Thursday, August 28, 2008

The SF Saga Is Complete!

Return of the Queens

Ok, so I’m still mourning the fact that we had no money for me to indulge in adding yet another Star Wars item to add to my modest collection (my prized autographed, Ray Parker in full Sith Lord regalia has an honored spot in our family room and damn that saber would have looked good over top). Anyway, our first and last Sunday in San Francisco dawned cloudy and we were immediately depressed because our sailboat cruise was at sunset. Unfortunately, clouds present a problem when it comes to seeing the sun actually set.

We tried not to think about it as we got ready to attend the drag show. I suddenly decided on a whim that I just wanted to wear shorts. So I called the Starlight club and asked about dress code. I wasn’t happy when I was told no shorts, but JEANS were allowed! Guess I should have asked THAT question before I left Virginia because I didn’t bring jeans. Arrrrgggh. So I dressed up.

Sunday’s a Drag

I’d like to make a HUGE commercial plug for Harry Denton's Starlight Room at the Sir Francis Drake . This guy knows exactly how to put on a meal and a show. There was so much food to select from, salads, made-to-order omelets, fruits, muffins, roasted pork, potatoes and OMG, the French Toast. I’m a decent cook. In fact, I’ve had people tell me I’m an exceptional cook (although I think it depends on the taste buds). But I do admit to having specialties that few places or people can top. One of those is my French toast. The family lives for th

e occasional Sunday when I fix mine, so I was blown away by Harry’s French Toast. It was exquisite on the taste buds. A one-inch thick slice of heaven is what they were. I won’t tell you how many I ate, but suffice it to say, even when I was full, I had to have more. My mouth is watering as I type. And on top of that, if the maple syrup they had wasn’t the real deal, then I want the brand name they used, because it oozed sugary sweet all over these divine angel wings being passed off as fluffy French toast.

With our bellies full, we sat back to enjoy the show. I already had a good idea of what to expect from a drag show, but I knew the DH didn’t have a clue. Truth is, he really didn’t want to go to the show, but because I wanted too, he agreed. He’s a good husband, and he also knows he generally has a good time when he agrees to do things he didn’t want to do in the first place. For the DH, the show was an eye-opener. He has truly come to accept and appreciate all alternative lifestyles and he was enthralled with Cassandra in the show. She’s wearing the strips of blue in the picture with him and the other queen.

Funny, bawdy, yet clean and tasteful, these performers made sure everyone had a grand time. When the DH was presented with the $100 bill, he exclaimed surprise and I reminded him that it was $45 a person and we’d had ice tea. He grinned, shook his head and scratched his name on the ticket with a big, “Ah, hell, it was WORTH it!”

Painted Ladies

After our drag queen show, we had a few hours to kill until our sunset sail. So I announce I want to go see the Painted Ladies. Naturally the DH is all keen to do go too given he’d just had a wonderful time at the drag show. However he wasn’t exactly keen anymore when I inform him that the Painted Ladies are Victorian Houses at Haight and Steiner. He’s now got the hang dog look on his face. Too late, you already said yes, sweetie. After a quick clothes change, we hop onto the bus and head toward the Haight Ashbury section of town. I don’t know what it is with us and buses, but we always managed to meet the most interesting of people. On this trip we met a gal who told us where to get off, but the DH and I disagreed over what she said. I looked at him and said pull the cord to make the drive stop.

“No, it’s not this stop.”

“Yes it is.”

“Pull the cord. We need to get off here.”

So I pull the cord, but the bus rolls right past Steiner Street. The next street it stops and we get off. As I study the map, I tell the DH we have to go up a couple of blocks and then turn left (BACK the way we came).

“Why do we have to do that?”

“Because you didn’t listen to me when I told you we needed to get off at Steiner!” *sigh* Men, I’m convinced its true that they really don’t have a sense of direction or the willingness to stop for directions.

We set out down the street toward the Painted Ladies on what’s a relatively flat plane.

When we turn the corner to we’re facing more steep hills. What is it with this city! LOL

Check out the hill above! After Lombard Street this sucker was peanuts!

Painted Ladies is a term given to houses built in the Victorian and Edwardian eras that are painted in bright colors. In the late 1800s, San Francisco was populated with houses like this, including Nob Hill where the most affluent people lived. In the quake of 1906 the Nob Hill mansions were destroyed, but a number of beautiful houses like these still remain. The houses in this picture face Alamo Park and are sometimes referred to as Postcard Row because they’ve become a tourist destination as a result of the number of times they’ve been photographed.

As you can see from the photo, the sun had come out, and it was turning out to be gorgeous weather. Nippy but wonderfully sunny. With my need for architecture not yet sated, we headed back to the bus stop where we should have gotten off to begin with, and along the way I insisted on the DH taking shot after shot of architecture. I’ve no idea what to do with these pictures! I think we took something like 300+ shots in four days.

The DH was getting antsy about getting to the cruise ship on time. Not that we had to rush, it was only 2:30pm and the ship didn’t leave until 6:30pm, but he was not eager to keep stopping at every house I wanted him to photograph as we walked back to the bus stop. We killed some time at Fisherman’s Wharf until it was time for our sailboat ride.

Sailing the Seven Seas (ok, the Bay)

We weren’t sure what to expect on our cruise, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to adequate describe the impact this experience had on me, or on us as a couple. The first part of the cruise started out on choppy waters. We’d not been out on the water but maybe 15 minutes when I heard a cell phone go off. It was near where the DH had left his stuff, but there was a couple sitting beside his jacket and I didn’t think anything of it. The ringing stopped, and then it started again. Over the wind, I told the DH that I thought his phone was ringing.

“No, it’s not mine.”

“Yes, I think it is,” I said with an arched eyebrow. He checks it and rolls his eyes.

“It’s Oldest.” (Oldest stayed at home by herself for the first time ever!) DH answers the phone.

“What, Oldest?” Long pause.

“That’s why you called me? You want to know how to cook hot dogs?” The couple sitting next to DH’s jacket are laughing. “All right you put a couple of cups of water in the bottom of the steamer, put the hot dogs in the top part and cover it. Cook them about 7-10 minutes. Okay?”

He shakes his head as he hangs up and he glances down at the phone. “She’s been calling for the last fifteen minutes because there must be six or seven calls on here, I just didn’t hear the phone going off.”

I laugh. “She’s missing us, but doesn’t want to admit it.”

The cell phone goes off again. DH scowls as he answers it. “NOW what?” His eyes widen. “O‑M-G, Oldest. Yes the hotdogs can be frozen when you put them in the steamer. I’m trying to enjoy a romantic sailboat cruise with your mother. Now do you have any other questions?”

When he hangs up, I’m laughing uproariously right along with the couple near the DH who’ve been privy to the one-sided conversation. Kids, clearly they need us, but they don’t like admitting it.

With daughter number 1 taken care of, I move toward the front of the catamaran. I expected to get a little wet on the boat. After all the catamaran has open webbing between its hulls, what I didn’t expect was to have a HUGE wave surge up through the webbing and drench me in salt water. Oh wait, it wasn’t just salt water. It was ICE COLD salt water. But I decide that’s okay, how many people can say they’ve sailed on the San Francisco Bay and gotten drenched from it? Besides, it wasn’t too cold, I could handle it. Ummm, note the sweatshirt I'm wearing in the picture here! LOL

Feeling the need for food, I go below and grab what little of the cheese and appetizers are left. There were only about 35 people on board, but damn they must have been hungry! When I go back up on deck, I move to the front of the catamaran and simply put my face into the wind and revel in the beauty of a boat slicing through water with the precision of a knife. Left behind in the boat’s path was white foam cresting on top of water that couldn’t make up its mind what color it wanted to be. One minute it was green then it became midnight blue only to become green again with a tinge of blue.

Above my head, the sails billowed outward like freshly cleaned sheets on a clothes line, while the company’s logo of a black cat stood out sharply against the bleached sails. When it came time to head toward the Golden Gate Bridge, the DH and I just stood quietly together enjoying the view. I remember leaning over to kiss his cheek and saying I love you. He smiled and said I love you too. Then we were silent again. Sometimes, there are moments in your life which can not be put into words. For a writer to say something like that seems a bit incongruous. But it’s true.

That One Moment

I could wax poetic about those few minutes of bonding and closeness that I shared with my husband, but the truth is, a moment like that must be experienced. It must be felt. Or perhaps what I’m really saying is that the moment was too intimate to share with anyone but him. Intimate in the way that two people can simply hold hands and see deep into the heart of the other person.

The simple knowing that only someone who loves you can have any hope of understanding who you truly are. I remember my mother once describing a walk she and my Dad took on a beach when they stopped to watch the sunset. She told me my Dad just reached for her hand and held it in silence. That simple description speaks eloquently to what I experienced with the DH. It was acceptance, understanding and love all wrapped up in a beautiful gift of heartfelt intimacy that said, I don’t want to be any other place but here with you. It’s a moment I’ll cherish until my days end.

