Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Helen's Conference Experience 2007

Someone I spoke with at RWA’s national conference in Dallas last week gave it woo-wooish astrological explanation. She said certain planets had aligned, or the whole Friday the 13th thing had come into play in a good way.

Could be it had something to do with having my first two books out this year and doing my very first literacy signing. (When someone I don’t know actually buys my books then it’ll be really exciting.) Maybe it had something to do with me blowing off all but two of the workshops (and I even moderated one, he he he).

No matter the explanation, I had more fun at this year’s national RWA conference than I’ve ever had before. I think it all came down to the people I encountered. Everyone was incredible nice, from my editors to the other writers to the hotel staff.

I’ll give you an example.

When I first arrived at the hotel, I discovered that I’d made my reservations all those months before for the day before my flight arrived. So they, um, gave away my room. And the hotel was booked for the night.

The very nice young woman at the front desk said she’d try to find me a couch or something. She went back behind a little black wall to do a little magic and came back with what she called a “parlor” room, complete with a Murphy bed. They’d switch me to a regular room the next night. I thanked her and joked about how I kinda liked the sexy sound of sleeping in a parlor.

I was happy I wouldn’t be sleeping in a bathtub.

I ended up staying in that room for the duration, didn’t have to repack and move my luggage, and saved a pretty penny.

For all the smooth sailing I experienced, there were problems swirling around me. In some cases, the lines and waits were long. In the restaurant, to get onto the elevator, at the bar. But if you have fun people to visit with, I discovered, I don’t even notice.

Hmm. Maybe it wasn’t everyone else. Maybe it all came down to me and my attitude. I've never thought of it this way before, but that’s kinda empowering, ya know?

What about you? Ever find yourself in a situation where a simple change of attitude made all the difference in the world?


lois greiman said...

So glad you had a good time, Helen. The conferences are always interesting, aren't they? I've rarely been to one where someone I know hasn't burst into tears. But they are always enlightening.

Helen Brenna said...

That would normally be me, Lois, bursting into tears. Once a day, at least, I'd head to my room and fall apart. Not this year, though. Very strange.

Betina Krahn said...

I learned some time ago that my attitude made all the difference in a conference. So I seek out people I know and like and try to learn new things and avoid the "Chicken Little" tendencies in myself and others.

I learned a lot this week. . . got lots of strokes (especially after the Ritas) and felt generally positive about everything. Despite being "out of contract" just now.

With two books out and recognition coming your way, Helen, you couldn't miss having a stellar year!

Christie Ridgway said...

Helen: I'm so glad your conference was memorable! And so you stayed in that little room? I bring so much stuff to conference I don't know if something like that would fit me and my clothes!

As for attitude...I learned it was easier to walk into a situation with the idea that I could make others feel comfortable rather than waiting for someone to make =me= at ease. I went to the Berkley cocktail party for the first time this year and was a bit apprehensive...but then I realized I knew lots of people including a brand new author who appreciated me introducing her around. That helped a lot--helping someone else!

BTW, if anyone noticed my post come and go about my conference experience, it will show up tomorrow. I messed up and posted a day too early.

Christie Ridgway said...

Oh, forgot to mention about the crying! I usually room with the same people...there are anywhere from 2-4 of us in a room and someone =always= has a meltdown.

I do think it's because we writers can't take absorb that much public contact without needing some sort of release.

Helen Brenna said...

Betina, you have to be on Cloud 9!!

The funny thing was, Christie, that the room was HUGE! Like a conference room with a Murphy bed. I coulda had a party!

And I'm learning too about the making others feel at ease. Makes a party situation much more enjoyable. Although I sometimes end up leaving social things and wonder if I didn't try too hard to make others comfortable. Did I laugh too loud? Talk too much? Geesh, is right.

Yes, throwing all those introverted writers into one space with all that social activity is bound to cause a few meltdowns!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Hey, Riders! I've been AWOL, haven't I? My bad. No excuses.

I'm blogging Friday, and I went to the conference, too. Got the pix to prove it. Wait til you see!

Helen, I ended up looking for a place to stay the last night of the conference, but at RWA we don't have to depend on the kindness of strangers. We've got sisters everywhere we look!

What happened was, my roomie's hubby decided he wanted to surprise her by showing up for the awards ceremony on Saturday. (She and I were both finalists.) Well, you gotta love a romantic gesture like that. So I had to keep the big secret AND find a place to stay that night. Guess which was harder for me.

Michelle B, thanks for taking me in!

Cindy Gerard said...

Hey Helen and anyone else who's checking in. It was a great conference for me too. One of the best things was breakfast with the Top Down crew. Kathy, Betina, Christi, and I got together for some generalized laughs and good eats. It was fun - even though I had an eye that was giving me fits and watering all over my plate. NO, I wasn't crying but I did laugh a lot.
I quite melting down at conferences years ago when I realized everyone was pretty much in the same boat - tense, sometimes, happy at others and exhausted all the time. It was a great hotel - despite the waits - and catching up with friends is always a lot of fun.
And Helen - not to worry. You're not only gorgeous, you're fun and funny and you can dance too :o)

Cindy Gerard said...

Urg - and HELEN - yes, HELEN was at breakfast too. Jeez. Okay, so I'm still recovering.

Helen Brenna said...

Kathy, that's so sweet that your roomie's husband surprised her! And so nice of you to accomodate.

I had a great time too, Cindy, at breakfast. Couldn't hope for a more fun group of writers to blog with!

Don't get me going on dancing at the HQ party! I think I did, um, cut loose a little.

Debra Dixon said...

Imagine my surprise when I'd read a blog by Christie earlier and come back to discover that Helen's got a blog up and Christie's blog is gone.


Geez! You snooze, you lose around here.

Anyway, it's always nice to hear about conference on a year I don't go. (I meant that to sound interested and not sarcastic. (g))

Helen Brenna said...

Missed you at conference, Deb. Next year?

And yes, we're cruising fast around here these days.

FIONA said...

This was my first time at the RWA convention, and what amazed me (even though I guess I should have expected it) was that everyone was so NICE.

I had the pleasure of meeting some RWTTD and every one of them was so kind and helpful. I guess walking around, looking blitzed, and wearing a blaze orange "first timer" ribbon was bound to elicit sympathy. LOL

Helen Brenna said...

Yep, those orange first timer ribbons come in handy, Fiona!

I'm gonna whine here - I didn't get to meet any of our readers. Darn it.