I didn't post here that I'd be at the big Romance Writers of America convention this last week because I wasn't going to be an official participant. They wanted 3-4 hundred per ticket (ok, that includes the meals, but sheesh!); I have a new couch and chair to pay for, so my plan was to just hang in the bar and visit with friends.
As for parties, I was either invited by the publishers or taken as a guest of an attendee. The rest of the time I just chilled where it wasn't too crowded, thankful that I didn't have to look at a clock for most of the day.
st_jb and I have known each other since the Star Trek club at UTA back in the day, but we don't get much chance to just visit, so this would be fun.
She met me at the train station next to Reunion Tower and guided me into the Hyatt. I took the train in rather than drive. I balanced gas prices, valet parking, trying to figure out Dallas streets against a train populated by screaming crib lizards and their deaf parents--the jury is still out. Maybe if I got more sleep the noisy little diapered psychopaths wouldn't bother me so much, but they do. I'm naming a character in a future book "Dillon" so I can legally kill him off in a messy, painful, and disgusting manner, since his parents are too chicken to do so.
st_jb and I hung around, had lunch, hit the Border's room, and talked-talked-talked. Not much different from UTA, but we had more spendin' money. I knew there were percs about being a grown-up!
We did some lobby loafing, too, looking for familiar faces, but since we're from the S.F. genre and this was a romance thing...you do the math.
We did get to meet at least one of the Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels, who have a very entertaining reviewing blog about romance books. I'm a fan and hope you'll be one, as well. Check 'em out!
Publishing parties. Yeah...we went to publishing parties.
The first was the Berkley. We all have done books for them, so without badges (there were no door guards anyway) we waltzed into a big hushed room full of folk in really snazzy clothes. They had a grand piano at the far end, and soothing music filled the sweetly cool air. The bar was free but I stuck to ice water and built up some strength at their buffet. (Jumbo shrimp & fancy cheeses, yum.)
New shoes? You siddown. A lot. Julie & I chatted muchly with a nice lady recruiting people to join RWA. Julie and I have some solid publishing credits, but are not known in the romance world. She got one of my shiny promo cards for my books, we talked about scam agents, then Lucienne rolled us outside and hired a limo to take us to the St. Martin's party in Dallas's West End.
It was within walking distance. Barely. But new shoes. Others were in heels. Oh, yeah, baby, it's limo time. BTW--THANK YOU, LUCIENNE!
I'd not been in one in a few years, and the damned things are SMALLER now. I cracked my head climbing in, crawled into a seat, and worried a bit about the lady behind me. The instant the vehicle moved she yelped, "I FEEL SICK!"
Not something you wanna hear when you're in the line of fire. The driver didn't look too happy, either. I looked for something bag shaped for her to hurl into, but not a trash can in sight. Honestly, HOW can you run a limo without a trash can??
She subsided, explained it was a New York panic attack, leaving me to wonder what other quaint little customs are to be found in that picturesque village.
I crawled out of the limo--I SWEAR it was SHRINKING on the drive over--into the middle of a street in front of a drug store with the rest of our group. A few of us determined that the middle of a street was no place to stand while figuring out where to walk next, however well dressed one is.
At least we were dressed. On the short walk to the party I saw a perfectly good NEW pair of white Hanes for Women panties, extra large, lying on the sidewalk. I pointed it out to my companions with the observation "There's a story in those panties" but no one wanted to know what it might be.
By the time we got to the restaurant I was recovered from my beer, but managed to do an impromptu acrobatic show once inside. New shoes, wood floor, something slick down there, and I somehow ended up down and extended on one knee like a bowler who can't get up after throwing the ball down the lane. In fact that was my main thought as my inner thighs were being stretched farther than gawd intended, "How the hell am I gonna get UP again???"
Then I look up into the highly concerned face of one of the guys working at the place. "Are you all right, Senorita?"
He called me Senorita! Oh, baby, am I EVER all right!
He and a few other cuties helped me off that knee, and I took little baby steps to the back room with the booze and cheese snacks. I usually stride about with much confidence, but in walking shoes with lots of traction. Note to self: no barging around anywhere without safe footwear.
I did the Circulation Thing, not my legs, but the crowd. I got to meet my co-editor for My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon, Rose Hilliard. Meet, not talk, it was just too noisy. We can talk on the phone while she's in New York and I'm sacked out on the couch in my...uh...TMI, nevermind.