With our wonderful bonding moment still close to my heart, the captain of the boat took us directly under the bridge. Again, this is another difficult experience to truly describe. So I thought I’d do it with pictures. Even they can’t do justice to the majesty and beauty of this man-made wonder that spans a rocky shoreline and is buffeted by fog and sunshine depending on nature’s whim.

When our sail ended, we were ready to go again. NO, wait! That’s not true. Remember how I said I was soaked with water and that it wasn’t cold? Well, the weather decided to change on us, and the wind got stronger and COLDER. It takes a lot for me to complain about the cold. I rarely wear a coat in the wintertime. So when I’m standing on the dock shivering and my teeth are chattering, the DH realizes that he’s not going to convince me to eat dinner down on the wharf. Instead we return to the hotel.

Monday we awoke to our last day in San Francisco and our scheduled trip to Alcatraz. The barometric pressure had shifted and my knee and hip were agonizing reminders that I was no longer 25 anymore. Nonetheless, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the tour of the prison.

I can only say that my trip to San Francisco was wonderful on so many different levels. It was a business success and it created memories that will last a lifetime. The only things we didn’t do that I wish we had were…

  • ride a cable
  • take a dinner/dance cruise on the Bay
  • walk the whole length of the Golden Gate Bridge
  • visited the Parthenon from the Pan American Exhibition

But hey, who’s to say that we can’t go back. After all, when I talked with the cheese guy from LeBeau the other night as to what cheeses he sold us in his small grocery store. He said we should come back, and maybe we will.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cable Cars Climb Halfway to the Stars

Here it is, Part 2 in the San Francisco experience! While I was trying to get my act together Friday, the DH got to live one of his special dreams. Thanks to the finagling of a very dear friend (thank you, Cathie), the DH played the Spanish Bay course at Pebble Beach. He was over the moon about it, and I confess I just didn’t get what all the excitement was about when comes to hitting a dimpled ball from one place to another. But then he didn’t get me and the OMG Kate Duffy loves my writing mentality, so we were square. He wasn’t going to get back until late, so I went to dinner with Mel Schroeder and the delightful Ember Case.

Make Mine Medium Well Please

We visited John’s Grill, which was the restaurant setting used by Dashiell Hammett in his famous book The Maltese Falcon. Upstairs, in a glass case, they’ve even got the Maltese Falcon prop. Way COOL! During dinner, the three of us had a wonderful time talking business. We sat next to the restaurant’s entryway which had window where we could see people waiting for their table. We noted one small group commenting and pointing to our steaks, so I had Ember knock on the glass to get their attention. When they looked in my direction, I pointed my steak and gave them a grin with a big thumbs up. They laughed and nodded. Determined to ensure that they were good and hungry when they got to their table, I teased them with another big grin. I then popped a delicate bite of steak into my mouth and proceeded to wax poetic about the taste with my expression. I managed to give everyone a good laugh except for the two guys next to our table. Of all the places to find two uptight gay men, I would NEVER have thought it possible in San Francisco, but I swear to you, these two guys made conservative Republicans look like happy Democrats. Their expressions were pinched tighter than a raisin. Even when I attempted a polite and sincere smile of hello, the look I got from one gentleman could have pinned a fly to the wall in one swift stroke. Oy!

We're Walking, We're Walking

Saturday saw the DH and I checking out of the Marriott and moving a few blocks away to the Hilton. Long story short, the Marriott didn’t have any cheap rooms Sun night (low ball figure of $400+), and I got us two nights at the Hilton for the same price it would have cost us to stay at the Marriott one more night. Once we cleared all of that, I was going to go to a couple of workshops, but I’d apparently packed my briefcase with my workshop paperwork, so I didn’t know what was going on, so I decided I’d be nuts not to take advantage of my time with the DH in one of the most romantic cities in the world. So off to the Hilton I walked in my heels.

Now I don’t mind walking when someone gives me good directions, but I called the DH twice from my cell phone and kept hearing that I was almost there. If he’d been in front of me, I would have grabbed him by the throat and yelled at him to stop saying I was almost there because my feet were reassuring me with each step that I was anywhere BUT almost there. I’m beginning to believe that adage, never ask a man for directions.

