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Tuesday, July 17, 2007
No thanks to Air Canada :( They cancelled my return flight but didn't announce it. We found out by word of mouth as we were just sitting and waiting way past our departure time. So we lined up at the check-in and they gave some of us a red ticket, some of us didn't get anything, but we were told to report to another gate for an American Airlines flight that was leaving soon. So we rush over to that gate where the ones without the red tickets were sent back to get one, and those of us with a red ticket were told it wasn't filled out correctly and to go back too. We return with a white printout only to be told that wasn't right either. We try again. And again - yup, four trips it took before we could get a boarding pass to the American Airlines flight - not AA's fault, by the way. So we finally start boarding only to be turned back yet again as Air Canada hadn't forwarded the security list - so we're sent (running) back to the far side of the airport to clear security yet again, breaching their laws as we had to go through a section that said 'no entry'.
The Security people shook their head and said 'We'll put you through the sniffer.' They took my passport and my boarding pass and sent me into a small booth rather like a telephone booth where jets of compressed air puff out at you. (Warning, if you're wearing a loose top, hold it down if you don't want to give everyone else a peep show - the walls are clear - luckily another lady warned me in advance.) Then they start matching passengers with their boarding passes - in reverse order. So since I was one of the first in, my pass was on the bottom of the pile. And they'd lost my passport!
Grateful thanks to the people of American Airlines who let me phone home (they don't put public payphones in places anymore, assuming people will have cellphones) so I could at least leave a message with my family of the change. Air Canada was not so helpful.
We arrived two hours late, and in a different terminal but now I'm home.
Dallas was amazing! Not only the conference but the city and the people of Texas. I met writers I've read for years (Cathy Maxwell, Kathryn Smith, Stephanie Laurens, Tawny Weber, Lynn Lafleur, and squeee JR Ward and Sherrilyn Kenyon, worshipped Nora Roberts from afar as I just felt too geeky to go up and introduce myself - see my earlier post,), and met writers I hope to read soon.
If ever you get to a conference, talk to everyone - from the people standing in line with you as you wait to get into an event, to the solitary man leaning against the escalator railing (Scott Eagan - an agent with the Greyhaus agency). Talk to the people you sit beside in the workshops, or at lunch. Stop and meet authors at the booksignings or workshops - Jane Porter who teaches a wonderful Alpha Hero/Heroine course, Beverly Jenkins - what a lovely lady who I'd never read before but will from now on, who I talked to while waiting to talk to Kayla Perrin, Robin Rotham (thanks for suggesting her, Amy!), Mandy Roth, oh, there are so many. Say hi to instructors you took online courses with/from - like Mary Buckham who taught a Sex Between the Pages course or Janet Miller aka Cricket Starr who taught the Erotic Romance Do's and Don'ts course that I took. You'll never know who it'll be or what you might learn from them.
And hang around where the interviews with agents and editors are held - every appointment time there was someone who didn't show up for their appointment and a call would be shouted out to anyone who was interested in meeting with an editor or agent. One of my friends got into to see her dream editor that way and got asked for a partial.
I was told by Sue that I was one step away from 'bubbly' but I couldn't help it, and what the heck, it helped me meet a lot of new friends, along with familiar faces from TRW.
After the conference I went out to Sue's farm about 90 minutes away from Fort Worth where she raises Arabian horses and let me brush down one of her horses, and showed me how to saddle one. Then she took me out for a ride on her lovely mare Cimmi. No, this isn't a picture of me riding Cimmi - but the pictures of me on her ... well, Cimmi is black and didn't show up very well in my photos, and I hate looking at pictures of myself anyway, so I borrowed one from Sue's site.
(By the way, do not get thrown in Texas as the ground is covered with Prickly Pears - a type of cactus that would NOT be pleasant to land in. Luckily I did not learn this first hand!) I saw scissor-tailed swallows, and a real live roadrunner - but I was too slow with my camera to get a picture.
That evening, Sue took me over to her parents' house where her dad very generously brought out several cases of guns and taught me how to shoot at a target range they have.
Now I'm Canadian, and I've never held a real gun in my life, but I wanted to know what it was really like for when I write my characters having to defend themselves - or the villains threatening them, so I'd asked Sue about this. And I'm going to toot my own horn here - I kicked ass! I started off with a .22 revolver and got three bull's eyes! THREE!
I then moved to a .38 Police revolver, then to a 9 mm semi-automatic. Then he brought out a P38 Luger - the type the Nazis used in WWII, and the Colt 45 that the Americans used. These guns are heavy and had a good kick, and lots of smoke when they're fired. I could see granules of black powder gun shot residue on my arms when I was done - the CSI team would have had a field day with me. And then we went back to their house (where I glugged water like I never have before) and talked.
It was really nice of them (both Sue's family and her parents) to take a complete stranger in like that. It was a highlight of my trip that I'll always remember.
Oh, and I'll always remember this little girl - her sign is now up on the wall in my office: