October 27, 2008

I'm still alive. Barely...

I'll get the non-exciting things out of the way first.

1. I moved last week.

2. It took five trips back and forth and at least 30 trips up and down stairs.

3. Comcast totally screwed me and I hate them. (I'll be writing a letter)

4. I finally have internet again.

Now, onto the fun stuff.

I went to my first writer's conference this past weekend. The NJ Romance Writers held their annual conference in Woodbridge. If I remember correctly, there were about 430+ people there! It was a blast. Here's how it went down…with fun Jenn commentary to boot.

I woke up at 7am. No, I didn't have to be there that early; rather, I needed to close the book on my former living situation. I drove to Comcast and dropped off my old boxes. Then I went over to the old APT and walked through once more to make sure I got everything. After that, I took the keys to the landlord's office, called him, and let him know the keys were there.

I took former roomie with me to clothes shop because I had nothing to wear. I got a pair of pants and two shirts for under $50. Score! I looked damn good too.

So, I rush home, hop in the shower and get dressed. I searched the boxes in my room for my printer's power cord. Couldn't find it. I freak out, get all pissed off and start throwing shit around my room like a two year old. Finally, my former roomie walks in with it in his hand. Yay! I hook it up. Print out the crap I need for the conference, grab a stack of business cards (that now have the WRONG address on them…grrr), and get ready to leave.

The phone rings.

It's a campaigner trying to get me to volunteer. "Call me back, I'm late." I say and jet.

Of course, I hit massive traffic.

No lie, I get there with five minutes to spare. I register, say hi to a few people I know then go find something to do for the first hour. I sniffed out the newbie's welcome meeting thingy. The speaker was hilarious and I ran into a couple of my friends. Great start!

I hooked up with one of my Critique Partners and attended a self-defense, fighting, conflict type of workshop. The husband-wife team gave us some great pointers on how to get out of certain situations if being attacked. Good stuff. I, of course, had to ask the question. "Purely for research, do you know any methods to kill without weapons?"

They didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, but they gave me a plethora of other ideas to work with in the future.

So then I went into an Agent/Editor chat. There were chocolate covered pretzels in the room. I didn't eat any. The chat was great, more a Q&A session.

Afterwards, I ran into a few other friends of mine smoking outside the hotel. We talked a bit, figure out what we're going to do for the rest of the conference and whatnot.

I attended a pitch workshop, which I really needed because I hadn't had any time to fix mine or rework it or anything last week, so I was freaking. Anyway, the speaker gave us some general ideas for pitches, how to make them work, and what agents/editors look for when hearing them. I actually volunteered to read mine. Out loud. In front of like 50 people.

Now, you can ask me to sing in front of 1000 people and it's no problem. Talking…for some reason, I get nervous, flustered and usually turn a lovely shade of pink. Luckily, I didn't turn pink until after I sat down. So it worked out well.

After the pitch meeting, I went home to freshen up. As I was doing my makeup, I realized that I have twice as much gray hair as I thought I did. Thanks new bathroom with bright lights that I didn't have before…you make me feel SO much better. Bleh.

Still, I looked good in clothes that fit, with my hair done, and a bit of make up on. Told my brother he was going to have to beat men off me when I hit my goal weight. LOL Hey! I can dream, can't I?

I got back to the conference in time for the Awards presentation for unpublished and published manuscripts. I ate a bit. I think there were more chocolate pretzels there. Didn't have any. Sat with some friends, made new ones, and overall had a great time! A few of the ladies in my group won too!

It was an early night on day one, so I went home, hung out with the Family and some friends. We played Rock Band. Fun. Then, at 1am, I decided to fix my pitch.

Day two, I woke up, again, at 7. Get back to the hotel to attend JR Ward's special early bird gathering. She's so funny and I really enjoy hearing her talk about writing. We have some similar methods to our craft, so it was nice to hear I'm not the only crazy writer out there…

On to breakfast! I sat with some other NJRWA members that I've seen around but never really talked to. I talked to them this time, exchanged cards, talked the craft, and again, had a blast. The speaker, Eloisa James, is one of my sister's favorite authors. She was very funny. All us writers seem to have another creative streak unrelated to writing. Guess we're all wired that way…

From there I went to my pitch meeting. I tried not to freak out. Didn't work so well, but I made it through without making a complete ass of myself and the editor asked for a partial submission! Whee!

Next on my list was a World Building work shop with JR Ward and Jessica Anderson. I volunteered to host the room. Good information, fun answers, and nice people. Who could ask for more?

Our lunchtime speaker was just as funny. Seriously, I think I'm onto something…

After lunch I went to the Agent and Editor Panels. Lots and lots of good information there!

The public Book Fair seemed to go well. I was talking with one of my friends and she mentioned she was thirsty. I had an epiphany! I became the water girl! I went around to all the writers and gave out cups of water. It was hot in there. Such a great way to meet new people. They seemed to appreciate my efforts and I was glad to help.

During a little get together in one of my friend's rooms, I met and chatted with a female Special Agent with the FBI. I asked her all kinds of questions. Even the stupid ones. "Do you watch…Fringe, Criminal Minds, or Without A Trace." She told me exactly what I thought an Agent would say. They usually don't watch those shows because most are full of inaccuracies that drive them nuts. Hehe. Then we talked more about the Bureau, her jobs, what she wanted to write in the future. I had her ear for a good hour!

There were more chocolate pretzels there. I didn't have one. Honest!

The after conference party was a blast. We did karaoke, danced, got the DJ all worked up and on the floor…though he was really good himself at keeping us entertained. I sang a couple songs, which was nice. I haven't done that in a while.

I took four pretzels home with me and only ate one! Go me.

Overall I enjoyed myself tremendously. I didn't attend as many workshops as I would have liked, but my focus right now is getting my manuscripts published. So I needed the agent/editor information more than the writing help. However, there is always next year!

I'm motivated to get back writing and finish Lucky 3. First I have to unpack the rest of my boxes and buy a desk. More fun.
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