Thursday, July 28, 2011

Websites in Process

Boy, the Authorial Mom (that would be me, Sarah) has been working hard on updating my website. And by "working hard," I mean I have been scratching my head and feeling lost and confused while other people tell me things I don't understand and then take pity on me and hold my hand to walk me through the process.

It's exhausting, I tell you. I mean, what the heck IS an FTP, anyway? I haven't found the person who can tell me in English.

Which is why I don't have anything else to say today. Nothing funny, anyway. The Kid has been at my folks' house for a week, depriving me of cute Kid-isms to relate to you. The dogs just flop underneath whatever ceiling fan is going. Nothing funny there.

I'm busy working on a book that I'm calling The Lawman and the Judge, which is not going well because the hero, Tom Yellow Bird, has been in two books already being mysterious and unpredictable. Why I expected him to do anything different in his own book, I don't know, but he's being highly mysterious and unpredictable. It's driving me (and a variety of loved ones and trusted friends) absolutely batty.

And it's hot.

So There.

Tune in next week (I hope!) when I will grandly unveil my newly redesigned website!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Taking the Publishing World by Storm (or at least by a light rain)

So the Romance Writers of America annual conference began. Time to get to work!

We eased into this whole business thing by having dinner with my editor, Stacy Boyd, as well as Desire editor Charles Griemsman and Desire author Cat Schield. I'm going to be honest. After two straight dinners with beverages winding up on my lap, I was worried that some sort of fluid would be spilled on someone. This fear got even stronger when Cat let my child--Chief Spiller--play with her Ipad and the deluxe Angry Birds. I owe that woman. Big Time.

But we made it through dinner sans spill, thank God. The next morning was the first official Harlequin event, Digital Day. This is where nice people who know about things like Twitter and stuff tell me what to do. Like join Twitter.

This was mere moments before I was informed I had to join Twitter. Notice I'm still smiling. Here. Come follow me on Twitter

That evening, I had a truly productive, happy meeting with Stacy. She'd just finished reading the first Bolton book and was enthused. This was thrilling, because most of the time, I have no idea what I'm doing. It's great to know when it's working! So, if everything works according to plan, everyone else will have a crack at those Bolton Boy in 2013, with the two follow-up novels to A Man of His Word coming out in 2012. EXCITING!

Actually, let's just take a moment to pause. 'Exciting' is not nearly a strong enough word to sum up the happy fruit of my four years of labor. Let's all take a moment to jump up and down and scream "YIPEEE!" as loud as possible, okay? Because, trust me, that's what I'm doing right now.

Then I had Junior's cheesecake with Carolyn and Jennifer of Romance Novel News. Two funnier, nicer women I'm not sure I'll ever meet--emphasis on the funnier part there. I'm not sure we're allowed back in Junior's, though.

The next day I went to some workshops, listened to some speeches, and wore white pants without anyone--including myself--spilling on them. Then I went to a blogger's tea thrown by Harlequin--hey, I do occasionally review books for RNN!--where the lovely ladies made me wear a fascinator-style headpiece. It was a tea, after all. I met fellow new Desire author Andrea Laurence, which was a very good thing. 

That's me with Andrea on the left and Cat Schield in the middle (sans fascinators). The new Desire Authors!

That night, I went to one of only two chapter events I ever make it to--the Chicago-North RWA champagne party. For reasons that are best described as 'insane,' I took my husband and son. I seriously thought my hubby would have a glass of champagne while The Kid cribbed a few pieces of chocolate--and then they would leave. They were still there an hour later. The chocolate was Lindt, so The Kid looked like a chipmunk. I guess he was adorable enough to be allowed to stay.

After we all left, I went up, tucked him into bed, and went to the last party of the night--the Harlequin pyjama party--because Harlequin headquarters are in Canada, and that's how they spell it up there. I wore my fascinator.

As you can see, I have a twig on my head. Which was good, because Larissa Walker wore hers, too. Even though Larissa and Amy Wilkins made me join Twitter, they turned out to be a fun bunch of women. I won't even talk about how fun Vivienne Courtoise was. I think her bunny glasses say it all.

