Saturday, June 12, 2010

The LIRW Luncheon, The Good, The Bad and The Lovely

In the interest of full disclosure let me just say that I was up prior to 4 am yesterday, spent close to 14 hours driving to and from, didn't get to bed until after midnight last night, AND because my body doesn't realize the school year is over I was up at 6 am this morning. I may be a tad cranky! So If I'm out of line on any point feel free to call me on it.

Firstly, we were late. The Tom tom we were using played a huge practical joke on us and sent us into the Bronx, and we spent a good deal of time on surface streets before regaining the freeway and making our way onto Long Island, where the luncheon was held. We (my three NECRWA companions and I) arrived late and flustered and in need of the ladies room.

LIRW graciously held lunch for us. Which I thought was lovely of them. So we missed the champagne reception, and the opportunity for networking before the lunch. That was disappointing, but certainly NOT LIRW's fault. The room the luncheon was held in was beautiful, the waitstaff attentive, the food excellent. And the air conditioning kicked in at all the right times.

I sat next to Steven Zacharius of Kensington Books. He was gracious and entertaining and fielded my questions with good humor. He was a very entertaining luncheon partner, as well as the keynote speaker, and he gave me some very good advice.

The food was fabulous. Hands down the nicest lunch I've had in a while. I'd place that in the lovely category too. Now those of you who are squeamish had better cover your eyes, because the next three points are bad.

Maybe it's just me, but if you put together a luncheon for writers to have the opportunity to schmooze with editors and agents, the proper thing to do is to let the writers schmooze. One of the luncheon organizers sat on Mr.Zacharius's other side. It was obvious they knew each other well, talking and chatting of this and that. I had to rudely interrupt to get Steven's attention, a privilege I paid highly for. That was bad form in my mind. And perhaps I'm being a tad diva-ish, but I thought she should have introduced him and then stepped gracefully out of the way.  Just my opinion, but I paid $60 bucks to go to that luncheon, spent seven hours in a car getting there and I should not have had to wrestle an organizer for the opportunity to do what I had paid for. - See I told you, I'm grouchy.

The other BAD, and I personally consider this really bad, again my opinion.  I am a non-smoker. The lovely lady sitting next to me was most obviously a smoker. She disappeared at regular intervals and came back bringing a cloud of smoke with her. Okay obviously not a CLOUD but definitely the SMELL. Not something I care to ever be subjected to, but especially not while I was eating. Now, had this woman been a guest I wouldn't have been so appalled. (Okay, I would have been appalled, but not to the same degree.) Nothing the hosts can do about a guests behaviour.  But again this lady was one of the organizers. She was delightful in all other ways, but surely people who smoke realize the stench is unpleasant to non-smokers, and being a HOST to the rest of us should have lent a certain responsibility for courteous behavior that toward her guests? Again, I'm cranky, but cigarette smoke and food - YUCK!

One other Bad, not one the organizers could have done anything about. During the keynote speech, one of the agents in attendance was making rude comments - out loud. The writers don't want to hear this stuff? Well I'm a writer and I wanted to hear it. We all have been at functions where we didn't enjoy some aspect of the talk. The POLITE thing to do is to shut up, make your to do list (in your mind - again we are avoiding being rude here,) and complain about the speakers when you get back to work. Your co-workers are a fine audience for your annoyance, but to foist your opinion onto the other invited agents and editors AND on the guests who PAID for the privilege to listen to that speech. Badly Done - to quote Jane Austen. It's unlikely that the person who committed this act of abject rudeness will ever read this, or recognize herself if she does, but if you have the sneaking feeling this was you: Shame on you. You're mother would be very disappointed!

Hmm, maybe I should be interning with Miss Manner's instead of writing novels, except I have a sneaking feeling this post would also be considered rude!