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Saturday, May 30, 2015

RT Booklovers Convention Roundup - Part Six

Last day!!

I was so ready to go home and after a very scary night - bad storms, tornado watch and warnings, a flash flood alarm that woke me up at 3:30 in the morning - I was sorry that I didn't have an earlier flight.  But I got up, got ready and managed to get my giant box of stuff down to the FedEx office to be shipped out.

I didn't have anything RT related to do today BUT I was incredibly excited because a dear friend was coming to visit me!  We had never met in person - we kind of worked together back when I still had an office job.  I worked in NC and she was in Texas but we talked via email every day and this was going to be our first time meeting face to face!

She came early and we got me checked out of the hotel and I was able to have them hold my luggage and then we went and walked around downtown Dallas.  FINALLY!  There I was in such a great city and I didn't really get to see it!  The hotel was only three blocks away from where JFK was killed so we got to see the Book Depository and the Grassy Knoll.  It was very surreal being there and seeing that it's not as big of a spot as you would think it is.  What I thought was kind of bizarre is that there are two "X"'s in the road that mark the two shots.  And people actually stand on those spots and get their pictures taken!  What in the world???  I mean, I'm all for taking pictures of historical spots but that just seemed to cross a line to me.

We ate lunch at a fabulous Mexican restaurant (restored my faith in Texas cooking) and then just hung out and visited with one another.  While we were hanging out in the lobby chatting, the head of RT came over and talked to us!  That's always cool.  Kathryn Falk is probably the most gracious person I've ever met.  I had the opportunity to be on a radio show with her a few weeks ago and she remembered me!  She let us in on how she's thinking of someplace really amazing for the 2018 convention - I can't say what it is because I don't think it's public knowledge yet.

Next year's convention is going to be in Las Vegas.  I have a cousin there so I am definitely going to go.  PLUS, it will be my anniversary again and I told my hubby that we have to renew our vows in one of those wedding chapels with an Elvis impersonator!  I may make a party out of it and invite the fans!  Who's with me???

Overall, it was a great week. I have so many great memories and if you are a fan and a reader, you should really consider going to one of these if they come your way!

Friday, May 29, 2015

RT Booklovers Convention Roundup - Part Five

It's the day of the book fair!
It's the day of the book fair!!
It's the day of the book fair!!!

Not going to lie to you, this was probably the most intimidating thing to me.  I don't know why really.  I've done a bunch of signings before but I guess because of the sheer size of this one and the fact that famous authors were going to be in the room too, I was just overwhelmed.

I got down to the banquet hall and they had shorted me on my books.  I was a little bit peeved but there was nothing I could do.  So I set up my table with all my wonderful, colorful swag and goodies and made friends with the people around me and put a big smile on my face and went with it.  I hate to brag, BUT...I think I had the most colorful and cheery table there.  I mean look at that picture!  Doesn't that table just scream fun and cheery??  And didn't I look fun and cheery??  It's okay, you can say it.  I'm adorable. 

And humble too, right??

I met some AMAZING people.  Honestly, I have some of the greatest readers and fans and it's so humbling to know that they came to see me and that they were excited to see me!  YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!!  They came with gifts and food (Thank you, Lori!) and really cool crafty things for me to was just so wonderful!  I almost wish the darn signing lasted longer but three hours kind of flew by and then it was time to clean up.

It was like a madhouse trying to get out of the room and back up to my room.  Luckily I was blessed with some superfans who knew all the back ways to get around the crowds (Thank you, Jenny!).  I ate a small snack in my room and pretty much chilled out for a little while.

Sourcebooks hosted a Librarians and Book Sellers party a little later on and I went to that and got to mingle with some ladies who love books!  Always an awesome crowd to be with.  All of the authors got a fun sash saying "Miss Sourcebooks Casa 2015".  I was just sorry I didn't have my tiara with me to complete the outfit!  I told everyone that there'd be no living with me after this.  I was going to go home and expect my husband to treat me like a celebrity and make a big deal out of me while I walked around in my tiara and sash!  Can you imagine the look on his face??  HA!!  I have to admit, I didn't try it, but it was definitely humorous to think about.  Anyway, the party was wonderful.  We ate, we talked books, we took was a lot of fun.  Plus, all of these lucky librarians and book sellers got advance copies of my upcoming book - "Made for Us" - which is book one in the new Shaughnessy series!!  I loved seeing it out on display!!

