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August 5th, 2008

I managed to get out of the comfy chair.
Way out.

After a bit of mental, heavy lifting, I finished the book I was working on, and am satisfied with the results.

But for future reference, if you are shooting for a darkly gothic hero, do not make him a botanist. And for God’s sake, do not name him Tim. It is not impossible to pull off an attitude of menace. But when you have a hero who secretly wants to cut bouquets, and a pair of wise-ass kids who will look over your shoulder and mutter “Tim the Enchanter”…

Some days it was hard to maintain the mood.

But almost immediately after finishing the book, I went to San Francisco for a week, to the RWA National Conference. This is an annual gathering of approx 2,500 romance writers and industry professionals. Around 2,200 of them are women.

Did I mention RWA is kind of loud? And very high pitched?

Also, it requires many pairs of shoes. And more hair spray than I normally use in a year. For one week of the year, I am unequivocally a girly-girl. Although this year, I was a girly girl with bunions and a tight work schedule. I was not as flashy as I have been in previous years.

It is very fun. And I had fabulous roomies, Cory, Kim and Michele to keep me company. But it is always a bit of a shock to go from the office, where I am totally alone (once I have frightened my family away with aberrant pre-deadline behavior) to the mob scene that is the RWA literacy signing.

Or the formal dress mob scene that is the post RITA Award party? The RITAs are kind of like going stag to the prom, but with better food.

And of course, plane travel has become a test of nerves. On the way, I arrived hours early for my flight, put on noise canceling headphones, and settled down to watch old episodes of Doctor Who on my laptop, and promptly dozed off. When I woke up, I found that they had canceled my flight without me noticing.

Much juggling ensued. I ended up going several hours later on different flights, and making a stop in Denver.

My luggage went somewhere else. My bags and I joined up again on the following day, but since I’d put all my book signing books in a carry-on, I was on the nervous side for the first day of the trip.

The way home was much easier. But going through SFO, I was searched for dangerous cheese.

I am a very popular person at National, because I always bring Wisconsin cheese curds. I barter them for things that I find more interesting (like conversation, and British chocolate). According to the California Dairy Council, California cows are happy cows.

Wisconsin cows are raised by German immigrants. Our cows don’t have to be happy to get the job done. Cheese is serious business here, and not the job for candy ass heifers with positive mental attitudes.

But apparently, not everyone travels around the country with a bag of cheese. I watched my bags go through the scanner, and stop. And stay. I figured I was about to get quizzed on my hot pink laptop, with the skull and cross bones decal. The skull seemed like a great idea, at home. But when you are facing the TSA, you begin to wonder if there is room in portable computing for the sense of whimsy that I would not wish from the dairy cows.

But no. They wished me to open my other carry on, and show them my cheese.
Which was covered with dill. i wonder if it was just the odd shape, or if they thought I was traveling with doped curd?