FitBloggin Recap

The Backstory

Back in February of 2009, I received an email from Roni addressed “to my fellow fit bloggers*”. I was one of three recipients and also the reason for the footnote on her salutation, which said, “Yes, Charlie, you’re a fit blogger even if you don’t think you are.”

This was over thirteen months ago and I didn’t disagree with her. Back then I posted five times a week, had far, far more traffic than I do now, and even inspired a few people to do better in the midst of their own weight loss struggles. It wasn’t a bad situation, but it was taking away what precious little free time I had from my primary passion: writing. (Yes, I realize that technically a blog constitutes as writing, but I’m specifically talking about 400-page novels. Not 600-word humorous posts on cheeseburgers and bacon.)

As the year progressed, Roni continually asked me to come to the conference and I continually put her off. Finally, on December 1, 2009, she wrote:

OK, it’s time. You must decide. FitBloggin’ or no FitBloggin’? I think I know the answer but I’m going to make you say it anyway.

I replied with three, single-syllable words: I’ll be there at which point I think she had a small heart attack.

The Conference

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Fast forward to March 19, 2010. I left Austin just after sunrise, as shown here, flying to Baltimore via Detroit. Long flights always make me pensive.

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See how pensive I look? Once on the ground, I grabbed a shuttle from the airport to the hotel which may, in fact, have taken just as long as the flight from Detroit. I checked into my hotel room, simply happy to have stopped moving (I hate traveling by the way: see Thing #11 here.)

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My first order of business, early check-in for the conference.

“Attendee, Speaker, or Sponsor?” Dawn asked as I approached the table.
“Speaker,” I replied, since that was the closest choice to “Semi-Reluctant Panel Moderator.”

Just after donning my name tag and collecting my swag bag, I heard a squeal off to my right. I turned just in time to find Roni, already more than six inches inside my personal space, and closing the gap fast. We hugged and I stepped back to look at her with that weird feeling you get when you see someone you’ve known (for a while now) in person the very first time: wow, you’re a real life human being, aren’t you?

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After registration, I took a quick look at the scenery from the hotel:

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It really is a nice looking city. I had no idea. But enough with the sight-seeing. It was time to start drinking. I headed down the hall to the cocktail hour. As I approached, though, my pace slowed. “Wait a minute,” I said to myself. “I don’t know a soul in there.” I wondered who would I talk to? What would I say? I mean, look at this tough crowd:

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In spite of Roni’s explicit invitation to Those of The Y-Chromosome, let’s face it, this slice of the blogosphere is heavily dominated by women and the conference’s 40:1 ratio reflected that. This made talking to people even more awkward, because, let’s face it, who’s that creepy guy walking around with no friends? Can someone call security?

But it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. I finally met MizFit even though we live just a few miles apart. A few moments later, I met Esther Brady Crawford who I remembered seeing in a series of youtube videos two or three years earlier. And within the next half hour or so I met everyone on my panel: Linda Konner, Jennette Fulda, Caitlin Boyle and Brett Blumenthal.

But meeting people is hard work. Where’s that damn drink? Oh, there it is! A dense cloud of fitbloggers surrounded two overworked hotel employees serving up Pomitinis at the rate of one drink every five minutes. I tell you, there’s nothing like a six hour wait to make your drink even sweeter. Even so, I managed to get two of them (sorry, Ron) before heading downstairs for crabcakes and asparagus and bread:

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Brett, Ted Rubin, Anne-Marie Nichols, and Josh and I gathered in the hotel’s restaurant for conversation and food. The food was good. The conversation, better. And Anne-Marie, I’m still positive you over-stated your age by ten or fifteen years.

As enjoyable as dinner turned out, it got real late real fast and Saturday was a big day. I simply had to get to sleep. So I did. On a bench in the hotel bar. I’m pretty sure no one noticed, though. I mean, there wasn’t that much drool involved.