Sea Lions, Tourist Traps and Boats

Once we’d settled into the hotel, we decided to head to Fishersman’s Wharf and Pier 39. To get there we enjoyed another interesting excursion via public transportation. We’d been on the bus for a short time when this beautiful, and I do mean beautiful, girl gets on the bus and sits across from us. We’re trying to figure out where to get off and she offers assistance. The DH is instantly smitten, and moi, I just smile with glee.
When we get off at our stop, the DH says,

“That girl was gorgeous.”

“Yes, he certainly was.”

“What do you mean, he?” the DH squeaks.

“Honey, I’m sorry, but that was a guy.”


“Sorry, she was he.”

“NO! She was gorgeous.”

“He was gorgeous, honey, but it was a wig, and the Adam’s apple was a dead giveaway, although you weren’t looking there were you.” My expression had to have been one of smug amusement, because that’s what I was feeling. Serves him right for looking at another gal’s boobs in front of me.

“NO! That’s not possible, I wouldn’t…” His voice dies off, and I just pat him on the shoulder.

“It’s okay, sweetie. Even Tim “the Toolman” Taylor would have been attracted to her.”

“I still say you’re wrong. She was a she.”

I just smiled and allowed him to keep his manhood intact. However, as you can see by my recounting of the tale here, I’m still enjoying myself.

The DH has already visited Fisherman’s Wharf earlier in the week, so he’s acting like a professional tour guide until I glare at him and say, ok, I was here 10 years ago, it hasn’t changed THAT much (even my fav chocolate candy store hadn’t moved). Naturally, I had to have my white chocolate and I saw an ad for one of those 3-D rides. I convince the DH to go ride. Now this ride is one of those where you sit in a cushiony chair and while the cool movie is running the chair tosses you around. I’m not sure where I missed the “fasten your seatbelts,” warning because the next thing I know I’m being tossed around in my seat and the only thing holding me in the damn chair is my fierce semi-terrorized grip on two insubstantial hand grips. Needless to say, I LOVE the experience and the next two rides we did, I made sure NOT to wear my seatbelt. I love, love, love living dangerously! (Hence the reason I wrote a book called Dangerous - Am I sneaky with Promo or WHAT! LOL)

How High Can She Go?

Although I’d been to the world-famous Crooked Street the last time I was in San Fran, I still wanted to go again. So I suggested we walk up the hill from the Wharf (I did have the common sense to be wearing tennis shoes, thank you very much). Granted, my definition of hill and the one San Franciscans use is COMPLETELY different. So when we get to the first incline heading up Lombard, the DH takes one look at the hill, looks at me and says,

“There no way in hell you’re going to make it.” His tone is that of a long suffering husband, which does nothing but incite my stubborn molecules to encircle and annihilate my common sense brain cells.

“WATCH me!” I sneer as I charge up the hill. If I’d not been walking on the treadmill for the past seven months, I would have been dead a quarter of the way up that damn hill. Instead, I managed to avoid doing my imitation of the stereotypical heaving bosoms romance author until about three-quarters of the way up the slope. By the time I got to the top of the hill I was exhausted, however, take a look at the picture. We walked from the water (that's at the very top of the picture) all the way up to the foot of the world-famous crooked street. Please note that the photo was not enhanced in any way shape or form. That last hill really is about an 80-85 degree angle of incline. Awww RIGHT! Who’s bad, I’m bad, who’s bad, I’m bad. Granted that little song and dance was played out solely in my imagination. It’s good to be a writer, because I had no strength for performing in any way, shape or form at that point.

Now what do you do when you’ve just climbed a mountain? Do you keep climbing? Ummm, not! The steep incline was bad enough, and I hate stairs. I knew the hotel was somewhere to the left of the Crooked Street so that’s the direction I led the DH in.

Note to self, catch a cab when you’ve just completed an historic climb. Do not try to be a heroine by climbing more hills.

The Thrill of Victory / The Agony of Defeat

What I thought would be just one more hill and then ALL downhill to the hotel became a lesson in stubbornness and endurance. All of which I have in abundance. We must have walked another five or six steep hills in what I loosely determined was the direction of the hotel, although I clearly didn’t have a clue as to where we were. But then that living (Promo Alert) Dangerously gene was rampaging quite nicely through my blood. Along the way, we came across this wonderful building that had of all things, GARGOYLES on it. Being a lover of creatures who are made to ward off evil spirits, I insisted the DH take some photos. We continue on our way not realizing that we’re about to experience one of those memorable moments in life that can never be bought or arranged. These type of spontaneous and rare moments are once-in-a-lifetime events that can never be recreated. They are so special they can only be recorded fully on one’s heart.

