Got in Monday night from RT after a stormy drive back to NC. Because it would be twelve hours total driving, I broke the trip into two days. Very glad about that, too. Sleep can be optional sometimes at conventions so I was driving while a slightly bleary-eyed.

Before I begin my recap, let me apologize to everyone I met/chatted with that I don’t mention in this post. 90% of the time, I see only my husband, dog, and a few family members so the explosion of people I see at a convention is a little overwhelming. I end up feeling like everything blurs together in a fun mass of activity so it’s hard to keep things straight when recapping (or my memory sucks, which is also true).

I arrived Thursday afternoon in time to change clothes, freshen up, and grab lunch with Shiloh Walker, Nalini Singh, and Ilona and Gordon Andrews. Or, more accurately, they took pity on me and let me crash their lunch (which I did because hunger makes me shameless!). Here’s a pic with me, Ilona, and Gordon:

Afterward, I was on the Paranormal Author Chat with Nalini and Charlaine Harris. I’m a big fan of both women’s books so it was great to hear what they had planned next as well as some tidbits about their characters (still hoping for a Bluebell book, Nalini! Another side note: Charlaine Harris is the soul of graciousness. I want to be half as warm and welcoming as she is). We also had so many people attending the chat that they ended up taking down the curtained wall to the other room to allow for more space. And at some point during the chat, I revealed one of my shameful secrets: I snort when I laugh hard. I swear, it sounds like I’m channeling a donkey, but Nalini and Charlaine were cracking me up past my ability to squelch the snorts. For a more detailed recap of the Author Chat, check out RT’s piece on it here:

After the chat, I had coffee with my editor and then went out to dinner with Ilona, Gordon, and reviewer Jill Smith. You didn’t think I’d go all the way to Chicago and fail to indulge in some authentic deep dish pizza, did you? As Ilona mentioned in her RT recap, yes, I took a few wrong turns getting us to the restaurant. In my defense, I did warn everyone in advance that this would probably happen, but we all got to Uno’s and back to the hotel in one piece. After a big meal combined with waking up at 5am to drive to RT, I was tired, so after a brief attempt to be social in the lobby bar, I went to bed.

The next morning, I chatted a little with my roommate, Rachel Vincent, before heading to my interview with Jackie from Literary Escapism. Jackie had some great questions and the interview was a blast, partly so because she kept teasing her two friends with the Once Burned Arc that she had (if one of them swiped it before the convention was over, I’d testify in court that Jackie had been asking for it!).

After that was the Vampire Panel captained by Caridad Pinero where the topic was sex and violence in modern vampire novels. Among many observations was the agreement that sex and violence should be a believable reflection of the plot and/or characters instead of gratuitous pandering to a perceived market. In other words, don’t make your characters do things, sensually or brutally, that is contrary to their personalities just because of literary successes like 50 Shades of Gray and The Hunger Games.

Immediately following that was the Urban Fantasy panel captained by Richelle Mead on addictive characters ranging from anti-heroes to star-crossed lovers. Since all the panelists were women, it shouldn’t be surprising that the importance of strong heroines was stressed. I can’t remember the exact way author Christina Henry illustrated how women in today’s world were already amazingly strong, but I know when she was done speaking, I wanted to applaud. Short attempt at a recap: Being a wife, mother, employee, boss, sister, daughter, friend, or all the above day in and day out means that strength isn’t an option for women: It’s a requirement. Battling demons in a supernatural world? That would be the easy part of a woman’s day ;-).

After that panel I had time to catch up with Kim Castillo before the Avon Mixer at 6:15. Picture a ballroom filled with free books, free champagne, and free appetizers for the taking. Yes, it was a madhouse, lol, but fun. I don’t know how many copies of Eternal Kiss of Darkness my publisher had to give away, but before the event was over, we’d run out. Thanks so much to Avon for throwing such a great party and to everyone who attended!

Later that evening, my publisher treated their authors and other publishing professionals to a lovely dinner at Nick’s Fish House. Now, whenever I attend a publishing dinner, I try to be extra mindful of my manners…which is why this next part still makes my face turn red when I remember it.

