I’m actually a little concerned about myself. I’m exhibiting behavior that is wholly unlike me and, honestly, I don’t know what to think of it.
You may recall that from years past, that my birthday is approaching. This Sunday is the day. Usually by this time I’ve informed you all of a PO Box you can send gifts to, where the party will be, what my expectations are for the celebration.
Oddly, not this year. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I was all caught up in going to the RWA convention and just before that I was in Albuquerque and just before that San Diego. It’s been a whirlwind of travel and I think the date just sort of snuck up on me.
My Mom is concerned. My Honey must have asked me five hundred times what I want for my birthday and I still don’t really know. I can’t decide what I want for my birthday dinner. I don’t know what restaurant I want to go to for my lunch, or even if there’ll be the traditional birthday lunch, since Kelli started her new job.
For the love of all that’s holy, I couldn’t even decide what kind of cake I wanted. I told my mom to pick. That’s actually quite alarming.
Ava thinks I’m handing myself with a new-found maturity. That sounds like crap to me.
You would all be so proud of me. One of the things that goes on at the National Romance Writers Convention is that they give you free books.
FREE BOOKS, people.
You must know what a weakness I have for books. Books are my kryptonite. I just can’t help myself.
But the problem, you see, is that there were four women in Carly, Ava’s Cadillac, along with the attendant amount of luggage. That trunk was unbelievably full and the idea of squeezing even one more thing into was unfathomable.
Yet, they were giving away books. I could feel my fingers itching.
On Wednesday we checked in with the RWA people. We each received a huge red and white canvas bag along with our credentials. Ava and I plopped on the floor right in the middle of the lobby like little kids and opened the goodie bag. Inside were maybe fifteen books, hardcover and paperback.
I felt heart palpitations.
We attended a signing for literacy and I only bought one book. Only one. I was quite proud of myself.
Throughout the convention there were massive organized book signings underwritten by various publishers. At these events, free books were given away as they were being signed by the authors. Ava and I didn’t attend any of these events. We thought it was best not to be tempted.
That, and we were so busy taking craft and career workshops we didn’t have time to get to any of the signings.
No matter how hard I tried, the damn free books kept coming. Sometimes at the end of the workshops, there were free copies of the speaker’s books. I tried to resist. I think we only collected four or five of those copies.
So Ava and I were up to somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty-five books in our hotel room. Don’t forget that there were two other women with a combined total of a similar number of books as ours.
We figured that we could ship the books home via overnight shipping. There was even a conveniently located shipping company in our hotel lobby. But, really, isn’t the reason for driving – besides that’s it’s much cheaper than flying – because you don’t want to worry about overweight luggage and such?
We ended up getting every single one of those books home by shoving them in every single pocket of space in that trunk and on the floor at Ava’s feet in the passenger seat. Our friend,Tara Simone, is a phenomenal packer.
First, I’d like to apologize for the lack of our presence Thursday and Friday. When I realized on Saturday that we hadn’t even written up the 5 Favorite Things on Friday I was appalled. Usually Ava and I spend the week keeping lists of all the potential things that it’s impossible to forget about it.
The writers conference we attended this past week was…was…overwhelming. All of our expectations were surpassed. We learned so much we didn’t even know what to remember by the time we left this morning.
We had lots of revelations and epiphanies and reevaluation of everything we thought about publishing.
It wasn’t just all paradigm shifts, though. There were shining moments of girlish squeeing. This is not something we
usually see from Ava. She’s not real big on hero-worship – not like Amylynn. If there was ever going to be an opportunity for her to lose her mind over an author, the national convention was it.
I was super excited about Susan Elizabeth Philips. I’ve mentioned that we have recently come to truly adore her. Her characterization is outstanding and I just wanted thirty seconds with her to ask her questions about her technique. I got that and, consequently, feel much better about my own process.
Presenting with Susan was a long time friend of hers and the all time favorite writer of Ava, Jayne Ann Krentz. Ava readily tells everyone how she’s read every single Krentz book, ever, since the dawn of time.
Both Susan and Jayne are tiny, petite things and we were fairly sure we could tuck them in a pocket and abscond with them. They probably should consider getting security. Honestly, if we’d been the type of people to drink large quantities of alcohol and act on these plans of ours, we’d be writing this from jail.
Fortunately, saner heads prevailed and we were happy to leave with a photo and an autographed book.
There’s always next year.
We made the trip to Anaheim in 7 hours and 5 minutes including 17 potty stops. Let’s just say, there will be no beverages in the car on the trip home.
The first potty break happened in Gila Bend. Amylynn was driving and she was so desperate to find a potty that she didn’t even notice her iPhone fell out of the car. Thank Zeus it was there, laying on the pavement next to the car in the middle of a scorching McDonald’s parking lot. My Honey is considering that she have the thing surgically attached with a tether. We’ll check into that when we get back. Until then, we’re going to train Siri to screech out a warning whenever Amylynn acts like an idiot.
