It doesn't take a lot to make romance writers happy--I should know, I'm one of them. A big, echoing room, lots of spotlights, glamor and glitz. The promise of chocolate?
I spent the two hours before the Golden Heart kicked back on my people watching chair. Unless you knew who I was, or where I was, I blended.
People walked by, all dressed up and glittering, in everything from chiffon day dresses to their daughter's used prom gowns. Up-swept hair, straightened out hair. Bangles and dangles. Occasionally I saw people like me, all dressed up in jeans, but they were the exception. One woman made an enormous impression. Her hips rolled by, churning butt cheeks the size and shape of bongo-drums shrink-wrapped in spandex. They were big and shiny, and had all the fascination of boulders in an avalanche.
Cowboy says it's because the Golden Heart doesn't have a dress code so it's evolved into a free-for-all, but I wanted to do a Quentin from What not to Wear, jump up and scream, "Spandex does NOT help!"
There were more beads than a bead-shop, more glittery bits than a tinsel factory and every kind of shiny, stretchy fabric known to man. Most of it in black or screaming look-at-me red.
The same woman who'd been directing us around the hotel directed us...er, in the direction of the ballroom. After almost a week, she probably wasn't needed, but I think the hotel paid her to lie through her teeth. "You're looking lovely tonight." "What beautiful dresses...you're looking gorgeous tonight ladies."
Some dresses were--to give her credit--drop dead gorgeous. And occasionally some writers had the whole package. Everything from looks and brains, to the body and clothing of a supermodel.
Sharon Sala--who is a class act all the way--stopped to say hello before she continued down to the Ritas. I'm truly a fan. Her lectures are wonderful, and if you haven't heard her speak on her writer's journey, head on over to BillsPro and check her out. The first year I heard her speak, Amanda was her moderator. This year, I was--and it was truly a pleasure. Her book was up for a Rita, and imho--should have won. I've been reading her since she wrote Silhouettes.
When the people died to a trickle, I followed them into the ballroom. The Divas had a huge section near the door, but I had a crick in my neck--too many weird seats earlier in the conference. I ran into some people I knew and plopped myself down right under the huge projector screen. A stupid move on my part.
That thing lit up like the surface of the moon.
Anne Stuart was a fabulous presenter. Her movie clips were great. Especially the parts where it would show gorgeous women and she'd stick "ME>" on them. The Cleopatra get-up was to die for, purple boa, sequined diadem and all. When she said, "I wanted to be carried out in a litter on the backs of four gorgeous men," I expected just that.
Chi won in her category, which was cool. Amanda didn't, which was not. After finaling so many times, I was cheering for her.
And by then, the combined scents of thousands of women, the heat and lights were making the woman behind me sneeze. She sneezed so much I thought my hair was shellacked. Then I started to cough, and the woman to my left started to sneeze--two hours of close contact and limited air flow gets to you.
After the ceremony, I headed for the reception. There was a line the size of a football field for the cash bar, and three basketball courts for the dessert. Luckily, Chellsie found me and told me the hot food line was shorter.
I like hot food.
Cheese and bread, little fussy canapes with tiny dabs of caviar and mushroom. Hot shrimp and roast beef, crab puffs (I'd always wanted to try a crab puff, no matter how hard I try I can't stop thinking like a regency historical writer). I packed my plate (despite Chellsie's valiant attempt to stop me from making a pig of myself. As she said, "it's cocktail food." Too bad. My take on cocktail food is "get more, and a fork, too.") and looked for water.
I don't drink and I wasn't about to stand in line for a seven dollar coke (seriously--seven dollars). So I found a table off in the corner and a couple of people who also wanted water. A nice kid who worked for the hotel brought us some.
We talked until the lines died down, and zeroed in for another run. I have this thing about smoked salmon, and nobody was eating it. Maybe they were too busy talking, but y'know? It was paid for, I was hungry, and they would have thrown it away anyway--although from the way they started clearing the dishes right afterward, you'd think they were on a mission to feed the homeless. Those big silver dishes (still full of fussy, fancy food) disappeared like a magic trick.
Now you see it, oops--you're too slow.
I got a picture of Pershing and her board...
Wrong one, my bad.
The ballroom had emptied out, lonely and a little sad. People were sitting on the stairs leading down, but no one went past the balcony.
We're all waiting for next year.