amazing friends

Moving On Up!

on September 9, 2008

So for some reason this weekend I decided I didn’t have enough going on in my life. In some moment of enlightenment (or possibly insanity), I decided to move. By the end of the month. Actually, I’m moving in two weeks. That’s right, on top of planning a company holiday party, an RWA chapter conference, finishing the current quarter of college courses, working full time and chasing around a 9 year old, I’m moving. Why, you ask? Because I can.

I’ve lived in my apartment for three years now. Every September I fill out the paperwork to renew my lease and stay put. Now, I like my apartment. It’s a little small but the kiddo and I don’t need much. It’s clean and comes with a dishwasher and central heat & air – the two things required for any abode of mine. But on the downside, it’s on the third floor, it’s twenty miles from work and even further from some of my friends. So when I found a letter stuck in my door last Thursday night that I had to be out by September 30th, I was totally shocked….at first.

But then I got mad. First of all, how do you give a 26 day 30-day notice? Then when I finally reached someone in the office after 10am the next day, it was explained that they just use these letters to terrify tenants into turning in their paperwork. Yes, terrify is the word she used. WTF?! Why can’t they just put a letter in the door that says we really need your paperwork in the next few days or we may have to terminate your lease? Wouldn’t that be a much better approach?

So, I decided to call their bluff. And from all the signs, I’d say it was meant to be. A co-worker suggested I check out a complex where she used to live that is in the best school district in Virginia Beach. The place usually has a waiting list but as of Friday they had one apartment available before the end of this month. I went to see it that afternoon and turned in all my deposits today. I get the keys on the 19th and I’ll move in on the 20th. That’s right, I’m moving in TWO FREAKING WEEKS!

This means manic packing. Right now I’m working on clearing out everything that either goes in the dumpster or to the charity store. I’m bringing boxes home from work tomorrow and I’ll start packing all the books and knick knacks (or what-nots depending on where you live). I’ll clear out my closet and the clothes in my drawers by the weekend and from there I’ll just have to pack the stuff in the kitchen.

But the best part about this is how excited my friends are that I’m moving closer to them. And how many of them keep telling me I’m not doing this alone. I guess I’m even more blessed than I knew.

How about you? Have you ever moved on a whim? Packed all your belongings in under 14 days? Ever have one of those friends that was always moving and always expected you to help? Anyone want to come to the beach in two weeks and help me move? LOL!

Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

on August 26, 2008

This is going to be a big slush fest so prepare yourselves. I debated about posting that last blog (look down…not at your lap, at the blog below this one) and worried it would come across once again as me whining. But then I thought maybe someone else could be going through a similar experience and by reading my blog, could see that they weren’t alone. I also admit to the selfish idea that putting all that down in writing would be therapeutic and help me feel better. I should have known better.

Not that typing that didn’t get it all out, but that the help wouldn’t stop there. I want to thank everyone who offered support, advice and understanding. Those who shared their own experiences, either in email or in comments, and those who were just here. I have been lucky enough to virtually meet the most amazing women (and the amazing Q!) in the last couple of years. I will never regret getting bored one hot July night and wondering onto the Eloisa James (then sans Ms. Quinn) Bulletin Board and entering this crazy world.

I can never thank you enough and I only wish I could give all of you the hugs you deserve. Some of you I have been lucky enough to hug in person, some I will soon, and yet others I just know I’ll get to eventually. At least I hope so. For now, you’ll have to settle for this giant, slobbery, virtual kiss [MWAH!!!] .

For fun, how did you find your way into this giant online community we’ve built? Would you have ever imagined a virtual family like this? I know I didn’t. But I’m sure glad I found all of you!

RWA Recap – Prepare Yourself, This is Long

on August 13, 2008

I realize I have been remiss in getting a blog up here to share my experiences of the RWA National Conference in San Francisco. Why might that be, you ask? Well, it be because I was tired. That’s right, I learned on this trip that I’m a terrible traveler and much too old for these sorts of things! Imagine my dismay at this revelation. Me, the one who dreams of seeing the world. Or several parts of it anyway. My dreams are dashed! *throws arm across her forehead*

Yeah, I’m being melodramatic. So sue me. First off, thanks to all of you who stopped by and tried to help me calm down in my pre-conference panic. You were all so sweet to this crazy old woman. As I guessed would be the case, I was better once I was on the plane and everything was in motion. But that build-up and packing stress nearly did me in.

The trip was fantastic. I met up with J Perry (aka Julianne) at the Atlanta airport and right away started to feel better. It probably helped that she made me take some of that Airborne stuff. Have I mentioned J is pushy? No? Well, she is. [to the right is a shot of the city from Pier 39]

Anyhoo, smooth flights all the way, none or little sleep achieved which is probably what did me in. We didn’t get to the hotel until 3pm Cali time which meant at that point I had been awake for fourteen hours. And I had at least seven or eight hours to go. Not good.

Since I had to report for raffle ticket selling duty at five, the girls had to go to dinner without me, but Kim C. was awesome enough to stay with me while I grabbed a bit of coffee cake from the Starbucks in the hotel. Kathryn Caskie made me try my cake first before she’d decide if she would buy her own. Happy to say I didn’t mind being her guinea pig one bit. Kathryn is always so sweet even if she does make me feel like a dwarf. [to the left are my fabulous roommates and bestest buddies J Perry & Santa]

Then it was off to sell the tickets. At the signing I met up with *takes a deep breath* Anna Campbell, Christie Craig, Gemma Halliday, Donna MacMeans, Loucinda McGary, Lorraine Heath, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Julia Quinn, Christie Ridgeway, Liz Carlyle, Deb Marlowe, Claudia Dain and Beth Andrews. Oh, and before the signing I caught Leslie Langtry in the lobby bar. Ms. Phillips was out of books by the time I got around to talking to her, but she was incredibly sweet, signed a bookmarker for me, and didn’t seem frightened at all when I said I want to be her when I grow up. By the time I finished attending her workshop the next day, I wanted to tuck her in my pocket and take her home.

