Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Of Gators and Thongs and Heat and Nice People and the Orlando Conference

Warning! rather long and perhaps boring for some…

Orlando was hell – as in, it was hot as hell.

Stepping off the plane, we were blasted with furnace strength hot air and it wasn’t much better inside the terminal. Americans have unfortunately discovered that running their air-conditioning set on Frigid costs a lot more money that setting it to say, Medium Warm. Still, it’s at least cooler than outside.

The Disney experience started at the airport where we had to board a monorail to take us to the baggage terminal. It got even more surreal when we boarded the shuttle bus to our hotel – called the Swan and Dolphin (decorated with 100 foot high swans and dolphins frolicking) – can you believe it???

Everyone in Florida drives at least 20 mph over the speed limit and never indicates. So we hurtled down the freeways at breakneck speed, changing lanes like the Artful Dodger while our driver yelled into his cell phone in some strange language (he was from Haiti so whatever they speak there apart from English and French) the radio blasted steel drum music and I kept an eye out for gators lurking in the ditches that surrounded the roadways. (the place is one huge swamp) Although I’m not sure why I was so scared of meeting a gator face to face because it would be crushed beneath the wheels of the shuttle before it got anywhere near me!

Fortunately, hubby and I arrived at the hotel in one piece and were given a lovely suite. After checking the bathtub for gators and ordering room service, we got a good night’s sleep.

Went to Disney’s Epcot before the conf. started and it was so hot that I ended up with huge blisters on the balls of my feet from the heat coming up through the acres—no make that square miles—of concrete in the place. (I was wearing shoes, not barefooted btw)

People were dropping like flies from the heat. I felt so sorry for any of the workers who had to work outside, it was dreadful. There were lots of garden areas with trees but they were fenced off and the trees rarely shaded the paths (read: 4 lane roads, the paths were so wide). Not that it mattered, the temp. was the same in the shade as in the sun. L Even at 11 pm it was still just as hot – ugh!

My husband forced me to accompany him on this horrendously frightening simulator ride that was a voyage to Mars, complete with vertical takeoff! It was hideous! I screamed the whole time as the G-forces felt like I really was taking off right through the roof of the space pavilion. In fact, I could feel my face doing that wobbly thing that you see on astronauts when they’re in that frightfully, sick-making (notice the copious and gratuitous use of adjectives) g-force training machine.

Hubby could feel his face doing it too (we established this about half an hour after the ride when we were capable of speaking coherently and without drooling) so it wasn’t just my imagination.

I tried closing my eyes, hoping that getting rid of the visuals would take the ghastly –“I’m gonna throw up the entire contents of my body cavity!” feeling away, but that only made it worse, so I had to open my eyes and watch as we hurtled towards planet Mars, me screaming all the way. Hubby was probably screaming too, but I couldn’t hear him above the noise I was making. They really should have to stop those things if people scream too much. You could easily have a heart attack, or worse. The thing is, you’re locked inside this spaceship capsule with 3 other people and there is NO escape! I should sue them for scaring 10 years off my life. And get a new husband – one who doesn’t make me go on scary rides with him.

Anyway, back to my feet, since they’re so interesting to me. They hurt so much, I couldn’t get into a pair of shoes and had to spend the entire conference wearing my thongs. (no, not the rubber ones you get at Woolies for 79c, these were more upmarket - from Walmart…). So then I felt I had to keep apologizing to people for looking like a dag and wearing my thongs to the conference. Which of course caused many a raised eyebrow because of course in the US, thongs are women’s underwear (the uncomfortable type that is similar to tooth-flossing one’s backside, if you get my drift). They call them flip flops here (is there a sillier word for footwear?) I became known far and wide as the delegate who wore her thongs (and dared to talk about it) J

On Thursday I met with my wonderful editor, Paula Eykelhof, for breakfast and pitched my Jane Austen adaptation to her. She seemed to like what she heard. Lucky I’m popping over to the UK in a couple of weeks to start my research isn’t it?