I woke up around four in the morning, disoriented and still very tired. It was then I realized FitBloggin hadn’t actually started and I was sad. That meant there would be no sleeping in today. I was about a half hour late to breakfast and dismayed that only oatmeal and bananas greeted me. Where was the sausage and bacon? Where was the biscuits and gravy? Or the stacks and stacks of butter-drenched pancakes? What kind of fitness conference was th– Oh. Oh yeah. Damn.

I met my panel to go over the general form of our presentation. We’d tried for weeks to talk about this, but it’s quite difficult coordinating five busy folks such as ourselves.

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I did some last-minute editing:

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While Roni kicked things off:

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The morning flew by. I barely ate a thing for lunch. And then it was time for our panel: Beyond the Blog: Getting Published. For obvious reasons, I wasn’t able to take a photograph of myself. But thanks to a quick Google search, I found one taken by Whit and have reproduced it here, without advanced permission. (I’m hoping forgiveness is easier to get.)

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That’s me fumbling with the microphone just as things got underway. I’d like to tell you all about this panel but I don’t remember most of it. I kept the panel stocked with questions, related some of my own publishing tales, told a lame joke or two, and then just like that, it was over. I think it went well: I heard a lot of good things about it afterward.

The rest of the day flew by. Around five thirty that evening we had the wrap-up cocktail hour, complete with book signings. Four authors set out our books for purchase and signage: me, Brett, Jennette, and David Grotto. David is a lot like me except taller, cooler, smarter and he actually writes real books.

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Jennette made it into two pics. I wish I had a shot of all four of us. Ah, such is life.

Book sales were brisk. I sold more books in this one sitting than I sold all of last year put together. Unfortunately, I only sold two books last year. I’ll be ready for that second print run any decade now.

When the crowd cleared I got to see Roni a second time, where the aforementioned Mr. Grotto snapped this picture of us through my phone:

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Taller, cooler, smarter, and a much better photographer. Thank you, kind sir! And thank you, Roni, for all your hard work putting this thing together. I know you’ve already heard it a hundred times or more, but you’re teh awes0mez.

Post Conference

Dinner was much more low-key this evening. Brett and Ted and I met up again but we dragged along Denise Gass for the ride. The three of them dragged my picky palate to a Lebanese restaurant. (I took a few pics there, but they’re all dark and blurry and not worth the bandwidth. Sorry.) Denise represented Thriv, a company that makes clothes out of bamboo. I had no idea that was even possible, and I’ve seen a lot of Kung Fu movies too.

We had pita bread, oil, oregano, and alcohol for appetizers. For dinner, I had what our table affectionately called “meat rods”, swimming in a very spicy sauce. For dessert we had our choice of baklava or melted probiotics. Everyone opted for the baklava.

The evening ended back at the hotel bar where I had not one, not two, but zero additional drinks: the exact amount I needed. There we met up with Esther again and Bookieboo’s Chief Mom of Operations, Leah Segedie. A good time was had by all, though I was fading fast again. Nights like this are a lot harder than they were twenty years ago. You know, back when all these other bloggers were eight years old. *sigh*

I slunk into bed that night very tired and very happy to have the work behind me. I woke up the next morning to a day full of promise: a day full of writing. I’ll tell you more about the Second Draft in a future post. For now, suffice it to say that it began with some writer’s block:

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Followed by some fresh air and a food run:

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And ended with actual words on the screen:

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Whew! While I could have certainly been more productive, I won’t feel bad about the 9,202 words I did get done that day. (Not to mention getting up to 15,071 by the end of Monday.)

The trip officially ended when I got picked up at the airport.

Enter Life Milestone #37: having your kids drive to the airport and pick you up. Zoinks.

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22 Responses to “FitBloggin Recap”

carla said
on
March 30, 2010 at 5:11 am

I loved finally meeting you in person.
again?
we need to.

    Charlie said
    on
    March 30, 2010 at 7:43 am

    Of course. I’ll meet you on Ellen.

JohnGL said
on
March 30, 2010 at 7:12 am

I loved finally meeting you, too. Wait, your kid picked you up at the airport?

Helen said
on
March 30, 2010 at 8:04 am

Finally! I must show up like a stalker on your traffic reports since I keep popping over to see if I missed something.

