First came the packing. A week away, especially a professional week away requires a lot of shoes. Then there’s the clothes that go with the shoes. As I had a big weekend–TTP’s anniversary signing on Saturday and the Fall Into The Story brunch on Sunday, I had to pack early.
I opted for Thursday packing so I could get it off my head and focus on writing all day Friday. Lots of events at RWA, so many decisions to be made. Past experience tells me no matter what the city or the temperature outside, it’s going to be really cold inside the hotel. (Despite Laura’s claims to the contrary.) So this requires jackets and/or sweaters for every outfit.
It’s a lot.
But with that out of the way, I can give the current book my full attention for one last day.
Saturday’s signing is now a blur, but I remember lots of happy faces. I know for most attending–and waiting in line–it was hot. For me, perfect weather. I just bask in high summer. But many thanks to all who aren’t me and braved the heat.
Still, again for me, the highlight was our youngest author. At twelve, Gage Shepherd has written two books. The kid’s talented, charming, professional and just all-out adorable. I’m pleased to say he told his equally charming mom the TTP signing was the highlight of his career. I suspect he’s going to have a long and successful one.
Sunday’s reader brunch was lovely in every way. It affords a quieter, less fraught atmosphere with plenty of opportunities to just hang. And thanks to the fabulous staff at Vesta, great food and cheerful service. So happy to have had a couple of hours to just hang out and chat with readers.
And Monday it begins. Load up the car–my luggage, Laura’s and Kat’s for the drive to the airport where we meet up with Janeen, TTP’s marvelous manager.
And we’re off to San Diego via Michigan where we pick up our beloved Ruth Ryan Langan. Having a week with Ruth is always one of the biggest perks of RWA, and we start it off at 41,000 feet with champagne. I hate to fly, but you gotta get there, and having my circle of women–and that champagne–make the long flight easier.
San Diego’s beautiful, and the weather’s just amazing. The hotel’s huge and airy with fabulous views and the huge advantage of generous and lovely outdoor spaces.
We dump our bags and have lunch by the pool. And the weirdness of travel fades a bit. It fades more when we head up to our suite. It’s huge–rooms all connecting so while we’ll all be in that wonderful space, we have our own areas, too. And the view from the balcony is just awesome. The marina with all its pretty boats, the bay with more boats skimming along, and beyond to the Pacific.
We have arrived!
Unpack–need to make our nests, make this space our own–then just sit on the balcony and absorb.
More friends come by–hugs and kisses!–and we do a quiet and casual dinner in before we East Coast girls fall into bed.
Tuesday is for acclimating and shopping. But first a little more basking on the balcony–something that becomes a daily ritual for our happy group. After Kat and I workout to Shaun T. Kat introduced me to Cize at the spa. I’m now a big fan. So we work it out, sweat it up, (laugh a lot) feel righteous. And shower it all off before heading out.
We walk in this fabulous weather, find fun little shops. Pack ‘O Girls shopping is ridiculous fun. We break for a little lunch, shop some more. Kat and Janine break off to hit a market for supplies–sodas, water, amazing fruit and so on.
Much more basking on the balcony, watching the boats, relaxing before we take another nice walk to dinner.
Wednesday, our basking, our workout, and it’s time to get a little more professional. The hotel’s filling up–more writers than the baseball fans who’d come in for the All Star game.
Which reminds me. Sitting on the balcony, the game comes up. My beautiful Kat says: What’s the All Star game? (I wept a little.) And Janine says: It’s the Super Bowl of baseball. And there both Laura and I wept and laughed our asses off. And eventually explained what it actually is.
We orient ourselves, as the hotel is really big, run into friends, wander out to the pool area for margaritas. Mmmm. Time to gear it up for the Literacy Signing. It’s a busy, noisy couple of hours, another chance to connect with readers, with other writers, and to raise money for literacy. It’s my favorite event of the week.
After we need food, and our tradition is to go for red meat. Dinner at Morton’s steakhouse. We’ve connected with our pal Mary Blayney so all toast another successful event. Ruth and I split a steak and still can’t finish it–but there’s souffle! As is girl tradition we order a couple of desserts to pass around. If you ever have a chance to sample Morton’s lemon souffle, don’t pass it up.
Then we waddle and moan our way home. I couldn’t so much as think about food for nearly twenty-four hours.
Thursday’s not too busy. Except for Janeen who has a whole business day. The rest of us? Bask, workout, clean up, and we decide we’d hang outside, open the Tequila Bar. Big comfy chairs, shade–and breezes cool enough Ruth and I were all about lighting the big firepit. It’s a perfect way to hang out, to again connect with industry friends who chose the same venue. My editor and publishing team are arriving today. It’s great to see them, spend some time.
I have a meeting–and how nice to be able to hold it in the suite with those lovely views.
There’s pizza when I finally want food again. Nothing’s more perfect than pizza.
Friday’s packed. After the morning routine–more boats on the water now as the weekend approaches–I have my Chat With session. It’s always fun, easy, and I hope interesting for the attendees. We have lunch with the St. Martin’s team, also easy and fun. I already feel at home.
Time to get our fancy on for party night. St. Martin’s is on property and filled with happy faces. Cocktails and pretty finger food, and for those who want it, a great patio to enjoy the sunshine.
Off to the Harlequin party–for that we need a car and driver. The very short drive becomes long as the Padres have a game, and traffic is amazing. Still we get there early enough to snag a table near the dance floor. Tonight is all about kicking off your shoes and shaking that thing.
We shook those things a lot. It’s no small deal to have a couple hundred women (maybe more) rocking it out. So much energy and spirit. We have a few men sprinkled in, but this party really is all about girls just wanting to have fun.
We really, really do.
Saturday’s not too busy. This week contrasted nicely with my packed schedule of last year. We bask–several boats have left their slips, and the bay’s full of action. Sail boats, motor boats, jet skis, kayaks. Work out–with a nice yoga session to top it off. Wandering, outdoor time, reconnections. There’s a Hamilton Sing-Along scheduled, and Kat (a major fan) is so excited. She, my theater girl, is determined to find herself a costume. And being Kat, she finds one in a thrift store (boots included) and picks up some pillow cases to make a cravat and cuffs. She’s the Amazing Kat Hamilton.
She’s the hit of the event–and the one who pulled people up, got them involved. Don’t just sit there! It’s my opinion she made the event.
We have to tidy up for my annual Champagne Celebration pre awards ceremony. And since my gown for tonight has deep wrinkles that didn’t hang out, the whole team works on pressing and steaming them out. I love girls.
The hotel staff has been marvelous throughout the week. Special shout out to Gwen, our delightful in every way housekeeper. The catering department is no less marvelous. We have a beautiful spread of fun food, loads of bubbly, and this gorgeous space. Laura has to sweep guests off the balcony in shifts to give others a turn. Everyone has their finery on, and looks just fabulous.
I’m presenting the last award of the evening, and my favorite. Best First Book. Imagine the thrill of having your very first book honored and recognized by your peers, and holding that Rita.
Back to the room and into pjs! Yay. Hit the food as there’s just no time to eat at your own party. Hang with pals. Leslie, my editor, is heading back to NY first thing in the morning, and our well-loved Brit, Sarah Morgan, is flying back to England. We have to say good-bye.
We start our last day as we’ve started all the others. On the balcony sighing over the view. A shorter workout–it’s been a busy week!–and clean up to head to Coronado Island for the day. What a perfect last day. A delicious lunch at the Del, bellinis, sea breezes and sunshine. Followed by (we’re girls) shopping. None of us walked out empty handed. Kat ran down to the beach to get her toes in the Pacific, and our happy, satisfied group traveled home again.
Packing to be done, dinner to consider. Take-out works just right. And we’re all really happy we decided to eat in as we’re sitting or standing on the balcony, wondering what might be going on at this pavilion down below (a wedding earlier in the week, a concert.)
It’s another concert–but not just any concert. It’s Diana Ross. Diana Ross is in concert right THERE. We can hear every note from our balcony. What a way to end the week. That iconic voice, the moon over the water, the sparkle of lights from boats that moored in to listen. We dance, sing along, cheer–and if you’re me whistle.
We head off to bed tired and delighted.
Last minute packing and organizing Monday morning. My suitcases are heavier than they were when I flew west. A last bask, a final goodbye to our home for the week. Somehow the clever bellman got all our suitcases and bags of books and shopping bags in the car. Off to the airport–a little GPS snafu–but we get there. A pretty smooth flight back to Michigan where we have to say goodbye to our Ruth. Hugs, hugs, giant hugs.
In the air again, and on the ground in Maryland in an hour. Now it’s goodbye to Janine, and the drive to my place. Goodbye to Laura and to my amazing Kat–but I’ll see them both on Saturday when they come to help me prep for my annual summer party on Sunday. (Can’t think too much about that yet!)
Hello to BW and dogs. A little catching up, and I was out for the count by ten o’clock.
A great week, start to finish, a million memories banked.
And now I really want to get back to the book!