Then I got introduced to the super head honcho of St. Martins, and he's like this totally cool pro, but it was still so noisy I didn't get a name, doubted he got mine or Julie's, but hey, body language counts. He was a real nice dude, and I can look his name up on the Internet later. We thanked him for the invite, and I know he heard that much.
Again, just a soft drink at the bar. You gotta pace yourself at these party crawl things.
We decided to walk to the big Harlequin party, supposedly only 4 blocks away. We didn't make it. CAB!!!
Once at the hotel, even more walking to find the party room, and oh, baby...WHAT a party.
Harlequin pulled out the stops. On either side of the entry they had these cool pedestal things standing almost to the ceiling with lights and fire effects at the top--think fertility temple decor that a fire marshall would approve. I'm positive they borrowed it from a Goa'uld Mother Ship.
Inside--a bajillion people all dressed nice and smelling good. No tables left, so we grabbed a standing table to park our bags and footware.
Along the length of one wall was the chocolate buffet.
HOLY MOTHER OF COO-COO FOR COCOA PUFFS!
There is a heaven, and it is the Harlequin Publishing Party chocolate buffet. Tables and tables of every kind of chocolate delight you've only ever seen on WonkaVision. There was fresh sliced fruit, but you could fix that by dipping it into the chocolate fondue fountain.
I loaded a plate with the kind of gourmet stuff I'd seen in movies and zoomed back to the table for a private feast. The table was now loaded with purses, and its base had more cast off shoes than the Beverly Hills Good Will store.
There was a thankfully short awards presentation to H. writers who had written 25-50-75-100 and more novels for the company.
YIKES. That's a lot of words. Some may make fun of Harlequin, but you gotta respect that much sheer typing of wordage. One of the 25-novel recipients was at our table and we HAD to see her pin. It was a gorgeous little Harlequin logo in silver with a ruby at the bottom, and day-um I WANTED one!
Good DJ. Very perceptive. The play list was a women's empowerment jaunt starting off with "We Are Family" which is hell to listen to, but great as a dance tune. It worked fine in "The Birdcage," so I got on the floor and boogied with the rest of my sis-tahs.
"It's Raining Men" was next.
I think there were five males at this whole thing, but who cares I was dancing and it felt good to shake things up. I was also thinking of "It's Raining 300 Men" (the full song; the shorter, funnier version)" at the time, and unfortunately made the "HOO!" sound, much to the astonishment of those who have not seen the video.
(Let me add that that damn song has lodged in my head and won't leave. It's been several days now and I suspect nargles rather than wrackspurts are beaming it into my brain. Hope I've enough tin foil in the cupboard to make a hat.)
One of the decorative males was this really cute dude in full kit kilt--the real deal. No faux kiltage here. Check him out! (I've since learned his moniker is "Christopher Robin. Woot! Thank you, AWriterAfoot, for sharing!)
Did I say he was CUTE? He got cuter as the evening passed, lemme tell ya. And he could dance. Straight guys can't dance unless they're from the United Kingdom. Tattoo that where you can see it, it's true. I never heard him speak, but he just had that UK look to him, sort of a shy David Tennant crossed with Tony Blair with just a hint of Orlando Bloom 'round the back.
And he just kept getting more and more cute as the evening went on, but I behaved myself and tried not to stare at the way his kilt did fun swirly things around his backside while he danced.
Um, more woman-empowering music happened, and I had to breathe again and get a drink. Ice water, I'm not that much of a fool, and the bartender was grateful for the change of pace.
Yow. Breath back, more music and Pat goes wild, or as much as she can these nights.
To the cute guy in the kilt: I SWEAR on all the books I've written that I did NOT intentionally brush your backside with my hand. It truly was an accident. Had I really tried to grope you you would have jumped a lot farther than that.
By the way, dude, nice arse.
As the evening progressed he began shedding clothes. First that nifty military-style jacket (wool, can you blame him?) then his tie vanished, then his shirt buttons were gradually getting undone. Sadly, I never made it to the end of the evening to find out if he was going regimental or not.
