I flew into Newark on Friday to attend the NJRW, Put Your Heart in a Book, Conference. This would be my third year, and I was looking forward to a weekend of learning, pitching, and visiting with some of my favorite writer friends. As usual, my organized self, pulled up the web page, typed out the hotel address on an index card – to hand to the taxi driver for ease of communication. The flight was uneventful, the wait for the taxi minimal, and the ride to the hotel fast! I commented on this and the driver said, “Oh, no traffic, M’am.”
As he turned into the parking lot, I looked around. This didn’t look like last year’s hotel – had they changed the location? The driveway that leads to the front door was taped off with yellow caution tape – a sure sign something was wrong, but he dropped me off none-the-less, pointing at the sidewalk. “It should just be up there.” I wheeled my bag toward the door, only to find that blocked off as well. Lots of yellow caution tape! So – I circled around to the back. I’d go through the conference center side. Easy enough – I walk to the lobby, which was quite opulent compared to the yellow tape, and gave my name at the desk.
The young girl shook her head – so I mentioned that I was rooming with someone and gave her name. Nope, neither name listed. Then her eyes opened wider and she said, “Are you with the Romance Writer’s Conference?” “Yes,” I answered. All was not lost. She reached beneath the counter and handed me a pre-typed slip of paper – just as two girls came over to the desk. Typed on the paper – the directions to the correct hotel. I was at the wrong one! I could tell from their faces, they were, too.
“Well, I’ll need to call a cab,” I said. And one of the two girls said, “You’re family, you can ride with us.” We introduced ourselves and headed for their car. The one driving (I’ll call her Kat) typed the address into her cute little GPS … Can not identify! The other girl (I’ll call her Gem) said, “I’ll read, you drive.”
Forty minutes later as we’re turning around for the fifth time, Gem now driving, the not-so-cute-little GPS, now exasperated with our attempts to find the conference center cross streets – sounds off, “No. No. NO!” Have I gotten in the car with non-romance writers? Was this a joke? Many scenerios began popping into my head. As a writer, I make things up, so it didn’t surprise me that stories started playing in my brain. When I began reciting one outloud – the girls jumped in with their own versions. Between the three of us, with many fits of laughter, we created a wicked funny comedy, a nail-biting suspense, and a hmm-could-it-be? paranormal, and for Kat, a freaky YA.
We finally made it to the right hotel and conference center, exchanged cards, and promised to look for each other over the weekend. It isn’t that huge a conference, I was sure we’d bump into each other a few times over the next few days. Strangely enough, I never saw them again. Hmm? Spooky.