Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Thunderstorms and Salsa

I'm not sure what thunderstorms and salsa have in common with each other, except that the last big Tstorm we had (throwing tornados 60 miles up the road, but calmed down some when it reached us), I was making salsa, because the computer had to be turned off. And I wanted to make the salsa before the tomatoes I bought got too soft.

I've been in the habit of making things like salsa--things that are generally made in the summer and need to boil a long time on the stove--at night. I've been known to begin a pot of salsa when the evening news comes on (10 p.m. here in Central Time). It's too dang hot to boil anything any earlier in the day, during most of a Texas summer. But in the thunderstorm, the temps had cooled off enough, I didn't mind setting those tomatoes and peppers and onions and such to simmering. It made a really good batch--maybe because I used Roma tomatoes, or maybe because I let it cook a little longer than I usually do. It's nice and thick. And I didn't cook along with the tomatoes. It was a smaller batch than the last one, but I have hopes that some neighbor or friend will donate some of their excess tomatoes later in the season.

And yes, I'm rhapsodizing about tomatoes because I have absolutely nothing else to write about. I'm not doing anything but writing my current ms., reading books, going to "the big city" to paint on Tuesdays--and I painted out the heads of the little boys in my current painting because they looked totally stupid and I couldn't make them look right by trying to fix them pieceeal. Time to paint them over and start again. One of the three boys did get to keep his head, but the other two? Headless! 19 pages on the ms this week. Next week, I'll print and revise and (if it doesn't seem too totally stupid upon second reading) send it to the agent. Then I think I'll go back to the WWII book till I hear about the option book. Keep your fingers crossed, y'all. Thanks.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Yeah, well...

I've been home a week and haven't blogged. I'm tired, okay? I've been writing and reading books and just generally being incredibly lazy. But guess what?!?

It's been RAINING!!!!

When we got home from dropping the son at his very first apartment in college, it was apparent that it had rained sometime over the weekend. There were puddles! So the fella got busy and mowed the lawn, and about the time he put the mower up, it started raining again. And it rained again the next day. And the next.

Now this may not seem such a fabulous event to you--if so, you probably don't live in west Texas. Rain has been very scarce this year, and if we don't get enough, the plains won't recover from that million acre fire we had back in the spring. All the ash blew away and left nothing but dirt behind--we were beginning to worry that there might be another dust bowl-type occurrence. It's going to take more to get the grass to growing good in those places where the fires were--there's lots of tumbleweeds (aka Russian thistles), broom and other weeds, but no grass. So a few raindances sent out way wouldn't be out of line.

On the other hand, the rain makes the weeds in my front flowerbed REALLY grow big. And I really need to get out there and pull them all up. (sigh)

Still writing the brick-in-the-head book. I've got a proposal, and a bunch more pages too.

Have I mentioned? I love my empty nest...

Ta for now.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Home again, again

Seems like I'm always posting reports these days about how I've managed to survive another trip unscathed. Although I'm feeling excessively scathed this time. I spent the week helping the daughter, son-in-law and grandson move. From a town about 600 miles from me to one 500 miles farther away. I helped pack, unpack and clean, mostly.

Actually, I did a lot of grandson-wrestling during the unloading, because the boy's only 3 (and has developmental delays), and wanted to run around in the truck, sit on the stairs or lie in the entry way, and threw a fit when we wouldn't let him. I spent over 30 minutes just hanging on to him until he wore himself out enough to fall asleep in my lap. He's a big boy--stronger than a lot of 5-year-olds--and he wore me out too. But I didn't get to take a nap, alas. I had to clean nasty bathrooms (the landlord painted & put in a new tub surround but didn't clean up after himself--there were globs of caulk and cement all in the bathtub...) and unpack. But they're all moved in. They've contacted the school people for the groundling's schooling--he gets a few weeks to settle in before going in for an evaluation--and we finally found the silverware.

So I'm really, really tired. I have to move the youngest son back to college and his first apartment on Friday... I've hardly been able to think about the book that smacked me in the head. It's been a nice thing to muse in the few moments before falling asleep at night, and I did work on developing plot while traveling on the airplane, but that's about it. I'm tired.

We shall see if I can even summon up any brainpower to blog again this week. If I spend a lot of time sleeping, we may not have anything to blog about... So...okay then.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Smacked in the Head

I live for those moments when a story comes out of nowhere and smacks me right in the head. Usually, it happens when I haven't been writing for a while and I'm vaguely ruminating about what I want to write, what I might write, who I might write something for but I just can't decide anything.

