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Portlandia IV

Just a quick update here. This is coming to you from beautiful Portland, Oregon, which would probably sound cooler to some of you if it wasn't my fourth trip here this year. That's okay because Portland is always cool. This time, I'm here for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Conference. There are a lot of really nice people here at PNBA, but I feel the need to point out that there were hardly any people in the hotel bar at midnight tonight, which is pretty different from...well, any other conference or convention I've been to.

My friends at Kensington flew me down here from Seattle, which is neat because I hardly ever hear of anyone flying from Seattle to Portland. Usually, train or car is the way to commute. It turns out lots of people do this trip, though, because Seatac Airport has a whole system set up for SEA>PDX passengers. When I checked in, the guy at Alaska Airlines told me not to give him my bag because "my conveyor belt doesn't go to Portland." Instead, I was told to "give it to the guy with the beard leaning against the post." I walked to said post and saw no such guy. A moment later, I saw him on the other side of the room, waving toward a guy strolling by. Strolling Guy took my bag from me and mumbled something vaguely affirmative when I asked if it would get to Portland. I watched it roll away, figuring I'd never see my cosmetics or Richelle Mead pens again.

SEA>PDX commuters also have their own special line to get through security. It was a lot shorter than the regular one, by which I mean, my line had five people in it, and the other had 50+. Nonetheless, the guy behind me--once he got off the phone because "I probably should go because I'm kind of in the security line"--still felt the need to complain about how slow it was. I guess this was because TSA had to rescan someone's bag, but seriously, if that kindly middle-aged lady had explosives in there, I was okay with waiting to find out.

The flight itself was astonishingly easy. The plane was small and turbulence-friendly, but air time took less than 30 minutes, which was AWESOME. The flight was technically run via Horizon Air, who served free wine and beer on the flight. While I abstained in favor of bottled water, I couldn't help but admire them. In an era where airlines are charging for checked baggage, I thought it was cool that Horizon offered free alcohol on a 30 minute flight. Oh, and my suitcase made it safely.

My PNBA obligations are tomorrow, so I spent the evening hanging out downtown with my friend Jason. He's the oldest of my college friends (beating out Heidi and John by a few weeks). The evening's conversation topics were many and varied, including: publishing, weight loss, public transit, politics, exercise, mental health, and of course, the exalted University of Michigan. Jason's description of mountain biking raised my interest in it by 2%. Considering my previous interest in it was 0, this is an improvement.

Tomorrow will find me signing advanced copies of Succubus Dreams for booksellers at PNBA, as well as doing a radio interview for KBOO. The interview isn't live, but I'll post when it's on since I think they'll put a link online too. After that, I'm back on another tiny plane and home to sweet Seattle.

That's my recap. As for the rest of you, don't you have a contest to enter?


Mix CDs by the dashboard light

For the last few weeks, I've kept forgetting that the only CD in my car was Garbage's greatest hits. That's a good CD, but when you listen to it over and over for that long, it starts to get to you. I keep leaving my iPod in my gym bag, so I finally smacked myself around one day and grabbed a bunch of old mix CDs for the car. I was desperate for change.

Several of these are a few years old, but that's fine. My musical tastes pretty much stopped in 1993 anyway. Yesterday, while cruising on I-5, I had one CD in that I liked quite a bit. It pretty much screams "I grew up in the 80s and 90s," but like I said, that's fine. It had some good stuff on it: REM, Meatloaf (hells yeah!), Red Hot Chili Peppers, and more. It even had some truly hardcore 80s stuff, like "Stray Cat Strut." Then, somewhere in the middle of this, guess what comes on? "Circle of Life" from The Lion King soundtrack.

Dude, how does that happen? How does that end up on a CD like this? It wasn't even Elton John's radio version--it was the original one from the movie's opening credits. Now, I have nothing against that movie--I like it--but seriously. How do you go from Meatloaf to that? The crazy thing is, I have no memory of putting that song on the CD. I'm really not sure how it happened. Admittedly, it's not the first time mystery songs have showed up on my mix CDs. There was, after all, the time a song by underground fringe 90s band Alice Donut was followed by...Carly Simon. Still, I think this Disney surprise wins the prize.

I'm too tired to annotate today or even adjust color and lighting per usual, but here are the party pics from this weekend for those who are curious and know some of the folks in these. Plus, you can see the wide range of activities available, as well as the food and drink I kind-of sort-of slaved over.

















Yay! A picture entry. It's been awhile since I did one, and I'm excited to get some new eye candy up for you guys. Tonight, for your viewing pleasure, I have two writer social events.

