No Men's Room in Sight

posted Jul 16, 2009, 6:36 PM by Natalie Duvall
Hi!  Matt Duvall here.  My wife, Natalie, invited me to write a guest blog for her website.  The pay's not great, but she's promised me a drink when I finish.  So here I am, blogging away in Washington, D.C.
I am not exaggerating when I say that I've seen four other men attending the actual workshops here.  During meals, signings, etc. the number goes up, but there aren't a lot of male writers here.  There are two good reasons to attend an RWA conference if you're a man.  1) You're a writer who either writes romance/women's fiction/etc. OR a writer who wants to learn about including romantic elements in your fiction or 2) you're a single guy looking for a place with a favorable male:female ratio.  Now, many of these writers are married, but your odds are still better than elsewhere.  However, it won't help if you're a jerk, or a dork, or a jerky dork, or a dorky jerk.  The only way to cure that is to attend my intensive six week summer program, "Don't Be a Jerk."   The dork part, I can't help with.  Watch more Chuck Norris movies.
The good news is, I've just finished a women's adventure fiction novel called Out of Leglock.  It's the story of Candy Cane, a female pro wrestler who accidentally gets pregnant.  While I'm shopping that one around, I'm working on a second book set in the same universe, titled Pyle's Driver.  One thing I was worried about getting right was that feeling of being in the minority in an industry traditionally dominated by the opposite gender.  If only there were a way I could experience that for myself...
So, following those navel-gazing comments, here are some highlights from today's programming:
Janet Evanovitch spoke at the kick-off this morning, and was very entertaining.  She did an unscripted Q&A, and achieved the right tone of humor and seriousness and inspiration.
The general meeting was today.  I was psyched that I got to vote, even though I'm not a member of RWA (I'm just attending the conference).  However, when we got in we found out there was nothing to vote on!  Oh well.  I did get a balance sheet example that I can use for my day job as a high school teacher.  There was some debate about e-publishing versus traditional publishing and the definition of "published."  I have strong opinions on this but it would be a whole separate blog, so I'll save it until my wife asks me to guest blog again. 
At the lunch, Linda Howard gave the keynote speech.  She had some funny anecdotes.  It wasn't a traditional keynote speech, so I don't know how it was received.  The ladies at our table found it highly amusing, though.  I had my eye on the extra salads and desserts (two of them), but some latecomers swooped in and spoiled my plans.
The workshops started in the afternoon, plus the Avon open house.  I thought there had to be some catch to these "open houses," but it turns out there's not.  You show up, go to the tables of the writers you like (and even those you don't like, if there are any), and they will sign a copy of their book(s).  For free.  My wife and I currently have fifty books in our room.  There are two days left of the conference.  I did not bring my weight lifting belt, so I will have to make sure to use perfect form--legs, not back--when carrying them out to the car.
Natalie volunteered to introduce Brenda Hiatt's workshop about publishing figures (advance amounts, sell through, etc.).  This means she is now in a drawing for a free conference next year.  Hopefully she wins, because then I can go too!  We've decided we can only afford to send one of us next year, unless I get more hours at my part-time job as a chainsaw juggler.  I feel I'm already better at it than my mentor, Three Fingered Terry, but the public doesn't seem to agree.
The last workshop we went to was presented by Lauren Willig, about authenticity in historical romances.  Not much there for me, although I did write a great question for her.  I think Natalie got some good information from it, though.  I was hoping for more information about the 1970's, since I have some flashbacks set in that time era, but no go.
Oh, and we went to an Italian place across the street and I realized that the tax rate in D.C. is 10%!  Taxation without representation, indeed.
Off to the gym, then to bed, then back to the grind tomorrow.  I wish you all a good night, god speed, and good luck finding a men's room.