It happened to me early Saturday morning. Like 4:30 a.m. early. Because my personal thermostat is broken giving me temperature control issues, I have a tendency to wake up several times in the night these days. Saturday morning, I woke up as usual...but when the thermostat finally kicked in, I kept lying there, wide awake, with a story running through my brain. Not just a story idea, but actual sentences. Descriptions. Phrases. Wry narration. I composed whole paragraphs while lying in bed staring at the backs of my eyelids. Eventually, it occurred to me that this was a very good idea, and that I really ought to get up and go write some of it down before I forgot it, since I was awake anyway and apparently not going back to sleep.

I've written 18 of my longhand pages in the day and a half since then (which will type up to somewhere around 24 pages, I think). Not bad for a gimme. It may peter out in the next few days, or turn out to be completely unmarketable, but it's a start, and it might turn out great! Here's hoping.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Quickie Reading list

I've been reading pretty much since I left Atlanta. I've probably left some books off this list, but here is a partial list of the books I've finished this week--I thought y'all might like to see

ON THE WAY TO THE WEDDING by Julia Quinn, (Quinn lives up to her reputation)
GETTING EVEN by Kayla Perrin (a HQ Spice that wasn't particularly spicy but was fun to read),
SEDUCED BY CRIMSON by Jade Lee (fabulous as Lee always is),
HOSTILE MAKEOVER by Wendy Wax (pretty good, though I thought she left the resolution a little late and a little obscure),
DEAD RECKONING by Sandra K. Moore (a very good Bombshell),
THE RED HAT CLUB by Haywood Smith (lots of fun),
TIGER LILY by Kimberly Dean (very erotic erotica),
RESENTING THE HERO by Moira J. Moore (nice fantasy with a touch of romance that doesn't really fit its rather comic cover),
JUST FOR KICKS by Susan Anderson (an auto-buy author that lived up to my expectations),
THE TURNING by Jennifer Armintrout (a vampire book with romantic elements--might be uncomfortable for some because of one of the guys there's romance--or something--with),
CAPTIVE MOON by C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp (a new shapeshifter book--very good),
WINDOW DRESSING by Nikki Rivers (Hq Next--good read), and
KITTY GOES TO WASHINGTON by Carrie Vaughn (werewolf radio personality--I liked this better than the 1st one. Good read.)

Yeah, I know. I read way too fast...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Saturday--the Grand Finale

We're up to Saturday now. I have to admit, it's all becoming a big blur--even the big bruise is beginning to fade. (Okay, it's turned really ugly reddish purple and black and hasn't made it to the yellow-y green shade yet except in spots, but it is getting better...)

But Saturday. I once again made it down to breakfast and this time ate with some lovely ladies from upstate New York. That's one of the things I really love about RWA National--doesn't matter where you sit down, you're going to meet someone lovely who has something in common with you: writing books. (Oh yeah, almost forgot to share my "wardrobe"--I know you don't really care, but...I wore a white short-sleeved sweater with colored (peach, turquoise, yellow and black) trim around the square neckline and sleeve hem, black slacks and my loafer shoes--I started with the black jacket, but dumped it in the room early on and never missed it.)

I didn't have a workshop I really wanted to go to at 8:30, and I needed to see about getting my big box of books shipped home (plus some of the freebies that I didn't want to lug in my suitcase), and there was a PAN workshop at nine I thought I might like to sit in on, so I went upstairs and loaded the big box. I took out two of my books and put in two freebies, carted the heavy box downstairs to the hotel's UPS location, picked up a box (those boxes they had available really were NOT large enough!), went back upstairs to load it up, came back down and filled out all the shipping paperwork. I still have no idea how much I spent to have those books shipped home. (I'm kind of afraid to look.) Somewhere in here, I went up to the OCC chapter's suite and gave them one of the books for their Chapter Birthday Party. (Remember that "get the books in the hands of readers" thing I've got going on...) Still had a book to give away, but I figured I'd find somebody who'd take it off my hands. Then I went to the workshop on The Numbers.

