For various reasons (including have the wrong week of July in my head when I was thinking of the dates -- duh!), I'm not attending the Romance Writers of America national convention this year. I've attended and enjoyed them in the past, though.
The first RWA conference I went to was three years before I sold, in 1988 (i.e. The Dark Ages). That one was in Boston, and what I mostly remember is (a) the excitement and (b) sleeping like a log. It was the first time I'd be away without my husband or kids since the children had been born, the first time I met an agent, the first time I'd been around so many writers.
My first conference as a published author was in Chicago in '92. That was the first time I met Tracy Farrell in person, and the hotel was the same one as in the movie, THE FUGITIVE. I went to my first Harlequin party, too -- exciting and pretty swell!
I think the next one I attended was Dallas, back in '94 (oh, the dates are fuzzy!). I did a workshop at 8 a.m. in a very stuffy room. The moderator and I were on a stage, quite a distance from the audience -- which was a problem, because there, in the very front row, was a woman nodding off. I mean, I was as perky as I know how to be (believe me, that's pretty darn perky) but to no effect, and given how obvious it would have been for the moderator to do anything, nothing was done. I just carried on and ignored her the best I could. I could probably pick her out of a crowd today, though.
I attended the St. Louis conference during the year of the big flood. The husband and kiddies came along, too, so we rented a van and drove. This was back in the days when they still had a banquet before the RITA ceremony. I don't think my husband will ever forget the sound of 1500 women in a banquet hall! My daughter came to a booksigning and got an autographed book. She was about 8 at the time, and the book was not, shall we say, for the innocent, so...come to think of it, I think it's still in my cupboard. I suppose she's old enough now...although do we mothers ever think our daughters are old enough for some things? The same way my daughter will read my books but not the love scenes. Because eeeeuuuuwwww! Mom's not supposed to know that stuff!
The whole family went to the conference in Orlando, too. The hubby and kids did Disney World and Universal Studios and that sort of thing, which was fine by me because that's not exactly my idea of a fun time. I played a round of minigolf with my editor, though.
I sweltered at another conference in Chicago, with the hotel with the weirdest air conditioning system ever. You couldn't leave it on when you went out. You had to turn it on every time you came into the (by then) roasting room. That was the first conference where I was with two publishing houses. Made for a lot of running around, which is not something you want to be doing with it's 105 with 100% humidity.
The last conference I attended was in Dallas again, in 2004. Me, about 1800 romance writers and what seemed like millions of Mary Kay reps. That was a scene, man. Expecially since my idea of makeup is lip gloss.
So I'll be thinking of everybody in Atlanta this week, among the mobs in the conference hotel, talking up a storm and having a swell time at their publishers' parties. I'll be here, sweltering with no air conditioning, writing but also taking a nap at midday because...well, it's hot. And did you know that anything you eat during RWA conference week when you're not actually at the conference has ZERO calories?