Tuesday, August 01, 2006

And This One Time. In Atlanta....

So, like many of the people who may read this blog (at least, I HOPE that's why my hits are way down last week), I was in Atlanta for the Romance Writers of America conference last week--along with my kids and my sainted mother, who tagged along to help me watch them. Seeing as I'm behind on posting, I thought I'd just vomit out all the pertinent details of my conference experience, and you can decide whether it's worth reading or not. I'll try to be more interesting tomorrow....

All in all, the conference was fabulous, though like at RT, I didn't learn a whole lot. (I bought the workshops on CD, so I'm DEFERRING the learning until later. Or so I tell myself.)

The first day was the big booksigning, and we screeched into the hotel (which had a usurious overnight parking rate. Losers.) a couple of hours before it began. Instead of going to my seat and pelting unsuspecting passersby with copies of the Mission series, I jumped right into Meg Cabot's line to get signed books for Maggie and Marin (I'm such a fangirl). While she was signing The Princess Diaries vol. 7.5, I was chattering about how my kids were a little young to read them yet, but I'm sure they'd love me for getting these in the future. So Meg says, "Oh, they can read this one. There's no french kissing in it."


Briefly wondering if my ten-pounds-to-go post-pregnancy clothes were starting to make me look like Ms. Moral Majority, I quickly clarified that no, it wasn't that the Princess Diaries books were too racy--it was that my kids were both under 3 years old. And then, clutching my tiny pink hardcovers autographed to Princess Maggie and Princess Marin (How did she know?), I ran back to my seat cracking up.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten to pack my leather pants, but I managed to sell pretty well on a Tracy scale. I sat next to RITA finalist Mary Alice Monroe, who was not only gracious (though disappointed) about the bookstore not having her books to sign, but she offered to read my Latina lit manuscript when I finish it. (I'm not sure how this happened, but let me just say that I did not start pelting her with manuscripts or awkward requests. She just offered. Did I mention that she's lovely?)

The next day, I had lunch with some writer friends who have been on an AOL message board (now turned Google listserv) with me since the beginning of time. It's always fun to meet and talk with everyone in person, although I kept getting distracted by the cheesecake next to my plate. (Sorry, you all. I'm usually a better conversationalist when cheesecake isn't involved.) I'd been a good little dieter for the past couple of weeks, so I THOUGHT I could just taste a couple of bites and run away, but noooooo.

It was ugly. Graham cracker crumbs flying everywhere....

So after the Egregious Cheesecake Incident, I went to Kimani author Michelle Monkou's birthday party, which was beyond wonderful. She held it at her brother's house near Stone Mountain. The house and yard were lovely, the food was SO good (shrimp kabobs flying everywhere), and her family was warm and wonderful, as were the other friends she invited. Now I just hope that my anonymous face doesn't curse me again, and Michelle's fun and fabulous friends remember me when I approach them all next year to say hello. (I have this problem in that I remember names and faces REALLY well, so I'll be all, "HEY! Josephine Schmo! It's great to see you! How is your husband Joe and your cat Mittens? And I'm still looking in the stores for those earrings you were wearing last year! Have your headaches gotten better?" to people who no longer have the Slightest Idea Who I Am and are consequently often tempted to call the police. I've lost it a little since having Marin--just TRY telling me pregnancy hormones don't jack with your memory--but it's coming back.)

Attended the Death by Chocolate party that night and cheered loudly when my friend Dana Marton won a well-deserved Daphne for Best Series Suspense for her Intrigue Camouflage Heart. Drank some awful wine afterwards with HQ authors Ann Voss Peterson, Cynthia Cooke, and Nina Bruhns--the wine was terrible, but the company was fab.

Let's see.... Friday was my busy day. Had a celebratory breakfast with Dana over her Daphne and met her adorable daughter and husband. We went to a PAN workshop on blogging (Will it help? You decide.), and then I ran into Latina lit author Berta Platas, a fellow Encanto survivor. We had lunch, and then I had a business meeting that I can't yet talk about but yielded some exciting results (for me, at least).

