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It’s never too early to plan ahead

I have never been the sort of person who becomes ‘fanlike” in the presence of a famous person.  In my youth, I knew quite a few rock stars, not in the biblical sense, and found them to be very ordinary and often annoying and not worth bothering over.  When I lived in LA and met a few movie stars, I felt the exact same way.

Ava and the incomparable Sarah MacLean

Ava and the incomparable Sarah MacLean

Imagine my shock when I discovered I’d swallowed FANGIRL!  This came to me late in life and happened during my first RWA conference two years ago.  I met several of my favorite authors and squealed at them and spoke incoherently.  There may have also been drooling and babbling.  It’s all a blur.  This year was no different.

Anyway, I have not added a new “favorite” author to my list in at least ten years.  That is until last year.  Last year I found Sarah MacLean at Margaret Mitchell’s house.  Fitting don’t you think?  I’d never read anything by her before and she was adorable!  I vowed right then and there to read one of her books the second I returned home.  And I did.  Then I insisted Amy take me to the book store to buy everything she’d ever written.

This year, I ended up meeting Sarah in the Starbucks at the hotel.  I squealed.  I babbled.  cardsI insisted she write faster even though she has a seven month old baby.  I attended her master class on conflict.  It was amazing and helped Amy and me improve our writing.  At the end, I asked a question and was given a deck of cards with Sarah’s latest cover on it.

Amy actually thought we were going to play with them!  I think she’s lost her mind.  I have given Amy clear instructions on what these cards are for – she is to throw them on my funeral pyre.  One at a time while she is weeping.

It was nice to meet you Sarah!

Road trip disaster – take 2

So the Romance Writers of American conference was awesome–as it always is–and we had a wonderful time.

And then we drove home. In Dave.

First, I feel like I should defend Dave. He has been much maligned in the past several months–much of that is his own damn fault. The issue we had on the way home was not probably not.

You can be the judge.

On the way there, the drive took exactly 12 hours from the moment we hit the highway till we made the front desk for check in. Of course, that meant we only stopped to buy gas, pee, and grab a snack. We never stopped for longer than 10 minutes. We were highly motivated to get there. I’m the first to admit I am not good in the car for very long. “Are we there yet?” was mentioned about 7,000 time between Ava and I.

The way home was going exactly like we anticipated. We made excellent time through Texas and New Mexico. We even beat a thunder-storm and smallish haboob-like sand storm by the skin of our teeth. Excitement grew when we hit Arizona. I was keeping my eyes wide for a saguaro. We were exhausted.

A half-hour from home, the shit hit the fan.

Interstate-10 had been littered with shredded tires from Texas to Arizona. Then there was one right in the middle of the road and there was nothing we could do to avoid running it over. If I could have swerved without killing us, I certainly would have. Pretty quickly after that my

Once upon a time this was a successful tire

Once upon a time this was a successful tire

front right tire made a terrible racket.

The emergency lane was terribly small and the berm dropped off at an angle. The traffic was buffering Dave and it felt like he was going to fly off the road. We all piled out of the car and found this.

There were giant red ants from like a horror movie.

And then we decided we needed to pee. Because of course we did. Ava offered me a handful of Starbucks napkins and directed me to the ditch. I declined as there was a wire fence and don’t you know that damn thing would have been electrified. That is not what I want my obituary to read, “Died by electrifying herself while urinating.”

AAA was called and that went POORLY. They were called again, this time by one of the calmer passengers. We were assured that a tow truck would be coming.

And nothing.

So  we called again. We were told the driver had been dispatched and would be there in 10 minutes.

And nothing.

Finally the driver called to find out where we were. The AAA operator have him the wrong mile marker by 15 miles. Yes, that happened.

Can you believe you have to pay for air?

Can you believe you have to pay for air?

So eventually the man showed up in a giant tow truck. John had an epic mustache. It was…impressive.

There was immediate trouble because we had to unload half the luggage onto the side of the road in order to get to the spare tire release. Then he had to figure out how to jack up the SUV since the pavement was so uneven. Wood was placed beneath the floor jack and up Dave went. The tire came off. The spare was placed on the lug bolts.

Then BOOM – Dave fell off the jack.

Really.

Eventually the tire was changed. And the shredded, mangled tire was then shoved in the back of the SUV and the stuff on the pavement was piled into the back seat with Ava.

And then we discovered the battery was dead.

Our mustachioed hero

Our mustachioed hero

Really.

So John jumped the battery. He told me to drive slowly to the nearest gas station because the spare was low on air.

We limped onward, delighted to see that John was following along behind in the giant truck, to the closest gas station–about 10 miles away. John put 28 pounds of air in my tire. We told John to thank his wife for us for being such a nice guy, and TWO AND A HALF HOURS LATER WE WERE BACK ON OUR WAY!

