Sunday, February 6, 2011

Rough life

I have flown exactly twice (well, two round-trips) since 9/11. The first time was to Colorado in late 2009 to see my BFF Laura. The second time was last week to go to Harlequin's sales conference, to which I was an invited guest. Of course this would be the day when massive ice storms were making their way down the East Coast and blizzards ravaging the Midwest, so that the main story on all the news sites was "what a complete, nearly unprecedented disaster for air travel!"

Still, I couldn't really complain, so long as I made it to Tampa and back alive (and I did). Harlequin (the uber-company of my imprint, Mira) had arranged for to fly down and stay in the very fabulous Saddlebrook Resort so I could meet the sales team and talk to them about "The Kingdom of Childhood." Now, here is where I know I ought to be all professional and write about how this was just another day in the life for me. If I said that, I would be lying. Spectacularly lying. I wasn't scared, exactly-- I'm very outgoing and friendly, and fortunately I was naive enough about what I was getting into that I didn't realize I should be scared. Instead I was just petrified about wearing heels for hours on end, because you see, I don't do heels. I have a wonky ankle that doesn't like them. When I was a baby the pediatrician put me in one of those torture devices they used to use on babies back in the '70s-- the ruler-like board with a shoe on each end, which they strapped your feet into if they thought you were pigeon-toed. I blame this device for all of my wonky-ankle woes and my subsequent indifference to shoes, which makes me strange, for a girl.

My flight was delayed by only two hours, and I made it down to Tampa just in time to get dressed in my suit-like-items and unlikely shoes, then rush back to the main building to schmooze. Also, I wore makeup. Whose idea was it to take a writer-- a writer, who chose this line of work because it allows her to sit at her MacBook in her pajamas all day and talk to the voices in her head-- and parade her in front of a series of top sales executives for one of the largest publishers in the world? I believe it was my editor's. Just to raise the stakes for the protagonist-- that would be me-- the schmoozing involved cocktails both before and after the dinner, which is perfect when the protag was a Mormon for nine years of her adult life and can neither hold her liquor nor even reliably name a drink she might want to order.

Here are some of the highlights from the actual dinner-and-a-show, so to speak:

* Meeting Julie Kagawa, the author of The Iron Queen and other YA faery novels which have been a massive success. Julie is just terrific. She is really funny and likable and cares a lot about her fans.

* Meeting Sarah Matheny, whose vegetarian family cookbook, "Peas and Thank You," will be out this summer. Right away she intimidated the heck out of me because she is tall and thin and very professional-looking, and since she's a vegan you suspect she's going to disdain you immediately for your intense love of bacon. I had her pegged completely wrong. She's not at all judgmental, she's very down-to-earth, and also, she's hilariously funny. She's one of those people who you find yourself rooting for, because people like that deserve to be famous.

* Car service. I hadn't even known this existed until I watched "Real Housewives of New York City." It's not a taxi, it's not a limo-- it's a sedan. Harlequin had me in these things coming and going, four times altogether, and as much as I love my minivan I have to admit it was enjoyable. However, on the way from the Tampa airport to Saddlebrook, the driver asked me if I minded if he set the radio to "the news," which was fine. Little did I know that "the news," in his interpretation, was Rush Limbaugh yammering about Sharia law for 45 minutes.

* Seeing my book spiral-bound, with its prototype cover. That rendered me speechless, and if you know me, you realize what a feat that is. I didn't even get to keep a copy, though. They all went off to various buyers and Harlequin people. It's okay, I'm pretty sure I know how it ends.

Now I'm pretty sure all the travel-y excitement is out of the way until Book Expo in May. Back to the pajamas and MacBook. And the minivan.

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