Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Diary of a mad writer in D.C.

Hang on. It's my day and I'm still suffering from post conference difficulties. Christie is my heroine! How she managed to get a post up yesterday so early is beyond me. Anyway - be right back with something that will stun and amaze!!

Okay. I'm back. And I can't believe I promised to stun and amaze. I'm not sure that's going to happen but I'll give it a go. My head still feels like it's stuffed with confetti but the conference memories are starting to jell and I want to share a few with you. So here they are. Cindy's memorable moments. Drum roll please ......

We arrived in D.C. on Monday afternoon, just in time for dinner. Do we know how to plan or what? Across the street from the beautiful Marriott Wardman hotel (which is surrounded by the most incredible gardens!!) is a row of shops and ethnic restaurants. Vunderbar!! Kylie, Roxanne Rustand and her daughter Emily and the inimitable Gennita Low and I trippy-trapped along the street and finally decided on a lovely open air Indian restaurant. Why, you ask? Because they had $3.95 Margaritas. Now these weren't just any Margaritas - they were authentic West Indian Margaritas that only a very delicate palate could discern from the traditional Mexican drink. Since there is nothing delicate or discerning about us, we were in hog heaven. Ole!

Tuesday, we rented a car and drove over 100 miles to Charlottesville, VA, to visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's plantation. With Gennita at the wheel we arrived in record time - just in time for lunch (are you sensing a pattern here?) Monticello is a lush, beautiful plantation set in the midst of rolling hills and dense, old growth forests. The main house itself is just stunning. We took a guided house tour and learned so much about Jefferson - did you know he was an inventor, among other things? We also took a tour of the slave quarters. It was a sobering glimpse into a disturbing part of America's past.

After a nice drive back to D.C. we wandered the streets of Georgetown. Did you know there were many cobble stone streets there and it's not wise to wear platform shoes? I learned the hard way when I turned my ankle and went down on my butt. The earth moved, people, but amazingly, except for a bruise the size of Texas on my hip (because my hip IS the size of Texas) I was none the worse for the wear.

Wednesday brought more sight seeing. Kylie and I went to the Spy Museum. Good thing we did, too. You all don't know it but if we hadn't shown up there on that exact day at that exact time to take part in a covert mission we never would have saved the world from terrorists getting their hands on a trigger mechanism for a dirty bomb. We sacrificed, people. We risked our very lives running down dark alleys, dodging bullets, intercepting encrypted radio transmissions - you know, just your run of the mill super spy stuff. No thanks necessary. It was all in a day's work. :o)

That evening RWA held their annual Literacy book signing. What a hoot!!! I met so many amazing people, sat by my usual signing mate, Rachael Gibson, (who also won a Rita sat night - Yea Rachael!!!) and sampled the gorgeous and talented Olivia Gates' s Baklava. Yum Yum.
Afterward, my wonderful agent, Maria Carvainis held her agency dinner at Citronelle, a dining experience I won't soon forget! Double yum yum!

Thursday and Friday were both whirls of meetings with friends I only get to catch up with at National, plus drinks and dinners with the Pocket people and my amazing editor, Maggie Crawford. (You're noticing that I manage to eat a lot, right? Heaven.....) Oh, and Kylie, Rox and I, along with Maria Carvainis and Gennita Low as moderator, presented a panel in the afternoon in which I think we managed to sound reasonably intelligent. Anyway, that's the hope. Oh - and Thursday night, our very own Kylie won the Daphne DuMauer award of excellence for her book Terms of Surrender! Not only that, she won the over all award for all categories. WTG, Kylie. Of course we had to celebrate. By Saturday night one of the staff at the bar knew us on a first name basis :o)

Friday night - yee haw - the Harlequin party. Wow! As always, it's the party of the year and we laughed and danced and got blisters on our feet and - oh yeah - we ate some more. And all of that was after a 3 hour dinner with my editor that I will never, in a million years, forget. I can't even begin to describe the delicacies so I won't try. Suffice it to say it was an out of this world culinary experience.

