Friday, July 20, 2007

RWA Dallas report

I started writing this post a couple of days ago, but then Blogger seemed to be having a few conniptions and wouldn't save it.

My week in Dallas was a wonderful, amazing time, and I was already glad I went long before I won the Golden Heart. Spending days immersed in the romance genre with people who respect it, love it, read it and write it was inspiring.

Highlights and great memories:

Monday - meeting Penni from the e-Harlequin boards, who collected me from my hotel and showed Wayne Jordan from Barbados and I around Fort Worth. It was a very pleasant day, in great company, and I got to see Texas Longhorn cattle, as a bonus :-)

Monday evening - meeting Tiana, an online friend from e-Harlequin's BatCave, and having dinner with her. Then meeting my Australian roommate for Monday and Tuesday nights - Joanne. I hadn't met Joane before, but we all clicked and the three of us stayed up too late, talking!

Tuesday - Tiana kindly took Joanne and I shopping to the huge Grapevine Mall. I didn't spend heaps of money, but it was fun to see all the different shops, clothes and other items and to spend time with Tiana and Joanne. We did find a sparkly top to wear with my black skirt for the Awards night, so that was something I could stop worrying about.

Wednesday - over to the conference hotel, the Hyatt. We arrived late morning, and the crowds were starting to gather, a definite hum of excitement in the air. I met up with my roommate, Michele, and Theresa, another online friend. It's such a buzz to finally get together with people I've 'known' for ages. I braved the crowds of the literacy signing for a while, but being determined not to collect copious quantities of books (due to luggage restrictions and too-high postage costs), I restrained myself to only buying two books - Anne Stuart's Ice Blue and one from Wayne Jordan.

Thursday the conference program started in earnest. With the PRO retreat, Golden Heart and Golden Network activities, and an agent and editor appointment, my diary already had a fair few entries in it, and as I didn't want to overload myself too much and produce a three-day migraine, I gave myself free-time gaps as well. So, there was a lot I didn't get to, but I did benefit greatly from the things I attended - and I was able to spend time with Tiana, Joanne, Michelle and Theresa, AND read Ice Blue (which I thought was the best of the series; I felt the characters were better developed, suited to each other, and the heroine wasn't TSTL).

Friday morning was my agent pitch, and that went quite well despite my nerves. I came away with a request for a partial and a very positive impression of her and the agency, so I'm definitely hoping that she will like what she reads and offers representation. My editor pitch also went well, resulting in a request for a partial. (This weekend I will finalise the long synopsis that the agent asked for, do the cover letters and get everything ready to post express post on Monday.)

Saturday was a great day - a wonderful workshop in the afternoon with Barbara Samuel, the rehearsal for the GH Awards, enjoyable dinner with Theresa and her roommate, Adrienne, and then the big Awards ceremony.

I was quietly excited about the Awards, and only a little nervous. Being a finalist was such a wonderful thing, a brilliant rich cake that was a fantastic experience and prize in itself. Everyone who saw the 'GH Finalist' ribbon on my name tag was congratulatory and encouraging, sharing the excitement, and the group of GH finalists that I got together with a number of times during the conference were an amazing, warm, and fantastically friendly and supportive group, so I was on a high from all of that. There'd been a quiet voice in my head a few times in the weeks proceeding that every now and then would say, 'you're going to win', but then another practical, logical voice would reply, 'there are 8 finalists, any one of them could win, and they all deserve it and being a finalist is just brilliant, anyway.' (Yes, I'm a writer. There are always lots of conversations going on in my head :-) )

I'd asked Theresa to be my guest in the reserved area - we've been online friends for a while, and share many things in common. We arranged to sit with Melanie Scott and Keri Arthur - Mel was the other Australian GH finalist, and a double finalist, and she and Keri were among the first Australian romance writers I'd met, back in 2004, at a mini-conference in Canberra, so it was special to share the occasion with them.

All the GH finalists looked gorgeous - beautiful formal dresses, sparkling eyes, and everyone genuinely wishing each other well. I was proud to be part of such a generous group. I get emotional, and when the lights went down and the ceremony started, I was teary and trying to keep from sniffling with the joy of it all. When Theresa turned to me and told me how proud she was of me finalling, and how honoured she was to be sharing this with me, it was a struggle not to have full-on waterworks. (The voice that said, 'you know your face and nose go all red and blotchy when you cry' helped :-) )

There were a few glitches in the order of the slides and announcements for the first couple of GH categories, which was a bit of a bummer and must have stretched the nerves further of those in the early categories. We held our breaths and kept our fingers crossed for Mel in her two categories, but someone else won both. Mel's going great places, though, I'm sure, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if we get to drink champagne to a book sale at the RWAus conference next month.

