All Dressed Up and No Place to Go, aka Not at Nationals

It’s that time of year again. RWA Nationals, this year in New York, which made me insanely happy when I first heard of the choice of venue. I’d promised myself as soon as my critique partner told me where this year’s Nationals would be, that I would be in New York for that one. I am, after a fashion. I live in New York, but not in New York City. I’m about two hours away, and I love where I live, but the fact remains that I am not attending Nationals, and I am grouchy about that.

Not that I’m not thankful to have what I have, and be where I am, because I am. I have a new laptop that works beautifully, I’m working on multiple projects that feel right for me, and get a few extra days at home with Real Life Romance Hero thanks to the recommendations of a people vet, to use Skye’s term. Plus I get to hang out with a gorgeous Maine Coon all day. These are not bad things.

Still, for the extroverted romance writer, RWA Nationals is like extroverted romance writer Christmas. A whole hotel, crammed full of people who do what I do and love what I love? Free books and swag everywhere? A chance to see old friends and meet new ones, and literally be surrounded by the romance industry? What’s not to love? I know big conferences can be hard for more introverted types, with all those people and so little quiet space and time, but for me, it’s like putting a duck in water. Paddlepaddlepaddle, I got this. What do you write? And you? And you? And you? What are you reading? Who’s watching Poldark? Here, have a business card. :tries to find business card port on laptop, gives up:

I love getting dressed up; for me, that’s what feels natural and comfortable, so I’m not missing out on that one at all. I’m wearing a long navy eyelet dress today, matching sandals, beachy hair, makeup done, because I am going out somewhere, even if it’s only down the block to my favorite coffee house (it’s hot out, and I do not do heat, humidity, or sun well.) There comes a point in every day when the need to be around people who do not share my address and/or last name becomes as important as food and air. The definition of extroversion I use is that an extrovert gains energy from being around other people and spends it alone. Go be with people to fill my tank, then jump into story world to spend all that energy by myself, writing. That seems to work pretty well for me. Your mileage may vary.

I’ve been attending the New England RWA conference for several years, and love that. My favorite part is Saturday breakfast, because that is extroverted morning person Christmas. Hotel full of people who love to talk about romance writing (and reading) and there’s breakfast food? Only problem there is that 7AM feels late for me (uber-morning person here; I trace this back to a particular late fall morning when I was a preschooler, and my morning person mother showed me why predawn is the best time for those like us to get up. Mist wrapping around the bare-limbed trees as the night faded into dawn burned itself into my memory, and I still remember that switch flipping on as we looked out the kitchen window together. There may have been pancakes.) Add copious amounts of tea to the mix, and I become supercaffieneated extroverted morning person. Scary at times, but also, for me, super super super fun.

Then there’s workshops, which I drink in like a thirsty camel slurps water. Last year, I took a stab at moderating a couple of workshops, which I loved and will probably do again in the future. Volunteering at a conference brings on a whole other level of experience. I’ve helped with breakfast setup (morning people think this is fun, not work, so best to take full advantage when possible) once, which had the added benefit of being able to pick my seat in advance of the meal, by criteria of what book would be on my seat. I have not yet been able to train Real Life Romance Hero to put a newly released historical romance on my seat at every meal, but maybe if I give him a stack, he could try, just for this week? It’s not asking that much.

At this past year’s NECRWA conference, I skipped a workshop to huddle in a corner of the lobby and write an entire scene on my tablet. Considering that I had not yet mastered the touchscreen and was doing this without a stylus (we shall call this time the dark ages) this is an accomplishment. I also had not discovered how to toggle between letters and numbers and thus believed that the office program had no quotation marks (I know, I know, please consider that endearing) but that didn’t matter. What mattered was the atmosphere, all the inspiration in the air, and that it had reached critical mass. That a friendly face could take one look at what was going on, say something akin to “oh, you’re writing. Catch you later,” and that would still count as contact.

I haven’t been to Nationals yet, and it’s not going to be this year. I’m disappointed in that, but I do know that I will be, at the right time, with a new book to shill…er, promote. I meant promote. In the meantime, if you haven’t had enough of my blabber, here’s my first shot at video blogging with the new laptop:

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