Confessions from RWA 2013

Okay, so this was my first RWA national convention. I did what any self-respecting newbie does. I printed out the massive list of workshops–dozens and dozens per day, circling the ones that interested me and making out an elaborate, moment-by-moment schedule.

I got off to a rocky start, admittedly, because my room wasn’t ready (lesson: arrive the day before) and I missed the first session, for RWA first-timers. Well, I’ve been to RT now, I figure, so I can miss the newbie orientation.

Next, I go into my room (finally) and wait for my luggage. I knew I had my priorities straight, after all. I had packed shoes and electronics together. And there were shoes (1 pair), and electronics (laptop, Kindle with keypad, iPhone, chargers, and extra chargers).

What I did not have, however, was the charger for my phone, which promptly ran out of juice while taking those photos, and the one from my hotel room window of downtown Atlanta:

See that ominous-looking cloud? It turned into a monster thunderstorm with crashing thunder, torrential rains that led to a flood warning, and lots of cloud-to-ground lightning. I cared not as I dashed downstairs (well, not literally since I’m on the 32nd floor) to the book signing. It was a zoo, but I got to chat with some lovely authors. Darynda Jones was two seats down with her lines, and the rest of us looked pitifully at her fans, hoping one would feel sorry for us and wander over.

Next it was off to the cocktail party to announce the winners of the Linda Howard award for my Southern Magic RWA chapter. I helped coordinate the paranormal entries, and it was fun to sit around and chat. Until about 9 p.m., when I finally realized I was exhausted.

Then I went back to my room and ordered a phone charger from Amazon with overnight delivery, ordered an overpriced salad (really, Marriott? $32 for a salad?), set up my computer with $15/day Internet service (really, Marriott?) and crashed.

Thursday was muggy and hot and busy. I had plans. I had workshops to attend. I had to…oversleep. I swear, I’m still recuperating from the marathon that became STORM FORCE and day job drama. But I finally wandered downstairs for an overpriced breakfast (really, Mariott? $24 for an omelet made of egg whites and turkey sausage?). I ran into some author friends and we sat down to chat and…I missed my next two workshops. There was a luncheon, but seems like I needed a nap first.

Before I knew it, there it was, 4 p.m., and I girded my loins, so to speak, for my marathon night. I met with my agent Marlene, who is just the most awesome agent ever and a lovely person to boot, and we strategized about what the next year might look like for me in a perfect world (I’ll let you know if that happens). Then I raced upstairs to find my buddies from the Paranormal Unbound blog, L-R, Angela Quarles, AJ Larrieu, Amber Beldene, Lisa Kessler and Erica Hayes.

Then it was off to the Prism Awards ceremony, where Mirren and I were finalists in dark paranormal but did not win (darn that Sara Humphries!), but the table centerpieces were totally awesome. Yes, that is a skull in the birdcage and the raven outside.

From there, it was off to the publishers party for Montlake Romance, who publishes the Susannah Sandlin books. I was still being good and avoiding carbs and drinking only diet soda. Chatted, flitted, and then ran for a dinner with my agent Marlene Stringer, agent Christine Wittholm, fellow Montlake author Coreene Callahan, and fellow author and agency-mate Erica Hayes. Such. Fun!

We went to Truvia, a Turkish restaurant a few blocks (uphill in sweltering heat) from the hotel. Nice ambience, nice food–I do prefer Lebanese cuisine, which we had a lot in New Orleans and I’ve missed terribly since moving away, but it was still nice to get some grape leaves and stuffed cabbage and lamb. Except–SURPRISE–every hour or so, the music would grow louder, the lights would grow dim, and some scantily clad nubile young belly dancer would frolic among the tables. Okey-dokey.

Now it’s Friday, and I’ve done a video interview for Fresh Fiction (don’t know when it will air but I’m sure I’ll sound and look totally ridiculous…just like myself, in other words). And I also had new author shots done:

Now, I’m blogging (obviously) and getting ready to go to dinner with some lovely author and editors from Tor Books. There might or might not be belly dancers. Life’s an adventure.

So I’ll leave you with a video of the Marriott Atrium. The hotel is 41 or 42 stories, and is build kind of like a donut with an open atrium all the way up. Zipping up 32 floors in a matter of seconds is fairly terrifying and I refuse to look out of the glass elevator. But I did shoot it from below.

Did you notice I have not yet been to one single workshop? Oh well, tomorrow’s another day.

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban and paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense, currently living in Auburn, Alabama. Author of the Sentinels of New Orleans series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, and Belle Chasse (Nov 2016). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the upcoming Wilds of the Bayou series (Book 1, Wild Man's Curse) releases April 2016).

13 thoughts on “Confessions from RWA 2013

  1. Wow!
    It sounds like you are having a great time…I’m guessing that trek uphill in the heat was worth it, to not buy another $32 salad!
    Remember next year, wherever I am staying: find a way to get groceries on the way to the hotel!

  2. hum what are “workshop” at this kind of convention exactly?

    looks like you are having fun (and resting a bit which it’s good and deserved) thank you a lot for the pictures and the tales of the events^^

    • Oh, there are all kinds of things like how to self-publish, or what different publishers are looking for, or how to manage your time, or how forensics works. Career, craft, research. You can buy recordings of the sessions, which is probably what I’ll do. I decided a) networking and b) resting was more important this year!

  3. Glad to see you did find time for an update. That must be one fancy hotel. The Raven, Nevermore! The skull reminds me of pirates. Would like the stuffed cabbage and lamb or the belly dancer! LOL

    • Sullivan, the breakfast in the price of the stay is a tradition more european if you go in a “anglo saxon ( england, usa) you need to be very careful because it’s not included, you can eventually pay an extra to have it but the price you see of the site/ brochere are more than often with breafast not included

  4. I’m at that hotel every year for Dragon*Con (actually I stay at the Sheridan, but the Marriott is one of 5 hotels they use) and refuse to eat hotel food. The Peachtree Mall (which you can get to without stepping outside) has a huge food court and the food is a LOT cheaper there!

  5. Thanks for the great post Suzanne! I really love reading about conventions. I hope you continue to have more fun and make new friends, and I do hope you can find some cheaper foods outside the hotel.

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