Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dallas Baby!

Dallas was F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C (well, except for the food, but I suspect that was more RWA's fault than the city's...)

As always, conferences are hugely inspiring, and among things, the vibe there flies in face of the published-writer-as-rockstar stereotype. Nora Roberts, recently named one of America's top 100 entertainers (not writers - entertainers) grabbed a seat across from me at the bar, another NYT bestselling author was walking around with her dress caught somewhere on her hips... it's all very democratic. And cathartic for the unpublished. So if you're serious about your writing but are terrified of feeling like a guppy swimming alongside sharks, don't be. I met my agent at my first ever conference (which was also in Dallas), picked up Gods knows how many tips on the craft, and cartloads of free books every time (I didn't get as many this time but what I did get I love).

The highlights of this year for me (besides catching up with my writing chicas) have to be the impromptu speech of writing multicultural lit and the St. Martin's/TOR signing.

Allow me to explain. Last year my agent gave a workshop/panel about writing multicultural chick lit, moderated by the lovely Michelle Yu, one of the authors of China Dolls. My book wasn't out then, so I wasn't approached for the panel. Then, a few months after that, Michelle did contact me about a multicultural chick lit panel asking me if I would like to participate. Naturally I was all over it, but (and here's the crux of the matter...) I ASSUMED (what do they say about assuming making an ass out of you and me?...)that this was the same type of panel as last year, and that it was organized by my agent. So, I followed up with my agent, NOT Michelle (stupid, stupid, stupid Nadine) before the conference. My agent kindly informed me that she would be doing her workshops on her own this year, without a panel (I can imagine her scratching her head and wondering what the heck I was talking about).

So I promptly forgot about this panel business.

Until Thursday morning, at the conference registration, where I was handed a 'speaker' badge. Ha ha.

Then I met my agent, and we managed to piece together what had happened.

Fortunately this story has a happy ending: during that period of time when I did think I was going to give a speech about writing multicultural fiction, I did actually think about what I would say, what I think the key commandments are, etc. So I wasn't completely unprepared. I met with Michelle & Blossom and we tweaked our presentation, and were joined by the scholarly Cathy Yardley, author of Will Write for Shoes among other works, and all was well that ended well. I'm actually very pleased with the panel, and we're going to be back bigger and stronger (and with handouts this time!) in San Fransisco next year.

The other awesome thing about the Nationals was... drum roll please... my signing! My editor totally pulled through and arranged for boxes and boxes of Fashionably Late to be waiting for me, together with a lovely gentleman who was charged with explaining the process to me and making me feel cared for. I love you Paul!!!

The signing itself could not have gone better, I had a fantastic turnout with lots and lots of positive comments like: I love your cover, or I've heard about your book (nothing, by the way, is sweeter to a writer's ears than hearing that someone has heard about your book... sometimes it feels like all the PR noise you're trying to make may as well be coming out of Siberia).

The best moment? On the plane back from Dallas a middle-aged nurse from North Carolina struck up a conversation with me where I revealed that I was a pubbed writer, and when I produced a copy of FL, she looked at it and said: "Oh I recognize this... I think I saw it at the airport..."

Finally, stay tuned for tomorrow, when I'll be announcing a new contest!!! (and I promise you a very cool prize).


Paul Stevens said...

I have to give credit where credit is due. All I did was talk to Rose Hilliard and she did everthing. She ordered all the books and set the whole thing up. I'm happy that it went smoothly.

As for the mystery gentleman who explained things to you . . . I'm not sure who that is.

Glad you had a good time!


Nadine Dajani said...

Are you serious? I could have sworn he said your name... either age is starting to affect my brain (I was hoping to delay that until the big 3-0) or I have a benevolent stalker. Either way, he was comforting : )

Dona Sarkar-Mishra said...

Oh baby, it was *so* good to see you again! This was hands down, the BEST CONFERENCE EVER!
Check out, we are doing a whole conference memories week :)

Nadine Dajani said...

It was sooooo nice to see you tooo! (excuse me while I go weep...) Unintended consequences of globalism: you make really good friends and then NEVER GET TO SEE THEM EVER!

Kiki said...

Did that panel get taped?
I'd love to hear it, people have been saying so many good things about it...