I love my kids, my husband and my life. But, I also love the times when I can step away from daily routines and focus on my own interests - with minimal interruptions.
So, when I have the opportunity to be a runaway mom, I take it. Wouldn't you? This is not a childish whim. I don't vanish with only a note left on the refrigerator. First of all, they probably wouldn't notice the note. Secondly, I would feel guilty.
Running away, as an adult with responsibilities, takes planning. Tedious, grueling planning. Scheduling has to be iron-clad. Reinforcements (aka - NANA) are brought in. I take this running away business very seriously. Otherwise, it doesn't happen.
The last month before school ends tends to be hectic. Award ceremonies and end-of-year parties, fill your social calendar. (ok, THEIR social calendar. Face it...you are just the chauffeur.) Creating storage space to hold a years worth of school projects, has you eyeballing the burn pile and suddenly you become very religious, praying that your little darling's feet don't outgrow their shoes in the next few weeks.
As parents, we just do what is needed. We plan accordingly, make lists, and hope to get half of that list completed before the sun sets. Or the month ends. Or we fall asleep sitting up. Most of my activities revolve around some kid related pandemonium and few are related to adhering to an exercise routine. Then, there is my writing.
So, after careful planning, I loaded up the car and took a road trip to Dallas for the RT Booklovers 2015 Convention. This year, the convention was in my home state, so I saved on airfare and drove the 4 hours north. My mind was open to meeting new people and enjoying my first RT (Romantic Times) experience.
Upon entering the hotel, I stood in the midst of Best Selling Authors, Publishers, Agents, Aspiring Authors, and Readers. Excitement, awe, and intimidation ran their course, but surprisingly, I remained calm.
After the newness wore off, I felt completely at peace.
On Day 1, with my agenda in hand, I headed to my first of many panel discussions. I sat amongst some of my favorite authors. Listening, absorbing and learning to what they had to say. My notebook began to fill with things I could apply to my writing, as I went from panel to panel. There were so many options to choose from. Marketing, Craft, Genre specific, and MANY MORE discussions were open to me.
My only regret, is that I could not attend all of them.
I noticed groups of people who have traveled together and saw the practicality of this. They could attend different sessions and share information. Also, they had a familiar face in the crowd when needed. Being at this convention solo was a bit intimidating at first. After a few hours, I began stepping outside my shell. By doing this, I met some great people, ranging from readers, bloggers and fellow aspiring authors.
We slowly formed a group of our own. We met for to eat, camped out in line together for book signings (wear comfortable shoes!!!), and became partners in crime while venturing into new RT territory. By Saturday, we had spent three days together, mingling with some of the greats in the Romance Genre and experienced many firsts together, but hopefully not lasts.
* The Room Key
* Riding the elevator with Publishers that asked what I wrote - AND actually telling them. (GASP!)
* Standing besides J.L Berg ordering coffee and introducing myself. (another GASP!)
* Shamelessly peeking at names on badges that donned a white Published Author ribbon, to see if I have read their books.
* Laughing with strangers and making new friends.
* Learning the term: Alpha-hole from Author Julie Ann Walker during a Panel discussion. (*An Alpha in the story, whose also happens to be an asshole.)
When my children's school hold their annual book fair, I become giddy. My love for these have grown over the years. There is nothing better than the crisp pages, shiny covers and smell of new books. So, imagine how excited I became when I saw there was a GIANT Book Fair at the conference.
Upon entering the gigantic ballroom, my eyes took in hundreds of tables. Each full of crisp, shiny new books. My fingers itched to grab each one. This wasn't even the best part. The icing on the cake, was having the authors sitting right beside their work. Each ready to sign, take pictures and answer questions. I set out on a mission. With 4 authors in mind, I planned to cover ground quickly and call it a day.
Colleen Hoover - CHECK!
M. Leighton - CHECK!
Abbi Glines - CHECK!
Rebecca Donovan - CHECK!
I roamed the aisles of authors and my plan went out the window. Going rogue, I covered every single table, discovering a gold mine of new authors, intriguing conversations and inspiration. One day, I hope to be on the other side of these tables, signing my book(s), and offering motivation to new aspiring authors, as these authors at RT did for me.
All Good Things
As they say, all good things must come to an end. Knowing I could not stay away any longer, I loaded up my books and hit the road. Running back home, isn't as much fun as running away - but it was time. The house was still standing when I arrived, thee dogs greeted me with enthusiasm, and the family welcomed me back with open arms.
In all, I purchased 10 books from the Book Fair and received 40 books (free!) from the events I attended while at RT. So, please excuse me, as I tackle some "light" reading.