Monthly Archives: July 2010

It’s Nearly Over

Y’all know I’m not a Saturday blogger. Generally, I like to keep my blogging like I would a regular job Monday through Friday with weekends off. Well, I couldn’t do that this week because it is Nationals and there are things I want to share (and I’m afraid I’ll forget by the time Monday rolls around).

Today marked the start of the workshop frenzy. I had a list of four workshops I wanted to attend and I only made 2. It isn’t my fault. It’s Avon’s and Berkley’s and Pocket Books’ fault. Yes, you heard me. It’s their fault. They had book signings today. Hello? Free books. I didn’t go overboard because I do know I need to fly home and also because for the most part, I already had the latest books of the authors I’d gone to see.

At Avon, I finally got to hook up with Teresa Medeiros. She recognized my name. Mostly because I’d tweeted about gawking at her and she told me I should’ve stopped by. She hugged me and let me take a picture with her. Sweet, sweet lady.

Then it was time for my workshop, then lunch. I kind of wandered around after lunch trying to decide if I was going to my workshop or the book signings. That was when I saw the tweet from Kresley Cole saying she was going to be at the signing. You know I was so there. I finally got to meet my role model. She was…fabulous. I took a picture with her, chatted about the upcoming books in her IAD series and, along with 2 other ladies, tried to wiggle some secrets out of her. She’s…just so awesome. *sigh*

So then because my fangirldom wasn’t quite over with. I went to Berkley’s book signing and that was when I saw my other hero: Nalini Singh. I vaulted…yes, I squealed and vaulted across the room…not quite as graceful as a gazelle.  I might’ve nearly shoved some people over the other author tables to get to her line, but I handled it like a pro when I finally got to her. I got yet another picture and got her latest release (I RULE…or rather, she rules).

Last night was also the FF&P party, The Gathering. The theme was Steampunk and I got some great pictures. The food and company was excellent and I (yes, I) was sitting at the table with Cynthia Eden who won two (count them, TWO) PRISM Awards. It was lovely and I would have enjoyed it more if my feet hadn’t swollen up like a couple of leeches. On the way back to our hotel, I was leading the charge through the revolving doors and…yup, I tried to walk through the glass. Eh. Not my coolest moment.

All in all, it was a great, great day. I got to meet the 4 authors I’ve been wanting to meet for years, got pictures with all of them (which I will post when I get back to my USB cable), and I met some new friends. Tonight is the RITA Awards and Golden Heart Awards banquet. I’m so excited to see who wins and sad because it’s the last night for talking with everyone.

I’m leaving first thing in the morning tomorrow, so I probably won’t blog about the banquet until Monday, but I promise I will. I’ve enjoyed sharing my first Nationals adventures with you and all I can really say is…I’m New York bound!

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Fantasy Man Friday

It’s finally here…the Nationals edition of Fantasy Man Friday. I know you’ve all been waiting for it, holding your breath in anticipation of what kind of man I’ll pull out of the interwebz.

But first…Day 3 impression: I had so much fun today! I’ve said before how antisocial I am, but in the last 3 days I’ve met so many people and enjoyed every minute of it. There’s no feeling of being back in high school (thank God because I had big hair in high school until Grunge. It isn’t even like the first day of work. I am here to make connections and though it is a struggle not to make an ass of myself, I think I’m doing okay. I finally met up with Allison Pang and Jeffe Kennedy and they were just as funny as I thought they’d be. We didn’t get to chat long, but I’m looking forward to The Gathering to talk their ears off! (So watch out, y’all.)

The Keynote Luncheon…O.M.G. Nora Roberts is the best. I’ll admit it: I haven’t read a Nora Roberts book since her Donovan witch series back in the…90’s? But I respect her. Hell, you have to respect a woman who has churned out 150 books and still manages to look like she can fit into Juniors clothes. Where’s the depressed writer who eats nothing but chocolate? That’s what I want to know.

