So here is where the second part of meeting people came with a double edged sword… while meeting and hanging out with the girls was amazing and wonderful and all those great adjectives, we were there to also meet the authors. So let me run down a few of the interactions, both good and bad. I think the other girls had a bit more luck but I’m used to random, strange, and bizarre things happening to me.
First I met Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton. Hilariously I met them coming out of the bathroom (which was me, not them). Tam and Chris already had met them and we’re all standing outside the hotel’s bathroom and the whole time I’m thinking “wow, I totally didn’t remember what they looked like” even though of course they have tons of pictures on the internet. Spacey me wouldn’t have known them from a hole in the wall and of course I’m way too shy to introduce myself. I stand there like a bump on a log with a stupid smile feeling incredibly nervous until Heidi finally looks at me and asks who I am. Oh me? No one really.. *sigh*
They were very sweet and great fun to talk to honestly. Very witty and they actually made more of an effort than most authors to mingle and try to talk to as many different people and readers as possible. Gradually over the course of the conference it became easier to talk to them and make jokes – I had an especially good time chatting with them both on the Riverboat cruise. By then they felt like old friends you could laugh with and make snarky comments. Because of course that’s what I do.
Additionally meeting PD Singer and Eden Winters was wonderful. I haven’t read much of PD Singer in a while because I don’t really read TQ stuff anymore but she was very sweet about my reviewing her past work. She even remembered the cut line to my review of her book! I have to say I still think that line was pretty inspired and it makes me want to go back to doing cut lines. Miss Pam was very sweet and kind and also commented that I’ve mellowed. Who, me? No way! Eden was Pam’s roomie for the conference and eventually joined us with her delicious southern accent. She also was so sweet and complimentary, and hell her accent alone is wonderful. She’s got a great sense of humor and I would have liked to talk with her more.
Another one I spent a huge amount of time talking to was Rachel Haimowitz. Now Rachel’s work hasn’t always been to my taste and I’ve been pretty upfront about it but Rachel is nothing if not practical and intelligent. She even called herself my fan! My one and only so of course I had to adore her. But talking to her I was struck by how smart she comes across and not interested in petty gossip or pretense. I even had gossip for her but she wasn’t interested. Very impressive. She and a few others are starting a new publisher.. not sure if you’ve heard of it (ha) .. Riptide Publishing? You know that tiny little thing that feels like it’s friggin everywhere?! It was kind of all over the retreat as well. Rachel is hilarious to talk to because that woman has more energy and things to say than a cracked out car salesman. She claims she’s introverted and as much as I enjoyed talking to her I’m calling bullshit right now. That woman is the definition of an outgoing, energetic, enthusiastic author that wants to take over the world (and talk them to death but that’s ok).
Clare London is an easy author to crush on for being witty, upfront, and says the truth in that absolute fabulous british accent. I kind of just wanted to hover around her like a moth to a flame to listen to her commentary. I was kind of shy (shocker) and would have liked to talk to her more but I wasn’t the only one that loved her immensely so I mostly stayed in the background around her to my disappointment. Another author that had some definite girl crushes around them was the gorgeous Devon Rhodes. Seriously who knew she was so beautiful and funny.
Which leads me to some other authors. There were a few that were everywhere at once and having a ton of things to say with a ton of women around them. I don’t think some of these authors were ever alone and easily won any unofficial popularity contest. One author in particular had stories that would never end though can’t say I really believe them as honest. But hey, I’m a skeptic and when people try so incredibly hard to be the life of the party and LOVED by everyone, it turns me off and makes them seem sketchy. What’s interesting is that the authors that were the most charismatic often came on way too strong and kind of felt forced. These same authors weren’t afraid to get down and dirty with their comments and snark. I guess I just prefer the natural, unpretentious authors that are warm, funny, and just at ease with themselves and others.
Similarly I spoke to quite a few authors who were up front about writing being a business to make money for them. On the one hand I get this entirely but on the other sometimes I was taken aback. Especially when one author openly stated that their quality suffers but that’s not their problem because they have bills to pay. Good to know and on one hand, I get that. Writing is a job and the flip side to that work is obviously money. Yet to hear it so baldly from several authors, and some were very obvious that the quality wasn’t the goal but the money at the end, kind of took the rose off the bloom. We readers are there because we love this genre, these authors, and their books. As a reader, it’s not about putting money in an author’s pocket, though of course by buying their books we’re happy to, but it’s about a passion for something. To dismiss that passion and replace it with dollar signs is disconcerting on some level and off-putting.
Being a pretty introverted reader I kept to myself. I wanted to introduce myself around (joking about being hated aside, though some authors were not so kind) but I’m just not always good at small talk. I inevitably try to make a sarcastic joke that falls flat. For example I attempted to talk to Jaime Samms but when I wasn’t drunkenly gushing over her, I just didn’t know what to say. Poor woman. Many authors didn’t seem to have much to say either. So it’s difficult when neither side can really hold the bulk of the conversation. It led to awkward silences and I was trying very hard not to fill it with senseless babble and lies (like I love your work when it’s clear I didn’t). I was careful never to lie to an author and be honest with whatever commentary I said. Not that I usually have to work at being honest but I didn’t want to fill any silence with polite white lies. What’s the point in trying to pretend to their face you like their work when you don’t and unfortunately it felt like if you weren’t squee’ing over the authors, many didn’t want to talk to you. This again could be part of the introverted nature of some authors and comes across strained and awkward.
I overheard a table of authors from a certain publisher going on and on about how useless reviews and reviewers were to the genre and authors themselves. Oh really? In a retreat filled with bloggers, readers, and reviewers who love the genre? I know this is an age old debate about the use of review/ers but I found it funny when in fact the authors were ranting about bad reviews. Those of course are the only reviews that are worthless and never affect sales. Of course *cough*. The raving reviews are the worthwhile ones. Yea ok. I totally eavesdropped on that conversation and I was seriously this close to jumping in and having a dialogue with them from my perspective but the table broke up just as I got over my shy nature and took a literal step in their direction. Perhaps they saw me coming? I was pretty close. Too bad and I really regret not interjecting sooner because the conversation was so one sided and ego boosting.
I can say though the good outweighed the bad by a considerable amount. There were many authors who were gracious and I was surprised they knew “of” me. Authors like ML Rhodes, Belinda McBride, ZA Maxfield , JP Barnaby were kind and nice to talk to. Some of the others made me laugh because they were exactly how I pictured them from their work (not always a good thing). There are some authors I met I’ll never read again and some I know to avoid in the future. I’m not trying to slam authors but I try to weigh the positive with the negative. There was definitely more positive even if there was considerable snarky, back stabbing comments the authors were happy to dish out. But hey so do I and I’m well aware of my own shortcomings and glass house. I think it’s a common theme when people get together, add in alcohol and a natural tendency to gossip. But no matter what, I will remember my time as incredibly good and I’m pretty blessed to meet and hang out with the readers/bloggers and authors I did. I definitely hope I get the chance in the future to see some of these authors again and hopefully I won’t be so shy.