I'm home! I actually got home yesterday, but I spent most of that time collapsing before having to go out and see a show last night.
I don't have a lot to report about the conference because there's not a lot that remains fascinating in retrospect that would be interesting to anyone who wasn't directly involved. I didn't pick up on any real publishing news other than it seems as though publishers other than Avon have started looking for more historical romances and that particular market slump appears to be over. I didn't go to any industry sessions about chick lit, so I can't say what's going on with that market, but it did seem like we were recognizing a lot of first sales at the chick lit chapter's party, which makes you wonder how big the slump really is.
I survived the big mass autographing Wednesday night and even sold out of books for the second year in a row. The first four times I participated in that event, I maybe sold a few books each year, so it was three hours of futile sitting there while my self esteem shrank to earthworm levels. That makes me even more appreciative of the thrill of running out of books long before the end of the evening. Even when I wasn't signing books I had people coming up to say how much they enjoyed my books. For a while, the checkout line went right past me, so I got a few impulse purchases from people who stared at the covers long enough they had to come over and see what the books were about.
Thursday the luncheon speaker was Meg Cabot, and she's even funnier in person than in her books. I loved the reason she gave for wanting to become a writer: the movie Romancing the Stone. Not because of the adventure part or the Michael Douglas part. For her, she loved the part where Joan Wilder is working at home in her pajamas, then she finishes a book and celebrates by drinking a little bottle of vodka. She said that's when she thought "I want that job!" She also described her adventures in attending the movie premiere for The Princess Diaries.
Friday was my crazy day. In the morning was the publisher booksigning. They do these events where they give away books, and people line up for hours to then get into this reasonably small room filled with authors to grab free copies and meet the authors. I call it " pretend to be a bestseller time" because it's the one time I get to experience the thrill of having people lined up in droves to get my books. I guess the secret is to give the books away for free. The other secret is to not be a big bestseller so that your line is shorter and then people jump to get in that line because their odds of getting a book improve that way. I also got to experience bizarro upside-down world at that event when people like Mary Jo Putney, Patricia Rice and Suzanne Brockman were asking me to autograph books for them.
That day I also met with one of my new editors and had lunch with my agent. It looks like my idea for a title for book 3 is the current title to beat, and it sounds like they are interested in more books in the series. At lunch, I brainstormed book ideas with my agent, and she kept pushing me to raise the stakes. She threw out an idea that I HATED -- until just before I fell asleep that night and it snapped into place. The way I'm thinking of using it is totally different and is a twist on it, but she was right about that being the element needed to intensify the story. I hate it when she's right like that, and not just because it means I get no sleep. We did our workshop on Jane Austen that afternoon, where I got still more ideas. I hope the audience got something out of that workshop because I know I learned a lot just giving it (and I may do a whole post on that topic later). That night was my publisher's party at the Ritz-Carlton, after which I went back to my room and collapsed.
Saturday I went to the best workshop ever, a two-hour session by screenwriting guru Michael Hauge that may just change my life. Again, there's subject matter for its own post, but I can't wait to play with the ideas I got in that session.
In general, I spent too much time wearing high heels. I grew addicted to the orange-infused water they kept in the hotel lobby. I didn't get nearly enough sleep or food (at least, nutritious food), and the whole week is now a blur, but I'm wired and inspired.
Finally, remember that big news I mentioned a while back? My agent sort of outed me at the conference, so I guess it's safe to post. In journalism, this would be called burying the lead, but in fiction it's called building suspense. Drum roll please ... Enchanted, Inc. has been optioned for a TV series!! Now, before anyone gets excited, this is just an option. It doesn't mean they're going to make a series. A lot of stuff gets optioned, then they pitch a lot of stuff to see if they can get financial or network backing for a pilot, then some of those things actually get made into pilots, and then a few pilots get picked up as series, and we all know how few series really get a chance to build an audience and grow -- two series last fall that were based on books were cancelled after just one or two episodes. So I'm not holding my breath or counting my money yet. But it is a first step and it shows that someone in Hollywood is interested enough to put money into the option. I was going to buy a new TV to celebrate, but I'm getting that for my birthday so I'll have to come up with something else.
And now I must go buy some oranges so I can make my own orange-infused water. I guess I need to get other food, too. The cupboard is kind of bare at the moment.