Later that afternoon I met again with Paula and the editor of Harlequin American, gorgeous Kathleen Scheibling to discuss more of The O’Malley Men series. J

On Friday I had the huge honor of being a featured author at the Harlequin Spotlight, where Kathleen discussed how they found me (at an Aussie conference) and why they picked me up (because my writing has energy and humor J and I’m willing to work with editorial direction, apparently.) J

Also on Friday I participated in the Harlequin book signing and met many new readers and some lovely people from both the New England and Desert Rose Chapters and thanked them for awarding me the Bean Pot Award and the Golden Quill for “Colorado Christmas”.

That evening, the HAR team took us to dinner at a very posh restaurant in the hotel. I ordered scallops and prime beef and pavlova and enjoyed every morsel! Was delighted to make the acquaintance of fellow HAR author, Leigh Duncan who reminds me of Debbie Macomber, because she has a lovely open face and smile!

Oh, and on the Wed. night before the conf. started, I became a star for two whole seconds on u-tube at another signing – The RWA literacy signing. Here’s the link. I’m about 2min 41 secs in.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=docOBvGf2-M Hope you like the Minnie ears I’m wearing in the clip?
We had a fabulous time at the Harlequin party on the Friday night – they bring in the same DJ every year because he’s so good. (no idea where the guy really lives, will ask next conf.) Good food and great music. Somewhere on this blog is a pic of my conference buddy, Cathleen Ross and I eating the decorations (yes, the decorations, ‘cos there’s only so much sugar a girl can take) at the Harlequin bash.

The awards night on Saturday was spectacular as usual and Kandy Shepherd and I cheered the Aussie finalists in the GH and Ritas madly (and anyone else we really liked.) We were stoked when Kylie Griffin won the Paranormal Romance GH for her story, Bloodborn: Book One in the Light Blade Series. I have no idea what any of her title means, but I’m so very happy for her and hope she gets The Call very soon!

Hubby was a trooper throughout (apart from the hiccup with the simulator and ensuing divorce procedings). He spent a lot of time at the pool. Not that it was refreshing – more like swimming in warm soup. I say, soup rather than a bath because there were so many kids in the pool that it contained an awful lot of icky stuff that wasn’t pure H2O.

There were dire warning on the lagoons surrounding the resort, not to swim in the lagoons. They didn’t actually state why it was dangerous – although I suspect the ubiquitous gators were part of the reason. However, they did look awfully inviting, edged by acres of white sand. If you didn’t read English then you could be mighty tempted to take a dip (provided you didn’t fry your feet to a crisp on the white hot sand getting there in the first place).

Attended heaps of workshops by top-selling authors, met lots more and caught up with old friends.
By Sunday it was all over and we were looking forward to returning home to Colorado. Except our flight was delayed 3 hours. While waiting in the Bus. class lounge (thank you American Express!) a huge thunderstorm struck with lightning striking the ground everywhere. We had a bird’s-eye view of all the excitement. Planes were stranded out on the tarmac as they couldn’t dock at the airbridges because it does something with the earthing and people end up fried to a crisp (like it’s any different walking around Orlando in the heat of the day?) Or night… for that matter.

While there, I bumped into a very elegantly dressed African American woman in the loo and admired her beautiful shawl. She thanked me very politely and we went our separate ways. She looked familiar. Then a bit later I heard the lounge attendant saying that Patti LaBelle had just left. No wonder she was familiar! Had heaps of Top 40 hits in the 70’s and 80’s including Lady Marmalade, which I loved. So will add that to my brush with fame after meeting Robin Williams in the Zen lounge at San Fran. He kindly signed a book for me btw.

I wonder if either of them saw me on u-tube?…

Make a comment and you could win a copy of my latest tome, “The Sheriff and the Baby”. The one signed by Robin Willliams!
Till next time!


Mary Hawkins said...

Great post! And we thought it was hot in Chicago at the RWA conference in 1999. Glad you didn't melt, get stranded on Mars or eaten by an alligator so you could share this and bring a huge smile to my face.
Would love a copy of your book. And now back to packing for our Aussie RWA conference!

Little CC said...

Oh dear, whole lotta whingeing there "Ohhh, its too hot!" This from the woman who grew up in the Red Centre? You've gotten soft mum! Its been nice and warm here on the GC, summer is almost here and when it arrives its going to be hot! Didn't you end up going into Disneyworld? And I thought that you would've learnt your lesson about rides after the Indiana Jones roller coaster debarcle in France? Once again, you have grown soft...Have fun with your Jane Austen adventures! How I wish I could go with you...