Our 12 hour car ride took 15.

This is what we’ve decided: We’re never doing a road trip ever again.

Ever. Again.

Our friend Kilian described it best – we’re road trip kryptonite.

 

Soooooo tired

Our 12 hour car ride from San Antonio turned into 15 hours.

I promise that I’ll tell you the whole story tomorrow. With the pictures and everything.

Tomorrow.

I can barely spell right now.

July 25

5-things12Howdy! That’s what they say in San Antonio. We like to submerse ourselves. This is what we’ve gleaned from the convention so far. Stairs are awful. San Antonio is hot and humid. Heels are bad. Double beds are waaaaay too small to hold two Quill Sisters. Mexican food at home is the REAL Mexican food. Romance writers are funny. We have no desire to get back into the car for another twelve hours on Sunday. Next week we’re doing the Five Favorite Authors we met here. Here are some of the best things about smittenthis week.

1. Christy Snow – best reviewer ever. Back when Cooking Up Love came out, The SmittenWithRomance.com review site covered it. The fabulous Ms. Snow gave it an “A”. She loved it, wanted it for her keeper shelf, and wished that Carina did more print books. Carina Press did have our books printed up for the Literacy Signing. That excited us to no end, as I’m sure you can imagine. It also excited Amylynn when Ms.

The OTHER author

The OTHER author

Snow showed up at her table at the signing and said, “I think I read this book.” It took us a moment to figure out who each other was, but then there was squealing. SQUEALING. Ms. Snow now has her very own copy. Yeah, Carina.

swag

Some of our swag

2. Cooking Up Love. So Amylynn was in the Goody Room leaving swag for the crowd when she was approached by a lovely lady. She introduced herself as Gemma Brocato. Here’s were it goes Twilight Zone. Ms. Brocato has a book called Cooking Up Love also. Fortunately there was mutual laughter and Ms. Brocato didn’t seem like she was going to harm Amylynn over it. Perhaps she wanted to. Who would blame her? It turns out there are four books on Amazon with the same title. We’re giving you a massive eye roll, here.  Go see Ms. Brocato’s version of Cooking Up Love. We’re certain it’s adorable.

3. Speaking of the Goody Room. The Sisters love stuff. We really love FREE stuff. That’s what the Goody Room is all about. It’s hundreds of author’s free swag to promote them and their books. Lip balm, bookmarks, chip clips, wee boxing gloves keychains, tattoos, suckers, candy, books, bubbles, pens, a box of kittens, notebooks. You name it–it’s probably down there. Okay, the box of kittens is a RWA logolie.  We were hoping to inspire someone for next year.

4. Our tribe. Every time we come to this convention, we are reminded these are our people. Our tribe. We understand them. They understand us. They’re funny. It’s one of the few times we can strike up a starbucksconversation with anyone and they will “get” what we’re talking about – not like those people at our houses who roll their eyes and tell us we’re nuts.

5. Over-priced Food. Inexplicably, we had to come all the way to San Antonio to find out what a $7 cup of coffee look likes.  Just so you know, it looks exactly like a $5 cup of coffee does in our hometown.  Ever wonder what a $49.50 dinner at one of those Brazilian grilled meat restaurants look likes?  Well, just hop on over to San Antonio or go to the Brazilian restaurant in your town where it’s $39.00 and over tip the waiter by $10.50.  The food is so overpriced here it’s gotten to be funny.  What ever we’re charged we just hand over the cash.  $12.00 for a $7.00 martini?  Sure and keep the change!

Day 2 & 3 – where no one was harmed

Here we are in our ball gowns. ballgowns

We flat out refused to dance. In fact, there was snarling when it was suggested.

Amylynn won some Jane Austen temporary tattoos that we’re very excited about. We met some lovely people – several of whom we’d like to keep. Hopefully they don’t think we’re crazy. We’re not, our mom had us tested.

The next morning we’d like some credit for NOT burning down the hotel with a curling iron. We don’t need to go into who is at fault. People make mistakes. Let’s let it go at that. The point is the hotel is fine and management is none the wiser.

That is not to say the management and staff at the Marriott Riverwalk in San Antonio is unfamiliar with us. Oh, no. Ava “I’m going to complain” Bright is here and she is in  high form. Once again, Miss Bright cowboyas everyone in our room is known, has become quite a nuisance with our outrageous demands of toilet paper and rooms with towels.  Amylynn can’t make her room key work for longer than four hours at a time. It’s as big a mystery to us as it is to the front desk people who are heartily tired of seeing us there.

Amylynn and Kelli went to a party hosted by Amazon. They had cowboys. Yes, they did. This one was about 27 feet tall and looked like Jake Gyllenhaal. He was super polite. The Amazon guys were fun, too. Jon Fine in particular. In fact, it might be mentioned that ONE of us happened to say, “What would it take to get you in a relationship with me, short of the zombie apocalypse?”

