Recap 3: A signing and a move

A moment to back track:

When Nora and Ruth got up on Tuesday morning, a ceiling tile in their little kitchen/bar had fallen to the floor and water from the AC pipe was dripping everywhere.  The hotel had engineering up to fix the tile and leak, but no one cleaned up the dirty floor. Housekeeping came back and cleaned the floor, then the leak started in the powder room off the kitchen and engineering had to come up again while we had dinner on the Riverwalk.

On Wednesday morning, all was fine initially, but just before we left for lunch the powder room leak returned.  I called engineering and our contact in Group Housing, then we took off for the Riverwalk.  There were far more RWA members along the way and it was amusing to see a couple of double takes along with “was that her?” on faces as Nora passed by.  Jill and Sarah had time to join us again — one last bit of quiet before the huge literacy signing that evening.

Once back from lunch, I had an email from housing with the bad news: the leak couldn’t be fixed and the hotel was going to move Nora and Ruth to the same suite one floor above. There were several avenues of consternation: Nora and Ruth had settled in for two days, we had only a couple of hours until the literacy signing and then there was the issue of the cocktail party on Saturday evening.  I’d told all the guests the first suite number would have to reach out again.

Sarah, Ruth, Nora, Jill and Laura after lunch on the Riverwalk.

Moving was not high on Nora and Ruth’s list for a fun afternoon activity — especially when I explained they had to get ready for the signing in the first suite, finish packing and then return to the new suite after a late dinner (to new UNpacking).  Everyone leapt into action to get things in the common areas while Ruth and Nora gathered what had spread around and tossed everything into bags.  They were ready to go by 3:45.

Then the waiting game began.  Since I told the hotel we would leave what was hanging in the closets so the clothes could just be hung on the bellmen’s carts, then immediately put in the new closets, someone had to stay and oversee the bellman.  I opted to stay and let Kat and Janeen walk with Nora to the event and make sure things were set there.

They left at 4:30 and my mental countdown clock started.  At 4:45, the hotel sent ONE bellman with one set of keys.  He did his job well, but he was only one person and even with me slinging bags on the cart too it took time.  Time I didn’t have at all.  Lots of pacing, some not so lady-like words as I texted updates but finally things were squared away and I ran downstairs, arriving five minutes before the door opened.

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Nora just before the doors opened for the Literacy signing. Note the wrist wrap and bangle.

The two hours in the ballroom went smoothly. Once I arrived Janeen took off to meet authors she wanted to invite to TTP.  Kat had line duty with RWA’s Judy Scott while I did my regular chatting, snapping and some bullying — really? you stand in line for that long and then DON’T want a photo with Nora? — to moderate success. The only downside was Nora’s wrist hurt within 30 minutes.

Afterwards, the gang (minus Jill and Sarah — what was with them and dinner?) went to Morton’s Steakhouse for restorative protein and family-style sides so it was after 10 pm when we got back to the new suite.  Everyone held their breath as Nora tried the new key then sighed with relief when the door opened immediately.   Then it was time to find some order in the belongings tossed into the bags (there may have been a few salacious words uttered during this process).  I’d ordered champagne and water glasses as well as a couple of coffee mugs for the first suite when we arrived on Monday and asked that they all be transferred to the new one. There was nothing on the new bar, so I called and was assured that all would be sent up.

Once we’d established where a couple of things were Nora headed off to change into PJs while I answered a knock at the suite door.  There stood a uniformed gentleman saying “here are your coffee cups” and handed me a stack of three paper cups (no lids).  I looked down the hall then back at him and said we had ordered glassware.  He looked down the hallway too — did he thing the glass fairies were close behind? — looked back with a blank face and then said he’d go ask.  I closed the door, turned around and Kat said she wished she could take my photo because my face was a study in astonished weariness as I held up the cups.

Fortunately, real glassware plus a complimentary bottle of champagne came up within minutes.  And I considered the day done.

Thursday dawned without drips or leaks and with plenty of coffee mugs.  Nora had her Chat With at 11, so there was no rush around until we had to head downstairs.

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Chat with Nora, standing room only.

Dressed in lady clothes, I met Nora and Ruth (the moderator as always for Nora’s Chat With) to find the room for the session.  We stopped by the Books A Million setup and Nora signed the stock there.  The smart, personable young manager realized the gold mine he had and brought in new books every day and it became a regular stop.  After all, as Nora says, a signed book is a sold book.