Then it was time for the PRO Retreat. Donald Maass had me cracking up laughing and feeling the urge to get back to my WIPs. I felt…fired up. It was great. I had to duck out early because I wanted to catch a workshop, but I don’t regret it. The workshop was informative and fun.

After that it was a race to catch up with Jillian Chantal and Leah Fields at Shula’s. Um, it was good food. It really was. My steak was awesome and yes, this little Coonass felt a little intimidated by Blue Eyes playing in the background and the darkness. The waiter had to use a flashlight for us to see if our steaks were done correctly.

I’ve met so many wonderful people, published and pre-published and I’m having a ball. It’s only Friday and I feel as though I’ve known some of these people forever. The super secret smoker’s club shows the same faces every time I go out there and when we see each other in passing in the hotel we give each other a sage nod. You know, the one that says: I’ll be out in a bit.

But it’s Friday which means workshops will kick into high gear and I may not get to visit with everyone as much as I’d like. Or I’ll miss the really interesting panels, like the one Sayde Grace went to tonight through The Passionate Ink chapter. She tweeted something about getting a BDSM demonstration and I was actually jealous. *sniff* No one offers to let me tie them up…or to watch them being tied up.

So to correct that oversight, I found the perfect Fantasy Man. I like to think the picture symbolizes how busy we’ll all be over the next two days, but truthfully? I just like the idea of it:

Grrrr!!! I really don’t have the words to express how much I like this Fantasy Man. It looks like an uncomfortable position to be in…but if he hadn’t been such a naughty boy he wouldn’t be in it!

So, I hope your Friday isn’t as frantic as ours will be, but I know if you aren’t at Nationals you’re wishing you were and I’m wishing you were as well.  Happy Weekend!

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This Little Piggy Begged for Mercy

Day 2 of RWA Nationals and my feet are ready to go on strike.

It started out well enough. I woke up early yesterday so I could have my normal two hour warm up before I started getting ready to face the day. I made it to and through registration with little or no fanfare. Then I had 4 hours to spare until it was my turn to volunteer to help set up for the Literacy Autographing.

I kind of wandered around…lonely as a cloud. Then people started noticing the little orange ribbon on my badge stating that I’m a newbie. I had so many new friends I didn’t know what to do with myself! Y’all…I sort of had lunch with Maggie Shayne! Well, she had lunch. I kind of stood at the counter waiting for my order to be ready. She and her friends were nice enough to let me jabber at them while they ate.

My feet started hating me around noon, but by the time the book signing was about to start, they were ready to remove themselves from my legs. I forced myself back upstairs to take a bath because there was NO way I was going to try to see my favorite authors smelling like a man. I did a walk-by gawking at Christina Dodd and Teresa Medeiros (who are both beautiful with great hair in person…damn them).

I finally got to meet up with Sayde Grace, and Jillian Chantal and then it was on to the signing. Let me just say…well, it was awesome. I showed great restraint because I only walked out of there with one book. Yes, one. Mostly because there were no more by the time I found my target authors. But that’s okay. I took a picture with Christina Dodd…Not posting it just yet since I don’t have my cables. But she looks fabulous and I look like I’m about to fall on her.

While walking around though, I managed to make contact with the authors I’ve enjoyed with upcoming releases like Christine Warren, Sophie Jordan, Sharon Page, and I got a great big ole hug from Michelle Marcos. *sniff* I felt so special. Then my feet had to hate me again.

It was…wonderful. Really. If you ever get the chance to go to one of these book signings (whether you’re an author or a reader) you HAVE to go. It was so chaotic and crazy, but it was great to see so many avid readers. It made me feel good to be both a reader and a writer.

So the morning’s task? See if my feet will work. My memory foam slippers are wonderful, but they might not be enough to make my poor toes look…well, more like toes and less like Vienna Sausages.

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First Impressions

Well, here’s my first blog post from Nationals.

The flight wasn’t bad. The waiting was horrific. Not going to go into that because it’ll just bring me back to my unhappy place. *sigh* Okay, so landed in Orlando at…6:30ish. I didn’t get to the hotel until an hour later. But that wasn’t the notable part. Oh no.