Susan Child said...

I agree with what Mary said!
"Glad you didn't melt, get stranded on Mars or eaten by an alligator so you could share this and bring a huge smile to my face."
While reading your entry, I was smiling the whole time!
When you said you didn't know who Patti LaBelle was - and you liked her as well! - is one of the reasons why I don't want to go to RWAmerica. I'd see my fav authors and I probably wouldn't recognise them, then IF I do, I would surely talk about the wrong book with them!
Glad you had fun and you came home safe & sound!

Cheryl said...

LOL, CC. Your experience on the ride reminded me of mine on the Back to the Future ride many years ago. I had my eyes closed and screamed the whole time!

I hope your poor feet are better. The news showed people cooking eggs on the bonnet of a car! Florida heat is awful that time of year.

Love the photo of you and Cathleen. (Cathleen's pineapple looks a bit like a rock;)) How cool you met Patti LaBelle and Robin Williams. Meeting them must have capped off a wonderful conference. Sorry you won't be at the Oz conference this year.

Toni said...

I love Robin Williams almost as much as I love George Clooney so I deserve the book. You are sooo beautiful & funny CC. I love you too.


CC said...

Hiya Mary! Great hearing from you and have a great time at the Aussie conference, I'll miss you all.
Little CC - I think it's past your bed-time...
Hi Susan, don't be afraid of all the people at RWAmerica's onference there are only about 2,500 delegates Plus we all wear nametags, so you soon get to work out who is who. :-)

CC said...

Hi Cheryl, yes the feet have recovered, thank you! I don't know how I get talked into these rides. I think this one was even worse than the Indiana Jones ride at EuroDisney. It went backwards, in the dark and upside down several times - it was truly awful! And I had the most tremendous headache afterwards - ugh to scary, fast rides!
Hi Toni, I think you need to have a little rest too I'm with you on George, he's yummy. Maybe he should have posed as the Sheriff on the cover? (altho I'm v. happy with the guy they did use. )

susanwilson44 said...

It's been 12 years since I've been in Florida but I can still remember the heat! I'm also quite interested that they obviously don't change their rides that often - mind you neither does Eurodisney (they just tend to give them a different name!) Anyway loved the youtube clip and the report from the conference. Colorado Christmas was fabulous, only sorry that all the American Romance books aren't easily available in the UK, so put my name in the draw please!

Jo Duncan said...

Hilarious report on the conference and can't get the image of "tooth flossing your backside" out of my mind -- very nasty! The conference sounded like a trip to India -- wonderful only once you get back and think about it. I hope you are not swayed by Toni's gratuitous bum-licking to give her the book -- I feel I am much more deserving. Thanks for sharing your story -- I felt like I was there with you -- although I didn't get much of the watermelon. You are so greedy CC..

Kandy Shepherd said...

Very amusing report of the conference, CC. It was such fun, wasn't it? Mingling with all those like-minded people is a treat.
But I'm with you on the rides, they scare me and I refuse to go on them. Like you my shrieks are not shrieks of fun, they are shrieks of pure terror.
On my one day when I wasn't conferencing I visited my own idea of fun--an outlet mall!
I've already won a copy of THE SHERIFF AND THE BABY. To whoever wins this copy, you are in for a treat. It is a warm, gently funny story with a hero to die for.

Sandie Hudson said...

LOL, CC, great report. Now that I have a headache from laughing so much, but well worth the pain.


Eleni Konstantine said...

Oh CC, you crack me up....sounds despite the heat, achy feet, and THE RIDE FROM HELL, that you had a wonderful time. First thing I noticed was that photo of you and Cathleen and that made me chuckle, and I chuckled all the way through. What cracked me up further was Little CC's comment. Loved it.

Will miss seeing you at the Oz conference CC, but I'm so glad you had a blast at the American one. Thongs and all ;))

Cathleen Ross said...

Thank you for posting the photo of me stuffing myself on the decorations at the Harlequin party.
Why couldn't you post the photo of us posing for the Harlequin photographer where we looked glamorous? Well as glamorous as we are ever going to look. At least you didn't post the photo you took of my cleavage and don't blame Keith for that. You had the camera!
Cathleen Ross
Terrific hanging out with you. Can't imagine going to RWAmerica without you, Kandy and the Stalker.