My category was second last, and I can't really describe how I felt by then - excitement, moved by the emotion of the occasion, trying not to cry when each of the finalist's slides went up, because they were all gorgeous and deserved every success. There was a pause while Stephanie Bond, the presenter for the award, opened the envelope, and I'm not sure that I consciously thought anything during that time. I think I did breathe, though - a long, deep breath. Then she said, Falling into Darkness, and I knew I'd won. I stood up, and heard the applause and the cheers, but I was ready to cry again, and I couldn't hug my friends right then, because if I had I knew I'd break out in tears. I remember walking carefully to the stage, conscious of not tripping up the steps in long skirt and high heels, and Stephanie handed me the envelope and the box with the heart pendant. I hadn't written down a speech or notes, but I knew who I wanted to acknowledge: my parents, for showing through 50 years of marriage that love based on a firm foundation of respect and commitment can achieve wonderful things; Gordon, for supporting me to come to Dallas, despite the expense; all the many people in RWA, RWAus, for their support, friendship and encouragement on the writing journey; all the people who had made me feel welcome and among friends at the conference, and congratulated me when they saw the GH finalist ribbon; and my online writing group - I said something along the lines of 'they can be a bit batty at times, but there couldn't be a more supportive, wonderful group of people.'

Afterwards, there were many hugs, a few more tears, lots of smiles and grinning, photos, a glass of wine, dessert, and general celebrations. Later we went up to Joanne's room so I could use her computer to email my family, and I was able to talk to my sister using skype, which was fantastic. (Gordon was off bushwalking, so I couldn't talk to him straight away, although I did email him.)

It was an amazing experience, wonderful and exciting and humbling and inspiring. Thanks to everyone who helped along the way, and who has cheered and celebrated with me. I still look at the card that Stephanie read the announcement from, and get a shiver of excitement. And if some of the above isn't coherent, it's because it's all still too new and amazing to describe in mere words!


Jennie Adams said...

What a lovely post, Bronwyn. Here's wishing you all the best with your agent and editor submissions.


Josh Lockwood said...

An amazing, beautiful story, Bron. I'm thinking this, in itself, would make a romance novel. Maybe the happy ending.

Valerie Parv said...

A wonderful,emotionally moving account, Bronwyn. So glad you won. You deserve every success, now and in the future. Hugs,

Bronwyn Parry said...

Thanks, Jennie, Josh and Valerie. I hope you recognised yourselves in my batty thanks :-)

Michele said...

Lovely. And you're such a lovely person too and I'm so glad I got to spend time with you and see you win. THAT was truly icing on the cake.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tale with such a happy ending. :-)

Dullcie Anne

Theresa said...

Bron, it was an uplifting, amazing conference, and the real high point was seeing you up on that stage to accept your award.

Reading your account made me cry all over again! Stop doing that already!

Joanna said...

Gosh, I'm proud of you. You're such a wonderful woman and you deserve all the success you can handle.

Angie the Hippo said...

What a wonderful experience Bron! I am so happy for you! You are an amazing writer, and I'm so proud of you!

Ann Wesley Hardin said...

*leaking eyes*

Dammit, I so wish I'd been there. What a great account! But just the first of many more pieces of great news from you I'm sure.

Glamorous Redneck said...

So awesome, Bron! I'm so excited for you!


THIS! Christine said...

What I great account. I was hoping we could all get together for a chat to hear all your news but I understand you have to unwind some and then get straight back to work.
Now for books 2 and 3 in the series. I can't wait.


Bronwyn Jameson said...

Bron, I'm so thrilled you were able to get to Dallas and live the whole GH experience. I've been all teary reading your account of awards night, and I'm so looking forward to reading your Aussie suspense in book form. Hope that day is not too far away.

Another Bron

carrie_lofty said...

I've read about you (on Kate's blog) and by you (on Smart Bitches, etc.), but I just found your blog... Must have had my eyes shut or something.

I was at the awards ceremony in Dallas and cheered you on. You're the only person I kinda knew (of), so I put all my energy into wishing you well and applauding like mad when you won. Many congratulations, and good luck with the requests :)