Chicago Spring Fling Conference! :) (Long & Lots of Pictures)

[X-posted at bananagirl19]

Hello! I am back from an amazing, exhausting, completely fun weekend in Chicago! The Chicago-North RWA chapter is incredible, and so are the people I met there.

FRIDAY

Mandy (mandywriter) picked me up from the airport and it was like we’d been friends forever, which we pretty much have. We started talking and joking right away. She took me to the hotel and chilled out while I unpacked in my VERY NICE hotel room. Let me tell you about this room. It was more like a suite. 25 inch TV, desk, easy chair, couch with a foldaway, king sized bed. Beautiful. I’d ordered strawberries and champagne, but I didn’t open it right away, and I’m glad I waited. More on that later. :)

Mandy and I registered for the conference (we were the first two!), then went out to lunch at a place called RAM. I’d never heard of it, but it was pretty nice. Of course, I got the messiest meal ever, but it was really yummy. By the time we got back to the hotel, Sara (sbennettwealer) was there! We went up to their room and hung out for a while, then headed down to the conference. I spotted Dia (agentobscura) right away, so we went to say Hi. She gave us all a group hug and seriously, we all hit it off right away. I felt like I’d been hanging out with these women my whole life.

The first thing we did was attend a “panel” of sorts. Four authors, open dialogue. It was interesting. Alesia Holliday, Mary Alice Monroe, Jennifer Crusie, and Bob Mayer spoke and it was funny and really nice. Afterwards, I went to Alesia to introduce myself and she recognized my name from the Yahoo! teenchicklit loop. She was awesome, and here I am with her:

We had a HUGE break, so Sara, Mandy, Gail and I went to an Italian restaurant. It was yummy. I got a half order which turned out to be a good decision, because it was the perfect amount of food. When we went back, there was class. Sara and I went to “Get Out of Deadwood” where we met Stephanie Hale (stephhale) and a really cool girl named Carmen. We went and had chocolate at the Chocolate Reception (um, check out this damn sign:)


DESERT????????


Me and Mandy. A lot of guys liked Mandy. She thinks they all liked me. So let’s just face it. Together, we’re unstoppable.


Sara, who’s totally cute.

Okay, here is the placeholder for the totally cute picture I have of some Firebrand girls. But I think I have to run it through the DIA (agentobscura) checkpoint before I can post it.

After the reception, (where the chocolate mousse was sooooo good), a bunch of us hung out in the bar for a bit. Carmen bought us all drinks because she is awesome like that. Then it was bedtime. To my lovely room. All alone. Mmm.

SATURDAY

I woke up and my throat was on FIRE. I was getting sick, I had cramps and I just wasn’t a happy camper. But I’d paid good money for those classes so I was NOT going to miss them. I got up, made me way down to the breakfast, and promptly FROZE to death. It was so cold!! I ran up to my room during one of the breaks to get my hoodie because OMG I was so cold. I didn’t care that it would look stupid with my blouse/shirt whatever.

The day kicked off with a keynote speech by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer, authors of the new novel Don’t Look Down.

During lunch, Carmen hooked me up with Vitamin C which really did help me feel better. Lunch was yummy, a huge chicken salad, some sort of soup, and an amazing huge piece of cake for dessert. The classes were so good. I learned a lot and got extremely inspired. Lots of notes taken. Bob Mayer’s class hurled me back to my college days, where I had to scribble notes and learn shortcuts to keep up with all the information he was presenting. I took about fifteen pages of notes. AWESOME notes. :) We got books and loads of other goodies (yeah, I had a little trouble getting my suitcase closed).

After lunch, Mandy caused a scandal in the bathroom by kicking a tile off the wall, causing a wild shattering sound. She started screaming “I broke the bathroom, I broke the bathroom.” I joined in. Jennifer Crusie walked in with a concerned look on her face. Then she said she was going to tell everyone about it.

After the conference was over, we headed downtown (a half hour late thanks to NADIA!) to meet Adam (adamselzer) for the Ghost Tour.

I was so excited to meet Adam that I forgot that ghost stories are SCARY. Then heading to the places where these ghosts are supposed to be…even freakier. When we were in Death Alley; site of the Iroquois Theater Fire, a random guy was just trying to get through. I think he touched one of the women to say “excuse me,” but it freaked her out and she screamed, then the rest of us screamed. It was fan-freaking-tastic. Anyway, it’s a good thing Adam was so damned cute because it helped distract me from the horror of those stories. Some of them were extremely sad. Anyway, here is my “ghost:”


The big white orb on the left? A possible ghost. Cool, huh? I kept getting raindrops on my lens when I was taking pictures, but there was NO drop there when I took that one.


(ETA: Just got word from Adam that he thinks the light circle above the corncob-looking building is a better orb shot!)

After the tour, we ate, and my friend Jen joined us. After dinner, we kidnapped both Adam and Jen and headed back to the hotel, where we hung out in Dia’s room before she kicked us out. I took my champagne and strawberries to share, and Dia had wine and fruit to share. She really wanted nachos, though. Let me give you a word of advice. NEVER LISTEN TO A GUY WHO DOESN’T HAVE A CAR, HATES THE SUBURBS AND NEVER TRAVELS THE HIGHWAYS! We were almost totally lost, but not really, and honestly, the way Adam showed us was better because we didn’t have to pay any tolls. Woo.

[Here is where I would insert a totally goofy but adorable picture of Nadia, but I think she would kill me with her bare hands. Since I have a book to finish writing, that would not be prudent.]

Anyway, our purpose was to get Adam drunk and cause some scandal. It kind of worked….


Adam’s 2nd glass of wine.


Sara being cute again.


Pajama Party. Kind of. Except for Adam.


Seriously, this thing with the pear… a lot more funny last night/this morning.

So, the scandal(s)? Well, watching Asian guys “sing” Backstreet Boys (I Want It That Way) on Google video (I think?), getting shushed by hotel security, and Adam wanting to tell a story about a shaggy dog and Juno. But he said he respected us too much to subject us to that. Nice one.

Jen spent the night in my room which was nice because we got to catch up. It had been a long time since I’d seen her. :)

In short, the weekend was fab, fab, fab. I can’t wait to go to another conference sometime soon!! :)

And in conclusion, here are the QUOTES:

From Speakers:
Jennifer Crusie: Nobody ever said “gee, I want to write a computer manual.”
Alesia Holliday: Your book probaby saved that bitch’s life.
Alesia Holliday: Write a book, save a life.
Bob Mayer: I went to West Point and they didn’t teach us English!”
Jennifer Crusie: I’m an internet slut. I love it.

Random:
Nadia: You know what? I like my men to have problems.
Adam: Books? Those are the things with the pages!

Conferences RULE! It’s awesome to be steeped in the writing culture, where all the classes are about writing and everyone is talking about writing and there is lots of chocolate floating around and so much encouragement and information… I can’t wait to go to another one, and also to get to know my new friends more. Wheeee!

‘Til next time…

P.S. You want scandal? I finally have my very own “professional crush.” YAY. Or something. :D

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