Thursday, March 29, 2012

New York, Continued


So it's been several days since the Dreamspinner Press Author Workshop ended, but only today do I feel like my head is on straight again.  I spent an extra day in New York to visit family, and as soon as I flew back home, I had to work on some rush freelance work.  Even though I still have some work to finish, at least today I feel like I can work at a regular human pace, rather than a human-on-amphetamines pace.

Some of the highlights from my weekend (and I apologize in advance if I leave out anyone I met, because seriously, EVERYONE was amazing):

-The opening reception
This was the first moment when I got to try putting names to faces.  Of course, the first thing that happened when I walked through the door was Elizabeth introduced herself as "Elizabeth," and I asked "Which Elizabeth?"  Needless to say, I felt like a genius after that.  But she and Ariel immediately made me feel welcome, and Elizabeth passed on some wonderful words from Mara, the art director.

I spent the majority of the first evening talking to Connie Bailey (awesomeness embodied), B.G. Thomas (such a sweetheart!), and Elizabeth's truly amazing oldest son who is wise beyond his years but also incredibly fun.  There was an open bar with wine and beer, but Connie was awesome enough to provide vodka cranberries for those of us who like the foofy mixed drinks.  I learned that she was also an artist, which I should have guessed because we seemed to share a wavelength.  I was also very excited to talk to Eden Winters and P.D. Singer, two more amazing and gracious people.

I was already in trouble at this point, running on three hours of sleep and loading up on the booze.  I learned that if a fancy waiter man holds out a tray of hors d'oeuvres and you only take a plastic sword-shaped toothpick while refusing the food, you will get a dirty look.

-Friday/Workshop Day
So much helpful information was shared!  Elizabeth knows her stats backwards and forward, and it was great to be able to hear about Dreamspinner's successful history.  Hearing her speak about past, present, and future business decisions gives me faith that this company really has its act together.  It's also a company that cares about its people, which is refreshing.

Ariel Tachna gave a great overview of translations and promotion.  Lynn West, Anne Regan, and Julianne Bentley shared helpful information on editing.  Damon Suede's and Ariel's presentation on branding definitely gave me some food for thought, and I've realized that one of the key aspects of my brand is that my stories are heavily plot-driven.  People who don't typically read romance can still read and enjoy what I write.

I got to talk with Tessa C├írdenas for just a short amount of time, but I hope to run into her at more events in the future because she seems incredibly sweet.  The same goes for Jaime Samms.  I was at the table next to her but got a little tongue-tied because, wow, it's Jaime Samms!

Friday evening was crazy!  I went out with Paul Richmond, B.G. Thomas, Catt Ford, Jamie Fessenden, and Jonathan Treadway to a fascinating restaurant named Lips, where I confirmed what I'd always suspected: drag queens are prettier, funnier, and better dancers than me.  I remember this evening as lots of laughter, lots of memorable moments, and a very elegant limo ride back to the hotel while we engaged in less than elegant conversation.  (At one point, the limo driver slammed her little window shut!)  This evening was probably the defining moment of the weekend for me, and what a great group to spend it with!

Saturday/Rainbow Book Fair Day
I was looking forward to doing the morning yoga that was listed on our agenda, but that kind of fell by the wayside as I seemed to be the only one raring to go.  But I have no complaints; instead I had many great conversations with other writers including Ariel, Mary Calmes, Amy Lane, J.P. Barnaby, and Rowan Speedwell.  I only got to talk to Andrew Gray for a moment, but he's another whom I hope I'll run into again in the future.  Yeah, he's out of my league and all that, but in the end, they kind of all are.

I want to read the books of as many people I've met as possible, and I was happy to get recommendations on where to start with each of them.  (I've decided my overall starting point is The Inventor's Companion, by Ariel Tachna.)  I was also very lucky to get to talk with Anne Cain and even pick her brain a bit.  For all her out-of-this-world talent, she's still so down to earth.

I rode down to the Rainbow Book Fair at around 2:30 with the last shuttle.  I couldn't handle too much time in there because of the crowd, but it was great to see what it looked like.  Dreamspinner's setup was amazing, and also the most crowded part of the room.  I steered clear of our section to make sure I didn't block off any potential customers, and I was able to stop by some of the other tables and make some contacts.

That evening, I went two-step and line dancing at the Big Apple Ranch, with Paul Richmond, S.A. Garcia, Jonathan Treadway, Kate McMurray, Zahra Owens and her partner, and Damon Suede (who's a pretty kickass dancer).  I call dibs on Paul any time we go dancing again!  I got to lead, which was awesome, even though it's a little hard to twirl a guy when you're 4'10" and he's 6'1".  It was also quite fun watching S.A. and Jon dancing, and later watching Jon dance with the pretty dude we were all not-so-subtly ogling throughout the night.

Sunday/Farewell Breakfast
We were all kind of exhausted by this point, but it was still great to be able to gather around the breakfast tables and chat one last time.  I learned that Shae Connor (who is awesomely fun and energetic!) and I share a mutual friend by way of my old job.  Small world!  H.B. Pattskyn, also at my table, has a really great energy to her - sweet, witty, welcoming.  It was sad having to say goodbye to everyone, but I'm hoping someday we might all run into each other again.

So that's my story in a nutshell!  Coming out of it, I have some new goals and have rearranged a few of my writing projects, and I'm really hoping to get more cover work as well.  Thank you, Dreamspinner Press, for giving us all a fantastic weekend!

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