Thursday came and went in a rush. I went to the Harlequin Series Toast--where I drank champagne on a mostly empty stomach--and then, that night was the Harlequin Publisher's Party.

It was, in a word, crazy. NOT the kind of crazy where nearly nude male models wear fig-leaf briefs and pretend to be classic statues like David. But it was CLOSE.

Here's the funny story about the party. I didn't feel awesome to begin with--see above about champagne on an empty stomach, followed by a too-heavy dinner. I got crammed into a van with seven other ladies. After bobbing and weaving through the crazy city streets, we get to the Waldorf Astoria. That alone is awesome. I go to pay my share for the ride, and the rest of the van laughs at me. Little did I know that the woman who was in the front seat was Brenda Chin, senior editor of Harlequin Blaze. She paid. I was very thankful as I tried to remember if I had said anything embarrassing on the ride over.

Okay, no. Disaster averted. Into the Waldorf! Where I promptly discovered I was not on The List. As in, not going to the party. This is the moment where panic set in. "But I write for Harlequin!" I said in a voice that was not even a little whiny. An Official Person was called over, I handed over my business card, and was shunted to the side.

Sheer panic.

But then my knight in shining armor--better known as Charles Griemsman, Desire Editor--walked up with USA Today Bestselling Author Day Leclaire. "What are you doing over here?" Charles asked. "I'm not on the list." I swear, the hackles visibly went up on Charles' neck. "You're not on the list? Oh, we will see about that!"

Luckily, before Charles could go all velociraptor on someone, the Official Person said I could go in. I was given my pair of socks and the green light.

Yes. Socks. With Harlequin embroidered on them. Before I could grasp that, I found myself standing with Day and Charles in front of a Harlequin backdrop with the world's Grumpiest Old Man Paparrazi. "They tell me 300, and now they say 500. It's elder abuse, I tell you--Elder Abuse. Now smile!" Trust me--smiling was the only option at that point.

So I go in, carrying my socks.

So, it turned out that you need socks because everyone--and I mean EVERYONE--dances. No exception. They fly in the same DJ every year, and he plays the same set list to open. Editors, publishers, NYT Best-Selling Authors--they all take their shoes off and dance. Every single person.

So I danced. I wandered past the custom-made cupcake and ice cream bars. I drank Shirley Temples at the open bar. I yawned while boogieing. Finally, after 2 1/2 hours, I had to go to sleep.

So I wander down to the street, plaintively asking if anyone wants to share a cab ride back to the conference hotel. Three nice ladies say sure, and ask me what I write. We chitchat back to the hotel, and I get out my money to pay my part. All three women kind of laugh at me. "Honey," the tall one says, "You're in a cab with three editors from the Toronto office."

Oh. I was very thankful as I tried to remember if I had said anything embarrassing on the ride over. No, I think. So good to go there. But thus, the major money-saving trip: Always catch rides with editors. They put cab fare on the company tab.

Friday was also good. I slept in past the first session--Shirley Temples take a lot out of a girl!--but made it to the session I was moderating, "How to Make Yourself Irresistible to Editors." An editor wound up requesting a partial of Mystic Cowboy after that. And thus, my business trip was complete. Mission Accomplished!

So while I didn't necessarily take the Publishing World by Storm, I did manage to take it by a Light Rain. Many thanks go out to Andrea, Cat, Charles, Stacy, Day, Blythe Gifford, Rebecca Finley, and everyone else who helped make my trip insanely productive and fun!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New York, New York! (Part 2)

So, we made it to New York (after passing through Newark). The RWA annual conference didn't start for three days. You know what that meant, right? VACATION, baby!

(Luckily for you, I got my pictures off my camera!)