I met some lovely RWA ladies in the shuttle lobby. I got my ticket, sat down and was chatting with them about the conference when my cell phone rang. It was the airline asking me if I had my bags.

Me: Um, yes, I have my bags. Thinking wow, this is great service!

Them: No ma’am, you have someone else’s bag.

I look at the bright green sparkly ribbon tied around the handles.

Me: Um, these are my bags.

Them: No, ma’am, I’m looking at your luggage tag “Danica Ah-vet”, correct?

Me <thinking>: OH CRAP

So yeah, I made off with someone else’s bag and got called on it in front of Leanne Banks. Errrr, yes I am that person who takes your luggage thinking it’s hers. But it’s your fault for copying me. I spent hours trying to think of a way to tag my luggage to make it easily identifiable and you had to copycat me? Meh.

Anyway, we get to the hotel, check-in took longer than I thought it would and then I found out they were out of king-size beds. I really wanted a king-size bed so I could loll like a pampered princess. I would’ve taken the double, but apparently the clerk either really liked my hair and was feeling helpful, or she was being evil because I got a room like a studio apartment. I’m sure there’s a down side…I’ll find it. Oh and on top of that…I got another rejection, this time from an editor. It was waiting for me when I got off the plane. Meh

So that was day…point 5 of my first Nationals experience. The flight was insane (although I did have a rousing Kindle discussion with my seat mates), I embarrassed myself, nearly knocked down a sweet little old man with my luggage, but at least my toilet flushes, the shower works wonderfully, the a/c is brutally cold (this is a good thing), and I have a coffee pot. I can survive anything.

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Leaving On A Jet Plane

Yay! My flight leaves at 4 (ish) this afternoon and I can hardly wait.

As if it wasn’t exciting enough to know that I would be rubbing elbows with famous writers, some of the publishing powerhouses, and great friends, I heard we get books too! Can we say, “Heaven…I’m in Heaven…” So excited!

*deep breath* I’ve had to do the checklist several times. I started packing on Sunday and didn’t sleep Sunday night because I was trying to make sure I remembered everything I needed to put on the checklist. Camera? Check. Charged camera battery? Check. Mini? Check. Kindle? Check. Oh and I need clothes too. And my clothes all fit into one suitcase. That was scary. I finally decided I was obviously forgetting something important (like underwear or something) so I packed another suitcase just in case.

On the other hand, I’m also sad. I can’t pack my little Mia and Cookie with me (not only would they tip my suitcase weight over to close to 100lbs, but they would drive me nuts). I hope I can sleep without them. I mean, I can’t sleep if I don’t have a fat little dog pinning my covers in place and making it impossible for me to move. How can I sleep without having my ribs crushed by the fat cat who insists on walking across them to get from one side of the bed to the other? How will I manage?

I’m going to sleep like a baby. It’ll probably be the best sleep I have in years! But I will miss them. *sniff*

Well there you have it. I’m leaving…on a jet plane…*sings*

I’ll be blogging from Nationals giving everyone my impressions of the event and the people I’ve met. I’ll also be Tweeting (like any of us are going to ignore our Twitter accounts for a whole day), so follow along!

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The Long and Winding Road

This weekend was spent in preparation for Nationals. My pedicure appointment wasn’t until 8:30 and I found myself driving around my hometown to kill some time (I hate being late for anything so I always end up with time to spare).

My tour around town brought me to a road I haven’t traveled in a while. St. Louis Canal Road isn’t in the most scenic part of the parish. In fact, it’s right next to the sewage treatment plant, but it’s one of my favorite roads in town.

Weird? Yeah, but there is a reason (there’s always a reason). For the longest time, St. Louis had the biggest dips of any road I’d ever been on. If you didn’t drive the exact speed limit, you were airborne for a bit. When I was a kid, the fun was to hold your tongue between your teeth when taking the dips. Stupid? Hell yeah! But it was fun!

