I didn’t write a blog last week because I was tweeting thousands of words an hour from the Romantic Times convention on the outskirts of Chicago and I just didn’t have any wit to spare for a full-blown blog. Plus, Bob Mayer says blogging is unnecessary. In fact, Bob Mayer says any promotion or marketing whatsoever until you have published three books is really a total waste of time. That may be true (I’ll kick it into high gear in September 2013 when book three comes out, not to worry), but I also like this longer format of expression for its own sake. Longer than a tweet, that is. And shorter than a book.
So I’ll keep blogging as much for my own enjoyment as to offer you seven readers an occasional peek into my “journey.” That’s a joke, by the way. I’m sitting at my desk. I am not journeying. My ass is in this chair, because that’s what writers do. Sit. It involves coffee and a pen and paper (or MacBook Air in my case) and a dog beneath the desk if you’re lucky. We writers sit for hours at a time and forget about our friends and spouses and children because…because there are characters in Russia falling in love and lying to themselves that it’s nothing and that they can just fool around and go back to their “real lives” and put all that foolishness behind them. Beautiful idiots.
It’s been a pretty eventful week. The RT convention was a series of peak experiences. I met famous people! I met Anne Rice! I met Colleen Lindsay! I took a picture of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Catherine Bybee, and Jennifer Probst! I met Bob Mayer! I was sitting with Jennifer Probst and Aimee Carson when Jen’s phone beeped and she learned her book had hit number 6 on the New York Times Bestseller list! (I tip my hat to Dalton, head waiter at the Hyatt Red Bar, who immediately returned to the table with a congratulatory, complimentary piece of chocolate cake. Well played, Dalton. Well played.) I had lunch and dinner with Lisa Hendrix, Jackie Barbosa, and Lori Brighton! I did a live #1k1hr in the lobby with Michelle Willingham, Jackie B., Lisa H., and Mira Lyn Kelly!
And I met everyone at Sourcebooks who has been instrumental in the care and feeding of my first book. Mark in Marketing, Todd in Everything, Dawn in the Art Department, Rachel in Copy Editing, Danielle and Heather in Publicity, Leah, Deb and Dominique! I watched Barbara Vey shake her booty on a disco-bus stripper pole! Susanna Kearsley is wise! Grace Burrowes is temperate! Maire Claremont is stunning! Zoe Archer is frank! Carrie Lofty is charming! Caridad Pineiro is merry! Cassandra Carr and Daisy Harris are saucy! Roxanne St. Claire is confident! I talked publishing trends and the disappearance of the-book-that-someone-spends-a-lifetime-to-write with Megan Frampton, Liz Edelstein, and Liz’s husband! I drank chocolatinis with Katharine Ashe, Mira Lyn Kelly and Erin Knightley! We were soon joined by Colleen Gleason (she likes the ginger hero!) and Heather Snow! I got to hang with the Harlequin ladies, including Maisey Yates!
And Anne Calhoun! Oh my god, can you imagine: she had an eight-hour layover in Chicago on her way to Turkey and I got to meet her in person! She brought Angela James over to our lunch table! Anne and Mira Lyn and I talked about books for four hours straight…they were both appalled at my not-having-yet-read Suzanne Brockmann. (I’m reading as fast as I can!) Then, on the last day, when I thought I’d just hang in the lobby alone until my plane left, I met C. Morgan Kennedy and Karen Stivali and Laurie London and learned more about everything! I loved Morgan’s thoughts on what resonates with a young reader: “As a girl, I just didn’t relate to books like Black Beauty. When I thought of horses I thought of the mounted policemen in inner-city Cleveland where I grew up. I didn’t think of freedom.”
And here’s the thing. My connection to all those people is one thing and one thing only: words. I love their words. Many of them are now my friends because I finished their books and wrote them a fan-girl email telling them my favorite lines and saying, “I just loved that. Thank you for that. My kids didn’t eat dinner on time because of that.” All of the other stuff becomes entirely inconsequential: political beliefs, religious beliefs, age, race, creed. (What is creed these days, anyway?)
It was just ALL good. Sometimes, when I’m feeling low, I think the romance community is akin to shark-infested waters. Treacherous. I have been swimming with sharks in real life. If you sit really still and don’t make any jerky motions they kind of swirl around you and eyeball you with their black opacity and it’s all very thrilling. Thrilling because you know they could eviscerate you. I no longer think anyone in the romance world is there to eviscerate me. Sarah Wendell specifically said, “I am not going to eat your intestines!”
When someone talks about a book they love or a story they’re working on it’s like this open road of joy…for me at least. Listening to people explain their characters, tease out their plots, or list their favorite books, it gives me that feeling that some people attribute to spirituality. It makes me feel like this is why I am here on Planet Earth: To read and write books.
PS Special thanks to my roommate Mingmei Yip who only became mildly bored with my new tendency to begin all sentences with the phrase, “Bob Mayer says…”