Here's the trick to travelling in a large city with a small child: Plan your trip around things said child has seen in movies. Hence, the first tourist thing we did was have dinner at Sardi's, because Kermit goes there in The Muppets Take Manhattan. I gave The Kid the camera while we were waiting for our tasty food:

Every place I've ever given that Kid a camera, and the first thing he takes a picture of is the carpeting.

Here he wanted to remember not the people, but the wall of glasses. "Cool!"

And a close of up a glass. Because everything's better when you're on vacation!

Dinner was wonderful, except when The Kid dropped his glass of milk on my brand-new, never-before-worn, first-pair-since-before-he-was-born white jeans. Luckily for everyone involved, it was white milk.

Then, once my pants were dry, we went to see the Lion King.
Trust me, I've broken my long-standing rule about putting The Kid's face on this blog. He's there. You just can't see him.

The show was great, but it had been such a long day that The Kid fell asleep during a slow number and no amount of singing, dancing animals could rouse him. Which saved us from having to buy a $20 stuffed animal, so I'm okay with that.

The next day, we got up and hit every Kid's favorite museum: The Guggenheim.
This picture is entitled "Mommy telling me what to do."

Despite it popping up in Men in Black and Mr. Popper's Penguins, the Guggenheim is a little, ah, challenging for your average short person. Luckily, they had a Family Fun Sunday going on, so for 1/2 the adult admission, we got to walk around with an enthusiastic young college art student and occasionally color. It wasn't a bad deal, but by the end of three hours, The Kid was about to melt. So, in exchange for him not trashing priceless pieces of art, we went to the destination in New York:

Yes. Lego Land. If you look under the dragon and between the Lego-ized Rockafeller Center, you'll see me and The Kid, reveling in the tiny-block glory of it all. We bought Legos. Of course we did. We even kicked back a little to The Kid for helping us getting us into the Guggenheim cheaper.

Then we went to the top of our hotel, which had a revolving restaurant.
I'll spare you the carpet picture. Please note the sheepish look on my husband's face. That's because about 15 min. before The Kid snapped this picture, he'd knocked his glass of red wine over. Into my lap. Making the family 2 for 2 in spilling on Mommy. At least my skirt was black that night. And I also got to see the Top of the Chrysler Building shine like a song from Annie.

The next day was the big one--Statue of Liberty Day.
We were a little excited. Okay, a lot. We were going to check an important item off my bucket list: Climbing to the top of Lady Liberty herself.

So we climbed.

And we climbed.

And we climbed. I was bringing up the rear. Please hold all your jokes until the end of the blog.

It's 354 stairs to the top. As we went up, the stairs got narrower and narrower, and the air got hotter and hotter. We were in a metal object, after all, climbing up the Spinal Column, as The Kid so aptly observed. 

Climbing up the Statue is all about lung power--slow and steady wins this race. Finally, we made it to the top.

It was a clear day--good for seeing the harbor and the city, bad for sweating. The side of Liberty's head facing the sun was just shy of egg-frying--at 9:45 in the morning. BUT WE MADE IT!
Note the sweaty exuberance on my face. I DID IT! Notice, also, how close our heads are to the ceiling. Yeah, we bumped our noggins several times. 

So we made it up! Now came the hard part.

Getting down. Going up was all about lungs; going down was all about muscle control--one misplaced step, and it was a long 354 stairs until I hit the bottom. I was going very, very slowly--the guys were probably 15 steps ahead of me--when I heard the most ferocious clatter over my head. The ranger who'd been up in the crown was coming down--at full speed! "I'm not going that fast!" I shouted, ever aware that there was still a LONG way down to go. He's a pro at this, though, and I shouldn't have worried. He got stopped with at least two steps to spare. Whew!

So we made it down, which was almost as big of an accomplishment as making it up. When we got out onto the pedestal, we kept taking pictures like this one from every angle and going, We climbed all the way UP THERE.

We celebrated in the traditional way:

We tried on silly hats. Ah, America! 