The next event of note is that Quartzsite, the location of potty stop #37, has a convenience store selling Swedish Fish buy one get one free. We bought nine and we’re not sharing.
The thing about Anaheim is that it’s always associated with the happiest place on Earth. Apparently it’s not as there was a whole block with boarded up windows from a riot sometime during the week. Excuse us, but, as the disgruntled employees of Bank of No Forks, we have no idea what the people of Anaheim have to be so worked up about. Call us selfish, we won’t even flinch, but we’re hoping that keeps the weenies away from the real happiest place on Earth. You know, now that we’re thinking of it, Anaheim IS LIKE A WAR ZONE. SAVE YOURSELVES! DON’T COME HERE.
We attended a literacy event this evening at the Convention center. We saw lots of friends – Karen Hawkins, Sabrina Jeffries, Lauren Willig, Brenda Novak, Suzanne Enoch, Julia London, Jennifer Ashley, Vicki Lewis Thompson, and Patti Knowles. We were super disappointed to have missed Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Julia Quinn but we still have three more days to track them down and have our fan girl moments.
At the event there were some crazy ass outfits that we really fear were not worn in irony. Who would have thought that Romance Writers of America would have this many people with wonky colored hair? Not us, certainly. But there you go. There was one person in particular we noticed from clear across the room. Ava thought she was Marge Simpson’s sister because who else would have a two foot, hot-pink beehive? We were forced to get closer and look. How could we not? Turns out Diane Kelly was absolutely adorable regardless of the fact that the wig was so alarming Ava couldn’t look straight at it, and we bought her book, Death, Taxes and a French Manicure, because it looks very funny and we love funny.
Also, there seemed to be some crossover with the hooker convention in the next ballroom. We’re not sure how the invitations crossed like that but that’s really the only way to explain some of what we saw. The real tragedy, certainly, is that the hookers were of all the wrong sex.
In addition to authors we love, and others we fully intend to love once we meet them, there were agents here. We didn’t see Amylynn’s agent but she’s here somewhere. She’s very tiny and easy to miss behind a potted palm. We did see a certain agent who famously rejected Amylynn’s first book with the inexplicable phrase, “it’s a hard row to hoe”. After we rolled her in the third floor ladies room she’s rowing with a swirly.
We also saw a certain lovely agent who has a secret submission of ours. She saw us and we saw her but it wasn’t until after we passed each other that we realized who she was. We decided to pretend we are adults and didn’t chase her down. We’re going to take the high road and wait patiently until she responds like normal people do. We’re going to see how that works for us.
We’re not holding out a lot of hope.
The night wrapped up with a party with the Goddesses. Suzanne Enoch insisted we wear tiaras. Tiaras!
You know what? We think we found our people.
I had every intention of getting off work early today so I could get home and finish the laundry. Not to mention that I had to try on all my clothes, cry for a few minutes, try them on again with various different foundation garments, have a fit and throw all my clothes on floor, and then text Ava in complete and utter despair.
And then I had to figure out shoes.
I finally got a grip on myself and picked out some suitable clothes that mostly fit. Then I have to figure out how to get them all in a too small suitcase. Why too small? Because there are four women trying to shove four suitcases in the trunk of a Cadillac. I’m pretty sure I can make it work. I have rolled and scrunched all the clothes and wedged and shoved them into wrinkled wads of fabric – but they’re in there.
Still, even after the demoralizing effects of the packing, I’M STILL SO EXCITED!
We plan to Tweet like maniac’s from the convention. If you’re interested in following us and our escapades you’ll find us under my account – @amylynnbright and we’ll use the hashtag #RWA12. The reason we’re using my account and not the @quillsisters is because I have the app on my iPhone and Ava doesn’t. Lets face it, there isn’t enough time to teach her how to use the app anyway. It’s really just easier to do it on mine. This is exactly how she gets people to do everything for her – she acts completely incompetent even when she’s not just so she won’t have to do stuff. I know it’s a ploy but who has the energy to fight about it?
So Anaheim Convention Center (conveniently located ACROSS THE STREET FROM DISNEYLAND) prepare yourselves for the coming of the Quill Sisters. Well, two out of three Sisters anyway. We’ll sure gonna miss Kelli. Sigh.
Alright – I have to finish up and get to bed at a reasonable hour tonight.
If I promise that you’ll get all kinds of silly, snarky, or fan girl type posts for the rest of the week, will you accept another fantastic cartoon by BirdBoxStudio?
Honest to Zeus, if I don’t get my stuff put together for this trip on Wednesday morning, I’ll be wearing a seat cover for the next five days.
Thank you for your understanding.