Nora’s Chat Withs are always amusing.  I could answer the questions, so could Janeen or Kat, but the crowd is there for Nora.  And she consistently delivers.  She patiently answers most questions as if they were never asked before (ok, except the how did you start writing? What’s behind the name JD Robb? they are a little faster) and always, always offers one bon mot to delight the crowd.  This year’s sound bite came relatively early in the hour.  I think the question was what advice Nora would give to writers.  She was blunt and succinct, as ever: Stop whining and write. Stop fucking around and write. Stop making excuses and write.”  

In other words, kids, write.

Lunch was next on the list and we opted to stay in the hotel, have some celebratory margaritas.

After lunch, we all got into comfortable clothes to go to the attached mall and check out The Body Shop for some skin care and makeup.  It’s a little known fact: when Nora and I are not working our day jobs — Best-Selling Author and KickAss Publicist — we are a fabulous makeup and skin care team.  Honestly, we rock.

But I digress.  A member of the group who shall remain nameless had revealed at dinner on Wednesday that she had with her a small palette of eye shadow that included dark gray and light gray.  I was horrified at the lack a third color for highlighting — and didn’t keep that horror from showing to the laughter of everyone else.  This reveal was a mere 40 minutes before the paper coffee cup delivery so my stress levels were already high.

We dealt with the skin care issues to everyone’s satisfaction (the makeup was a little disappointing so I’m still on the hunt) then headed back to the hotel.  Gave thought to some “hang out in the lobby” time, but the layout made it a little hard.  Big wing chairs around an inner circle for the lobby with the dark bar tucked under the second floor balcony. No seats anywhere, so back up to the suite we went.  And stayed for the evening.


16 thoughts on “Recap 3: A signing and a move”

  1. Laura, I was in that CHat Session with Nora and you are correct: the best advice for me from the entire RWA14 conference were these words from Nora, “Stop whining and write. Stop fucking around and write. Stop making excuses and write.” I wrote them on a card when I got back home to New Hampshire and I have abided by them every day since. She truly is the best writer/person/gal I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

  2. I was at RWA on Wednesday for Librarian’s Day. Was at the signing that night and Nora was very gracious and calm. You never knew anything was wrong.

  3. Laura, you mentioned that Nora’s wrist started to hurt after 30 minutes. How long did she have to sign, and how did she get it all done. Hopefully, an icepack was within reach! You are an amazing lady to keep all this crazy-sauce in check. Nora’s blessed to have you!! Thanks for these great recaps.

    1. Alice,

      The intrepid Kat had ice packs at the ready so Nora had a wrist rest again. And Nora got it done because she’s a pro. Plus there was champagne at the end.


      1. You’re so right, Nora is a pro and thanks for Kat, too, with the ice packs. Of course, knowing there was champagne coming, would make even a sore wrist bearable!!

  4. Sounds like that hotel was a complete disaster! They certainly weren’t equipped or staffed for the convention. Kudos for not tearing off the head of the guy with the paper cups, though I doubt you’d have been convicted.

    1. Paula

      It makes for a funny story and there were a few things that were frustrating but on the whole, the staff we met were professional and helpful. Things got disjointed as you moved further out.


      1. Bless you both for the great stories. There was me thinking you have a great job as a kickass publicist and how I would love your job……no way…! You both earn your money ten fold and Nora deserves a medal for her injuries alone. We are more aware of just how much effort is put into the making of a book

  5. I don’t have the words to express how much the dynamic due of Best-Selling Author and KickAss Publicist have made me smile this year with their writing. More importantly, Ms. Robert’s public patience with fans (and crazy/ignorant meanies), has made me try to be a better colleague and employee. Thanks for sharing your adventures!

  6. Laura , I had my entire wrist rebuilt, as bones were crushed, several years ago. I recommend Nora try trick physical therapist taught me: Buy 5 pound bag of cheapest rice and put in large, microwave safe container for about 2-3 minutes (very warm,but not hot), run wrist and hand thru rice until it cools off. Do again, at least 2x daily. Acts as mini massage to nerve endings and muscles in wrist. Especially do before, during and after garden work, book signings, workout with weights. Reuse rice, over and over. Hopes it helps Nora. It helped me regain use of my wrist, that doctors thought might be useless!

  7. I enjoyed Nora’s talk as well. I apologize on behalf of San Antonians for hotel ineptness although I though the Marriott on the whole did a good job with such a large, active convention.

  8. so enjoying the updates…sounds like great fun! Are these conventions yearly? Always in SanAntonio? Would have to look up King of Country, Mr. George Strait, if I ever made it there. 🙂

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