It was very enlightening. For instance, I didn't know that the New York Times Bestseller List was made up of reports from only 35 stores, (or maybe it was 38--fewer than 40 anyway) all on the East Coast. It may take Wal-Marts into account, but I was still shocked. Of course, it's the New York Times--I've found that to many New Yorkers (and many East Coast-ers), the rest of the country doesn't really exist. Of course to many, it does, but... Then again, I know a lot of Texans to whom anything outside Texas doesn't really exist... we're all provincial in our own little way. And I've really gotten sidetracked from talking about the workshop, which was about sell-through and lay-down and getting on one of the Best-Seller lists, and that it was easier to do in the months when there aren't a lot of releases. Writing fantasy, I don't know that I'll ever make it--but who knows. Dream big, right?

Somewhere in here--or maybe I did it on Friday--I ordered the CD sets for my crit partner and for the Heart of Texas chapter. I think I was the only one of the Waco area ladies (even though I don't live in Waco any more, I'm still one of them in my heart) to make it to Atlanta, so I bought their CDs of the conference workshops for them.

I picked up a cup of tea (real tea with orange & lemon, not herbal) in the PAN lounge and started walking back to the lobby with it--and of course spilled it as I was walking up the little steps outside the Harlequin room, so I stopped walking. Turns out, people were gathering for the SPICE book-signing. The line didn't appear to be too overwhelming, so I joined them and chatted with Stephanie Lynch (aka Arwen, aka half of the Cai Stephans writing team) and another woman who was there whose name has slid into the black hole of my faulty memory. Anyway, we had a fun time talking about erotica publishers and Tarot. Stephanie does Tarot reading professionally--I've been reading for myself and friends for about 10 years and still feel like such a beginner, so it was fun talking to her.

Anyway, I went into the book signing and picked up copies of the books and had them signed, talked for a minute to Kayla Perrin--her Getting Even sounds like such a fun book--kind of like one of the Chick-lit/Women's fiction stories about a group of women who get even with the guys who dump them--only it's erotica. I haven't pulled it out of the TBR stack to read yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

Let's see, then I went to the PAN promo workshop about what kinds of promo works and what doesn't. There were three women who do lots of promo and one who does none whatsoever--except for her website and writing back to the fans who write/e-mail her. And it worked for all of them. It was a great workshop about finding what works for you and what you feel comfortable with, and not worrying about anything else.

I like doing talks and workshops. I like doing this blog (although I'm TERRIBLY erratic about it, as some of you may now). I like sending my books (and bookmarks--though I'm almost out) out to various conferences and events to get them into the hands of readers. (I'm trying to do more fantasy conferences this year.) And that's pretty much it. I'm not wild about booksignings, unless I'm with other people--though I do like to go into bookstores and "sign stock." Hmm--that reminds me--I may not have sold many books at the big signing on Wednesday night, but I signed enough bookplate stickers for people who already had my book (and loved it) to almost run out of them. That makes me feel better. Anyway...that was that workshop.

And then it was time to go meet my editor and two other authors--Judy Duarte and Kelsey Roberts (who has another name, and I was told her other name, but darned if I can remember it now!)--for lunch. We walked over to the Ritz for lunch--very fancy place. Very nice lunch. I had shrimp and sausage gumbo (without a single shrimp in it! but it was still very good) and a crab cake sandwich. Yummy. And I enjoyed talking with the other authors, getting to know them, and hearing about the editor's new baby.

We got back to the hotel just a little bit after 2 p.m. I had wanted to go to the Nocturne booksigning and pick up some books to read and get a feel for what the line was going to be, and by the time we all said goodbye and I got around to the Harlequin suite, every single book was gone and the room had cleared out. I signed up to get copies sent to me and chatted with Lisa Childs who I met several years ago, and who I think might be from Texas, and who was, I swear, EVERYWHERE in Atlanta--every time I turned around, I saw her again.

Anyway, I was talking to Lisa and to Joanne/Sapphire (from the Harlequin boards and the fateful taxi trip) and Eileen Dreyer (aka Kathleen Korbel) stood up with two of her books--she'd found them on the floor where they'd apparently been knocked during the stampede. Joanne and I immediately glommed onto them. The lovely Eileen signed them for us--and then a friend of hers came in and she still had my book in her hand when she hugged her friend--and I was incredibly rude and pushy because I was worried about my book getting away--she handed it to me and went back to greeting her friend, and then I worried about being so rude...but I just got out of her way. Still, I love Eileen Dreyer. And I love her books, but that's another story.

