Let's start the story with the part where I'm running late. Because I'm me and I'm either way early or way late. Do nothing by halves, kids. Nothing. So I'm driving around in a part of town that I never, ever, never, ever, ever never visit. I find the hotel/convention center okay, because my instructions had a semi-perfect clarity. Okay, that's a lie. I got lost, but I figured out my mistake right off, then I found the hotel okay. I checked in, grabbed a cart and hauled some stuff for the raffles up to the room. Then I decided I didn't have enough time to haul the rest up, so I took off for the restaurant.
I got lost looking for it. Really, really lost. I drove around, I walked. I had to ask a cop for directions only to discover I was 14 blocks away. I don't know how far a block is (seriously), but in ballet flats with no support, when you're dumb enough to walk a neighborhood you don't know, it might as well be as far away as Upper Canada. I was so lost, I almost gave up hope and took up living in a cardboard box on the street. In the end, I walked myself back to the car and finally found the restaurant.
Fortunately, I was not too late for food. Also, there was alcohol involved, and about 30 seconds after I drank half a shot of schnapps in one gulp (I realize that's what shots are for, but I like to savor schnapps), life was suddenly beautiful. Dinner was excellent. One thing I will say about upscale restaurants is this: Rich people are crazy, no offense if you're rich. Upscale restaurants serve tiny portions of food at big cost. So, if you're rich, please tell me, do you eat lots of little meals every day, or are you hungry all the time? But it really was good. So, biggest lost idiot of the day got noms and didn't get lost on the way back. I'm always happy to admit I'm an idiot, but I'm stunned by my own dumbness sometimes.
Swag bag stuffing followed dinner back at the conference center. I forgot my flip flops in the car and again wore the non-supportive flats. I'm fine, I thought. Alcohol was coursing through my veins, right?
Lisa Medley and I (separately) hit the sheets a little after 1 am. Wake-up call came at 5:30 am. Poor Lisa's contact solution requires six hours to neutralize. She survived though. Good thing. She had a lot of conference coordination to take care of, and pulled it off splendidly, I might add. Everyone involved--you people are awesome and brilliant and none of it happens without you. Keep up the good work.
The coffee bearers didn't arrive in the conference room until almost 7 am. For the record, I don't drink coffee. That morning, I needed it. Um, although my first cup was mostly half and half and sugar. My second was still really pale, but at least I could taste the coffee in it. Thing about coffee is that just a little makes me crazy hyper. I probably should have been bouncing off the walls, but I was nervous about my pitch--which sucked, but the editor was warned it would--so mostly I was still sleepy and wondering if the OJ I downed after the coffee was going to reappear. Sometimes OJ and I don't get along real well.
|My hat got so many compliments. It was truly a hat to admire.|
I pitched. I had perfectly good notes. Perfectly good! When nervous, I lose the ability to read. And to think. And basically do anything except act like a paperweight. It was okay. She was familiar with my book because she'd judged the contest and she wanted the full MS. Words like "right up my alley" and "strong characterization" and good "voice" were thrown around. I promised to send it and that the synopsis would make more sense than I do.
I learned lots of good things. Ate good lunch. There was fresh mozzarella cheese on the table. You know, the fancy kind that rich people eat that comes in ball form. Or sometimes stick form. Or pearl form. I pretty much wanted to weigh my plate down with mozzarella, but I saved some for other people, because I am kind and generous. There was also fantastic cheesecake that made angels sing when I bit into it. I like food, in case you were wondering.
Lunch, of course, just made me sleepy, so for a while, things got a little blurry. I had to take a break once to whip out my computer and check my e-mail/update my FB status with the good pitch news. I got to announce the raffle basket winners. That was fun. And so weird, because talking about baskets and reading numbers doesn't make me nervous, even though there were almost 100 sets of eyes on me.
Then...the moment we all waited for! The Weta finalists sitting on the edges of their chairs, crossing fingers, holding their breath, praying to the deities...well, okay, probably not all of that stuff, but Lisa read off names and I tried not to bounce in my seat. My heartfelt congratulations to all the finalists and the winners. (You can find the list of winners here.)I was a little bit fascinated with the severe ugliness of the carpet when she got to the Paranormal/Sci-fi category. Mind, I'd been about 27 hours without a Dr. Pepper and the coffee wasn't cutting it. Do you know that the hotel didn't have pop machines? That blows my mind. Wait...I was taking about the Weta awards, wasn't I?
So when she called the 3rd place winner, it wasn't me. I think I might've forgot to breathe for a second. Then she called the 2nd place winner, a lady I met that morning, who writes Greek historical fiction. That was interesting. Also, since she entered the para/sci-fi category, she must've had some paranormal aspects in her entry. Right?
Off track again. Sorry. So then, because there's only one name left...I didn't get an honorable mention. I freakin' got 1st place. *Cue We Are the Champions* There was applause. There was a fancy certificate with my name on it. There was a photo in which I grinned like an idiot. Because in 5 years of writing, in 4 years of contest entering, I have not ever placed 1st. I have fought and struggled and bent characters to my will. I have done well, and I have done poorly, but this year I outdid myself. All thanks to a tombstone kiosk in the mall with one word on it--Heckmaster. Thanks, tombstone kiosk in the mall.
Oh my. Great event with greater people, and despite how exhausted I am, I'd do it all again in a second. In fact, I think I'll do it again next year! Next year, different shoes. My feet hurt so bad, I kind of want to gnaw them off. Next year, specific directions to point B. Next year, another hat! Viva la hat!