Thursday, August 25, 2011


You're wondering why A.J. & I have yet to post about RWA Nationals in NYC.

Well, let's just say we're still recovering from the sticker shock of the 18 dollar not so Chocolate Martini, the walking from the left overs hotel to the conference hotel, the copious pints of Yeungling Lager, the near financial collapse of my visa card- Liz Lemon Style, the cheetah like stealth in which A.J. found a Coach store and snuck away from our picnic in the park, MASTERCARD in hand. Mission Impossible maneuvers on the NY Mass Transit System, and the best damn pizza ever made on the planet-truly.

My Liz Lemon shadow definitely followed me on this trip. The morning of, my laptop crashed. Lovely. Stubborn Hubby kept trying to fix it, making me leave later than I'd wanted for my first ever train ride to NYC from Philly. We got stuck behind a funeral procession as the minutes ticked by. I got there with seconds to spare. Whew. Train ride was lovely really. Until I got shushed. Apparently I picked the "quiet" car. A.J. was calling and I had to answer, my bad Mr. Cranky Pants. I resort back to texting as a link to the outside world I learn my teenage daughter has a secret Facebook Page. Lovely. Oh, and it's a basically "I hate my Mom" Homage to me. Again. Lovely. Let the other parental unit deal with it. I am outta here.

My cabbie didn't help me put my bags in and they ended up sitting on my lap. I get to said Left-Overs Hotel and go to check in. *Insert record player skurt sound effects here.* My credit card was declined. What-the-what is right. When I call the bank apparently fraudulent charges were made from NYC for other customers so they flagged all purchases coming New York and Ohio. It's a small local Philly bank, not national. Whoa is me!

Great. Awesome. I say, but I AM here in NYC, and I NEED money! (This nightmare takes all weekend to iron out, BTW) Right on cue, A.J. comes running in behind me. Thank Gawds the Canadian was packing some serious plastic or we would've been on the street people.

And street people, or rather people in streets, there were many. RWA Conference, in NYC on the 4th of July weekend ... need I say more?
A.J. saves the day. Canada rocks! Yet, here I am thinking the universe is colliding to royally screw with us. Not a good omen. But, I have my clown nose and a dream. I trudge on. Charli style, with JAWS, a.k.a A.J., her razor sharp teeth ready to take a bite out of anyone in our way. (very suspicious of everyone and everything)

We forge ahead and meet up with the fabulous peeps from Heroes & Heartbreakers at the fabulously delicious, Juniors Cheesecake. In true, A.J & Charli style we are a tad bit late. But the cake rocked and so did the company. It was so awesome to meet peeps you only know through the internets. A.J. is not a cheesecake fan, I know, weirdo Canadian. But she got this kick-ass slab of strawberry shortcake. OBJECT IS BIGGER THAN IS APPEARS!

After our great conversation and a caloric induced coma we decide we need more than a wee bit o' cake and find Ray's Pizza. Wow. Awesome. Really. Great. Pizza. And Canada kind of got excited seeing beer in a take out fridge. Beer always gets me excited. BTW, A.J. wore these fabulous heels but, um, they were heels. Yeah, walking around in Times Square in heels is not recommended. A couple of slices later we trudge back to our hotel. A.J. limps and I undo the top button in my pants. *Burp*

Now its time for the First Timers Orientation! Yay! And we went. And that's all we really have to say about that.

Moving along ...

We meet up at the Hotel Bar and schmooze with G. Jillian Stone! It was so awesome to finally meet her in person. We chat and A.J. orders that overpriced Chocolate Martini. Blech she says!

So, I , Charli, get up in time for the breakfast and meet up with the super awesome G. Jillian Stone. A.J. dragged her arse out a wee bit later.

A.J. met up with us and we have a little time to kill before our RWA PRO Retreat. We take in the sights and realize, as nice the Conference Hotel is, it is a terrible place to hang out and meet people. The main floor has no lobby. The 8th floor has space to grab a quick bite or drink and its a hodge podge of places to sit. It's not at all what I expected. But sitting next to G. Jillian Stone and recalling her Cinderella story from the year before at Nationals, I guess I had high hopes.

