The RWDU conference is over and I did promise to tell you all about it.
It was marvellously exciting for me and I hope I don’t bore you with the blow by blow. I didn’t think I’d remember everything that happened so I wrote on a notepad every chance I got. Some of the tense is present and some is past, depending if I wrote during or after the event.
I woke up early. 5am early in fact. I’m already packed except for the toiletries I’ll need for this morning. I head for the shower, dress, check my emails and social media notifications (priorities), before double checking I have everything packed. I’m pretty sure I’ve got everything. It’s now 7am. My pick up doesn’t get here until 9.30am. Have breakfast and head back to bed for a lie-down. Dangerous that.
The next time I look up it’s 9.30am. Oh crap. Freshen up & bathroom trip, followed by a quick double check of the house for possible missed items before going outside just as my ride arrives. Smooth. (Phew)
I get to the airport with plenty of time to check-in, pass through security and fit in a coffee before the flight is called. I’m not scared of flying, but I’m not a huge fan. Aeroplanes and my ears have a ‘love/hate’ relationship. Thankfully it’s an uneventful flight.
The ride to the hotel is shorter than I expected. Even with road works and a traffic accident (not mine) it’s just over an hour. I thought it was longer from Brisbane to the Gold Coast. I was expecting 3hrs. There’s a non-local for you.
I check in and go upstairs. The room is nice, with a king sized bed, a bathtub and a whole lot of tempting goodies on the minibar. I’ve never stayed at a hotel with more than 3 stars before. I’m not a fan of the décor which is a clash between sixties retro and ultra-modern, and everything I see has a price tag attached. It makes me feel that I can’t touch anything without incurring a cost. I’m not talking about the mini-bar here, I’m talking about the fact that even the lamp beside the bed has an $89.00 price tag on it. At least if you were a person to acquire hotel accessories you’ll know exactly how much they’ll add to your bill. I’m only worried about the soap, shampoo, toilet paper and coffee, but they at least don’t appear to have a price tag.
I relax for an hour or so before my editor arrives. We were friends before she became my editor, but we haven’t seen each other for nearly 7 years. We totally have a fan-girl type reunion, with long hugs and squeals included.
We trundle downstairs where we register for RWDU before heading to the bar. I am completely inept at meeting new people. I can’t think of anything to say which might start a conversation. Lucky for me, my editor has no such qualms and she knows quite a small crowd to boot. After a quick return upstairs for some people to change and to meet the rest of my editor’s possie, we trek back downstairs where a score of people are already waiting for us to go to dinner.
Dinner is fun. The meal is a little bland, but there is a lot of it. Plus the drinks are flowing and people are eager to chat and introduce themselves so I don’t have to worry about my failure at conversation starters. I pick the brains of every author and editor within reach and everyone is so easy going and happy to share stories of experiences and teach what they know. Plus the highlight of the night…I get to meet the wonderful Liz Lovelock who has spent the last 6 months talking to me via facebook, but whom I have never met. Loved it.
Back at the hotel, the group breaks up. Some are off to bed, others are off to the bar for more drinks, while I end up in my room with my editor and a new found author friend talking books, writing and girl talk before calling it quits near midnight.
I set my alarm and prepare for bed. Not bad for the first day. Not bad at all.
Today started early, but not as early as yesterday. I had set my alarm at 6.30am but was woken at 6am by a text message. Since I was awake anyway, I decided it was time to start the day. After a shower and a double check that I had everything, specifically the timetable for all the panels and talks today, I hook up with my editor and head for breakfast. Sitting at the table next to mine were people I thought I recognised. Sure enough, I had now found some more people who are Facebook friends, whom I’d never met. I’m afraid I spectacularly gate-crashed their breakfast. I really, really hoped they didn’t mind.
The panels for the day began at 9am and it was full on. They were back to back. I think they needed to be planned with a 5 or 10min break between then, so that people actually had time to move from one room to another and maybe take a bathroom break. I kept missing the start of the next panel. The parts I didn’t miss were amazing. I learned so much, particularly from the humourous “what not to do”. It was entertaining and educational learning from industry experts and the successful ‘done its’. It was extremely full on. I was a bit brain fried by the end of it. I took copious notes, I just hope they make sense when I go to read them at a later date.
After a break of about 2hrs, it was time for the trivia night and dinner. I got to meet some awesome readers, one of whom bought my books (Kindle) on the spot, (squeal) and more facebook friends in the flesh. The most frequent comment I received from my facebook friends meeting for the first time was ‘you’re nothing how I imagined you’. Hmmm.
There was plenty of laughter and cheers and boos, with more than a small dash of competition with the trivia. I’m sad to report that of the thirty questions I knew one answer. *sheepish grin.
On the walk back to the hotel we (my editor and I) ended up sitting on the grass near the beach, just taking and actually catching up on the last 7 years. As it hit midnight, we decided that it was the ‘pumpkin’ hour and that we really needed to head back for bed as tomorrow is another early day.
Another early start as my editor is helping another author at the signing today and we wanted to share breakfast together. After breakfast I vegged out in my room for a bit (how exciting), checking emails and social media notifications, until it was time to go to the signings. I headed directly to the authors I knew on facebook and hadn’t yet met this weekend to introduce myself and say ‘Hi’ before the mad rush of fans descended upon them.
After that I walked around and actually attended the event. I believe I was very restrained. Of the 80 or so authors set up, I purchased only 3 books. Having a limited budget and luggage weight allowance surely helped with that. However, I saw people lugging travel bags, one full of books for authors to sign and a second empty one. I doubt it was empty by the end of the day. Now that is dedication.
I walked around talking to authors, taking photos of their table set ups and writing notes on things to bring if I were to set up a table. Things like…a bin, and a helper to run for coffee.
Before lunch I saw that one of my new author friends didn’t have a ‘helper’ so I volunteered for the position for the afternoon, so she could go to the bathroom and get her own stash of books signed. It was fun on the other side of the table, but it really made you aware of how many people didn’t know who the author is. I kept being asked to sign her books.
“Um…no, I’m not the author, she’ll be back soon, but would you like some of her merchandise while you wait? It’s free.”
The day went by so fast. It was 4pm before I knew it. 5 of us trundled upstairs and converged on my room to dress, gossip, giggle and share a bottle of wine before attending the red carpet award ceremony. Before the event I had a small worry that my dress might have been a little formal for the occasion. I’m happy to report that it wasn’t – at all. ( 😦 I don’t have a photo of ‘the dress’ or I’d post it here.)
It was such a fun night, seeing new found friends accepting their awards and actually having conversations with everyone I’d met over the weekend. It’s such a relief to find that Authors are everyday people. (I wouldn’t say normal, though). Only a small handful are ‘full-time’ authors. Most, even the ‘popular’ ones, are stay at home mums or work full time, or juggle writing with another type of paid pursuit. The night was still in full swing but some of my new found group of friends had to call it a night due to family or other commitments the next day, so the rest of us decided to come back to my room again to talk and giggle until 3am.
I don’t care that I have to be up early tomorrow (today) to pack and check out, I wouldn’t change any of this for the world.
I am so jazzed about the entire RWDU 2015 event. I’ve met new people, put faces and voices to online friends, learned a heck of a lot and gained the confidence to say – yes, I will be at RWDU 2016 as an Author.
Come find my table and I’ll sign your book.