Okay, so by this time, it's pushing 3 p.m. I'd missed the Spotlight on TOR--but I got a set of CDs for myself too, so I can put all the workshops and spotlights on my I-Pod when they come--and I'd put some workshops down for the 3:15 time. I went to the "Google This! Tips & Tricks for Writers" workshop, and it had a LOT of great info on how to find stuff on Google. Virginia Kelly is a librarian who does Google workshops for all kinds of groups, so it was a very well done workshop, and the handouts have almost all the stuff she showed us, except she had the screenshots for us to look at.

Then at 4:30, I went to one last workshop. Stephanie Bond talked about building a Brand. (I think the workshop title was "YOU, New and Improved: Building a Brand.") And I think maybe I finally get it. Her brand is sexy romantic suspense, usually humorous. The brand is as much the type of books one writes as it is the advertising you use for it, and it's as important to work on your brand before you are published as after. Which I have never done.

Except--one does tend to write the sort of things one likes. And even though I have--before publication and after--been all over the map, my stories have always been sexy, and they've always had some adventure in them. So I can say my brand is sexy adventure. But I think I'd like to refine that a bit more and say sexy fantasy/paranormal adventure. Now the question becomes--just how sexy do I want to make it? I don't think I'd have any problem upping the heat to erotica/romantica level, and it would still fit in the brand...but... Hmm. Well, I can ship it off to the swamp and see what the alligators make of it...

Okay, so that was my last workshop. My roomies were ordering pizza to eat in the room and be lazy before we got ready for the Rita/GH celebration, so I ran upstairs and arrived just in time to hang out for a bit before I went back down with Karen to pay for the pizza and help carry it back up. While we were chowing down, Wayne Jordan called about bringing his contribution to the Harlequin/Silhouette e-mail loop, so we invited him to the party. Of course, there wasn't much pizza left by this time, but he had a piece and sat down to talk about Barbados (he's a high school teacher there!) and Kimani Press and such. He's publishing romance under his own name. We thought that was very cool. Very nice guy...

And then it was time to go to the Ritas! I looked pretty spiffy in a black sleeveless sweater with pearl and bead trim around the neckline and my black handkerchief-hem skirt. I could "dress down" a bit, because I wasn't up for an award, though I had lots of friends up for the award--Besides Bronwyn of the three finaling books, there was Jodi Thomas in short historical, Stephanie Feagan in Best First Book, Candace Havens in Paranormal, Alesia Holliday in Best Novella--It was very exciting. I sat between Karen and Juliet right behind the "reserved" section and could see --well, everything. It was great. I was so excited when Jodi won and then was inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame for winning her third Rita in the same category. She is the nicest, sweetest person in the whole UNIVERSE, and totally deserved her win, because she writes fabulous books as well.

The party afterward was great--I gobbled down chocolate/orange cake and strawberry trifle and a peach mousse thingie, then wandered around till I found most of my friends and congratulated and hugged them. It was a while before I found Stephanie because she had to go upstairs and call her fella after winning the Best First Book Rita, and I never did find Alesia, but it was still lots of fun, and yeah, I know I need to post the pictures on the website. I got to rub somebody's Rita for good luck, and I have completely forgotten whose it was. Oh well. The mind goes first, you know.

And then it was time to go back up to the room, peel off the glad rags and try to get everything packed in time to head home on Sunday. It was a great week, but definitely time to go home. I had a good trip home--hung out with the North Texas girls (and a few from Houston and/or San Antonio) at the airport, talking about "what was the best moment of the Conference". I ran across Mary Theresa Hussey (the senior editor for Luna) at the Burger King--which had these weird computerized ordering systems--and talked for a few minutes. Then read most of the Korbel Nocturne on the plane, got to ride around to another terminal at DFW to take off for Amarillo (where I finished Korbel's book waiting for flight time). Got into the "big city' by 6 and was home by 7.

And now it's time to start over again. Whee!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Friday, My Big Day

Friday was my Big Day at conference because I did my workshop presentation first thing Friday morning. So I didn't have to worry and obsess about it all day, which was nice, but it made sleeping a touch difficult Thursday night.

