As Cara/Andrea said on Friday, sometime we Wenches go light in our posts, and this one is REALLY light! I don't even have a biscotti recipe to offer. <G> But in the spirit of the summer silly season, I present:
RWA's national romance writers conference! It's next week in San Antonio, and it's surely the world's largest collection of romance writers on the hoof. The annual literacy signing is similarly large, with hundreds of writers signing and thousands of books donated by publishers for sale.
(A pause for a public service announcement: If you're in the neighborhood, ya'll come on down! Zillions of books, and all proceeds are given to literacy organizations. What greater gift can you give than the gift of reading? Lots of romance lovers in Texas, so I'm sure the signing will generate a lot of money for local literacy groups.)
An RWA conference is a seething mass of authors, aspiring writers, editors, agents, etc, etc., all with places to go and things to do and goals to meet. When you have a couple of thousand excited females in one hotel, the high pitched screams of welcome can numb your eardrums. <G>
These days, hotel check-ins are much more efficient, but in years gone by, I've been stuck in lines that twisted and twined through whole lobbies as RWA members waiting to check in. This wasn't as bad as it sounds because it was a chance to see your friends ("Barbara!!! Jennifer!!!! HUGE HUGS ENSUE!!!!!!), and make new friends as you commiserate with your fellows who are waiting in line with you.
One such past check-in jam sticks in my mind. It was in Dallas, home of Mary Kay Cosmetics, and it was conference time for them, too. Masses of Mary Kay representatives were there in spiffy red blazers, impeccably made up and with steely glints in their mascara-ed eyes. Romance writers and Mary Kay reps came together, and both sides recoiled in horror. <G>
Not that romance writers can't look spiffy or use cosmetics, but the group vibes were very different. All of us were business women, but we work in vastly different ways. I had friends whimpering how they'd been threatened with makeovers when trapped in elevators with Mary Kay reps. <g>
I think the underlying divide might be that good salespeople–and these women were good—are almost certainly extroverts, while writers are overwhelmingly introverts. Two different breeds occupying the same hotel. <G> It was pretty funny even then.
But I digress. Now we're in the pre-conference prep stage for this year's conference. If you're giving a talk, you're frantically finalizing what you have to say and wondering why you ever wanted to do this in the first place. ("But it seemed like such a good idea ten months ago….")
If you're an old hand like me, you're contacting friends, exchanging cell phone numbers, and setting up times to get together because you know from experience that if you don't pin down a time, it won't happen. And seeing friends is my main reason for going. This year, I get to see all three of the overseas Wenches! How cool is that?
There is an old rule of thumb that the people you see the first day are the ones you'll see over and over again for the rest of the conference, while you'll never see people that you know are there. This rule of thumb is true.
If you're an author who has an editor and/or agent who will be present, you're setting up a meal with them so they can buy pay for it, because getting a good meal is because it's one of the major perks of being a traditionally published author. <G>
But the worst part of the planning is about what you'll wear. We authors don't get out much, you know, and that really boosts the anxiety! Spontaneous discussions about what to wear break out on authors' discussion loops.
One of the first and most pragmatic questions is what to take when the conference is in a city that will be only a few degrees cooler than the hinges of hell, but you'll spend most of your time in a hotel chilled to a point that would give a penguin goose bumps.
This is particularly true for those attendees who weren't able to get a room in the conference hotel, so every day will start with a hike along burning streets before the official day even starts. A friend who ended up in a hotel ten minutes walk away said that she'd show up every day looking like a boiled lobster "and it's not a good look on me." <G>
No one wants to show up at the annual gathering of her professional group looking like a loser, hence the anxiety. One wants to look professional, but not stuffily so. I have one friend who loves clothes and getting dressed up, but–well, she doesn't get out much. So she assembles every outfit she plans on wearing and takes a picture of it so she'll remember what to put together even when her brain is blitzed by all that crazed conference energy. <g>
We're grown women so we usually have a good sense of our personal style, but that doesn't mean there's no anxiety. The stakes can be high, and we want to look "right" for whatever might come up. This can often mean over-packing to allow for all possibilities. But if your suitcase is already close to explosion, where will you put all the giveaway books that are handed out to attendees? (Luckily most hotels will ship boxes of books home for you.)
Some romance writers would look great in any company. Others trend more to the unmade bed look. (That's more my style. <G>) But the one place where all of us excel is jewelry. There will be lots and lots of really interesting, unusual jewelry visible, because we like unusual things and as I said, we don't get out much.
I have a smashing gold necklace done by a local jewelry designer. It consists of modernistic loops and crescent moons, and it's long enough to just toss over my head. I can wear with anything and it improves any outfit. There's a very well known agent who yearns over the necklace whenever she sees it, and invariably we run into each other when I'm wearing it, even though I have plenty of other things I like to wear. When I see her coming, I take the necklace off and dangle it in front of her, cooing how pretty it is and how great it would look on her, and here's the name of the designer who made it. She looks at it longingly, but has thus far resisted. <G>
The glamour highpoint of an RWA conference is the RITA presentation ceremony on the last night. A lot of attendees get dressed to the nines and look FABULOUS! (Did I mention that we don't get out much?) Evening gowns sweep the floor and glitter with sequins, and RITA finalists in particular have every reason to buy something new and special to wear, just in case. Anne and Nicola are both historical finalists this year, and I expect them to shine!
As for my clothing anxiety, I pack too much, try to look artsy professional for signings and publisher events, and invariably my dress standards slip really fast. By the second day, I usually default to whatever is cotton and most comfortable in my suitcase. <G>
But what about you? Do you have clothing anxiety attacks, or are you always secure in whatever style you've developed? The best thing a woman can have is a confident attitude that says, "Here I am, and aren't you lucky that I've arrived?" Irresistible!
Please share your clothing and image ups and downs, and I'll send an advanced reading copy of my September book, Not Quite a Wife, to one person who comments between now and Tuesday night. The book's heroine, Laurel, gets a makeover scene. <G>
Mary Jo, feeling a pressing urge to shop to find The Perfect Thing even though I hate to shop