Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Close Encounters of the Random Kind

This is the first of two posts for today. Normally I'm angsting all over the place, trying to come up with a good blog topic. Today I have two. Normally I'd keep one until next week. But since they both are kinda related to the recent RWA National Conference, one or the other won't really be relevant next week. So here goes.

Several months before the conference, RWA sends each member a booklet outlining the workshops available at the conference. Each year I've gone through that book, read the blurb for each workshop and then taken Post-It flags and marked the ones I want to attend. A week or so before conference, I transfer the info to a table in a Word document and I have a day-by-day, hour-by-hour view of my schedule for the week. It folds nicely and fits into my tote bag and keeps me reasonably informed of what I'm supposed to be doing and where I'm supposed to be going.

But every so often there are close encounters of the random kind that aren't part of the regularly scheduled programming but turn out to be some of the neatest moments of the conference.

Cases in point:
  • I sat down in the lobby on Saturday afternoon to nurse my tired feet and sip a cup of chai. I recognized the lady sitting beside me as the author of a very funny women's fiction book about wearing red hats. She was writing in a notebook and I let her write for I know how I hate to be disturbed when the old juices are flowing. Not long after, she put the notebook away and another woman sat down to rest as well. Soon we were all engaged in a lively conversation about her books and her life and afterward I called my mom on my cell phone and said "Guess who I just spent an hour talking with???"
  • A while back I stumbled across a blog by a woman who reviews romance for WNBC. I posted and also emailed her about something and she commented quite positively about our website. I happened to run into her in Atlanta, had a wonderful discussion with her and she offered to do a little cross-promotion between her site and ours later in the summer.
  • At the Harlequin Party I was resting my tooties in the hall and chatting with Heart of Dixie author Peggy Webb. Another woman sat down and Peggy introduced her as Patricia Potter, a former president of RWA. It turns out Patricia grew up right here in the town where I live. Small world, huh?
  • On Thursday I volunteered to help set up for the luncheon. This involved putting books and favors on each seat in the HUGE dining room. But the reward was that we could pick out seat ahead of time and I'm thinking "For once I won't be at the back." I plopped my tote bag on a chair and then went to man the doors. We had to check badges to make sure no one sneaked in. When I went to take my seat, someone had moved my bag. Because there were SO many tables in the room, I wasn't exactly sure which one I'd put my bag at, but I knew the general vicinity. Anyhoo, the Playfriends noticed me looking around and asked what was the matter. About that time RWA Prez Gayle Wilson started announcing from the stage for folks to indicate empty seats and I went up and told her my dilemma. Where do I end up sitting? Way up closer than the seat I'd picked. The table was surrounded with the PAN retreat chair, the executive editor of Publisher's Weekly, the managing editor of Library Journal, three RWA board members and little ole me. The Playfriends stayed after the luncheon was over to help me look for my bag. The only thing I was really concerned about was my digital camera. When we went back to the area where I thought I'd left it, there it sat on a chair. Someone had put it on the floor, taken my seat and then put my bag back on the chair afterward. I hope their lunch was cold. Anyhoo, I had my digital camera and used it a few minutes later to get my picture with speaker Meg Cabot and I got my copy of "The Princess Diaries" autographed to my baby granddaughter. She and I are going to have such fun reading that book together.
  • On Wednesday a friend invited me to join her and a couple friends for lunch. I already had a lunch date but it wasn't for another hour or so. So she told me to just join them for drinks. I knew everyone at the table but one woman and she was introduced to me. On Saturday night I saw her face on the screen as a RITA finalist. Oops! I shoulda studied the finalists' list closer.
  • At one of the publisher book signings, I stepped up to a table and had the author say, "Marilyn! I know you! You did that marvelous review of my book!" Kinda was a warm fuzzy moment.
  • I said hello to a fellow Heart of Dixie member one day and she had two other women at the table with her. One was another Blaze author and the third turned to me and said "Hi Marilyn. I'm Dee from the TrueWriters group." We both write for the confession magazines and we had an opportunity to sit down for a nice chat a day or so later. I also met three other confessions writers from that same loop during the week.

None of these were planned into my schedule but they're part of my conference highlights. They are priceless serendipities that make life exciting and special.

Did you have any serendipities during the week? If so, tell us about them.

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