Sandy’s Magical Reno Adventure, Part 1

(at the Literacy for Life booksigning; the picture was first posted by Teresa at Squawk Radio)

Reno … How describe the conference in Reno?

Well, first of all, you’ll be happy to hear that this year I actually managed to catch my connecting flight! Yeah! (Well, after all, I had four hours to get through immigration, customs, re-check my luggage and find the correct gate.) And while marching through one of the terminals of the airport at Dallas Fort Worth, I spotted a woman wearing a tee-shirt which proclaimed: “Romance writers do it and write about it!” What does that tell your hopeful, bumbling newbie author? Yes, she was not alone! Indeed, half of the plane from Dallas to Reno was filled with romance writers, among them such big names as Julie Garwood or Sherrilyn Kenyon — but at that point I was already too tired to appreciate the fact (and after gushing over poor Jack Zipes at the ICFA in Ft Lauderdale back in 2002, I don’t do any more gushing anyway *g*). Yet I did utter some loud & delighted squeals when I spotted Vicki, one of my Lunch Buddies from last year, walking into the lounge. :O)

On we went to Reno, where already in the airport slot machines waved one-armedly at us. Yet we forsook these temptations, collected our luggage instead and drove off to the Reno Hilton (there more slot machines filled the lobby with a neverending mechanical ding-dong-click-clack-click song). My hotel room (# 977) was big and lovely, with a breathtaking view over the city to the bare, brown mountains in the background. When I called home to let my folks know I had arrived safe and sound, my Mum had just got up: it was already the next morning in Europe and I truly felt as if a ton of bricks had dropped on my head.

Next day: the Beau Monde conference! I was delighted to meet Dee (Emily Hendrickson) again, who had taken me under her wing at last year’s BM tea and made sure I had a good start in Dallas. She is a darling woman! I also met Nancy Mayer for the first time. Nancy is one of the legends of our chapter: she knows more or less everything about the Regency. As you can tell from that, she’s quite amazing!

In the afternoon I gave my workshop on Holland House and the Holland House circle, and the whole thing went surprisingly well (apart from the suicidal overhead projector….). Of course, it always helps if you’ve got a friendly and attentive audience – and that I had! So I was very happy with that workshop. Among the people attending was also my good German (and jetlagged *g*) friend Kris Alice, whom I met in Dallas last year for the first time and who’s a real sweetheart. She’s just launched a German romance newsletter, LoveLetter, and is doing a wonderful job with it.

After tea, the BIG EVENT OF THE DAY had arrived: the Literacy for Life booksigning! I had to visit the restrooms at least ten times, before I joined other authors to walk to the great ballroom where the signing was to be held. We passed a seemingly endless queue of people waiting for the signing to start (actually, these masses of people were a bit scary …). The first sight of that ballroom was stunning: imagine a vast room, humming with hundreds of voices and filled with hundreds of tables, all lined up in neat rows. At these events the authors are seated in alphabetical order, yet even though, I didn’t immediately find my table, but walked into the wrong direction. (Grrr. That didn’t do anything to calm my nerves, let me tell you!) Finally found table. And a box of copies of THE LILY BRAND!!!!! Set up my sweets, my pen, my CDs, my bookmarks and my teaser booklets (you never know!), and waited. And then along came this tall (well, a lot taller than me, but that’s no miracle, since I’m a bit on the small side) woman, waving and yelling “Sandy!” And perhaps this was the best moment of this day, for that woman was Jen aka Lady LaLa, who has accompanied me on my writing-in-English adventure from the very beginning (yes! THE Lady LaLa!!!!!). I’ve known her for five years, but I’ve never before met her in person. So this was indeed a very special moment for me.

Then the doors to the ballroom were opened – and the signing started. At first it was a bit frightening to watch all these people walk by my table. And people at such big booksigning usually don’t loiter. No, they walk with purposeful steps to the tables of their favourite authors. I felt rather small and bumbling newbie-ish at first. But … I had sold out all my books after an hour and half! Yeah! So for the next hour and half, I gave out teaser booklets. Teaser booklets are great, for you can throw them (well, not literally throw them) at unsuspecting passerbys! (And try to force one onto your publisher’s former PR person, who will laugh her head off while you’re trying to make the ground swallow you up. Or at least to hide under the table …. As I said: bumbling newbie author. *G*)

As you can see, my 2005-conference experience started with a bang – in more ways than one. :O)

Stay tuned for Sandy’s further RWA adventures!