The Week That Was

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.20160711_180228

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.20160712_123115

Much more basking on the balcony, watching the boats, relaxing before we take another nice walk to dinner.

Ruth’s feet were cold!

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.

20160713_130816Which 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.

Sarah Morgan and Tiffany Snow, working hard by the pool.

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.

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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.

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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.20160717_154643 20160717_115742 20160717_155124 (2)

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.

Diana Ross is on that stage!

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.

Packed into the car
Packed into the car

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!


26 thoughts on “The Week That Was”

  1. I lived in San Diego from the mid-70s to 2008. I go back every year as a walker in the 3-Day, 60-Mile Walk for the Cure. Thanks for sharing the many reasons I love San Diego. Sounds like a really lovely time and I am glad you were able to enjoy it with friends. Special. 🙂

  2. I always love hearing about your travels. National sounds like it turned out great. I haven’t been to one in a long time. Thanks for the reminder of how much fun it is to congregate with so many writers in one place. Glad you made it safely home. Namaste.

  3. Fun week, good friends, lovely daughter in law, great assistant, new publisher, doesn’t get much better than that. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Nora, I am a introvert so I do not get out much. This weekend I am traveling to Northern Michigan where I was born and raised. I am a senior citizen so who know how many more times this will happen. To be honest I was kind of dreading it. After reading your blog I know I can leave the house and do this. It is a girls trip. Daughter, granddaughters (2) and a dear friend. We have a house on the beach. It should be just fine. Funny how you did not know your blog would help someone over come the uneasiness about what was happening in their life. Love your books (have them all) and love your blogs. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I love reading about your exploits and seeing the pictures. Y’all do indeed look like y’all are having a great time.
    Loved the picture of Kat dressed as Hamilton. She’s talented.
    I’m glad you’re home safe and can’t wait for the next book!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this with us! I love knowing all about your travels and your author friends!!!

  7. Man, what a treat to sit on your balcony and listen to Diana Ross. It made me think of those apartments in Chicago across from Wrigley Field where you could sit on your roof, have your radio on and watch the game in your lounge chair. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I honestly felt I was there with you, such was your recap! Looks like a beautiful place!! And Diana Ross–grew up to her and the Supremes–what a treat. Thanks for the blog.

  9. I love your recaps! Always so wonderful to hear about girl bonding time. So happy you had such a good time. Thank you for such Haring and making yes feel a part of it.

  10. Thanks for the peep into your week. It sounded great. I was there last year for the RWA in NYC- the line for your book signing was snaked around the room, & longer than anybodys. I felt sorry for some of the other writers, w/o anybody in front of them. Do you have as may fans there, as you do in New York?

  11. Hi, was at your book signing on Saturday (9jul). Am still star struck meeting one of my favorite authors! And this time there was Maya Banks. WOW!!! How did I get so lucky, my daughter drives me up there and we both get to meet such great people.

    But I digress, sounds like you have a wonderful trip!
    Thank you for your books! ?????

  12. Always a pleasure to read about your travels. Sounds fabulous and fun filled. Another bucket list wanna do….attend an RWA..maybe one of these days. Thanks for sharing!!

  13. Kat is just amazing! I saw her lovely dress in one of the earlier blogs and then she transforms into one of the Hamiltons, and beautifully! Good for her for making sure she touched the Pacific. I felt sad for the others in the pictures with their heads down, looking at their phones, oblivious to all that beauty. Glad you had a great week, and now you can revel in being back home. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Thank you for making it so vivid! Could almost feel the Pacific breeze on my face!

    Love the girl power shown here and the unity!

    Long may you write!!

  15. Thanks for sharing. All those wonderful authors in one place. Gotta love it. Sounds like you had a great week and safe travel. Enjoy the rest of your summer and see you in September!

  16. Sounds like a busy and fun-packed week! Thank you for sharing some of your moments with us! I always love reading anything you write!

  17. As an avid reader and baseball fan, I would have been gaga over my favorite authors ( J D ROBB IS #1) and then the SF Giants came in to play the Padres for the regular season, and I just heard about Diana Ross from other friends who got to go.! I knew I should have gone this year….but thanks for the visuals!

  18. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you. When I read that RWA and the All-Star Game were both in San Diego, I thought NIRVANA!

  19. It was a thrill and an honor to meet you and sign with you! The readers were great and the entire weekend was so much fun. I wish I was able to do RWA. Maybe next year!! But as for the signing at TTP, hoping to do it again!

  20. Love your books & blogs. Have been a fan with the discovery of JD Robb. Sounds like a great trip. I am always looking for new authors – so who received the award you presented ?

  21. Thank you for taking the time to give us non travellers a glimps into your week and daily women’s time. I belong to a sorority and when we get together for the time we HOWOL to! There is nothing like it. What a beautiful city you where in it sounds like those you surrounded yourself with made it a great and busy (relaxing convention) for you. Blessed be Nora till next time.

  22. What a fun week! Thanks for sharing. Love that beach at Coronado. One of the prettiest in California, I think. But I’m biased. My dad and stepmom eloped–they were married in the courtyard of that hotel nearly 30 years ago, and stayed in the tower room.

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