Needless to say, with over 500 authors in the room, there were tons more with whom I never got the chance to visit. I almost got to meet Connie Brockway but she was on her way out and I’m not even sure I managed an introduction. Nora Roberts’ and Sherrilyn Kenyon’s lines were way too long to even get close to them. I walked past countless others but couldn’t begin to name them all. [to the right is my other bestest roomie, Manda]

And that was only in the first few hours! There were still three more days to go! Right after the signing I had the pleasure of attending the bash thrown by the Romance Bandits. Talk about an awesome group of women. The fact they are talented writers is just a bonus, these women are funny, generous, and gracious. It felt more like a reunion of friends than a first meeting. I would thank them all but there are so many and I know I’ll miss someone. Here’s a picture of the bunch so you can see I’m not making that number up. And three of them are missing! And yes, I did get my Tim Tams! Whoot to the Awesome Aussie ladies!

The rest of the trip is a whirlwind in my mind. My fondest memories are spending time in the room with my phenomenal roommates. Santa, J Perry, and Manda are the best roommates ever. I would never have had such a good time without them and I thank them for their patience, their humor and their sheer, contagious love. And I especially appreciate my bedmate’s revision of her “sleeping without panties on” policy. Thanks, Santa. LOL! [to the left is Sabrina Jeffries & Stephanie Janulis and our waiter Mitch who jumped in at the last minute]

Saturday was the Eloisa James/Julia Quinn luncheon and though we missed Eloisa terribly (she’s in Italy so we can’t feel TOO sorry for her), we had a fabulous time with special guests Laura Lee Guhrke, Sabrina Jeffries, Elizabeth Hoyt, Candice Hern and Susan Kay Law. And our hostess with the mostess, Julia Quinn, was nice enough to bring an Advance Readers Copy of her next release, Mr. Cavendish, I Presume, which is now making the rounds to all the luncheon participants’ houses. [to the right is Cinthia Hamer (one of my future roomies for M&M) Mary Danielson and J Perry]

I could tell you that snard was pretty much the topic of conversation and many laughs were had by all, but then you’d just be confused and I couldn’t possibly explain it all here. Suffice it to say, my cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing and I think I scarred Franceza for life.

After walking to the luncheon with Elizabeth Hoyt, I walked back to the hotel with Julia. I’m not sure my feet touched the ground the rest of the day. Then again, I know they did because that afternoon is when I played hookie from the workshops and book signings to take a sight seeing trip down to Pier 39. Local native, Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy on the Romance Bandits blog, was sweet enough to jump in a taxi with me and be my tour guide for the afternoon. I couldn’t have asked for a better one. [to the left are sea lions at Pier 39]

She pointed out all the important sites, gave background and local folklore, and made sure we made it to the most important shop – Chocolate Heaven. Need I say more. We walked a bit with the goal of getting me on a trolley, but with an hour and a half wait, we decided it was time to find a cab. I’m proud to say that is when I flagged down my first taxi ever. I felt so grown up and “Sex and the City” like. LOL! Then back at the hotel she sat down and taught me how to knit. She even bought me my own needles! I’m adopting her first chance I get. Here’s AC at the Rainforest Café with one of the café regulars. Isn’t she the cutest thing?!

Saturday night was the RITA/Golden Heart ceremony, which is pretty much the RWA version of the Oscars. Everyone looked beautiful and some of those dresses would have looked perfect on the red carpet outside the Shrine Theater in Hollywood. We screamed and cheered for our favorites, jumping out of our seats when Bandita Susan Seyfarth won the Golden Heart and again when Julia Quinn won her second RITA in as many years. Some speeches made us laugh while others made us cry and still others had everyone in the room blushing. I believe everyone there knows which one that was. [to the left are some of the Romance Bandits in thier beautiful RITA/Golden Heart outfits]

I forgot to mention the amazing lounge at the top of the hotel called The View (for obvious reasons). Yes, these pictures are taken out the windows (or should I say glass walls) of the bar. And this is a picture of my James McAvoy bath water. I admit I can’t prove he ever took a swim in the spring in Scotland from which this water was collected, but I have no proof he didn’t either. 😉

Sunday was bitter sweet as I had to watch each of my friends wonder off in the direction of their hometowns. Each time I had to let another go, it felt as if I had this adorable litter of pups and I was giving them all away to good homes, never to see them again. First Manda in the cab, then Santa at the San Fran airport and J Perry in the Atlanta terminal. Even Sabrina Jeffries, who was on our flight and spent lots of time hanging out in the aisle talking to us, was hard to leave in Atlanta.

The good news is that I am determined to put all of the knowledge, determination and inspiration acquired over those four days to good use and finish this damn book! And the even better news is that I get to see J Perry, Manda and my new-found, sweet-as-a-peach friend Cinthia Hamer at the Moonlight & Magnolias conference in Atlanta in October. Then it’s pining away for next year’s conference in Washington D.C. I’m happy to report it’s in my time zone, I can drive up, and I will be much more awake! [to the left are Lindsey Faber (book trailer extraordinaire!) and Sara Lindsey who recently sold for the first time in a 3-book deal to NAL]

A quick shout out to all the girls (in addition to those already mentioned) who made this trip special – Tessa, Lindsey, Sara L., Elodie, CM, Amy, Darcy, Suzanne, Joanie, Nancy, Keira, Mary, and Stephanie. I love all your guts!