Alright, so we didn’t actually say it TO Jon, but we would have had we thought of it at the time. Then everyone would have laughed and laughed because that’s absurd. We have some questions for Jon. First of all, did he make that name up? Also, is it an alias? We wanted to show you a picture but there is a serious lack of pictures of him on the internet. What is that all about? Is he in witness protection?

We’ll do some investigating and get back with you with what we find out cause we’re nothing if not thorough.

Conference is fun.

Off to San Antonio

We left right on schedule this morning and hit the highway at 5:30 am.

Holy crap, that’s early.

We were quite disappointed that there was no sign that said, “Welcome to New Mexico.” It was like they didn’t want us to know or something. But really, if you blink, you’ll miss it and you’re in Texas.

We drove through Texas for like 72 hours. There was nothing to look at for at least 57 of those hours.

We kept our eyes peeled for an armadillo, but there was no sign of any. We’re pretty sure they heard we were coming and they rounded up all the armadillos for their own protection. It was like they vanished.

There were a thousand signs advertising leaping deer, but we didn’t see any of them either. Well, maybe one from a thousand miles away.

We got to the hotel in exactly 12 hours from when we left. Not too shabby, we thought.

Of course, the freaking Marriott completely jacked up our reservation. We’re beginning to think it’s a personal vendetta the Marriott corporation has against us.

Amylynn growled. Kelli bared her teeth and Ava calmly negotiated them into comping our parking ($125.00 !!!! Seriously)

Anyway, we’re exhausted. Conference starts tomorrow. We’ll keep you posted.

There was a serious lack of shenanigans today. Things are bound to perk up tomorrow.

July 18

5-things12The Quill Sisters are heading off to San Antonio next week. We’re very excited. We’ve been out shopping for shoes and dresses and getting our nails done and generally making a nuisance of ourselves in public. We’re driving all the way to the convention so we don’t have to temper our packing with sanity. We’re going to shove every single thing we can into Dave Durango and hit the open road. (You hear that Dave? Hit the open road.  Not breakdown on the open road.) We’re only leaving enough room for any cute animals we see along the road. We figure if we pick them up along the way they can live in the hotel shark tankbathroom for a couple of days. This is going to be so exciting. We laughed about these things this week.

1. Champion YOLOer. A 51-year-old man snuck into an aquarium in Boston and jumped into the shark tank. It is believed that alcohol may have been involved. There is no explanation about what he expected to accomplish while he was in with the fishes. Good for him that the sharks had been fed recently and weren’t interesting in gnawing down on him. To be honest though, if South Sudana person is stupid enough to jump into the shark tank then he should be eaten. That’s how survival of the fittest works. Just ask Darwin.

2. Princess of North Sudan. So some father promised his daughter that she could be a princess. Apparently, he’s better at keeping his promises than most parents, or maybe his daughter is an unbelievably talented nag, because he ended up finding a swath of 800 square miles of unclaimed land between Egypt and Sudan. His family designed a flag and he went over there and planted it claiming it Kingdom of North Sudan and himself selfieKing. Obviously, that meant his daughter is now a princess. We pity any man who plans to marry this girl. He’s never going to live up to that.

3. Awesome selfie. Paul McCartney of the Beatles fame was in Omaha for a concert so he went out to dinner with Warren Buffett because of course he did. We wonder which of those uber-rich guys picked up the tab. They should have invited Oprah so they could have had a trifecta. Anyway, after dinner, arguably the most famous musician alive and the

That is one BIG freaking snail!

That is one BIG freaking snail!

humblest billionaire ever wandered through a city park and had an ice cream cone. This kid happened along to take the best selfie EVER.

4. Ewwwwww! on a grand scale. The Inspectors at LAX airport seized 67 live giant snails. Apparently the people in West Africa are very, very confused into thinking that they are a delicacy. Here’s where things get interesting. They were headed to a person in San Dimas. Did this ring a bell for you? It should if you’re a kid from the ’80′s. Bill and Ted must also be fans of huge, slimy snails. One of the creatures was sent to the Federal Mollusk Specialist in Washington DC. How is that for job specificity forpfaff 2 you? We’re here to tell you when that guy gets laid off there is no other job out there for him.

5. The Pfaff 2124. If there was ever a $2000 sewing machine that can make you sew okay – this is it.  Ava has completed her second ball gown using it.  Quite the difference between making ball gowns and pillows, let us tell you.  To: Amylynn From: Ava and Amylynn’s Fab Mom – Listen up Amy.  We quit. We are not making anymore ball gowns no matter how many historical novels you write and dedicate to us.  We’re done and that’s final.  Final.  The next thing we’re sewing is a straight jacket for you.

 

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