You were just like a pioneer bravely exploring a new frontier what with the gender ratios. Just think, you cleared the way for the next group of clueless guys to accept Roni’s invitation.

I did have a thought about the block: maybe if you keep up the bloggin’ the rest of the writing will come easier.

    Charlie said
    on
    March 30, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Hmmm… nice try. πŸ™‚

TexasDeb said
on
March 30, 2010 at 8:39 am

Mr Hills, you sir, are one lucky lucky man.

Be glad your driving daughter was available to pick you up at the airport. That willingness to do family errands fades f a s t.

Since I’m not obligated to write a book, I’ve been reading my way through The Morning News’ Tournament of Books list for this year. There’s some amazing stuff out there – I’m looking forward to your book joining that company!

Frank Dobner said
on
March 30, 2010 at 11:56 am

I love going to conferences. Especially when I am going to speak. I like your choice of beer – SNPA.

Quix said
on
March 30, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Yet another recap that made me sad about not going. Someday. Sounds like a blast though! πŸ™‚

Biz said
on
March 30, 2010 at 4:16 pm

I totally wish I could have been there with you Charlie!!!

Love the recap too! πŸ˜€

Wow, Lebanese food – you must have been drinking!

Brett Blumenthal said
on
March 31, 2010 at 6:35 am

It was great meeting you! I really enjoyed our time together and chatting about ALL KINDS of stuff!
Hugs,
Brett

allijag said
on
March 31, 2010 at 8:13 am

I’m so sorry I didn’t get the chance to meet you there! I love your sister, Biz, and I told her I’d say hi to you – but the weekend flew by!

Brett Blumenthal said
on
March 31, 2010 at 8:14 am

Ok…Now that I read that in more detail…DAMN you’re funny!

    Charlie said
    on
    March 31, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Yes, part of enjoying what I write is the actual reading of it. πŸ™‚

Danica said
on
April 1, 2010 at 6:04 pm

What a small world – I came to read your recap because Biz said too. I never realized that you knew Roni too – another one of my favorite people. In the midst of all that, I found another cool site to read.

I like your honest and humorous recap of Fit Bloggin’ πŸ™‚

Carmen said
on
April 3, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Well, you saved me from getting off the shuttle at the wrong stop – so, from that moment on, I knew you were a cool guy. And then to see that you posted a picture that I happen to be in – seriously, the glowing white of my winter skin kind of gave me away – well, that sealed it. I’m no longer speaking to you.

Kidding. I wanted to buy one of your books but didn’t bring cash. I would have enjoyed speaking with you, I think, if I wasn’t short of voice and full of asthma coughs.

πŸ™‚

Your prettier sister said
on
April 3, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Loved the re-cap Chow-Lee!!

I was kind of thinking the ladies would way outnumber the guys, but I’m glad you got to go, and if there is a 2nd one, then Biz and I will have to join too!

Anne-Marie @ This Mama Cooks! said
on
April 5, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Yes, I have a fake ID that shows me to be older than I really am! (But thanks for the compliment anyway. It’s all about staying out of the sun, healthy living, and washing my face well.)

Whit said
on
April 7, 2010 at 10:43 am

Permission for photo use is granted. I’m honored, in fact. Loved your panel at the conference!

Katherine said
on
April 8, 2010 at 11:23 am

Empty screen reminds me of Carrie in Sex in the City writing. No worries; at least your mind isn’t blank right?
Have a good day!
Katherine
whataboutsummer

Charlie said
on
April 8, 2010 at 10:42 pm

@TexasDeb: Then I guess I’d better stop the current project and start writing an amazing book.

@Carmen: I can photoshop the legs if you want. πŸ™‚

@Whit: Thanks and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

@Katherine: Unfortunately, the blank screen does reflect a blank mind. And what about summer?!

Shelly said
on
April 12, 2010 at 6:44 pm

What I find really funny about writing, and blogging in particular, is that you keep putting it off until you FORCE yourself to do it, thinking you will end up with total trash, but then, you start, and before you know it, you have some pretty decent stuff done. I remind myself of this and it really helps.