So, right before I left for NOLA, Caroline Hanson asked me if I was going to have any time to play. I responded, "Oh hell no!" immediately. After three years of doing this whole travel thing, I've gotten used to the idea that, very often, the most I'll see of a particular city is the hotel and any restaurant a block away unless I play hooky.
Not so in New Orleans. Part of it, I think, is that so much of the city is close, and in the French Quarter, it's far easier to walk on the broken pavement than it is to find a cab. Part of it is that the hotel, while accommodating, has also been loud, just in general acoustical levels, so the temptation to linger and chat has been minimized. It's been far more private to go out into the noisy city and wander than it has been to find a corner of the hotel and chat.
At any rate, I can now say I've wandered the French Quarter and strolled through the garden district. I've dined like a queen and heard the river boats playing the creepy death marionette song while I was napping (which explain the really intense and creepy dream I had then, I might add.) You can probably see from the picture that the river is right there-- vast and rolling and twice as wide as Folsom Lake near my home, so the riverboat song really IS close enough to pervade my dreams. I have not seen any of the places hit by Katrina particularly hard--but I have talked to locals who were forced to relocate during cleanup, and it is clear that their heart is here. It's easy to see why.
So, I have, in random order, some con pictures interspersed with some NOLA pictures, and I'm sort of out of it-- it's been something of a week and the end something of a month and a half. On Wednesday, I broke down and started to laugh/sob hysterically, giggling, "A month ago, I was in San Diego!" much to Mary's chagrin-- she wasn't sure how she was going to get me to stop! Anyway, stringing two thoughts much less two sentences together is something of a miracle for me-- forgive the lack of cogency, I swear I'll try to recover my brain cells by the next time I blog!
The first two NOLA pictures are taken from my hotel room-- I just panned to the right and then to the left. I think one of the first things that hit me is how compressed the city is. The good and the bad just right on top of each other, layered like an paints on an impressionist painting. The second two are balconies at night. Yeah, I know-- not hardly original--but the old quarter, man, you just don't see buildings that old in California. And whether the balconies are apartment buildings or hotels, they're haunting and beautiful, and there is something seductive about the thought of tourists wandering the quarter, drunk on decadence and carry-away daiquiris, under the jaded eye of locals who have seen it all.
If you look down this narrow street at nine o'clock at night, you'll see that the locals get an eyeful.
So, sandwiched between wanderings into the Quarter for food, was actual wanderings of the Canal Street Marriott for work. This picture here, with all of the lovely people in it, is from the DSP Fantastic Day Party. Now, the party itself was pretty chaotic-- authors were coming and going and the place was mobbed with people looking for free books and signatures from their favorite authors. For the record, including the signing, it was the second time I was in a room with Lee Childs as a professional-- and yet, I have no signature. *sigh* It was the one thing I wanted for my husband, and I'm sort of sorry I failed. But the people I was working with? The stunning Amanda Carlson, the hugely talented Tere Michaels, Anastasia (Ariel's delightful and helpful intern), lyric apted, our bubbly, kind, helpful publicist, THE amazing, talented and OH SO FRICKIN' GENEROUS WITH HIS TIME Damon Suede, the beautiful and SO perky, talented, beautiful, and inexhaustible Ariel Tachna, the solid, AMAZING Anne Reagan, the inimitable Connie Bailey, the talented, brave J.P. Barnaby, the talented, organized Kate McMurray, Elizabeth-my-darling-boss-whom-I-love-and-revere, her long-suffering (and delightful) son P.J., and, of course, front and to the left, Mary-my-Mary and nobody else shall have her-- all of these amazing, talented, wonderful, fantastic, creative, hard-working spectacular people made this event a success.
Also happening at RT2014...
In the picture to the right (I hope-- something tells me blogger is going to completely reorg all my spacing for this post) you will see a picture of some really awesome giants in the LGBTQ industry-- yeah, I know, I've got no business there, but it was nice to be invited. From left to right is Ruth Sternglantz, editor of Bold Strokes books; Christopher Rice, NYT bestselling author of delicious horror and murder mystery; Heather Osborne, admittedly brilliant editor of Samhain Publishers; some m/m author that nobody cares about; the brilliant and brilliantly opinionated Jay from Joyfully Jay Review Blog; and the beautiful and talented Kellie Jamison who writes menage where the boy parts touch. The lovely and poised Sarah Frantz was our moderator, and we got a lot of great feedback from that panel. I was really proud to be a part of it. Also, Christopher Rice hugged me in the middle of a crowded bar when he was dressed all nice and I looked like ass, so, not only is he talented (I've read him-- I don't rec lightly) but he's also kind enough not to gaze at me in horror and turn the other way.
