That was one helluva good conference. If you missed the Ozarks Romance Author's annual conference, I pity you. The speakers were amazing, the food was amazing, the raffles were amazing. It was all-around amazing!
If I were you, I would definitely consider getting myself to next year's conference if you can. It's already in the planning stages and set for June 23, 2012. Guaranteed to be twice as amazing. I really don't know how much more amazing I can stand. Is it possible to explode from all the amazingness? I promise to stop using amazing now.
I was running late Saturday. Supposed to be at the registration table at 7:45 sharp to help get those early risers signed in. As per usual, my hair was giving me its 'but I don't want to!' attitude. It really didn't want to do anything except be big. Big is bad when you have short hair. Praying that it will do anything except be big when it's curled is pretty much useless. So I did the only thing I could think of--I pulled it back. God help me if it didn't decide to be flat and uninteresting. There comes a time in every woman's life when she wished she could just shave it and people would accept that as totally normal and not stare at her like she'd gone off the deep end. I have those episodes about two or three times a week.
When I got to the conference center, there was a small, but steady line of people waiting to register. I helped hand out goody bags. They were very darling this year, those nifty reusable bags with our logo printed on them. Don't you wish you had one? Of course you do. I chose red, which looked bright and hopeful in the interior of the atrium. It's a big brighter than almost everything I own. It stands out, to be sure. But it reminds me that I had an awesome day!
My pitch was scheduled at 9:30. I had the official list of pitches and my duty was to tell anyone who forgot in a fit of nerves what time they were scheduled for. I helped a handful of people, which did a little bit to distract me from my own nervous fit. At one point I wasn't even sure how I was standing up, my legs were doing that weird tingly-numb thing again. I couldn't sit down and kept laying my note cards down and leaving them. I got lost looking for the meeting room where they were holding the pitches. Walked right by it. I wasn't expecting a huge sign or anything, but neither did I expect to wander around like a lost--oh, wait this is me we're talking about. I tend to be lost and forgetful sometimes. It's okay, I accept and embrace that. It's quirky.
I had to wait a few minutes because I was early for the pitch, making up for my absence at the reg. table earlier. Then I got the go ahead to move inside and I'm fairly certain I was wearing a psycho killer smile, but at least I was smiling. I pretty well launched into the worst pitch in the history of really bad pitches (the award for worst pitch of the day goes to--Allison Merritt!). Fortunately (for her ears and my mouth) she stopped me. With questions and a few what I'd call well-I'm-not-sure statements. I mean, let's face it. It's set in Australia and while America is chock full of wonderful readers, some of you just don't get Australia. And it's rather.... short. I've been upping the word count a bit at a time. It's much longer than it was originally, so yay for that. And it is entirely possible to re-set THL, so if that's what has to be done, I'm in. Despite these things, she still said she'd like to see the first three chapters and a query letter. Bye-bye psycho smile, hello genuine happy smile. The pitch was extremely difficult for me. While THL is near and dear to my heart, I'm not good at presenting it. Dazed, stunned and happy, I left the meeting room and didn't get lost on my way back to the atrium.
I sat with Eliza Lloyd at lunch, spilled fruit salad with yogurt dressing down my front (darn it, I was going to eat that!) while attempting to dissect my chicken, and enjoyed the most sinful piece of chocolate cake. After lunch, we listened to the publishing panel answer questions, then broke up into smaller groups to hear a couple of presentations, which was a new thing for us this year.
My second big thrill of the day (yogurt-splattered boob and all) was the breath-holding moment they presented awards for the Weta Nichols Writing Contest. Yes, the one I've been yammering on forever. It was all I could do not to sit there with my fingers crossed and breath held (no, I'm serious) as I waited to hear my name. I wanted my name to be announced. And then it was. The Treasure Hunter's Lady got an honorable mention. So it wasn't first place. Who cares? This lovely, happy story that is notoriously reputed for doing poorly in contests got an award. I was informed that was a mere two points, yes folks, two points from making a third place appearance. I proudly held up my certificate for all to see.
Lovely conference. I'm so tired that I feel lucky to be wearing clothes and at least have a vague idea of where I am today. I'm even certain I brushed my teeth. Wouldn't you just kill to be part of such a wonderful day? Oh, you can, without having to kill a soul. Just come next year. I'll keep you updated.