Anyway, I got up early and washed my hair, because you know, a good hair day can boost all kinds of confidence, and fortunately, my hair cooperated. I went down for breakfast and ate with several of the Dallas area ladies, including Anita Learned who has a Panhandle link. I managed to go through most of my workshop notes before I went down, but was too...antsy, I get all the way to the end. (I wore gray pinstriped pants, a sleeveless aqua sweater with button & bead trim around the neck and the same black tux-style blazer (hey, it goes with everything I took to wear, doesn't wrinkle in luggage and I can even button it now), along with open-heel loafer-type shoes--my toes didn't get cold wearing them...)

Bron Jameson was already in the room being very professional and going over her intro. I felt very privileged having her moderate my session, being Ms. Three-Time Rita finalist and all. She made one teensy, tinesy bloop in the intro, which I wouldn't even mention, but she'll probably come and make a big comment about it--but I didn't even notice until she said something afterward. There was that platform I had to climb up to get to the mike and the podium, and I climbed up and down Twice without falling, so I was thrilled.

Then I did my Writing Action Scenes workshop. It is about doing those very active scenes, but since pretty much every actual scene is an action scene of some sort, that's where I started. With writing any kind of action. Then I segued into writing the chase/fight/commotion type scenes. I didn't get lost, and I didn't sound like an idiot--that I know of--so I think it went well. I gave away a gift bag with both books--The Compass Rose and The Barbed Rose--in it, and then gave a copy of each book to two different people. I'd have liked to give away more, but they're big books and heavy to carry, both in the suitcase and in the totebag.

After that, I was FREE!

I went to the Breaking Away from the Pack in a Nudist Werewolf World workshop, which was about how to make yourself different when you're writing in a popular sub-genre. I think it would have been good if I had been able to hold still. But I think I was having a reaction or something...couldn't sit still, had to leave. And I don't know what I did after that. I honestly cannot remember if I went to another workshop, or what... Maybe that was when I went to the Goody Room and the Book Fair. I'm pretty sure I didn't go up to the PAN workshops. Darned if I can remember. But at noon-ish, I met up with my agent and we had lunch at the American Grill there at the Marriott.

I was starving for vegetables by this time, so I had the salad, and salmon with baby veggies and a banana (foster) split--banana with a crepe and ice cream. Yummy. And talked with the agent about things I wanted to do. She said probably I need to finish the WWII book in order to sell it, so I'll be working on it between other things. And I just need to get some more proposals in to her. Proposals that work.

After lunch--which ended not long before 2 p.m.--I went to the Harlequin/Silhouette Authors' forum. And had a whole lot of trouble staying awake. It was good information, I wanted to hear it, but I kept falling asleep. So I decided that I might want to take a nap before the party Friday night. But I had things to do first.

We got out of the forum in time for me to slip in late to the Death & Taxes workshop and I got some good information there about taxes and retirement. I need to talk to DH about deducting my home office--the office is strictly reserved for writing, and the IRS has gotten a lot less sniffy about home office deductions, so... They've gotten a lot MORE sniffy about cell phones, though.

I thought about going to a late workshop on Friday, but I was so tired... I was heading up to my room, and one of the others on the elevator was going to the Orange County Chapter suite to see what was cooking there, so I decided to drop in too. And they were interviewing a Red Dress Ink editor for a pod cast. Apparently they interviewed a lot of editors and agents, so y'all might want to check out the OCC website for those podcasts. She had a lot of good info, but I couldn't make myself stay to the end. I was dropping, so I went my two floors back down, dumped my stuff and headed over to the food court to grab some supper. The plan was to eat in the room while reading, and then take a nap, since the party didn't start until 8 p.m. And the plan worked quite well. Got a good nap in. Then I got dressed for the party. (Silver T-shirt, black handkerchief hem chiffon skirt, dark royal blue belly-dancing scarf with silver sequins & bead fringe) It was walking distance, at the Ritz, and I wound up walking over with Bombshell author Cindy Dees and a couple of marketing people from Amazon who told us about their "shorts" program--little short-story tie-ins to our books on their website.

The party was amazing. I met some of the other LUNA authors at RWA--Maria Snyder and Jeri Smith-Ready--chatted with them and with Robin Owens. (Felt a bit like the jolly Green Giant, since Robin doesn't even come up to my shoulder.) Wandered around talking to everybody I know, saw some other people I haven't seen since Reno--Kristi Gold, who knew me back when neither one of us was published, and will be a launch author for Harlequin's new Everlasting line--and Cindy Gerard and--well, lots of other people whose names I can't remember now. Got to chat with Jenny Archer and Jodi Thomas (fellow Panhandle-ites). Danced like a maniac--had to be careful with that scarf--didn't want to brain anyone with all the bling--met new people--tried to sing R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (dang that's high! Sally Ride is more in my range.) -- only had one Bliss cocktail. (I don't drink much. Medication issues aside, I don't have many inhibitions to start with, and the ones I have, I'd just as soon keep...) Then caught a cab back to the hotel with Juliet and Emilie and Michelle and another woman whose name I have of course forgotten...Emilie wanted to walk, but we wouldn't let her. I think Michelle would have tackled her if she'd tried. We hung out in the lobby a while, then went upstairs to collapse.

