Saturday, 18 August 2007

My Week In Dallas: Day Six - Saturday

I knew straight away on Saturday morning that I was in trouble. No, not a hangover! That thing in my side that went ‘pop’ when I was dancing at the Harlequin party had stiffened up in the night and I discovered I couldn’t even roll over in bed. Ouch. I limped my way through the day. Thankfully, it got a bit better towards the evening.

Today I did some workshops. First was Jane Porter’s “Ultimate Characterisation: the Alpha Hero and the Unforgettable Heroine”. Absolutely fab. I tend to write my heroes a little too nice sometimes and I got some really good insight into how to toughen my men up a little. I grew up with sisters and went to an all girls’ school, then studied dance (mainly girls at collage, again!). It was great to get a woman’s perspective on the male brain.

I hobbled into the awards luncheon and couldn’t find anyone I knew. I was starting to get tired of being on my best behaviour and introducing myself constantly. I also couldn’t even look at half the food, lovely though it was. My stomach was still full up from the last few days.

The afternoon brought the Mills & Boon Authors’ get together, which I ducked in and out of to attend the rehearsal ceremony for the awards ceremony that evening (gulp!). The pain in my side meant I found it really difficult to get up the steps onto the stage to say my name into the microphone for the sound check, and it was extremely odd seeing a four-foot high version of my face and my book cover projected onto the screen at the back of the stage. People kept asking me whether I was getting nervous and I truly was, although I was doing my best to stay in a state of denial.

I’d got to the point where I just couldn’t concentrate and only managed ten minutes of my final workshop before I gave up. Thank goodness for the CDs! I’m eagerly looking forward to their arrival. My husband was so sweet. He was at a party with the girls and kept sending me text messages from different friends all cheering me on and passing good luck messages on from friends and family. I was ready to cry at least three times.

After chatting with Jenna and Trish I went back to my room to get ready for the evening. Now the jitters really were hitting me with full force. And to make it worse I was late meeting my editor in the lobby because I couldn’t get a lift. They were all full of people making their way downstairs to the ballroom.

The rest of the evening was a bit surreal. Sometimes, when I’ve been waiting for an event for a long time, when the moment comes, something in my brain refuses to believe it’s actually happening. It happened on my wedding day. I was the calmest bride in the universe ever. Inside, I was thinking, ‘I can’t really be getting married today, can I?’ Much the same happened during the RITA and Golden Heart ceremony. The adrenaline disappeared and I just kind of sat there. And when my categories came up, I held my breath, then let it out again. I was in a strange kind of limbo. Actually, I think an adrenaline surge would have been better.
Afterwards I just felt really tired and, all of a sudden, really homesick for my husband and my kids. There was a last chance to catch up with people before we all made our way home the next day. Everyone looked so fabulous and I was really pleased for my edior Kimberley Young. I might not have come up trumps for her, but Barbara Hannay did, so she got a little plaque and got to go up and collect Barb’s statue. I didn’t mind losing out to her book one little bit – it was fabulous. And Tracey Ann Warren won Best First Book for ‘The Husband Trap’, which was also a great read. And I’m very pleased that Tamera Alexander won Best Inspiational for ‘Rekindled’, because that was a stonker of a book too. Only sad Gemma Haliday didn’t get anything because I loved her sassy ‘Spying in High Heels’.

So that’s it. My week in Dallas. Didn’t come home with a statue, but I came home with a bunch full of great memories and some lovely new friends. Jenna and I decided we were ‘transatlantic twins’ as we look freakily similar and even laugh the same. Trish will always have a special place in my heart for being bold and sassy and unbearable funny. And then there were all the lovely people I met: Marion Lennox, Melissa McClone, Teresa Southwick, Sandra Marton, Olivia Gates, Jennie Lucas, Carol Grace all the people from eHarlequin – especially fortworthmom, she’s a one-woman dynamo! I know I’ve forgotten loads of people, but I’ve always said I’m awful with names.

