Well here we are, two weeks out from Nationals and I’m glad to say I haven’t been obsessing over it as much as I did last year. Of course, once again, I’m lucky enough to be able to skip the pitching sessions. For those of you who are anxiously biting your nails, pulling out your hair, and waking up in the middle of the night screaming, “But I still have to tell you about the HEA!”, you have my deepest sympathies.
To me, the scariest part of a conference is that pitching session. I had two of them at my very first conference and I don’t think I slept very well for a week. I mumbled my pitch over and over in my head—probably in my sleep—until the people who were with me could’ve pitched my book for me. When it was time for the big session, I paced. I muttered to myself like a crazy woman. I attempted to meditate to no avail. But once in the room, as nervous as I was, I realized the editors I was pitching to were…well, people. I know, shocking, huh? Editors and agents are people, too and I’m sure some of them are rather shy and uncomfortable with the sessions as well, so go easy on them.
My first Nationals conference, I was scared to death I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to. *laughs hysterically* I mean, I may seem like a perfectly social person online, but in person, I’m the person who likes to fade into the background and observe. However, there’s a different feeling in the air at a Nationals conference. The people are you are writers as well and yes, they’re probably more comfortable hiding in the corner as well.
However, when you start to actually mingle with your fellow writers, you can run into some very surprising people. I’d already been chatting with many of the ladies with GCCRWA, so I figured I would be glued to their sides the entire time. After a few misses, I was finally able to hook up with Sayde Grace and Jillian Chantal. Through them, I met Rebecca Zanetti, Cynthia Eden, Leah Fields, and Brandi Hall. They were a great group to hang around with, but there were times when we had to go our separate ways.
I didn’t cry much because I discovered the smokers. Yes, I smoke. I know, I know, I don’t need to be reminded of the evils of the cancer sticks, but if it hadn’t been for those cancer sticks, I wouldn’t have met the amazing team that makes up Sable Grace. Or my Orlando Click, Silvia Arada. I wouldn’t have had an interesting conversation about football with Beverly Jenkins (who is just full of awesome). Or Elizabeth Sinclair, or dozens of other romance writers. Every single one of them was gracious, let me tell them my agent sob story and gave me advice.
You can’t put a price on that. Oh, and did I mention the people you meet in line getting food? I met a lovely young adult author from Houston and we ended up having lunch together. I’m horrible because I can’t remember her name right now, but that’s what Nationals is all about: making new friends, meeting old ones, and learning from those who have been in the business for a while.
For those of you who are attending Nationals for the first time and you’re nervous about not having anyone to talk to, don’t worry. There are so many people who are feeling the same way that you’re not really alone. And if you’re still worried, come find me. I will so talk your ear off!
Tomorrow I’ll talk about clothing and next week, I’ll get to the scheduling