Harlequin does throw some great parties. (They had a chocolate fountain, but I avoided it. Chocolate fountains and I do not mix. I'll tell the story later, if I haven't already.)

Okay, that's Friday. One presentation, a few workshops, a lot of exhaustion. One more day of craziness yet to come.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Conference Begins

Of course, the Big Book Signing on Wednesday night is really the Kick-off event for RWA National conference, but it doesn't feel begun to me until the first workshops begin. I got up bright and early Thursday so I'd get to the workshop I'd picked out right on time. (I wore my pink & black striped summer sweater with the bow at the neckline and little clear beads with black dress pants, a black tux-style jacket to pull on and off when my temperature control issues flared up, & flat backless sandals--my feet FROZE.)

I chose a workshop on "Presenting with Pizzazz" about how to present yourself at your very best whether giving a speech or workshop at a chapter meeting or conference, or giving a radio/television interview. It was filled with great hints--some of which will do me no good. The speaker--who does this professionally--suggested getting out from behind the podium and moving around a little in a workshop. I might if it were not virtually certain that I would trip over something or fall off of something while attempting this. (The room where I actually did my workshop had a raised platform where the podium and speaker table was set--if I'd tried to move around any, I would definitely have fallen off the platform.)

But there were other hints that have already been a big help, like avoiding dairy before speaking (it clogs the throat), and tipping the glasses slightly forward to stop glare from lights. I'm going to have to figure out how to do notecards instead of big sheets of paper to have my "speech" on, but it was a great workshop.

I went to Haywood Smith's workshop on Reinventing yourself and just loved listening to her talk. I remember laughing a lot. She had some good rules on when to re-evaluate, and lies to watch out for--none of which I can remember right now. The main thing was: This is a business and you have to take control of your career for yourself.

Then I was the moderator for a Query letter/marketing workshop by Lani Diane Rich called FINDING YOUR FUNKY BIRD. You will hear me fumble the workshop intro on the tape, because when I got up to introduce Lani and the workshop, I couldn't remember the workshop's subtitle (A New Approach to Marketing Your Manuscript) and didn't have it written in front of me. So I just intro-ed it as Finding Your Funky Bird. Ah well. I got to do transparencies and play with the overhead projector. It was cool. Lani's main point though was that you need to find the thing that makes your manuscript different from all the rest. The "funky bird" came from her manuscript that had the hero and heroine working together to rescue the heroine's kidnapped victim from crooks that want only a rare funny-smelling parrot as ransom. That was her unique attention-getter.

THEN I hurried upstairs to meet with the eHarlequin hosts. Jayne and the other hosts had invited a bunch of the authors who participate on the boards to go to a lunch at a nice restaurant out in Buckhead. Enough of us to require about 3 minivan cabs. Problem was, our cab driver didn't have a clue where the restaurant was. After driving to the totally wrong location, he had to call the restaurant and ask--the six of us who were in the cab together bonded as we drove all over north Atlanta for, oh, an hour and a half or so. Jennifer LaBrecque lives in Atlanta, and guided our impromptu tour: "This is the millionaire's part of town--in that grocery you'll see all the nannies with their kiddies--and coming up on the left, you'll see the governor's mansion..." Yeah, we saw the Georgia governor's mansion--a BIG square house with 2-story pillars around all 4 sides...

Anyway, we eventually got to the restaurant where the other poor people had waited lunch on us. (Some of them had to get back, and took their meals to go. We are SO, SO sorry!) Oh! And the cab driver wanted Sapphire to PAY HIM!!!!! After he got lost and wandered all over the place, he wanted her to pay not just the regular rate for driving out there, but about twice the fee! I think she finally paid him most of it--but one of our company (Julie Miller, riding shotgun) had memorized his name and cab number, so we called the cab company and complained vociferously. (Okay, Jennifer did. I stink at that sort of thing.) And when I got out of the very back seat of the minivan, I got stuck between the middle seat and the door (hush!) and had a little "cork out of the bottle" action getting out--and have the Biggest, Nastiest, Ugliest bruise on my leg--shaped just like the hardware on the seat.

