Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Conference


Please join me over at Fresh Fiction http://freshfiction.com/page.php?id=1905

I sit at my desk this Monday morning, barefoot, in a haze. I just returned from conferencing it up in Washington D.C. at the RWA’s big shindig. My feet are still calling me names that I didn’t know my blister-worn feet knew. (Where do they learn those words? Are they reading my manuscripts?) My mind is trying to recall all the high points, all the new faces, all the bits and pieces of wisdom I learned. My stomach is still trying to digest some of the yummy food I ate, and my metabolism and I are in a battle to the death. Seriously, calories don’t count at a conference. Did my metabolism not get that memo?

As I try to come up with a subject matter for this piece, (I told you I’m still in a conference haze) I brainstormed a few topics: the people, the pain, the fashion police, my editors’ hair, and fire alarms.

The people were fabulous. I met so many amazing authors and publishing professionals. Their creative energy was contagious. I sat in the audience in awe and listened to Janet Evanovich and had to bite my tongue to keep from shouting AMEN SISTER!! Linda Howard’s talk about her nutty family had me in stitches and I’m gonna have to check and make sure that we aren’t related, because I swear our families come from the same dysfunctional Alabama DNA strain.

There were the writers and people who stopped me in the halls making me feel so important. Of course, most of them just wanted directions to the bathroom, and for some reason I looked like the person with potty knowledge. (Where do they get that idea? Have they read my books?) Ahh, but I still loved chatting with other writers. The most memorable one was when one young lady said, “I lived down the street from you years ago.” My knees started knocking. Oh, the things she could tell! I keep thinking about the time my dog escaped out the door at the crack of dawn. Yeah, I looked like a real romance author out there, running through people's yards, threatening everything including neutering, to a misbehaving Lhasa Apso, while wearing footed, snoopy pajamas. (Hey, my daughter bought them for me for Christmas.) Then there was the day the fire trucks showed up at my house one hot August afternoon because smoke was bellowing out my chimney. “Who in their right mind has a fire in the fireplace in August? Or a Christmas tree fully decorated?” asked the fireman, accompanied by the neighbor who called them.

“Uhh, a writer who had turned the air down to fifty, and was writing Christmas stories and needed the ambience.”

I had some readers come to the autographing and tell me they drove all the way from Virginia to see me. WOW! I mean, I don’t care if it’s fifteen minutes on the other side of Washington, they still drove across state lines to see me. Of course, they probably only wanted directions to the bathroom. One bookseller brought her husband to the autographing and told me she read him my book while on a road trip. And then when they stopped for the night, he watched some sports event on TV and she finished my book. The next day, back in the car, he made her reread aloud, the last of the book. I told him how honored I was, then I scolded him for choosing a game over my book. LOL. Men! You always know where you rate with them—meaning I rated before the boredom, but not before sports. I was still thrilled.

I met several of Killer Fiction’s blog followers. Waving at Terri! I got to hug and stand next to our very own Killer Fiction gal, Leslie Langtry. True, I felt just a tad scared of the woman who writes about assassins, and I also felt . . . short. Dang, girl, could you loan me an inch or two?

I got to put a face with the names of some Wisconsin writers whom I know from their chapter loop. (I joined their chapter when I entered their contest.) Howdy, ya’ll! I got to chat and even dine with some Alabama gals, who talk like me. I met with some ol’ friends, made new friends, and even got to speak to a Publishers Weekly reviewer. “Bathroom is right around the corner.” Do you think she’ll remember me? I eventually did let her leave the bathroom.

One of the hotel’s staff, who stood in the middle of the lobby offering directions, actually accused me of having too much spirit. I personally think she was just jealous that everyone was asking me about the bathroom locations instead of her.

You can’t talk about a conference without talking about the pain. This is all about the shoes, people. Now, I don’t wear those throw-your-back-out-but-boy-do-my-feet-look-hot shoes. I am, after all, the practical type of person. I wear the reasonable, non-slutty (okay boring) one to two inch get-real, blister-making, torture-inducing shoes. Could someone please tell me when did reasonable, semi-bland shoes get into the torture business? Funny thing is, I wasn’t the only person suffering from this condition. I think I saw more band-aided feet this weekend than I have in my life. Oh, and I swear you could almost tell what day it was at the conference by the shoes everyone was wearing. Shoe attire got less and less flashy and more and more comfy as the days went by. Even for us practical types. Of course, Gemma wasn’t there to set the standards.

If I’d run across the FP (fashion police) on Friday night, I would have been hauled in, arrested, and be doing ten to life.