Laura O'Connell said...

Hi CC,

I hope the blisters on your feet are getting better. Sounds like you had fun at the conference. As usual your reporting on your adventures is always a fun read. No doubt you'll be back in Colorado and cooling off after your Florida adventure.

shelley galloway said...

CC, it's hardly fair that you write blogs as well as you write novels!

I was so sad to miss RWA this year~thanks for the wonderful, entertaining report!

And best of luck to you with your Jane Austen book. If anyone could pull that off, I have a feeling it would be you!

Michelle Beattie said...


At least Kathleen remembered to mention me!!! ;-)

I too found Florida much too hot and humid. The day we toured Harry Potter World was 104 with humidity. I'll take the dry prairie heat anyday! And while I loved the castle and the ride, it also gave me motion sickness although I can't blame hubby, it was my own idea!

CC, it was great stalking you again, seeing both Kathleen and Kandy. Maybe now I need to go to Aussie and stalk all of you there!

Glad your feet healed and CC, nobody looks as good in thongs as you do, lol!

Cheers from Alberta where the only thing you have to worry about coming out of the ditch and eating you is the ravenous mosquitos.

Leigh Duncan said...

Oh, C.C., you make me laugh!
Take it from one who knows--it is possible to live for years in Florida without experiencing extreme heat. You simply move quickly from the air conditioned house to the air conditioned car to the air conditioned store...and back again. :)
Thanks for comparing me to Debbie Macomber. Although I don't see the resemblance myself, I consider it the highest praise that you do.

The Track Down Girl said...

Hi Catherine!! (waving)

Whew it sounds like you had a fabulous time at National except for the heat, your poor feet and the threat of gators. I'm very glad you made it back home safely. How fun to meet Patti LaBelle in the bathroom and Robin Williams in San Fran. Very cool.

Take care sweetie and hope your tootsies are all healed. Cute pic with the watermelon. :-)


Linda Henderson said...

The heat has been horrendous this summer. I live in Southwest Missouri and we have been under heat advisories for about 1 1/2 weeks. And since the humidity feels like it's 200 per cent, if that were possible, it's pretty miserable. I'm staying inside reading and enjoying the air conditioning. I did get out yesterday for my birthday, but other than that, I'm staying inside this week.

Marcy said...

Although hot, it does sound like a great trip. Wish I could've gone to conference :( Maybe next year.

CC said...

Hi Susan, I'm so glad you enjoyed Colorado Xmas! Do you kow about bookdepository.com? you can order books fromt hem and have them delivered FREE world wide! Can't wit to get to the UK at the end of the month :-)

Hi Jo, I laughed at the ref. to the flossing and then tonis bottom um er... well... let's not go there -see you at Claytons!

CC said...

Firstly, let me apologise for all those typos! am sitting here in cut off gloves and bedsocks, it's so cold in Colorado - not complaining, mind! I won't go into why I'm also wearing earplugs.

So... Hiya Kandy my conference buddy! Those RWAm conferences wouldn't be the same or as much fun with you and Cathleen along.

Hi Sandie, Thanks for popping by. It's a wonder you have time to read my silly blog you're so hard at work on the Clayton's Conference. Hope the head is fine now.

Hi Eleni, Glad you picked it was Cathleen and I from the get go - or maybe I'm not - since we were really being a bit piggy :-)
I'm dealing with cheeky Little CC just as soon as she's woken up from her nap...;-)

thanks for your lovely remark on The Sheriff :-)

CC said...

Hi Cathleen! Us? Glamorous? Not possible - we laugh too much :-)
Have fun in sydney, you and Kandy have done a greeat job organising the Aus conference, wish I could be there.

Hello Laura, Yes, feet all recovered.:-) and lovely and cool in Colorado.

CC said...

Hi Shelley - lovely to see you here and congratualtions again ont he article in USA Today - Awesome!
You're sooo nice saying I write blogs as well as I write books - will you be my PR lady? :-)
Hopefully we'll connect at the NYC conference.