So, we had a wonderful lunch (I had shrimp and grits--I'm not a big grits lover unless there's plenty of cheese, and these grits were wonderful--which gives you an idea of how much cheese was in them) with fabulous desserts, and by the time we got back to the Marriott downtown, it was 3:30, and I was late for my meeting with the Brainstorming Desireables. (You know who you are.) I know most of the ladies through the online loop, so I really wanted to get to meet the ones I didn't already know. I at least know what Mary Lou and Carol and Franny look like now! Then I had to leave as soon as I slugged down my Coke to go meet Kerrelyn Sparks (of Vamps and the City and How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire fame) to get ready for the Published Authors Special Interest Chapter's Editor of the Year award reception.

For the second year, I headed up the committee to choose PASIC's Editor of the Year. I really enjoy doing this. A lot. Anyway, I met Kerry early so I could sign the certificates for all the nominees and make sure I had the right letters to read for the winners. That's one of the reasons I like doing the Editor of the Year committee--I don't have to work up any speech, just read the letters of nomination. The editors are nominated by their authors, who (duh) are writers and can write the best, loveliest thoughts in a fun and touching way. They do the work for me. :)

Patience Smith is the 2006 PASIC Editor of the Year, and Charlotte Herschner was named Editor of Merit.

Once I handed out the awards, I got to mingle. Lots of editors and agents come to the reception, and it's a casual time to get to meet people. I met Adam Nevill of Virgin Press. Incredibly tall and broad-shouldered, shaved head, soul patch and the yummiest English accent--it was lovely just to stand nearby and bask in the testosterone, but I did manage to open my mouth and speak. Virgin Press has been doing erotica for the past ten years or so, but with the recent acceptability of the genre, it's doing even better and they are looking for new authors and more material. They don't want "porn language", but other than that, pretty much anything goes. They'd love to see paranormal story lines. They do want a story along with the erotica. Cheek is a livelier, younger-in-tone line than Black Lace. Sort of the Sex in the City version of Black Lace. And I got a card and an invite to send something. I'm still thinking. (Because of a workshop at the very last timeslot on the very last day, which I will talk about when I talk about Saturday.)

Let's see--I hung out and chatted with the ladies--Ann Roth, Jo-Ann Power and several others whose names I can't remember now--after the party wound down, talking about the upcoming chapter conference in New York until Alfie Thompson came out to tell us to come get food before it got thrown out, so I collected some more cheese and some quesadillas and carried them up to the room where I basically collapsed. I got out one of the goody-bag books and ate snackies and read until the roomies turned up. Juliet and I also shared with Karen Kelley who writes for Kensington Brava. I don't think I mentioned that before.

And that was my Thursday. I slept pretty good, considering that first thing Friday I was scheduled for my very first workshop given at RWA... but I'll tell you about that tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Of Baseball and Big Fish

Okay, so we're still talking about RWA National. Yeah, I know other people were posting blogs while they were there, but they have laptops. I don't, and probably never will, given that I only need pen and paper most of the time I'm on deadline. (I do eventually have to type it into the computer, but I can be at home with the big desktop then...)

Anyway, I flew out of Amarillo on Tuesday. Nice short flight in a teeninesy little airplane--two seats on one side, only one seat on the other, and if you're any taller than my 5'8", you have to walk down the aisle bent over. In Dallas, I met up with a lot of other writers from the area, plus some from Houston and East Texas, including one of my roommates, Juliet Burns. Our seats were together, and we talked most of the way to Atlanta.

Writers don't talk a whole lot, ordinarily. At least I don't, having only the one child still at home who is generally either at work or in his room playing video games--or when he comes out to talk, he is the one talking. Mom is for listening. Anyway, when we arrived in Atlanta, my throat was already sore from talking.

They put us on the 37th floor. This would not have been so bad, but the Atlanta Marriott Marquis is one of those hotels with an atrium all the way up the middle and glass-backed elevators so you can admire the view. Lovely, unless you're one of those people who aren't fond of heights. Like me and Juliet. Fortunately, our room was right next to the elevator bank so we didn't have to walk along the balcony. I did eventually reach the point where I could walk around to the vending area, but I never could look out the glass on the elevators.