First up: Writer Grrls Gone Wild



Or, well, as wild as we ever get. Local grrl authors Cherie Priest, Caitlin Kittredge, Kat Richardson, and I went out a week or so ago to celebrate Caitlin finishing up her latest werewolf contract and me finishing another draft of Shadow Kiss. I think it was the fourth, but honestly, who's counting anymore? And lo, there I am in my now obsolete glasses. That's a rare shot--as is me in pink. While I love black as much the next author grrl, you'll notice in both sets of pictures that I'm the only one who doesn't wear it.



At dinner, we were joined by University Bookstore events guru, Duane--or as some people are now calling him, The Luckiest Guy in the World.


Okay, that's all I've got for that night, I'm afraid. I did a better job yesterday, during which Mark Henry hosted the Team Seattle authors and significant others to his estate in beautiful Dupont. I realize that showing shots of Mark's meticulously landscaped yard and culinary skills are going to clash with his readers' twisted image of him living in a barren shack/cave somewhere, but if it makes you guys feel better, I'm pretty sure the terraced backyard (which you'll see in some of the shots) is a good place to bury bodies.



See? Culinary skills. When I make potato salad--er, I mean, "make" potato salad--I stop by the grocery store. Not Mark. We watched in awe as he deftly cooked up potatoes and bacon and juggled multiple skillets.




Kat and Caitlin enjoy sun and beverages out on the patio--and wear black.




lolcatz won't give me a full smile here, but I still think this one's pretty good, particularly since he's probably listening to me tell Lasik stories for the fiftieth time.




Meanwhile, Cherie sets a good example for my YA readers.




The Henry Household is overrun with small, adorable dogs who inexplicably hate Kat and Mr. Kat.




While Cherie downing alcohol is apparently okay on this blog, Mark flipping off the camera is not allowed. Fortunately, this friendly winged unicorn came flying by just in time so that your eyes won't be seared by such shocking behavior.




My eyes had to stay covered up behind my rhinestone-encrusted (no, really) movie star sunglasses whilst outside. I had lolcatz take this belated pic of me on the ride home because I realized as the photographer, there were no shots of me. Oh, hey, what's that cellophane wrapped bowl in my lap?




A fruit salad! Well, kind of. It was actually a bowl of fruit and would have photographed better if I'd taken a shot before people ate it. In the Midwest, fruit salad usually contains a carton of Cool Whip mixed in, but I wanted this to be healthy--which is why it's ironic that it ended up being used as an ice cream topping. Still, I was immensely proud of it because that was the first time I'd ever sliced a kiwi. That's not a New Zealand joke.


Let's go ahead and file this one under good times.


We're no angels

Condition Squid was lifted on Wednesday, just in time for lolcatz and I to fly to Los Angeles yesterday for Book Expo America. Pictures and recaps of that will be posted soon, but for now, I wanted to give you the heads up to watch Chelsea Lately on E! tonight at 11:30pm. We went to today's taping and discovered being in a studio audience is a lot harder than it looks. I got more repetitive stress injuries from clapping than I did from Shadow Kiss revisions last week.

Anyway, they panned the audience a few times, so if you're feeling up for celebrity gossip or want to see an interview with Heather Thomas, you might catch a glimpse of us living it up Hollywood Style.

Pictures and BEA report to follow. Happy Friday!

P.S. -- lolcatz killed a slug using the beer method just before we left! Manly, huh?


The big set of RT pictures

When I get home from RT tomorrow, I'll give you some of my philosophical musings on the whole experience--for lo, I have had many. For now, I've got something like, oh, four days worth of pictures to share with you. I've also got some videos, but those might be rough to load up over this connection. So, let's just stick to pictures.

Brace yourselves. There's a lot of 'em.

WEDNESDAY




This is me with the fantastically fabulous Michelle Rowen. Michelle writes paranormal romances and shares an agent with me and Mark Henry. She's Canadian, which I suspect she is tired of hearing me point out. I have an inexplicable fascination with Canada and all things Canadian. I think this has something to do with my formative years being influenced by Anne of Green Gables.




A bunch of us went out to Palomino, a bar across the street from our hotel. It quickly became our RT hang-out. There wasn't enough room for all of us to sit at the same table this night. Most of the group chose to sit here, with famous author Barry Eisler seen on the right...





...while some of us ended up at the "kid's table" next to it. I think it goes without saying which table had the most fun.





Fortunately, the lovely Cheyenne McCray joined us for a while, which was fantastic.





