The conference was the ostensible reason for the bike journey (but really it was to meet George and Marla, my fabulous beta readers!!)
After collecting my name tag and bag-o-swag I headed off to find and meet my internet pal, Marla.
Here I am with a goodie bag:
Marla and I finally met that first night and she was just as wonderful as I’d suspected she’d be! Sorry, no pictures of that emotional first meeting…
Anyhow, she brought her wonderful husband Murph along with her and I’m already trying to figure out ways to get them to move to New Mexico!
Here we are Saturday morning drinking coffee and discussing our plans for the day (Brantly is the camera man):
I finally got to wear the skirt that took 400 hours of my life to crochet, so here is a close up below…
The question I was asked most often was where I bought it. Right after that came, “What are you wearing under it?”
Yoga pants. Nothing more exciting than yoga pants.
The conference had a lot of interesting speakers and workshops, but my two favorite parts, hands down, were California Readin’ and getting to dress up in period clothing!
Marla scored tickets to the California Readin’ event, which was apparently a first at the conference. Both attendees and fans purchased tickets and were seated at tables with seven others, two of whom were published authors.
The event was billed as reader appreciation and they weren’t kidding. There were 60 authors total and each gave out a gift basket. The tables themselves were loaded with cool swag and we got to play. . . BINGO!
No, I didn’t win, but Marla scored a huge basket of romance novels and an ice cream maker. Also lots of candy and desserts everywhere. . . Tons of fun.
Not only that, but afterward was a monster book signing sponsored by the Ripped Bodice book store. I got to meet one of my favorite historical romance authors, Tessa Dare, as well as contemporary romance queen, Robin Carr. Lots of fun meeting and chatting with authors.
Marla went to an afternoon session and I went to play dress up. The people offering hair/makeup/costumes were in the business of shooting book covers but on Saturday they were beautifying the contest attendees and taking cover shots, as well as dress up, fun shots.
I had a blast. My only complaint is that it didn’t last all day and I didn’t get to try on every dress.
Here is a shot of me in one of their masterpiece creations:
This was a photo Brantly took before the photographer stepped in and posed, moved, and generally made me look far better.
The dress was 8 layers of skirt in addition to the top, which was another two pieces. This picture doesn’t really do it justice, but I’m hoping the photographer shots will show the colors and craftsmanship.
After I took off my 10 layers of clothing I was off to the banquet hall for dinner, where NYT bestseller Robin Carr was our keynote speaker.
Sunday’s highlight was our lunchtime speaker, Sarah MacLean, who gave a wonderful keynote speech on the place romance novels hold in modern life.
By the time lunch was over I was beginning to suffer from conference fatigue and ready to head over to Marla and Murphy’s house for a couple days of R&R LA style. Here we are ready to take off:
LA is a huge city. And I mean huge. One of the favorite topics of conversation is the state of the freeways. Getting anywhere takes 2 hours. Even with all that traffic, the Los Angeleans are almost scarily happy. In fact, everyone in that part of the state seems really happy.
Anyhow, the next three days of relaxation were blissful after the chaos of the conference and road trip.
We hung out, chatted, went to see a magic show at the Magic Castle, checked out Santa Monica Pier and the neighboring beach, and beaded! Yes, I got to savage Marla’s fabulous bead collection and make myself a lovely bracelet.
Here we are getting ready to enter the Magic Castle:
The Castle is a members and guests only establishment and it felt like we’d entered a secret world. From the moment you say “Open Sesame” to the bookcase to enter the house, to the ghostly piano playing of Irma, to the wonderful prestidigitation of LA luminaries such as Pop Hayden, the experience was a one-of-a-kind.
Here I am destroying Marla’s pristine living room:
This was a wonderful trip and WAY too short.
Here is a photo of my long-suffering photographer and SAG wagon driver with his new friend:
Thanks to both Marla and Murphy for being such lovely, generous hosts. We’re coming back next week…