Nationals Round-Up

For my overly ambitious first day post, click here. For pics, click here.

For free books, click here.

For a tried-to-condense-it version of one of the best weeks of my life, read on.

I woke up bright and early on Wednesday to get registered, as I was due to volunteer in the librarian goodie room at 8am. Talk talk talk. From registration on to about 2:30 the next morning. Insane how much gum-flapping went on. I spent two hours chatting with librarians and authors, meeting a few people I'd known online but not in person--which is always a little weird, yet cool.

Before lunch, I met up with Barb and we went walkabout, up through Chinatown, buying awesome souvenirs--silk tapestry shoes and matching purses for the girls, and a new jade bracelet for me--and then on to Pier 39 etc. We ate lunch surrounded by French people, for some reason, and hit Ghiradelli Square. Generally a most awesome afternoon.

Ann showed up shortly thereafter, and we hit the librarian cocktail mingling thingie. Most of the tired librarians had already gone, so it wound up being a bunch of authors chatting amongst ourselves. At the literacy signing, I filled in for my friend Karen Mercury, who had the flu and couldn't make it. I got to do the behind the scenes thing in prep for my signing next year. And no waiting in lines!

There I met online correspondences Kalen Hughes, Victoria Dahl, Hope Tarr, Kimberly Killion, Diana Groe (Emily Bryan), and Jade Lee in person, and generally smiled like a dork. The fine ladies from my critique circle showed up--Kelly McCrady, Lorelei Brown (Cathleen), and Patti Ann Colt. Kelly made a most awesome request of the hotel, that we all be in adjoining rooms, so we wound up doing a five-person slumber party with Ann for the whole time. Too neat.

Then off to dinner at a place called Straits, a south/southeast Asian fusion place with the niftiest waiter. "If you've trusted me so far, trust me on this." Yes, please. Then hours and hours of talking as we wore out what was left of our vocal chords.

Thursday morning, Ann and I were out bright and early for the Hearts Through History annual breakfast. Free food! Barnes & Noble gift certificate! Helps me look over the fact they got the book title wrong on my first sale certificate. Then we were off to donate freebies to the goodie room, just before sitting in on the crazy ass motivational speaker with her box full o' cliches. Afterwards, we hit the first of many publisher signings. Craziness! Lines!

I spent lunch beside Chicago North chapter mate Jennifer Stevenson and laughed along to Victoria Alexander's most excellent speech. Ann and I went to the PAN retreat then, only to be vastly disappointed with the crappy speaker. Gah. Another one! We had a drink, then headed back to the room. Ann worked--good girl!--while I tried to nap and failed. Wound up watching SYTYCD on YouTube.

Then I got gussied up for the Kensington cocktail party. Was nervous. But the party had free drinks, which Kate Duffy encouraged us to partake in liberally. Done! I ducked in to see Chicago North folks before retiring to the room to watch the SYTYCD results show and eat pizza.

Friday morning, I met the Kensington authors for breakfast, then headed off to more publisher signings. Ridiculous amounts of books. The lunch speaker was Connie Brockway. Barb wound up throwing me onto SB Candy's lap, which was a highlight of my afternoon, and we headed over to the Smart Bitches party. Was awesome. I met Zoe Archer, who is super cool, and she introduced me officially to Kate Duffy. Wound up chatting with Zoe, Kate, SB Sarah, and Angela James of Samhain. I was at the cool kids table!

Here I shall pause and mention how very many people said, "Oh, you're that Robin Hood book!" Coolness.

After the party, I met up with my crit group, Bettie Sharpe, and her friend Evie Byrne for dinner while Ann hit the Berkeley and Harlequin parties. Zazil's Coastal Mexican. Whoa. So good. Then we wandered SF until we found a bar, partaking of their lovely alcohol selection. Ann arrived via taxi shortly thereafter, about as looped as us, and we again made 2:30 our bedtime.

Saturday... seriously running out of steam. Buffet breakfast. I skipped a publisher signing because Lovely Agent Caren and I had an AM meeting, where we planned my future multi-pronged domination of the historical market. Had another lunch with Barb, along with her CP gals Colby Hodge and Alyssa Day. More cool kids! After lunch, I think there were more signings, at which point I became seriously picky. I only had so much space in my spare duffel.

We ordered more pizza and proceeded to get re-gussied up, this time for the RITAs and Golden Heart ceremony. Although Chicago North chapter mate Simone Elkeles didn't win in her category, I loved sitting with the loudest, best chapter in RWA. Some deserts of the largely chocolate-less variety followed, and then major collapsing back in the room.

You'd think we might have called it a night, but a simple farewell turned into a major three-hour conversation about goals and life situations. Ah well, such is the nature of a slumber party. AM came too early. Ann and Patti had already departed. Cathleen met her mother for a day of touristing, and Kelly and I headed over to the airport. Many uneventful but highly productive hours later, I arrived in Milwaukee. Safe and sound.

Best week ever. Can't wait for DC.

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