As did I (A.J.) The Chocolate Martini, a cloudy confection, claimed to be Grey Goose Vodka, a splash of crème de cacao, ringed with powdered chocolate …

The murk in the martini is an omen, dear readers. Not all was as we thought it would be. Hyped does not even begin to describe how excited we were to attend Nationals!

The problem was, and I say this with Charli’s blessing, RWA was not all it was cracked up to be. At least, not for us. What we expected and what we got were two very different things. Firstly, we’ve both been writing seriously for two years, and in those years we’ve consumed every morsel of information we could in order to hone our craft, improve our understanding of the publishing business and understand the market.

Armed with an arsenal of information, I jumped on a plane, Charli hailed a train and we rendezvoused at the Manhattan @ Times Square, otherwise known as the Left Over Hotel. We tossed our luggage in the room and headed to the Marriott; excited to learn MORE.

But sadly, what we got was a whole lot of knowledge we’d already attained. The conference itself, minus schmoozing with the Super fantastic Jill Stone, and Team Awesome Sauce from H&H, we strongly feel was for newbies; that is, writers in the beginning stage of their career, who know little, and would, at Nationals, learn a lot.

Most of the “workshops” were more or less panels, and had little interaction between, author/editor/agent and writer. So hyped were we for the PRO retreat, speechless is all we could be. One would normally expect a retreat to have some small group interactions. Perhaps a group of 6-10 people, all say, perhaps who write in the same genre, who could really benefit from chatting with an author/editor/agent who represents or writes what the author does.

Instead, general questions were written on pieces of scrap paper, and possibly – not even half were answered – answered by one of the several, informative panelists. Oh, and the Powers That Be in the RWA – sounds like some sort of mob, IRA, CIA, etc. – made sure everyone stayed until the very end by offering up door prizes, ranging from free crits from editors and agents, to synopsis reviews from published authors. And who wouldn’t want that?

Huh, hand up over here in Canada? You, Charli?

Present, with clown nose on!

I (Charli), too felt that this Conference was definitely geared toward newbies to writing, especially Romance. If you write Paranormal or Western you would have been in great company. We, um, don't. Actually the biggest Ah-ha moment for us clowns was that we don't write Romance. 'Twas clear. We write stories with Romantic Elements.Which in itself was a boon indeed! But worth the near fortune we paid to attend? Mmm, not so much.

Sherrilyn Kenyon's Awards Luncheon Speech was a major highlight for me. There was not a dry eye in the house. When she spoke of how her brother's passing inspired her to keep going, I nearly lost it. Amazing. If you can get your hands on a recording of it, jump on it. I guarantee you will be inspired.

One of the morning panels featured authors Steve Berry, Diana Gabaldon, and Tess Gerritsen. Together they offered great insight into what its like to be a bestselling author. And since I LOVE LOVE LOVE The Outlander is was very thought provoking to hear about Diana's experiences as a writer.

I did attend a few workshops that helped me a little. The Buy This Book! panel was worth its weight in gold. It really opened my eyes to what goes on when editors get your manuscript. Plus Jill was in the audience and she gave me much needed confidence as I flailed my way through presenting my book. Yes, I volunteered and made a fool of myself, Lemon style. But, 'twas worth it.

BTW, there were several author signings and the books were all FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What writer wouldn't want FREE books? Count that as another highlight! We got so many, A.J. had to ship two, VERY FULL boxes back to Canada! And amidst the crowds, we had the pleasure of meeting two very talented, and awe inspiring authors; Sherrilyn Kenyon and Julia London. SQUEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, and in traditional we always feck things up style, Jill roamed the streets of NYC, in search of the House of Brews, only to realize they're were two within the vicinity! Oops! where's a GPS when ye need it? Drinks are on us! Poor lass was so tired by the time she found us we forgot to get a pic with her. So, the photos below are in honor of, Jill.

