Monday, June 6, 2011

So Much Conference, So Little Time

You guys, you don't even know.

So this weekend BFF Diana and I ventured forth to the strange, mysterious land of Cincinnati to attend the 2011 Lori Foster Reader and Author Get Together. I've never been to Cincinnati before, and most of my travel is around Illinois, so I was understandably disturbed by the trees.

I mean just look at them. All green and menacing. And the hills! What is up with that? Life in central Illinois has taught me that the earth is clearly flat, and covered with corn and/or soybeans, so all this rolling green nonsense was just disturbing. My poor minivan near had a seizure.

And in other news, judging by the insane highway construction going on around Indianapolis, I'm assuming that the zombie apocalypse happened there and the government covered it up, because damn, it is messed up. It was like someone decided to do road planning using the Super Nintendo version of Sim City. I swore. A lot.

But we made it to Cincinnati in a safe and timely manner, managing to avoid the temptation of the three Waffle Houses we passed on the way, and arrived in time for hotel check in. It was a very nice hotel, and fairly hugenormous. Which was good, because there were a lot of people attending the conference. Seriously. A lot. I heard something like 400ish people, which is much larger than the Spring Fling I'm used to. I was not prepared.

This was the line for conference registration. Just the A-L people. I was flashing back to Disney World and the lines for Splash Mountain. (There's an "everybody wants to ride" joke in there somewhere.) I have to give major props to the conference volunteers, because they worked their butts off and did an awesome job. Everything I saw went smoothly, and the attendees had a great time, myself included.

Let me go off on a tangent for a moment about how the intarwebs can screw with your brain, especially if you're tired: I follow 295 people on Twitter, without lists. It's a strange mashup of authors, bloggers, reviewers, geeks, nerds, actors, TV shows and so on and so forth. I also have many authors friended on Facebook, and I read several writing-related email lists, blogs, and forums. This seriously messed with my head at the conference, because I saw so many people that I recognized their name but had no idea where I knew them from. Samhain author? RWA member? Romance Diva? American Idol? No idea. It was killing me. (Though I had no problem recognizing the agent who provided me with my first rejection.) I tried to meet as many Samhain authors and Romance Divas as I could find, but I could barely find anyone, because it was an endless sea of people. So if I saw you and didn't recognize you, I apologize. I met a ton of people and they were pretty much all very cool and awesome, and I probably won't remember half of their names, because my brain was overloaded.

Moving on! So after registration we received our tote bags with epic amounts of promo items, and then Diana and I chilled for a bit. We met up with our friend Chandra Ryan (who is a member of our critique group, a fellow Samhain author and Embrace the Shadows blogger, and a snazzy dresser). And then I got to meet Anni, who is a reader I've been tweeting with for a while now. She loved Blood, Smoke and Mirrors, so thus I love her. ;) Now I love her even more, because she brought me a gift bag with a lovely note saying how much she enjoyed my book, and homemade baked goods. Specifically cake balls (and if you've not heard of this delicious treat, here is an example from the Pioneer Woman). It made my weekend. :)

There was dinner, and then Diana and I went to the bar for a bit and I had almost too much to drink. I hadn't eaten enough that day so it hit me harder than expected, so we didn't get to stay up late and hang out. That's probably for the best, because breakfast was early the next morning. And then we went to the Keri Stevens workshop on QR codes. I had no idea what a QR code was before, but now I'm very interested and will be trying some out in the future. It was very cool. (Don't ask me to explain it though, because I'll end up babbling something about a thingie that links to the intarwebs, and there's an app for that.)

After that we went to a workshop with Leanna Renee Hieber about creating different, out-of-the-box characters. First, I must say that I loved her outfit. It was gorgeous. Diana has a pic of it somewhere, which I demanded that she take so we could show to our friend Rebecca, who will also love it. Her talk was very compelling, and I want to learn more about her books. (Diana bought one and had it signed, and she later started reading it and couldn't put it down.)

Speaking of the signing... I'd been terrified of it for weeks. Constant nightmares. I had legitimate fear that no one was going to buy my books, and I'd be sitting there alone, looking sad and forlorn. Luckily I was sitting between Sidney Ayers and Leah Braemel, who were friendly and chatted with me. Leah is also a Samhain author, and I bought the first book in her series on my Nook while we were talking. (Apparently they don't have Nooks in Canada, and she'd never seen one before.) I signed more than one copy of Blood, Smoke and Mirrors, so my worst fears were not realized. Overall it was a good experience, and I'm willing to try it again some day...just not anytime soon.

There were a boatload of Samhain authors at the conference, and a group of us were able to tour the new Samhain office (so gorgeous!) and have dinner there. And we got Samhain loot, including the fleecey blanket that I've been desirous of since I first saw pics of one on Twitter. It was pretty much made of win. I also rode in the Samhainmobile, and listened to Samhain authors who will remain nameless singing along to hits of the 80s. (But there would totally be a video of it on Twitter if my phone battery hadn't died, dang it.)

We came back and hung out, and by the end of the day everyone was too exhausted to move. Thus I did not get to spend more time in the bar, and went to bed instead. We left early the next morning, and the drive back was fine until we hit the Illinois state line, at which point the skies opened up and threw lightning and sideways rain at us all the rest of the way home. One day Diana and I will have a road trip that doesn't try to kill us with rain.

The weekend is all kind of a blur now. So many people. Seriously. I'm beginning to wonder how anyone survives RT or RWA National. It was fun, and I'd like to attend again. Good stuff.