Monday, October 1, 2007

Moonlight and Magnolia Madness!

Maven Darcy BurkeHappy Monday Mavenland! (Oooh, I've been wanting to say that!) I just got back yesterday from the fabulous 25th Moonlight and Magnolias Conference in Atlanta, sponsored by Georgia Romance Writers. What a lovely group of women and a what a wonderful time! Where to begin?

I arrived late Thursday so the conference started on Friday morning for me. They had a pitch workshop where authors helped 100 attendees (the first 100 who signed up, which sadly didn't include me). I picked up excellent nuggets of information from several people who did attend - did I mention how friendly and lovely these women are? - while I waited to give my first pitch. And how'd the pitch go? Very well, thank you!

Friday afternoon included a CIA workshop and some great networking opportunities. India Carolina (my spectacular roommate and fellow Maggie finalist!) and I chatted with Madeline Hunter (see picture), whose The Rules of Seduction I'd just finished reading on the plane. She told us about her new live-action trailer for her latest release, Lessons of Desire. Do check it out at her website, it's great! Madeline was so kind to ask about what we were pitching and encouraged us to pitch what we are currently working on as well as what we've completed. Editors and agents love to know that you have more, more, more! This was one of the highlights of my weekend, so thank you Madeline!

Friday night, India and I went to dinner with some of the GRW gals and Manda Collins from Romance Vagabonds (see pics). J Perry Stone made reservations for us at Ibbalito's (not sure that's remotely spelled correctly, but I blame the garlic hangover!), an Italian restaurant with the most fabulous garlic rolls you've ever tasted. See the picture, which I took specifically for Maven Lacey who loves to photograph food. Thank you friends for making me and India feel so welcome. We had a blast!

Saturday was workshop day. Lots of great information and good times. Saturday's luncheon speaker was Linda Howard who shared hilarious tales of stubborn cows and mattress delivery disasters (seriously funny stuff, people). After the workshops was a booksigning, where I had my picture snapped with one of our Maven faves, Elizabeth Hoyt (see pic). Elizabeth gave a great workshop on polishing to publish. Excellent information, friends!

The book signing also included the raffle drawing, which was incredibly hard to hear as everyone chatted up their favorite authors. That didn't stop us from clutching our tickets and hoping desperately for the critique from whichever author, agent, or editor we wanted most. India put down some serious bucks for a few she really, really wanted. And why not? It worked because her ticket was drawn for a critique from Cindy Hwang at Berkley. Go India! Sadly, I got a big donut. Actually, I didn't event get a donut. I would have liked a donut...

Moving on to the big gig: the Maggie ceremony. Naturally, I was nervous as all get-out. I knew I would feel good with however it turned out because, honestly, being a finalist was such an honor in itself and it brought me to the conference, which was a fantastic experience. At this point, I was just pleased as punch and would have very much liked to skip the ceremony! But, alas, everyone else wanted to do it.

Finalists got reserved seating up close, so India and I sat at a table with GRW president and published long contemporary finalist, Anna DeStefano, published long contemporary finalist, Seressia Glass, unpublished short contemporary finalist (and winner!) Trish Milburn, published long contemporary finalist (and winner!), Tanya Michaels, and unpublished single title finalist (and winner! are you sensing a theme at this table??), Leslie Tentler. We were in great company! They announced the finalists for each category and then announced the winners Miss America-style, meaning they counted down from honorable mention to first. Every time they said a name in my category and it wasn't mine, my stomach dropped a little further toward the floor. After four names, it was first or second place for me and I could barely hear for the roaring in my ears. When they announced Glorious as second place, I just beamed (so much that my face hurt later!). I can't tell you how palpable the excitement was! Everyone was so gracious and wonderful, and just, wow. The whole evening was incredibly inspiring. The GRW website doesn't have the winners posted yet, but be sure to check back later!

After the ceremony, there was a very loud DJ (I'm getting so old) and yummy dessert bar. Finally, I could handle a glass of wine! We hung out with our buddies and thought seriously about coming back next year (October 3-5, 2008!). What a ride! Thank you Georgia Romance Writers!!!

