Lindsay Grant, in full-length black gown, and Chris Baty, looking very Philip Marlowe, greeted me with generous noblesse oblige smiles. Behind them, knots of elegantly turned out writers in fishnet hose, peplumed suits and fascinators chatted in bright-eyed animation. And that was just the men.
There were marble floors and a roaring fire surrounded by a hearth bearing the words, "Let Friendship Warm Thee." I grabbed my welcome packet and slunk past twenty gumshoes in trench coats and fedoras. In the bar area, I searched the crowd for other morons like me, dressed in what we wear to Starbucks to write on a Tuesday morning. I found them-- more than a handful-- and stuck like glue.
Drowning my wardrobe sorrows in drink seemed appropriate, so, with my right hand, I signaled the barkeep for a Cosmonovelton while I reached for a bacon-wrapped shrimp with my left. Next, I'd try a Noveltini.
The bartender shook his head, and gave a warning grimace.
"Don't do it. They're foul. Have a Lemondrop instead."
I go with local knowledge, so a Lemondrop it was. By the time they let us into the ballroom at 5PM sharp, I was dressed in a backless velvet gown, over-the-elbow red satin gloves, stiletto heels and pearls. I staked my claim near the candy buffet (come on, people, priorities-- PRIORITIES!), and crept under my chosen table, trying to connect my laptop to the power source. It took some time. While I was down there, with my backside hanging out from beneath the black taffeta, floor-length tablecloth, I made friends and influenced not a few people.
I ran into Andrew Turner, wearing a victor's crown (one more obnoxious 50,000 word guy) and he introduced me to about thirty of his closest NaNoWriMo friends.
By 11PM, I had run out of charm and my fingers were but bloody stumps. I descended in the heavily ornamented elevators to the street, tired but satisfied, where my chariot waited. Can't wait to go again next year.