Feeling much more alert (and pleasant) after a good night's sleep - and believe me, in the wonderful king-sized bed, I had no problems crashing into dreamland - I was downstairs around 8:30am to get the day started. There was wonderful coffee and pastries for breakfast, and people were milling around, looking at all the lovely baskets. I couldn't resist and bought more tickets, especially for the Animal Adoption Foundation and Laurie's troop donations. I've said it before, there's nothing like making up a basket for this event. I just love doing it, and the hardest part is deciding what to put in it because I get carried away. And it's also fun to see what other people come up with. One year there was a basket of pleasure toys, and you ain't seen it all til you see Christy's mom Cheryl running around showing off her nipple clamps. Disturbing yes, but funny as hell.
I sat at the same table I was at on Friday, though people shuffle around, so we (me along with BarbS & Carolyn, two great ladies that are a lot of fun to be around) ended up with Lori Foster and her hubby Allen at our table, along with Lori's sister Monica. For those of you who don't know, Monica was in a terrible accident recently, and has had to have surgeries and therapy and is still tired and in lots of pain, but considering all of what she went through, she looked wonderful, and she's just lovely to talk to. In fact, Monica is the one that got Lori started on reading romances many years ago, so we have her to thank for Lori eventually becoming a writer. (THANK YOU MONICA!!!!)
Allen is really cool, loves chatting with everyone and lending a helping hand whenever needed. Such a nice guy, and he and Lori will be celebrating 30 years of marriage this month. What a truly remarkable couple they are, and they've raised some fine young men any parent would be proud of. Just a great family all around. I have great admiration for them all.
After scoping out the baskets, I went to go see some of my Peeps - JudyF, Laurie, LisaF, Niny, Chris S., Beth - who were hanging out at a different table. These ladies I've known almost since I joined Lori's Yahoo group years and years ago. We all think a lot alike and have the same sense of humor, so no matter how much time is in between visits, we can pick up again with no problem. I love friends like that. Judy F is so funny, sweet, just a dear, and our hottie goddess. Laurie is darling, and just so cute with a wicked sense of humor. She also gives great hugs. Lisa F. is darling, and her southern accent (from Georgia) is wonderful. I could listen to her talk all day, and I am forever grateful for her getting me started on Sarah McCarty's "Mac's Law". (Lisa I didn't forget I still owe you a book. I just have to get motivated to get to the post office). Niny is a riot, with her fast-talking, Puerto Rican/southern accent and exclamations and amusing outlook on life. I adore her. And Chris S. talks so fast and she's so funny and happy and has great taste in music and passionately loves romance novels and her and Judy are such good friends. Beth (aka LadyB) is awesome. Funny, smart, loves to pose for pictures, cute as a button and easy to get along with, she is the raffle princess. I'm going to be rooming with her in San Fran for RWA, and I'm so looking forward to it. I love these ladies like they were my own sisters, and even if the event weren't going on, I would have loved to just spend time with them.
And there's Kelley
, a real sweetheart who has become a writer in the last few years - it's amazing to watch her career take off. Fortunately her book "Getting Lucky With Luciano" arrived in time for the book fair, so I was able to get a signed copy. And Michelle B, photographer extraordinaire, who makes time to take some breathtaking pictures. I really wanted to win her basket, which was gorgeous. She is so talented and she teaches math at a community college - way smarter than me.
The book fair, run by the incredible and wonderful B&N goddess Linda Keller, started at 10am. Now this was where many of the authors' books were being sold, including "Power of Love". They actually bring a cash register from the bookstore to ring up sales. 15% of all the money spent will go to the Conductive Learning Center of greater Cincinnati. Not counting these book sales, $4552.50
was collected for CLC. That is fantastic! I bought several books, including a print copy of L. C. Monroe
's "Meagan's Chance". And getting the books signed was a fun challenge, but I managed to get 9 signatures out of 12 for 2 copies of "Power of Love" - one for myself and one for a contest I'll be having later this month, so I hope you'll stick around for that.
The raffle continued for all those lovely baskets, and I was so lucky to win one from the just gorgeous and talented Ann Christopher
, which included signed copies of "Trouble", "Risk" and "Sweeter Than Revenge", as well as a beautiful sterling silver bracelet (I just love silver). I was thrilled - what a fabulous basket to win.