When I was a teenager and driving myself, it was a challenge I couldn’t resist. I’d drive faster to see how much air I could get. That sensation of going up and coming down with a jolt was an adrenaline rush I couldn’t ignore. I wasn’t the only one who did this, by the way. It was sort of a rite of passage for all teenagers (and grown men who felt the need to strut their stuff).

But this time when I drove the road, I was sad to see that the Parish had finally smoothed out the dips. Oh, they’re there, but less pronounced. On the other hand, my 33-year-old mind was thinking it was for the best. My nephews drive and I wouldn’t want them to hurt themselves on the dips I took as a teenager.

The road made me think about writing. It changed just as my perspective of it changed, just like my thoughts about writing have changed since I became more focused on becoming an author. I was excited, thinking everyone would be clamoring for my first manuscript. Why wouldn’t they? It was awesome! Then the rejections started coming in.

I was a little more wary the second time around, but no less excited. The second manuscript was the best ever! My writing had improved so much, it was bound to attract attention. And it did. Then I got The Call, only to find out that The Call wasn’t solid. My manuscript is still out there in Editor Land awaiting judgment, but the chances of it being picked up are low.

I’m on my way to Nationals with no manuscript to pitch, but I’m not worried about it. In fact, I’m relieved. The dips and bumps of a conference have been smoothed out for me without any effort on my part. I can relax and enjoy myself rather than worry about pitching to every person I see how resembles someone in the publishing world. Yes, I do have another manuscript, but I’ve decided not to pursue publication for it. It was something that needed to be written, but I don’t feel the need to have others read it now.

Instead, I’m going to concentrate on meeting new people, learning as much as I can, and working on the WIPs I started last month. They’re both new roads for me to travel down, one something I’d never considered writing before and the other a story to appease my humorous bent. I’m happy in spite of the fumbled call.

So for my friends planning to pitch this week, come find me if you’re feeling nervous and need to talk. If you need to practice your pitch, I’m more than happy to listen and offer tissue if you have a nervous breakdown. We’re on this road together though the dips and bumps on our roads are in different places.

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Fantasy Man Friday

Well it’s the last Friday before Nationals. I’m psyched. And worried because I’m starting to wonder if the dress I planned to wear for the banquet will come in time and if it’ll even fit. May have to dress shop this weekend *shudders*

So I don’t have much to report. I started working on a futuristic romance this week and it is going very well. It’s taken me by surprise though since I normally have the idea that there will be one hero and one heroine. The story, however, has evolved beyond that. Yes, there are two heroes and one heroine. And if that wasn’t enough, the other story I’m working on has taken the same path! Kind of makes me wonder what’s going on in my subconscious, but oh well. Two is better than none! Bwahah

I overslept this morning so I feel a little rattled. I’m a person who loves routine (especially on weekdays). I have to get up at the same time so I can have enough time to savor my coffee and get a few chapters read. If that doesn’t happen, I’m frazzled the rest of the day. I compromised this morning though: I didn’t fix my hair. Yup, no in-styler burns for me this morning! I’m all natural.

Now for the reason we’re all here. It’s Fantasy Man Friday. The lovely Daisy Harris was having trouble this finding hunky men for her website and complimented me on the…quality I’ve managed to procure for our favorite day of the week. Of course this meant I had to go and find someone…spectacular. Here you go:

 

Ahem…so what do you think?? I uh…wow. I mean…I’ve stunned myself. I do so admire a man who takes such care of his balls…er, I mean ball. I know he’s a soccer player…I can’t remember which team he plays for, but really who cares? Because if soccer was played like this, I’d definitely be a fan!!

Happy Friday all! Have a safe weekend and…hit the soccer fields if you’re looking for some eye candy. That’s what I plan to do!

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Laughing in the Face of Life

Yesterday, the goddesses over at The Naked Hero gave us an interesting task for Writer’s Workshop Wednesday. The task was to sum up your life in six words. My contribution was “Laughing for the hell of it.”

