The Sekrit Handshake
by Jessa Slade on May 10th, 2010

Currently working on: Still unpacking from the RT Booklovers’ Convention
Mood: Awash

Last Monday, when I was supposed to be blogging here, I was flying back from Columbus Ohio after the RT Booklovers’  Convention, where more than a thousand women — and a few men — gathered together for a solid week of book lovin,’ Mr. Romance-ogling (I did mention there were a few men), drinking, and more book lovin.’

Highlights of my trip:

  • Whiskey shots with Joe Konrath, author of WHISKEY SOUR (see, those shots were networking)
  • Scoring Jeri Smith-Ready’s newest, SHADE, a paranormal YA, before she sold out at the book fair — mine, all mine!
  • Four nights of dancing in person with online friends

Lowlights of my trip:

  • The DJ who, when I asked if he had any Bollywood dance music, responded that, well, he had Molly Hatchet — er, not quite
  • Forgetting my tiara for the prom-themed dance party
  • The flight home from Ohio to Oregon via New York — don’t ask

Back to the highlights though.  I got to mingle with all sorts of people, from voracious readers to aspiring writers to famous authors.  (Is that Charlaine Harris?!  OMG OMG!  I adore name dropping!)  What an amazing, fun, savvy, dedicated group it was.  For a newer author like myself, it was a wonderful opportunity to talk with a wide swath of book people and contemplate, “Geez, who let me in here?”

Turns out, there wasn’t a sekrit handshake required at the door.

Oh, I knew there wasn’t really a sekrit handshake, but when I was racking up rejections in the early years of my writing (uh, and in the later years too) I desperately hoped there was a large, Raybanned, cross-armed bouncer guarding a NYC office building with “Publishing” somewhere on the letterhead who could be bought off with the right open sesame.  In many ways, it seemed easier to imagine a trick than to think of all the hard work.

After all, ”work hard” just isn’t an inspiring call to adventure. 

But one theme I heard repeated at RT time and again was the value of perseverance, the stubborn dedication that goes with hard work.  I talked to a multi-published author whose number of rejections quadrupled mine.  I met writers in all stages, from “I have this idea” to just receiving a request for a complete manuscript from an editor attending the convention.  I had dinner with a reader who drove ten hours after work through the night to make the convention, blowing a tire in the process.  “I need chocolate,” was her only complaint.  They all wanted the same thing: books.  Lots of books.

Can you be clear eyed and starry eyed at the same time?  I think so.  I saw that at RT, and it reminded me, the door was always open.  I just had to get there.

The RT Booklovers’ Convention is in Los Angeles next year.  Maybe I’ll see some of you!

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