Lilian’s another of my Aussie writer friends that I haven’t met in person but got to know on M&B loops years and years ago. When I did my 25th party, she was lovely enough to offer a copy of her first mainstream novel, Café du Jour, as a giveaway. And I’m thrilled to see her career going from strength to strength. (I could also mention that her needlework is fantastic, and when Jennifer Taylor’s first granddaughter arrived, Lilian organized the Med authors across the world into making quilt squares and sending them to her, then put them all together – it looked stunning. Yup, she’s another of the nice guys. You might notice there’s a common theme with my guests…)
Over to Lilian:
Thanks for the very timely invitation to your blog party, Kate.
Well, for romance writers, it's the middle of conference season, with the big one - the Romance Writers of America National Conference - just finished, the UK Romantic Novelists' Association Conference done and dusted a couple of weeks ago, and the Australian and New Zealand conferences almost upon us. Unfortunately, I'm not going to any of them this year, so I'm missing all those cool partyish things that happen at writing conferences and it's nice to have an alternative here on your blog.
For those of you who don't go to writing conferences, I'm now going to wistfully describe a few of the things I'm missing out on. For those of you planning to go to a writing conference some day, I hope these descriptions are an encouragement rather than a turn-off.
The first major event at the American conference is the huge book signing session known as the Literacy Autographing. Hundreds of authors - and I mean HUNDREDS - are arranged alphabetically at long rows of tables where they sign their books for three hours. If you're a big name author, you get a special table up the back and your line snakes out the door, through the hotel lobby, and around the corner into the next street. If you're a medium-sized name, you have a nice clutch of fans blocking access to the lesser names seated beside you. If you're not really much of a name at all YET, you sit there white faced, silent and alone, or else resort to standing on your chair and shamelessly bribing people with chocolate.
But then you and your friends leave your assigned spots for a while and go around visiting each other, and when the event winds up you kick on for pizza in someone's room and have a great night and forget all about the fact that even with chocolate as an inducement, only five people wanted your book.
On a more serious note, the books are donated by publishers and all money raised goes to support adult literacy. Each year it's around $50,000, and has added up to an impressive total over the years.
The next social highlight at RWA National is the series of publisher parties on a Friday night. As I'm a Harlequin author, the Harlequin party is the one I get to go to. Some people gate-crash these parties, but I'm not a fan of that. Being a published author is hard, and a huge achievement, and there aren't that many perks, and going to the party is one of them, and if you manage to crash it before you're published then you're stealing your own sense of triumph once you've actually earned an official invitation. Sorry if that sounds a little grumpy!
If you don't like dancing, then the Harlequin party is possibly not for you, published or not. The event is noisy, conversation is impossible unless the venue happens to offer quiet corridors or balconies off to the side. But the dancing, oh, the dancing! We get hot, we let our hair down, we rush onto the floor whenever our favourite songs come on, we forget the fact that we have revisions to work on as soon as the conference is over, we forget that we haven't clicked with our new editor yet - and sometimes we do click with her right there on the dance floor when it turns out we're both really embarrassing in our responses to Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive."
At the Romance Writers of Australia conference, Friday night is cocktail party night, and it's a similarly frenzied occasion. There's a fancy dress motif to this one, each year, and the theme is always different. This year, I'm missing out on my chance to interpret the theme "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" and I can only imagine how sparkly and glittery and glorious the evening is going to be.
At RWAmerica and RWAustralia, Saturday night is awards night, a chance to sit with your friends and cheer them on if they're nominated for something, or be cheered yourself, if you've been lucky enough to final in the Rita, the Golden Heart, the Ruby or any of the other awards on offer, for both published and unpublished authors. At the American conference, it's the last event on the program, and many people catch flights home early the next morning, so there's a bit of a tumbleweeds blowing in the wind feel to the end of the night. You see people sitting in the lobby with their shoes off and their make-up smudged. You end up talking in someone's room till three in the morning, spilling fears and doubts or laughing about things that you hadn't realised were funny until now - that terrible cover on your last book, that one-star Amazon review. Everything falls into perspective in ways you hadn't expected and you set out for home the next day knowing that the connection with fellow writers has nourished your creative soul...
Oh dear, over 800 words, I think my time at your party is almost over, Kate.
Wait, before I go, can I give away a book? Anyone who makes a comment will go into the draw to win an electronic copy of my historical women's fiction novel "Saving Gerda."
And for anyone who likes to party on Twitter, where I'm most active, I'd love to see you and am easily found: @liliandarcy