Sorry it’s taking me so long to tell this story, but here we go:
The third official day of Nationals I almost didn’t go. …
(Seriously, I’m getting old, man!)
The night before I’d crashed into bed, exhausted, with my feet all a-hurtin’, and thought “Maybe I won’t even go tomorrow. … I’ll just primp all day until the big ceremony at night.”
But I woke up in the morning feeling all pumped again, and got out of bed and got myself back into my car. (I did wear lower heels, though!)
As soon as I got to the hotel, I went to one of the “Spotlights” they have, where a particular publisher gets a ballroom to itself, and you can go and learn all about the company’s submission requirements, what they’re looking for, etc. I popped into Sourcebooks’ spotlight as well as Montlake’s.
I also went to my first “Chat”! They have “chats” with various famous authors (including Nora Roberts), where the author sits in a room and you can ask any questions you like. On this Saturday, I went to the Julia Quinn chat, which was terrific. Historical writer Julia Quinn is the youngest author ever inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame (which means you’ve published 100 books or more). She was great, frank, and funny. I sat with a fellow GH finalist in the Regency category, April Bennet, and when Julia’s chat was over, I leaned over to April and said “You’ll be doing this chat someday!” She laughed and looked a little horrified. (But wouldn’t you know, she won her category later that night! I think I saw into the future a little bit that day. … Go April!)
Anyway, another really extraordinary “first” was my first “Book Signing” that day. … Various publishers host book signings throughout the event, where they collect 20-30 authors from their house, sit those authors in a huge ballroom with stacks of books and a bunch of pens, and let the attendees come in and take free books and get free autographs! It was amazing! (FREE BOOKS! Yowza!) I’d heard in the past that this is where a lot of attendees go a little crazy, and collect so many free books that they have to buy additional suitcases to ship them home afterward. But I’m a local this year! All I had to do was bring them to my car! So this was my year!
Unfortunately, I had so many things to go to at my first Nationals that I only got to go to the ONE book signing (plus I only got to go for a half hour because we had practice for the Golden Heart!). But glorious it was! I met quite a few cool, new authors and picked up a slew of new books I can’t wait to read.
Then it was time for the Golden Heart practice. … I have to tell you, until this moment, I wasn’t nervous at all about the awards ceremony. I really didn’t think I was going to win, so I was just excited to go, dress up, cheer everyone on, and generally have a great time. But the practice made me nervous! (Yep, it did!)
They had each of us walk across the stage, speak our names into the microphone (so we could get a sense of how far to lean in and get used to the bright lights), then walk off “stage right” as we were supposed to do that night if we won. Then they went on about how you should definitely have a speech prepared, because many a winner thought she wasn’t going to win and ended up stumbling up there all unprepared. … So … *gulp* … hmmm. … *I* didn’t have a speech prepared! They said at the very least, make a list of names to thank, because being up on that stage, with all those bright lights, makes you forget your own name, let alone who to thank.
(NOW I was nervous!)
I left the practice, went to one more “Spotlight,” but I was starting to get tired/hungry/nervous, so I decided to call the day early, go home around 3 p.m., and give myself some time to rest and primp. (After a nice tall Starbucks iced tea for the car ride home, of course.) This was another nice thing about being right in my home town for a Nationals event!
During the car ride home, I did think about the speech, but honestly I couldn’t think of anything clever. I began almost praying I wouldn’t win. I took long drags of my iced tea and told myself to at least make a list of people to thank. …
Next post: The Ceremony!