After spending so much time talking and socializing, I was ready for a little peace and quiet.  So I completely wussed out and grabbed some room service and vegged out in my room for the rest of the night.  It was still productive though.  I had to pack and figure out how I was shipping all my free books and swag plus all the swag I didn't get to put out back home!  Believe me when I say it took a long, long time.

 One more day...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

RT Booklovers Convention Roundup - Part Four

Yeah, okay, but now I really, really want to go home and sleep in my own bed and eat my own food.  For as nice as the hotel was, the food left a LOT to be desired.  I had basically not left the hotel since I arrived and I was starting to get a little stir-crazy.

However, one of the coolest things happened to me.  I was wandering around the hotel just sort of minding my own business.  There was a goody room - where you were only allowed to go through once and you could take three free books.  So I went through and got my free books.

Then there was a room called Promo Alley.  There were several rows of tables that had all kinds of author swag on it.  I wish I had known about that because I could have put some of my stuff there.  But I didn't.  Well, off that room was another room - this was where you could put your name in to win one of like a hundred gift baskets.  So I'm walking around in there and there's a table in the middle of the room where there are four authors signing books.  One of them was J.S. Scott.  I LOVE HER!  Seriously, I read her stuff and I love her.  She was giving out these awesome beach tote bags filled with all kinds of goodies.  So I waited in line and got one and asked her if she could sign it for me and she looked at me and my name tag and was like "Samantha Chase!  I'm signing something for Samantha Chase!  Do you have any of your stuff with you?"

I KID YOU NOT!!  Someone famous actually knew who I was!!!

Yeah, it was pretty awesome.

So after basically wandering around most of the day - I didn't want to sit in any more workshops - one of my new friends - the lovely Christine from Book Partners in Crime - and I went out for dinner.  Now here's the funny thing about us - both of our wedding anniversary's were on the 16th!  So this was actually the 15th but we decided to go out and celebrate - without our husbands.

When she called the restaurant to make reservations, they asked, "Are you celebrating anything?" And she said, "Our anniversary" and then completely explained how it wasn't our anniversary to each other but that we were both at this convention - without our husbands - and we just wanted to get out, blah, blah, blah.  The guy laughed and we were good.  When we got to the restaurant (which was AMAZING), the waitress came over and wished us a Happy Anniversary.  We started cracking up and explained to her about how it wasn't OUR anniversary - the convention, husbands not with us, and so on.  We all laughed and we got a free dessert out of it.


I ate way too much and when I got back to the hotel, I spent the rest of the night getting ready for the giant book fair the next day.  This was the biggest author signing I was ever a part of - there were like 800 authors there!  I was so nervous about the setup and getting all of my stuff down to the ginormous banquet room.  I had brought about six different types of swag and the table space was so limited that I knew I wasn't going to be able to take it all.

I had to force myself to go to sleep!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

RT Booklovers Convention Roundup - Part 3

This was a very exciting day.  It started out with a meet and greet with some amazing fans this morning.  We met down in the lobby at the coffee shop area and I have to tell you, it was just so cool.  Really.  I am so blessed and humbled by how awesome these ladies all were.  We ate and talked and took pictures and it was just a great time.

Plus, Catherine Bybee stopped by our table to say hello - she knew some of the ladies I was having breakfast with - and she was kind enough to stop and take a picture with me.  I'm telling you, this was the coolest thing ever.  I couldn't believe how friendly everyone was!

I had a couple of workshops that were on writing and marketing to go to and then some that were being hosted by Sourcebooks - so of course I went to those.  I even got to be part of the PowerPoint presentation.  Yeah me!

I have to be honest, by this night, I was exhausted.  I really wanted to go home and sleep in my own bed.  But I persevered and was hanging out with my cool blogger ladies and we were in the hotel bar just relaxing when all of a sudden, Sandra Brown walked in.  Now keep in mind, she is one of my all-time favorite authors.  The fact that I was staying in the same hotel as her was just mind boggling.

So I slunk down in my chair and was essentially taking stalker pictures of her.  I figured, hey, she's Sandra-freaking-Brown and as friendly and as gracious as everyone else has been, there is no way I could have possibly been bold enough to go over and get my picture with her.

But that didn't stop dear old Pat (quite possibly the coolest blogger ever) from going over and bring Sandra Brown over to the table to say hello!  Could.  Not.  Believe.  It.  I almost hyperventalated but - surprise, surprise - she was incredibly gracious and warm and wonderful and was kind enough to stay long enough to pose for a picture with me!