Agents requested our work, we schmoozed as best we could in the maze like wren of mismatched chairs in the hotel bar, and attended the GH & Rita Dinner. Huh, oops, our bad, the dessert and coffee, dinner? That doesn't sound right! Grr. Plus, like the tools we are, we paid extra for the event thinking we had to. Again. Liz Lemon. We were so annoyed at this point we jumped ship and headed to a little french cafe for some, your guessed it, brews. And it was called La Brassiere. Saucy!

After many more brews, we hit the sheets. Ah, Saturday, freedom. Conference over, we headed out for a wee bit o' retail therapy, a tour of NYC's mass transit and a walk about. After eating the best pizza EVER (photo below) we headed for Central Park and a delightful lunch with Savvy Authors and a Mighty Agent I am friendly with. She made all kinds of delectable treats. And this is where A.J. said she had to use the facilities, and ended up in the Coach store, caught red-handed, lassie!

Anywho, did we have fun? Hells yes. Would we do it again? Hells no. RWA Nationals is not for us. But that's not to say its not for YOU! 

We're stalking the internets as you read this for Writing Conferences that encompass all genres of fiction. Conferences that give the writer one on one time with agents and editors in workshops, not panels, set in smaller numbers than the estimated 2,200 authors at Nationals. Do your research, we did, and we are amazed at what is out there. That, will be yet another tale to tell.

RWA Conference: 525.00

Awards Dinner Ticket: 65.00

Airfare: 350.00

Coach Purse: 350.00

Having a MasterCard accepted at the Left Over Hotel?

Priceless ...


  1. FABULOUS POST, you two. Laughed a ton while reading it.

  2. You tell one heckuva story, Charli! Always. So sorry to hear about your laptop. And man your cc too. Very interesting to know that a lot of what they talked about was stuff you guys already knew.

    I always wondered about that if it was geared for the newbies or writers who have done their time.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us! You always have a way to tell a great story:)


  3. Hey Mart,

    I wrote that too! Just and FYI

    A.J. :-(

  4. Well thank you for a honest report on RWA. And the heads-up on brew houses! That credit card adventure happened once to me too, made my heart jump through my throat. I KNEW I had credit!

    Your review here had me in stitches, keep it up.

    I'll stick to the west coast and the smattering of smaller events and conferences offered. It won't, however, have AJ and Charli. Too bad.

  5. i wondered what went on at nationals...i think i'll start with something smaller,...2,200 writers is kinda intimidating...but glad to hear not all was lost...

  6. Sheri, since we are both on the west coast, wouldn't that be cool if we attended a west coast conference together? Umm, it would have to be dirt cheap since before I can even get off this island, I need to take the ferry, and believe me, that is not cheap!

    LOL, could you imagine us being at a conference together? I bet we would get kicked out for laughing too loud and not paying attention to the speakers.

  7. Well Brendan, I told you I'd meet you in Seattle. How far is it to the mainland from your house? Can you swim? LOL!! Isn't there a nice boat captain you can bat your lashes at? While we might laugh together at a conference, which I mean to meet you at one day, we'll pass notes to keep the noise down.

  8. It's an hour and 20 across. Maybe I could get Kernal to boat me down. Although, with gas prices, it may not be cheaper.

    LOL, yeah, we could pass notes back and forth. Imagine how embarrassing it would be if we got caught and the speaker read the note aloud to the group?

  9. I hear your fuel pain. Boating has become a memory for us as well.

    The notes wouldn't be a bad idea. We'll just sign them AJ and Charli. Hehehe

  10. LOL...LOL, now that would be funny! Yeah, get them in trouble!

  11. AJ! MY bad! YOU BOTH rock! As always have a great story to tell. No wonder you guys make a great team. Hey--I think it's time you guys co-author a book together.:)

  12. Love it! I felt horrible about missing the ritas last year when I finaled, but I just couldnt afford it. You make me feel better about that decision!

  13. Fabulous post! Hilarious, exhausting, insightful. I feel like I was in NYC with you! OMG WTF ;-)