As for the elusive little gold lady…I’m just gonna have to roll up my sleeves and write some better stories!

Sunday, 12 August 2007

My Week In Dallas: Day Five - Friday part 2

Revisions are in and I’m a free woman. Well, apart from the five foot high pile of ironing, two children who are starting to wonder who that strange woman is and a house that looks like a mini-tornado whipped through it.

Back to my adventures on the other side of the Atlantic…

After lunch on Friday I checked with the concierge to see if any progress had been made with my dress. She’d had it sent out to a dry-cleaners and said it would be back by six. Fingers crossed.

Next stop was the Rita and Golden Heart reception. I had no idea what was going to happen, but it turned out that all the finalists received certificates for their nominations. I found Marion Lennox and we were very glad to see someone we knew. It became clear as the names were
read out that some people were well known in the RWA and others not so much as a few people got humongous cheers. Marion and I set up our own cheering section (for each other) at the back to compensate for the fact that we didn’t know anybody and nobody knew us. One of the things I love about the romance writing community is how supportive we are of each other.

Marion and I with our certificates

After that I tried to sneak into a Michael Hague workshop but realised that having missed the first hour, I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about and decided to listen to the CDs when I got home to get the full benefit.

I had a quick drink and meeting with my editor before she had to rush off to a dinner for the Presents/Modern Romance authors. She asked the dreaded, “how’s the book going” question. I promised her it would be in on time, despite the fact I knew I was going to have to work my butt off to get it done. (I did it though!)

Now, back to the dress. It did indeed arrive back at my room just after six with a new zip in place, the process of installing the new zip, they’d had to take in by a centimetre or two. Since I’d been dieting madly to fit my substantial…erm,…assets, into the dress, let’s just say that I could get it on and do the zip up, but breathing was optional. Sniff. I will just have to hope I gat another chance to wear it.

Then it was off to the Harlequin Party at the Fairmont Hotel. The ballroom was lovely and there were great towering stands filled with canap├ęs and desserts. How I managed to completely miss the chocolate fountain I will never know! Now, I’ve only been to one and other party hosted by my publisher and it was a completely different sort of animal. Lovely, but different. The London, Mills & Boon drinks party last year was held in an exclusive gentleman’s club and the champagne flowed as we stood around and chatted.

The Harlequin party had dancing! Now, I don’t know what it’s like the world over, but in England, at social occasions with a bar and a dancefloor, lots of visits to the former tend to lead to funky moves on the other. You know what it’s like: you go to a wedding or a party and when the music starts the only people to inhabit the dance floor for the first hour are a couple of ten-year-old girls, seriously intent on showing off their best moves, and somebody’s uncle who had a head start the beer. People need time to warm up, to let go of their inhibitions.

Not so at a Harlequin party. The minute the first song started I was practically dragged onto the dance floor by fellow Romance author Melissa McClone. Don’t get me wrong, I was overjoyed. I love dancing and it was fantastic to see a whole room full of people ‘get on down’, not because they’d had too many shandys, but because they just wanted to enjoy themselves.

I had a ball! In fact, a little too much good fun. I even joined in a conga that had to have had about a hundred people in it (to the Miami Sound Machine track, not the Black Lace one, thank goodness). And there was I, wiggling to those catchy Latin rhythms when something in my side went ‘pop’. I kid you not. I still managed to dance the night away. In fact, Trish and I had to be almost dragged off the dance floor and pushed into the stretch limo that took us home. It seriously was the best party I’d been to in years. Wanna go next year!

Friday, 3 August 2007

Back soon - promise!

Book due in Wednesday - revisions back by Wednesday afternoon. Nuff said.

To console yourselves you can all find a copy of Break Up to Make Up in the shops and online right now!
And check out Donna Alward's blog today - I'm guest blogging! And also on the Pink Heart Society on Tuesday. So wander on over...