I think I cried a little.

So while I was riding that high, who comes over to the table - because she knew the ladies I was with! - but Lori Wilde!  I'm telling you, it was crazy!!  I had just finished reading her latest book right before I left for RT and the funny thing was, it was my goal this day to meet her!  And there she was!  Standing at my table!  I actually felt a wee-bit dorky asking for a picture with her, but she posed with me anyway.

Do you see how short I am???

So really, today was probably my most star-struck day.  I still can't believe I got to meet all these people!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

RT Booklovers Convention Roundup - Part Two

After a good night's sleep, I was up early and enjoyed a chocolate croissant in my room.  It was part of my shopping spree in the market while quietly stalking Jill Shalvis.  Best breakfast ever.

Today was the first real day of the convention.  There was a workshop for RT virgins.  Yes, I was one.  It was a great way to see that I wasn't alone in my feeling alone and get some tips from authors who have been in my shoes and now are veterans to the whole thing.  After that we had a big welcome breakfast where they were making and serving fresh crepes.  I was still full and happy from my croissant so I skipped it.

The first workshop I did after that was Big Fun in a Small Town which has an incredible panel of authors - Nancy Naigle, Sylvia Dohl, Brenda Novak, Sheila Roberts and Molly O'Keefe.  Lots of fun and they each gave away copies of their books to everyone who attended!  Score!

The next panel I went to was...well, I almost had to be shot with a tranquilizer dart.  It was a contemporary romance panel with Sylvia Day, Jill Shalvis, Julie Ann Walker, and Jennifer Probst.  It was a total Q&A session and at the end, everyone got to just walk up to them and take pictures, get books signed and just talk to them.

I was like...WHAAAAT???  Seriously?  Like, I can just go up there and say hello and talk to them like it's completely normal and okay?  I was waiting for someone to smack my hand - or tazer me.  But amazingly enough...I got to go up there.  Met Jill Shalvis and got an autograph.  I wanted a picture but she had to get to another workshop and so I missed my chance.  But she shook my hand and all was right with the world.

And I didn't pee myself so...winning!

Then I got to meet the LOVELY Jennifer Probst who is quite possibly the friendliest human being alive.  If you haven't read anything of hers before, you should.  And if you ever have the chance to go anyplace where she is, you should go because she was so friendly and so gracious and just...she made my day.

By this point I was like "I can go home right now and be completely happy!"  But I stayed and decided to see what else was going on.

There was a rodeo that night.  So after dinner with a new blogger friend, I decided to check it out.  Originally I thought I would try the mechanical bull, but I chickened out once I got there.  The thought of falling on my butt with such a huge audience was not something I really wanted to include in my RT conference experience.

By the time I got back to my room, I was exhausted.  The amount of free books and swag was slowly overtaking every extra inch of space in the room and I was trying to figure out how to get it all packed up and home with me but decided to not think about it until it was actually time to pack.

Monday, May 25, 2015

RT Booklovers Convention Roundup - Part One

Alright, it took a week for me to do it, but I'm finally back in the groove of life.  Hard to believe that a week away can mess with you so much!  Sheesh!

So, RT Booklovers Convention was AMAZING!  This was my first one and I'm pretty sure it won't be my last.  I met so many amazing people - fans, bloggers, authors - I was completely blown away.  I'd never been to Texas before so that was pretty exciting for me too. 

I arrived at the Hyatt Regency Dallas mid-afternoon.  That place is HUGE!  I checked in, went to my room, did a little happy dance and then went back down to the lobby level to explore a bit.  Everyone who registered for the convention got a free goody bag/tote.  Inside were books, post cards, swag...tons of stuff.  The entire lobby area was decorated with giant posters of some of the biggest names in romance - everywhere you looked, there were pictures of books!

I was fortunate enough to meet up with some great ladies at that point from the Fresh Fiction Blog and Book Partners in Crime.  Such an awesome group of ladies and throughout the week they were incredibly gracious to me and helped me because I was a bit overwhelmed. 

After hanging out with them for a little while, I went back to exploring the hotel - like I said, it was massive.  My room was on the 17th floor overlooking the atrium and bar/restaurant area.  At one point I met up with author Sara Humphreys (who is super cool!) and talked with her for a bit.  Then I was wandering around and was coming up the escalator from the lower level and who do I see hanging out in the little food/snack market? 

Jill Shalvis.

I gasped and the people behind me were like, "Oh my god!  Are you okay?"

