Arriving home from the RT Convention in Los Angeles means so many things. Time to snuggle with the pups today, a chance to breath in the fresh, salty air while I gaze out on the harbor. A couple of good naps after a redeye flight and, finally, Internet access that really is "high speed" and not "slower than a constipated banana slug on quaaludes". I'm amazed, and not a little miffed, that the hotel (Westin Bonaventure) charges $12.95 a day for their Internet access. Given the slowness, that's about $6.50 an email.
Now I'm home where fast is only slightly slower than instantaneous, so I can blog about the rest of the trip. (Even if I haven't figured out yet why Blogger is ignoring the formatting and running my paragraphs together. Maybe I just need to double return. It looks fine here, but who knows? We'll explore.) When last we visited, I was on my way to the bookfair and bemoaning the fact that Spirit Airlines now charges you $25 extra for your checked backage if you go over 40 pounds. So, I made note of the books that I wanted to buy but didn't and will download them from Amazon to my Kindle.
The booksigning was huge. Hundreds of authors and readers all coming together in a giant ballroom. There were readers rolling small carts around that they were filling up with books. Some people bought fewer but those readers were no less thrilled to meet with their favorite authors.
I picked up Mercy Kill by my friend Lori Armstrong. Lori writes amazing, gritty, intense, terrific mysteries featuring the main character of retired army sniper Mercy Gundersen. Set in Lori's home state of South Dakota, the book is peopled with ranchers, Lakotas, bikers, multi-generational families -- all real, authentic characters that will intrigue you from start to finish. In the "Mercy" series, people fight crime and are forced to battle their own internal demons. Mercy is not a delicate flower of a woman. She kicks some major ass, but is not without her own, heavily disguised vulnerability. Mercy Kill is the second book in the series. I started reading it Saturday night and finished today. I can't wait for the next book!
It never fails that when I go to these conventions, I meet at least one author that's new to me and get to spend some time talking with them. This time around, it was Stephen Jay Schwartz. I first saw him speak on a panel about sex portrayed realisitcally in books. The other panel members were my friends Heather Graham and F. Paul Wilson, and author Barry Eisler.
Stephen has two books out in a series that features LAPD Robbery-Homicide detective Hayden Glass. I was so intrigued by Stephen's description of Glass in that panel that I bought the first book, Boulevard, at the booksigning. Here's the back cover copy:
Harden Glass never had it easy. He fought hard for everything he got, hounded by a shame that he could never quite define or conquer. Now a Los Angeles Police Robbery-Homicide detective, Glass is still haunted by the scars that left a permanent void in his soul. he deals with it the only way he can . . . he cruises Sunset Boulevard, picking up prostitutes. Hayden Glass is a sex addict. Called to investigate a heinous crime scene involving the daughter of a prominent L.A. polictician, Glass is quickly overwhelmed by the media spotlight. When new murders arise, Glass sees a link where no one else does, realizing that this is the work of a vicious, sadistic sexual predator. His investigation takes him beyond his temptations and to the line where the deviant behavior that has become his crutch crosses over into devinatly criminal. Wow. I can't wait to dive in to this book.
After the booksigning, I had lunch with some friends and then settled in for the Mr. Romance Cover Model Pageant back at the convention. I must admit, that this pageant has lost some of the drool factor for me now that I'm in my 50s, but I still enjoy it for entertainment. Plus, two friends - Beth Ciotta and Mark Johnson - co-host the event so I go, cheer, and generally have a good time. Drinks at the bar with friends followed the pageant, and another dance party took place after that, so we pretty much were busy from morning to midnight.
Sunday dawned and Beth and I started packing up our things. She had a 9:30 a.m. shuttle to catch for the airport. I had plans to take a city tour of Los Angeles with friends Debbie and Caitlin Richardson. This was a bonus day. I can't tell you how many cities I've been to for conventions and conferences and then rarely left the hotel to see anything.
This tour was terrific with an engaging tour guide and plenty of time to drive all over. Venice Beach and Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, a farmer's market, the tar pits, a scenic overlook of the entire city, Hollywood, the Chinese Theater, and the Walk of Fame -- all in 4 1/2 hours. I felt like I at least got to experience some of the many things that make L.A. famous, with the exception of any celebrities. The closest we got were wax figures of Jane Lynch and Madonna that were on loan from Madame Tussaud's Museum for the GLAAD Awards event going on at our hotel when we returned.
Around 6 I shared a car to the airport with friends Lisa and Kelli. I boarded the plane at 8:40 p.m. and buckled in for the redeye flight back east. Thankfully, I inherited the ability to sleep anywhere from my father so I snoozed for most of the trip. We touched down back here in South Florida a little after 5 a.m. The drive home took just under three hours, with a stop to pick up Nat and Pyxi.
All in all it was a terrific trip. The convention staff did a terrific job in organizing and arranging all of the panels, workshops and events. I saw and met people who are writing heroes, learned some valuable stuff, and got to spend time with dear friends whom I do not see nearly often enough. I'm glad that I went and am also happy to be home, newly inspired to forge on with my own career again.
Reevaluation - I was away with spotty Internet access and little time. It was a great trip up home to New Jersey to visit with family and friends. Some have seen me at ...