Friday, July 24, 2009

I Was Promised Pie. And A Cemetery.

My trip to D.C. and the Romance Writers conference was grand. I just forgot to pack my digital camera. Nothing against iPhones, they're bloody brilliant, but they don't take great pictures indoors, like during parties. So there are a minimum of cool pix to post. But I digress.

I sailed into D.C. on Tuesday the 14th. I had a hangover. This was entirely my own fault. Why I chose to drink to excess the night before I was leaving town is unfathomable. I know better than that, however while I was rereading one of Ilona Andrews’ most excellent novels, I augmented my fluid intake with wine, schnapps and vodka. That made me one unhappy critter the next morning. Much water and Advil later, I still felt awful (as I so richly deserved). I checked into my B&B (Woodley Park Guest House - these guys get a FIVE STAR rating from me) and then met my great author buddy, Jean Marie Ward. Spider lives in the D.C. area so we set off for a walking tour of Adams/Morgan, including a delightful dinner at a Creole restaurant. She was easy on me, knowing that I FLC (felt like crap) and that my right knee can be finicky at times. Since this is a lady who can trot along at an incredible speed in heels, she was very kind.

By Wednesday I was human again. We started off at ten in the morning and I didn't get home until near eleven that night. Since I was packing the portable cane, I didn't need it once. And for some odd reason, the walking eased up the knee beautifully. We toured Lafayette Square, the
Renwick Gallery, visited Black Aggie, the Freer and the Sackler Galleries, and the Library of Congress. As to the latter, this is where our books go when they get copyrighted. I didn't visit my tomes but we did take in the magnificent architecture. Built in the late 19th century, the place has all the Victorian excesses I love. Guilded everything. I could easily see some of the influence from the 1893 Columbian Exposition. We visited Thomas Jefferson's library collection (lord, did that guy love to read) and in between all our trudging we indulged in some of the most marvelous food imaginable. The Eastern Market is home to Monmartre, a French restaurant with some excellent delicacies. The gazpacho was unreal. For dinner we ate at RT's, a Creole restaurant and a long time favorite of my hostess. Then we did the Alexandria ghost tour which ended in a very old and cool cemetery.

But what about the the baked goods, you ask?Jean Marie took me home to meet her hubby,
Greg (a cartoonist in his own right) and to indulge in homemade berry pie. Okay, I was spoiled. Big time. She's coming to Atlanta for Dragon*Con and I'm going to have to hustle to match her incredible hospitality. I think we'll start with the cemetery, move onto the pub and then settle in for some Jonesy Port. Yeah, that's the plan. No pie. I'm not that good at making crusts.

The rest of the conference was a blur. Thursday I attended a few panels and then the Prism Awards ceremony. I took Third Place, while
Colby Hodge won the Prism for Time Travel. Colby (aka Cindy) and I found out we share the same agent, the truly amazing Meredith Bernstein. Another writer friend of mine won the Prism for Light Paranormal. Jeri Smith-Ready has been nominated for the award a couple times before, so it was awesome to see her win her very own pyramid for WICKED GAME. Very cool.

I slipped into the Kiss of Death (Daphne Awards) but the room was so crowded I retired to the bar with Jean Marie where we chatting about writing and politics while I enjoyed a modest amount of single malt (remembering my indiscretion earlier in the week).

Friday was more panels and then one of the moments I'd been waiting for: the St. Martin's Press cocktail party. I got to catch up with my dear friend P.C. Cast, whose
House of Night
vampire series is kicking serious butt. I think she has seven million books in print now. OMG. She and Meredith introduced me to the movers and shakers at St. Martin's. It was good to meet the folks I'll be working with. Alas, my editor wasn't there so I'll have to save that meeting for down the line. But gee, that means I just might have to fly to NYC. Darn, that would be such a penance (not).

After that party, we moved onto the Harlequin bash, which is always a blow out. P.C.'s dad (Dick) held his own with the ladies. Lord, can that man dance! I did a little dancing, but not much as the knee was bitching up a storm if I moved wrong and since it’s healing I really didn’t want to piss it off further. Jean Marie and I called it an early night about ten as we took the Metro to our respective homes. Kennedy Center was just getting out so the Metro was packed. I blended right in. For some reason I was starved, so I stopped at the McDonald's down the street from the B&B. Mind you, it's now eleven at night and I'm dressed to the nines. No one batted an eye. (And to those concerned about my safety, I’d already stripped off my costume jewelry before leaving the party and I pack a LOT of attitude).

Saturday (more panels) including one with agents Denise Marcil and Meredith Bernstein entitled The Secrets of Authors with Long Careers and How They Sustain Creativity and Success. They conducted interviews with successful authors who've stayed the course and listed out a series of traits these authors possess. Very interesting information. A few authors in the audience shared horror stories (they were truly horrific) about the uglier side of publishing. As this was a PAN workshop (part of the Published Authors Network) there were no editors present so candor was rampant. That’s a good thing. You need to know where the bodies are buried.

Though Meredith and I really wanted to go to a particularly well-recommended restaurant, they had a forty-five minute wait. We chose an Indian buffet instead and spent most of the time deep in conversation. The relationship between an agent and a client is much like a Victorian marriage at first – arranged because it suits both partners’ career and financial goals. It’s what happens after that “marriage” that counts. This was the first time I really got a chance to chat with Meredith and we made the most of it. She’s fun, intelligent, and very savvy. I sincerely respect that. In return, she respects my opinion and together we can make sound decisions as to my career. A partnership. That’s the way it should be.

I returned home to find my house clean and that my dearest spouse (sincere brownie points for this) had cleaned out the refrigerator. Wow. I should go away more often. Now that I’m over the trip lag, I’m working on projects that I’ve ignored while finishing the second draft of the manuscript. Next convention: Dragon*Con. And it's not that far away, folks!

No comments: