Registration is a favorite volunteer assignment. Early morning, 8 or 10 of us manned the registration desk, along with behind-the-scenes RWA Staff members who efficiently ran the show. As writers, editors, agents, and librarians arrived we pulled envelopes with registration materials and handed each a tote bag filled with books, a name badge holder, flash drive, book light, and even a collapsible water bottle. Roughly 2,100 attending this year but the space was well-organized so not much waiting.
After my two-hour stint at Registration, I raced upstairs to help stuff tote bags. The fourteen bags we assembled to raffle on Wednesday night at the KOD “Death by Chocolate” awards ceremony and party. Five of us worked; coordinators had matters well in hand. Books and other goodies were generously donated by KOD authors.
Chocolate doesn’t travel well and we needed more for the raffle bags. I made what should have been a quick dash down Broadway toward Walgreens. In Times Square a huge crowd gathered, along with police and their flashing vehicles. I followed the direction of the cameras and spotted a young man in a red t-shirt who alternately sat, stood, and danced atop a light post (click for news article). Patient NYPD officers on ladders worked to talk him down. He seemed in no hurry to comply. But I was on a mission. Must have chocolate for the raffle bags! So I pushed through the multitude. Got to Walgreens, grabbed the chocolate, and left. Now sawhorses and police on horseback blocked off the Square. A large blow-up trampoline arrived. The guy was still on the post. Head down, I (and others) worked our way north through the crowds. This is New York City.
In the afternoon I attended RWA-Women’s Fiction mini-conference. Michael Hauge started the program with a two-hour presentation on Six Stage Plot Structure. Using selected scenes from the movie My Best Friend’s Wedding he explained how to use screenplay structure to enrich our novels. Outstanding, invaluable info!
Next up on the RWA-WF schedule was an agent/editor panel, followed by an author panel, all talking about the market for Women’s Fiction. It is a currently in high demand among editors, if it is well done. I heard the term “cougar club” – women in their 40’s going through an identity crisis. The books need emotional complexity and depth. Hardcovers are usually more literary. Trade paperbacks feature a more intimate setting. Three critical factors are emotional drive, connection to the characters, and to make the reader care.
A Librarian’s Day Luncheon was held in the Westside Ballroom and best-selling author Julia Quinn spoke. There was also a Librarian and Bookseller Networking Event where PAN eligible authors could mix with romance-friendly librarians and booksellers.
I made a quick trip to the “Goody Room” – an area where authors set out promo items including chocolates, pens, and ever popular emery boards. No “paper only” allowed this year.
RWA’s Literacy Signing was held from 5:30 to 7:30. Over 500 authors signed their books for readers. Profits from the event go to RWA’s charity. (Update: Over $47,000 was raised!) The room was packed, more so than I remember from past years. Not sure if it was the room size, or social media to blame. Drawings were held for chapter donated raffle baskets. Three or four contained Kindles or other e-readers. Lots of fun to meet with old friends and new.
At a First Timers’ Orientation, first time attendees learned the ropes. Many online chapters also met Tuesday evening. I attended From the Heart RW’s “Meet and Greet” and met Nikki Enlow, one of 2011’s recipients of the RWA Service Award and President of FTHRW. Also Denise Pattison (we’ve been trying to meet for years), and others. Those attending were given “conference survival kits” – a fun collection of necessities for surviving conference. An evening highlight was a talk by a Samhain editor who spoke on the state of e-publishing.
Tuesday evening allowed many online friends to socialize. Authors from The Goddess Blogs held a party in their suite, providing food, fun, drinks, and tiaras.
More fun to follow tomorrow as the Conference officially opens. ∞