The Waiter Incident

We were all together in a room , seated at several round tables close to each other (this fact becomes pertinent soon). I’d eaten my salad and entrée without incident and was debating whether to be good and only pick at my dessert, or dive in until I scraped the bottom of the martini glass it was served in. While this was happening, waiters were making the rounds with trays filled with coffee. I don’t know what made me glance down at that exact moment, but I did…and realized that my purse strap was caught around a waiter’s ankle (here I can practically hear my husband saying, “That’s because you always leave your purse in the way! When will you learn to tuck in UNDER your chair instead of leaving it on the side where people can trip over it?!”)

Back to the imminent disaster. The base of my purse was trapped beneath my chair leg, so if the waiter took one more step forward, the strap would pull taunt, tripping him. If that wasn’t bad enough, the tray of coffee he carried would probably end up all over the people at the other table. Panicked, I had one thought in my head: Must stop waiter from moving! And so I cried, “Wait!” while grabbing the nearest part of him that I could reach.

He stopped, all right, and turned around with an expression that could only be described as, “Whoever this is better be a GREAT tipper!” That’s when I realized in my haste to stop him from tripping, I’d grabbed more than just the hem of his jacket. I also had my hand clenched around his left butt cheek.

I immediately dropped my hand and pointed at his feet, sputtering something like “Your foot, my purse, so sorry!” The waiter disengaged his foot while everyone at my table, once they realized I had a good reason for groping the poor man, laughed at my embarrassment. The food was wonderful, but I don’t think I’ll be going back to that restaurant if I return to Chicago :).

More on Day 3 soon, where, among other things, I explain why I got in trouble with John Barrowman’s security detail at C2E2.
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Published on April 19, 2012 12:04 • 746 views
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message 1: by Linda (new)

Linda I agree that Charlaine Harris is gracious, but so are you! Even when us "fangirls" accosted you outside of the panels you were always polite and welcoming! I love your books, but I love you even more for being so nice to your fans. We appreciate it!

message 2: by Amanda (new)

Amanda LOL at The Waiter Incident! Thanks for sharing that! Also, enjoyed hearing about everything else. I was at the RT Conv., loved meeting you, Nalini Singh, and Charlaine Harris. I was telling Nalini that Illium is mine, and I will be devastated when she writes his book because he is mine! So, she signed my Kindle cover "To Bluebell's Woman". Made my day, and now it's official, right?!

message 3: by Marina (new)

Marina Love, love, love your pic with Ilona and Gordon.....Priceless!!!!

Short attempt at a recap: Being a wife, mother, employee, boss, sister, daughter, friend, or all the above day in and day out means that strength isn’t an option for women: It’s a requirement. Battling demons in a supernatural world? That would be the easy part of a woman’s day. SO TRUE!

message 4: by Gaynell (new)

Gaynell I always thought that the Ilona Andrews team's real names were Ilona and Andrew Gordon.

message 5: by HJ (new)

HJ Gaynell wrote: "I always thought that the Ilona Andrews team's real names were Ilona and Andrew Gordon."

Me, too.

message 6: by Jeaniene (new)

Jeaniene Frost Gaynell and HJ, you're right. I call him Gordon, though (don't know why, come to think :)) so that's how I wrote it up. Sorry for any confusion!

Amanda, don't make me fight you for Bluebell! Lol.

Linda, thanks for the kind words, and great to meet you last weekend! Marina, isn't that so true? I may have to work that saying into a book!

message 7: by Carol (new)

Carol Best form of damage control is get your version in first. At least you didn't wear the coffee, ouch!

message 8: by Ann (last edited Apr 24, 2012 09:53AM) (new)

Ann Boots Don't worry about the waiter incident Jeaniene. If he got a nice tip and a nice pinch, he may not have minded too much. Hee Hee

Wish I had been able to go to the convention. :( I'm a single mom and way too broke right now. But I'm dreaming of being one of the authors one day. Thanks for the awesome recap! I enjoyed it!

message 9: by Apol (new)

Apol Haha. You should definitely work in the waiter incident in one of your future books!

message 10: by Jocelin (new)

Jocelin Thanks for sharing your experience.

message 11: by Gwen (new)

Gwen Everything sounded like fun! Thanks for sharing with us!

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