I have so much to do by Wednesday morning. Ava and I are going on a road trip to the Romance Writers of America National Convention in Anaheim.
We are so excited we could pee ourselves. The only thing that would make it perfect would be if Kelli was coming with us. Although, to be frank, we’re not sure if the City of Anaheim is prepared to deal with the three of us at once.
Nationals is a huge event befitting the largest writer’s organization. Wednesday we leave as soon as I can get my kids to summer camp so we can get that to the convention in time for the Literacy Autographing. There is something like 440+ romance authors including some huge names – ladies like Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Nora Roberts. There also going to many of the authors we’ve met through the Tucson Festival of Books – Julia Quinn (Squee!).
Thursday, Friday and Saturday is chock full of workshops and presentations and meeting people. I’m not a big schmoozer but I have an agenda in the next six months. I’m going to be shopping for an editor. More on that at a later date. That just means that Ava and I will have to be especially “on” this week. That means we’ll have to amp up the funny. Fortunately, we play off each other really well.
Thursday is a big luncheon with key-note speaker Stephanie Laurens. We’re big fans of Ms. Laurens, but we haven’t had a chance to meet her before because she’s Australian and lives in Australia like many Australians do.
Saturday is the awards dinner for the Golden Heart and Rita awards.
Besides all that stuff, there are parties abounding. Wednesday is a Christmas in July party with Sabrina Jeffries, Thursday a cocktail party sponsored by a vodka company, Friday cocktails with my agent. Oh, Lord, I’m sure there’s more – I’m just swimming with information.
So you know what this means, right? Packing. Lots of packing into as small of a suitcase as I can manage. Ava and I are roadtripping with two other ladies from our local RWA chapter. That’s four suitcases in the trunk of Ava’s Cadillac. Egads.
That’s a problem because there are lots of outfits required for the above events. Crap on a cracker! I foresee a massive shoe crisis happening here. I wonder how many outfits I can wear in the car to save the luggage space.
Additionally, I couldn’t very well go to this event, an event teeming with women, and not have a mani/pedi. Remember that gift certificate to the spa My Honey never used? Well, that came in damn handy, I’ll tell you. I love this spa. Back in the good old days, BC (before children) I used to go there all the time for massages and my hair. You’ll see why I stopped going there by the end of this story.
I went on Saturday to get my hooves scraped off. Then she used a sugar scrub and followed that up with goat butter lotion. My legs felt like baby feet from the knees down. My hands were massaged and my nails painted. The whole experience was ideally pampering.
Here’s the problem. All of that came to $100.00. Don’t you think for that kind of money, they should carry you out to the car so you’re feet don’t have to touch the dirty pavement?
What a whirlwind. Oh no, sorry, that was just a monsoon. Ava had a whale in her pool the other day and Amylynn saw a rattlesnake with a snorkel. Kelli’s on the other side of the river and we’re relegated to smoke signals. Don’t get us wrong, we love the rain. What we’re not crazy about is the hot, searing wind. That’s just too much. Why bother with makeup when your twenty-five dollar Clinique foundation is just going to melt off your face? Still, we have standards. It’s a good thing we don’t have such high ones when it comes to funny, huh? Here are five things we loved this week.
1. A Song of Ice and Fire. We love this series of books by George R. R. Martin on
two separate fronts. The books are filled with thrilling battles and love and betrayal and huge wolves and- holy crap – dragons. This is epic story telling in the vein of Tolkien. Who wouldn’t be sold? Martin constantly keeps you on your toes by killing off main characters. Amylynn has been a fan since before the HBO show and now there is a whole new set of fans for her to gush with. You want to know why the HBO show is so good? It’s because, despite the necessity of editing the inches thick books, the series follows Mr Martin’s work very closely. The casting is superior and the sets are awe inspiring. Do yourself a favor and get the first book – you’ll want to read more. Then tune in to the series. Start at the beginning. Peter Dinkle is Tyrion personified and Amylynn has a real soft spot for The Hound. We discovered that Mr. Martin lives very close to Albuquerque and now we’re looking into the restraining order laws in the state of New Mexico. Don’t be alarmed, Mr. Martin.
We just have a few questions. We’re very nice. Ask Ted Nugent.
2. Antique underwear. You know how you can tell we’re girls? Besides the love of cupcakes and shoes, there is a fascination with pretty underwear. We can’t explain why some women have this affinity, but it’s there. Do you really think women shop at Victoria’s Secret for some guy’s benefit? Yeah, nope. Underwear has a long and storied history, and it just got longer and more storied. Archeologists just found 600 year old bras in a castle in Austria. The scientists who surely turned into 12-year-old boys when they found the linen undergarments, said, “Heh, heh, you said bra” and then probably talked about the boobies that had been in them last.