It’s called exhaustion. ROFL Okay, I’m sorry, but I couldn’t resist.

Anyway, we get to the top of one more hill (I’ve now lost count), and the rinky dinky map the hotel gave us makes it look like the hotel is two blocks away, but I know better because all I see are more mountains to climb. *sigh* I look at the DH and growl, Okay, I’m not taking another step until I figure out where the hell we are. The DH just breathes heavily, and not with any hint of romance I might add. Guess I’ve worn him out. Ahh…the life of an erotic romance author. NOT!

Where The Hell Are We?

About this time, I hear a car roaring up the 75-degree incline we’ve just climbed. I look at the DH and say,

“I think it’s time we ask for directions.”

“No, we’re fine.”

“Sorry, Tim (Toolman) Taylor, we’re asking for directions.”

This dark green CJ-7 jeep rolls up to the stop sign we’re standing close too and THANKGOD it didn’t have the usual plastic covered window stuff. I politely scream over the engine.

“Excuse me, do you know how far it is to Market Street (we could find the hotel from there).”

Now as a romance author, I tend to look at men from a hero-potential POV. I mean I study features, body structure (think DaVinci's David), etc. I’m telling you, the two guys in this jeep were young Adonis’. I’m seeing rugged features, deliciously hard biceps, strong shoulders, need I go on? Both young men are eager to help and Adonis #1 tells us the hotel is about ten blocks further on. My face must have looked like I’d been socked in the jaw. Immediately, they both insist that we accept a ride to where the walk to the hotel is ALL downhill.

Naturally, the DH is giving me the silent eye signal (equate to blinking like he’s having apoplexy) to refuse. At this point, I’m beyond exhaustion and I cheerfully accept. Like a true romance hero, Adonis #2 gets out of his seat and tells me to sit in front while he sits in the cramped back with the DH (Remember how I said I went first class and he went coach? Guess it holds true for CJ7 Jeeps too). Firmly ensconced in our open carriage, our driver roars down a hill then up a hill, braking to a great rollercoaster stop at the top of each hill. While we’re driving we chat a little about the fact that they’ve been in the desert to an art festival in Nevada. Did I mention I love the desert? Particularly ones where there are Mirages? (Slick aren't I--LOL) I mention to our yummy hosts that I’m an erotic romance author in town for the RWA conference. They think that’s cool. We’re start discussing books and art in general, when Adonis #2 (sitting next to the DH) reaches up to tap the arm of Adonis #1 and says,

“Sweetie, tell them about….”

I have no idea what Adonis #2 said next because it was all I could do not to laugh out loud. The DH is still adjusting to my adopted nephew being gay, and clearly on this trip he's getting a whole new perspective on alternative lifestyles. I must say I'm proud of him though. He didn't even flinch. How’s that for enlightened growth and tolerance in a short time span. The Adonis twins dropped us off at the top the last hill, and said their goodbyes before they roared off into the sunset. I wish we'd had more time to chat with them. They were erudite, cultured and really sharp when it came to the arts. Worse, I didn’t even think to get their picture! I really wish I had, because not only was this couple so thoughtful in offering us a ride, but it’s because of them that the DH and I experienced one of our most romantic moments ever.

I Couldn't Have Written A Better Romance Scene

I would not have made it to that last hill without our gallant knights and I would have insisted on calling a cab to get back to the hotel. But because of the generosity of strangers, the DH and I stumbled into this delightful neighborhood grocery where after a little bit of discussion, we purchased a roasted chicken, then we chatted with the guy behind the cheese display case who gave us a wonderful breakdown on the specialized cheeses they offered. We ended up with one cheese that was like a Havarti but it started with a T and the DH fell in love with the one that was like a cheddar / bleu cheese mix. We had a great conversation with the cheese specialist and the other young man behind the counter. With our cheeses selected, we added a loaf of sourdough bread and drinks to our cheese and chicken feast and checked out.

The cheese guy had said to let the one cheese warm up some to make it easier to spread on the bread, so we took our time walking back to the hotel (DOWNHILL). The weather was exquisite and it was wonderful, romantic walk through a quiet neighborhood. When we reached the hotel, we enjoyed a picnic in our room while watching a Pay-for-view movie. It was an incredible memory and we have Adonis #1 and #2 to thank for it. So guys if you happened to check out my website and are visiting this blog. THANK YOU and big hugs and smooches for making possible such a wonderful romantic memory for the DH and me! You guys RAWK!