You see, I bought this great looking brown suit. And a great-looking, non-slutty, practical pair of brown shoes. However, my earlier stint in the brown pumps proved that shoes don’t have to be sexy to be painful. I swear my toes were having muscles spasms. My roommate convinced me that happy feet were more important than making a fashion faux pas. So I did it. I wore my non-slutty (yes, boring) black shoes with my brown suit. I know, I know, it’s unforgivable. Never the less, I think the brown shoes had a powwow with their black buddies because even they got into the whole torture game. At one point I plopped down beside Publishers Weekly’s blogger extraordinaire, Barbara Vey, and said, “Can I pretend to sit here and visit with you so people won’t know that my non-matching black shoes have gone past the pinching-the-toes-numb stage and arrived at the toothache-throb-kind-of-pain stage?”


You know, when you are a speaker at a conference you have a lot of knowledge-seeking people come up and ask questions. This year was no different. (And I’m not talking about the directions to the bathroom either.) If I was asked once, I was asked a dozen times, “Christie, what’s up with Chris Keeslar cutting his hair? Where’s his pony tail?”

Yes, I’m lucky to have one of the few male romance editors. Some go so far to call him the God of romance. And while I like to think of Chris and I as having a good working relationship, I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t get the memo about his hair change. Nor did the man feel the need to get my permission to cut his hair. But don’t worry, Chris and I discussed this problem at length.

Then there was this young, happy blonde who came up to me at the autographing and hugged me and said she was so excited to see me, and I looked at said blonde and replied. “I’m thrilled to see you, too. And who are you?”

Her answer, “Your new editor at St. Martins.” Oh, yes, I had chatted with Rose over dinner not too long ago, had even visited with her during cocktail parties, but in my defense she changed her hair. Hence, I’ve spoken with my agent to have a memo-of-hair clause put into all my future contracts.

Now, the last subject to be covered is fire alarms. Yup, it happened again. The alarm went off and people were ushered out of the building. I wasn’t even in the building when it went off. Much to my dismay, I was still accused by several folks, my agent included, of being responsible for this little problem.

Yes, I know it seems to happen a lot when I go to conferences, but I’m innocent, I tell you, innocent. I don’t care what my own fire department says in my old neighborhood. And believe me, I wouldn’t have pulled any alarm that would have caused me to have walk one more step than needed.

So what’s up in your world? Any conference, bad shoes, good shoes, hair, or fire alarm stories to share?

Come on, let’s share a bit.

CC

33 comments:

Faye Hughes said...

Great blog, Christie. But I still think you were somehow responsible for that fire alarm. LOL.

Faye

Christie Craig said...

Faye,

It wasn't me, I swear. Plus, I have alibi witnesses.

CC

Emmanuelle said...

Great Blog. Thanks for sharing the link on FB, I'm a sucker for authors blog !!
No crazy, wild, funny moment for me however. My life is pretty boring actually compared to yours, no Alabama genes in me I fear...LOL

Robin said...

This year, I didn't even bring the nice shoes. Still found myself with more and more layers of bandaids as the week wore on.

But no one asked me the way to the bathroom. Guess I have to wait until I become a fancy author with several pubbed novels to my name for that to happen.

terrio said...

Hey, I made the blog by name! Whoot! LOL! Waving right back. Thanks for being so sweet and not mentioning my stalkerish tendencies. Too bad that baby next door cut into the party time. Silly baby.

I was lucky as I think I'm the only person who didn't get blisters, but my feet and knees were still killing me so with my dress new brown dress pants, I wore my nice white and pink Nikes. LOL! I'm sorry, but by Saturday I couldn't take it anymore!

And I'm just happy the fire alarm happened in the middle of the afternoon so we already had our bras on. :)

Edie Ramer said...

I'm sorry I missed going to the conference and meeting you! Not just because you're short, too, but because you're a great writer -- of blogs and books.

What's up in my world is bathroom redecorating and writing a new book. I found out they both have false starts but in the end they turn out okay (the bathroom, anyway -- I'm only on Chapter Three of the wip).

Loretta said...

Loved the blog Christie! I wasn't there but it sure made me want to be!

I'm glad for the heads up about the shoes...if I make it next year I know to pack several:)

I've also garnered, the bathroom is THE place to be!

Keri Ford said...

I enjoyed the conference through Twitter this year. In my pj's. barefoot. on my comfy couch. I have to say, I would have rather been there getting asked directions to the bathroom and blistering my feet, but it was the next best thing!

Christie Craig said...

Emmanuelle,

Girl, you should probably thank your lucky stars that you don't have those Alabama genes. LOL.

Thanks for dropping by.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Robin,

You know, I think one of the chapters was selling conference kits with bandaids in them at the bazaar. Smart group of ladies!

And I think I get asked for directions because I wear hats. Hmm . . . I wonder. LOL.

Thanks for dropping by.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Terrio,

Hey, girl. You a stalker? Nah. It was great catching up at national. As for the party, I did feel a little guilty about all the noise we were making.

