Well, I hit the ground running. . . Or should I say I was running before I hit the grounds? I stepped into the baggage claim area at the San Jose airport and immediately spotted a friendly looking fellow named Bob who was holding a Mount Hermon Shuttle sign. I mentioned that I wanted to grab something from the snack bar to take with me, so he grabbed my luggage and took off with them. I hesitated for a moment -- is it really safe to let my luggage walk away in an airport? Probably not, but I shrugged and went to get my food.
As soon as I got back, I was in a cluster of unfamiliar faces. We started chatting about where we were from, the weather, etc. By the time we piled in the van, talk had turned to writing. The lady in front of me turned around and asked what type of things I wrote. I stammered out some nervous phrases about kids and teens and fiction and then tried to return the question. She smiled at me and told me that she worked for a publisher.
GULP! I just talked to my first publisher and I'm not even at the conference yet!!!
Okay, they need to make these people where special hats or something. I need to KNOW when I'm talking to someone who could have the power to say "yes" or "no" to my book!
Also in the van were a few writers (mostly newbies like myself), another editor, an agent (I think) and a public speaker. Unfortunately, I was in the back row with my knees shaking, so I didn't get to know anyone all that well.
Walking around the conference center has been an interesting experience. People stop and peer into my face and at my name tag with great intensity. One woman said, "I know you, right? Are you from California? I must have read your books, are you someone famous?" I assured her that she had NOT read my books and no, I was not famous. She apparently has several books out, but unfortunately, I didn't recognize her name.
The nice surprise is how everyone seems like a big family. I was picturing a competitive fish-feeding frenzy kind of atmosphere. The writers and the editors actually hang out with the newbies and everyone seems very supportive. They ask what you write and genuinely listen -- not just shut you out after they find out that you write historicals and that's not their thing.
Well, the editors do not wear funny hats, but I discovered at dinner that they (and the faculty) do wear ribbons on their name tags.
So, no more rookie mistakes for me.
Well, it's only 6:40 am. No mistakes until breakfast, I hope.