Adventures in Conferencing I

Today I’d like to blog about the greatest adventure of all...


To do that, of course, I have to blog about death. If you’re wondering how I came to this morbid topic, blame the Romance Writers of America. If not for their conference in Orlando, I wouldn’t have gotten on a plane to join the fun in happiest--and also the most humid and hottest--place on earth.

By the time you read this, I will have been in Orlando, lost among the palm trees, topless Europeans, and throngs of cheerful Disney characters (it is a small world, after all), for two days. Despite my concerns about the plane making it off the runway, I arrived at the Romance Writers of America conference intact. It’s my first RWA conference ever, and I’m enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of hundreds of writers, editors, agents, and publishers as they mingle, network, carouse, connect, interact, pitch, consult, and attend workshops and receptions.

I’m also getting a perverse thrill from watching the spouses of said industry folk come stumbling in after a day at Disney World (or is it Disney Land? Disney Planet?) with a sleeping kid swathed in all the trappings of a fairy princess draped over one shoulder, another wearing Mickey Mouse ears, a Goofy T-shirt, Donald Duck shorts, and Dora the Explorer sneakers dangling from his arm, and a third seemingly hyper-caffeinated child—there’s one in every family—chirping hello to everyone she sees and skipping ahead to open the doors for zombie dad, who is planning a hundred ways to exact payment for his good deed, if he can just make it back to the hotel room.

Aaaaaah, life!

Speaking of which, let’s get back to death. I always think about death when traveling. What if the plane crashes? What if the car crashes? What if the bus crashes? What if the boat sinks? Hopping the jet to Florida proved to be no different an experience, given we had chosen to go the cheapest way possible on Screamin’ Bebe Airlines. The only thing louder than the screaming babies was the mysterious thumping and screeching coming from under the plane, or possibly the cockpit. It was hard to tell. Before you pass judgment on me here for being too cynical, I’d venture to guess you’d think about the Great Beyond yourself if you’d been in my seat (and for the cost of a rental car to get me home, you can have it on the return flight). Heh heh heh.

It was quite an adventure, my little airplane trip (You can experience turbulence while sitting on the runway? Really?), and actually gave me a brilliant idea. As I clutched Hubby’s hand and tried to ignore the shaking, rattling and rolling of the aircraft, I pondered what my obituary would read like. What details would be included? Should I “come out” as an erotica writer after I’m dead via my obit? Would my husband remember all my family details, or, given his terrible memory for names, would I end up being the offspring of Goofy and Belle from Beauty and the Beast born in Neverland?

The ancient Greeks believed you never truly knew if a person had lived a good life until he/she died. What would the details of my obituary reveal about me? Maybe they’d reveal that I really should have an o-BITCH-uary instead, because of all my naughty behavior, or possibly someone reading it might believe me to be a saint, a wonderful person whose life on earth was to be cherished and whose presence would be missed. This person would also probably believe in a one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people-eater.

Saints and purple people-eaters aside, I firmly believe that if you want something done, you’ve got to do it yourself. So I decided to write my own obituary if I survived the plane trip. I’d just gotten started when conference chatter and some exchanges with other writers steered me in another direction.

Why not write an obituary for my characters?

We write character sketches about our characters' lives, but what better way to examine who they are than to write about them as if they’ve passed away? I think the ancient Greeks had something going for them in their philosophy, and now I’m going to write obituaries for the characters in my current WIPs. Well, except for the immortal ones, of course. There’s always a hitch in every giddy up, isn't there?

I guess even though RWA made me think about death, I've gotten something wonderful out of it--a new way to explore my characters. That's what conferences are for, and I think I've gotten my money's worth just for that alone. It doesn't hurt that I've met some great people and gotten to participate in some really neat activities, such as people watching, which is my favorite, and drinking fine wine, which is another favorite. And the adventure continues throughout the weekend!

It took me a bit to get set up, but now that I am I will be tweeting about the conference as time permits (cameobrown, if you're interested in following me on Twitter). Right now, I'm off to review my pitch materials (Guess what my next post will be about? lol).

Happy Reading!

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