Um...yes.  Just having a major fan-girl moment.  Don't mind me. 

Did I go over and say hello?  No.  Instead I was going for cool.  Calm.  Collected. 

I left the market with $22 in candy and soda. 

Go ahead, you can say it.  LOSER!!!

And to keep the loser vibe going, I ate dinner by myself and then locked myself in my room because I was completely overwhelmed.  It was nice having the whole room and king size bed all to myself.  The view outside the room wasn't all that great.  Who knew there was so much construction going on in Dallas or that all of the roads were torn up?  So I kept my curtains closed most of the time. 

But still...deluxe room to myself.  Room service.  No cooking for a week, meeting all of my writing idols and the TV remote all to myself.Not a bad way to travel...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Not so much...

Okay, so I leave for the airport in a little less than two hours.  Am I packed?  Not completely.  I used to be the kind of person who was packed and ready to go DAYS before I actually had to go.  Now?  Not so much. 

I'm off to Dallas for the RT Booklovers Convention.  It's my first time going and this is going to be my first national convention.  I AM TOTALLY SCARED.  I'm normally a fairly outgoing, cheery person.  Now?  Not so much.

Hubby is at work.  Son is at school.  Dog is looking at me with those big sad Pug eyes and I don't want to go.  I'm discovering I'm really more of a homebody.  All those years we were too poor to travel and I remember thinking that when we could afford it, I would.  Now?  Not so much.

It's totally confusing.  I don't get why I'm suddenly a procrastinator.  Or why I suddenly don't want to go anywhere.  It's a little mind boggling.

I have everything I need.  I've made sure hubby, son, AND Pug are all taken care of while I'm gone.  But right now I just want to be in my yoga pants, eating a muffin and know that I'm staying home.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME???

I'll be signing with something like 800 other authors.  There's supposed to be like 2,000 people there.  Maybe more.  Most of the events I go to have less than 100 authors and maybe 300 readers/ticket holders.  I think one event sold 500.  Those events, I can handle.  The thought of being in this big of a crowd?  It's terrifying.

Anyway, wish me luck.  I'll be in Dallas if you need me.  And if you are in Dallas, come to the Hyatt Regency on Saturday from 11-2 and say hello!!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Thoughts on Mother's Day

First off, Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there. 

Motherhood is exhausting.  I don't think I remember getting that warning years ago when I was pregnant with my first child.  And now, 23 years later, I am honestly and truly exhausted.  It's a full-time job.  You don't get nights and weekends off and there are no holidays.  You work 24/7, 365 days a year.  And here's the most important thing that you need to remember, the job never ends.  You don't get to wake up one day and say "I'm done".

Some people really should remember that.

However, in exchange for this never-ending job, there are many perks.  They start out small - little smiles, a tiny fist wrapped around your finger.  Then you get giggles and sloppy kisses.  You move up to some of the greatest artwork known to man in the form of finger painted hand-prints and macaroni jewelry.

Then you'll go through a downward phase - the "I hate you" and "You're an idiot" phases are not easy.  It's hard dealing with a know-it-all whose life hasn't nearly begun.  They eventually turn it back around and actually want to spend time with you again and - if you're lucky - they will admit that yes, you were right.


The hardest part of it all?  It goes too fast.  One minute you're wishing they were big and in the blink of an eye, they are.  You sometimes long for the days when they were small - holding your hand or just cuddling up beside you.  You miss the homemade cards (they're not nearly as cute coming from a seventeen year old!), the giggles, the innocence.

I am blessed with two amazing sons.  I look at them now - ages 23 and 15 - and can still see the little boys.  They are so different from one another and yet there are times they are exactly the same.  I love their individuality and can embrace their similarities. But more than anything, I am so thankful that I'm their mom. 

And that will never, ever go away.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Today's Kindle Daily Deal!!

TODAY ONLY!!!  Don't miss out on this deal!!!  Only $1.99!!!  This is James Montgomery's story - and it's awesome (if I do say so myself!)

#KindleDailyDeal #MontgomeryBrothersSeries

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My new guilty pleasure...

I read contemporary romances.  Always have.  I was a Harlequin girl in the beginning and then branched out to the Desire line and then got hooked on Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Susan Mallery, Debbie Macomber, Diana Palmer and so on.  It's because of these amazing authors that I write contemporary romances.  People ask me all the time if I read any other genres and I firmly tell them no.

I will be changing my answer from now on.