We also eventually managed to lure over vampire author Jeanne Stein. I love Jeanne. She simultaneously manages to be one of the nicest people I know AND have a lovely and dark sense of humor. Jeanne is part of Team Denver, thus far the only author team who seems prepared to have a dance-off/knife fight with Team Seattle.





Here's Mark and his wife Caroline. I adore her both because of her sense of humor and because she makes me feel like less of a lush by making bar runs with me.





This is author Patrice Michelle who read and loved Vampire Academy--and who called me out on a point that I hadn't particularly described well in the book. I think I managed a reasonable explanation for it. Emphasis on the think.





Me, Mark Henry, and Michelle Rowen. Maybe we aren't our agent's favorite clients (though probably we are), but we're pretty confident we're his silliest.





No, seriously. This is how we ended our evening. Don't ask.



THURSDAY


Thursday is when Caitlin Kittredge, Mark, Jackie Kessler, and I had our Club RT mixer type event (the one with the basket from a few posts ago). As you can see, everyone loves Jackie Kessler. But seriously, why wouldn't they? Mary Janice Davidson fans will recognize the infamous Blake there on the left.





Meanwhile, Caitlin got thrown in Author Jail.





It was also at this point that I discovered Adrian Paul from the Highlander TV show was going to be at a special $100 per seat RT dinner. After Joe Flanigan and lolcatz, Adrian Paul is the sexiest man on the planet. While I didn't have $100 for the dinner, I could have bought a $10 raffle ticket to win either a seat with Adrian at dinner OR this classy acrylic painting you see displayed before you. $10 also buys a mojito at Palomino (see earlier pictures)...so, well. What would you do?





Later that night, Jackie, Mark, and I went to a cocktail party (yes, at Palomino) being hosted by our mutual publisher, Kensington Books. Here I got to meet the lovely Maureen Cuddy who has been instrumental in helping me book my L.A. trip. Maureen also gave me lots of sage advice about promotion, which I hope I can apply successfully.





We also got to hang out with paranormal romance author Marjorie Liu who is beautiful, successful, and has business cards that read Marjorie Liu, Author and Attorney. Dude.





After the cocktail party, the gang and I headed over to the Under the Sea Faery Ball. Here we met Christina and Erika (L-R). Erika made those costumes from scratch, and the fact that she only got 4th in the costume contest is a crime.





Paranormal romance author Dakota Cassidy strikes a pose. When we first met, I thought her sultry, husky voice was amazing. I envied it. Turns out she just had laryngitis.





Romance cover models walk all around at RT. We thought this guy was one of them, though current intelligence suggests he might actually be a porn star instead. Mark got him to pose with me and Caitlin by saying, "How about one for the ladies."





Do any publishing savvy blog fans know who this witch is?




FRIDAY


Friday morning found paranormal romance author Jacquelyn Frank holding court at her Studmuffin Breakfast Mixer. There were both studs and muffins there, but they were out of coffee, so I had to keep movin' on...





...to my new favorite coffee shop evah, Crazy Mocha. Your eyes don't deceive you. They have a goat for their logo. A goat drinking coffee.





Friday was the day I had to pull my weight at RT as "Urban Fantasy Captain." I was in charge of staffing and running the UF panels at the con. It was super fun but also a hard job at times. This is my "Urban Fantasy 101" panel, but sadly, the picture cut me out on the far right. Awesome editor Heather Osborn of Tor was cut off on the left. (FYI - Heather is so cool, I now want to write a fourth series, simply to sell it to her). The rest of these ladies (L-R) are: Kelley Armstrong, Jeri Smith-Ready, Keri Arthur, Rachel Vincent, and Jeanne Stein.





That night was the Vampire Ball. Above (L-R) is Kim Harrison, Jocelynn Drake, and "Guy." Fact: Mark Henry and Kim Harrison are TROUBLEMAKERS. The two of them broke into this party earlier in the evening and then left the rest of us to take the blame. Not cool, guys. Not cool at all.





Erika (the mermaid from the previous night) came to this party as a zombie, much to Mark's delight. She actually ran over those pajamas to make the tread marks.



SATURDAY


Man, these pictures are a lot of work.





Saturday was the ginormous book fair. Here's me signing and selling books. I sold over fifty books, plus lots of people brought in books from home for me to sign. Good times. It was so much fun talking to readers and hearing what they had to say. Jocelynn has more pics of authors signing here.





Afterward, some LJ folks who had driven up for the book fair went out to lunch with us. It was super fun. Urban fantasy author Jeaniene Frost made a quick appearance in the back there with Rachel Vincent.





