At long last, RT

So I promised to give a recap, but until now I have been overwhelmed with homeshooling my kids, recovering from travel, a sore ankle, and finishing up / turning in a book. Now that equilibrium has more or less been restored, I am ready to recount my adventures, such as they are.

I set off early on Tuesday morning. My husband drove me to the airport and hd breakfast me with me there. At the security checkpoint, we had a lovely airport good-bye kiss. From there I went and waited for my plane.

I had good air karma. I sat alone in my row and the flight was quiet. I landed on time in Orlando, then had no trouble catching the shuttle to the rental car place. Once there, I didn’t wait long and then, upon hearing I was an author, the clerk upgraded me to a cherry red Mustang. Sweet!

Since I didn’t know the area, I got a GPS, which would prove invaluable. I did a fair amount of driving. I set off for Azteclady’s house, as I had plans to hang out with her that evening. Sadly, I forgot to get change for the toll booths and I only had larger bills. I was going along merrily following the GPS. It told me to get on the highway — and I did. Imagine my horror when I came to a toll booth with no cashier, exact change only, and a line of cars behind me. It was ONE lane. So I did what any rebel in a Mustang would do; I blew through that and continued on my way. I had to do it once more until I finally came to a booth where I could get change (thank goodness!) I don’t like the law-breaking.

I watched my rearview mirror for any signs the cops were after me but nobody seemed to care. I arrived at Azteclady’s house with no problems. Once there, we hugged, admired my swag, talked, and then I fixed some supper: homemade pasta sauce and spaghetti. It was pretty delicious.

By that point, it was getting dark and I didn’t want to be roaming around a strange city late, so we said farewell and I input the address of my hotel. That drive went smoother because I had change.

In about half an hour, I’d reached the Wyndham, which was holy-fuck big. The thing I liked least about it was that it didn’t have a bar in the lobby, which was the one thing I liked about Pittsburgh. But service was good; I got checked in swiftly, and the bellmen brought all my boxes to my room, no trouble.

Then I called Lauren to find out where the party was and headed over there. The place was packed when I arrived, I chatted briefly with a number of people, but spent the most time with Diana Rowland, Cynthia Eden, and Larissa Ione. Diana is awesome in person. So funny and easy to be around. Cindy is so gorgeous that it’s not fair she can write. Oh, and she’s fun, too.

Around midnight, I realized I had been going for about twenty hours and staggered off to my room.

Wednesday… I did a SF panel with CL Wilson, Jade Lee, Catherine Asaro, Isabo Kelly, Stacey Kade, and Linnea Sinclair. Leanna Renee Hieber moderated.

It was great, but long, and my ankle was really swollen by the time it was over, so I had some quiet time in my room afterward. I went to dinner with a bunch of the Bradford authors, along with our fab agent. I drank a huge margarita and ate grilled shrimp. I remember laughing a lot, as I was seated between Lauren Dane and Laura Bradford.

That took us late into Wednesday night. I went to the party thing that night and tried to dance. Megan made fun of me because I couldn’t do much footwork. Anya asked me if I would sit on a panel she was on; Patrice had a couple of people cancel and they thought I would be a good fit. I’m always happy to help, so I sat on a paranormal panel first thing Thursday morning. I stayed for the next panel because it had Jeri Smith-Ready on it, and I loooove her. I must admit, she didn’t talk as much as I’d hoped.

After that I geared up my GPS and hit every bookstore within a 50 mile radius. I signed so much stock that my hand was cramping. I also managed to find The Dust of 100 Dogs, which had become something of a vision quest for me. See, I asked about it at every bookstore Laura and I went in San Diego. I did the same thing in Florida. The Borders where I finally found it didn’t have many of my books, but I was glad I went because I was dying to read that freakin’ book. Glee! It is now mine. I ordered a meatball sub and went to bed early; all that driving wore me out.

Friday morning, I called the bellman to help me haul all my boxes to the party room, and wonder of wonders, he did! The party was much lower stress this time, due to Lauren, Cindy, and the great staff. I was remarkably chill about the whole thing. We had a huge turnout, people seemed to have a great time, and Jane reported that our line was longer than Disney. Cool!