Tell us about your local conference experiences. If you haven't been to one, what are you waiting for? I flew across country for this one and let me tell you, it was worth it!


Santa said...

I got live updates from J Perry on the conference. I am so happy for you, Darcy.

For the past two years, I've gone to the NJ RWA Conference. It really is a mini-version of the National. They have wonderful workshops with all the top authors. What I love most about the conference is the time you get to spend with authors who are so generous with both their time and advice. I can't wait to attend this year's conference at the end of this week.

Once again, congrats!

J Perry Stone said...

Reading through this, I've got butterflies all over again, Darcy. And I too had roaring in my ears when they were counting down. Plus Manda was clutching at my hand.

We were so excited for you; I don't think we took a breath from the time it took to read two honorable mentions till they announced who placed second.

Have you recovered yet?

…and did you wear your new shoes like I told you?


Isabel said...

Woohoo! Congrats, ladies :) I can't wait for the conference next year in SF, we're going to have blast!

Marnee Jo said...

Congrats ladies! Sounds like a ball and always nice to have your work recognized!

lacey kaye said...

This is so exciting!!! Wonderful recap, Darcy, and thanks for the cyber garlic rolls. mmmmm!

PS got your ecstatic voice message on my work phone today. I'm so glad you tried calling again!

Jacqueline Barbour said...

Squeeeeeeee! I've been offline pretty much all weekend, so this if my first chance to congratulate you on the big second place finish. That is awesome!

And what a fabulous conference report and wonderful pictures. Looks like you and India had a wonderful time :).

And Santa, are you planning to go to the NJ conference this year? I ask because I'm a finalist in the Put Your Heart in a Book contest but I can't be there. So maybe you could call from the ceremony and let me know how I did :)? (Although it's bound not to be quite as exciting as the Maggies, seeing as how there are only three finalists, so we'll ALL place :).)

And J. Perry, it's so nice to "see" you. Whatcha been up to since Dallas?

Santa said...

Alas, I won't be there for the awards ceremony but Terrio and Sara Mangel will be. I'll be sure to let them know to give you the heads up.

I'll cross my fingers and toes for you!

Vicki said...

That's awesome, congrats!! Sounds like you had a great time. :)

Erica Ridley said...

Great post, Darcy, you rock star! =)

Darcy Burke said...

Thanks Santa, Isabel, Marnee Jo, Lace, Jacq, Vicki, and Erica!!

J, I did not employ the shoes as you directed. Yet. I was a total zombie yesterday! So awesome when you guys were screaming in the back - I'm still grinning!

Darcy Burke said...

And Bev, thank you Bev!! It was so great having you there Saturday night!!!

India Carolina said...

Congratulations again! Even if you did nearly give me a stroke with your countdown! I hate to sound corny, but really the best thing about this conference (and there were soooo many good things) was the time spent with friends.

Manda, Cynthia, Bev, J Perry, and of course, you! As someone very wise said to me quite recently...relationships last longer than glory. Or something like that. How did that go again, Darcy?

And if anybody really wants to know how much I spent on those raffle tickets, the answer is $20.
$10 of which went for tickets for the Cindy Hwang critique. So I guess if she (big dream) loved the story and wound up as my editor, I could say I bought her for $10. Pretty good bargain, even if she hates it, I still get the critique from a big-time editor.

We had such fun. I only wish every one of you could have been with us. Ah well. Think San Fran, people!

Tessa Dare said...

Congrats again, Darcy! I was on the edge of my seat, even in California!

Trish Milburn aka Tricia Mills said...

Hi, Darcy. Thanks so much for the mention. It was rather the good-luck table, wasn't it? Congrats on your second-place finish. It's such a great contest to final in, and to place so highly says wonderful things about your writing.

CM said...

Congratulations, Darcy! And squee for you!

And, of course, congratulations to the fabulous India!

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