Later, we went to the infamous Mr. Romance Pageant. The theme was "Men of Steel." See what they did there? Pittsburgh? Manly Men? Mark did a pretty succint write-up of it over here.



And since no other pic can probably top that, I think that'll wrap up my photo commentary. Our evening found us over at Palomino (or in the words of the funny and awesome Jenna Black: "You guys are in the bar again. Imagine that.") for more hijinks.

And that, my friends, pretty much concludes RT. Tomorrow, Caitlin and I fly back to Seattle with the Henrys. I'm looking forward to being home, but my usual flight anxiety is starting to flare up quite a bit. I've got to just deal with that tonight since Xanax is for flying only. Sigh. I'll report in when I'm back in the Northwest tomorrow!


Romantic Times Convention LIVE

This comes courtesy of the wonderful Barbara Vey from Beyond Her Book. More RT videos can be seen there.

The most amazing part here is that I never stop smiling. Seriously. It's like I'm a pageant contestant and am about to start talking about world peace.




Con report without a clever title

I slept really well last night, but then a day of Xanax followed by an evening of drinks will do that to you (don't worry--they weren't taken together). The fact that I didn't sleep the night before might have played a role too. Whatever the reason, I was OUT last night, and wow, it was great. Unless you're an insomniac like me, I don't think you can really appreciate how awesome it is to fall asleep as soon as you get into bed. I slept heavy and hard, and I woke up this morning...at 6:30am EDT. This alarmed me for a number of reasons. One: that's 3:30am in Seattle, which is often the time I go to bed. Two: I wasn't tired when I got up. And three: It was "late" for my roommate, Jackie Kessler.

Day 2 of the RT Con is quiet. For those not familiar with it, its official name is the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, and it is HUGE. It has a heavy emphasis on readers, which makes it lots of fun and less business-oriented than other cons. Everyone here is super friendly and laidback, and I love meeting and talking to readers. We all wear badges, and it's kind of funny because in the elevator or halls, you'll see everyone checking out each other's chests to see who's who.

Probably the thing that keeps me the busiest is Promo Alley, this long hallway filled with tables in which authors set out boxes of swag: pens, bookmarks, magnets, etc. I have a corner staked out with Jackie, Caitlin Kittredge, and Mark Henry. I have to refill my pens every couple of hours, which is flattering and anxiety-causing because despite bringing a few hundred, I'm pretty sure I'll completely run out on the first day here.

And speaking of Jackie, Caitlin, and Mark: the four of us are doing this thing called "Club RT", which are sessions in which readers can came hang out at a table and chat with authors. We're having a drawing for a gift basket, and you can't tell me you don't want this:



Let's take a closer look:



And yes, that is a zombie teddy bear in the upper left. One guess as to who provided that...


Paint the suburbs

This'll be quick because the Road to RT is less than 36 hours away, and I have a lot to do before then. I managed to take care of one important task this weekend in the form of a small party in honor of Frostbite's release. There was no reading or signing event for this one, so I didn't have a massive group over like I did for Succubus on Top. In fact, I didn't have anyone over at all. lolcatz kindly volunteered his house (probably four times the size of my tiny place and far more entertaining) to host the event. Because he lives in the suburbs, it reduced the likelihood of any police showing up like the last one with Lilith Saintcrow.




Do too many authors in the kitchen ruin the story?






If you look off to the right there, you can see where lolcatz got his living room painted 'Spartan Stone' the day before my party. Everyone should leave a comment about how nice it looks.






I like to think that my parties change history. This one literally did. Before you is a game called Chrononauts, a game which take far too long for me to explain in this post. If you've ever wanted to save John Lennon or bring back Communism, this is the game for you.






The fun of this game was rivaled only by one we later played called Zombie Fluxx. Sadly, no pictures were taken of it, but really, the best part of that was listening to everyone groan like zombies. Go look for both of these games online or in specialty stores.






No party would be complete without music, and as you can see, I was lucky enough to have a live band courtesy of Rock Band and the Xbox.






Caitlin played bartender tonight, serving up a mess of vampire-themed drinks.







And in, in what had to be the most domestic thing I've done since make mashed potatoes, I personally made and cut up all of those tiny sandwiches myself. That drink there was the highlight of the night, one that I created and Caitlin mixed up with flare...







It's called the Bleeding Heart! Take one shot of peach vodka and mix it in a short glass of 7up. Add two heart-shaped ice cubes made of cranberry juice. They bleed, get it? All the kids are going to be making this now, and by 'all the kids,' I mean 'all of my readers who are drinking age or older.'