I enjoyed a brief chat with Mark Henry and others. After that, I meandered into the lobby, where I ran into Larissa Ione. I am not quite sure how it happened (though I am thrilled by it), but we sort of fell in for the day. We went to the HQN thing together, talked, went to the pool party together and drank sangria. It was late afternoon by the time we parted company, and now I like her even better than I did before. She is a funny, smart, wonderful, charismatic person, and I have the biggest girl crush on her. Shhh, don’t tell. A number of cool people stopped to chat with us: Jenna Black and Diana Rowland, to name a few.

At that point, it was time to get ready for the big official Bradford gathering. Anya was sick and couldn’t make it, but the rest of us were there: Cindy, Nick, Vivi, Stacey, me, Lauren, Megan, Laura, Beth W. and Beth K (if I forgot anyone, I am v. sorry, it was a big table!) Lauren had picked a great place. It was a steakhouse but all the food was yummy. Our table was raucous and delightful. Cindy and Nick bailed earliest because they wanted to get ready for the vampire ball.

As for me, well, it was after ten. I’m not an exciting person. I had a new book in my room, purchased when I went to sign stock, and it was one I had been waiting for (It was the new Elizabeth Hoyt!), so I went to read it. Funny when you consider she sat and chatted with me at Club RT on Wednesday afternoon. Oh, did I forgot to mention that? I had club RT with Elizabeth Hoyt. Squee!

So I read her new book and went to bed.

The next day, I got up early and went to pick up Azteclady, who wanted to attend the book fair. We had a nice breakfast, and then it was time for me to take my place at the table. I signed a lot of books, and met a lot of readers. People took my picture. It’s always so weird for me when people want to do that. I’m like, really? OK. If you’re sure.

I bought a few books in there, waited my turn for checkout and then found Az. I also found my conference cronies: LB, LD, MH, and AB. Along with AB’s husband J, we went across the street to Perkins, where we had a long ass lunch.

After that, I absolutely could not face anymore conference stuff, so Az and I ran away with our books. She took me to a couple of bookstores I’d missed, where I signed stock and got an iced coffee. I had pie from Perkins for dinner, hung out with Az and watched a movie, and went to bed early. In the morning, we didn’t really do much of anything. We killed the day being lazy together, as only two friends can be.

In the afternoon, we set out for dinner with Lisa and Joe at the Polynesian. Joe was kind enough to give us directions once we got to Disney. After we found the place, it went without a hitch and we got seated super fast. The food was delish and the company even better. Joe and Lisa are hilarious people; I love their stories. Az and I headed back to her place after a nice meal; more chilling ensued.

I got up early the next day, knowing I had to leave, but I was sorry to go. She’s someone I miss very much, and I do, right now. Sniff. But I had to be brave. Into the Mustang I went, for Sharon Shinn awaited.

I made the drive back to Disney, hooray for the test run the day before! And reached her hotel shortly before the appointed time. I parked and watched for her. When I saw her come out, I circled around to the entrance, she climbed in, and we were off.

I had scoped out a shopping center, just outside of Disney on the Buena Vista side, so I was confident we could find a restaurant that sounded good to both of us. She perked up at the mention of Pizzeria Uno, so we headed in there. At noon, there was no trouble getting a booth and it was quiet enough that we could talk easily.

Which left me going, OMG, I AM HAVING LUNCH WITH SHARON SHINN. (See this post if you are unclear what that means to me.) I am not sure how I managed to make coherent conversation in the beginning. I kept wondering does the waiter know he’s bringing pizza to a famous author?! Eventually I settled into this warm, I don’t believe this is happening, glow. We had a really wonderful conversation; she’s a lovely person. And by the time the lunch was over, I really felt like we were friends. I mean, not besties or anything, but we had talked about some things that I wouldn’t share with just anyone.

So that’s how my trip ended: I was still glowing when I got back to Mexico City later that day and even the swine flu couldn’t bring me down.