Been out of the loop this week not quite attending the Romance Writers of America's 2009 national conference. I decided to skip the conference itself but not the chance to see my friends. cymreiges came early to visit and get a taste of the city. We cruised Adams Morgan on Tuesday. Wednesday we toured some of DC's choicest treasures: the Renwick Museum of American Art, the Freer (Asian Art and the extraordinary Peacock Room by James McNeill Whistler), the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress (my favorite building in DC) and the infamous "Black Aggie" counterfeit of St. Gaudens' Grief, then topped everything off with a ghost tour of Alexandria. (Thanks again, Jana!)
Yesterday, I was honored to dine with the super women of From the Heart Romance Writers, RWA's online chapter at Cafe Paradiso. Great bunch of ladies, and I hope to be able to play more in their sandbox soon.
Today was party central. First came the Samhain Publishing bash. Senior editor Angela James opened her suite to an eclectic mix of Samhain authors (hey, Monica Burns, Allie Blue, Terri Schaefer and Leigh Wyndfield!), aspiring Samhain authors, fans and "friends of the family" like Jennifer Jackson and Lucienne Diver. My only regret was I didn't get to connect with two of my personal faves, cover artist extraordinaireannecain and Kate Johnson. I think they were hiding from me. (And I'm so harmless; ask anyone!)
Afterwards, I ran into old friend Venus Campbell and her critique partner Lori. Venus and I met at the 2006 BEA. At the moment she's completed five novels and submitted none of them. Hmm, obviously someone needs a serious nagging. But other than that, she's almost perfect. And yes, I am hoping this will give her a little nudge. :-) Oddly enough, I ran into Marcia Colette while I was hanging with Venus and Lori, not at the Samhain party. Go figure.
Finally, the Harlequin party. This is the event all of RWA waits for, and they did themselves proud for their 60th anniversary. There were bars themed to the decades of Harlequin's operations. (The champagne was at the 1980s bar. Guess where I was...when I wasn't dancing, that is.) There were incredible desserts, a slide show of Harlequin covers and cover shoots (very funny). I finally got to congratulate jer_bear711 on her Prism for Wicked Game and wave manically to a great many friends from my local RWA chapter, Washington Romance Writers.
I found a seat at the table with Jana, her agent Meredith Bernstein, her good friend P.C. Cast and P.C.'s charming dad, who was the unquestioned belle of this particular ball. Mr. Cast has the loveliest old-fashioned manners, and he dances! First he cut the rug with Meredith (and me, but mostly Meredith, whose sequinned skirt gave me serious skirt envy. Her blue pumps weren't bad either.) After that, the women wouldn't let the man stay in his chair. You have not lived until you've seen Nora Roberts twirling to "Jailhouse Rock" in the arms of P. C. Cast's dad. And P.C. snapped the pictures to prove it. I only hope she posts them. Afterwards, Nora confessed she needed to recover, because she couldn't keep up. "And I'm in good shape!" she added.
Mr. Cast is going to have some great stories to bring home to the missus. I suggested he bring her next time, and I think he will. This kind of good time is too good not to share. :-)
And because nobody else mentioned it... As an Italian, I had a small problem with last night's Leverage. Any mafioso worth his linguine with clam sauce would know the guy with the black suit and center-white collar is ALWAYS calledjer-bear711 has a new series set for publication in 2010 with a new wrinkle on seeing dead people that sounds a-MAAAAA-zing. Click here for the full story.
And because nobody else mentioned it... As an Italian, I had a small problem with last night's Leverage. Any mafioso worth his linguine with clam sauce would know the guy with the black suit and center-white collar is ALWAYS called "Father", never "Reverend". Evah! But I forgive them. I forgive them everything, because of the following exchange between Timothy Hutton and Christian Kane:
(Thanks, seanan_mcguire ! The line was much better the way they really did it. :D)
Yes, the book has vampires. (Hawt vamps, even.) Yes it has romance. But it takes both in directions you've never seen before. The heroine, Ciara, is a con woman trying to go straight by helping a group of vampire DJs keep their station from being gobbled by a homogenizing radio conglomerate. (Can you say Clear Channel? Jeri didn't, but that's what it reminded me of.)
The vamps were turned at the transformative moments of 20th century music--the delta blues of the Twenties, the rockabilly of the Fifties, the psychedelic Sixties, the reggae of the Seventies, the Eighties' goth and alternative scene, and the grunge Nineties. But they're stuck there. Jeri modernizes the old Eastern European tradition that a vampire can't cross a threshold which has been scattered with grain. According to the tradition, the vampire will be forced to count each grain and will be trapped until sunrise. In Jeri's hands this translates to OCD vamps, and it works beautifully.
Just about everything in the book works beautifully--plot, characterization, language. My only gripe is how long it will take before book two is ready to roll. But Jeri's trying to mitigate the pain. Over the next twelve months, Jeri will be posting the turning stories of each of her vamps on her site. I'm looking forward to them all.