I even got to sign copies of Frostbite because my friends are super cool and brought along their own copies. Thanks, guys!



And thanks also to photographers Christina, Kat, and Patrick...who, like so many photographers, didn't end up in many pictures.


Jim Butcher signing

So, the pictures are almost a week late, but I had trouble getting them off my camera. Jim was pretty busy, so we didn't get too much social time with him. At the last minute, a late-night bite to eat did materialize after he finished signing all his books. I had left before the signing finished to go get coffee. When I came back to the bookstore, it was closed, and I had to stand out in the cold because some people didn't come to the door. Just sayin.

Anyway, there was no tour of Seattle with Jim this time because of his busy schedule, but the short time we all had together was a delight as always. Jim is one of the most genuinely real and good people I know. In this business, I've had the fortune to meet a lot of writers. Most are great, but sometimes you meet someone wildly successful and think, "What an attitude. What a waste." Not Jim. Spend five minutes with him and you know without a doubt that he deserves all of his wonderful success.




These people know it too, which is why the seating area was packed long before Jim's event began. Kat, Cherie, and I were barely able to find seats in the middle...







...and some people had to be put in the corner. This may or may not have been why I was left in the cold later.







Jim then took the exalted under-the-poetry-sign-stage and entertained the audience with Q&A. I never get tired of hearing how he came up with the idea for the Codex Alera series.







After everything wrapped up (did I mention how cold it was outside the bookstore?), we sought warmth and food. Here, Mark, Kat and Cherie look on as Jim shows us awesome pics from the upcoming Harry Dresden comic.







Someone must have said something that Jim wasn't so sure about.







Maybe it was Caitlin. She looks like she has some antics afoot.







Whatever it was, Jim still seems dubious.







Everyone's favorite part of the evening: doing the math. In splitting bills, someone always benefits and someone always gets screwed. Gary there swears everyone paid what they were supposed to, but by the time the bill came to me, there was nothing left for me to pay. Hmm. Truly, magic was in the air that night.


Thanks for another great visit, Jim!


Sickness and health

lolcatz and I went to a wedding last night. I'm a fan of weddings. Unless you're a spurned ex or someone *really* cynical (like, a LOT more than me), it's hard not to feel a little mushy inside. You can't really help but feel good when you see two people who are so completely happy and in love with each other. I didn't even know this couple, but I was still excited for them. It's like one of the few times in our culture when it's okay to be utterly affectionate in public. It's also one of those rare events where the entire shindig completely revolves around two people. They carry attention wherever they move in the room, and you smile (and mean it) when they walk by. Neat stuff.

This wedding was held at a winery, which is pretty cool. It's almost as cool a venue as the place I want to hold mine, should I ever find myself getting married again. Sorry--I can't tell you my secret plan/venue. It's so cool that everyone would want to do it, and then by the time my moment came around, it would be totally passe. The really good thing about a wedding at a winery is that there's literally wine everywhere. The really bad thing about a wedding at a winery is that there's literally wine everywhere, or so my head tells me today.

What was also neat was that the officiant was a fellow minister from the Universal Life Church, everyone's favorite internet-based yet totally legal ordaining church. Yes, that's right. I'm an ordained minister, and I've performed three weddings for friends. All of those marriages seem to be pretty successful so far, and I'm just going to go ahead and take credit for that.

The one downside to this wedding was that there was no bouquet toss. It's been a girlish, lifelong dream of mine to catch the bouquet at a wedding. It has nothing to do with the superstitious next-to-get-married thing either. I just think it'd be really cool to do some acrobatic dive and knock the other girls out of the way in order to get the bouquet. It'd be even better if it involved some kind of homebase baseball-type slide to catch it. That was why I wore a silky dress--less resistance on the floor. I was prepared. The optimal finish to it all, of course, would be to catch it on film because holy cow, can you imagine what a great blog entry that would be?

Alas, no daring moves for me. It was probably just as well since I was in the Betsey heels and likely would have broken a leg. Such dreams have to be shelved now, as I finally settle back into work. We're 24 hours from Succubus Dreams copy edits being due and 48 hours from Shadow Kiss's first draft being due. Farewell, procrastination.


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I have red hair and subsist entirely on Kona coffee.

Other crucial information--such as my books, background, and appearances--can be found by clicking the links below.

Please note: I am HOPELESSLY behind in responding to e-mails and LJ comments right now. Be patient as I catch up!

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