Next week, come back to read the final installment in Monica’s San Francisco Saga! Serial rights are up for auction.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Enchanted Beauty has been released!!!!

PhotobucketAnnabelle Hawthorne-Morton is a beauty with a mysterious past—Lord Malachi Hawthorne is the beast that will touch her heart—she will heal his tortured soul and he will bring the light back into her dark world.
Hey Everyone!

I'm thrilled to announce another new release! Enchanted Beauty has been released at New Concepts Publishing. This novel is a retelling of the classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast.
Buy Enchanted Beauty!


Friday, August 15, 2008

I Left My Heart In San Francisco

Warning, this blog will not be short. How could it be given my recent trip to San Francisco? There was a lot happening at the RWA conference, but there was lots of other wonderful stuff happen’ too!

The DH and I flew on separate flights, different airlines. I went first class, a fact the DH reiterated ad nauseam throughout the trip. Hey, it took me two weeks to convince him to come with me AFTER I bought the ticket. He’s got no one to blame but himself for not moving faster on buying his ticket. However, I did enjoy pointing out to him that I got real china and REAL stainless steel utensils. I confess that one confused me given the terrorist orange alert status. I mean there’s a lot one can do with a real knife when you’re airborne and that close to the cockpit, unfortunately.

Our ride to downtown on the BART was a mini-adventure where the DH had his first REAL exposure to alternative life styles. We have gay friends, but they don’t do wet, open displays of affection in public. So that startled the DH a little bit. *grin*

The hotel staff, despite the far from complimentary rip-a-new-one blog post about them prior to the conference, were organized, efficient, helpful and just wonderful. I got my usual, exceptional service that I get whenever I stay at the Marriott. I still need to send compliments via email to the general manager about ALL staff. They went out of their way IMHO to make RWA welcome.

O-M-G! It’s Kate Duffy

Key in hand (we got a small suite complete with refrigerator!! YAHOO!) we head for the room when I see Rosemary Potter, bookseller extraordinaire. I immediately charge over to say hi, and I suddenly realize she’s with someone. So I’m backpedaling and apologizing profusely about interrupting. But Rosemary’s companion scoffs

“NO, that’s what RWA is for! I’m Kate Duffy.” She offers her hand and the whole time I’m shaking her hand, all I can think of is…my hands are sweaty.

“Hello, I’m Monica Burns.”

“Monica Burns! I LOVED Mirage. It was wonderful, just wonderful.” Her words catch me completely off guard as I’m thinking, WTF—she read Mirage??? In the next blip of a thought, I’m thinking, OMG, Kate Duffy loved Mirage! When she tells me to sit, I’m like a new puppy eager to please. I do keep glancing over my shoulder at the DH who finally strolls over and in a slightly (just slightly) exasperated tone says, “Just give me the key.”

For the briefest of seconds (and more like a fraction), I’m thinking why the hell didn’t he come later in the week!! But I introduce him; and Kate while shaking his hand says…

“Do you know what a wonderful writer your wife is?”

Obviously not sure what to say, the DH (who automatically assumes I’m chatting with old friends and NOT a major NY editor) replies, “Umm…yeah….right.”

Shooting him at that point would have been too merciful. Perhaps a room at the world-famous Alcatraz? Feeling a bit overwhelmed, not to mention guilty because the DH and I had planned events for the afternoon, I politely excused myself and headed for the elevators. Inside the small car, I do a happy feet dance plus a bit of screaming! OMG, OMG, KD frigging likes my writing! OMG. Acting the part of Tim “Toolman” Taylor, the DH still isn’t getting the monumental event that’s just transpired!! Even after an explanation he’s still clueless. *sigh*

Fred the Millionaire

With two memorable moments completed, we set out to see the Golden Gate Bridge. With money tight, we decide public transportation is the best option and several San Franciscans cheerfully helped us find the right bus. Along the way, we had to make a transfer, and that’s when we met Fred.

Actually we never got his name; we just called him that as opposed to other less than complimentary monikers. Fred seemed like a rather plucky fellow. He certainly can hold his liquor as he smelled strongly of alcohol. Scratch that, he reeked of the brew, and one could have gotten drunk off his breath. So Fred asks if we’re from California. When he learns we’re from Virginia he’s immediately complimentary, stating we’re “good people. People in California are ____(you fill in the blank).”