Mom and I took the kids to the Georgia Aquarium next, which is GORGEOUS. Oh, and CROWDED. You can't take strollers into the exhibits, so both of us were charging through as fast as we could with my flailing children in our arms. Fortunately, the tanks were quite tall, so we didn't have to jump up and down to see anything over the heads of people taller than us (which is most of the population over 15.) The main draw of the aquarium is a gigantic tank about the size of an Imax screen cubed, which boasted schools of sting rays, a hammerhead shark, sea turtles, a couple of black-tipped reef sharks, several pretty fish, and a few whale sharks (!!!!). Maggie made everyone around us laugh by waving at her favorites whenever they swam by, shouting, "Hello, whale sharks! We love you, whale sharks! Hello, sting rays! We love you, sting rays!" She also gave the jellyfish and the otters, who were not in the giant tank but in their own enclosures, some love.

That night was the Harlequin party--always a blast. They made these delicious champagne cocktails with raspberry liqueur, and I guess my friend Tierney Linn (I'm linking up to the websites so I don't have to explain who everyone is, and I'm realizing that a lot of my friends have websites.) and I had a few too many, because we ended up next to the chocolate fondue fountain DRINKING the chocolate out of shot glasses and telling everyone within hearing distance that we were doing our civic duty by preventing said chocolate from ending up in a landfill. Needless to say, I'm going to be having a glass of water and a toothpick for lunch. (Not really.) I must have been doing a lot of shouting over the music, because I wound up losing my voice for two days, which prompted my brother Tom to ask, "Is this Lindsay Lohan?" when I called him from the road the next day.

Saturday I had breakfast with Leesa Whitson, and Maggie somehow wound up in the funny and talented Holly Jacobs' lap. She also hammed it up for Kris Fletcher for a few minutes (FYI, Kris did NOT look even a bit Frumps R Us in her ponchos, which were colorful and lovely.) Then I had a nice lunch with my Intrigue editor and fellow Intriguers Ann Voss Peterson and Alice Sharpe, where we had a waiter who absolutely refused to smile, even slightly. Ann and Alice thought perhaps he was a robot. I expected him to peel off his face at any moment to reveal a lizard-like alien underneath. A rather bored lizard-like alien.

And then we drove home. And then I collapsed on the couch.

Anyone else go? Did you actually learn anything? Because I probably won't until my workshops-on-CD arrive in six weeks.


Mariann said...

It sounds like you had a great time! I'll probably go to RWA when it's in DC in 2009, so I have to content myself with the conference recordings. I'm two years behind in that regard, but I found many recorded sessionis both inspiring and helpful. I'll be curious what you think of the sessions you hear.

In any case, welcome back!

Your brother said...

I was waiting for a "Hey! You're Tony Randall!" reference when you mentioned remembering people. I was wicked devastated.

Jen said...

I should have known you were there. I'm glad you had such a great time. Alas, Atlanta was just no doable this year, but Dallas.....
I've been getting some of the lowdown from the Divas at Romance Divas (complete with pictures and a "cleavage contest". ??????) so I've heard a little about the fun.
Funny, I didn't hear anything about the workshops.
I did however hear about an incident involving some pole dancing and a strange man buying 20 conference goers drink.
Mmmmm. Makes you wonder.
I'm glad you're back.

Tracy Montoya said...

I'm behind a little on my conference recordings too, Mariann, which just means I need to befriend a treadmill, stat. I'll let you know if I learn anything once the CDs arrive. And I look forward to meeting you in 2009! (Hope you can make one before then, though.)

Tracy Montoya said...

You know, Tom, I was trying to work it in, but it just wasn't happening. Sorry!

Tracy Montoya said...

A cleavage contest, Jen? Dear Lord. Sounds like the Divas had a good time!

Look forward to seeing you in Dallas!

The Queen-a Athena said...

LOL, Tracy, glad you approved of the ponchos! (Though I still think I look like the Buddha in drag ...)

More importantly - when will we get to hear your big news? I'm SO excited for you, whatever it is!!!

Tracy Montoya said...

Kris, you did NOT! (But that is an amusing mental picture....)

I'll email you the big news. It's not a sale, FYI.

M Monkou said...


Thanks for coming to my b-day celebration. Had lots of fun. Mary Alice is a sweet lady. I know that I ate too much, probably drank too much, but it's my once a year bang.

Let's hope for bigger and better dreams and accomplishments next year.

Tracy Montoya said...

Hear, hear, Michelle.

And I KNOW I ate and drank too much. But like you said, it's a once a year thing.

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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