So, this is August

Honestly, I’m surprised to note it’s only the nineteenth of August. As fast as my summer has disappeared, I expected it to be later. They say time flies when you’re having fun, and that’s certainly true. It also slips by unnoticed when you’re busy. What about when both coincide, when you’re working hard and enjoying it? It’s no wonder I seem to have lost two and a half months.

What have I been up to? Well, I’m so glad you asked.

Got Wood? This was by the fireplace in our room. (Click to enlarge)
Got Wood? This was by the fireplace in our room.

At the beginning of the summer my husband and I visited a couples resort. He won a two night stay there in a raffle. The previous sentence is a disclaimer, because he and I are not really couples resort people. We…laughed at the pool. C’mon, it was heart-shaped, and not recessed into the Lido Deck of the Love Boat. The hot tub in our room was heart-shaped, too. We laughed when he switched on the lights and pink spots highlighted the bright, crimson colour of the tub. The bed was round and had its own light show—a scatter of star lights across the black tile ceiling. The black tile ceiling struck me as kinky.

The resort just kinda blew my mind. I honestly didn’t know couples went away to places like this, en masse. No kidding, there were hundreds of rooms here and the place was hopping. AND EVERYONE HELD HANDS. Creepy. In fact, it was so weird that we felt like we were visiting a cult, and by the end of our two days, we felt compelled to hold hands. We did not dare go anywhere alone, because that seemed to be against expectations—which were probably being fulfilled in some of the champagne glass hot tubs in the super premium rooms. Oh, yeah, we stayed THERE. But not in the room with the champagne glass. Those aren’t for the certificate winners, those are for folks who don’t mind pressing their bare arse against thick Perspex, in full view of the front door of their suite.

Mmhmm.

To be fair, we did actually have a good time. Between snickers and giggles, we made use of all the facilities, including my favourite new pastime: shuffleboard. I like it because I’m good at it. I beat Husband twice. The food was pretty good, too, and our stay included a ticket to see comedians and SNL alumni Rob Schneider and Jon Lovitz. Schneider had me in stitches, wiping tears from my cheeks.

Upon my return from the Crazy Cult of Coupledoom, I learned that Carina Press not only liked the manuscript my writing partner, Jenn, and I had submitted, but that they wanted to sign the entire five-book series. Publish it. There’s little news better than: I’m getting published! All right, I know getting married (and coerced into spending weekends at couples resorts) and having kids are pretty big deals. But:

I’M GETTING PUBLISHED!

Again.

Regular visitors to my blog will know I already have a book out there. It’s a science fiction romance novella called Less Than Perfect. Click through to read all about it. This new deal is for a five book science fiction romance series co-authored by my best bud, Jenn Burke, and I. The first book is tentatively entitled Chaos Station and is tentatively scheduled for release in March 2015. Carina Press is a digital first imprint of Harlequin Enterprises. What this means is that we have the backing of an experienced company and the attention of a specialized team. Needless to say, Jenn and I are both wildly excited to be working with Carina and cannot wait for the world to meet our “boys”. Watch this pace for updates.

Jenn and I make use of the Instacam at the Harlequin party.
Jenn and I make use of the Instacam at the Harlequin party.

Much as I’d like to talk about the book deal (like, forever), I have more summer to cover. Oh, yeah, this is going to be a long one. With the ink drying on our deal sheet with Carina, Jenn and I flew down to San Antonio, Texas, to attend the 2014 Romance Writers of America conference. I’ve attended a fair number of conferences and conventions, but never as a professional. Okay, actually, I did attend a series of luncheons that were somehow related to me being a director of my father’s company, waaaay back before the turn of the century, but I mostly went for the food. This time I went to network and boy, did I work it. I met so many authors, but the surprising thing was, being there as an author meant that these women were just as delighted to meet me, even if they’d never heard of my li’l old novella. They were excited to meet a new author, a fellow writer and someone who not only read, but wrote romance. And it wasn’t weird, not like the Cult of Coupledoom weird. These women were so genuinely enthusiastic about their careers and so willing to help their fellows succeed. I willingly drank the Kool-Aid.

