I bought the train tickets so we could take the Amtrak up and back, and our plans were complete. We had a straight shot from Lynchburg to NYC--an eight-hour ride. All my writing projects were done for the moment, and I wasn't due for another retina injection until the day after we got home. So, it was a time for me to relax.
Then I crawled into a taxi.
Now, a couple things need explained. Taxi drivers don't need to know how to count since they're driving five and six abreast in a four-lane street. Speaking English is not encouraged. All the cab has to have is a loud horn and strong brakes. All you, the passenger, need are blindfolds, a bottle of strong nervy-dervies, and a wad of twenties since everywhere we went seemed to cost us $20, plus tip. When we left a meet-and-greet at Penguin Random House, I was in a dress and heels, feet swollen from the heat. The taxi we hailed was an SUV. I was having trouble getting in, the driver got out, cupped my ass and all but tossed me into the back seat, and then had nerve enough to charge us an extra $1.50 for "extra handling."
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm still steamed over that man copping a feel.
The hotel's registration desk was on the eighth floor since a theatre and another business occupied the lower floors. After you registered, you went to a bank of elevators, pushed a button for the floor your room was on and an alphabetical letter from A to N appeared for the elevator you were to rush to take. Sometimes you had to dash to the elevator since the doors were already open and at others you had to stand and wait. Thank goodness the rooms were decent once you reached them, although still not worth the price. I suppose the old adage: location, location, location is true.
On our pre-conference days, we saw the Statue of Liberty and the new tower, in the center of the photo, and the memorial reflection pool. Ate ice cream and stepped into tourist shops to escape some of the heat since a heat advisory was on.
Random House had us to their building twice for meetings and meals. The first was the meet-and-greet. I was tickled to see my cover for "Bearing It All" on the poster in the reception area. Top row, second from the left.
All walls of the lobby of Penguin Random House and the hallways leading to it are lined with shelves of books--old, new, and famous.
We were taken through the offices of the Loveswept team, introduced to each employee, and told what they did for us and our books. Then we went into the conference room for wine and cheese and lots of talking and planning. All this was followed by champagne and strawberries as we got to know eachother even more.
Meanwhile, my homemade Effie baffies were waiting back at our hotel room...Baffies are Scottish for bedroom slippers.
Loveswept is an ebook line, but for RWA they printed thirty copies of our books for us to sign and give away. How would I, practically a nobody, stand out among the BIG names? I'd channel Effie. After all, I have to be the only romance author to write a romantic series where the pink-haired grandmother gets more fan mail, more mention in reviews, and more attention than the heroine and hero. Even though the hero is clad in a kilt.
As I schlepped in my baffies by the line of women, waiting outside the ballroom, I heard squeals of "Effie! OMG, it's Effie!" I wasn't prepared for the women who dashed toward me, arms outstretched.
Women, who had never read my Highlander's Beloved Series, came over to see what kind of books a woman crazy enough to dress like I was would write. My books were soon gone.
I attended some workshops, but not all I'd planned. I was just too tired. I got to meet Mackenzie Crowne, Kelly Moran, and Lisa Olech and we talked late into the night. What fun! Calvin enjoyed his time with the ladies, too.
On our second trip back to Penguin Random House, we sat and chatted with other writers as we ate. Each department head spoke of future plans to keep their authors happy. Some authors also came onstage to talk about how they meet their schedules and increased their sales. My editor, marketing person, and digital designer cornered me and talked about the future and their ideas for my series. How to grow my exposure, etc. I was so nervous, I couldn't speak. I just kept sipping the champagne and nodding. Lord knows what all I said "yes" to.
By the time our train was due to leave for points South, we were both ready to see home. A few days later, I was in the doctor's office. Two days after that, I was back. Tests were run. All came back negative. I'd evidently picked up a bug while in NYC or perhaps drank too much of the water. I'm doing better now. I get another retina injection this week. I have bleeding behind my left retina and they insert a needle to withdrawal the blood. But that's nothing compared to crawling in and out of those yellow taxis. Unless my publisher insists I come, I don't think I'll need to see the Big Apple ever again.