See, my mom likes to say she has a sick sense of humor which she does. Fall down the stairs of the house? You’re so getting laughed at if there’s no visible blood. Bang your head on your dresser and knock yourself out? That’s hilarious! It isn’t that she doesn’t care, it’s her way of coping with stress. I’ve seen her hurt herself and laugh hysterically. Her way of explaining away this strangeness is to say, “It’s better to laugh than cry.”

In this crazy family I love, we laugh at everything, especially each other. When we get together, we talk about all the embarrassing, hysterical things we’ve said or done since the last time we saw each other. This tendency to laugh doesn’t end at solemn events either. It seems wrong to look at it from the outside, but funerals are times when we laugh the most. Not because we don’t mourn, but because we’re celebrating the life of the one we’ve lost.

When my stepdad died, I think I spent maybe a total of two hours in the viewing room with him and the rest of the attendees. I went outside to be with my uncles and cousins. We talked about the things he used to do that drove us crazy, or the times he made us think we really were crazy. It was soothing and familiar and it helped me come to grips with my loss.

Laughing is also a way for me to express nervousness. As a kid, I’m sure I drove all of my teachers insane because when they’d show me how to do something, I’d giggle. That hasn’t changed much really.

The first time I flew (ever), I was on a flight with an entire semi-pro baseball team. Don’t ask me who they were, I’m not a baseball fan. I will say I don’t think I’d ever been exposed to so much testosterone in such a small space before. I was nervous from that alone, but the minute we started taking off, I could feel the giddy laughter bubbling in my throat. I was twenty-four years old surrounded by very attractive men and I was about to start laughing like a loon. I had to control it. I fought it, but it was so exciting. The feel of the plane’s momentum pressing me back into my seat, the knowledge that I was going to be airborne for the first time in my life. I managed to tamp down the laughter, but only barely.

*slumps* Just reliving it makes me want to laugh.

So there you have it. Laughing for the sake of laughing is bred into my bones. With the Nationals Conference just around the corner, I have to keep reminding myself that some people might be insulted if I laugh for no reason. Yet I find myself wanting to giggle with excitement. I’m going to Florida – Walt Disney World! – for the first time ever! Yeah, okay I’m giggling. I’m going to be surrounded by people I’ve met over the course of a year and only spoke to online. There goes another giggle. I’m going to have fun and enjoy every second of it!

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I’m No Waterbaby

I was thinking about the upcoming conference being held at the Swan and Dolphin Resort and realized there will be many pools there. All I can say is…oy vey.

It isn’t that I hate the water. I know it has many redeeming properties…you know, cause the human body is about 60% water and the earth is two-thirds water. But still…I just can’t like it.

Oh sure, I started out as a waterbaby, swimming every chance I got. Summers at Grand Isle (now the site of oil storage) were fantastic. We’d race out to the Gulf, swim (I had an adorable pink ruffled bikini), play in the sand and all that rot. Then one summer when I was 6, I saw the most horrendous thing. It was Labor Day weekend. The female crabs were coming in to lay eggs, but I didn’t think anything of it. I was young and having fun. Then, one of my older cousins lifted his foot out of the water with a giant crab hanging from his big toe. I’m telling you, this girl ran on water! I climbed up my mom’s heavily pregnant body (she was about 7 months along with my brother), plopped my ass on her belly and wrapped myself around her like a boa constrictor. I wasn’t going back in that water.

It didn’t get better from then on. I’d finally seen Jaws, had a scary experience in the Gulf, so now beaches were out with me. Pools were fine though. Until my mom and aunt decided to put me in swimming lessons. The last day of lessons was the big test. We had to jump off the diving board and swim to the shallow end of the pool. Easy, right? No. I wasn’t about to jump off of that wobbly thing! So I had a plan: I was going to jump off of the side of the pool, make a right hand turn and swim to the shallow end. It started off well…until I ran into the opposite wall of the pool. Yeah, don’t remember much about that day except waking up in the shallow water. I hadn’t gotten there on my own either.