I met a lot of authors I admire and idolize at RWA. I tried not to gush all over them, but it’s hard not to enthuse about books and characters that you adore, and I’m sure authors are delighted to know people enjoy their books. Right? Robyn Carr was lovely. I told her which book in the Thunder Point series I had enjoyed the most and she mentioned another I’d probably like because of the similarities of character, who happened to be one of her favourites. Can’t get a better recommendation than that! I danced near Nora Roberts at the Harlequin party—an amazing event that I felt so privileged to attend—and sought out Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Claudia Welch and Linda Francis Lee after attending their seminars to tell them how helpful they had been. I also have autographed copies of their books. In fact, I came home with thirty-five pounds of books. Had to buy an extra bag. I also attended a Carina Press breakfast, where I had a chance to chat to Jeffe Kennedy and the Entangled meet-up where I stood amazed as Robin Covington talked and talked and talked to me and Jenn about her writing process, as if we understood. Which we did—do?—of course, but, who knew all these bestselling authors would have time to talk to little old me? I met a ton of other authors, and also the Editorial Directors of both Entangled Publishing and Carina Press. One of the best aspects of all this meeting and greeting was putting names to faces.

More on the Harlequin party here, on Jenn’s blog.

I still haven’t cracked open my notebook from all the workshops I attended at RWA. I plan to do that this week. I took a lot of notes with two particular manuscripts in mind. I’m eager to get to work on both projects—just as soon as I finish drafting book three of the Chaos Series with Jenn. (Book three!)

I'm the one in the middle!
I’m the one in the middle!

A week after my return from Texas, I tested for and received my brown belt in Kiryoku System of Self Defense. This was a great milestone for me, representing five years of work.

I was on the road again, this time to Mississippi to meet family. Instead of a week on the beach, this year, our family decided to road-trip it. We had a great time. Over the course of three days, we followed the trail of the Civil War from Gettysburg, through Harrisonburg to the Tannehill Ironworks and on to Vicksburg. We detoured through the war of 1812 in New Orleans, at the Chalmette Plantation (Battle of New Orleans, January 8, 1815) and ended up at the World of Coke a Cola in Atlanta, where one can follow the history of the war between Coke and Pepsi—and taste sixty flavours of carbonated beverage from around the world.

Yes, I giggled. Then I took a picture.
Yes, I giggled. Then I took a picture.

Our trip had two highlights. Actually, it had many more than that. As a family of three, we’re very close-knit and we really enjoyed our ten days of close proximity, which is a wonder, it really is. Tempers only started to fray toward the end, and even then, we had a common goal: home. First highlight was our visit with family in Mississippi. I covered that in a blog post a couple of weeks ago. The second highlight was our first visit to New Orleans. I’ve seen it in the movies, I’ve read about it in books, now I’ve finally visited and it lives up to the hype. The French Quarter looks exactly as it should; the food is amazing—I think we all gained ten pounds in two days—and there is always music playing. And it’s HOT. Next time we visit, we’re not going in August. The air was like soup. Hot soup. We toured some historical sites, but mostly we shopped. We pawed through a lot of local arts and crafts, bought a couple of trinkets and then dropped two hundred dollars on voodoo dolls. Yep.

So, that’s my summer. Between the traveling and the writing, I haven’t had time for much else. Ironically, I always read less in the summer, as I’m usually outside taking advantage of the sunshine. This summer has marked the first serious lag in my blogging, however, which I’m going to chalk up to being overwhelmed with writing commitments. Jenn and I have three more manuscripts due, with actual deadlines, and then five to edit before publication, and that’s just for our co-written series. She also has a book due out later this year with Entangled’s Covet line, and I have two contemporary romance manuscripts to edit.

If you made it to the end of this post, thanks for reading and I hope you had a fabulous summer, too! Pictures below are from my travels.

Lunch at Plateau in the French Quarter.
Lunch at Plateau in the French Quarter.
St. Louis Cathedral, French Quarter, New Orleans.
St. Louis Cathedral, French Quarter, New Orleans.
Read the sign. :)
Read the sign. 🙂
60 Flavours of Coke. Photo is blurry due to the caffeine rush. ;)
60 Flavours of Coke. Photo is blurry due to the caffeine rush. 😉

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