I'm pretty sure I had withdrawal, because I was walking around the conference with my netbook looking for a clear spot where I could use the phone or get internet without being disconnected. It took almost forty minutes to upload my last post, and I fidgeted the entire time. I'm not used to dial-up speeds and it totally gave me flashbacks to when I hated using the computer. My roomies bought hard-wired internet in the room. Considering there were over twenty-five hundred of us, all with computers, all with increasingly frantic needs to get on-line, it's no wonder we overloaded the system. There was a whole day when nothing worked at all. One connection bar in New York city? All it took was a passing breeze and I couldn't place a phone call or check email to save my life.
The hotel was the normal RWA Marriott. Hugely overpriced, seriously overcrowded and packed with people who'd never attended a conference before and were overwhelmed. Nationals isn't someplace you want to go if you don't have friends, or white-hot determination. Every time I'd turn a corner and see someone tucked into a corner reading, I had this incredible urge to yell, "Get up! Get moving--this thing is costing you an arm and a leg. Take advantage of it now, while you still can." You can read at home or on the plane. RWA only lasts for a few days.
I didn't have a lot of money, and suspect most people didn't because by the end of the conference I saw a lot of people hitting the free water hard. The closest food option was Junior's
Kati rolls--omg, sheer heaven.
Hot, greasy, chewy--three bucks, and a everything bagel with a gigantic scoop of the world's most fabulous vegetable cream cheese--three fifty. By the fourth day, after Teresa and Laurie had eaten their way through Ruby Foo's, I was craving some chinese and found a hole in the wall with genuine NY style chinese. Chicken wings and noodles with a drink. Fried halibut and noodles. Fried hot dog with noodles. It reminded me of Hawaii.
The conference had chicken...
I tried to go to the autographing, but couldn't get through the crowds. I remember sitting on the floor with the signing about six hours before they opened the doors, eating a kati roll and talking to Gina Ardito--God, what a small world--and these girls come up and ask if "that" is the ballroom where Sherrilyn Kenyon will be signing. They wanted to sit in front of the doors, even though they were still wheeling in books and bottles of water, so I suggested (since I'd heard the public was being restricted to the ground floor) they cruise the lobby bar. It's where everyone hangs out and a good chance for them to see their idol ahead of time.
Afterwards I found out the line stretched outside, down the street and didn't stop coming for hours. Everyone who was there told me it was pandemonium, and I agree. I couldn't even get close. Usually I cruise into the autographing after the mad rush goes through the doors. It's quiet, and I hang out and talk to people I know. This was just insane.
I did go to a few publisher signings (closed to the public), because my roommate Laurie had collected over two hundred books and my competitive streak was killing me. But the lines were long there, too.
Back in the early days they were right on top of everything and their rankings meant something. Now...I dunno. Over at RD I get to see a lot of people freak out over bad reviews, and there's always someone being talked about for attacking reviewers. Taking down Amazon reviews, taking down goodreads reviews? No wonder most of the people at the Harlequin tea went by user names.
Malle Vallik, still going strong after all this time. Got to admire her. And the sandwiches were still good.
I cruised the goody room. Every year RWA says not to bring paper goods, but it was pretty much all paper goods.
Sidney Ayers had one of the more inventive promo items. I'd taken one and was explaining how unique they were (personalized charms and mini magnets that weren't from Vistaprint) to Teresa when the woman behind me said "Thank you."
Duh, I'd walked right into the person who'd made them. Luckily she was a good sport and agreed to do a workshop with Romance Divas. Charms for bookmarks are expensive, and personalized charms are through the roof. Cheap promo? I'm so there.