There’s been a lot of activity on romance blogs and networks the past couple of days. The annual Romance Writers of America conference will be on in the last week of July, with the gala Awards night on the 31st. The conference is huge – about 2000 writers, publishers and agents, hundreds of workshops, many booksignings (including the huge 550 author Literacy signing), and countless meetings and other events. It was to have been held at the amazing Gaylord Opryland resort near Nashville, Tennessee… but last weekend, Nashville and surrounding areas received 13+ inches of rain over two days. There hasn’t been much on the Australian media about it, but most of Nashville, including the Gaylord, was flooded, with heart-breaking loss of life and damage to property and livelihoods.
By Tuesday morning, Australian time, the Cumberland River hadn’t quite peaked, but it was already clear that the damage to the Gaylord would render it – along with many, many other business in Nashville – out of action for months. I’d like to give many kudos to the Gaylord staff, for notifying RWA members so promptly of the necessary cancellation, even while many of them must have been struggling with the personal effects of the flooding. And huge kudos to RWA staff and Board, who faced the daunting task of finding an alternative venue for a huge conference in less than three months, with special requirements – when such venues are usually booked years ahead. I’m sure they haven’t had much sleep!
Less than forty-eight hours after being notified of the Gaylord damage, RWA has announced this morning that they have secured an alternative venue – the conference will be held at the The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida. The quick notification of the new venue will enable conference attendees to make new arrangements more easily. I’m sure that there’s still a lot of work ahead for the RWA Board and staff and the resort staff in adapting existing plans to the new venue and arranging the many requirements for a conference such as this – a years’ work pushed into less than 3 months will be a challenge – but the RWA staff and Board have done a fantastic job in dealing with the situation already.
Am I going to the conference? My chance of going is quite slim, but I’m still clutching on to the sliver of hope. It’s a huge thing to be a RITA finalist, and I’d love to be there at the awards night. But I can’t go unless the aneurism is stabilised, and I can’t have the next procedure for it until the blood clot is gone… I’ll be seeing the neurosurgeon the week after next, and having an ultrasound to check the blood clot status about then. If it’s clear, and if the neurosurgeon is happy to go ahead with the occlusion, and if it can be scheduled quickly, and if I come through the procedure without complications… then I might be able to go to Orlando – assuming that I can find the $$!!
So, it will be a long wait before I know if I’m going or not. In the meantime, my thoughts are with all those affected by the flood devastation in Tennessee and surrounds, and my appreciation goes to the RWA Board and staff for the tremendous efforts in reorganising the conference.