Julie, Rachel, & I had to leave; we left Lucienne there to carry the flag. I know I said bye to Julie at some point, bought more water in the thankfully still open Hyatt coffee shop, and climbed into Rachel's car. (THANK YOU, RACHEL! Next thing I know Rachel is dropping me off in the mugging section of the commuter rail parking lot in Fort Worth. We both got out alive, though I may have passed on sometime during the night. When I woke up the next morning I felt like death warmed over.
Ahh, Saturday morning, the last day of the RWA event....
Body parts I'd forgotten I had hurt like hell, and though a shower and coffee helped I was pretty rocky. I made it for the train commute to Dallas barely in time.
In my fucking NEW SHOES that had SHRUNK in the night.
I was re-reading Jim Butcher's Summer Knight to distract me from the train full of kids, but it was hard going. Unless their parents are around I don't do kids. I'll protect them from big dogs, perverts, and wandering into traffic, but I don't like the little buggers. They smell funny, a combo of bubble-gum, barf, and poo. I don't know how others can stand it.
The grilled salmon at the Hyatt perked me up, though. Rachel and Mr. Cat were there, so I kept him company in the coffee shop while Rach was off doing lunch with publishing types. Then Lucienne turned up with another of the writers in her stable. Rach & Mr. Cat left, Lucienne had to go, but me & the other writer had stuff to gab about. She was from the UK and we shared views on a lot of stuff. I'd impressed her with my Barrett series by mentioning all the characters were loyalists during the revolution. She thought that was a hoot.
She had to split so I went up to the bar (feet really hurting now) and met up with Cathy Clamp, so we had a good ol' gab-fest. We hit the Borders room and stuffed various paranormals with our own bookmarks to spread the word.
Back in the lounge area she introduced me to one of the big time editors at Tor.
Ya wanna know what writers and big time editors REALLY talk about at these things?
Lots of stuff. But this conversation was on tongue piercings. We decided it was gross and bad for one's dental surfaces. I pointed out it's supposed to be a sexy thing for one's bed partner, but what's the point when you're not dating anyone. No dude was worth that much squick. (See my previous posting, "Star Whores" concerning the wearing of adult diapers while on a road trip to sort credentials with one's romantic rival at NASA.)
So they had a meeting elsewhere, and Lucienne called me over to her table to sit for a bit. I like sitting a LOT now. Then she split and Cathy was back and we had a nice dinner and talked shop. I like talking shop. That's my best topic. I talk too much shop. Maybe I should talk nail polish colors or celebrity gossip or crap like that, but instead I'm all about writing. She told me about her book, I told her about mine, and we killed off some food at the Hyatt buffet. Life is good.
It was time for my train, though, and I HAD to leave (sorry, Cathy!!! I really had to fly out of there) or wait another hour and my feet were in charge now.
Nothing goes right when your feet are uptight. --Kevin (Uncle S.I.K.O.) Topham
Tattoo that next to the other comment about UK dudes knowing how to dance.
I made it to the train just in time, found a seat by myself on the bottom tier, and thought it would spare me from sharing company with noise-making mini-psychos. I was facing forward, everyone behind me.
Then the head honcho of all noise-making-mini-psychos came aboard.
His mother--my gawd, she passed on her moron genes to a new generation. She actually encouraged the little puke machine to act up. When he was quiet again she'd coax him into another screaming fit. These sounds were not the sweet little gurgles and happy kiddie laughter--this stuff could sonically slice through titanium and not break a sweat. I'm wondering how the train was keeping its rivets on as the fucking gremlin was shrieking in time to the rail clicks.
AND THE OTHER MOTHERS THOUGHT IT WAS CUTE!
Even Jim Butcher's excellent wordage could not protect me from that insanity. I crept up to one of the upper tiers, politely asked a young man if I might sit across from him and sank down. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was sneaking up on me and I had to get clear of anything under 4.5 feet tall with a gaping mouth or I'd go postal on its diapered ass.
About an hour later I was home, my sweet, QUIET little dogs greeting me with much joy. I grabbed water, peeled out of my clothes, and fell into bed. After an hour of mind-numbing TV I was able to notice the bleeding damage to my feet the killer-pretty torture instruments AKA my NEW SHOES had inflicted.
Not pretty, and no you don't get details. I have respect for other people's squick levels.
Today--well...I'm meeting up with Rachel, Mr. Cat and other friends to see Harry Potter do his thing. Possibly there will be children present; we shall see.
PRAY FOR ME!