A fellow author recommended a new adult story to me.  It didn't appeal to me at first because, well...I'm old.  I don't want to read about college kids having sex and all that.  I mean...I have a college-age son.  I just didn't want to go there.  But she persisted and I read the book.

And now I'm a little hooked. 

Don't get me wrong, I won't read just any NA novel that's out there.  The plot still has to interest me.  But I've found a few that I have really enjoyed.

Elle Kennedy writes contemporary romances - I've read a lot of her books and although they are way steamier than mine, I love them!  Then she branched out and did the NA series - Off Campus.  So far there are two books - "The Deal" and "The Mistake".  LOVED.  THEM.  Seriously, I couldn't put either of them down.

Then I read "The Hook Up".  I'm reading it again.  Enough said.

And while both of these series are very popular and pretty much well-known, I found a little known author who's book I really enjoyed - it's a lot grittier than the three books I just mentioned, but the pace of the story kept me hooked.  N.S. Moore's first book, "Hostage" was awesome.  And now she's starting an eight-part serial called "Bared to Him".  The first part just came out and I can't wait for the rest.

So what about you - do you stick to one specific genre or do you branch out and check out others?  Any favorites?  Anything you stay away from?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I think the universe is trying to tell me something...

So...okay, I have not had the greatest 2015.  It's true.  The year started out with my having to have minor surgery, then there was the construction in my house that led to a severe case of asthmatic bronchitis which led to just plain asthma.  I've had this cough for MONTHS now and just when it was starting to calm down, I noticed something - it gets worse with certain foods.

But wait...not just ANY certain foods, but some of my FAVORITE certain foods.

Like chocolate.

I don't even know if I can go on.  I mean...chocolate.  CHOCOLATE!!  How in the world am I supposed to move forward in my life if I am allergic to chocolate???  It's of my main food groups!!

I'm seriously distressed right now. 

See these cupcakes?  This is what my editor sent me when I was stressed about deadlines.  They were amazing!!  I did share them with my husband and son - I let them have one.  They had to share it.  LOL!!  They were mine!!  I was the one who was doing all the work and stressing out!  That seemed fair, right???  If I ate one of those now?  I'd cough for and hour and feel like my airway was closing.

It doesn't seem right.  It doesn't seem fair.  How am I supposed to get through edits?  Or fights with my husband?  Or days ending in "y"???  I don't know.  Maybe I have a problem.  Not the allergy, but the addiction.  Although, if you think about it, chocolate is fairly harmless.  If you have to be addicted to something, chocolate is pretty tame.


Breathing is highly over-rated. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

There goes my dancing career...

Yes, at one time that was a dream.

When I was 17.  I was a kickliner.  Wanted to be a Rockette or something of the sort. 

Now?  Not so much.

But HAD it still been a dream, last night would have killed it. 

So I'm walking in the local Kohl's last night - hubby needed a new dress shirt, belt and tie for a wedding we're going to this weekend.  I had to drag him kicking and screaming to get there.  I had good intentions.  He needed the clothes, I wanted to browse in case I found something cuter than I already had for the wedding.

Win/win, right?

So we're shopping and we find all of his stuff relatively quick.  Praise the lord!!  So now I want shoes.  I had bought a really nice pair - at the Kohl's - just last week, but when I wore them the other night to the Mythbusters - Unleashed show Wednesday night, they gave me blisters.  Lots and lots of blisters.  Not pretty.  But anyway, so I'm walking and I'm shopping and I'm walking when all of a sudden, I'm on the floor in a half split!  At first I was impressed with my bendy-self and then I realized that my knee was in agony! 

I looked around and saw a trail of clear liquid from the jewelry counter all the way to the front door!!  I get up and move out of the aisle and my poor husband had to go and find an employee who actually could do something.  Luckily, he found one of the managers.  She came over and apologized, called for the maintenance/janitor guy and asked if I was okay.  I was.  Kind of.  I felt like a moron.  Then, sort of as an afterthought, she asked if I wanted her to fill out an accident report.

And like a COMPLETE moron, I said no.

I know, I know...big mistake.  I went home, iced my knee, took some Advil, had some ice cream and called it a night.  Today?  My knee still hurts.  It's not purple or anything, just a big lump.  I'm pretty sure I'll live but if Dancing with the Stars calls, I may have to sit next season out.


Now the world will never know of my amazing dance skills.

And I had my electric blue sequined dress already picked out!

I guess it's a good thing I've got this writing career to fall back on.  LOL!!