And you are lucky not to have gotten those blisters. I think next year I'll steal a pair of JoAnn Ross's high heeled sneakers. She swears they are really comfortable.

Thanks for dropping by.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Edie,

You missed a great conference. Next year in Nashville promises to be even better. Please come if you can. You can help me steal JoAnn Ross's high-heeled sneakers.

Oh, boy. Bathroom redecorating. I've been there and done that, Craig style. Good luck with yours, and with your new book. It sounds like you're off to a great start.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Loretta,

Some people seem to get by just fine with only a couple of pairs but I really think the key is to pack as many as your suitcase will handle. Your tootsies will thank you for it.

Thanks for dropping by.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Keri,

I heard a lot of people were Twittering about the conference this year. I wish you could have been there in person but attending via Twitter in your PJ's sounds like a lot of fun, too.

Thanks for dropping by.

CC

Tori Lennox said...

I heard the fire alarms went off twice. Do you mean to tell us you were innocent both times??? *g*

Christie Craig said...

Tori,

I've been advised by council not to say anything.

Crime Scene Christie

Anonymous said...

What??? Chris Keesler cut his hair? With it long, from a distance, he looked like the first hero I wrote. I totally freaked out when I walked into Spotlight and saw that. I blame you. He was fine until he started editing you. Maybe he pulled it all out.

Oh, by the way, the What Not To Wear people say that neutrals all go with each other and you can wear brown and black together.

Rhonda Morrow

Refhater said...

Christie,

Glad you had a good time at the conference!

No fire alarm stories here, but I do have a carbon monoxide detector one that's kinda funny. In an odd kinda way.

Years ago when I was living with my parents, I got REALLY ill. Blood tests would later show that I had a high levels of carbon monoxide in my system. (Evacuate the house, death is imminent-high level.)

After replacing a bad funrnace (and my getting my own apartment,) I mentioned to my mom that she should really get a CO detector just in case. She then replied "We had one before, but it just kept going off so I thought it was defective and took the batteries out of it."

Christie Craig said...

Rhonda,

Maybe it happened when I shot the video we showed during our workshop. For those of you who weren't there, here is a link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeTTCvXz-Zk

But I'm going to stick to my story that I had nothing to do with Chris's haircut. Nope. Not a thing.

Thanks for stopping by.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Refhater,

Thanks for sharing your carbon monoxide story. I have just one question: Which cousin of mine are you? Seriously, that was a scary story but I can just see my mama doing the same thing.

Thanks for dropping by.

CC

Natale Stenzel said...

Christie, I think I was the yin to your yang. You spent the whole time giving directions to the bathroom; I spent the whole time looking for one. I think they hid or changed the signs every time they saw me coming.

I am proud to announce, however, that at no time during this conference did I wear band-aids. First time ever. Came close that first day, though . . .

Natale Stenzel said...

Oh, and I didn't sit in gum this year.

Linda Warren said...

Hey Christie,
What a conference! It was great seeing you whizzing down the hallways. I didn't even notice your black shoes and I think I saw you on Friday. LOL
I'm still exhausted.
Linda

Christie Craig said...

Natale,

I suspect the person removing all of the signs to the bathroom was my non-fiction writing partner, Faye Hughes. Yep. I'm almost positive it was her.

Glad you survived the conference band-aid free!

Thanks for dropping by.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Natale,

No sitting in gum? And no band-aids! The Have-A-Great-Conference fairy must really like you! lol.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Linda,

It was great seeing you, too. Wish we could have chatted longer but that's the way conferences always are. Rushing here, rushing there. And thanks for making me feel better about my shoes, but I wore them to the St. Martin's Press party.

CC

Peter said...

I really liked this book too. My book; True Love Is Not Common; www.eloquentbooks.com/TrueLoveIsNotCommon.html, has similar main characters. I grew up reading this author. Hope my book one day will reach many people as this author.

EmilyBryan said...

Hey Christie! It was great to see you in DC.

Re: uncomfortable shoes. I went barefoot all day Monday! My feet are finally happy again.

Clearly, I'm not made for high fashion.

Steve said...

Peter,

Thanks for stopping by.

Here's luck to you!

CC

Steve said...

Emily,

We must be cut from the same cloth then. My feet are just now beginning to speak to me without snarling.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Okay,

Guess who Steve is?

My, CC's, teenage son who forgot to sign out.

Christie Craig

Donna Marie Rogers said...

Christie, I sure wish I could have attended National this year, it sounds like everyone had such a great time. I've got my fingers crossed for next year...if not, 2011 for sure. *g*

And I know a thing or two about being short. I'm about 1/4" shy of 5 feet...and I'n still an inch taller than my mom...LOL

Christie Craig said...

Oh...Donna, we'll have to hang together soon so we'll make each other feel normal.

CC