Manifestation Junkie: An Intentional Weekend at the RWA Conference in Orlando

 The only friends photo from my trip that turned out.  This is Sharyn, one of the most upbeat manifestors I know!  Photo credit by Aislinn Bailey of AisPortraits.

I love being able to set my intentions and watch things unfold.  I’ve gotten quite good at it, and the only thing I love more is setting intentions with my daughters and seeing them come to fruition.  I guess I’m something of a manifestation junkie when it comes to that.

This past weekend was one of those that flowed like magick.  Everything we wanted, we got—and then some.  Some of it was instantaneous…some of it took a bit longer.  Some of the things that manifested were small; others meant an exciting new path.

Several months ago, I expressed interest in looking more into re-focusing on something I love—writing suspense novels—about the same time hoping to reunite with some good friends I’d met through various writers’ groups and conferences years ago.  I’d been planning a late-July visit to my older daughter, Shannon, in Orlando where she’s a college senior in Psychology when I noticed a lot of my Facebook writer pals talking about seeing each other in Orlando in late July.  The National Romance Writers of America (RWA)—one of the best organizations for teaching and networking with other writers of any genre even remotely related to romance—had moved its major conference in the aftermath of the flooding in Nashville, TN.

I had been a member of RWA for many years, dropping it a few years ago because I was sick of the politics over whether ebooks were “real” books and whether certain publishers were “real” publishers,  battles that I’d been fighting since 1998 when none of my reading audience really cared as long as I gave them a story.  I had decided not to rejoin RWA, at least not until I know they have something to offer me, and not to attend the conference…though it’s been enough years since I’ve published commercial manuscripts that I’m off my game as far as commercial markets.  But I was open to learning if that door to commercial fiction might be worth pursuing again.  Since the new conference venue and time matched with my trip to see Shannon, I ordered up one of the few rooms available for even one night at the conference hotel and decided to turn it into a mini-Disney vacation for my terrific girls and a fun reunion with old friends.

On the way to Orlando, Aislinn and I set our intentions.  With so many weddings booked for her to shoot, she’d decided she needed a new 50mm lens for her camera and hoped to get some author-photo gigs at the conference, even though we were arriving a little too late for that.  She wanted to get enough gigs over the weekend to pay for the lens.  We had such faith that we ordered the lens via my iPhone on the way there, with 2-day shipping, so it would be home when we got back.  She also wanted to have lunch at Firehouse Subs in Tallahassee.

For me, I had two conference-goers I definitely wanted to spend a little time with, plus three others I wanted to say hello to.  I wanted to get a feel for the market, a fast way to educate myself on the recent changes in commercial fiction, and make some decisions about whether I wanted to invest my time there or elsewhere.  I wanted to get some ideas for future trips of a spiritual and exotic nature.  I wanted some down-time at Disney with the girls.  I wanted a short visit with my former student of Wicca and his current student.  I wanted long walks around the lake and some one-on-one time with Shannon.

Hey, I don’t ask for much!

Later Shannon, when we arrived at the hotel, saw all the authors with name-tags scurrying around and remembered all those RWA conferences I dragged her and her sister to when they were little  (I think she still has a personal written message from Nora Roberts somewhere in her memorabilia).  Her goals were simple:  check out the conference bookstore and buy the new hardcover novel by her favorite author, Lauren Willig, and oh, wouldn’t it be cool if Lauren were actually at the conference and autographed the book?

But back to our intention-making on the way to Orlando….Flying By Night novel

Aislinn and I had to stop in Tallahassee to take care of a banking issue for a relative.  That Wachovia Bank branch wins the award for Most Difficult Bank to Get to by Car!  We drove circles around it for almost an hour before we ended up on the correct side road to reach its back parking lot.  The bank personnel were super friendly and overheard me tell Aislinn that we’d lost too much time to drive across Tallahassee to the Firehouse Subs she wanted to introduce me to.

“Firehouse Subs?” the banker asked.  “There’s one across the street from here.”

And it was!  We’d driven past it several times trying to loop back and cross 6 lanes of heavy traffic.  Aislinn got a kick out of how that intention unfolded, and we got some incredibly good sandwiches.  Best evah!

Within the first 5 minutes at the conference, we met up with 3 of the 5 people I wanted to see there, including one of our favorite people from the Florida Pagan Gathering festivities.  I didn’t recognize most of the faces in the crowd, and the ones I did were the ones I wanted to see!

We had dinner with Maggie Shayne et al at Don Shula’s Steakhouse—and some of the best food of our lives, with three waiters and a towel boy, and lots of laughs and good conversation while men waited on us. (I could get so used to that!)  Later, I took a sunset walk around the resort with Shannon and we talked about the psychological motivations of the characters in the Hand of God novel I want to write, did a little brainstorming, and soaked up the pastel colors of sunset on the lakes.

We returned from our walk to find Aislinn super-excited.  She hadn’t set up any author photo gigs since it was so late and we were so tired but…suddenly she had four new clients emailing her from home, clamoring for appointments.  More than enough to cover the cost of her new photography equipment.  (And several more clients sought her out the next day!)

We brunched with Sharyn Cerniglia, one of the most upbeat Law of Attraction/Abraham-Hicks folks I know and such a joy to be around.  Barbara O’Neal, who that night won a major award for one of her novels, joined us and the two told us all about their recent trek along the Camino de Santiago, which is high-high-HIGH on my to-do list now.

I walked back through the conference area while Shannon checked the bookstore to see if anyone knew if Lauren Willig was at the conference and there I discovered that I could purchase the entire set of conference workshops on audio CD for less than $1 per workshop, provided I paid at the conference.  No requirement to be an RWA member or conference attendee.  These workshops included advice on craft, market, what specific publishers were looking for, etc.  Hmmm, pretty much exactly what I was looking for so that I could come up to speed quickly on the state of commercial fiction…for a whopping $450 less than the conference fee.

The girls and I headed out to Epcot, marveling at how we’d gotten everything on our intention list.  Well, almost. We still thought that it would be nice of Lauren Willig were at the conference.  Shannon’s been a huge fan of the Pink Carnation books  for the past year and devours everything Willig writes.  We did the things we loved at Epcot, decided it was ferociously too hot, and headed back to the hotel to pick up my car before going to Shannon’s to hang out and  take the girls and Brian to see “Inception.”  We dropped by the bookstore so Shannon could buy Willig’s hardcover, and then…waited outside a late-afternoon workshop  Lauren Willig was giving!  Shannon got her book signed and got to meet the author, who definitely lived up to her expectations.

I was exhausted when the weekend was over, but it was a good kind of exhausted, the kind where we got all the things we wanted and it seemed that all we had to do was ask and it was given to us.