The DH slides a glance my way, and I desperately dart a glance up the street for the bus that isn’t anywhere on the horizon. Looking back at the DH, I can see he’s thinking he might have to act like Lancelot or some other knight in shining armor. Only problem is, he’s without a sword of the steely kind. My collection at home can’t be carried on the plane. Now, Fred is still ranting about California when he pulls out this wad of cash. I mean I would have loved to have just had a few of the bills Fred displayed with such open pride. We would have been able to paint the town red for several nights!!

Fred waves the money in front of us like someone offering up a bite of chocolate cake right before they eat it and said, “My Dad just died and I get $500 a week for the rest of my life. Damn Californians. They don’t know what it’s like. They’re F*!kers. My girlfriend just died up there on the hill.”

Fred points to the grove of trees on the hill behind the bus shelter and the DH’s expression is so easy to read…oh God, we’re going to have to report a dead body. Fred continues to point toward where his girlfriend died and rants how the Californians left his girlfriend’s body on the hill for days. Now the DH and I are putting our noses to the wind expecting to smell something far worse than we’ve ever been exposed to before. Fred again calls us good people and says he’s a Vietnam vet whose father sailed out of Norfolk on his way to fight in WWII.

I glance up the street and offer up a Hail Mary (I’m not Catholic, but childhood memories help) because I see a bus. At this point, Fred decides he no longer wants to talk to us. Why the hell not? We’re good people. He takes off to collect his stuff and charges across the street to catch another bus (going the opposite way thank God!). He’s sporting what appears to be a brand spanking new mountain hiker backpack. Clearly the inheritance is the real deal, unless of course he’s robbed a bank. He could have overwhelmed bank guards with the liquor fumes alone.

The Bridge Is Gone

With that small adventure out of the way, we reach the GGB (Golden Gate Bridge) where I proceed to drop $65 on a sweatshirt jacket. My belief that I could survive the bridge’s wind factor was obliterated the moment we stepped off the bus. My shorts and short sleeve shirt are no match for the infamous foggy chill that is the San Francisco bay. The bridge is just as I remember it. Cold, damp, but unbelievably majestic. There are few manmade structures that make me speechless, but this bridge is one of them. The fog kept sweeping in and out (this pic is NOT blurred, it's the fog!) so that one minute the first tower of the span was clearly visible and in the next instant it slowly melted into the clouds until there was little of the bridge showing at all. Needless to say, we were thinking, damn, all this way and there’s nothing to take a picture of!

Dinner that night was in Chinatown. The Empress China restaurant had decent food, but I love the food at our Peking restaurant here in Richmond much better. I love it even more because our meals at the Peking don’t even come close to the $100 we paid at Empress China for soup, spring rolls and an entrée. It was an a la carte menu. However, I will say the ambiance was nice and we had a nice view of San Francisco’s skyline. Hey we were in SanFran…we should expected high prices.

On Wednesday, my marketing savvy died. I still can’t believe I failed to put my promo stuff out as soon as the goody room opened. I also forgot to deliver my books for the signing by the proper time. I really don’t know where my head was. No wait I do! The hamster wheel kept running the tape replay of KD saying, “I loved Mirage!”.

Where the Body Meets the Road

Bella LeeAnn (she’s a sweetheart), from Michelle Buonfiglio’s blog, and I went to lunch with Sandra Barkovich and Shaunta (I forget her last name and can’t find my bloody business cards *Grrrr*) to a terrific (and MUCH cheaper) lunch at Tian Sing . It was only a short hop, skip and a jump, but somewhere between the hotel and where we crossed the street I became feet-challenged to the nth degree.

With the grace and precision of an out-of-work acrobat (because he’s so bad), I managed to imitate the “help, I’ve fallen and can’t get up” commercial by stumbling my way over the curb. I almost managed to save myself before I wound up flat on my face. Now I normally recover from things like this well, but I was just stunned. Did I lay there thinking OMG can I move my legs, are they broken, OMG, I look stupid laying here on the sidewalk, OMG is my PDA okay? Nope, I just lay there like a beached whale thinking…Damn, I fell down. I really fell down. I can’t believe I fell. This is my best outfit and the damn book signing it this evening. WTF do I wear now???

I managed to get up after about 15 seconds (an eternity when San Francisco just keeps walking on by you while your friends continued forward until they realize you’re not with them). I did have one man ask if I was okay. When I said yes, he nodded sagely and said, “Everyone says that but then they find out that they’re not okay.” I will not even begin to contemplate the deeper truth of that statement. But it was nice of him to be concerned given everyone else aside from my friends was acting like I was a well-dressed homeless person taking up sidewalk rent space.