It wasn't easy getting up Saturday morning but, troopers that we are, we did it and set out for another day of meets and greets with our buddies and, you guessed it, we ate!!! By Saturday night, we were all dragging but managed to rise to the occasion to attend the lavish Rita ceremony and laugh at the incomparable Ann Stuart (aka sister Chrissie) who was a brilliant MC. Golden Hearts and Ritas were the coveted prize for the evening and let me tell ya, NO one was more surprised than me when they called my name for the Rita in Romantic suspense. What a rush!!! Thanks for all the congratulatory posts, you guys. I answered e-mail all day yesterday. I hope I was coherent.

Couldn't resist. Here's a photo of New Rita with Old Rita. The girls are getting along just great!! Also, I just HAD to post the cover for TAKE NO PRISONERS. Thanks to BOI operative, Sam Lang and Abbie for staring in this book!!

Sunday morning, after only a few hours of sleep found Kylie and I standing in the lobby of the hotel. I don't remember why we were just standing there. We had checked out and needed to get a cab to get us to the airport so we really needed to get a move on. But as fate would have it, there we stood and who should approach us but P.J., who posts with us regularly. It was so much fun to meet her!! Even more fun when she handed each of us a bag of home made chocolate. OMG. Ambrosia!!!! Melt in your mouth delicious!!! Mine barely made it home. Thanks again, P.J. You saved our lives.

It was great to get home Sunday afternoon to Margaret, our little Brittany, and Buddy and Sly, our cats, and my dear, dear hubby who was waiting with a dozen red roses and a steak dinner that I didn't have to cook.

So, that's it folks. Thanks for indulging me. It was a once in a lifetime kind of trip where all the stars aligned with a plethora of good friends, good food and good luck!

I'm sure I left a lot of things out so if any of you have any questions about the conference, the authors and the color of my bruises, ask away. Bottom line, if your a writer or a reader, it's a great place to be.


Michele Hauf said...

Good times! Wow, what a week, Cindy! Does it take you a while to recover and get back into writing mode? Or do those twin RITAs on your desk provide all the creative muse you need?


Cindy Gerard said...

Hey Michele.
Recover? I'm still working on it :o)
RWA national is like no other experience in the world. 2000 + writers all in one spot, all happy as heck to be there. the first timers wander around in a daze of visual and sensual overload. It's so much fun to watch them. The old timers, like us, are constantly running into people we haven't seen in a while so there are a lot of delighted squeals echoing through the hotel. It's a happy, happy time.
As for getting back to work. Oh yeah. the real world beckons. so far I'm ignoring it but that's GOTTA change soon :o)

Keri Ford said...

Whew. I need a nap after reading about all that excitement. So glad everything went well for your group this year!

I'm sitting here waiting for Nashville when I get to go! What are we down to, 360 days to diet left?

Cindy Gerard said...

Keri - Ha. I love it. the diet countdown. Trust me, I don't think I could get into the clothes I wore on Monday, the day I flew to DC. Food is the word, is the word .... :o)
And Nashville sounds like it's going to break attendance records! Yee Haw!!

Kylie said...

A delightful commentary on our trip. Cindy did forget to mention that I heroically dove for her when she went down and offered her a hand up. She preferred to sit there a while and figure out what, besides her ego, had been bruised!

Saturday night the bar waiter, whose accent I was never able to quite identify told me, "I know you very much. You drink very much. More than the rest in here." I thought that was a gross overstatement and can only assume he thought I was consuming those rounds I bought all by myself.

But the Rita celebration for Cindy after the ceremony was not to be missed and we whooped it up good. I don't recall ever feeling quite that bad getting on a plane the next morning, though. I think it was the lack of sleep!

(And PJ--you are a 'genius' with chocolate! Ohmygod!!!!)

Helen Brenna said...

Sounds like a great conference for you overall, Cindy. And YAY again on the RITA! Now you have bookends!

Cindy Gerard said...

Kylie - how could I have forgotten your able assistance while I sat on my butt in the middle of a Georgetown street. Maybe it was the giggling that diminished the good Samaritan gesture ..
And I forgot about the waiter in the bar. What a hoot. Thanks for celebrating with me, buddy. I know that it was a sacrifice to have to lift your glass to your mouth so many times. What a trooper.

Cindy Gerard said...

Helen - your Rita and my Ritas will have to get together and do lunch sometime. Oh man. Now that was just tacky....