3. The stolen Hoffs. You all remember David Hasselhof don’t you? You can pretend that you don’t all you want, thinking that will make you better than us or something, but we’re never going to believe you don’t know all about Bay Watch. We’ll even bet you have a bootleg copy of his album somewhere in your closet of shame. Don’t be mistaken that The Hoff is no longer relevant. Apparently, there is a crime spree centered around him involving life-sized cutouts and iced coffee. There were 570 of the things distributed at various convenience stores across the country and 550 of them have been stolen. Hoff is so thrilled, he’s even encouraging people to run out and fetch themselves one - along with a cup of the coffee he’s shilling. We couldn’t find one in our city and are willing to pay $20.00 or so to anyone who will send him to us – the cut out, not David. We’d pay $40.00 for David . . . with iced coffee.
4. Purple carrots. This is so real. If you were like us and under the mistaken impression that carrots only came in the options of orange and orange, you’d be mistaken. We found some mysterious purple items on our plate in Albuquerque last week. We poked at them with our forks and stared at them and tasted them first with the tips of our tongues. Were they beets? Some sort of alien vegetable? After all, we were in New Mexico and everyone knows they’re hiding aliens over in Roswell. They looked like purple carrots, we thought, but that’s ridiculous. Turns out, no. There are indeed purple carrots. We’re not talking about some limpid lavender here, we’re talking purple. PURPLE. Now all we can think about is purple carrot cake.
5. Holding a real newspaper. We’re not ignorant about the plight of the daily newspaper. We know that they are in serious jeopardy with the ease and speed of online access, but we really still love holding the newspaper in our hands. We love reading it together and discussing our take on the stories. Amylynn reads the articles in different voices and sometimes with an accent. We find it quite entertaining. Not everyone finds as much enjoyment in the news as we do (probably because they aren’t reading it right) and to that end, the newspapers themselves are making drastic cuts. One of the ones we find the most distressing is the size of the actual paper. Have you ever noticed that, when reading most of them wide open, they’re no wider than a magazine anymore? It’s tragic. That’s one of the many reasons we love the wide, old-fashioned Wall Street Journal. That and we look smart when we buy it.
The most tragic thing happened to me after I had my kids. Well, beyond the obvious tragedies that I’m sure all mothers have like zero privacy and a bunch of short people who hang all over you and touch all your stuff.
My particular tragedy is an allergy to alcohol. How much does that suck? A lot. It sucks a lot.
In all honesty, I don’t drink that much or that often and haven’t since it was actually legal for me to do so. Still, though, a glass of wine here or there, an ice-cold margarita, a bottle of hard pear cider would be lovely.
So what happens to me when I drink? Nothing like anaphylactic shock or anything that exciting. Instead, I turn red, bright red. Red like a tomato. Or a beet. Or a red bell pepper. And I sweat. I feel like I’m on fire from the inside. My ears and cheeks are hot to the touch and it spreads down my chest. It’s itchy and crazy uncomfortable.
And yet….. Sometimes a glass of sangria is just the thing.
My mother-in-law suggested I try Benadryl before I drank to see if that would temper the effect. I took one and had a drink and everyone stared at me like a freak. It didn’t help, instead I was just extra sleepy.
It drives Ava crazy that this happens to me. She investigated the entire thing on the internet and decided that it was either cancer or rosacea – you know how the internet is. She demanded that I discuss it with my doctor and get medicine. She demanded. Usually when my Sister demands I cave in just to shut her up, but not really on this. I mean, come on, its an alcohol allergy. It’s not like I’m going to die without a daiquiri or something. I felt stupid wasting my doc’s time.
And then I went to Albuquerque again. When we went out to dinner with my uncle, I decided to have a glass of wine with my roast duck. I chose a lovely Malbec that would also go well with my chocolate dessert. I really love wine. This was the first time my uncle saw the effect of alcohol, but it wasn’t like I hadn’t warned him. I always warn people because the effect is really quite alarming. Ava immediately launched into her tirade, hoping to get Ken on her side. It totally worked. He stared at me in shock and declared that I should discuss it with my physician.
Great. Now Ava was really on a mission. Let the eye rolling commence.
I saw the doctor for unrelated stuff today. She adjusted my back – it was so ready it started popping the minute she walked into the room, and I wanted to discuss a really horrendous migraine event I had recently – another reason why I don’t drink very often.
Ava texted me no less that four times while I was at the doctor. Sigh.
When I brought it up, the doc basically agreed with Ava, but told me there really wasn’t much to do about it since, really, it’s alcohol and it’s hardly life threatening. I have to agree with her.
Nevertheless. the doctor suggested that I try some experiments and see if the amount of alcohol varies my reaction. I told this to Ava to shut her up since the doc had no pill to offer me.
That was a huge mistake. Now I’m Ava’s new science project.