This particular picture is of the signing, and I got to sit next to the stunning, sprightly, beautiful, talented, happy Tara Lain, and I love her, and love that she still enjoys the two of us being Lain and Lane, in spite of the fact that we were facing the horrors of the E.L. James line, and were forced to pimp swag. (I had a lot of people who took my card when I offered them with a refrigerator magnet with my logo-- "Angst dragon? Angst dragon anyone?" the Angst dragon was hugely popular, much to my surprise.)
And in this gem of a picture, we have Z.A. Maxfield, Josephine Myles, Anne Tenino, and Mary Calmes-- and we're all in an interview about writing M/M fiction. Pat Henshaw gave the interview, and she writes for a number of publications, including Publisher's Weekly, All About Romance, and The Romance Review-- she was doing a piece on the lot of us, and we brought our serious faces and serious answers to this one. I look forward to seeing what she does!
Okay-- this picture above me, I blew it up not so much because I'm trying to brag THIS BIG but because for some reason I ended up in the program, and I was tickled as hell. I mean, you probably can't read the names, but there's Lee Childs and Charlaine Harris in the top left, Debbie Macomber, Tess Geritsen and Sylvia Day in the top right, and, yeah. You might recognize yours truly, hanging out with the big kids, trying not to look weird. I failed-- FRICKIN' MISERABLY-- but dude. It's not every day you wake up and see you're keeping that company, even on paper. (In reality, as I said, I couldn't get Lee Child's autograph. Nobody, NOBODY, buy the fiction that I am any bigger than any other soccer mom out there, because it's a sad, sad lie.)
And, to prove that last part, we have here the house of a real giant in literary fiction. Yes, quite inadvertently (I swear-- we skipped the tour!) Mary, her husband Juneau and I managed to wander by Anne Rice's house. We were, of course, suitably impressed. I mean… look at it. These were the houses in the garden district, and they were by turns glorious, damned, beautiful, ramshackle, and, almost universally, haunted, whether by the past or by the ghosts who couldn't leave because the oppressive humidity created a magnetic field that would have stopped a horse.
I also took some pictures of other houses that caught our eye. The blue and red one was simply charming and colorful (although not quite as vast as some of the others) and the one with the lovely driveway apparently belonged to the tire king of New Orleans. (Don't look at me-- we sat there to catch a cab, and that's what the tour guide told us!) To the right, we have, well, a lizard. What can I say. He was cute, he had a little frill along his back, and he was willing to pose. I liked this lizard. I wanted to make him famous. He eats bugs like the giant cockroach we saw dead on it's back as we crossed Canal street this morning. (It was hideous-- Mary almost got us hit by oncoming traffic because she was crossing the street freaking out. "Juneau, did you see that bug????" I didn't blame her. We want this lizard to grow big and strong so he can eat other cockroaches before they get as big as a woman's fist.)
So it was a lovely wander, but, when we returned to the hotel, after a cool drink (non alcoholic) I went up to my hotel room (Mary has since moved out because A. I snore, and B. her husband is here and she wants to spend time with him, which is part of our code. Mates before sisters-- it's just the way it goes) and she went shopping for her son. But I needed to blog, and really needed to write. Man, I just needed some quiet to be in my own head.
And to remember why I do this.
Last night, Mate put me on the phone with Squish, and she didn't really want to talk to me, so much as talk with me in the room. She and her brother told meal worm stories (thank you second grade science) and I just lay there, on the bed, watching her talk, and missing being in that room with all my heart. So here's the picture from Wendy's wedding, that my mom took, because how soon were we all going to be dressed up in the same place again? and that's going to have to do me until I get home. I don't quite recall being this homesick in my entire life-- I'm afraid it's colored the goings on here somewhat, and I've tried to spare you that. There's nothing sadder than hearing a grown woman whine.
Besides. Some of it has been delightful. This picture of Elizabeth, taken when we were playing hooky in the Quarter on Thursday, is something I'm going to treasure. There were good times to be had here, and once I'm home, and my family is around me, I'm sure I'll be more open to how awesome RT2014 really was. (And maybe not burst into tears when someone mentions RT2015, which is what will happen for the next week or so, just to warn folks.)
So the next time I blog, I'll be home.
I can't wait.