Emmanuelle said...

Nice pic !! 2 RITAs, congratulations !!!

Cindy Gerard said...

Hi Emmanuelle.
thanks and be glad I didn't include some of the other, shall we say, less proper photos from DC???
Some of what happens in DC should probably stay in DC...

Emmanuelle said...

now you just picked my curiosity... wanna see the dirty pics !!!lol

Debra Dixon said...

Good times indeed!

And the pics of the Rita girls is EXCELLENT. :)

Jane said...

Congrats on the RITA, Cindy. Saw some great pics of you and others on Gennita's blog.

Anonymous said...

Well, like I told you before you went to Washington, I really missed all the fun being so far away in Italy!!
I'm so proud of you for the RITA!
Francesca put in on her blog that you won and so now even the Italian readers knows about it!
I'm so thrilled and you know what ?the two RITA ladies on your desk, need to have another one with them
to chat better!!
Hugs from Rome

Cindy Gerard said...

Emmanuelle - dirty picts? surely you jest :o)
Check out Gennita Low's blog at: http://rooferauthor.blogspot.com/
You'll find a few choice shots there.
I also just loaded a photo of Roxanne Rustand, me and Kylie on my facebook page. At least you'll get a few sneak peaks.

Cindy Gerard said...

Hey Deb - we missed you and the rest of the riders. Kylie, Christi and I got together for a little chat and we toasted you all!

Cindy Gerard said...

Thanks Jane. I just checked out Gennita's blog. She's too cute and too funny. And she has THE snazziest silver Lexus convertible. Woo wee!

Rossella - hey sweetie. Thanks for stopping by. Some day you're going to have to come to the US for an RWA or an RT conference and meet all your fav writers. I still get all fan girl when I see Nora!

Emmanuelle said...

Gee.. I had no idea you guys likes to drink or hang out at bars...lol
Great pics, it's obvious you had a great time ;-)

JoAnn Ross said...

What fun about the RITA! Yay you!

Eleven years ago, I bought some coneflowers at Monticello that are supposedly from the same stock Jefferson cultivated. When the tops seed this year, I'm collecting the seeds to take to WA with us. It just seems important to keep the chain going. :)

As for heels and cobblestones, I made the mistake of wearing my high-heeled sneakers to dinner in Old Town Alexandria a couple months ago. (Forgot how hard it is to find parking there!) Fortunately, with a bit of assistance from my sweetie, I managed to stay upright on the many block walk to and from the restaurant.

Betina Krahn said...

Terrific shot of your "girls" Cindy! Richly deserved! And I'm so glad there's no jealousy between oldie and newbie. lol.

And I am soooo thinking of what it must have been like. Still wish I could have gone. Next year. Nashville, I keep telling myself.

And what a guy-- red roses and steak dinner! Give that man a big hug! But you don't have to give him your chocolate. I draw the line at sharing the mother's milk of creativity.

Cindy Gerard said...

JoAnn - Hi and thanks
I can still see you in your high heeled sneakers at PASIC in NYC a couple of years ago. Cute, cute cute.
I almost bought some seeds in the gift shop but forgot - of course - and then it was time to leave.

Good luck on your move and congrats on your new NAL contract!

Cindy Gerard said...

Yep. that chocolate was mine all mine. PJ out did herself :o)

So hope to see you in Nashville. I'll be the one in the cowboy boots - NOT!

PJ said...

Cindy and Kylie, congrats again on your awards. I'm so happy I ran into you in the lobby Sunday morning! Glad you enjoyed the chocolates.

I had a wonderful time at the conference and can't wait to do it all over again in Nashville. :)

Cindy Gerard said...

P.J - it was so much fun meeting you. And I think you call that chance encounter serendipity. Loved it and loved the chocolate. Note I said LOVED. It's gone. boo hoo.
boo hoo hoo hoo.
Yes, that was a shameless pity plea.

Gennita said...

Inimitable in what way? ***demanding tone I'm thinking it's because I'm the only person in our group who took a pic of the privy hole where Prez Madison and Jefferson took a dump. It's that kind of inimitable, isn't it? ;-)

Psst. I can't imitate the special way you decorated yourself before going to bed that one night, heeheehee. ***not saying another word***