RWA Book Signing

Friends! You’ve Got to Have Friends (Bette Midler would have loved the book signing!) I kept thanking God that I didn’t have to change clothes because I fell on a clean section of sidewalk. I mean my outfit was selected because it was supposed to make me look my best. Unfortunately the pictures the DH took at the signing were not flattering. I just don’t do great pictures. Cathy and Natalie both looked fantastic. Hard to believe it’s been almost two years since the GabWagon was started and we all came together in Atlanta to get it rolling. Tell me Cathy doesn’t look FAB in this shot! (Nat you've been spared a photo because I looked horrible in the pic we got together. It's for private viewing only!! LOL)

Good friend Melissa Schroeder also popped in for a hello at the signing (see pic). Truth be told, I really didn’t expect to sell any books (mine are those expensive trade size) but after the fifth sale, I was feeling pretty good! A gentleman bought one of my books and someone asked me afterward if I had many men buying my work. They were surprised when I stated yes and that I had several male members on my Yahoo loop (unintended pun! LOL). HEY! Guys read romance. They just don’t rave about it like us gals.

For dinner the DH and I visited Puccini and Pinetti with Mel Schroeder. Both Mel and I were already exhausted (the damn conference hadn’t even started), but the three of us had a lively meal where I flirted with the wait staff. Food = energy and after dinner, I perked up like a Nintendo character, so we hit the RWA Online party.

The Conference

I missed most of it because when I fell on Market Street, my PDA took a hit. I had been AR about making appointments for workshops to attend, etc. and recording them in the PDA with locations and everything BEFORE I arrived. Now I was adrift in the lovely conference catalog trying to figure out where to go. I vaguely remember the annual general meeting, where I do remember getting up to ask a question about the recent RWA survey. I think I was coherent in my questions, and friends said I did great. Later the DH and I attended the Passionate Ink party where he got totally stoked with the vibrator favors. As Mac pointed out I came away with the 2nd place prize for Mirage in the Historical category of the Passionate Plume contest.

Thursday night, the DH and I met up with Natalie and attended the Knight Agency party. Didn’t get much face time with my agent, but I did meet Sara Reinke and I LOVE her!! She’s sweet, funny and absolutely charming! A really nice person I’d love to get to know better! With my feet killing me, we headed back to the hotel for a few hours shuteye before Friday bloomed on the horizon.

How To Interrupt a RWA Workshop

I wanted to hear what Julie Anne Long and Steve Axelrod had to say in their workshop, so I popped in there. Axelrod had just started talking when I began to cough. First it was just a small one, then it became two, then it became a coughing spasm. I realized it was an asthma attack, so I got up and went outside to do my inhaler. I didn’t move fast enough because the coughing grew worse and I was struggling for air. First time THAT’s happened to me. So I’m trying to inhale another puff from the inhaler but can’t. Someone from Low Country RWA’s chapter passes by and stops to help. They tell staff I’m having an asthma attack (I managed to get that info out between coughs) and staff races off to get help. The next thing I hear, tucked away in the little alcove I’m standing in, is the sound of hard pounding feet muffled against the carpet (I’m thinking cops chasing a bad guy sounds). A short guy blazes past us only to slide to a halt like one of those characters in a cartoon. He back pedals and says,

“How old are you, ma’am.”

“Hey, you don’t ask a gal questions like that!”

“I’m sorry ma’am, but I need to know.” I semi-lied in my response.

“Have you had a heart attack before?”

“Heart attack? I’m having an ASTHMA attack. My pacemaker is working fine, thank you very much.”

Now there are more stomping feet and four more staff personnel show up, including the general manager. Damn, these people know how to make a girl feel safe. I’ve always been a Marriott Rewards card-carrying member, but damn, this is exceptional service! Truthfully, the expressions of relief on their face made me wonder how many people have died of a heart attack in the hotel.

The rest of my tale is really too long for one post, so stay tuned for more next week.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dragon's Heart has been released!!!

PhotobucketA relationship between a dragon shifter and a wizard was unheard of—and certainly frowned upon. Yet, Grania found Dylan nearly irresistible, feared, knew, if he ever touched her she’d never be able to control the mating fire.
Hey Everyone!
I'm thrilled to announce that Dragon's Heart has been released at NCP! You can buy it by following the links below!