Tune in next week for the exciting conclusion to the Authorial Mom vacation, "Taking The Publishing World By Storm (Or at least by a light rain)."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New York, Newark... (Part 1)

So, I was gone for 10 days. What did I miss? Yes, I have to ask. My phone is not smart. Some might even call it stupid, because the only thing my phone does is (gasp!) is make telephone calls. And occasionally receive them.

Anyway. We went on vacation! I worked like a crazy lady to finish my book, The Last Honest Lawyer, before we left, meaning that for five whole days, I was really and truly not working.

Except for that whole Mom thing. And the driving. Yes, I drove to New York with the family in tow. Thus, again, one of the downsides of being married to a man who's legally blind--on long car trips, I'm stuck behind that wheel. No naps for me! But not to worry. The Husband has a smart(ish) phone and read me my email for fun. And because we have a Prius, we entertained ourselves by feeling smug for getting 50.8 MPG on the drive out east.

The Kid was there, too--trapped in the backseat with nothing but 100 Legos, 20 books, 4 audio books, 6 movies, 4 coloring books and crayons, and 3 stuffed animals to keep him company. Poor Kid, he nearly died of boredom.

The first night was easy. We went to my in-laws' house near Decatur after work. They cooked us food and played with The Kid. We normally are at their house for a large family event, so it was nice to hang out on the small scale for a while. The next day, we got up and headed east. When we hit Indianapolis, The Kid excitedly announced that we were in New York! This became a reoccurring theme--no matter what metropolitan area we approached, it was New York. We stopped that night in Columbus. I had lived in Columbus for two years while earning my snooty Master's in Victorian Literature (snoot, snoot!), and my husband wanted to see where I'd lived.

It was the world's fastest tour of Columbus. We did a quick tour of the State House, went down to say 'hi' to the ducks I used to see every morning (well, maybe their duck grandkids--not sure how long ducks live, and it's been 10+ years since I graduated), stopped by the Topiary Garden where, if you stand in just the right place, all the shrubs have been trimmed and trained to look just like A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grande Jatte by Georges Seraut (no, really--topiary garden!) and then we hit Schmidt's Sausage Haus, where The Kid had an epic meltdown--the kind of meltdown where all you can do is say, "Honey, can you sob quieter? You're bothering the other guests," to which the sob-ee replies, "NO! I CAN"T SOB ANY QUIETER!" But the arrival of pretzel nuggets, lemonade, and a guy playing an accordion saved the day.

The next day, we drove to Hershey, PA, land of chocolate and singing cows. I will say, the singing cows were cheesy--but they were PERFECT for The Kid, who loved the animatronic show so much that we rode the little Chocolate World ride twice. We also did a chocolate tasting--and are now certified chocolate tasters--and (of course) bought and ate chocolate.

The next day we drove to my cousins' house in New Jersey. I hadn't been to New Jersey since they got married a whopping 17 years ago. In case you hadn't noticed this, one of the key ways of knowing your getting old is to visit relatives and have a lovely young woman open the door and realize that you held that lovely young woman when she was 6 months old. That, my friends, is how you know you're getting old.

After visiting and feeling old, my cousin took us to the train. This is also known as being cheap: my wonderful relatives watched our car for the week and took us to the train. More money for mini Statue of Liberty figurines, really.

So we're on the train, and the conductor people kept mentioning Newark--"Next stop, Newark," and the like. And every single time, The Kid jumped up and down and got very, very excited because we were in New York! Which lead to a 'Who's on First' conversation: Conductor: Newark. The Kid: NEW YORK! Authorial Mom: No, Newark. The Kid: That's what I said--New York!! Authorial Mom: No, no, we're in Newark. The Kid: YIPPEE! We're in NEW YORK!

Seriously, this went on for some time. Lucky that Kid is cute, because other passengers were giggling instead of threatening us with bodily harm.

Finally, we make it to the real New York.  But that's a whole 'nother ball of wax. Hopefully, by next week, I'll have located the cords for my camera (yes, my camera still requires cords. It also does not make phone calls. So shoot me.) So stay tuned for more thrilling travel adventures with the Authorial Mom!