I’m Back

It’s been at least a couple of weeks since I’ve posted here, but it’s been a busy couple of weeks, with six days in Atlanta for the RWA Conference in the middle.  I’m still recovering.  The Scorekeeper is a three-person office, so it takes some planning beforehand and catching up afterwards for any one of us to be gone for most of a week.

I left on Tuesday the 16th with my friends Cheryl Bolen and Colleen Thompson.  We got to Atlanta mid-afternoon, and walked for what seemed like miles before we figured out that the speedy  little train running along one side of the passage would take us directly to the baggage area, apparently located in the next county.  (And I’m not kidding about speedy–anyone foolish enough to ignore the warnings about holding on to the conveniently-positioned poles was likely to be tossed the length of the car when it started or stopped.)

We arrived at the Marriott Marquis before check-in time, left our bags in the designated area, and began exploring.  The hotel is gorgeous, with a vertigo-inducing fifty-story atrium and those speedy glass elevator cars that make some people nervous (I love them).  (And the Best Ladies’ Rooms Ever–over six days I never once had to wait for a stall.  The perfect amenities for a conference attended by two thousand women.)

Tuesday evening I felt like a real social butterfly, having dinner at a nearby Turkish restaurant with the Firebirds (the Golden Heart finalists of 2012) and dessert at a Latin-Pacific fusion place with the Lucky 13s (this year’s GH finalists).  The annual RWA conference is as much about renewing long distance friendships as it is about workshops and industry networking.

On Wednesday I attended the Golden Network retreat, the annual meeting of the on-line chapter for Golden Heart finalists.  This year the planners went straight for the top.  Our opening speaker was Susan Elizabeth Phillips, a fabulously warm and funny lady, followed by Courtney Milan, an extremely successful and knowledgeable pioneer in the field of self-publishing.

Our keynote speaker was the incomparable Nora Roberts.  Yes, that Nora.  Her advice to us, a mixed crowd of published and unpublished writers, was “Just Keep Writing,” a motto she clearly follows: her typical yearly output, she told us, is one hardback suspense novel, two J.D. Robb books, and a paperback trilogy.  Exhilarating and terrifying at once.

After lunch we had a panel of agents and editors, followed by a group of multi-published authors, all answering our questions and letting us pick their brains.  Between speakers our talented emcees, Susan Boyer and Lorenda Christensen, kept us entertained with their rap intros and commentary, sometimes even in sync with their prerecorded accompaniment.  We’re writers–technology is not always our strong point.

Wednesday evening was the annual “Readers for Life” Literacy Booksigning, as crowded and noisy as always, with hundreds of authors singing their books.  The event is open to the public, and this year raised more than $50,000 for RWA’s continuing support of literacy programs.  I managed to restrain myself–after all, I had to get back to Houston with one suitcase and a carry on–but I visited with friends around the room.

WordPress is not being its usual cooperative self tonight, won’t even let me upload a photo, so I think I’ll save the rest of the conference for a day or two.  I had a wonderful time in Atlanta, but I’m still trying to catch up with my ordinary world.



6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nina Bangs
    Jul 29, 2013 @ 10:26:26

    Kay, it sounds as though you had a blast. Did you pick up any tidbits of gossip or industry info? Hey, I couldn’t go, so I have to live vicariously through you. 🙂



    • Kay Hudson
      Jul 29, 2013 @ 10:44:18

      I can’t think of any juicy gossip off hand–maybe I didn’t spend enough time in the bar. I’m still processing the workshops and spotlights, with hopefully some new leads on my market-proof paranormal romantic comedies. The industry talk was definitely leaning toward independent publishing, with publishers there to tell writers what publishers can do for them. The median income from self-publishing is still pretty low, but some folks are doing very well at it, and the end products (especially as seen at the Indie Booksigning) are more impressive and professional every year.



  2. Nina Bangs
    Jul 29, 2013 @ 11:28:45

    Thanks. It’s a brave new world out there. I checked my Kindle last night for young adult sci-fi novels published within the last thirty days. Very specific, right? I mistakenly thought I’d winnow down the field. But Amazon spewed out more than three hundred choices. What? Can we say overwhelmed? Rising to the top in such a crowded field will be tough even with word of mouth. Sigh. I’d like to eventually self pub a few books, but the promotional effort needed to get noticed is scary.



    • Kay Hudson
      Jul 29, 2013 @ 21:47:27

      With the fan base you’ve built, Nina, I don’t think you’ll have much trouble getting noticed. But it does sound like a lot of work. Courtney MIlan says, rightly, that we’re all delusional about some things, and it’s important to figure out what we can’t do, and hire someone else to do that. (Except for the writing, of course–if we’re delusional about that, we’re in deep trouble.)



  3. gerrybartlett
    Jul 29, 2013 @ 12:17:10

    Sounds like you had a great time, Kay. I seriously felt left out so will definitely be in San Antonio next year. Nora is such an inspiration. The best part is that her books are always fresh. But she’s a phenom. I know you came back ready to hit the computer. That’s what a conference like that does for you.



    • Kay Hudson
      Jul 29, 2013 @ 12:58:12

      I spent the weekend catching up on most of the domestic stuff that didn’t get done while I was gone (really, the cat is no help at all), so I can get back to writing.

      And I’m afraid after going to the conference three years in a row, I’m hooked. Don’t even need an excuse for San Antonio next summer, we can just hop in the car and go (although with gas and parking, that may cost more than flying!).



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