Tag Archives: Laura’s RWA recap

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.


Recap 2: RWA, the start of the week

RWA week is all about work and friends and readers.  Nora and I flew down to San Antonio on the Monday following TTP 19 with Kat and TTP store manager, Janeen Solberg.  It was an easy trip south that put us in the Marriott Rivercenter just after 1 pm.  All of us were prepared for a week of women filling up every available space in the hotel so it was a mild shock to see all those spaces taken up by men in casual business wear.  Mike the Bellman told us there was a fertilizer salesmen conference in town  and from all evidence, they didn’t go to workshops but stood or sat in small groups in the lobby and the bar.

This was disconcerting because WE like to sit or stand in small groups in the lobby or the bar so the mingling of the two groups would bear some watching.

The rooms weren’t ready when we arrived making lunch the next order of the day.  And since we were in San Antonio, margaritas seemed to be a sensible choice (so were delicious salads, fresh chips and guacamole).   A fine start to some excellent eating for the week.

Once the rooms were ready, we headed up to Nora and Ruth Langan’s suite which would serve as Base (next year I’m going to call it that) for the week.  Ruth arrived just after Nora’s bags were delivered so Kat, Janeen and I headed out to get some water, Diet Pepsi and champagne for the week.  Fortunately all were procured fairly near the hotel and off the Riverwalk so we had our first foray along the water.  I’d visited San Antonio in 2005, but Kat and Janeen were fascinated bu the lush greenery, somewhat exotic flowers and the sinuous flow of the pavement and river.

Back in the suite, Nora and Ruth had unpacked and settled into the living area so we joined them with refreshments.   A little while later, Jill Shalvis joined us to say hi and catch up before her dinner.  Finally Sarah Morgan came up to say hello after her 18-hour trip from Heathrow – she’d started out before any of us and was last to get to the hotel.    Since it was travel day, we all decided that room service was the way to go dinner wise (though the fertilizer guys taking up all the seating was a deciding factor).   Ruth and I gently bullied Sarah into eating something before unpacking and collapsing.  She protested but when Ruth has a mind to something it’s just easier to give in.  Sarah ate.

We like to get into town early for RWA in order to take a day to see the city, get used to the time change, keep to a loose schedule before the conference starts.  And, ok, to get out of the hotel for a bit.

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New sandals for the undisputed shopping champion.

I’d been to La Cantera Mall on my last trip to San Antonio so we scooped up Jill and Sarah and took two cabs over.  It’s a nice mall with outdoor spaces shielded by billowing canvas tenting so it was an excellent way to get out of the AC for a time.  Nora — champion shopper she is — found a 65% off rack at the first store we hit then we all looked at makeup before Nora found a pair of sandals that she promptly wore the rest of the day.

Lunch was at the reliably delightful Brio in their outdoor seating under fans and more shade.  Salads and some fresh pasta were the orders of the day, along with Nora’s requisite French fries (Brio’s are pretty fabulous).  I went with a Peach Bellini instead of a margarita and we all had a toast with some Veuve Cliquot. A portion of the group had never been to Anthropologie, our post lunch destination.  I do believe everyone left with a sweater (at least).  Fun store, fun day.

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Sarah Morgan and Jill Shalivs

Back to the hotel where the fertilizer salesmen were beginning to depart and RWA was making its presence known.  Everyone went to register for the conference before heading back to rooms to regroup.   Jill and Sarah had dinner plans (with other people!) so Nora, Ruth, Janeen, Kat and I decided we’d wander the Riverwalk and find dinner at one of the restaurants lining the water.

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and the margarita.

Since no one else stated a preference, I said we should go to the restaurant with the white tablecloths I’d spied the day before.  We set back out and after a few turns, then just past a bridge we found La Paloma Riverwalk and in short order were seated on the river side of the pavement.  Margaritas all around with chips and salsa fast behind them.  It was then we found out that it was Ruth’s First Margarita.  It was also her Last Margarita.  She changed her order to white wine.

We were serenaded by a Mariachi band, though Kat was more fascinated by the hardware on their costumes.  Then we fell upon our food as if we’d not eaten in a thousand days.galaxy 384

One of the best parts for me about spending RWA with Ruth and Nora are the stories.  They met at the very first RWA and have roomed together since the 1983.  They’ve seen writers and trends come, go, and sometimes come back again.  But their friendship.  They love each other dearly and it’s an infectious thing.

It was full dark by the time we finished dinner, then wandered back to the hotel.  Conference would start full-swing in the morning, but a day to kick back and spend time with friends had given us back the balance travel rips away.  We were ready.galaxy 387

But not for everything.

More to come.