So now pools were out, but because I was  young and stupid, I still tried. Swimming with my cousins at a hotel pool when I was 20, I became the ladder my panicking cousin used to get to the top of the water. Guess where I was? You got it: staring up at the surface thinking “I am going to die at the bottom of a Holiday Inn pool.” Luckily my brother saved me, but ever since then, I just can’t…relax in the water.

I can swim if I need to. I float really, really well. Don’t ask me to dive because my butt (my built-in floatation device) pops up to the surface almost immediately. I have to struggle to dive and it isn’t worth it. I’m okay with water, I just have a healthy respect for it. Besides the fact that I wouldn’t be caught dead in a bathing suit (the days of the little pink ruffled bikini were over before I developed breasts), I just don’t trust others around me.

Yes, you know…”others”. My best friend’s family is filled with seals. They love the water. They horseplay in the water and I’ve been the victim of several dunkings (in the shallow end of the pool) throughout the years. But I still can’t manage to trust everyone else around me. What if that person doesn’t know how to swim and grabs me to save themselves? I don’t want to drown in the Happiest Place on Earth! So no, I won’t be going in the water. Oh sure, I’ll sit by the pool if I’m meeting with anyone, have a few drinks, relax…but the only thing going in the water would be my feet.

How about you? Are you a waterbaby?

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Pre-National Nerves

Well, a week from today I’ll be heading to Orlando for my very first Nationals Conference. I’m feeling equal parts excitement and trepidation.

Excitement because I can’t wait to take some of these workshops. I suppose being in college as long as I was, I have no problem sitting for long periods of time absorbing information. As long as it’s something I want to absorb, that is. Put numbers on a board or start talking about adding and I’m going to zone out. Yeah, pretty sure that won’t be a problem at Nationals, but who knows?

I’m also excited because I’ll be surrounded by my kind of people: writers, more specifically, romance writers. It’ll be fun to listen to what kind of conversations go on. I missed out on the chance to get an appointment with agents and editors, and I had thought about doing a little friendly stalking, but I’ve decided not to. Not only do I not have new material ready for pitching, but I’m kind of at the point where I realize my Veil series is probably a dead horse. And that’s okay. I think I’ll be taking some elements from it and working on another idea. Besides that though, not pitching to agents and editors means I don’t have to be nervous and go through the I’m-gonna-be-sick-please-don’t-let-me-puke-on-the-nice-editor/agent pre-pitch jitters. This is a good thing.

Now on to the trepidation I feel. I’m a shy person. Are you shocked? You have to be considering how much bull I talk here, but I’m…antisocial. Remember the Grumpy McGrumperton post? Well, that sort of extends to things beyond the phone. It isn’t that I don’t like visiting with people, but I never know what to say. That’s when I revert to a defensive position: sarcastically witty (if I do say so myself). I realized this when I had to take two consultants on a tour of our facilities last week. I made little remarks the entire day and they chuckled, but I think they were wondering what the hell was wrong with me.

I’m hoping this won’t be a problem because I imagine a lot of writers are like that. I hope? I was talking to my BFF yesterday and said I sure hope people talk to me. I’m going alone. I don’t know anyone from personal meetings, everything’s been on-line (and I’m not saying this to make people feel sorry for me, it’s just a fact). So she said OMG, that would suck if you didn’t have anyone to talk to! Better bring your computer. Which I am anyway because I have to be able to update for my peeps!

It’s scary, almost like finals for school (which I still have nightmares about). You know, the dream where you have a final for a class you’ve never been to and aren’t even sure where it’s located and your entire life hinges on passing? You don’t have that dream? Oh. Must just be me. Anyway, that’s how nervous I am, but I’m slowly growing comfortable with the idea. I just keep remembering that the people I’ve met through RWA, FF&P, and various other groups are…well, people too. They might be just as nervous as me! In which case, we’ll all clump together like sheep and baa once in a while.

How about you? If you’re going to Nationals, are you nervous? Do you want to be my friend? Check yes or no…Bwahahaha. Sorry. Ahem. It’ll be cool.

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