Monday, February 9, 2009

That special connection

Some folks may be just gearing up for conferences, but I'm nearly done with mine for the year. By a twist of fate, the three I selected this year were in January and February. I had a blast at the first two, still have one this coming weekend, and wish I had an unlimited conference budget. But alas, that's not the case in 2009. Well, not any year, really, but one could always wish for that.

I started going to local writing conferences in 1998. That was the year I realized that I lived 20 minutes from Nora Roberts and that she went to this local conference. Sure that fame and fortune awaited me at the conference, I hared off to Harpers Ferry, without knowing a soul there, and spent the weekend with Nora. Sorta. I made the rookie mistake of introducing myself in the parking lot. Imagine much gushing on my part and hand pumping and a look of abject terror on her face. Someone came and rescued her and took me aside and said, we don't do that. Oh. I got the message. When it comes to Nora, look, don't touch. And after that I respected her right to relax. This was after all, called a Retreat.

Ever since then, I continued to spend one weekend a year with Nora, all the way until 2008 when I had a family emergency and had to cancel. I'm not sure I ever figured on her radar screen except as the person who brought the froggie planter and the infamous Turtlicious to the basket raffle. Which makes me wonder if she missed me last year. Hmm, could be.

Since then I've attended several RWA conferences, some book festivals, and a batch of mystery cons, all of them fun and exhausting. I used to attend every workshop possible and take copious notes. Now I'm more relaxed about the whole thing, missing a workshop every now and again for a much needed nap, ie, time to relax and not to feel like I'm "on" for the whole weekend. I can generally do a one-day conference easy, a two-day one is okay but I start to feel overwhelmed. Three and four day events require lots of downtime on my part.

Mostly, I enjoy meeting readers and networking with other writers. At Murder in Magic City last weekend, my husband and I had a wonderful dinner with Peggy Webb, Carla Neggers and Deborah Sharp. I made the acquaintance of a very nice lady from my Southeast Mystery Writers of America Chapter, Vicki Lane, and I met a whole host of other writers and I hope made some great reader connections. My friend Beth Terrell from Killer Nashville was there. Margaret Fenton, who has her first book coming out this summer, put the whole Saturday event together; whatta woman. My panel was chaired by a very nice Canadian, Mary Jane Maffini, and Liz Zelvin, Jennie Bentley and I gabbed for an hour with her about the "what" of our mysteries. Other authors there included Cara Black who writes about Paris, Deborah Crombie a Texan who writes British mysteries, Terry Griffin, Peggy Ehrhart my Five Star pal, Kent Krueger, writing team Larry Light and his wife Meredith Anthony, and Vinny O'Neil. Man, I felt like one of the super elite in that host of fine authors!

Murder in Magic City morphed into a Moveable Feast of Authors on Sunday, Feb 8 in Wetumpka, Alabama. More fun and more connections with readers. If you ever get invited to this conference, say yes!

I enjoy connecting with people the most at a conference. Whether you meet readers, writers, editors or agents, it's all to the good. And I've presented so much recently that I practically have a uniform for my appearances, so no worries about appropriate dress, LOL.

Maggie Toussaint


Peggy Ehrhart said...

Maggie--You are a complete sweetheart and a bundle of energy. I am still trying to get the energy to unpack and you already made that long drive home and posted this nice note about our Birmingham adventure.

I enjoyed seeing you there!

All the best from Peggy.

Donna Caubarreaux said...

Sounds like you had fantastic fun!

That's the whole point, networking, meeting with other writers, enjoying yourself.

I've missed more than one workshop to take a nap, conferences are definite energy sappers.

Donna Caubarreaux said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vicki Lane said...

Hey, Maggie, It was fun, wasn't it! I always particularly enjoy getting to know writers I've heard of or 'met' online. I look forward to the next time our paths cross.