Oh, dear, my Stalker has found me Hi Michelle! Look, I had a photo of you, Kandy and I at the Literacy signing but I'm such a techno dumbo that I couldn't load it into the blog - I'm amazed I even managed that one pic without ruining everything. KNow that you are in my heart and my thoughts (about how to escape from you in future) :-)

CC said...

Hi Leigh, It was lovely to meet you at last. thanks for the tips on how to survive an Orlando summer. Ours are as bad in Aus but being near the sea at least it cools off in the shade and at night. Gee, I sounded like a real whinger didn't I? (don't tell Little CC I said that!)
And you really do look like Debbie Macomber - atho in your avatar, you don't look like you... :-)

Hi Cher, great seeing you here. I have GOT to get off my bottom and get to a CO Romance writers meeting one of these days and meet you in person. I'll bring Robin and Patti. :-)

CC said...

Hi Linda, Where would we be without air-con? Hope the mid-west cools off soon. and yes, I'm sure that it's possible to have 200% humidity (but then I'm no mathematician!)

Marcy, keep saving the pennies and you'll get to a conference one day soon, you'll love it too - so many nice people there.

Estella said...

Sounds like you had a great trip even if your hubby made you go on a scary ride!

CC said...

LOL! Estella, At least he admitted he was almost as scared as I was.
and yes, it was a great trip. One I'll do again - during the winter-time!

chey said...

Great post.
Sounds like you had an amazing time! I remember why I always avoid those rides!

Anonymous said...

Gosh, CC, no wonder your books sell... what a great story about the conference! You made me laugh. Guess parts of the US get hotter than here sometimes. At least wearing thongs to the conference would have been more comfy than shoes. But still, ouchy ouch ouch. Glad you had such a great time.

Kylie Griffin said...

CC, I had such a great laugh - I thoroughly enjoyed your recount of the Nationals and, in particular, your adventure with your family at the theme park. :-)

It was soooo humid, wan't it? I really hated venturing outside despite the nice lure of a warm summer.

It was a great experience - one I won't forget in a hurry!

Lynn said...

CC - I wanted to thank you again for being so nice when I came up after the HAR spotlight and played Fangirl. I do love your posts and this one was no exception.

I have my copy of the Sheriff and the Baby (signed..thank you!) so don't put me in the drawing.

I wish I was in CO the heat here in St. Louis reminds me of FL and the RWA trip.

CC said...

Hi Chey! Yep, stay off those rides. :-)

Hiya Malvina, Great to see you here. I was so comfortable (well when I could forget about the blisters) in my thongs, that I'm presently looking around for classier ones to wear to the next conference. I detest heels!

CC said...

Hi again Kylie! it sure was a good conference for you. :-) Hope to see you at many more.

Hi again to you too Lynn! I honestly can't even remember what we talked about I was still in shock being a Spotlighted author:-)
I hope you enjoy snuggling up with my Sheriff. I was in St. Louise a few summers ago and yes, it was hot, but I love those huge shady tress they have there. I was staying in Town and Country and it was a really pretty part of the city.

CC said...

Hi again Kylie! it sure was a good conference for you. :-) Hope to see you at many more.

Hi again to you too Lynn! I honestly can't even remember what we talked about I was still in shock being a Spotlighted author:-)
I hope you enjoy snuggling up with my Sheriff. I was in St. Louise a few summers ago and yes, it was hot, but I love those huge shady tress they have there. I was staying in Town and Country and it was a really pretty part of the city.

CC said...

Er.. that should have been St. Louis!

My excuse is I'm typing in gloves it's so cool here in Colorado. :-)

Marcy said...

Forgot to mention...we call them thongs in Canada, too!

CC said...

LOL! Do you mean you call footwear, thongs? Or the bottom flossing undies, thongs? :-)

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Somehow it figures that gators, Disney, and thongs would be in a blog with Robin Williams.

Hope you have recovered from your grand adventure.

Marcy said...

The footwear! And the undies. It can get pretty confusing, LOL.

Nancy Robards Thompson said...

Great blog, CC! I so enjoyed meeting you at the conference.

Kez said...

Sounds like heaps of fun :)

Holly (little Cc) said...

Hiya Mum!!!! I Love reading your blogs!! They're hilarious!!!! I miss you lots and I'm looking forward to seeing you and Dad soon:).