That night, a group of us had arranged to go to the Atlanta Braves baseball game. One of our company was Bronwyn Jameson, the triple-threat Rita finalist from Australia, and she wanted to experience that quintessential American event: baseball. So five of us--Juliet, me, Bron, Emilie Rose and Linda Steinman--rode the train to the Atlanta underground, hustled all the way through the underground to a shuttle bus, rode the bus to the stadium, and watched the ballgame. It was "mullet night" and it took me a while to figure out that all the players didn't really have mullets. They had photoshopped mullets onto the players' pictures for the big screen thing--but they did it very cleverly, matching hair color and curl, so--or maybe I was just oblivious. Probably that. I'm oblivious a lot. The Braves lost to the Marlins, but we had a good time.

The next morning, I had talked everyone into going to the Atlanta aquarium. The fella has been to Atlanta quite a few times, and he said that of all the things to see in Atlanta, the aquarium was the best--and it was pretty spectacular. We added Michelle Celmer and Leslie Marshman (I think--I'm sure of the Leslie, but the last name is iffy) to the aquarium tour group and all hiked off down Baker Street. And wow--

The coral reef with all the bright, bright fishes! And the tunnel beneath the huge whale sharks with their escort of little fish right in front of the sharks' mouth! And the penguins! And the otters! And the sea dragons! And--and--and--it was just totally cool. I got a big kick out of the Asian otters.

One of them was dragging a toy that looked like a bunch of tangled velcro strips as big as it was, and he was all like: NO, you can't play with my toy. I will hide my toy behind this tree so you can't play with it. And the other otter (who had a similar toy with a buoy in the middle) was like: Oh, that's a great idea! I'll hide my toy there too! And the first otter would go: NO! You can't hide your toy with my toy. I will hide MY toy over there! And the second otter was all like: YEAH, that is so totally a better place to hide my toy. Wait for me! And you could almost see the first otter's eyes crossing with rage as he hauled his toy to yet another hiding place. Okay, yeah, I'm a writer. I imagine otter conversations.

We also went to see the little animated 4D movie--I was very impressed because I could actually see the 3D stuff--a lot of times my weird eyes won't let me. And when the fishes splashed in the movie water, the theater would splash water on us. When the movie fishes swam through jelly fish, they dropped gummy worm feeling stuff on us--I kept checking to make sure it wasn't still in my hair, because that's where it hit me, but I think they pulled it back up as quick as it dropped. Anyway, it was a lot of fun. But after all the cool stuff, it was time to walk back to the hotel--and the first block was a hard uphill trudge. I kept up with all the skinny in-shape women, but I thought my heart was going to pound right out of my chest when we reached the stop light.

We had lunch at the food court in the Mall at Peachtree Center. Everybody had something different--well, except for two who had almost matching burritos. And then we headed for the hotel, some to work the registration desk, some to fall apart and rest up before the booksigning. I think that's when I went shopping too. Found some neat abalone earrings at the Museum of Design Arts store...

This is getting to be a really long blog, but I'm doing Tuesday and Wednesday together. Deal with it.

I wore my Loud Shirt with the Multicolored Horses to the booksigning. Usually I sit next to Geralyn Dawson, but she was two spaces away and I was between Sylvia Day and Kimberly Dean, both erotica writers. Kimberly Dean has apparently been writing erotica for about ten years and is one of the Big authors for Black Lace, and now does some things for Ellora's Cave as well. Sylvia Day writes for Kensington Brava and for Ellora's Cave. And there I was between them with my "hard core" Luna books.

I did sell a few books, gave away a few bookmarks, talked to a few people. I also bought a box of my books to ship home. I wanted to buy all that were left over. Instead, I bought all I could carry. One box. I left a teensy bit early to get to the Futuristic, Fantasy & Paranormal Chapter's Gathering for the Prism awards. The Compass Rose was up for one of them. I came in second--but given that this was the only contest I entered with Compass Rose, I was thrilled to have finaled at all.

And then I hauled that box of books back up to the 37th floor. I set them on the floor of the elevator--once I wrestled them up the escalator to the floor that had an elevator on it--and kicked them out of the elevator and the few feet to the door of our room. I just couldn't pick that box up another time.

And that was the end of Wednesday in Atlanta. More tomorrow.