Yes, I’m back from Cincinnati — we pulled into the driveway just after 8 p.m. on Sunday and I’m still recovering.
Just like last year, Lori Foster’s Reader and Author Get Together was a fantastic event. Unlike last year, I didn’t get much time to socialize as both my publishers were there and I found myself bouncing from meeting to meeting more like I was in New York. (Occasionally at their behest, sometimes at mine *waves to Rhonda*) I didn’t realize until I was getting ready to leave that I’d hardly taken any pictures — so if you have any, or have seen any on FB, send me the links or leave them in the comments, will you? Unless they’re of me — I shudder when I see pictures of myself.
Anyhoo, we left our town at 5:30 AM and drove, and drove, and drove, until we pulled into the hotel in West Chester Ohio just before 4 PM. I don’t think I saw much of the countryside the whole trip down or back–I found myself turned sideways in my seat talking to both Mary and Anara the whole time. Once we’d checked in, we were all beat but we hadn’t eaten anything since early that morning, so we agreed to meet in the restaurant, grab a bite to eat and then return to our rooms for a quick nap.
Once we sat down in the restaurant, in a scene reminiscent of how we met Cheryl Brooks last year, a lady who was sitting alone came over and asked if we minded if she joined us. Um, hello, of course not! Turned out she was (and is) three-time RITA nominee Vicky Dreiling. And OMG, Vicky is an absolute doll. We started chatting and others stopped by and next thing we knew it was 10 PM. So much for that nap.
We took Vicky under our wing and adopted her as an honorary Canuck–I think we ate almost every meal with her for the rest of the conference. It was so hard to say good-bye to her when we left–we wanted to tuck her into the backseat and bring her home with us. (No, we’re not stalkers, we SWEAR!) (I bought the first in her historical series, How to Marry a Duke, and ended up staying up until 2 this morning reading it on my iPhone, giggling madly enough that I accidentally woke up Gizmo Guy, who luckily enough didn’t remember it this morning.)
Carina Press was there this year, and sponsored their version of a Pictionary game on Friday night. The words being guessed based upon romance novels, words like temptation, Harlequin, virgin, billionaire, highland warrior, Fabio (the picture had everything thinking she was drawing a woman until the lady trying to draw it added a very specific male dangly bit which stumped everyone), submission (which has a double meaning ) Well, you get the gist. Some of the drawings got pretty graphic, LOL. We were pleased with the turnout, but boy was the room noisy, and more than one person told me they swear they lost their voice shouting out the answer. I was so relieved when I learned I wasn’t going to have to be the one drawing because I would have completely drawn a blank trying to figure out how to draw “amnesia.”
Saturday’s book signing was a blast – I had way more people come up to my table this year than last, and not just for chocolate. People actually brought their copies of Personal Protection with them for me to sign. As in they already owned them and didn’t have to buy them! Do you know how thrilling that was for me to learn? Talk about a stroke to the ego. I gave away T-shirts and some of my fans actually wore them during the signing. Another ego stroke.
Of course, sitting at a table signing my own books meant I couldn’t get around and visit other authors whom I idolize and go all fangurl on them. While I’d managed to get Jill Shalvis’ and Shiloh Walker’s autographs on their books on Friday night, I never did see Sherrilyn Kenyon or Carly Phillips even outside of the signing. I guess I could have bugged HelenKay Dimon during breakfast the last day considering she sat only a couple chairs down from me, but I really felt that would have been intruding and I didn’t want to bug her, so I left her alone.
One of the things that got people’s attention, or at least slowed them down at my table, as my little Hauberk bear. I discovered a while back that some people don’t know what a Hauberk is, so I put a picture on my website in the Hauberk information page. But then a few weeks ago, I figured out how to make a hauberk of my own and made one for a little teddy. So I sat him on the corner of my table, and almost everyone who passed reached out to pat his head. And Joy of Joyfully Reviewed even snapped a picture of him.
Oh, and a cover model, Scott Nova, showed up at our table and I think many people wanted to pat him too.
Saturday night, I participated in a game with Dee Carney, Christine Bell/Chloe Cole, Emily Cale and Brien Michaels called Two Truths and a Lie. We’d chosen two real excerpts from amongst our books, and written a fake one. We read them out and the participants had to choose which one was the fake. I was a little worried when I first went into the room because it was empty except for us authors, but the dinner had run late and soon enough it was standing room only. The readers were fantastic — there was one lady that really had us laughing. Dee had printed off the excerpts for everyone to read along with us, and added a little line after each title of “or is it.” Dee went first, and when she hadn’t actually read out the “or is it” line, the lady did. And then it became part of each reading and had us all laughing. Only one woman – Chris – guessed each excerpt correctly, but there was a tie for second place amongst about 7 people. The tie breaker involved a single line that included the word didgeridoo — yeah it was a real line, not a lie, and only one person got it right. But I swear some of the made-up excerpts were books I would have loved to have read. Although it hurt to write my wonderful Sam as a crotch-scratching, tiny manly-bits drunk and have people think it wasn’t a lie, LOL.
I never managed to mail my swag out to my readers since the time I’d set aside to do it I’d ended up in a conversation with a very special someone that I didn’t want to interrupt. (Nope, not saying who) So that’ll be going out this week having been driven all the way down to Cinci and back again.
The very first night, we offered the waitress some of the chocolate I’d brought. A few minutes later the restaurant manager came over and eyed our table. “Who’s the Canadian?” he asked. Turned out David was from London, Ontario, and was a fan of the Caramilk bars we’d brought down. Since I’d only brought the small Hallowe’en sized bars, Mary dashed up to her room and brought him back one of the full-sized bars she’d brought with her for special friends.
Sunday finally arrived, and on the way back, we were all so tired we got punch drunk because as we were pulling into Mary’s town to drop her off, a fit of giggles that would not stop attacked us and had us snorting and wiping our cheeks as tears rolled down them. I swear Anara nearly had to pull the car over because she couldn’t see to drive. (I foresee a scene like that ending up in one of my books in the near future.) But now I think on it, I don’t think I once hear Mary say “Road Trip” the way she constantly did last year.
I’m sorry I didn’t get to talk with more people — there were so many I saw in passing but never got to say more than Hi to, and others I didn’t even realize were there that I’m not kicking myself for missing. I am definitely going to rearrange my schedule as for me the fun is the socializing.
That said, I’ve talked so much both in the car and at the conference, I’ve lost my voice. Two days later, I’m still hoarse. But I will definitely be going back to Lori’s event next year because I have so much fun and loved meeting everyone.
PS: weird tidbits…
In an interesting twist of fate, another friend of mine was attending RAGT and decided to fly. Since American flights are far cheaper than Canadian flights, they decided to book a flight out of Buffalo. So they started out at the same time, and had to drive three hours to get to their flight. But their flight wasn’t direct, it went back to Philadelphia (what genius decided the best way to fly west was to start off by flying east?) and they ended up arriving after we did. Yeah, I’m perverse but I found that funny.
We were also pleased at the cost of gas in the States Up in Canada, we paid $1.28 a litre to fill up, or approximately $5.12 a US gallon, or $5.76 an Imperial gallon. Once we crossed the border, we didn’t have to fill up until Bowling Green, Ohio, and paid only $3.51 (if I remember correctly) per gallon. The car was filled before we left, we filled it once in Bowling Green for only $43, and then again in Bowling Green on the way back — yes, at the same gas station, for $42, and then we topped it off again in Pickering for $55 or so. Split three ways, that made our travel a cheap trip, especially considering how much it would have cost us to fly and how flying would have taken just as much time.