On Friday, I packed my car and headed out the door (without my make-up…argg!!) for a four–hour drive to Houston to meet with my agent. She was the luncheon speaker at the Northwest Houston RWA Lone Star Conference and had talked me into coming down to see her. Initially, I had planned on having dinner with her Friday night, and then hanging out in her room all day Saturday and having dinner again before I left to drive back home.
I’m at a place in my career where I have finally come to realize I am not a romance writer, but I’m unwilling to give up the friendships and camaraderie of RWA, especially my own DARA chapter. So, I have been cutting back on all things romance, and I had no desire to actually attend the conference, concentrating instead on my own genre conferences (mystery.) I’m actually going to my first one next month in Boston – the Crime Bake.
Anyway, I changed my mind since the program for the conference was not romance related and sounded interesting. Best money I ever spent!
Randy Ingermanson, author of Writing Fiction for Dummies, gave an all-day program that started with craft, and then the Snowflake Method of plotting, and ended with marketing. Wow! Although I was totally exhausted and my brain fried at the end of the day, I had learned so much. I would recommend his courses to everyone. And if I was exhausted, imagine how he felt! Since I am an OCD (or DCO as my new Houston friends refer to it..private joke!) plotter, I was happy to hear I already practice most of the techniques of his Snowflake Method. If you’re a pantser, it would really be valuable for you to check it out. http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/
Anyway, this blog post isn’t about how wonderfully informative the program was…it’s about Houston and the Northwest Chapter.
I have always known that writers are a great bunch of people willing to share their expertise with fellow authors. I've always known writers knew how to laugh and to party. What I didn’t know was how easily they would take me under their wing and make me feel like I was a part of them.
Now remember, I was an outsider who was basically like the younger sister whose mother insisted she go everywhere with her older sister. (No, Christine, I am not calling you older!!) You get the picture. Yet, I was welcomed with open arms as if I really wasn’t the fifth wheel wherever Christine went.
It started Friday when Elizabeth Simmons picked Christine up from the airport and met me at Luby’s to guide me to the hotel. And then Tess Grillo welcomed both Christine and me with a surprise package (cookies and a loaf of homemade pumpkin bread – husband loves you, BTW!) Friday night Jaye Garcia chauffeured us to Stacey Purcell’s house where she and her lovely hubby…aka kitchen slave..Peter, along with the rest of the attendees wined and dined us.
As I mentioned, the conference was wonderful. Christine gave a rousing speech at lunch about how to get published and stay published in today’s world that gave hope to all the writers there. Christie Craig followed with her as-usual, hysterical self telling the mattress story that had me laughing as soon as she stood up. She followed up with her “don’t give up” presentation that included TONS of rejection letters. Christie won’t brag about this, so I am --- she just sold an as yet unreleased YA series to a German publisher for six figures!! Take that all you stupid people who rejected her!!
Anyway, Saturday night, the chapter’s officers and workshop planners took Christine, Randy, Amy Boggs of the Donald Maass Agency and Naomi Hackenberg of the Elaine English Agency to dinner at a really nice seafood place. As the drag-along younger sister, I was invited and I had a wonderful time. I sat next to Randy and the two agents, and I have to tell you, if I didn’t love Christine so much, I would have no problem submitting to either of the agents. They are both adorable.
After dinner, we were invited to Ruth Kenjura’s room where she had a potload of wines, cheeses, and chocolates. Seems this is a tradition for her. In Orlando this summer, she even shipped her wineglasses! What fun that was, and as always when women get together, the conversation turned to sex!! You had to be there!!
Anyway, what does all this have to do with writing? Nothing, except that once again my belief that writers are some of the most generous people on this planet was proven to be true, big time. I loved meeting all the people, especially Jaye, June, Jan and a slew of others whose names escape me. Those of you from Texas know there is always a little competitiveness between Houston and Dallas in everything, especially sports, so I was prepared to be treated like an outsider.
And therein lies the problem.
They acted like they had known me all my life, even made me an official chapter member.
So, today is officially Houston NWRWA Chapter Day at M & M. Take a bow, ladies. You’ve earned it.
Cost of the conference: $120
Miles Driven: 540
Time with Christine: Excellent
Finding new friends in Houston: PRICELESS
Oh, congrats to all the Lone Star contest winners and fingers crossed for Jaye who's a finalist in the NJ contest.
Now, since I want comments, tell me any good stories about writer generosity that you might have.