Saturday, August 02, 2008

RWA Day 3

I forgot to mention that on the flight from Atlanta to Salt Lake City we had those cool in-seat monitor thingies. I haven't been on a flight that long since I was 9, so I've never gotten to use them before. You can see where the plane is and get data on speed, head wind, external temperature, distance flown, and ETA. The last is especially handy when your flight leaves late and you have a very short layover. Handy for stressing yourself the hell out, anyway.

These monitors also had paid movies and TV and games, as well as a free trivia game, like they have at Damon's Grill. You can compete against fellow fliers. It was so much fun! I won twice, and Randy in my row won twice, and in the last game, Lisa, between us, and Randy and I were dominating the top three, switching places with each question and totally locking out the punk kids behind us who won when we didn't. There was a sense of camaraderie I don't usually cultivate when I travel. I like my solitude. But this was great fun.

I forgot to mention, too, that this hotel has the Best. Elevators. Ever. People who've attended past conferences in New York and Dallas and maybe Atlanta, I don't remember for sure which ones were the worst, will remember the 20-minute waits for any car at all. Then when they came, they'd be full. Then they'd stop, of course, on every floor before yours. People would get on to go in the opposite direction because at least they'd be on a car, and eventually it would go the other way.

I swear, here, at least half the time I call for an elevator, it's empty. They come within 30 seconds every single time. No matter where you start, you never have to wait. Even when 2000 of us are coming out of a luncheon and all heading for the 'vator, it's only a two- or three-minute wait. Whoever designed the low-rise, mid-rise, and high-rise system in this particular hotel is a genius.

Thursday is the official kickoff of the conference. This year the structure was a little different. They had an opening session with a motivational speaker/pianist who was very good. She didn't say a lot that we haven't all heard before, but she had good stories to go with the messages, and it was a nice way to kick off.

Then we had the Annual General Meeting. Let me take a minute to be obnoxiously holier-than-thou. Out of 2000 attendees, we had only 311 people show up for the AGM, and 150 proxies. Wait, that isn't right. People who showed up PLUS proxies were only about 311. That's RIDICULOUS. I know it's a catch-22. There was no business on the agenda to conduct, like changes to the bylaws or anything, so people didn't bother to go or send proxies. But because they didn't do so, we couldn't conduct business if anyone brought up anything new. I consider attendance or at least proxy participation to be an obligation, to help the organization I get so much out of to run properly. I contend that if you don't think RWA does anything for you, you have a BIGGER obligation to attend and be part of the change that will make it do something for you. Obviously, that's a generalization to which there will be myriad legitimate exceptions, but that's my default viewpoint.


When you attend the AGM, you learn great stuff like this (which I shouldn't post, because then it makes attending the AGM even less important, but I am a blabbermouth, so I shall anyway):

Every year, discussions ensue about how RWA chooses conference hotels and why they don't go to X city or more central locations, etc. Allison Kelley (who KNEW MY NAME AND WAS EXCITED TO MEET ME IN PERSON SQUEEEE) told us that a few years ago, a survey was done of the entire country to see what hotels meet RWA's rather unique needs: size, double/double rooms available, meeting space, banquet needs, etc. There were only 22 hotels in the entire country. The survey is ongoing, as they are aware a hotel is being built in LA that fits our needs, but we do book several years out. Dallas has a new hotel that we could use but that wasn't built when we booked last year's conference. Since we go to New York every four years, we have a contract signed for 2019 (which will give us a really good rate, relatively speaking). That kind of lead time causes some restrictions, too.

Las Vegas was discussed, because people always ask and the most construction/growth is there, but they don't want us. We don't fit their demographic.

Also mentioned was the option of going to a convention center instead of an all-inclusive hotel. Now, I think most of us don't want that, anyway. We like going up to our rooms frequently, and not having to lug around dozens of books after the publisher signings. For example. And we couldn't all hang out in the bar at 1:00 a.m. when we're in a bunch of different hotels. But convention centers would give us more flexibility in location, so it's a possibility. Unfortunately, it would significantly increase costs, because we'd have to pay for all of the meeting space used, which we don't have to do at all now because we use the banquet services and guarantee occupancy.

Anyway. That's enough about that boring stuff. What else did I do on Thursday?


Man. I don't remember! I think I tried to check e-mail. I started this post, and got interrupted, and then went to a workshop. It was a great workshop. Joss Whedon's Firefly, and applying his genius to your own work. I know, why would I go to that? I could practically teach it. But it was excellent, and I won a T-shirt by completing the following exchange:

"You know what your sin is, Mal?"
"Hell, I'm a fan of all seven."

Only I didn't say "hell" because it was being recorded. The rest is "But right now, I'm gonna have to go with wrath."

After that I went to dinner with old friends and new ones (Regan, if you see this, let me know your last name so I can keep an eye out for your books once you sell!) and then went with Monica Burns to the Knight Agency party at a place called First Crush. I met Sarah Reinke and Shannon McKelden there, and had a wonderful time talking to them, as well as Monica and her husband. I also got to talk to my agent for a while about Comic-Con. She didn't bring me kisses from Jensen Ackles. What kind of agent is she? Sheesh.

When I got back I hung in the bar with Tracy Madison for a while, then went to bed and crashed, falling asleep while Lisa tried to talk to me about her schedule the next day. Sorry, Lisa, I swear I was trying to pay attention, but now I have no idea what you said.

Oh, wait. Between dinner and the party we went to the Moonlight Madness Bazaar. I got a treat for a goals prize for CPRW (my local chapter) and some goodies for friends who are stuck back at home eating themselves alive with jealousy. Also, totally killing me in our writing challenge. But they get treats anyway.

I have to go read my 107 e-mails (I had 198 when I started, the rest was spam and research loop mail I decided to skip). After that, if I have a few brain cells still working, I'll post about today!


Tess said...

Thanks for the report :) I slapped my forehead when I realized I'd forgotten to send my proxy to anyone. I'm used to just giving it to someone I know in person before they leave, rather than posting it (like I have to do now). Will try to remember for next year. Not that my lonely proxy would have made up the quorum, but still.

Sounds like you're having a good time :) Hope you find Amy! If you do, say "hi" to her for me too.

Shannon McKelden said...

Nice recap, Natalie! I'm glad I got to meet you and get a little chatting in...too bad not enough. See you around the net!

Natalie Damschroder said...

Tess, you're forgiven this year. :)

*sigh* I never did find Amy. I walked everywhere staring hard at every person's chest, since I had no idea what she looked like (should have studied the GH finalist photos, duh).

Shannon, it was great meeting you, too! I'll look forward to seeing you again at the next one. :)