high places! Lindsey Faber, an editor with Samhain, talked to me about how professional all of her pitches were--yay for the two chapter workshops I led this spring! Then Sarah came buy to get a book signed while I was on the phone with Keven. She kept him occupied with a few naughty but lovely comments about my worthiness and how she should reward me.
After buying back my author copies from the lovely Sue at Brain Snacks, I headed upstairs to deposit my swag and get changed for dinner. Liz, Deb and Joelle were all heading home, so Jenna and Allie kept me company through the evening, as did bookseller Heather Riley. I loved that, actually. It's one of those rare events that only really happens at conferences: tangential acquaintances become friends over the course of a dinner. So much fun--especially because Cherry Adair was such a hilarious speaker.
Shortly thereafter I'd run out of energy. I headed back up to the room and collapsed. I got an early start out for home the next morning, already strategizing about how I'd get everything done before flying out to RT on Tuesday morning. Overall the conference was a great success, with so many people discussing the quality of the workshops and the professionalism of our chapter. Congratulations to our chapter president, June Sproat, and the conference chair, Pamala Knight, for their wonderful achievement!