Well, we're home. That pretty much sums it all up. It was quite a week. So here are the highs and lows as I see them.
Meeting a lot of people I've only known on the internet. It was great to finally have names to put with faces. I especially enjoyed putting faces to authors' names that I've read over the last few years. There were a couple of really big surprises. No, I won't say who, but I'm still reeling from the shocks.
I loved meeting all the frogs. Most of them were pretty close to what I thought they would be like. Of course there were a couple exceptions and no I'm not going to say who they were either. All of them were lovely women and of course, there is that one bull frog who was unfailingly polite and patient with us "wimmin folk".
Personal kick-in-the-pants highs... meeting Morgan Hawke and having a quick chat. Having one of the models ask me if I was the one that wrote those "flower" books. Having a couple of authors in the elevator ask me when the next Valley book would be coming out. Geez, I was so excited that I didn't get their names, but they did ask for my card. And finally, standing shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of frogs so Syneca could take our picture. That was pretty cool.
I attended two fabulous work shops. One, taught by Judy Mays, was on "showing, not telling" and the other was a terrific workshop on writing a synopsis. Right this moment I don't remember the author's last name, but her first name was Sharon. Those two workshops made the trip worthwhile.
Hotel Hell. It was pretty clear that the powers that be at the hotel had no idea what had hit them. There was a continual round of faux pas and idiotic mistakes. Poor planning, poor judgment and crappy management led to a week culminating in my earnest desire to get the heck out of Pittsburgh. I will say that the staff I dealt with personally were incredibly polite and tried to be helpful, but once the juggernaut was moving, they didn't have a snowball's chance in you know where.
The food management and menu planning were a disaster. Okay, I know that it wasn't their fault that I'm allergic to chicken, but boy howdy! did we have to have chicken at every meal? Could we maybe alternate it with something else? My househunk loves chicken and even he is chickened out.
I have to say that not a single presentation went as planned. Hmmm. How shall I say this? I am a mature woman--a mature professional woman. While I did not expect a polished performance by anyone, I did expect a well organized program. As a retired secretary, I believe that three secretaries and a custodian could have probably done a better job. From the outside looking in (and as a new attendee, I was very much on the outside) I had to wonder how so much could go so wrong.
I could forgive all sorts of things except the stuff that just made us all look silly and incredibly unprofessional. I went to this convention anticipating an event that would make me proud to be an author. I left kind of hoping that readers would have a good attack of amnesia regarding my attendance.
Summing it up:
Back when I was working for a school district we always ended our courses and events with evaluation forms. No, they weren't long. Yes, they were anonymous. And yes, we paid a lot of attention to the information we gathered on those forms. Frequently, changes were instituted based on the feedback we received. I would heartily recommend that process.
I'm not sure if I'll ever go to another one. I suspect that it will take time and distance before I can make that decision. I do know that there was an awful lot of money spent on something that just might not be worthwhile. As much as I delighted in meeting the frogs, I could almost drive around the country meeting them one by one for about the same amount of money. And I likely would be able to spend more individual time visiting with them. Ultimately, the people were the only thing worthwhile. And that saddens me. I wanted more.
Kelly's home safely with family visiting her, but perhaps she'll have time to blog at www.kkirch.blogspot.com and Amarinda has been holding down the home fort at www.amarindajones.blogspot.com Blessings on your day.