But I really want to read what happens next.
Cheers and smiles,
Friday, April 25
6 p.m. Reinventing Paranormal: Making Love to an Alien, Fairy or Werewolf. For my sins, I'm moderating this one. There are only three--count 'em three--listed victims...er, participants, and I happen to know one of my co-panelists, jer_bear711, is taking a train that isn't scheduled to arrive in Richmond until 4:45 p.m. It's gonna be close, folks. Plus, the panel's supposed to be about injecting new life into the tropes of paranormal romance. This one should be really interesting. Hmm, wonder if it's too early to bring rum.
8 p.m. Opening Ceremonies. Not much for me to do there except stand around looking harmless. Another challenge. Guess I have to forego the rum. Dang!
Saturday, April 26
9 a.m. The Best Little Series You Never Saw. Yes, you read that right--A.M. Needless to say, I've written up copious notes on all the TV shows I loved which never made it past their first or second season, and brought toothpicks to prop my eyelids open so I could read them.
Noon. Blogging for the Modern Day Writer. It's a craft panel discussing the utility of blogs for new and established writers. I'm moderating this one too, but a host of people are on the guest list, so there should be a lot of opinions to choose from.
7-10 p.m. Book Launch/Pre-Publication Party. With dessert! And liquid-type stuff (for which we may need to card)! In honor of Jeri's Wicked Game (first in a new series, pub. May 13) and Jana's Madman's Dance (third in her Time Rovers series, pub. September), we'll be opening the suite to friends, relatives and anyone who will consent to take home a bookmark and promise faithfully to buy...er, express interest in the books, including With Nine You Get Vanyr. (Hey, I'm sharing the room too!)
9 p.m. Le Bad Anime. I'm gonna miss part of my own party! Wah! But at least I'll be able to dis my least favorite anime in the fashion they deserve.
Sunday, April 27
9 a.m. Urban Fantasy. Yes, another day for the toothpicks. I think the programming director hates me. And she doesn't even know me! *sob* The description of this panel poses the musical question: "Why are there werewolves, vampires and ghosts in a world that should be primarily fey?" That buzzing you hear is my next attack of Devil's Advocate coming on strong.
2 p.m. The Popularity of Parnormal in Both Nonfiction and Fiction. The juxtaposition of both should give this panel a nice twist.
Hope to see you there!
April 25-27, RavenCon, Richmond, VA
I expect to go a little wild at this one. I'm rooming with jer_bear711and cymreiges, both of whom have fabulous new books coming out this year and want to celebrate the arrival of same. They're actually contemplating letting me loose in a room party. Heh heh. And, oh yeah, there will be great programming too. ;-)
May 17-18, Philadelphia Book Festival, Philadelphia, PA
This one's a little unusual for me. It's a book fair sponsored by the Free Library of Philadelphia. Samhain Publishing has reserved a booth, and I volunteered to help out with sales, etc. I've never worked a sales table before, but with everything that's going on at the fair, it's got to be a win/win/win situation. I get to promote a good product, maybe even sign a book or two (yes, Virginia, turns out my mother-in-law's square apple pie recipe really is in The Write Ingredients--go us!), and after it's over I can visit family and friends in the area.
May 23-26, Balticon, Baltimore, MD
No roomie for this one yet. (I think I'm on probation after getting a little too enthusiastic about the whole room party idea.) But lots of wonderful programming and fabulous guests--besides me, that is. One of the things I especially like about Balticon is you always catch folks with fabulous new books you never would've known about otherwise. It doesn't hurt that the conventon celebrates new authors, either. (Go Compton Crook Awards!)
August 28-September 1, DragonCon, Atlanta, GA
Oh yeah. My favorite summer camp for wayward adults. cymreigeswill be there. hundakleptisiswill be there. Carole Nelson Douglas... DragonCon qualifies as a highlight of any year. It's pure madness, but how can you not love a con with a parade, concerts and the Ms. Klingon Universe pageant?
October 31-November 2, World Fantasy Con, Alberta, Canada
I don't think I'll be playing on any panels for this one, but I'm definitely going. This will be my first time attending a WFC where I haven't been running ragged trying to nail down interviews for Crescent Blues. I get to be a fan. And what a line-up!
Capclave, the local DC sf/fantasy convention is always on my to-do list. But after the last couple of Octobers, I'm not making any plans just yet. Of course, this means I may have to attend it as a fan too. Oh, twist my arm! :-)
Now to get back to what I should've been doing this afternoon--working on a short story involving a hapless interstellar transport gate repair person and a dragon who resembles my mother to an alarming degree. It's ironic, I spent years trying to keep her from overwhelming me, now I'm trying to channel her for dialogue and it's hard.
I also need to get this info on Wardsmith.com. I've let the site slide for far too long. Oh well, now that the dh has put the finishing touches on the new and improved Hail Dubyus, our new webmaster will definitely have more time. Once he's recovered, that is... Mwahahahaha!