I'm home! We had such a stunning view coming in to land yesterday morning - I think the approach to Auckland Airport (above) is one of the most beautiful in the world. Once, I even saw horses running in the paddock below!
My first RT Convention was a wonderful experience. It's a very friendly, laid-back convention, and all the readers I spoke to - whether they were newbies like me, or regular attendees - said they'd loved it. So it's definitely something to check out if it'll be in your neck of the woods, even if you only go to the book signing on Saturday. I believe next year's location is Kansas City.
This year, of course, it was in Chicago - and here's a shot of the Chicago skyline from my hotel room.
I saw so many people over the week, old friends and new, and when I was downloading the photos, I realized I took hardly any. Like at the Aussie/Kiwi dinner I attended the night I got there, and at the breakfast I had with several of the other Berkley authors the next day - it was a fantastic start to the convention. So apologies to anyone I forget to mention - there was so much happening, it's all a bit of a blur.
Onto the photos I did actually take!
This one's from when I had lunch with Ilona and Gordon Andrews, Jeaniene Frost, and the camera-shy Shiloh Walker. I'd met Jeaniene before, but it was my first time meeting Ilona and Gordon. While I always knew Ilona was from Russia, I never quite thought about the fact that she might have a Russian accent. She does! And it's adorable!
After lunch, Jeaniene and I were on a panel with Charlaine Frost (who is incredibly nice). We had a blast, and I think the audience did, too - so many people attended that the hotel staff had to enlarge the room by folding back a wall. So as someone said, we literally brought down the wall! The moderator Morgan Doremus, was brilliant. You can read a detailed writeup of the panel on the RT blog.
Not that day, but the day prior, I also had a chance to talk to the great group of booksellers and librarians attending RT. It was a fun chat, and the Q&A session went by super fast.
This shot was taken in the Red Bar which was meeting central for pretty much everyone. I met this fantastic group of readers in there and had a wonderful time chatting with them.
This is a picture of Julie James' divine chocolate cake. I have no photo of Julie, but really, it's all about the cake. Julie found out she hit the NYT and USA Today bestseller lists while at the convention, so it was awesome being able to celebrate with her. (I split a chocolate ice-cream bar with Sarah from SBTB and it was delish.)
What is this you say? It's the light fixture above the elevator bank at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare! How fabulous is it?!
I took the above shot before the Giant Book Fair started on Saturday. That's why you can see all that space. Trust me, it wasn't there after the doors opened! I was placed between JR Ward and James Rollins. I had a chance to chat to JR Ward before the signing and she was just lovely. Her mom was also there, and she's a wonderful lady to talk to - especially since she loved the red shoes I wore to the RT Awards Ceremony. ;-)
The signing itself was insanity! Of the best kind! I heard from readers that some of them had been in line since six a.m. (the signing started at 10.45am) to make sure they got to the front of the queue and met their favorite authors. I have been told my line was just a wee bit crazy, but I couldn't actually see it as I was sitting down, signing. I appreciated every one of you who came! I had a brilliant time talking with you all.
Here is a photo from the signing that RT tweeted. I am obviously in very intense conversation (probably about the Ghost!). Talking of the Ghost, that was the topic I was quizzed on the entire convention. One reader sprung the question on me without warning at the signing - I think she was hoping I would just spit it out. Lol!
I have to give a special shout out to all around cool person Angela James who stayed with me for two hours, helping to manage the line. She handed out sticky-notes to everyone to make sure I spelled names correctly...and I still managed to get one wrong (gah!). However, that book is now one of a kind, because I drew a brilliant artistic picture to cover up my error. *grin*
I saw this board toward the end of the convention, and thought it was such a fun idea. If you click on the shot, you can enlarge it. Basically, it asked people to share the names of their favorite characters.
And last but very much not least, at the RT Awards, I was honored to be presented with a Career Achievement Award for Paranormal Romance. Kiss of Snow also won the RT Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Paranormal Romance.
There is so much I haven't mentioned *cough-shopping spree with Angela and Jane-cough* so if you were there, feel free to jump in!
Oh, one more thing - lots of people asked me how long it took to fly to Chicago, so here it is: from Auckland to Los Angeles, it's approx 13 hours. From Los Angeles to Chicago, it's about 4. So 17-18 hours actual flight time. Add in the layovers and travel time to get to and from the airport, and we're talking well over twenty-four hours.
However, there is an upside to all the traveling. I've had Cooper and Grace's story in my head for a while now, and I wrote some scenes during the convention, but yesterday and today, while I was waiting for flights, and during the trip itself, I started working on it in earnest and did something like seventeen thousand words. It's all very rough, but I'm fairly certain this is going to be a courtship story - let's just say Coop's got some moves.