Laurie ran the donations for the troops, and collected $526 in cash donations, as well as receiving several bags and boxes of items. The Animal Adoption Foundation, run by Tamberlyn, brought in $1064, plus supplies. People were so generous, despite the gas prices and everything else going on. But there aren't too many people more giving than the romance community. It felt good to be a part of all of it.
And the cool thing is, everyone wants to help in some small way We dismantled the book fair and put books in boxes for Linda, we cleared out the ballroom, we hauled packages and boxes and braved the heat and just did what we could to help Lori and Dianne who always put on a memorable weekend for us all. This year was no exception.
After a short break, a group of us decided to get together for dinner, and Max & Erma's was the restaurant of choice. I love this place, and it wasn't too busy, so conversation and eating were easily accomplished. Along with the Peeps were fellow BookJunky Jennifer A, Michelle Buonfiglio
, Susanna Carr
, and another author I didn't quite catch the name of, so 13(?) of us. The chatting was friendly and lively, and I just sat there, happy to be at there at that exact time with all this fun ladies. I know, I know, feel the love. What can I say, except it's way more fun to laugh and joke around with good friends who truly enjoy each other's company...though Laurie might be right in that she's going to end up in Hell, but she'll definitely be kept company while she's there. I don't think I'll be the only one joining her either *g*
After dinner, as crazy as it sounds, we headed over to Barnes and Noble, because you can never have too much of a good thing, even dragging Michelle Buonfiglio along with us for the ride. Chris S. had to get her June books, and Judy and I helped her find them. And one of the most fun moments I've ever had shopping for books came when a teacher, who was treating herself to an "end of the year" book binge, came along armed with a giftcard. She wanted recommendations! Music to our ears. When she mentioned vampires, I let her know that "Lover Enshrined" had been released, and she practially shrieked! I found a copy and put it in her hands and she was thrilled. I know exactly how she felt. I was like a crack dealer in that moment, and wow, the power. I liked it.
Breakfast with the authors. I usually sign up for Janice Maynard'
s group, and this year was no exception. We got up early for a 9am buffet, staying at the hotel instead of venturing out to one of the numerous restaurants. The food is wonderful and it's so nice to relax and talk and get last-minute pictures and hugs in. Some people had already left or were about to, so the weekend really was at an end.
This is the time I get emotional, knowing I'll see everyone again, but dreading having to say good-bye all the same. I said adios around 11:15 and went to go attack my hotel room and get some of the chaos under control - mostly I just stuffed everything into my suitcase and snuck out, feeling slightly on the verge of tears but also looking forward to getting home and relaxing with my new books.
The first few miles are always sad for me, and I miss everyone terribly, but it's good to be going home. The drive wasn't quite as windy, but near Hebron, IN the clouds were ominously black and the air still. Then it started to lightly rain, and all was good again. It took almost exactly 5 hours, but man, it actually was good to be home again. I miss everyone, but I had such a wonderful time and many new memories to enjoy.
- winning Ann Christopher's basket! I love it!
- Kelly A's intarsia
designs. She made an angel and a fairy, and they were just gorgeous. Sadly, I didn't win either one.
- dinner with the Peeps at Max & Erma's, where Michelle Buonfiglio came along and got us all talking about sex and whatever other naughty thoughts crossed her mind (that covers a lot of ground).
- putting books in a romance reader's hands. Recommending good books is a high that I could get used to.
- meeting Megan Hart, of the gorgeous black hair with purple highlights. I wish I could pull off this look. (Her and Lauren Dane together are hilarious). She is so sweet, incredibly nice (especially putting up with my gushing and stammering), and I am a huge fan of her work. I definitely have to be in the mood for it, but when you want a deep, emotional, heart-wrenching story, Megan knows how to deliver the genuine goods. She makes the most mundane come across as fascinating drama, and she knows how to engage the reader so thoroughly that you're completely hooked.
Of course, I cannot wait til next year, when the event will be held from June 5th - 7th, 2009, so mark your calendars, people. We want you there!
Labels: 2008, get-together